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

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


December, 2016 - Week 4


Washington D.C.

Report: Communities Must Switch to Local Care, Not Prisons, for Young Offenders

by Sarah Barr

WASHINGTON Many policymakers and advocates know they want to close youth prisons, where they say young offenders are often isolated, unsafe and go without the services they need to thrive when they return to their communities.

But what would the alternative look like? A new report released by The National Collaboration for Youth lays out the case for investment in a community-based continuum of care that is rooted in the needs of individual jurisdictions.

While many communities have nonresidential supports and services, they often lack the full range of programs to meet the needs of justice-involved youth in their homes and with the support of their families, the report said.

“Too many young people are incarcerated because the services they need are not available in their communities,” said Shaena Fazal, lead author of the report and national policy director at Youth Advocate Programs.

The authors set out guiding principles to create those continuums, which will only work if they safely decarcerate secure youth facilities, the report said. It also outlines strategies for planning and funding a continuum of care.

The guidelines include defining public safety as more than law enforcement, ensuring that services are family-centered and identifying communities' strengths and assets. Services that are available could include helping families meet basic needs, behavioral health, substance use and economic development programs, and gang intervention and restorative justice approaches.

Hernan Carvente, 24, an analyst at the Vera Center on Youth Justice who spent four years in prison as a youth, said the change in strategy is essential. Four years after serving his time, he still feels the collateral consequences of his time locked up, including a sense that he is “bottled up.”

“Being incarcerated is not an environment or space where growth can happen in a healthy or positive way,” he said.

Individualized service plans

In the report, the authors also call for the creation of individualized service plans for youth that would deal with legal issues and youth accountability, as well as education, health, financial and emotional well-being. Those plans would depend on:

•  a wraparound planning process;

•  credible messengers, trusted community members who understand youth and their neighborhoods;

•  family advocacy;

•  flexible funding to access services for youth that fall outside the continuum; and

•  crisis and safety planning.

The report cautions there are few examples of robust continuums of care around the country but pointed to successes in Lucas County, Ohio, and Tarrant County, Texas, as models.

In Lucas County, officials have developed an assessment center staffed by social workers rather than correctional officers where young people who do not need to be detained or committed to facilities can get the services they need.

Since 2013, the county has diverted 3,000 young offenders, said Deborah Hodges, the county's court administrator. The county also has seen a steep drop-off in the number of young people booked for school-based charges, down from 204 in 2012 to just three so far in 2016, she said.

The research shows the direction jurisdictions should take, but officials have to be bold and accept that the path will not be entirely smooth, she said.

“We must get comfortable with kids falling down. They will make mistakes, just like our children do,” Hodges said.

The next step for Lucas County will be to move programming out of the courthouses and into the neighborhoods where the young people they see live, she said.

As jurisdictions try to shift from a youth prison model, they also should be mindful of how they communicate the research and data behind it to the public, said Clinton Lacey, director of the District of Columbia's Youth Rehabilitation Services. Long-lasting success will come when communities understand what's behind reforms, not just if they trust one charismatic leader or effective organization, he said.

“I think there needs to be a real conversation and that comes through a relationship with community,” he said.




California Wraparound Program Reduces Juvenile Recidivism by Focusing on Mental Health

by Sara Tiano

LOS ANGELES — Manuel Dircio, 20, a business administration student at Fullerton College boasts a 4.0 GPA.

He is also a recovering alcoholic with a history of arrest and incarceration in juvenile detention — not quite what you'd expect from a seemingly model college student with a stellar grade point.

Dircio credits the Youthful Offender Wraparound program (YOW), which he says “helped [him] grow successfully.” It's what's known as a full-service partnership (FSP) in Orange County, California, that uses a nontraditional approach to help kids identified as having “complex needs.”

Dircio was a dual status youth, meaning he had been been under the supervision of both the county's child welfare system and the juvenile justice system. Dual status or “crossover youth” have higher rates of detention and recidivism than other justice system-involved youth. They are also statistically more likely to develop substantial behavioral health needs, according to a 2014 report from the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice.

Knowing his situation, Dircio's probation officer referred him to the YOW program. The referral enabled YOW to get in touch with Dircio while he was still locked up in Orange County's juvenile hall. Then 18, he had been in a group home in the foster care system for two years after being under his older brother's guardianship from age 9.

“It was a disaster,” Dircio said of his life prior to enrolling in YOW and getting sober. “It was horrible. I was drinking, smoking drugs, not going to school, not having a job.”

The fact that Dircio turned 18 while incarcerated meant he'd aged out of the foster care system. Thus, he would have nowhere to go once released. The fact that he had been struggling with alcohol and drugs — and getting into legal trouble for it — made this worse. When YOW entered the picture, they paid for Dircio to move into a private sober living treatment center.

After moving into that facility's stable environment, he started working on recovery from substance abuse and eventually found a job on his own. Though it wasn't his first attempt at sobriety, this time it stuck.

“I tried alone, and I failed miserably,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh. “Once I decided to actually start accepting the help, and accepting advice from positive people, that's when I started making that change.” Now he works while keeping up his grades, and sometimes does outreach with YOW for kids with difficult family circumstances who are starting to get into trouble as he did.

Dircio's success story is a prime example of what YOW was designed to accomplish: promoting the positive development of juvenile justice-involved youth who struggle with mental health diagnoses, substance use disorders and histories of trauma by providing supports to manage these challenges.

“Why we're here is to look at the underlying reasons why they are participating in the delinquent and criminal behaviors,” said Hether Benjamin, director of youth development for Community Service Programs (CSP), the nonprofit that operates YOW.

Orange County's FSPs are intensive treatment programs that coordinate a unique menu of mental health services for each client to address individualized needs. YOW is one of 12 programs run by CSP that incorporate shelter services, crime victim assistance, youth development programs, comprehensive support for at-risk youth, conflict resolution and community education programs.

Once enrolled, YOW clients have access to an array of positive, proactive services that may seem unconventional, but are all aimed at addressing the causal mental health issues at play.

Air hockey, yoga and cooking classes

YOW is available to 16- to 25-year-old Orange County residents who have both a mental health diagnosis and a history with the county's juvenile justice system. It provides traditional individual, family and group therapy, along with substance abuse treatment and anger management. In addition, YOW offers skill-building opportunities, like computer tutorials, career and education guidance, as well as job interview outfits.

The atmosphere inside YOW's Fountain Valley strip-mall guidance center is a lot warmer than the formal listing of its services might suggest. There youths have access to a couple of game rooms with air hockey and ping pong, access to art supplies and musical instruments, culinary arts classes and fitness classes, like yoga and jiujitsu.

According to YOW staff, this array of activities accomplishes two goals: creating a safe, healthy space where the kids actually want to spend time, and using unconventional techniques to provide services without the kids necessarily even knowing they're getting help.

“Everything we do is tied into alleviating the symptoms that led to the behavior that got them incarcerated,” Benjamin said.

Even the rec rooms serve a double purpose at YOW, according to Benjamin. They're crucial to creating the nonthreatening, living room environment the administration hopes to achieve, while also serving as informal therapy rooms.

When clients are having a bad day and can't sit through a therapy session, Benjamin explained, they'll come talk with staff over foosball and have the counseling session without realizing it. YOW offers laundry facilities that clients can sign up to use — and often they wind up chatting with their coordinator on the couch while they wait for their clothes.

The idea is that the more relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere will make the treatment more organic and accessible, in contrast to the conventional “therapeutic dose” of 50 minutes per week with a clinician. The center---which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.---is designed to encourage clients to drop in anytime the need or whim strikes, rather than just during scheduled appointments.

“Having those quick interactions of ‘Hey, how's it going,' or ‘Hey, do you want to go get something to eat' ... those are what I think makes the biggest difference,” said YOW Program Director Amy Sutherland. It is also what differentiates the program “from traditional therapy,”

Jesus Vasquez, another YOW alumnus, said this kind of daily support, even hourly, if needed, was pivotal to his recovery process. He described himself as an outcast in his own family and said the only time he ever got attention was when he would get arrested. Before enrolling in YOW, Vasquez said he “didn't know where to turn” when he had bad days.

“They were always there for me, every single person. They always had something positive to say,” Vasquez, 21, said of the guidance center staff. “If it was my old friends they'd tell me, ‘Come on, man, you need a drink,' and that's what I don't need anymore.”

‘They never gave up on us'

What further differentiates YOW from other juvenile diversion models, according to Vasquez and other YOW graduates, is that the positive support system didn't disappear or punish him when he had a setback in his recovery process, he said. Vasquez told about the time he showed up at the guidance center one morning after having gotten into trouble the night before, sobbing because he thought he'd forfeited all the progress he'd worked so hard to make.

Instead — according to Sutherland, who was part of the crisis intervention team that morning — nearly half a dozen staff members rallied around Vasquez, telling him, “OK, let's problem solve. What needs to be done?”

Vasquez was briefly reincarcerated due to his bad night. “But he knew we weren't going to go anywhere in that time,” Benjamin added. “We visited him, continued our treatment plan with him, in custody.”

Clients who return to YOW after getting into trouble again are welcomed with open arms and lots of encouragement, Benjamin said.

It's a sign that they had a good enough experience the first time to reach back out and try again, agreed Sutherland. Some clients need to return two or three times.

“If they relapse, go back into incarceration, well then, it wasn't this time — it's the next time. We get excited that they call again,” Benjamin explained. It's all about resiliency, building on strengths and creating positive reframes around struggles past and present, she said.

And the strategy works. According to CSP, YOW and the organization's other youth development programs have succeeded in reducing recidivism: Clients exhibit, on average, a 75 percent decrease in episodes of incarceration, as well as a 91 percent decrease in days homeless and a 94 percent decrease in episodes of psychiatric hospitalization compared to their lives before joining the program.

YOW started in 1972 as a collaborative study with the University of California, Irvine's social ecology department to divert youth who were going to juvenile hall for minor offenses such as curfew violations. YOW serves an average of 250 clients each year.

What it takes to say ‘whatever it takes'

YOW's often-invoked motto is “Whatever it takes,” which means several things in the YOW playbook. It refers both to a policy of flexibility in treatment options, and a promise of an individualized, adaptive service plan. It also gives the message to the clients of what Benjamin and other staff call “sovereignty.”

YOW's clients are both “partners and consumers” in their treatment plan, Benjamin said. “They have just as much say as the county of Orange does, as the probation officer does. Because it's their life.”

Sutherland says giving the patients power in their treatment goes a long way in making them more receptive. The people in YOW have “been dictated to for so long,” she said, and they shut down when they start being told what to do. YOW coordinators “work alongside” the clients, allowing them to focus on the issues they want to address, in the way they want to address them, ultimately working toward the goals they want to achieve.

“If they're having a horrible time managing their mood and they can stabilize that by running on a treadmill, doing a punching bag, we will pay for a gym membership. There's a mental health need for that service,” Benjamin said. “Tattoo removal. If those tattoos are preventing them from having self-esteem, good body image, getting a job, being looked at seriously by other peers, we will help them remove those tattoos if that's what they want.”

Vasquez is among the clients who have benefited from this particular offering.

Flexible programs through flexible funding

YOW is able to provide their level of specialized service via flexible funds designated for individualized services and supports. Funding originates through the mental health services 1 percent tax on California residents earning $1 million or more annually. The money is distributed through county governments. In Orange County, the OC Mental Health Care Agency “takes those dollars and specializes it down to these really underserved populations,” Sutherland said.

That a program like this is being funded with mental health dollars is noteworthy, according to Melissa Sickmund, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit juvenile justice research group. There's been a “big push” for systems integration in which the juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health and education departments share information and resources, she said.

According to Sickmund, systems integration represents a hopeful path to more flexible funding of rehabilitative services for youthful offenders. “Part of the juvenile justice reforms that are happening would encourage that kind of a thing,” she said. There's currently no statewide protocol for systems integration in California, but some counties have enacted their own protocol for how the courts should work with dual status minors, Orange County among them.

Sutherland said YOW's adaptable funding system is a big part of what differentiates it from many full-service partnerships that provide each client with the same menu of services. It provides for truly individualized treatment plans, in keeping with a fundamental tenet of the wraparound theory, and it lets administrators empower clients with more choices in their own treatment, she said. It also allows the program to go to extreme lengths when needed, such as temporarily paying for a bed in sober living to avoid a kid becoming homeless, as they did with Dircio.

Yet, it's not necessarily the speciality services that keep Dircio connected to the program and coming back to help post-graduation — it's Adrian Grow, who helped him enroll in Fullerton College; it's Christina Tompkins, who helped him get his driver's license and secure a place to stay.

“That's what I got out of this program the most — not financially, just the good support system they have,” Dircio said. The YOW staff was always there for him, and still is, he said, which is why he reciprocates by doing youth outreach with them — and talking to the press.

“Whenever they call me or need me I'm going to help them.”



Listening to their Voices of Bravery and Heroism: Exploring the Aftermath of Officers' Loss and Trauma in the Line of Duty

by Konstantinos

Police work is challenging. Police officers are sworn to maintain peace and order in our communities. However, police officers often jeopardize their own safety and lives in order to serve and protect civilians from eminent threat. Exposure to multiple critical incidents may have severe impact on officers' health and personal lives.

The current book refers to the testimonials of police officers – survivors who experienced uniquely severe critical incidents (e.g., mass shootings, terrorist attacks, hostage situations) in the line of duty. All cases included in this study have been extensively covered by national and international media (e.g., CNN, NBC, CBC). The aim of this book is to explore the impact of exposure to such unique cases in officers' lives. Further, author highlighted and studied the heroism and resilience of the officers who survived through hardships. Author personally met the officers and listened to their stories. Author and his team conducted in-depth and semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. Consequently, author maintained flexible, spontaneous, and natural conversations, which ultimately allowed participants to feel comfortable enough to share their experiences. Author conducted one-on-one interviews and the sessions were voice recorded and transcribed by research assistants. Taking into account the aims of this project this book emphasizes on officers' survival skills during a life-threatening situation, strengths and coping skills during and after a critical incident. The analyses of the officers-survivors' interviews led to multiple outcomes that would enable law enforcement professionals, health professionals, and researchers understand the impact of exposure to unprecedented stress and trauma on officers' lives.

In the present study, authors attempted to answer the following questions: What gives officers strengths during a life-threatening situation? What makes officers thwart a mass shooter or a violent criminal when civilians try to escape from the critical incident site? What helps officers survive when they are severely wounded and bleeding on the street? Consequently, the current study opens dialogues to the study of resilience, survival, and recovery process of those who are sworn to maintain peace and order in our communities.

To receive a 20% discount (that is $65), readers should order the book via email in the publisher's email address: billing.central@novapublishers.com with the code Leaflets20 in the subject line.

More information may be viewed here.



From the FBI

Corruption on the Border

New Campaign Enlists the Public's Help

(Video and posters available on site)

During his trial on public corruption charges in 2013, former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Hector Rodriguez admitted that he had been receiving bribes of cash and luxury items for two years in return for admitting illegal aliens into the U.S. through his inspection lane at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, California.

While the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers and public officials who work at the country's ports and borders are honest and dedicated, even one corrupt official like Rodriguez can pose a serious threat to the nation's security—because what if one of those individuals smuggled through a port of entry is a terrorist carrying a bomb?

For that reason, the FBI—in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security—is launching a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of border corruption so that citizens and government employees who see corruption or suspicious activity will call the FBI to report it.

“Public corruption is the FBI's top criminal priority,” said Sergio Galvan, chief of the Bureau's Public Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “It is critical for us to engage the public to help stop these crimes. We're not expecting citizens to be detectives,” Galvan explained, “but if you see something that doesn't seem right, report it. If you notice someone going through security without being searched, or if you work on the border and know someone in your agency that is looking the other way, call the FBI.”

The border awareness campaign will include publicity outreach efforts in 10 FBI field offices whose areas of responsibility include U.S. ports of entry such as border crossings, airports, and seaports. The cities are Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan; El Paso and San Antonio, Texas; Fargo, North Dakota; Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; and Seattle, Washington.

