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.


January, 2017 - Week 1



US seeks death penalty in Fla. airport shooting case

Authorities don't know why Esteban Santiago chose his target and have not ruled out terrorism

by Kelli Kennedy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — While investigators try to figure out the motive of an Iraq war veteran accused of killing five travelers and wounding six others at a busy international airport in Florida, the suspected gunman was charged and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Esteban Santiago, 26, was charged with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death — which carries a maximum punishment of execution — and weapons charges.

Santiago told investigators that he planned the attack, buying a one-way ticket to the Fort Lauderdale airport, a federal complaint said. Authorities don't know why he chose his target and have not ruled out terrorism.

"Today's charges represent the gravity of the situation and reflect the commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel to continually protect the community and prosecute those who target our residents and visitors," U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.

Authorities said during a news conference that they had interviewed roughly 175 people, including a lengthy interrogation with a cooperative Santiago, who is a former National Guard soldier from Alaska. Flights had resumed at the Fort Lauderdale airport after the bloodshed, though the terminal where the shooting happened remained closed.

FBI Agent George Piro said Santiago spoke to investigators for several hours after he opened fire with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun that he appears to have legally checked on a flight from Alaska.

"Indications are that he came here to carry out this horrific attack," Piro said. "We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack. We're pursuing all angles on what prompted him to carry out this horrific attack."

Investigators are combing through social media and other information to determine Santiago's motive, and it's too early to say whether terrorism played a role, Piro said. In November, Santiago had walked into an FBI field office in Alaska saying the U.S. government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos, authorities said.

"He was a walk-in complaint. This is something that happens at FBI offices around the country every day," FBI agent Marlin Ritzman said.

Santiago had a loaded magazine on him, but had left a gun in his vehicle, along with his newborn child, authorities said. Officers seized the weapon and local officers took him to get a mental health evaluation. His girlfriend picked up the child.

On Dec. 8, the gun was returned to Santiago. Authorities wouldn't say if it was the same gun used in the airport attack.

U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said Santiago would have been able to legally possess a gun because he had not been judged mentally ill, which is a higher standard than having an evaluation.

Santiago had not been placed on the U.S. no-fly list and appears to have acted alone, authorities said.

The attack sent panicked witnesses running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand. Others hid in bathroom stalls or crouched behind cars or anything else they could find as police and paramedics rushed in to help the wounded and establish whether there were any other gunmen.

Mark Lea, 53, had just flown in from Minnesota with his wife for a cruise when he heard three quick cracks, like a firecracker. Then came more cracks, and "I knew it was more than just a firecracker," he said.

Making sure his wife was outside, Lea helped evacuate some older women who had fallen, he said. Then he saw the shooter.

"He was just kind of randomly shooting people," he said. "If you were in his path, you were going to get shot. He was walking and shooting."

Over the course of about 45 seconds, the shooter reloaded twice, he said. When he was out of bullets, he walked away, dropped the gun and lay face down, spread eagle on the floor, Lea said.

By that time, a deputy had arrived and grabbed the shooter. Lea put his foot on the gun to secure it.

Lea went to help the injured and a woman from Iowa asked about her husband, who she described. Lea saw a man who fit his description behind a row of chairs, motionless, shot in the head and lying in a pool of blood, he said. The man, Michael Oehme, was identified as one of the dead victims on Saturday.

Santiago had been discharged from the National Guard last year after being demoted for unsatisfactory performance. Bryan Santiago said Saturday that his brother had requested psychological help but received little assistance. Esteban Santiago said in August that he was hearing voices.

"How is it possible that the federal government knows, they hospitalize him for only four days, and then give him his weapon back?" Bryan Santiago said.

His mother declined to comment as she stood inside the screen door of the family home in Puerto Rico, wiping tears from her eyes. The only thing she said was that Esteban Santiago had been tremendously affected by seeing a bomb explode next to two of his friends when he was around 18 years old while serving in Iraq.

Santiago, who is in federal custody with no bail, will face federal charges and is expected to appear in court Monday, Piro said.