“We want to know what people are seeing and hearing,” Galvan said, “whether you are a frequent traveler, a truck driver, or a law enforcement official who works on the border.”

Hector Rodriguez pleaded guilty to receiving bribes and bringing aliens into the country for financial gain. In 2013 he was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for receiving thousands of dollars in cash, along with Rolex watches and an expensive vehicle, for looking the other way. But public corruption on the border is by no means limited to the Southwest border.

The FBI has 22 border corruption task forces and working groups across the country staffed by 39 local, state, and federal partner agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration. More than 250 officers are working cases and gathering intelligence to stop public corruption along all U.S. ports of entry.

And while federal, state, and local officials who serve along our borders are working hard to keep the country safe from outside threats, “when even one of those individuals is compromised, it creates a grave situation,” Galvan said. “What I would like to say to the public and to individuals who work in agencies that serve at the border is that the FBI is here to help you—but we can't help if we don't get information. If you see something, pick up the phone. Call your local field office or submit a tip on our website. The point of our public awareness campaign,” he added, “is that we need your eyes and ears to help keep the country safe.”



From ICE

ICE arrests 74 in 2-state enforcement operation targeting convicted criminals

DETROIT – Officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested 74 individuals during a two-state operation that concluded Dec. 8, targeting criminal aliens and other immigration violators in Michigan and Ohio.

During the 11-day enforcement action, ERO officers apprehended 71 aliens with criminal convictions. The remaining three fall under the agency's enforcement priorities as recent immigration violators. Those arrested had criminal histories with past convictions for drug trafficking, DUI, weapons violations, fraud, domestic violence, burglary and other serious criminal offenses. Four of those taken into custody were criminal aliens who now face federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

"Targeted immigration enforcement operations like this one highlight ICE's ongoing commitment to strategically use agency resources to make communities safer," said Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ERO Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio. "These actions focus our resources on the most egregious offenders and promote public safety in the communities in which we live and work.”

Among those arrested were:

•  An 18-year-old Ukrainian man with prior convictions for heroin and fentanyl possession and burglary. He was arrested in Cleveland, Dec. 1, and will remain in ICE custody pending removal from the United States.

•  A 26-year-old Guatemalan man with two prior removals from the United States and prior convictions for possession of a dangerous weapon, carrying a loaded firearm in public, assault with a dangerous weapon, money laundering, obstruction of public officer, and participation in a criminal street gang. He was arrested in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dec. 7, and will remain in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.

•  A 25-year-old Burmese man with prior convictions for possession of criminal tools, aggravated possession of drugs, and possession of a defaced firearm. He was arrested in Akron, Ohio, Dec. 6, and will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

The foreign nationals arrested during the operation include citizens of 18 countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Bosnia, Burma, Honduras, Ecuador, Bhutan, El Salvador, Jamaica, Iraq, Venezuela, Jordan, Ukraine, Pakistan, Lebanon, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. Those who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. The arrestees who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.

All of those apprehended during last week's operation were immigration enforcement priorities as outlined in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson's 2014 memorandum. Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets include individuals with convictions for three or more misdemeanors, or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.



Ex-LA County sheriff touts corruption mistrial as victory

Prosecutors have not yet said whether they would attempt to retry Lee Baca, who is 74 and in the early stages of Alzheimer's

by Brian Melley

LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said he wanted to set the record straight when he withdrew his guilty plea in a federal corruption case earlier this year and chose to go to trial.

Baca wasn't fully vindicated at trial, but he hailed his mistrial as a victory Thursday after learning that the deadlocked jurors had voted 11-to-1 to acquit him.

"This is an extraordinary decision that I don't think too many people thought would happen, but I had faith" said Baca, who was accused of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. "This is what America really thrives on is jurors that really care. They're not caught up in negativity."

Baca headed the nation's largest sheriff's department for more than 15 years before he resigned in 2014 amid allegations that guards at the Men's Central Jail took bribes, savagely beat inmates and falsified reports to cover up misconduct.

Jurors deliberated about 24 hours over four days before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson declared they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Prosecutors have not yet said whether they would attempt to retry Baca, who is 74 and in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

He also faces a charge of lying to investigators, which the judge had broken off into a future separate trial. Anderson scheduled a Jan. 10 hearing to discuss the status of Baca's case.

Prosecutors said Baca led efforts to thwart a federal civil rights investigation by hiding an inmate informant from his FBI handlers and intimidating the lead agent on the case.

The defense argued that Baca was angry the FBI was operating in his jails behind his back but he wasn't part of a conspiracy hatched by underlings under the code name "Operation Pandora's Box."

The scheme unfolded in August and September 2011 and turned what had been a federal grand jury probe focused on the nation's largest jail system to a more sweeping corruption investigation that led all the way to the top of the department.

Baca's long-trusted second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, was one of nine people convicted on obstruction-related charges. Tanaka, who ran unsuccessfully to replace Baca after his abrupt retirement in 2014, was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Another 11 members of the department were convicted of various other charges, including beatings, falsifying reports and taking bribes.

Baca was criticized for losing touch with the daily operations of the Sheriff's Department and its 18,000 employees by delegating too much responsibility to lieutenants.

He managed to escape charges in the scandal until February when he pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to federal authorities.

He backed out of the plea deal after a judge rejected a sentence of no more than six months as too lenient. He was then indicted on the more serious obstruction charges. Jurors were not told about the withdrawn plea.

"For 48 years, Sheriff Lee Baca served the people of the county of Los Angeles honorably, tirelessly and faithfully," defense lawyer Nathan Hochman said after the mistrial. "The government tried to tarnish that reputation. But, thankfully, 11 out of 12 jurors found that the government's case came up short."




Berlin Attack Suspect Is Killed by Police Near Milan

by Elisabetta Povoledo, Gaia Pianigiani and Franziske Reymann

SESTO SAN GIOVANNI, Italy — It was a routine identity check, the kind Italy has relied more on to stem the flow of illegal migrants deeper into Europe. But the man stopped by two police officers at about 3 a.m. Friday outside the northern city of Milan was anything but an ordinary drifter.

He turned out to be perhaps Europe's most wanted man, Anis Amri, the chief suspect in the deadly terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 people. Asked to show his papers and empty his backpack, he pulled a gun, shot one officer, and in turn was shot and killed by another.

“Police bastards,” Mr. Amri, who turned 24 this week, shouted in Italian before dying, according to the account given by Antonio De Iesu, director of the Milan police, at a news conference.

For Italy, the shooting death of the Tunisian, who had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in a video released by the group on Friday, spurred a moment of national pride and some reassurance that its security measures were working.

For Germany, it brought a sense of palpable relief after a week of national anguish. “Now I can wish you all a really peaceful Christmas,” the German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, told reporters Friday afternoon, as he thanked his Italian counterparts.

But the death also raised numerous more questions about Mr. Amri's movements and motivations, as well as about the potential gaps in the security of a Europe of open borders.

Law enforcement authorities issued a Europe-wide warrant on Wednesday for Mr. Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian who moved to Italy in 2011, where he spent time in numerous prisons before making his way to Germany in 2015.

Both countries had tried to deport him and were thwarted by a lack of documents and cooperation from his home country.

Even after Mr. Amri was named as the prime suspect in the attack in Berlin, he was able to roam freely around Europe, his face plastered across news media and a reward of more than $100,000 on his head.

“This mobility is great for the law-abiding and equally great for the non-law-abiding,” said Douglas H. Wise, a former senior C.I.A. officer, of the borderless travel within the European Union.

What Mr. Amri was doing in the four days between the attack in Berlin and when he was ultimately killed in Sesto San Giovanni, a suburb north of central Milan, is not clear, but that is now the subject of intense investigation that authorities remain reluctant to discuss.

Asked on Friday when exactly the authorities first lighted on Mr. Amri as a suspect, the head of Germany's federal criminal police, Holger Münch, restated in general terms that it was on Tuesday, after investigators found an identity document in a wallet in the cab of the tractor-trailer used in the attack.

Police have not said why the wallet was not discovered on Monday, when the attack occurred and the murdered driver was found in the cab. On Friday, Mr. Münch for the first time mentioned without further reference that an alias was involved, but said the police had quickly linked it to Mr. Amri.

A senior European counterterrorism official said that the delay in identifying Mr. Amri probably gave him a several-hours crucial head start to flee Germany, and that he would have been able to buy a train ticket to France and Italy without showing identification papers.

Facial-recognition software on surveillance cameras in Europe is still in rudimentary form in most places, the official said, so even after Mr. Amri was identified, he could have slipped through the train stations undetected, especially if was wearing a hat or hood.

Mr. Amri's ability to hide through the week and make his way from Germany, through France, to Italy also raised questions of whether he had the help of a broader network, particularly one possibly linked to the Islamic State.

The group called Mr. Amri “a soldier” in the video released Friday, in which Mr. Amri proclaimed loyalty to the Islamic Sate leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and declared that the attack in Berlin was intended to avenge coalition airstrikes in Syria that have killed civilians.

The video released was evidently filmed in the Moabit region of northern Berlin, on the Kieler bridge near the city's northern port, German officials said. The autumn foliage seen on trees suggested it was filmed in fall or even early December.

In Germany, Mr. Amri came on the radar of the authorities in part for suspected ties to an Iraqi-born Salafist preacher who went by the name Abu Walaa who was jailed just weeks ago on suspicion of recruiting fighters to join the Islamic State.

Also unknown is whether Mr. Amri had any accomplices for the Berlin attack — a question that Peter Frank, Germany's top federal prosecutor, identified as a priority for investigators.

“It is very important now to determine if there was a network of cooperators, a network of supporters, accessories or assistants helping him to prepare the attack, execute the attack and also to escape,” he told a news conference on Friday in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The only uncertainty that seemed to be settled on Friday was that the man killed was indeed Mr. Amri.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the person who was killed was Anis Amri, the suspect in the terrorist attack in Berlin,” the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said at a news conference.

“As soon as this person entered our country, he was the most wanted man in Europe, and we immediately identified him and neutralized him,” Mr. Minniti said. “This means that our security is working really well.”

According to tickets that the Italian police found on Mr. Amri, he traveled by train from Chambéry, France, to Turin, in northwestern Italy. He then continued to Central Station in Milan, where he arrived around 1 a.m. Friday.

Surveillance cameras in the Milan train station recorded Mr. Amri's movements, Italian investigators said. It was not clear how Mr. Amri then made his way to Sesto San Giovanni, about 4.3 miles away.

“How he traveled there and what he was doing there are subject to delicate investigations,” Mr. Iesu said at the news conference. “We have to understand whether he was in transit or was awaiting someone.”

Sesto is a “ a strategic hub for transportation,” the town's deputy mayor, Andrea Rivolta, said in an interview in city hall. “Sesto is a junction for the railway system, the Milan metro, municipal buses and buses that reach all of Europe.”

That is one reason the square in front of the station was patrolled frequently, said Mayor Monica Chitto'.

The operation that led to Mr. Amri's discovery was “part of an operation that had nothing of the extraordinary and everything of the ordinary,” she told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

According to the account provided by Mr. De Iesu, Mr. Amri was standing alone on a piazza in Sesto San Giovanni, next to the northern terminus of the M1 subway line.

When the officers stopped him and asked for identification, he was “aggressive, firm and determined,” Mr. De Iesu said.

Mr. Amri responded, in good Italian with a North African accent, that he was not carrying any documents on him. They asked him to empty his pockets and backpack. He was carrying a small knife and the equivalent of a few hundred dollars, but no cellphone.

But then he pulled out a pistol, Mr. De Iesu said.

“It was a regular patrol, under the new system of intensified police checks on the territory,” he said. “They had no perception that it could be him, otherwise they'd have been more careful.”

The officer whom Mr. Amri shot, identified as Cristian Movio, 35, was wounded in the shoulder and had surgery on Friday. The other officer, who shot Mr. Amri, was identified as Luca Scatà, 29.

Thanks to the brave efforts of police officers, “the Italians can have a very happy Christmas,” Mr. Minniti said. “Italy should be really proud of our security.”




Malta plane hijacking ends peacefully; 2 Libyans surrender

by Tribune News Services

Two hijackers diverted a domestic flight from Libya to the Mediterranean island of Malta on Friday and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades. After hours of negotiations, the standoff ended peacefully with the hijackers freeing all 117 passengers and crew and walking off the plane to surrender.

The hijacked Airbus A320 flight, operated by Afriqiyah Airways, was traveling from the Libyan oasis city of Sabha to Tripoli when it was diverted to Malta and landed at 11:34 a.m. local time.

Malta state television TVM said the two hijackers had hand grenades and had threatened to explode them. All flights to Malta International Airport were immediately diverted and emergency teams including negotiators were sent to the airport tarmac.

Ali Milad, the pilot, told Libya Channel TV network that initially the hijackers had asked him to head to Rome but Malta was much closer.




Suspect nabbed in road rage killing of 3-year-old boy

by Fox News

A 33-year-old man is facing a capital murder charge after being arrested in last week's road rage killing of a three-year-old Arkansas boy out Christmas shopping with his grandmother.

Gary Holmes was charged after surrendering to police in his hometown of Little Rock, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris said late Thursday. Holmes was the subject of national outrage and a $40,000 reward after allegedly shooting the boy after becoming enraged when his grandmother did not move fast enough after braking for a stop sign.

Holmes was booked into the Pulaski County Jail on one count of capital murder in the death of little Acen King during a traffic stop on Dec. 17.

He was also charged with two counts of carrying out a terroristic act.

U.S. Marshals worked with the suspect's parents to coordinate the surrender to Little Rock police, Fox 16 Little Rock reported.

A reporter for the station reported in a tweet that Holmes lives near the scene of the shooting.

The grandmother, who wasn't struck, drove away and called police from a shopping center. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly after.

Police Lt. Steve McClanahan said investigators believe the boy and his grandmother “were completely innocent” and have no relationship with the shooter. He said the grandmother simply was “driving the car and was taking her grandson shopping when the incident occurred.”

It was the second deadly Little Rock road rage incident involving a young child in the last few weeks. A 2-year-old girl was killed in November when a suspect who is still at-large drove by the vehicle she was riding in and opened fire.

“We cannot have a community to where the least protected among us, being infants, who are dying (in) these senseless crimes in our city,” Police Chief Kenton Buckner said.

He said he didn't know if the children's shootings were related.




4 Suspects Charged Over Alleged Christmas Day Terror Plot in Australia

by J.J. Gallagher

Four men have been charged in what authorities allege was a plot to launch a Christmas Day terrorist attack in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

Authorities detained five suspects, all men, in raids on Thursday night and Friday. Initially, three of the suspects were charged on Friday with preparing or planning a terrorist attack, The Associated Press reported. Authorities announced later in the day that a fourth man had been charged.

Hamza Abbas, 21, Ahmed Mohamed, 24, and Abdullah Chaarani, 26, did not enter pleas or apply for bail. They will appear in court next on April 28. Each faces a life sentence if convicted. The fourth man, a 22-year-old that authorities did not name, was also charged with preparing or planning a terrorist attack.

Four of the five suspects were born in Australia while the fifth was born in Egypt but holds dual citizenship.

Authorities say the men took inspiration from the Islamic State and planned to use explosives, knives and a gun to attack well-known landmarks in Melbourne, including the Flinders Street train station, Federation Square and St. Paul's Cathedral.

The alleged plotters were under police surveillance prior to the raids and had moved quickly from the planning stages to being able to strike, authorities said.

"Islamist terrorism is a global challenge that affects us all. But we must not be cowed by the terrorists," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters.

Law enforcement officials said the suspects posed a serious threat, adding that it was one of the most substantial terrorist plots seen in the country in recent years.

"In terms of events that we have seen over the past few years in Australia, this certainly concerns me more than any other event that I've seen," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.

The law enforcement operation, dubbed Operation Kastelholm, involved some 400 police officers and culminated with raids on five premises around Melbourne.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there will be extra police on the streets of Melbourne on Christmas Day to make the public feel safe.