It is legal for airline passengers to travel with guns and ammunition as long as the firearms are put in a checked bag — not a carry-on — and are unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Guns must be declared to the airline at check-in.

Santiago arrived in Fort Lauderdale after taking off from Anchorage aboard a Delta flight Thursday night, checking only one piece of luggage — his gun, said Jesse Davis, police chief at the Anchorage airport.



Investigation of Dallas police ambush still incomplete

There are still unanswered questions about the July attack that detectives hope to answer during the investigation

by Tasha Tsiaperas

DALLAS — In many ways, the Dallas Police Department is stronger six months after the July 7 ambush in which officers were killed, but there are still unanswered questions as detectives pick away at the investigation into the attack.

The officers were protecting demonstrators protesting police shootings of black men around the country when Micah Johnson opened fire around 9 p.m. July 7. In the initial chaos, police believed there was more than one shooter.

Several hours later, former Dallas Police Chief David Brown ordered officers to use a remote-controlled robot armed with explosives to kill Johnson, who was holed up in El Centro College.

Investigators quickly determined that Johnson was the only shooter. They sorted through bullet casings spread across a big downtown crime scene. They reviewed dashcam and surveillance video and 170 hours of body-camera footage. They interviewed the 11 officers who fired their weapons that night and the two officers who used the explosive device that killed Johnson.

And that investigation continues. The FBI is still processing evidence. When that's finished, Dallas police detectives will review it before sending the case to the Dallas County district attorney's office.

A grand jury will hear the case and determine whether criminal charges are necessary against the officers who fired their weapons and deployed the robot on July 7. It's a routine procedure in all shootings involving police.

But there are still many questions that remain unanswered about the ambush and police response to it: What types of guns did Johnson use? What exactly did Johnson say during 4 { hours of negotiations with police? How many explosives did Johnson, who claimed to have booby-trapped downtown, have in his home? How did police use a robot, armed with C-4, to kill Johnson?

Dallas police aren't ready to discuss such details.

"The investigation of the attack is enormous in its scope and several federal agencies have assisted in the gathering and processing of all types of evidence," Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said in a written statement. Castro is overseeing the investigation.

"As the investigation is not complete, it is not appropriate for the Dallas Police Department to formally discuss the incident," he said. "However, we are looking forward to the day when we can fully brief our officers and the public on the events of that day."

The officers killed that night were: Brent Thompson, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer; Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith; Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens; and Officers Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa.


Washington D. C.

Obama pens law review article on criminal justice challenges

His commentary addresses how presidents can influence the criminal justice system, and how they have a responsibility to translate that vision into practical results

by Vivian Salama

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama returned to his roots at the Harvard Law Review on Thursday, penning an article about progress his administration made in reforming the criminal justice system — and the challenges that remain for the next administration.

His commentary, "The President's Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform," addresses how presidents can exert influence over the criminal justice system, and how those who serve the president have a responsibility to translate that vision into practical results.

"How we treat citizens who make mistakes (even serious mistakes), pay their debt to society, and deserve a second chance reflects who we are as a people and reveals a lot about our character and commitment to our founding principles," Obama writes. "And how we police our communities and the kinds of problems we ask our criminal justice system to solve can have a profound impact on the extent of trust in law enforcement and significant implications for public safety."

In 1990, Obama was named the Harvard Law Review's first black president. The review was founded in 1887.

Obama writes in the new article that the country cannot afford to spend $80 billion annually on incarceration, to "write off" the 70 million Americans with a criminal record, or to release 600,000 inmates each year without improving the programs that integrate them back into society.

"In addition, we cannot deny the legacy of racism that continues to drive inequality in how the justice system is experienced by so many Americans," he writes.

The outgoing president cautions that challenges toward true reform remain, including the passage of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, preventing guns from falling into the hands of those who pose a threat, and addressing the nation's opioid epidemic.

He also highlights the need for implementing "critical reforms" to forensic science and argues more technology is needed to enhance trust in and effectiveness of law enforcement.



Calif. dispatch center falls below national average standards

Only about 79 percent of the 1.27 million emergency calls received in 2015 were answered within 10 seconds; the national standard is 90 percent

by Lizzie Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO — With a click, the call came through.

It was from a doctor. Routine scans had unexpectedly revealed that a patient of his was in danger because of a brain aneurysm. The man, who had already left the doctor's office, wasn't answering his phone. The doctor needed an ambulance to get him to the hospital before the aneurysm could rupture.

In San Francisco's 911 emergency call center, Natalie Eliceteche, 41, hastily switched among five computer displays, inputting a string of commands to dispatch help. The seconds it takes her to answer and dispatch a call can mean the difference between life and death. The faster she can get an ambulance to the man, the better his chances of survival.

Eliceteche has spent 14 years answering 911 calls like this one. But in recent years, she said, conditions at the center have worsened, and there aren't enough dispatchers on duty to answer calls. On this night, she was able to get the patient's information to medics, and he made it safely to the hospital.

But through the evening, the display above her desk kept flashing, registering more calls waiting. Small screens scattered around the center alerted her and other dispatchers to the incoming emergencies. With a click, Eliceteche would answer the next one. Click: A stabbing. Click: A pocket dial — false alarm. Click: A suicide attempt.

The screen — signaling the backlog of calls — flashed red. The delay in answering those calls has the potential to leave people facing health emergencies or other dangers without the help they need in the time they need it.

National guidelines say that 90 percent of 911 calls should be answered within 10 seconds, a standard San Francisco has not met since early 2012. The state standard says 95 percent of calls should be picked up within 15 seconds.

At San Francisco's 911 call center — where hiring freezes have left staffing short and emergency call volume has surged — only about 79 percent of the 1.27 million emergency calls received in 2015, the latest year for which data are available, were answered within the 10-second standard, a Chronicle analysis shows. Nonemergency calls trended lower, with an average of 57 percent of calls answered within the recommended one-minute mark.

Some other cities, like Oakland, split responsibilities for emergency calls between two centers. The Police Department fields law-enforcement emergencies, while the Fire Department responds to medical and fire emergencies. To compare, in 2015, Oakland received 72,803 medical and fire calls while San Francisco handled 135,229 medical and fire calls.

Calls to San Francisco's call center jumped from 919,908 in 2007 to 1.26 million in 2015, paralleling a swell in the city's population.

For years, the city has criticized its own call center on its public safety scorecard website for failing to meet targets. But it has been sluggish in its efforts to improve its operation, one city supervisor says.

To handle the increased calls, mandatory overtime for dispatchers has been increased. The Department of Emergency Management had 146 dispatchers as of Dec. 15, leaving it short 34 full-time employees. But that roster is misleading because it includes people on leave and new hires not yet trained to dispatch calls.

In fact, about 120 dispatchers are available to work at any given time, workers say. That's far short of the 180 or so that would make up a full staff, according to both department spokesman Francis Zamora and the dispatchers' union, Service Employees International Union 1021, which is in the midst of renegotiating its contract with the city.

San Francisco's dispatchers are working 12- to 14-hour shifts. Their overtime — pay for any shift beyond eight hours — cost the city more than $3.51 million in 2016, nearly triple the total in 2011.

The center's open positions have gone unfilled even as employees retire or take extended medical leave for work-related injuries, according to interviews with more than a dozen dispatchers. Five employees are out on long-term medical leave, and 10 have retired in the past two years, Zamora said. But hiring new employees isn't easy or quick — it takes nine months to a year to train a replacement, and only about 60 percent complete their training.

“The reality is, answering standards are not being met and are not going to be met any time soon,” said dispatcher Lynette Galarza, 36. “The fact of the matter is, you don't pay as much attention if it's your 12th hour of work. Things start to slip through the cracks. I wouldn't be comfortable with one of my family members calling 911.”

While City Hall has been aware of the center's staffing shortage, it has not acted quickly to alleviate it.

A citywide hiring freeze that was a result of the 2008 recession blocked the Department of Emergency Management from recruiting and training more than a single class of new dispatchers annually through 2013. Before that, multiple classes were offered each year.