ISIS sympathizers publish target list of churches in all 50 states: Reports

by Leada Gore

An online site frequented by ISIS supporters has reportedly published a list of churches in all 50 states for its followers to attack during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The list, first reported by Vocativ, includes church names and addresses in the U.S., Canada, France and the Netherlands. The church names appear to have been taken from a public directory. Vocativ did not publish the list of churches but said it included houses of worship in every state.

The Arabic-language message called for a "bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year"

Another message called on ISIS supporters to launch lone wolf attacks on "churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places."

Neither of the messages have been confirmed by the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security.

The post comes just days after ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 and injured 48.

This latest post isn't the first time ISIS has published a hit list. ISIS has previously published lists of the names, photos and addresses of U.S. service members, urging attacks by their supporters. Most of the information included on the list was publicly available and no attacks were tied to its release.

Homeland Security's most recent bulletin, published in November, said officials remain concerned about homegrown violent extremists who could strike inside the U.S. with little notice.

"Accordingly, increased public vigilance and awareness continue to be of utmost importance," DHS said. "DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places. The holiday season, in particular, provides additional opportunities for violent extremists to target public events and places where people congregate."




Safety alert issued for Texas police after threat over viral video

Police issued a safety alert after a man allegedly posted a threat on Facebook regarding the video saying they should "kill all the white cops in Fort Worth"

by Mitch Mitchell, Azia Branson, Deanna Boyd and Ryan Osborne

FORT WORTH, Texas — In what some are calling a racist incident, a white Fort Worth police officer arrested a black woman and her two teenage daughters Wednesday after the woman called police to ask for help. The incident was captured on a cellphone video that has gone viral that shows the officer pointing a Taser and wrestling the woman and one of her daughters to the ground and handcuffing them.

Jacqueline Craig called police Wednesday afternoon to report that a man had assaulted her 7-year-old son for littering. Relatives said that the man in their southwest Fort Worth neighborhood had grabbed the boy by the neck in an attempt to get him to pick up the trash.

After a police officer arrived at the scene in the 7400 block of Rock Garden Trail the situation quickly escalated, with women screaming profanities at the officer, who eventually handcuffed and arrested Craig and two daughters, Brea Hymond, 19, and Jacques Craig, 15.

A video of the incident was posted on Facebook has been viewed more than 1.9 million times by 8 p.m. Thursday.

The police officer is white and the women are black. The officer, who has not been identified, was placed on "restricted duty" pending the outcome of an investigation by internal affairs, police said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

About 100 people gathered at the old Tarrant County Courthouse Thursday night to protest the incident, calling for the officer to be fired immediately. They frequently shouted, "No justice! No peace!"

"We know that if that had been a black man grabbing the throat of a white boy," said Cory Hughes, one of the protest organizers, "he'd be in jail right now."

At a news conference earlier Thursday evening, Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family, said of the incident, "It's not a situation where someone used a racial slur, but racism is still all over it."

"If a white mother had called police about their son being choked, I guarantee that the officer would not have bypassed the suspect and arrested the mother," he said.

Terry Daffron, who represents the officer as counsel for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, cautioned against rushing to judgment based on the video, echoing a similar plea made by Fort Worth police earlier in the day.

"As has become the norm in our society, the video does not show the entire interaction between the officer and the individuals on the scene," Daffron said in a statement. "It is shameful that there is an immediate rush to judgment that my client is a racist cop simply because of the color of his skin. ... I am confident that when all of the facts, evidence, and information come to light, it will present a different account of the events."

After Jacqueline Craig was released from jail Thursday afternoon, she held a news conference at her home but declined to comment on specifics about the incident. She said the video was "self-explanatory."

"I just feel like I didn't get justice for what I called [police] for," Craig said. "What I will say is that I was hurt about the whole matter," she said. "I don't feel like justice was served."

The statement from the police said the department "expects every officer to treat persons they encounter with that same trust, respect and courtesy. We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions. ... We ask our community for patience and calm during this investigation process."

The statement said police investigators "worked throughout the night and into the morning" investigating the incident, interviewing witnesses and reviewing video, including the officer's body camera footage.

The body camera video can not be released until the investigation is completed, the statement said.

Earlier Thursday, police issued a "safety alert" after a threat was posted on Facebook regarding the video.

"On God I say we kill all the white cops in Fort Worth," the man allegedly posted on Facebook while sharing the video. Police included a mugshot of the man and that he had previously been arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated robbery, unlawfully carrying a weapon and family violence.

"Please use caution if you encounter this individual," the alert stated.

'Trying to protect my mom'

The video shows the officer talking to both the man who allegedly assaulted Craig's son and then Craig. Craig can be heard telling the man that he should have alerted her if he believed her son had littered and that he didn't have the right to put his hands on her son.

"Why don't you teach your son not to litter?" the officer asks Craig.

"He can't prove to me that my son littered," Craig responded. "But it doesn't matter if he did or didn't, it doesn't give him the right to put his hands on him."

"Why not?" the officer responds.

The exchange immediately grows heated with Craig telling the officer that his question made her angry and the officer replying he would take her to jail if she continued yelling at him.

Craig and other women began shouting at the officer, which was captured on video being shot by Craig's cousin Porsha Craver. Women crowded around the officer can be heard screaming profanities at the officer and calling him a "pig," before walking toward him.

A struggle between the officer and Craig ensued and Jacques Craig ran to stand in between the two, according to the video.

"I am 15 years old. How was I supposed to know I wasn't supposed to interfere?" Jacques Craig told the Star-Telegram on Thursday. "I was just trying to protect my mom."

The officer pulled his Taser and wrestled Craig to the ground and handcuffed her before pointing his Taser at Jacques Craig, who was lying on street. Jacques Craig was then handcuffed and placed inside a police vehicle. She said she was kicked while trying to get inside the vehicle.

"I didn't know how to sit in a police car, I've never done it before. I was just crying and worried and thinking about how to get out," she said.

Jacques Craig said she was released from a juvenile detention center about midnight.

Jacqueline Craig, 46, was arrested for resisting arrest and also has outstanding traffic warrants, according to jail records.

Hymond was arrested for resisting arrest and interfering with public duty, according to jail records.

Both women were released from the Mansfield Jail on Thursday afternoon.

The Next Generation Action Network is having a protest at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth.

Just before relatives were getting ready to call police to report the incident involving her son, Craig said she saw that the man was already on the phone with them. He was saying there were a lot of "them here now."

Mostly immune

While many of the nation's largest cities have been the focus of Black Lives Matter protests in recent months, mostly because of controversial shootings of black men by police, Fort Worth has been mostly immune to racially charged incidents.

Police have been active in the community, and at a public forum in August, Joel Fitzgerald, Fort Worth's first black police chief, talked about the importance of building relationships.

"We need to break through now to the next generation of kids out there so they understand we're here to provide a service to them," Fitzgerald said.

In a statement, Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said the responding officer "ignored basic community policing standards and his own responsibility to de-escalate the confrontation."

"This incident and countless others like them demonstrate that for people of color, showing anything less than absolute deference to police officers -- regardless of the circumstances -- can have unjust and often tragic consequences," the statement said. "This fundamental injustice is also a threat to public safety. If a black woman in Fort Worth can't call the cops after her son is allegedly choked by a neighbor without getting arrested, why would she ever call the cops again?"

When Jacqueline Craig was asked Thursday afternoon if the incident has caused her to lose faith in law enforcement, she said: "It hasn't really, because just like with people, you have some good [officers] and some bad. I just have to teach my kids the way I've been teaching them, to not lose faith."




Public Safety Survey: 70% say crime in Milwaukee is so bad, they've considered moving

by Katie DeLong

MILWAUKEE — Your input could soon help make Milwaukee safer.

A Public Safety Survey in Milwaukee has been completed — with more than 1,600 people participating.

Participants said the three greatest problems in the city are: Carjackings, residential burglaries and reckless driving.

Residents said they want more officers on foot and bicycle.

70% of residents said they see crime in the city as such a big problem they've considered moving.

A Milwaukee Common Council committee will review these results. There could be a new safety plan in place in 2017.

CLICK HERE to view the survey results.




Ala. officer shot in head; suspect dead

The suspect opened fire on officers when they responded to a domestic disturbance call

by PoliceOne Staff

SARALAND, Ala. — A suspect opened fire on police, critically wounding one, when the officers responded to a domestic disturbance call Wednesday.

Police Chief James West told WIAT that suspect Blake Richardson “immediately opened fire when the officers arrived, striking one of the police officers in the head.”

After a short pursuit, Richardson was taken into custody and transferred to a local hospital where he later died, according to the news station.

The officer is in critical condition at a local hospital.




Body cam captures moment before fatal shooting of Ga. officers

The video shows the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of Officers Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith

Editor's Note: The video on the site contains graphic footage. As such, be advised that this footage may be upsetting to some viewers. The decision to run news like the below is not one we take lightly, and we do so because we believe it has value to our law enforcement audience in capturing the sort of situation law enforcers hope never to face. We feel it is important even as it is difficult to observe.

by Jennifer Burk

AMERICUS, Ga. — The GBI released a video Wednesday from the killing of Americus police officer Nicholas Smarr.

The video was captured on Smarr's body camera and shows a bit of what led up to the fatal shooting of Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University campus policeman Jody Smith.

The suspected shooter, Minguell Lembrick, was found dead the next day from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the video, Smarr drives up to apartments on South Lee Street as he responded to a 911 call about a domestic dispute Dec. 7.

Smarr walks up to an apartment, communicating with someone on his radio that the suspect is still inside. He knocks on the door, opens it slowly and sees the suspect go out the back door. Smarr chases the man through the apartment and outside past other units.

He yells, "Minguell, stop!"

Shots are fired, and the video ends abruptly. The GBI redacted the rest of the video, citing Georgia law that exempts the release of graphic video of a deceased person.

Danny Jackson, special agent in charge for the GBI, said though Smith had a body camera, it was not operating at the time of the incident.



Police seek man who attacked Ill. state trooper

Police released a photo and composite sketch of the person who fired a gun while scuffling with an on-duty state trooper last month

by Megan Crepeau

(Sketch on site)

CHICAGO — Illinois State Police on Tuesday released a photo and composite sketch of the person who fired a gun while scuffling with an on-duty state trooper at a Tri-State Tollway plaza last month.

The trooper, who was in an unmarked car and wearing plain clothes, approached the man Nov. 7 at the Halsted Street toll plaza on I-294. He identified himself as a police officer, at which point the man wearing a reflective vest pulled a gun and reached into the side window of the squad car, police said.

The two struggled for the gun, and the man fired at least one shot, police said. The trooper was not shot, but did suffer injuries during the struggle.

The man then fled the scene, and has not yet been located.

He is described as a black man in his late 40s to early 50s, standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 180 pounds. He had a patchy black and white beard and walked with a slight limp.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call state police at 630-241-6800.




Researchers: Nearly 400 drug addicts helped in Mass. police effort

The team said 376 addicts sought assistance 429 times from the Gloucester Police Department's Angel program from June 2015 to May 2016

by Philip Marcelo

BOSTON — A novel drug addiction program developed in a small Massachusetts fishing town and since replicated in dozens of cities nationwide was able to place almost 400 addicts into treatment nearly each time they sought it during the first year of operation, researchers say in a report being published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The team from the Boston Medical Center and Boston University's School of Public Health say 376 addicts sought assistance 429 times from the Gloucester Police Department's Angel program from June 2015 to May 2016. They received the help they needed nearly 95 percent of the time, researchers say.

Davida Schiff, a Boston Medical Center doctor and lead author of the report, said that rate is far higher than the 50 to 60 percent for similar, hospital-based initiatives.

Part of the reason, she said, is that Gloucester's addicts were voluntarily coming to police seeking help. "They were motivated individuals that came to the station ready to engage in care," Schiff said.

The report also notes that Gloucester police established a relationship with a local treatment center to make placement easier. Its officers were working round-the-clock to secure the placements. And Massachusetts mandates health coverage for drug detoxification.

Law enforcement officials in communities that have adopted Gloucester-like heroin initiatives say the report helps validate their work.

"Police officers do not get to pick and choose who they help, and that puts us in a position to make a major impact on the heroin and opioid epidemic," said Frederick Ryan, police chief in the Boston suburb of Arlington.

The Angel program has been replicated in some form by more than 150 police departments in 28 states since it was launched in June 2015. It gained notoriety after the then-police chief promised heroin addicts they could turn in their drugs at the police station without fear of arrest, so long as they agreed to start treatment.

As part of the program, officers personally reach out to treatment centers on behalf of addicts, arrange their transportation to the facilities and, if needed, pair them with a volunteer "angel" for emotional support.

David Rosenbloom, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health who helped write the report, suggested the program's success underscores the difficulty of accessing drug treatment services.

Roughly half of the participants in the program had prior drug-related arrests, he noted.

"It says something when addicts are going to the police station for treatment," said Rosenbloom, a founding board member of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that supports the Angel program and partly financed the research. "It's a real condemnation of how the whole treatment system faces the public."

The next step for researchers is following up with first-year participants to see how they fared in treatment and beyond, he said. The researchers also hope to study similar programs nationally.



South Carolina

Santa Claus in SC ambulance delivers toys to sick kids

Santa and EMS crews visited the homes of children who required EMS over the last year

by EMS1 Staff

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. — Santa Claus and EMS providers helped spread holiday cheer by visiting sick children and handing out gifts this week.

Dorchester County EMS and Santa paid a visit to the homes of 10 children as part of the agency's annual toy handout, reported the Journal Scene .

“It's a chance to reconnect with some of the really sick kids,” Doug Warren, the agency's EMS director, said. It's important for kids to build relationships with all the public safety [people] … so if they ever feel [threatened], they can come to us.”

The tradition began in 2011 and has continued every year since; toys are purchased through community donations and children receive at least one gift.

Santa and the crew stopped by the home of 8-year-old Aarilynne McConnell, who suffers from a form of epilepsy that has forced her to frequently need EMS.

The agency selected 10 out of 600 children who required EMS this year, based off of which cases were the most critical.

“I physically read every report and choose the really sick ones,” Lt. Megan White said.



Department of Justice


Long Beach Sex Offender Faces Indictment that Charges Him with Attempted Sex Trafficking and Using Internet to Entice Minor

LOS ANGELES – A convicted sex offender from Long Beach has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of attempted sex trafficking of a child for allegedly responding to an online advertisement that offered sex with a 15-year-old girl in exchange for $200.

Victor James Sporman, 46, who previously resided in Bellflower, was named in a two-count indictment that was returned yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges Sporman with attempted sex trafficking of a child and using the Internet to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The case against Sporman is the result of an undercover operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). Authorities were conducting an anti-sex trafficking operation in Long Beach and posted an advertisement on the Craigslist website that was designed to attract individuals interested in engaging in commercial sex acts with minors.

“This defendant is charged with using the Internet to locate a child to rape in exchange for money,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This indictment reflects conduct that is abhorrent in a civilized society, and is the latest example of my office's dedication to protecting vulnerable members of our society, especially children victimized by the sex trafficking industry.”

On October 26, Sporman responded to the advertisement via e-mail and subsequently engaged in a series of text messages with an undercover agent he thought was a 15-year-old girl, according to the indictment. Sporman agreed to pay $200 to engage in sex with the “girl.” Sporman repeatedly texted photographs of himself, money and his genitals. In preparation for the encounter on December 6, Sporman purchased condoms. When Sporman arrived at the hotel to have the sexual encounter with the girl, Sporman had approximately $200 in his possession, as well as two condoms.

Sporman was arrested at the hotel on December 6 and made his initial court appearance the next day, when he was released on a $40,000 bond.

Sporman is expected to be arraigned on the indictment on January 3 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Both of the charges in the indictment carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and statutory maximum sentence of life.

“The predators who are brazenly stalking our children online need to know that HSI, together with its law enforcement partners, is working tirelessly to track you down and hold you accountable for your crimes,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “We need the public's assistance in this effort. We urge anyone in the community who has information about this case, or any other incident involving possible child sex trafficking, to come forward so we can prosecute the perpetrators and provide assistance to their victims.”

Investigators believe there may be unidentified underage victims related to Sporman. Any member of the public who has information is requested to contact investigators by using HSI's toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing an online form.