In 2014, a controller's report concluded that the dispatch center was actually overstaffed — by 2.2 to 5.3 people per hour on average, based on historical call volumes and processing times. But that report was based on data gathered before 2011, when call volume began increasing, Zamora said, and it didn't account for extra staffing needed during major events such as the Super Bowl or a natural disaster.

The department is training multiple classes per year again; applications for its next class open Monday. But after testing, interviews and a background check, those trainees won't make it into the classroom until September.

“Unfortunately, ... our workload has increased, and we don't have more people coming in,” said Rob Smuts, who became deputy director of the department's Division of Emergency Communications in 2014, two years after call response times — the time it takes to answer a call — began to plummet.

“Those things together added up to a real crunch,” he said. “We've addressed part of the issue through an increase in overtime. But all the overtime we could spend wasn't sufficient to keep staffing as high as we would like. ... It just takes a little while to get new bodies trained and through the process.”

The huge increase in 911 calls stems from a booming population, greater cell phone use and an increased number of calls regarding the city's homeless population, city data indicate. From 2012 to 2014, for example, the number of police responses generated as a result of a 911 call jumped 11 percent, and about half the extra calls were related to homelessness, a suspicious person, an auto boost or an unknown complaint, according to a city report published last year.

The number of calls San Francisco's center receives is remarkable, said Stewart McGhee, fire and medical services division manager for the Oakland Fire Department.

“There's nothing in the Bay Area of any appreciable size that would be a good comparison,” McGhee said. “There's been an annual increase in 911 calls every year in Oakland and across the region. But it is nowhere near what San Francisco has seen.”

Even as the Department of Emergency Management's budget has grown, 911 staffing hasn't kept pace with the calls. This fiscal year, the department was earmarked to receive $93.9 million in city funding, a 13.3 percent increase from $82.9 million in fiscal year 2015. Most of the increase will go to a radio replacement project, personnel costs and capital costs related to long-term space planning for its facilities. About $1 million was allocated for three training classes of up to 15 students in fiscal year 2016, and two more in fiscal year 2017.

The city hired 15 dispatchers in 2015 and plans to hire 40 more trainees in the next two fiscal years, said Deirdre Hussey, spokeswoman for Mayor Ed Lee. But since about 2 in 5 of those students won't complete their training, the city will need to find money for more classes.

“We're confident that with (some) investments we will have the dispatchers we need to meet the increasing demand,” Hussey said.

Others aren't so certain. Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs the Board of Supervisors' Government Audit and Oversight Committee, said City Hall penny-pinching is putting lives at risk.

“I don't know what is worse: the unacceptable amount of time it takes 911 to respond to emergency calls or the unacceptable amount of time it's taken the city to address this serious safety problem,” Peskin said. “Response time is a perennial issue that should have been dealt with years ago, and our 911 call volume has only continued to increase.

“As I was reminded recently, even 20 seconds can mean the difference between life and death,” said Peskin, who arrived at Lombard and Powell streets last month shortly after a 13-year-old stopped breathing near a Muni stop and almost died.

Answering times won't improve until more dispatchers are brought on staff, said Charles Cullen, past president of the California chapter of the National Emergency Number Association and a technical services director for the Palo Alto Police Department. He helped lead the national organization that creates standards for emergency services.

“If you don't have the staffing, it's really hard to get your numbers up to standard,” Cullen said. “When there is a lot of mandatory overtime, people burn out and get fatigued. You're constantly dealing with issues and problems. It's all about having people there to answer the phones, because every second counts.”

The city plans to upgrade its 911 phone system this winter, replacing an outmoded version in use since 2000. Zamora, the Department of Emergency Management spokesman, said that would help prevent repetitive-motion injuries and decrease the number of call takers needing extended medical leave.

But many dispatchers and union leaders say the city's efforts are not enough.

“A lot of people are just burnt to the ground,” said dispatcher and SEIU Local 1021 President Burt Wilson. “There are people working 16 hours a day, and we are still coming up short. They are missing calls and missing certain details. This is not the best service that we can provide to the public.”

The dispatch center, with lime-green walls and American flags hanging near the ceiling, is located in a dimly lit building near Turk and Laguna streets. It serves a city and county of 860,000 people and fields calls for police, fire and medical emergencies.

It also handles calls for nonemergency services. On the Fourth of July last year, some residents ringing the nonemergency line — (415) 553-0123 — got a busy signal. That line, which can take in and hold up to 20 calls at one time, overloaded after an influx of complaints about firecrackers and noise. Many calls were never answered.

“A lot of people aren't getting the help they need,” said dispatcher Sean Dryden. “If there was a crime, and the suspect is running away, the one or two minutes that someone who has that information is waiting on hold makes a difference. The police could be driving right past the suspect. I get a horrible feeling when our bell has been ringing nonstop, and we can see how many people have been holding. That is wasted time.”

But even callers who get through to 911 quickly might have to wait for help. Police are supposed to respond to high-priority calls within four minutes, but have been taking an average of four minutes and 57 seconds from receiving a report from the 911 dispatch center to arriving on scene, according to a September 2016 report by the city controller. In 2009, they were about 70 seconds faster.

Police blame the same problems that plague the 911 call center — more emergency calls and short staffing — for their delays. Since 2010, there has been a 38 percent increase in high-priority calls for police help. Attrition within the police force has also increased. The city plans to hire as many as 400 officers within the next two fiscal years.

Fire Department ambulance response times are better. The department had major problems in recent years, but ambulances are now arriving at life-threatening emergencies within 10 minutes 91.1 percent of the time, surpassing the goal of 90 percent. In 2013, the goal was hit only 73 percent of the time. The city established working groups to brainstorm solutions and found funding to replace the department's aging fleet of ambulances and hire more paramedics.

“Generally speaking, we don't have a problem responding to top-priority calls,” said Smuts of the Division of Emergency Communications. “The middle and lower calls, (and) staffing levels at the Police Department impact how long it takes officers to get on those. We see that impact when we have pending calls, and people keep calling back asking for help.”

Duplicate calls spiked from 2012 to 2014, meaning that dispatchers are handling the same information multiple times, which slows the system. Supplemental calls from bystanders about the same incident also have increased.

“You get people that have been calling all day,” said dispatcher Eliceteche, signing off a call. “They call, call, call. It slows everything down. But it's just the way it is.”

On a recent Friday at the city's call center, dispatchers hunched over their computers and answered a stream of incoming calls.

Among them was Patrizia Marcuzzi, who has worked 11 years as a dispatcher, helping people on the worst days of their lives. She has handled calls about shootings and stabbings, car accidents and rapes.

One time, she said, a man overdosed in a Burger King parking lot off Van Ness Avenue. That one stayed in her mind for a long time, Marcuzzi said. She had nightmares about the call, the man's girlfriend sobbing into the phone while trying to resuscitate him. She doesn't always find out what happens to the victims she tries to help.

“They take a toll on everybody here,” she said, pausing to answer an incoming emergency call. “When you think you've heard everything, you haven't. There's some calls that affect you differently. You hear someone crying because the person with them isn't breathing. It's heart-wrenching.”

She typed in a chain of commands on her computer. Above her workstation, the screen counting unanswered emergencies ticked higher.



Fort Lauderdale airport suspect 'came here specifically' to attack, FBI says

by Catherine E. Shoichet, Steve Almasy and Ray Sanchez

Esteban Santiago went to baggage claim and picked up his one piece of checked luggage.

There were no other bags, just a case with a handgun inside.

Santiago allegedly took the 9 mm handgun out of its case and fired at other travelers Friday afternoon, killing five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport. On Saturday, authorities revised the number of wounded to six after earlier saying eight.

A few months earlier he reportedly had a mental evaluation after a bizarre visit to an FBI office in Alaska.

Friday's shooting sent the airport terminal into chaos, with people running for cover. They started running again when rumors of more gunshots and a possible second shooter spread through the busy airport. Almost 40 others would get hurt in the rushed evacuation after the attack. Some suffered sprains and bruises; others had broken bones.

Here's what we know about the deadly shooting and what officials have said about the suspect:

Who is Esteban Santiago?