The case against Sporman is the product on an investigation by HSI's Los Angeles Human Smuggling and Trafficking Group, which received substantial assistance from the Long Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lana Morton-Owens of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.

FROM: Thom Mrozek, Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer

United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California



Death Sentences Decline Sharply as Public Attitudes Shift

by Sam Hananel

Only 30 people were sentenced to death in the United States this year, the lowest number since the early 1970s and a further sign of the steady decline in use of the death penalty.

The number is a sharp drop from the 49 death sentences last year and just a fraction of the peak of 315 in 1996, according to a report from the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that opposes capital punishment and tracks the issue.

"I think we are watching a major political climate change concerning capital punishment and it's reflected among reduced death sentences across the country," said Robert Dunham, the group's executive director.

The growing reluctance of juries to sentence defendants to death is one of several factors contributing to the overall drop in executions. Twenty people were executed this year, the fewest since 1991, when 14 people were put to death. The high-water mark was in 1999, when there were 98 executions.

Other factors leading to a drop in executions include shortages of the drugs needed to carry out lethal injection and more robust legal challenges by defendants in capital cases.

About half of Americans still support the death penalty according to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year, but that is the lowest level in more than four decades. Public support for capital punishment peaked in the mid-1990s, when 80 percent of Americans favored it.

Yet the issue still causes deep divisions. Voters in California and Nebraska declined to abolish the death penalty in their states when they considered referendums last month. And states like Ohio and Oklahoma that have halted executions over problems with lethal injection drugs are trying to figure out how to resume.

Capital punishment remains legal in 31 states.

Only five states conducted executions this year, the fewest number of states to do so since 1983. Georgia led the way with nine, followed by Texas with seven, two in Alabama and one each in Missouri and Florida.

And just five states sentenced more than one person to death in 2016. California imposed nine death sentences, followed by five in Ohio, four in Texas, three in Alabama and two in Florida. But California hasn't executed any of the 741 inmates on its death row since 2006 due to legal challenges over its lethal injection method.

"As fewer states use the death penalty and as it's used more sparingly in the states that do, we can expect long-term numbers to remain low and perhaps continue to drop," Dunham said.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer last week renewed his call for the high court to consider whether the death penalty is unconstitutional. Breyer dissented from the court's refusal to take up a Florida death row inmate's appeal. He said defendants who face death sentences are not society's worst criminals but are "chosen at random, on the basis, perhaps of geography, perhaps of the views of the individual prosecutors, or still worse on the basis of race."

So far, only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has joined Breyer in questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty.




Germany's terrorism threat level still low in spite of Berlin truck attack: Risk expert

by Gemma Acton

Monday evening's attack on a Berlin Christmas market did not reveal any increased terrorist threat to Germany, according to a leading global risk consultancy.

Charles Hecker, senior partner at Control Risks told CNBC's Squawk Box on Wednesday that his firm is maintaining a low terrorist rating for the country in the wake of the attacks. This is partly because the tragic event looks unlikely to materially impact domestic businesses but also partly due to the Berlin attack appearing to be the act of a "lone wolf."

In Hecker's view, the driving of the truck through an unguarded marketplace was a simplistic operation, not one that revealed a high degree of coordination, technology or multiple angles or one that signified a qualitative change in terrorist capabilities in the country.

As the search for details to help unravel the full story continues, Hecker points to discovering the identity of the individual behind the attacks as the next critical piece for the authorities, in order to determine elements such as whether the perpetrator was a recent arrival in the country and how they had been radicalized.

It would also be essential to understanding the extent of the terrorist's engagement with jihadist group, the so-called Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday.

Once deciphered, these factors would shape the agenda for both interpreting the security situation within Germany and better estimating the political fallout for Angela Merkel as she prepares to battle for a fourth term as Chancellor in next September's federal elections.

Should the perpetrator be shown to have been a beneficiary of Merkel's controversial 2015 open-door policy towards around a million refugees, the pressure on her would be significantly greater.

However, Hecker was keen to point out that large scale attacks enacted in the past 14 months in Paris and Brussels were carried out by first-generation citizens who had been raised within these cities, so observers must be careful not to jump to conclusions.

Furthermore, he pointed to Germany's relatively strong track record of integrating refugees into its social security system.

"Germany is a country with an enormous and very secure social security net and by and large the absorption of refugees into employment, into schools and into the German social fabric is going pretty well," the risk analyst noted.

"It's kind of along that Scandinavian model, that Denmark model for anti-radicalisation and for giving people jobs, a community and a position in a new life," he explained.

Hecker also refused to point to failed multi-culturalism as the key issue, saying the evolving situation in the Middle East is a more important factor.

"I think the problem is now, whether it is migrants or local folks, the gradual destruction of IS in Raqqa and northern Iraq is going to increase the dispersal of that threat all around Europe," he posited.

Turning to the fatal shooting on Monday evening of Russia's ambassador to Turkey in the latter's capital city of Ankara, Hecker said he did not expect the event to derail the gradual rapprochement between Russia and Turkey.

While the two countries were at pains subsequent to the ambassador's murder to publicly declare their ongoing joint initiatives to battle terrorism, Hecker told CNBC that he believed this message only up to a point.

"After all they are on separate sides of the story in Syria and on Assad and so they are going to have to in the short to medium term deal with that as something that does drive a wedge between them in regional politics in the area," he highlighted.

Discussing drivers for their friendship, Hecker noted the attraction for Russia.

"Russia wants a southern oil and gas pipeline and it's going to have to go through Turkey. So they are going to have to learn to like each other no matter what happens in either of those two countries," he said.

Meanwhile, he explained that Turkey appreciated the ability to play eastern and western leaders off against one another so would tolerate just enough – but not too much – of Russia in its backyard.




Va. police receive grant for community policing programs

The Lynchburg Police Department will be working with the Boys & Girls Club and allocate its $20,000 grant toward putting city youth in the club's Street Smart Program

by Rachel Mahoney LYNCHBURG, Va. — Two area law enforcement agencies will receive state funding for community policing initiatives in 2017.

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that a total of $756,327 will be distributed to agencies statewide through 36 “Policing in the 21st Century” grants. The funding is meant to boost community policing efforts.

The Lynchburg Police Department will be working with the Boys & Girls Club and allocate its $20,000 grant toward putting city youth in the club's Street Smart Program.




How a cookout helped a chief rewrite the community policing playbook

The event that got national attention is just the highest-profile example of steps a Kan. chief has taken to facilitate discussion and build relationships with his community

by Cole Zercoe

From the continued wave of negative attention on law enforcement to a dramatic uptick in line-of-duty gunfire deaths, 2016 has been an extremely tumultuous year in policing. But in the aftermath of a devastating pair of ambush attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, a police department in Wichita, Kansas made national headlines for a story of hope – a protest-turned-barbeque that served as a beacon of light in what was arguably the darkest time for police-community relations this year.

The four-hour event – which saw roughly 2,000 people engaging in friendly dialogue with the mayor, city council members, and cops from the Wichita PD – featured dancing, free food, and a public Q&A with Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, in which no subject was off limits. Coined the “First Steps Community Cookout,” the event was just the highest-profile example of the steps Ramsay and the PD have taken to facilitate discussion and actively build relationships with the community they serve.

Connecting before a crisis

That the event happened at all can be largely attributed to a solid foundation of dialogue between the department and local community leaders, which Ramsay has taken a lead role in developing since the beginning of his tenure as chief in January. It's an approach he learned during his 10 years as top cop in Duluth, Minnesota: Building connections before – not after – a crisis occurs in the community.

“I learned the importance of having relationships with key community members, especially community organizers,” Ramsay said. “Building a relationship where we're on a first-name basis, we have each other's cellphone numbers, we talk about issues, meet when there's not a crisis. That was obviously key – that we had a relationship where we could have these discussions and they saw the value in it.”

One of those community organizers is Djuan Wash, who has worked with lawmakers on a number of social justice issues through organizations like Sunflower Community Action and the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and who organized many of the police protests in Wichita. Wash and Ramsay's relationship dates back to when Ramsay was still interviewing for the chief position.

“He came out and explained that he was a Black Lives Matter supporter, that he understood the historical context of policing and African American communities, and we started off on a really good foot,” Wash said.

In July, community members held a series of protests tied to the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Ramsay communicated with protest organizers from the very start of the rallies, but Wash and other activists declined the chief's first few offers for the police force to be in direct communication with protesters, believing, at least initially, that there needed to be some space between police and demonstrators.

“Gordon was always trying to call and ask what he could do to support us. At that point [prior to the barbeque], we just needed to air out our frustrations and figure out what we needed to do as a community to ensure that this [police misconduct] doesn't continue to happen and that it doesn't happen here,” Wash said.

Ramsay honored those wishes by keeping the community safe during demonstrations, but at a distance.

“We did a march and there was no police presence,” Wash said. “It was a major difference than what you see in other states – police on the scrimmage line with tear gas and AR-15s, just a very violent clash. We didn't have that problem – they were policing the area but they were never visible, they let us march,” Wash said. “The next day you saw headlines that you don't see in other cities. ‘Police chief: We wanted the protest to happen.' ‘Kansas Highway Patrol calls Black Lives Matter peaceful.' It was really a major difference.”

An honest conversation

The barbeque was born out of growing concern from community leaders and Ramsay that the tone of the rallies was beginning to trend toward a potentially volatile situation. Ramsay reached out to Wash and other organizers with the idea to put on the cookout – something that he had done regularly during his summers as chief in Duluth.

“I'm passionate about the role police play in society and the good things that we do every minute of every day. And that's been lost in the narrative,” Ramsay said. “So I know that when people meet our cops in a situation where there's not a crisis occurring, over food, in a relaxed setting, they're gonna see a different side to them that they haven't seen on TV.”

Prior to the cookout, Ramsay sat down with Wash and other organizers to review the changes community members wanted to see in the department. Echoing his strategy from previous protests, Ramsay gave careful consideration to how law enforcement would be perceived at the event. He gave the critical role of keeping the peace to 30 black pastors, who walked around the park and listened for anybody who was upset in order to diffuse situations.

“Police weren't going to get involved unless it got dangerous,” Ramsay said. “When I spoke to the crowd, the pastors surrounded me. There was an exit plan in case something happened.”

In the hours leading up to the event, some officers expressed fear. The deadly ambush attack on police in Baton Rouge occurred the morning of the cookout. Some officers who were going to bring their kids to the event decided to leave them at home. Wash said some community members seemed equally apprehensive.

But as the cookout went on, most of that fear gave way to a gathering both productive and celebratory – an “enormous success.”

“We didn't think there were going to be as many officers as there were … it was really surprising to have that much support for wanting to see something change,” Wash said. “There were some people who said they had never seen anything like this happen in Wichita.”

The conversations gave both civilians and police officers a venue to unpack weighty topics such as police use of force and implicit bias. It was also an opportunity to get more personal; some officers shared stories with community members of why they got started in police work. Many of the attendees had never had a one-on-one discussion with an officer prior to the barbeque.

“I got a lot of feedback from people that they were proud of their city – that what we had done showed others how to get out of these situations,” Ramsay said.

Even the harshest critics within the department were shocked by the results.

“There were skeptics. Some of them thought I had lost my marbles. Some of them were upset that officers were dancing; they thought it was unprofessional,” Ramsay said. “But when they saw the feedback from the community – the millions and millions of hits of the officers dancing – they realized that it turned out to be better than they had thought it would be. It humanized the officers and reminded the community that cops are people too, they care, they want to be community minded and they want good relationships. This is what we need to be doing instead of fighting – putting a blueprint together to figure this out.”

Rewriting the playbook

As a result of these conversations with the community prior to, during, and after the cookout, the department is now working with local activists on an independent prosecutor for police-involved shootings, department-wide implicit bias training, and ensuring they are up to best practices on asset forfeiture. They also received a grant for increased foot patrols – which will allow the agency to get more officers out of their cars to further improve relationships. Ramsay developed different liaison officers to bridge specific gaps – including an officer for Hispanic outreach, the mentally ill, the LGBTQ community, and the deaf and hard of hearing. He was also instrumental in developing the “God Squad,” a collective of pastors tasked with furthering the connection between cops and the community. After the barbeque, the PD held three more neighborhood-focused cookouts specifically designed to encourage youth and police interaction.

“I got some feedback from other officers [after the story went viral] that said ‘Well, we could never do that in our community – we'd get eaten up.' I don't believe that for a minute,” Ramsay said. “It's almost an occupational hazard in policing – particularly in departments where you're call to call – you get the “us vs. them” mentality. And I've been there; you start to think the only normal people out there are you and other cops – that society has gone mad. But that's not true – 99 percent of the population supports the police. Take the time to get to know your community other than the one percent who are in crisis all the time and you will find that the community wants to have a good relationship with their police. Take time to build those relationships. When you do, there will be payback in positive ways.”

And while both sides agree that the work never stops, fostering those relationships in Wichita has resulted in a city on a path toward breaking the divisiveness that has been a constant narrative throughout the country this year.

“A lot of people remain skeptical about the work that we're trying to do with police that isn't as adversarial and as militant as what folks are doing in other places,” Wash said. “But at the end of the day, I feel like we've been effective. Where we have the most impact is through changing policy and through legislation.”

“Try doing different things,” Ramsay said. “The playbook for policing is out the window, and in this day and age we need to rewrite it.”




LMPD Community Policing Unit working to connect in 'critical areas' of Louisville

by Katrina Helmer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The newly-formed LMPD Community Policing Unit has been working to connect with the public for six weeks, and it's still figuring out how it is meant to best function.

The new unit was created in September when the LMPD restructuring was announced. Nine existing officers were pulled to create the unit and started working together under Lt. Jamey Schwab in early November.

“We bring a personable side to the police department to these interactions,” Lt. Schwab said.

The unit was designed with the intent of bridging the gap between the public and police by rebuilding trust in what are being called "critical areas" of Louisville. But it will take some time to define goals and intentions.

“There are a lot of directions that we could potentially go in,” Lt. Schwab said. “So we're trying to identify where are we going to get the best benefit? A lot of what we're doing is kind of going out and building some relationships with the community and start working on projects.”

The officers have teamed up to hand out Christmas presents to children. And as schools are out on holiday break, officers are playing and connecting with kids at community centers.

“I think that's really the key with some of the violence going on in our community,” Lt. Schwab said. “...Is being able to reach out to the young people.”

Officer Amber Ross is one of the officers in the Community Policing Unit. She says it's giving her more time than she had working her beat to interact with the community to build trust.

"We're trying to get to know these kids,” Ross said. “We're trying to get to know who they are, where they come from, what they are about."

Ross said her vision and hope working with this unit is to get “more kids on the right goal.”

Defining how the unit is successful is difficult to do.

"We want to be qualitative instead of quantitative,” Lt. Schwab said. “So we really are basing what we're doing on the quality of our interactions. So I think success for us ... [is] going to be one program at a time, or one person we reach out to at a time."

Lt. Schwab said for as much as people see detectives or public information officers out at crime scenes, he wants the public to see this unit just as much.

"Just like you have officers respond to a critical incident like a shooting or something and you have investigators, our unit actually offers resources on the back end,” Lt. Schwab said. “Where we can actually get into that area and offer a more personal side of law enforcement and really try to identify what the root cause of the issues in the community are."

The unit is not just focused on connecting with kids in high-crime areas. Currently, the officers are divided up to connect to these 12 groups in the community:

•  Immigrants and refugees

•  Homeless population

•  Mentally ill

•  Substance abuse (Healing Place)

•  LGBTQ community

•  Latino community

•  Clergy/faith-based organizations

•  Minority and special interest groups

•  Citizen's Police Academy (this will include our existing Alumni Associations)

•  Youth outreach

•  Veteran's groups

•  Special Needs (Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

The federal grant will fund the Community Policing Unit for the next three years. Lt. Schwab will have to provide quarterly reports on the activity of the unit to support the grant.




Texas City Police Launch Community Policing Program To Spread Holiday Cheer

#TreatsNotTickets brings smiles from those surprised by Christmas Cheer from police department.

by Bryan Kirk

TEXAS CITY, TX - The traditional traffic stop and flashing red and blue lights from the Texas City Police Department have a different meaning to some motorists this holiday season.

That's because the patrol officers are hard at work handing out treats and bringing smiles to residents.

The initiative, dubbed #TreatsNotTickets, was launched this week and is bringing smiles to children at adults who receive gifts such as snacks, gift baskets and even toys.

The concept is a new community policing initiative that was devised by Jail Supervisor Wendy Wade, Officer Tosha Ramirez and Officer Petrina Gonzales, who were brainstorming ways to help the public form a stronger relationship with police.

Clinton search warrant released, 'Vegan Bernie Madoff' offered plea deal, and the next class for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced.

Police officers have been appearing out of the blue and surprising unsuspecting beneficiaries in store parking lots, school crossings, hospitals and city streets to bestow some Christmas cheer.

Texas City Police Chief Robert Burby expressed his pride for those who worked hard to create the community initiative in such a short amount of time, and believes this can help build stronger community relationships.

The police will continue to post photos to the Texas City PD Twitter feed as they surprise more people.




Ward 2 uses Neighborhood Watch to strengthen community policing

by Helen Lyons

In Bernadette McAuliffe's living room, two police officers in full body armor with guns on their hips sat in antique rocking chairs, nibbling on mini grocery-store cupcakes and laughing at their hostess's jokes.

It was the third Thursday of the month, which meant that it was time for Ward 2 neighbors to get together with local police for their Neighborhood Watch meeting.

“It's people watching out for each other and each other's homes,” explained city councilmember and Ward 2 resident, Robert Croslin. “The most important thing is that neighbors look out for neighbors.”

But this Neighborhood Watch group is about more than just crime prevention.

As a bowl of popcorn and a plate of cookies made the rounds, the group discussed the latest community news, and plans for a block party began to take shape.

“It's always a potluck,” said Emily Strab, who heads Ward 2's Watch. “It's just very social. The Hyattsville Police Department has been partnering with us, and we all just get to know each other. If we see something suspicious, we feel like we can call them because we know who they are.”

There are 27,174 registered Neighborhood Watch groups nationwide, according to a spokesperson from the National Sheriffs Association (NSA), with three registered groups in the Hyattsville area. John Thompson, deputy executive director and COO of the NSA, called Neighborhood Watch groups the “eyes and ears of the law.”

“They're more in tune to their community,” said Thompson. “They're more alert. They report crimes. If you're a burglar and you want to commit a crime, and one neighborhood has a Neighborhood Watch and one doesn't, which one are you going to go for?”

In an effort to modernize and enhance this form of community policing, which began in the United States in the 1960s, the National Neighborhood Watch Program recently released a mobile app allowing users to submit anonymous reports about “drugs, marijuana, and other crime concerns, suspicious activities and community disorder.”

The app also provides educational training videos for Neighborhood Watch volunteers and assistance with assembling and maintaining an active Watch group, which many believe can lower crime in an area.

“[Neighborhood Watch] definitely works,” Thompson said. “We know that.”

Residents of other Hyattsville wards are considering starting their own Neighborhood Watch groups, using Ward 2's as a model. “It's the oldest and most prestigious watch in Hyattsville,” said Councilmember Joseph Solomon (Ward 5).

Yet in the McAuliffe's tranquil, charming home on a quiet, tree-lined street, there was no air of pretension — just good food and good company.

Chief of Police Douglas Holland handed out fliers for an upcoming police fundraiser, and neighbors munched on snacks while listening to the latest crime report for their block and proposing solutions for dealing with vacant homes.

The relationship between residents and law enforcement was informal, relaxed, friendly — exactly what Neighborhood Watch is designed to achieve.

“Whatever we can do as a city to make things easier for them,” said Strab, “that's what our job is.”

If you're a Hyattsville resident, you can contact your city councilmember to determine if a Neighborhood Watch exists in your ward, or visit www.nnw.org for assistance in starting one.



Where do police-community relations stand in 2016?

Public respect for police surged and is at a near-record high; why wasn't this story more widely covered?

by Val Van Brocklin

Stories about police use of force began rocking headlines in 2014 and continued through 2016. This year's headlines also brought a disturbing trend of targeted attacks on police officers. In 2016, America suffered a great loss; there were a total of 138 officers who died in the line of duty at the time of this writing and of those, 62 were shot and killed. That's a 72 percent increase over 2015. What's scarier is the increase in ambush attacks – 170 percent. The months of July and November were particularly tragic for the law enforcement community. From the news and social media this year, you'd think police-citizen relations were at a low not seen since the civil unrest of the 1960s and 1970s, an era that had its own police-citizen turmoil.

2016 police-citizen relations are, in reality, very positive

The shocking police story of 2016 you probably didn't hear is that public respect for police surged and is at a near-record high -- across every age, race and political persuasion. PoliceOne covered that news, of course. But how many of you saw it in the mainstream news or social media? And, how many citizens heard this shocking news? It's true.

A 2016 Gallup poll shows:

•  76 percent of Americans have “a great deal” of respect for police -- up 12 percent from last year

•  Among conservatives – 85 percent respect police “a great deal” compared to 69 percent last year

•  Among liberals, “a great deal” was selected by 71 percent, compared to 50 percent last year

•  Whites who respect police a great deal rose 11 points -- up to 80 percent from 69 percent last year

•  Among non-whites, the rise was more dramatic -- up 14 points from 53 percent to 67 percent

•  The 18-34 age group had the highest jump, going from 50 percent in 2015 to 69 percent in 2016

•  The 35-54 group went from 61 percent to 77 percent -- a 16 percent increase

•  The 55-and-older crowd rose four percent -- from 77 percent to 81 percent

Gallup has asked this question nine times since 1965. A solid majority of Americans have said they respect their local law enforcement in all polls conducted since 1965. The percentage who say they respect the police is significantly higher now than in any measurement taken since the 1990s and is just one point below the high of 77 percent recorded in 1967.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, it's good news – for police and citizens. It means police-citizen relationships aren't controlled by what the media – news or social – chooses to publicize.

While, according to Gallup, some minorities continue feel – in the 1960s and today – under siege by police carrying out political policies that discriminately impact them, there are also some police officers who feel under siege by news and social media that focuses on specific incidents of enforcement while largely ignoring the overwhelming number of daily incidents of protection and service – and largely ignoring an important story about the positive police-citizen relations that exists across the nation.

Lessons for recruits, officers and citizens

As an adjunct instructor at the Alaska Department of Public Safety Training Academy, I make sure police recruits in their 20s and 30s understand their profession's role in enforcing segregationist Jim Crow laws well into the 1960s as well as the failed political policies of the 1970s War on Drugs that disparately impacted minorities – a history that occurred before they were born. Their reactions include:

•  Shock at the overt systemic, cultural, racial bias of those times

•  Dawning realization about how that history might have minorities viewing them with distrust

•  Worry and frustration they will be judged by something they had nothing to do with

But I also make sure the recruits hear about the most recent Gallup poll. The Gallup poll findings show that despite what the media decides to focus on, the citizens in their communities will judge police officers on their behavior. And, while it might not seem like it from the news, police are earning record high respect. Police leaders should be shouting the positive Gallup poll findings from the rooftops – on agency Facebook pages, in press releases and in newspaper opinion pieces.

Like I said, the most shocking – and positive – police news story of 2016 that you probably never heard is one that every officer and citizen should hear, and be proud of – it shows their independent thinking and working to build bridges of respect in their communities.




Police up patrols at Chicago Christmas market after Berlin attack

Officials said that "while there is no threat to the city or the greater area," additional officers will be out on patrol

by Nereida Moreno

CHICAGO — Chicago police said security is being increased at the Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket after a truck rammed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing at least nine people.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the department said that "while there is no threat to the city or the greater area," additional foot and bike patrols and specialized units will be positioned at Daley Plaza."

"We continue to work closely with the Cook County Sheriff's Office and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications as well as with federal partners to ensure an optimal level of public safety throughout the holiday season," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Officials from Christkindlmarket Chicago and Christkindlmarket Naperville issued a statement Monday saying "our heartfelt thoughts go out to all the families and first responders who were affected by today's tragedy in Berlin."



San Francisco announces LAPD veteran as new police chief

William Scott will lead the force as it implements broad changes in the wake of several officer-involved shootings

by Matier and Ross - San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor Ed Lee plans to announce Tuesday that he is hiring a veteran Los Angeles deputy police chief to lead the San Francisco force as it implements broad changes in the wake of several shootings of African Americans and Latinos, according to City Hall sources.

William Scott, who is 52 and African American, has been with the Los Angeles Police Department for more than 25 years and heads the department's 1,700-member South Bureau, a nearly 58-square-mile territory.

The selection of Scott is certain to surprise friends and critics of Lee alike, with the mayor looking outside the city rather than promoting acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin — which many city leaders expected, and the officers' union urged — or a member of his command staff.

But as much as Scott's longtime administrative experience figured into the decision — he did assignments in patrol, the detectives bureau, internal affairs and gang operations — we're told he was coveted as much for his work in the department's professional standards bureau dealing with police reform.

“He has been part of a department that during the last 10 years has undergone its own transformation, implementing a variety of reforms under a consent decree with the Justice Department,” said one source familiar with the selection process.

Scott, whose appointment does not require confirmation by the Police Commission, is expected to be on hand Tuesday morning when Lee introduces him at a City Hall news conference.

Since the search began seven months ago, the perceived front-runner was Chaplin, who is also African American. Chaplin was elevated in May following the forced resignation of Greg Suhr, just hours after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African American woman in a stolen car renewed questions about whether the Police Department had lost the confidence of minority communities in the city.

The department was already being reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department, which in October recommended 272 changes after concluding the force needed to better train, track and discipline officers. The Justice Department agreed to study the SFPD following the fatal police shooting last December of an African American man.

Chaplin initially said he wanted to stay on as chief only temporarily, but he changed his tune within a few months after winning support from some black religious leaders and the San Francisco Police Officers Association. The union has been at loggerheads with the mayor's office, the Police Commission and community activists over the department's use-of-force policies in the wake of a string of deadly officer-involved shootings over the past couple of years.

The Police Officers Association even aired a radio ad in support of Chaplin, preferring an in-house candidate that they knew to someone from the outside. The union is still locked in a toxic political battle with the city's last outside chief, George Gascón, who is now San Francisco's district attorney. Like Scott, Gascón had served in Los Angeles under former Chief William Bratton.

As late as Monday, union President Martin Halloran described Chaplin as “the right chief at the right time.”

But Chaplin faced questions over the strength of his educational credentials and his relative lack of experience. He didn't enter the command ranks until 2015, when he was promoted from lieutenant to commander. Plus, Chaplin lives in Castro Valley, and he indicated early in the process that he had no intention of moving to the city.

Sources tell us Scott, who is married and has three children, has committed to living in San Francisco. He likely will start in about a month at an annual salary of roughly $316,000.

Scott was an Army brat whose family eventually settled in Birmingham, Ala., where he attended the University of Alabama and got a degree in accounting, according to published reports. He began working for the Los Angeles force in 1989 and two years ago was promoted to deputy chief overseeing a section of the city that includes USC, the Port of Los Angeles and South Los Angeles, an area rife with homicides and gang violence.

Word of Scott's appointment comes at a crucial moment for San Francisco police. On Wednesday night, the Police Commission is scheduled to take up — and possibly vote on — a new set of use-of-force policies sharply opposed by the police union.

Officers would be prohibited from shooting at moving vehicles — a mandate that has been adopted in many places but, according to the police union, would leave officers with no option if a homicidal motorist started running people down.

The neck hold known as the “carotid restraint” would also be barred. But without first supplying officers with stun guns as an alternative, the cops would have no choice but to use more lethal force, the police union argued.

In all, 61 candidates applied for the chief's job. In recent weeks, the Police Commission whittled the list to 10. The remaining candidates were asked to submit an outline of how they would implement the reforms recommended by the Justice Department.

The commission narrowed its choice to three — a list that, in addition to Scott and Chaplin, included a female candidate believed to have been San Francisco Deputy Chief Denise Schmit.

As for Chaplin, he is expected to stay in the department, though the new chief will be free to pick his own command staff.



Germany grapples with questions over suspect after ‘act of terrorism' at Berlin holiday market

by Anthony Faiola, Souad Mekhennet and Stephanie Kirchner

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called the deadly truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market a likely “act of terrorism,” but questions were raised over the suspect held and possible links to the wave of migrants who have entered Germany.

The suspect in custody, said German Interior Minster Thomas de Maizière, was a Pakistani asylum-seeker detained late Monday and who was denying any involvement in the assault that left the festive market wood-splintered and bloodstained.

Hours later, however, Berlin Police Chief Klaus Kandt warned that it was “uncertain” if the man in custody was the perpetrator, and authorities asked the public to “stay alert.”

It raised the alarming prospect that driver who killed 12 and left 52 injured — in critical condition — might still at large after possibly hijacking the truck and killing its Polish driver.

"The arrested suspect currently denies the deed at #Breitscheidplatz,” German police tweeted. “Therefore, we are particularly alert.”

The 12 victims, included a Polish national shot dead and found in the passenger seat of the massive black truck that careened into the crowded market. The truck had Polish plates, and the driver was en route to Berlin with a cargo of 25 tons of steel. The wound suggested that the vehicle may have been hijacked by the perpetrator and the driver killed.

Two senior German officials briefed on the matter had earlier told The Washington Post that suspect was a Pakistani asylum seeker.

The detained suspect, whose name has not been made public, arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker in December, 2015 before coming to Berlin in February, de Maizière said. European asylum procedures has been criticized as deeply lacking in robust vetting, and de Maiziere described a chaotic processing of the suspect's asylum case.

Several attempts to hear his claim failed, the minister said, “because he did not appear” for assessment. A later hearing, he said, ended in failure when the suspect claimed he spoke Balochi, a language for which German officials did not have a translator.

Though there was no certainty an asylum seeker had been involved, Merkel was coming under fire by critics Tuesday for opening Germany's door to asylum seekers as well as to risk. Should it turn out that the attacker had been a refugee, Merkel said, this would be “particularly appalling to the many, many Germans who are actively helping refugees every day and to the many people who are indeed needing our protection and are making an effort to integrate in our country.”

De Maizière said the Germans have thus far seen no creditable claims of responsibility.

As security tightened across Europe following the attack, German police staged an unrelated counter terror operation Tuesday morning at a refugee shelter housed in Berlin's old Tempelhof airport, suggesting the possibility of further plots.

On Tuesday morning, Merkel spoke to President Obama by phone and he pledged to U.S. aid in the German investigation. Security was also boosted at train stations and other sites across Germany.

The incident had echoes of the deadly truck assault in the French city of Nice in July that killed 86 people and was claimed by the Islamic State. Initially Germany officials had hesitated to use the word “attack.” But early Tuesday police issued two tweets, one describing it as a suspected act of terror and the other declaring that “the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd” at the market.”

If the suspect in custody is confirmed as the culprit, it is likely to add fuel to an already-heated debate in Germany over Merkel's decision to open the door last year to nearly 1 million migrants, most of them fleeing war in the Middle East.

Flags were flown at half-mast across Germany, even as the city's cozy Christmas markets shut down for the day out of respect for the dead — although they were due to remain open elsewhere in Germany. Merkel said she would visit the cordoned-off attack site at Breitscheidtplatz, situated in a chic shopping district in upscale west Berlin.

She urged the nation not to give in to fear as Christmas approached with the threat of further incidents.

“We don't want to live with the fear of evil paralyzing us,” said Merkel, who dressed in black as she spoke to reporters in Berlin. “We will find the strength for a life as we want to live it in Germany: free, united, and open.”

But already, the debate in Germany over migrants was taking a sharper turn, and pundits were speculating whether the latest attack could damage Merkel's reelection bid next year.

Marcus Pretzell, chairman of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany tweeted: “When will the German legal state strike back? When will this damned hypocrisy finally stop? These are Merkel's dead!”

Pretzell also shared a tweet by Justice Minister Heiko Maas announcing that flags at the ministry would fly at half-mast alongside the comment: “If the government doesn't act soon, you can soon saw the masts in half.”

The deadly incident occurred near the historic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the Breit­scheidplatz, a major public plaza. The bloodshed came at the height of activity at the Christmas markets, a cherished German tradition that draws locals and tourists to city squares for mugs of mulled wine, grilled sausages and regional sweets, as well as shopping at quaint stalls that sell handmade ornaments and other items.

In Berlin, the festive scene turned into panic shortly after 8 p.m. Monday as the truck veered onto the sidewalk and crashed between market stalls, running 50 to 80 feet before stopping, according to witnesses. Some victims were pinned under its wheels while others were struck and tossed onto the pavement.

According to police spokeswoman Valeska Jakubowski, 12 people were killed and 48 were being treated at hospitals.

After the incident, the scene remained a horrific tableau of crushed wood, broken glass and blood. Lying near the truck was a fallen Christmas tree, its star toppled.

On the scene, first responders were carrying people away on stretchers as police with automatic weapons cordoned off the area.

“It's terrible, just terrible,” said Berlin Mayor Michael ­Müller. He said it was up to authorities to establish the facts, adding, “We always hoped that we wouldn't have this kind of situation in Berlin.”

Following a rash of arrests, plots and attacks, Germany — like much of Europe — has been bracing for a terrorist assault on Christmas markets. Security had been beefed up, with guards checking bags at entrance points. So far this year, German officials have arrested more than a dozen people suspected of involvement in terrorist plots, while two others have carried out small-scale attacks.

According to Germany's DPA news service, the owner of the truck, Ariel Zurawski, told the Polish network TVN 24 that the vehicle was being driven by his cousin Monday and was carrying steel parts to Berlin. But he said he had lost touch with his cousin around 4 p.m. It was not immediately clear whether the truck had been hijacked. Officials said the man found dead in the truck was a Polish national.

The deaths in Berlin came just hours after a gunman in Zurich opened fire in an Islamic center, wounding three people who were praying, according to news reports. Police later found the gunman dead 300 yards from the scene of the shooting.

In Berlin, a man who saw the bloodshed told the Berliner ­Morgenpost that the driver appeared to be targeting the market, turning off his lights as he steered toward the crowds. “It must have been on purpose because he didn't have the lights on,” he said. “Then I just heard this loud bang and hysterical screams.”

Breitscheidplatz is one of the busiest of the city's famous Christmas markets. Witnesses said visitors were drinking traditional hot wine and taking in the sights and sounds of the market when they heard a loud noise.

“We were enjoying the Christmas markets and some mulled wine,” one witness, Emma Rushton, told CNN. “We heard a loud bang, and we started to see to our left Christmas lights were being torn down.” At that point, she said, she saw a truck crashing through the crowd.

The incident occurred as Germans have had to endure a growing threat of terrorism. So far this year, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two attacks in Germany.

In July, a 27-year-old rejected Syrian asylum seeker detonated a bomb near the entrance to a music festival in the center of the southern German town of ­Ansbach, killing himself and wounding several people.

Earlier that month, an Afghan asylum seeker armed with an ax injured four people on a German commuter train in the Bavarian city of Würzburg.

In July, a mass shooting in a Munich mall that wounded 36 and left 10 dead including the perpetrator was carried out by a mentally disturbed youth and was unrelated to Islamist terror.

Authorities for months have feared that terrorists might target Germany's famous Christmas markets.

German prosecutors last week said they were investigating an incident in which a 12-year-old boy allegedly plotted a nail-bomb attack at a Christmas market in the southern city of Ludwigshafen. According to German media, investigators said that they think the boy, who holds dual German and Iraqi citizenship, was guided by a member of the Islamic State.

Across Europe, officials were stepping up security. London's Metropolitan Police department, for instance, said Tuesday that it would review its plans for securing Christmas and New Year's celebrations following the Berlin attacks.

The plans, the department said in a statement, “already recognize that the threat level is at ‘severe,' meaning an attack is highly likely, and have considered a range of threats, including the use of large vehicles.”




‘Russian ambassador assassination is quantum jump in terrorism'

by RT

The assassination of the Russian ambassador targeted not only Moscow-Ankara relations, but envisaged the resolution of the Syrian conflict coming undone, namely the cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran, former Turkish ambassador to the US, Osman Faruk Logoglu told RT.

Russia's ambassador, Andrey Karlov, 62, was shot and killed in the Turkish capital while delivering a speech at an exhibition hall on Monday. The man who assassinated the Russian diplomat was identified as a 22-year-old Turkish riot police officer.

Faruk Logoglu: We condemn the attack on the Russian ambassador, we extend our condolences to his family and to the people of Russia. But I think we have to emphasize the fact that this is a new kind of terrorism, it's a quantum jump in terrorism, targeting now ambassadors, and not just an ordinary ambassador, but the ambassador of a great global power like Russia in a critical capital like Ankara. This is a huge event with many implications and probably many unforeseen consequences.

RT: Have you ever seen anything like this happen before, in your time?

FL: No, I haven't. And I'm very sorry that it happened in my time, especially to the Russian ambassador. I understand he was a very distinguished diplomat. But I do sense a degree of insufficient attention to his protection. Yes, this was an exhibition in a central location of Ankara, and only a few days back – I usually pass by the Russian embassy in Ankara on my way to some other destinations – for the first time in a long long time, the road before the Russian embassy was blocked. So apparently, there were certain warnings ... [received by] Turkish authorities and to the Russian embassy. But of course [on the matter of] how this particular assassination took place – we have to wait for the Turkish security forces to find who's responsible, how and whether he acted alone.

It's clear, however, that there are several reasons, objectives, perhaps speculative, but clearly a case can be made for the fact that this assassination aimed first [for] the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia at the bilateral level. It also targeted the ongoing efforts, including the meeting tomorrow, the trilateral meeting tomorrow between Russia, Turkey and Iran. I think it targeted that meeting as well.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the evacuation of eastern Aleppo left many radical elements of the Syrian opposition extremely upset. I think they are also upset with the policy of Turkey cooperating in this respect.

It's a very complex situation. But the end result is that we really have to keep our cool. And I'm very happy to hear on Turkish television that the meeting in Moscow tomorrow is going to take place. I think the only way to really put an end to this terror-producing Syrian conflict will be cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran. This is the prescription for the resolution not just to the Aleppo crisis but to the Syrian conflict.

RT: What is the reaction in Turkey to this deadly situation?

FL: I'm sure most people in Turkey condemn this attack, because most people in Turkey were happy to see Turkish-Russian relations getting back on course. And I think the Turkish authorities will spare no effort to pinpoint those responsible for this assassination. Not just the assassinator, who was terminated by Turkish security, but to find out who is behind this. Apparently it was a well-planned action, not just accidental, but a well-planned action [that] aimed to, first, eliminate the Russian ambassador and then to achieve whatever their purposes are presumably are.

RT: What can you say about the situation, considering the gunman was able to get through security and to the Russian ambassador. Does it surprise you the man was able to get so close to Russian ambassador to kill him?

FL: We have to be fair, we have to be objective. When an ambassador, depending upon the information and intelligence the embassy receives, contacts the local authorities and asks for additional protection, perhaps specifying what kind of additional protection the embassy and ambassador needs … I certainly don't know at this stage whether this sort of conversation took place between Russian embassy and Turkish security forces. But I can assure you, that had the Russian embassy asked for extra protection, or special protection on that occasion or permanently, 24 hours a day, the Turkish authorities would have supplied that protection. I'm not particularly aware of the kind of the circumstances at the exhibition hall, I think one of the questions being asked is whether the Russian ambassador was accompanied by Russian security guards…

But in any case, easy access of the assassin to the hall should also serve as a lesson to the Turkish authorities, that on such occasions, even if they have not been requested by the embassy in question, that the Turkish authorities should nevertheless have added security measures to protect not just the ambassador, but all the people at the scene.




Shots outside US embassy in Turkey after Russia envoy killed

by The Associated Press

Turkish police on Tuesday detained a man who fired shots in front of the U.S. embassy in Ankara, several hours after the Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed in an attack across the street.

The man took out a pump-action shotgun he hid in his coat and fired around eight shots in the air before the embassy's security guards intervened and apparently overpowered him, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

No one was hurt in the incident which occurred hours after a Turkish policeman, appearing to condemn Russia's military role in Syria, fatally shot Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in front of a shocked gathering at a photo exhibit.

The embassy said its missions in Ankara, Istanbul and the southern city of Adana would be "closed for normal operations on Tuesday."

The U.S. embassy is located just across the street from the art exhibition center where the Russian ambassador was killed. It was not immediately known if the two incidents were connected.

The leaders of Turkey and Russia have described the attack as an attempt to disrupt efforts to repair ties between their countries, which have backed opposing sides in the Syrian civil war.

It came as the foreign and defense ministers from Turkey, Iran and Russia prepared to hold a key meeting on Syria on Tuesday in Moscow.

The assassination occurred after days of protests by Turks angry over Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russia's role in the bombardment and destruction of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

An Associated Press photographer and others at the art gallery watched in horror as the gunman, who was wearing a dark suit and tie, fired at least eight shots, at one point walking around the ambassador as he lay motionless and shooting him again at close range.

The assailant, who was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old member of Ankara's riot police squad, was later killed in a shootout with police.

A group of 18 investigators and foreign ministry officials have left for Ankara to investigate the killing, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had accepted during a telephone conversation with Putin a request that Russian experts take part. Anadolu reported that the Russian officials would participate in the autopsy.

Hurriyet newspaper said authorities were trying to determine whether Altintas acted alone or if his assault was an organized terror attack.

His actions appeared to be well-planned. The paper said Altintas had taken leave from work on medical grounds and booked himself into a hotel near the exhibition center.

Turkish police detained three more people connected to Altintas on Tuesday, raising the number of people in custody for questioning to seven, Anadolu reported. They include the man's parents, sister, three other relatives and his roommate in Ankara.

The Russian Embassy said Karlov's body would be flown to Russia on Tuesday and a ceremony would be held at the airport in Ankara.

Authorities increased security outside the Russian Embassy, and the Iranian Embassy was closed on Tuesday as a precaution. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov warned against traveling to Turkey, citing a number of terror attacks that have plagued the country over the past 18 months.

"I think every person who travels to Turkey should think twice before doing it because terrorist attacks happen there almost every day," the Tass news agency quoted Syromolotov as saying.

Turkey's pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak claimed Karlov's killing was a plot by the U.S. intelligence agency that was carried out by a movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says is behind a failed coup in July aimed at toppling Erdogan. Gulen denies the accusation.

"Great Sabotage," Yeni Safak said in its headline.



Washington D.C.

Presidential Clemency Explained After Obama Shows Mercy on 231 People

by Michael D. Shear

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before leaving office, President Obama on Monday issued 78 pardons and commuted the sentences of 153 prisoners, extending his acts of clemency to a total of 1,324 individuals, by far the largest use of the presidential power to show mercy in the nation's history.

The Recipients

Of the 231 people who received a pardon or a reduced sentence from Mr. Obama, virtually all had been serving sentences under tough antidrug laws, including those convicted of low-level, nonviolent crimes like possession of cocaine.

Those who received pardons had completed their sentences and are, in the words of Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel, now leading “a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way.” The pardons wipe away any legal liabilities from a conviction.

Commutations are different. They typically shorten the sentences of people in prison, often by many years, but do not eliminate a conviction or restore rights lost, such as the right to vote. In many cases, the people selected to have their sentences commuted have participated in drug treatment, or educational or vocational technology courses while in prison.

One example: Anthony DeWayne Gillis of Supply, Va., was convicted in 2005 of possessing cocaine, making false statements and possessing a firearm in “furtherance of drug trafficking.” He was sentenced to 145 years in prison. Mr. Obama's grant of commutation reduces the sentence to 20 years.

The Record

All presidents have the power to commute sentences and pardon people for past acts. But Mr. Obama's use of the power far exceeds many of his predecessors.

The Constitution grants a president the power to issue “pardons for offenses against the United States” or to reduce the length of federal sentences in prison.

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 people — more than 50 times the number of people whose sentences were commuted by President George W. Bush and more than the past 11 presidents combined.

White House officials have said that Mr. Obama will continue to review applications for clemency until his final day in office, suggesting that his record will be extended.

The Motivation

The president has said he has been motivated to exercise his clemency power by a belief that the sentencing system in the United States was used to lock up minor criminals — often minorities — for excessively long periods of time.

At the end of 2015, as he commuted the sentences of 95 federal prisoners, Mr. Obama said it was “another step forward in upholding our ideals of justice and fairness” and added that “if we can show at the federal level that we can be smart on crime, more cost effective, more just, more proportionate, then we can set a trend for other states to follow as well. And that's our hope.”

Tens of thousands of inmates, mostly young African-American or Hispanic men, were locked up in the effort to combat drug violence during the past three decades. Many of those men were sentenced under federal guidelines that required them to serve decades or longer in prison.

During the past several years, a bipartisan coalition emerged to overhaul that system. The unlikely allies included conservatives like Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers, and the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy organization with close connections to Hillary Clinton.

But hopes for a legislative deal to overhaul the nation's sentencing system failed to materialize during the bitter 2016 presidential campaign. That left Mr. Obama with one option: to use his clemency power case by case.

The Process

After the White House publicized the president's desire to use his clemency power, more than 30,000 convicts applied for relief. That required setting up a process by which Mr. Obama's lawyers could sift through the requests and make recommendations.

In response, several advocacy groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers — formed a consortium called the Clemency Project, to help screen applicants.

Many law firms joined the effort, assigning lawyers to evaluate the clemency applications and to forward deserving cases on to the White House. Violent offenders or those who otherwise did not meet the criteria set out by the Justice Department were set aside. Others were forwarded to government lawyers for review and, potentially, onto the president.

The Future

It is unclear whether President-elect Donald J. Trump will continue the practice of using pardons and commutations to address the sentencing issue. As a tough-on-crime candidate, it seems unlikely.

Some Republican lawmakers may renew bipartisan efforts to overhaul sentencing laws, which would give the new president an opportunity to confront the issue without turning to his clemency power, at least initially.

And most presidents — including Mr. Obama — have waited until the end of their presidencies before issuing pardons and making grants of commutation.




Community governance for Frederick; its time may have come

by Karl Bickel

For over two decades police agencies around the nation have embraced community policing with varying degrees of success. Some jurisdictions have taken the next step toward community governance, once again with varying degrees of success.

Community governance, like community policing, seeks to include community members in identifying issues and collaborating in partnership with local government officials to improve the quality of life of a city, town or county.

The city of Frederick is perfectly positioned to move toward true community governance that would give its citizens a greater voice and an increased stake in the future of a terrific city:

•  The police department has made and is still making great strides in community policing.

•  The Neighborhood Advisory Councils provide an excellent infrastructure to build on.

•  The community is rich in untapped talent and resources.

•  The city and its government is a manageable size, making it easy to adjust and respond to change quickly and efficiently.

•  Frederick has a dynamic, diverse population that seems eager to participate.

As those who are interested in leading the city, as mayor or alderman, position themselves to run for office in the 2017 city elections, you may want to look and see who is prepared to provide greater participation of the community in the governance of the city.

Frederick is facing issues surrounding development and quality of life that are well-suited for increased citizen involvement. Whether it is the fate of the current hotel and conference center proposal, a future hotel project, blighted properties or improving conditions for the homeless, greater community involvement can enhance the quality of outcomes on these and other current and future issues.

Borrowing from the philosophical underpinnings of community policing, collaborative partnering, problem-solving and organizational change; community governance dovetails nicely with community policing, particularly when addressing quality-of-life issues that affect crime and public order problems.

Edward Hargis, Frederick's police chief, has reportedly taken an important step in enhancing community policing through the creation of his Chief's Forum, which is made up of 15 interested citizens. Continuing to expand this kind of outreach — sharing information on the internal workings of the police department and getting citizen input on policy — engenders the kind of community trust and confidence needed in today's police departments.

The chief seems to be developing a model the city administration could follow easily in building a version of community governance that could take hold and serve the city of Frederick. To be successful it would involve residents in identifying specific problems and areas that need improvement; and then using the talents and resources of community members working with government representatives to solve problems and produce improvements.

Electing your political leaders does not absolve city residents of their individual responsibility to contribute, in some way, to the betterment of the community. It is important to remember that the first word in community policing and community governance is community. Where we have seen success in community policing and community governance, it has come about due to the active participation of community members giving their time and talents to the effort.

With the upcoming city elections in 2017 and the continued community policing efforts in Frederick, it may be time to consider, to discuss, the benefits to be derived from community governance. It is something to think about.




Police arrest Utah school gunman

Police said the teen's parents were concerned and followed him to school after discovering their weapons were missing

by PoliceOne Staff

(Video on site)

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — An officer's body camera captured the arrest of a 15-year-old student who stole his parents' guns and ammunition and brought them to his school Dec. 1.

CBS News reported that the teen's parents followed him to school after they discovered their guns were missing from the safe.

No one was injured, and the parents disarmed the teen after they heard a shot that he fired into the ceiling, according to the news station.

The video shows the officer running through the school, then encountering the teen and his parents in the hallway.

The mother is seen setting the guns on the ground while the father holds the teen's hands behind his back. Once the teen is in police custody, the father pulls out ammunition from the teen's backpack.

The suspect is charged with two counts of felony theft of a firearm; one count of felony discharge of a firearm; and two counts of misdemeanor possession of a short-barreled shotgun on school premises.



From the Department of Homeland Security

DHS Announces 2017 Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security today announced it will begin accepting applications for the 2017 Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, inviting current undergraduate and graduate students to support the DHS cyber mission at Department field offices in over 40 locations across the country.

In support of the Department's goal to expand our cybersecurity workforce and develop future professionals, students will gain hands-on experience and exposure to the cybersecurity work performed across DHS. Selected students learn about the DHS cybersecurity mission and build technical experience in key areas such as cyber threat analysis, digital forensics, network diagnostics, and incident response. They will also participate in mentoring and professional development events with DHS managers and senior leaders.

The Department created the Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative in April 2013, and expanded it in 2016 to include graduate students. Students selected for the current cohort will complete assignments at one of the following organizations: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Office of Policy, Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Coast Guard.

For more information about the Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, including the selection and application process, visit dhs.gov.



From ICE

Operation 'Just Punishment' nets 38 arrests for drug trafficking, firearms violations

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with other federal and local law enforcement agencies, conducted simultaneous takedowns Thursday in the municipality of Cayey, as well as Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Florida, during an operation dubbed ‘Just Punishment' that resulted in the arrest of 38 individuals for their alleged participation in a drug trafficking and illegal firearms conspiracy.

According to the indictment, those arrested conspired to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack, marijuana, Percocet and Xanax, all within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising the Jardines de Montellano and Luis Muñoz Morales public housing projects and the El Polvorin, San Cristobal and Cantera wards, all for significant financial gain and profit.

The indictment alleges, beginning in 2012, the organization established drug distribution points among several housing projects in the municipality of Cayey. Some of the defendants and their co-conspirators committed murders in order to maintain order and control of the drug trafficking operations. According to court documents, some of the defendants, while in prison, maintained contact by telephone with other members of the organization in the free community to control and coordinate drug trafficking activities. The co-conspirators sometimes referred to the drug trafficking organization as “The Punishers” and some of its members have tattoos of “The Punisher” logo to identify themselves as members of the organization. The indictment also alleges that members of the organization routinely used social media to post pictures of co-conspirators, communicate between themselves and promote their drug trafficking activities. They took photos and videos of themselves, their associates, vehicles, drugs, firearms and other drug trafficking related items.

Those arrested face sentences of 10 years to life in prison for the narcotics violations and up to 20 years for the money laundering violations.

If convicted, those arrested for drug trafficking face a minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison. Those arrested for drug trafficking and a firearms offense face a minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison.

HSI special agents enforce a wide range of criminal statutes including Title 18 and Title 19 of the U.S. Code. These statutes address general smuggling issues as well as customs violations. ICE also enforces Title 21, which covers the importation, distribution, manufacture and possession of illegal narcotics.

HSI special agents have extensive knowledge of the border environment and techniques employed by smuggling organizations to transport contraband into the United States. This expertise has been gained through years of experience in conducting undercover operations, utilizing confidential informants, special enforcement operations and conducting contraband smuggling investigations.

The methods used by smuggling organizations are always changing and through continued training, the use of emerging technologies and dedication, ICE has maintained its expertise in disrupting and dismantling these criminal organizations.



From the Department of Justice

Chinese National Admits to Stealing Sensitive Military Program Documents From United Technologies

Yu Long, 38, a citizen of China and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in New Haven federal court in Connecticut, to charges related to his theft of numerous sensitive military program documents from United Technologies and transporting them to China.

Long pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in the theft of trade secrets knowing that the offense would benefit a foreign government, foreign instrumentality or foreign agent, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years. He also pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful export and attempted export of defense articles from the U.S. in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly for the District of Connecticut, Special Agent in Charge Matthew Etre of the FBI's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Rupert of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Northeast Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick of the FBI's New Haven Division and Special Agent in Charge Danielle Angley with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI).

“Long admitted to stealing and exploiting highly sensitive military technology and documents, knowing his theft would benefit China's defense industry and deliberately contravene the embargo on U.S. Munitions List technology the United States has imposed on China,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Export laws exist as an important part of our national security framework and disrupting and prosecuting this kind of economic espionage is one of the National Security Division's highest priorities.”

“In an effort to further his own career, this defendant stole an extraordinary amount of proprietary military program information from United Technologies and transported much of that stolen information to China,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “His actions, which he knew would benefit China, not only violated his employment agreement and damaged the company, but have threatened our country's national security interests. U.S. companies continue to be targeted by those who seek to steal intellectual property, trade secrets and advanced defense technology – whether through a computer hack or cyber intrusion, or through a rogue employee. Working closely with our nation's defense contractors, we will relentlessly investigate and prosecute those who steal, or attempt to steal, trade secrets and sensitive military information, whether for their own personal gain or for the benefit of foreign actors.”

“These sophisticated technologies are highly sought after by our adversaries,” said Special Agent in Charge Etre. “They were developed to give the United States and its allies a distinct military advantage, which is why HSI and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively target the individuals who steal the ideas of others and sell these items.”

"Today's plea demonstrates the commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our federal law enforcement partners to identifying those who illegally export sensitive defense information to adversarial Foreign governments," said Special Agent in Charge Rupert. "DCIS will continue to safeguard sensitive technology and to shield America's investment in national defense by disrupting efforts of groups and individuals who try to illegally acquire our national security assets."

“This case highlights the complexity in which the FBI and law enforcement are being challenged to keep the integrity of our industry intellectual property intact,” said Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “Investigating criminal activity of this nature will continue to be a priority.”

“This case was enabled by the outstanding teamwork of the FBI, DCIS, HSI, AFOSI and the U.S. Attorney's office,” said, Special Agent in Charge Angley. “In addition, it demonstrates the focus of law enforcement agencies to protect our nation's critical resources.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately May 2008 to May 2014, Long worked as a Senior Engineer/Scientist at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) in Connecticut. Long's employment at UTRC included work on F119 and F135 engines. The F119 engine is employed by the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft, and the F135 engine is employed by the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

Beginning in 2013, Long expressed his intent to individuals outside UTRC to return to China to work on research projects at certain state-run universities in China using knowledge and materials he had acquired while employed at the UTRC. To that end, Long interacted with several state-run institutions in China, including the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and the Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA), a state-run university in China affiliated with CAS.

During 2013 and 2014, Long was recruited by SIA and other state-run universities, during which he leveraged information that he had obtained while working at UTRC to seek employment in China, culminating in his travel to China in the possession of voluminous documents and data containing highly sensitive intellectual property, trade secrets and export controlled technology, which he had unlawfully stolen from UTRC.

In December 2013, after Long agreed in principle to join SIA, an SIA-CAS Director and an SIA-CAS Recruiter asked Long to provide documents from his work at UTRC and examples of projects on which he had worked to substantiate the claims Long made in his application, and interview with SIA. Long agreed.

On Dec. 24, 2013, Long emailed several documents to the SIA-CAS Director, including a document that contained the cover page of an export controlled UTRC presentation on Distortion Modeling dated Sept. 30, 2011.

While negotiating with SIA, Long also continued to explore other opportunities at other state-run institutions in China. In one email, Long stated: “I have made my mind to return to China, so have prepared a research plan based on my industry experience and current projects.” In the research plan, Long stated: “In the past five years, I have been working with Pratt Whitney, also other UTC business units, like UTAS (including Hamilton Sundstrand and Goodrich), Sikorsky, CCS (including Carrier and Fire & Security), and Otis. These unique working experiences have provided me a great starting point to perform R&D and further spin off business in China. I believe my efforts will help China to mature its own aircraft engines.”

On May 30, 2014, Long left UTRC. In June 2014, Long traveled to China and began working for SIA. Beginning in July 2014, digital evidence and forensic analysis indicated that Long brought with him and accessed in China a UTRC external hard drive that had been issued to him and that he unlawfully retained.

In July 2014, Long was listed as the project leader on a lengthy research plan for CAS involving fourteen other individuals. The plan was replete with references to how the proposed research and development would benefit China. The plan stated: “The three major engine companies in the world, i.e. GE, Pratt & Whitney in the US and Rolls-Royce in the UK, are all using this technology. . . Our nation lacks the ability to process high performance components, such as airplane wings, tail hooks on carrier aircrafts, and blisks . . . Because of the technology embargo imposed by western developed countries, it is very difficult for us to obtain more advanced design and manufacturing technology . . . This research project will increase our independent ability, efficient and quality in key component manufacturing.”

On or about Aug. 12, 2014, the document on Distortion Modeling – the same document from which Long had sent the cover page to the SIA-CAS Director on Dec. 24, 2013 – was accessed on the external hard drive. Travel records and forensic analysis confirmed that both Long and the external hard drive were in China when this file was accessed.

On Aug. 19, 2014, Long returned to the U.S. from China through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. During a secondary inspection screening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, Long was found in the possession of a largely completed application for work with a state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center in China. The application highlighted certain parts of Long's work related to the F119 and F135 engines while at UTRC.

On or about Aug. 20, 2014, Long emailed an individual at a university in China, attaching an updated “achievement and future plan.” In the plan, Long discussed his work related to the F119 and F135 U.S. military fighter jet engines and stated that he also had knowledge of unpublished UTRC projects in which the U.S. Air Force had shown interest.

On Nov. 5, 2014, Long boarded a flight from Ithaca, New York to Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, with a final destination of China. During Long's layover in Newark, CBP officers inspected Long's checked baggage and discovered that it contained sensitive, proprietary and export controlled documents from another defense contractor, Rolls Royce.

Further investigation determined that the U.S. Air Force had convened a consortium of major defense contractors, including Pratt and Rolls Royce, to work together to see whether they could collectively lower the costs of certain metals used. As part of those efforts, members of the consortium shared technical data, subject to restrictions on further dissemination. Rolls Royce reviewed the documents found in Long's possession at Newark Liberty Airport and confirmed that it provided the documents to members of the consortium, which included Pratt. Rolls Royce further confirmed that Long was never an employee of Rolls Royce. A review of UTRC computer records indicated that Long had printed the documents while employed at UTRC.

Long was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on Nov. 7, 2014. A review of Long's digital media seized at the time of his arrest revealed voluminous files protected by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Export Administration Regulations, and voluminous files proprietary to various U.S. companies. In short, the investigation revealed that Long took his laptop and the UTRC external hard drive with him to China in 2014, at which time there was a substantial body of highly sensitive, proprietary and export controlled materials present on that digital media. UTRC has confirmed that the hard drive that Long unlawfully retained and accessed in China contained not only documents and data from projects on which Long worked while employed at the company but also from projects on which he did not work to which he would have had access.

A sentencing date has not been set. Long has been detained since his arrest.

This investigation is being led by the FBI in New Haven in coordination with Homeland Security Investigations in New Haven and Newark; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in New Haven; the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigations in Boston, Massachusetts; and, the Department of Commerce's Boston Office of Export Enforcement. U.S. Attorney Daly and Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord also thanked the FBI in Newark, Ithaca and Syracuse, New York, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service in New York and Newark, and the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Northern District of New York and the District of New Jersey, for their efforts and assistance in this matter.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Lee Dayton and Stephen B. Reynolds of the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorneys Brian Fleming and Julie Edelstein of the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.



Washington D.C.


A major public safety threat in D.C. gets the silent treatment

by Colbert I. King

This week's offering once again delves into the appalling number of repeat violent offenders on the streets of our nation's capital. But a warning: Expect to veer into the bureaucratic weeds. Unfortunately, there's no way around them.

Last week's column was devoted to the recent Post series that uncovered cases of 750 offenders sentenced under the city's Youth Rehabilitation Act multiple times in the past decade, including 121 who were later charged with murder, more than 200 sentenced for multiple violent or weapons offenses, and more than 130 convicted of armed robbery.

To understand how this dangerous situation developed, we need to know more about the city's criminal justice system, and how such a long-standing public-safety threat could go unaddressed.

Please note, an offender's pathway to crime does not start with an arrest, conviction and prison sentence. This is mentioned because whenever I write about public-safety issues in the District, invariably some readers charge me with ignoring what they regard as the source of crime: offenders spawned by broken homes and chaotic communities.

At issue today, however, are hundreds of criminals sentenced by D.C. judges under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, crafted by city leaders to give second chances to young adult offenders who have often gone on to rob, rape or kill in the nation's capital.

Why is this being allowed to happen?

Three key actors in the city's criminal justice system — Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Kevin Donahue, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and D.C. Council Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) — were interviewed about this cycle of violence, including why and how young criminals are re-offending on such an apparently large scale.

As noted last week, each official pointed in the same direction for solutions: the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

That's where I turned this week.

Congress created the CJCC in 2002, based on a study of the city's criminal justice system by the federal Government Accountability Office. The GAO found problems. The D.C. Council, accepting the need for reform, passed legislation in 2001, which Congress subsequently approved.

The CJCC's membership includes Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), Donahue, Racine and McDuffie, along with the U.S. attorney, Superior Court chief judge and assorted federally funded parole, police, corrections and public defender officials.

The CJCC's mission is to identify pressing criminal justice issues that cut across agency lines, to propose actions and solutions, and to foster interagency cooperation to improve public safety in the District.

Keep that objective in mind.

Since 2003, the CJCC has received $21 million from U.S. taxpayers — “U.S.” because all of that money comes from the federal treasury.

It's also not a mom-and-pop shop.

Mannone A. Butler, the CJCC's executive director since 2011, told me that her agency is composed of “18 talented” information technology professionals, researchers, policy analysts, and executive and administrative employees.

Asked for her reaction to The Post's Dec. 3 and 4 articles about offenders returning rapidly to the streets and committing more crimes, Butler said in an interview Dec. 13 — nine days after the last article appeared — that she had not read the pieces thoroughly and couldn't comment.

Asked whether the CJCC had ever studied the Youth Rehabilitation Act — the way the law has been carried out by prosecutors and judges, as well as the effectiveness of the law itself — Butler told me: “The Youth Act has never been discussed before the CJCC.”

How can that be?

Experts told The Post that the Youth Rehabilitation Act provides benefits to violent offenders that don't exist anywhere else in the country.

Bowser, who chairs the CJCC, said that she thinks judges, prosecutors and public defenders have come to “misapply” the law at the expense of public safety.

Mendelson told The Post that he faults prosecutors as too willing to offer generous deals to violent criminals.

And? And?

This major public-safety threat has received the silent treatment.

So what good is the CJCC? Why are congressional paymasters pouring taxpayers' earnings into the agency's coffers? Following my inquiries, Butler provided a list of CJCC public-safety initiatives, none of which, by the way, addressed the D.C. law that allows criminals to repay leniency by escalating their violent crimes upon release.

Most importantly, what are residents and visitors to the nation's capital to do while D.C. criminal justice officials dither?

CJCC officials may not have studied or evaluated the Youth Rehabilitation Act — but Tavon Pinkney has.

Pinkney was 18 when arrested in 2014 for his first adult robbery offense. By the time he was caught, he had committed at least a dozen robberies, he told The Post in a prison interview.

He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, received a suspended sentence and was given probation under the Youth Rehabilitation Act.

Five months into his probation, Pinkney shot and killed a man during a drug deal, and is now serving a 17-year sentence.

Of the law, Pinkney said: “I went back to doing the same thing. Nothing changed. .?.?. They just gave me the Youth Act and let me go right back out there. They ain't really care.”

That's one evaluation.




Police chief: Drones could one day replace Ariz. police helicopters

Critics worry that no matter how good the cameras on drones are — they can't compete with the two officers on each helicopter flight

by Joe Ferguson

TUCSON, Ariz. — Could the familiar sound of a police helicopter patrolling the skies over Tucson someday be silenced by unmanned drones?

Maybe, says Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus.

"Yes, we are looking at drones," Magnus confirmed last week, saying keeping the police department's two helicopters flying is extremely costly. A third helicopter owned by the department has been grounded and is being used for parts.

"We have an air support unit that is incredibly costly," he said "Why wouldn't it make sense to look at drones as a possible option? From a cost standpoint (drones are) far less costly potentially than some of the costs over the long-term."

Typically, drones equipped with cameras are much smaller than helicopters and are flown by a person on the ground using a control pad. The Sahuarita Police Department is the only law enforcement agency in the Tucson area using drones. That department south of Tucson was testing a drone program with a private company earlier this year and had plans to begin regular use this month.

Other law enforcement agencies in the area, include the Arizona Department of Public Safety are also looking at using drones. Federal law enforcement agencies on the border use drones.

Magnus made the remarks during an interview about capital needs for the department as part of the discussion of a proposed half-cent sales tax the Tucson City Council is considering putting on the May ballot.

If approved by city voters, the revenue from the tax would benefit law enforcement, the fire department and be used to repair city streets.

The police chief said the city's remaining two helicopters are also approaching the end of their useful life.

"They have costly components that must be replaced on different schedules and times, and so I think it would be financially foolish not to look at drones as at least a way to look at either augmenting or stepping away in part from that program," he said.

Drones would be helpful in other areas as well, noting they could be used to get aerial pictures of crime scenes and vehicle accidents, Magnus said.

He was clear, however, the issue is still unfolding and requires more consideration before moving forward with any plans. "No decision has been made yet," he said.

The department's helicopters were grounded for two weeks a year ago after an outside audit determined the division to be operating at a high safety risk.

The president of the Tucson Police Officers' Association, Roland Gutierrez, worried that no matter how good the cameras on drones are — they can't compete with the two officers on each helicopter flight.

Experienced officers on the flights, he said, are better equipped to help personnel on the ground than any drone could be, he said.




Former police commish: Movie based on Boston Marathon bombing 'gets it right'

Former Police Commish Ed Davis said "Patriots Day" managed to capture the emotional toll the attack took on police

by Denise Lavoie

BOSTON — For Jessica Kensky, seeing the new Mark Wahlberg movie about the Boston Marathon bombing was deeply personal.

She and her husband, Patrick Downes, both lost their left legs below the knee in the 2013 bombing. Almost two years later, Kensky chose to have her right leg amputated because of excruciating pain caused by severe injuries she suffered in the bombing.

So when it came time to publicly express her feelings about the movie "Patriots Day," Kensky chose her words carefully.

She said she and her husband were initially reluctant to be involved in the film, but after seeing the movie during a special screening in Boston last week, she believes Wahlberg and director Peter Berg treated the victims and their stories with respect. But she said the question of whether the filmmakers "got it right" was one that's impossible for her and other survivors to answer.

"It can feel OK, they can feel respected, they can feel proud and happy it was done, but 'right' is so hard because what happened to us was just anything but right," she said.

"Patriots Day" is set to open Wednesday in theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, and Jan. 13 nationwide. The movie's title refers to Patriots' Day, the day the Boston Marathon is run, a state holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolutionary War.

Some of the key characters in the movie who saw the film last week said they were anxious about it accurately capturing the devastation of the twin bombings near the finish line of the marathon. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260, including nearly two dozen people who lost limbs.

Wahlberg and director Peter Berg took pains to show how many law enforcement agencies cooperated to find the bombers, and they also managed to capture the emotional toll the attack took on police and everyone else affected by the bombings, said former Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who helped lead the investigation.

"Watching the movie, not only did they get it right ... but at the end of this, it was a cathartic experience for me," Davis said.

Wahlberg, a Boston native, said he was initially hesitant to make the film but came to feel a personal responsibility to his hometown to tell the story and tell it right. In the film, Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, an amalgam of Boston police officers who were at the finish line when the bombs exploded and later helped find the bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The movie depicts the carnage caused by the bombing: the bloodied victims, the severed limbs, the anguished screams, a police officer standing guard over the covered body of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest casualty.

It also shows the city's response: strangers tying tourniquets around the injured, doctors and nurses racing around emergency rooms to save severely injured people, people lining the streets and applauding police after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The film focuses heavily on the intense manhunt for the Tsarnaevs and the resilience that came to be known as "Boston Strong."

"I'm so proud of my community as a whole and the way they responded," Wahlberg said at a news conference Thursday in Boston.

Kensky said one of the most difficult things for her and some other survivors was seeing the Tsarnaev brothers portrayed in the movie. Tamerlan was killed during the shootout with police; Dzhokhar was sentenced to death and is appealing.

Another movie about the bombings — starring Jake Gyllenhaal as survivor Jeff Bauman — is slated for release next year.



Bravery behind the badge: 6 times cops saved lives in 2016

There are many citizens who will be enjoying Christmas this year thanks to the courage and decisiveness of these knights in blue

by Lt. Dan Marcou

In 2016, we witnessed many heroic police actions that proved to be the difference between life and death. Every Christmas there are those who would not be around to celebrate the holiday if not for the courageous actions of police officers. There is an abundance of heroism displayed every year by our brothers and sisters, and below are only a handful of the many stories of bravery from 2016.

Braving the flames

On February 10, 2016, Missouri Trooper Jim Thuss arrived at the scene of a crash and found a Honda Civic on fire. The driver, Becky Crawford, was badly injured and trapped behind the wheel. Without hesitation, Thuss crawled in and pulled Crawford out of the burning car. Shortly thereafter, he and an off-duty Johnson County deputy team-carried Crawford up a hill to safety as the car exploded into a ball of flames. Ron Crawford, Becky's husband, said, “There's no question in my mind that if he had not taken that action, she would not be with us today. He had only seconds to rescue her and he did. He's a genuine hero.”

Stopping a workplace rampage

On February 25, 2016, an assailant entered Excel Industries, where over 200 employees were hard at work, and opened fire. He killed three people and wounded 14 – 10 of them critically. Hesston Chief of Police Doug Schroeder rode to the sound of the gunfire and immediately engaged the shooter in a gunfight. The assailant died, with weapons and ammo pouches still loaded. Schroeder saved many lives.

Back from the light

There is a time honored warning given by many veteran cops to rookies: When bad things happen, they come in threes. This proved true for Officer Brian Strockbine of Evesham Township, New Jersey. Strockbine responded to three bad incidents in just 10 days. In each case, the bad circumstances had a happy ending. Officer Strockbine handled each call with a calm professionalism and managed to save three lives.

•  On March 8, 2016, Officer Strockbine arrived at the scene of a woman down on a lawn. He discovered a badly beaten victim of domestic violence without any vital signs. Strockbine immediately started CPR. After three long minutes, she began breathing on her own. Thanks to Strockbine she survived.

•  In another incident a few days later, Strockbine broke out the window on a car, which was on fire, and rescued the man inside.

•  Just five days later, Strockbine performed CPR on a woman and brought another soul back from the light.

Officer Strockbine, a true hero, said he was appreciative of these challenges because they reminded him about why he wanted to be a cop – to protect and serve.

Courage in the face of a massacre

On June 12, 2016, an assailant who pledged allegiance to ISIS entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida and opened fire – turning the revelers' night of joy into a nightmare. The terrorist was prepared for a massacre – the packed environment created the perfect killing ground. Omar Mateen moved among his victims, killing at will. Orlando officers were on scene quickly, and by pressing Mateen, they changed the dynamics of this active shooter incident into a barricaded hostage-taker.

During negotiations, Mateen told negotiators the attack was a response to the recent killing of ISIS leader Abu Wahib. After two hours of negotiations, Mateen told a negotiator he was going to strap explosives on four hostages and blow them up. This promise inspired the SWAT team to create a breaching hole in one of the walls of Pulse. Mateen engaged the SWAT officers entering the club in a blazing gunfight, and SWAT prevailed. Many hostages were rescued.

Tragically, however, 49 innocents were killed by Mateen and 53 were wounded. Officer Michael Napolitano was wounded during the rescue when one of Mateen's bullets hit his Kevlar helmet and fragmented, hitting the officer in the eye.

As terrible as this terrorist attack was, it would have been worse if not for the courageous intervention by members of the Orlando Police Department.

Under fire in Dallas

On July 7, 2016, members of the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit were overseeing a protest in Dallas, Texas. During this demonstration, an assailant, Micah Xavier Johnson, intentionally targeted and opened fire on several Dallas police officers. As the nation watched this incident unfold, it was clear that as the bullets were hitting demonstrators, the officers on scene placed themselves in harm's way to shield protestors and direct them to safety.

The assailant was eventually driven to barricading by at least a dozen officers returning fire, but not before he killed five police officers and wounded seven police officers and two civilians. While trapped and surrounded, the assailant held a position of advantage. Any tactical team attempting to take him into custody would be required to enter the fatal funnel.

Chief David O. Brown made a ground-breaking call. He approved the use of a robot to carry explosives to the assailant. The detonation of those explosives ended the carnage. We salute Chief Brown, who preserved the life of his officers by using all means available to stop the deadly threat.

PoliceOne also offers a tearful salute to the bravery of the men and women of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit, who risked and gave their lives to protect the lives of these demonstrators.

Quick action on campus

On November 28, 2016, an assailant known as Abdul Razak Ali Artan deliberately drove his car into a crowd of students on campus at Ohio State University. As the vehicle came to a stop, the assailant exited and began slashing everyone in his path until he was stopped by Officer Alan Horujko, an Ohio State University police officer, who happened to be on scene. Thanks to Officer Horujko, no innocents died on that square.

These are only a few of the many stories about the courage exhibited by American law enforcement officers across this nation. Suffice it to say, there are many citizens who will be enjoying Christmas this year, embraced in the love of their families, thanks to the courage and decisiveness of the ‘Knights of Christmas.'



Top 10 acts of kindness by police in 2016

What can sometimes get lost in the countless moments of bravery are the numerous small acts of kindness cops do every day

by PoliceOne Staff

(Videos on site)

Police officers risk their lives every day to protect the communities they serve. But what can sometimes get lost in the countless moments of bravery are the numerous small acts of kindness that serve as further evidence of the heroism behind the badge and uniform. We collected ten of our favorite police acts of kindness in 2016. Enjoy, and be sure to check out the rest of our 2016 End of Year special coverage .

10. Ala. officers join kids in soccer match after 911 calls ask them to stop playing
After receiving 911 calls about children playing soccer, responding officers came to the scene. The community wanted the officers to tell the kids to go inside, but instead, police joined their game.

9. Cleveland cop replaces child's stolen Pokémon cards with his own collection
Nine-year-old Bryce was visiting a friend when a kid came up and stole his Pokémon cards. When his mother called the cops to report them stolen, Bryce received a surprise: an officer's personal Pokémon card collection.

8. NC police buy bikes for local kids
After many incidents of bike theft in the community, a group of officers bought four new bikes and helmets for some local boys.

7. NC police help homeless mother, 3 children off street
Durham police helped a homeless mother and her three young children get back on their feet.

6. Tenn. cop dances for charity
One Tennessee officer got into the spirit of the holidays by volunteering to ring bells for the Salvation Army. In order to beat out a competing department that was also volunteering their time, Officer Sean Bulow busted out his moves to raise the most money for charity.

5. Ill. police, firefighters crash bullied boy's birthday party
Pekin police officers and firefighters celebrated 11-year-old Braden Garnett's birthday after he feared no one would show up to celebrate with him.

4. Texas cop dons Iron Man suit to meet dying 7-year-old
Every kid's dream is to meet a superhero. For one 7-year-old boy, his dying wish was to meet his hero, Iron Man. One Texas cop flew to Florida to make the wish come true.

3. NJ trooper buys meal for couple in need
A trooper who responded to a call about a panhandler discovered the man was trying to get enough money to buy a rotisserie chicken to share with his wife. After asking the man to take a seat in his cruiser, the trooper went into the store. When the trooper returned to the car, he surprised the couple in need with a chicken - purchased with his own money.

2. Calif. police surprise wheelchair-bound boy with mini police car
You always see some pretty amazing costumes on Halloween, and a group of officers weren't going to allow a wheelchair-bound boy to miss out on the fun. Brayden Dieringer, 5, wanted to dress up as a police officer (just like his dad) for Halloween, but was discouraged because of his wheelchair. Officers caught wind of the boy's wish and built a mini police car for him out of cardboard and wood.

1. Minn. officers give final salute to terminally-ill retired cop
After a long battle with cancer, retired Officer Denny Preston returned home for his final days to a surprise from his fellow officers.



10 funniest police viral videos of 2016

From dancing to pop hits to yelling at farm animals, check out these hilarious videos

by PoliceOne Staff

(Videos on site)

We all know policing can be stressful, which is why it's important that the men and women in blue blow off a little steam every once in awhile. This year featured a ton of great videos capturing the lighter side of law enforcement - from cops catching Pokémon to terrorizing creepy clowns. We collected ten of our favorite police humor videos from this year. Check them out, have a laugh, and be sure to check out the rest of our 2016 End of Year special coverage.

10. Calif. deputy yells at bear, bear appears to listen
The Placer County Sheriff's Office had an animal visitor who came to dig through trash cans - until a deputy put a stop to the madness.

9. 'Most interesting sheriff' anti-drug clip goes viral
An Ohio sheriff's hilarious parody of the famous Dos Equis commercials is for a good cause: the battle against drug dealers.

8. Ga. police pursue Pokémon
Officers with the Locust Grove Police Department were captured on camera chasing Pokémon as part of a Public Service Announcement on staying safe while playing the wildly popular “Pokémon Go” game.

7. Maine officer's takedown of cows goes viral
Officer Ernest MacVane responded to two young cows that escaped and wandered onto a road. As the farm animals ran away, MacVane yelled "Don't run from me — I'm the police! Down on the ground, stop resisting!" Don't have a cow, man.

6. Texas cop, ‘Star Wars' stormtrooper hit the range in viral recruitment clip
In a video intended to recruit more officers, a Texas department took a stormtrooper out to the range to promote the PD's newest academy class. Poking fun at the poor shooting skills of the Galactic Empire's ground force, the clip shows the stormtrooper missing a target multiple times, despite an officer's attempts to show him how it's done. Darth Vader makes a special appearance.

5. Ind. troopers lip sync to ‘Grease'
While on patrol at the state fair, the Indiana State Police jammed out to "Summer Nights” and choreographed some moves to “Pink Panther.”

4. Mass. police turn the tables on creepy clowns in PSA
Chief Robert Szala of the Dartmouth Police Department released a video PSA with a serious message of zero tolerance on a string of incidents involving creepy clowns.

3. Batman's police ridealong ends badly
The same department that brought you the “Star Wars” recruiting videos recruited Batman himself for a ridealong. In the video, the Dark Knight one-ups the officer at every opportunity — criticizing the officer's cruiser, how he receives calls, and even what he's eating for lunch.

2. Kevin Hart gets stopped by the police
With comedian Kevin Hart, anything can happen. Hart documented his run-in with the cops while on his daily jog.

1. University of Del. police dance to #CoplineBling
In this parody of Drake's “Hotline Bling,” officers showed off their moves and garnered some cool points in the process.