Law enforcement officials identified Esteban Santiago, 26, as the suspect in the five deaths at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Santiago didn't resist when he was taken into custody, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. According to his booking information, Santiago is being held without bond on a murder charge.

He lives in Alaska, where he was a security guard.

Alaska was also the site of his last military assignment. He was a member of the Alaska Army National Guard from November 2014 until August when he was discharged for unsatisfactory performance, a spokeswoman for the guard said.

In November, Santiago paid a visit to the FBI office in Anchorage, telling agents he was hearing voices and being directed by a US intelligence agency to watch ISIS videos, law enforcement sources told CNN.

George Piro, the FBI's special agent in charge in Miami, told reporters that Santiago was turned over to local authorities and he voluntarily submitted to a mental health evaluation.

"His erratic behavior concerned FBI agents," Piro said Saturday.

The military said Santiago's nine years of service in the National Guard included one 10-month tour of Iraq, where he was awarded a combat action badge.

Santiago returned from Iraq a changed man, his aunt told CNN on Saturday.

"His mind was not right," the aunt, Maria Ruiz Rivera, said in a phone interview in Spanish from her home in New Jersey. "He seemed normal at times, but other times he seemed lost. He changed."

She added, "He talked about all the destruction and the killing of children. He had visions all the time."

Ruiz said she lost contact with Santiago several months ago.

"He stopped calling," she said. "He wouldn't respond to my messages. I would call and text. He seemed distant."

Her family is still in shock.

"Who would have imagined that he could do something like this?" she said. "I don't say that because we're family. I say it because he wasn't like that."

How did he get to Fort Lauderdale?

Piro said Santiago flew from Anchorage to Minneapolis to Fort Lauderdale on a Delta Air Lines flight.

A lieutenant with the Anchorage airport police said Santiago had one bag -- a handgun case with a pistol inside that he checked.

Authorities do not know why Santiago was in Fort Lauderdale.

But Piro said Saturday that Santiago "came here specifically to carry out this horrific attack."

"We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack," he said.

Piro said investigators were looking at airport video to see how the rampage unfolded. Authorities have conducted more than 100 interviews as part of their investigation.

What was the motive?

The FBI has not ruled out terrorism, Piro said, but Israel cautioned it was early in the investigation and authorities did not know Santiago's motive.

On Saturday, Piro said investigators "continue to look at the terrorism angle" as a possible motive.

"We have not ruled out anything," he said. "We continue to look at all avenues, all motives."

Piro said Santiago was cooperating with investigators, who had interviewed him for several hours. The interview concluded early Saturday.

There were reports of a possible altercation involving Santiago on the flight to Fort Lauderdale, but law enforcement sources said investigators haven't discovered any evidence to support those claims.

The airline said it had received no reports of any incidents during the flight.

"Reports from customers and crew onboard the flight in question indicate that there was not a customer altercation during the flight," according to a Delta representative.

What was it like at the airport?

Sara Graham, who had been vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, wrote on Instagram that she and her family were about 100 feet away from the shooter.

Graham said her brother led her and her mother to safety after the commotion began.

"When we first heard the shots we had no idea what was happening until everyone started running towards exits," she wrote. "We hid for about 30 minutes and we're let back inside, under the impression it was all safe."

Then there was a rumor of another shooter and people started running again.

"Once we were outside, we had to run three more times until we were sure that we were safe," she said.

They spent the rest of Friday afternoon in an aircraft hangar before people were allowed to leave.

One man told CNN's Anderson Cooper that a laptop in a backpack he had slung over his shoulder stopped a bullet that could have killed him.

"I felt something hit my back," Steve Frappier said, adding he thought it was luggage falling off the carousel.

It was a bullet, which ricocheted off the laptop. He found it in the side pocket of his bag.

Other witnesses described the aftermath of the shooting as a "war zone" and "mass hysteria."

What are rules for firearms in airports/checked bags?

Taking a gun on a plane is legal if a passenger brings the weapon in a case that locks and checks the suitcase containing the gun.

The gun cannot be loaded, though regulations allow travelers who fill out a declaration form to also bring ammunition.

Florida law prohibits guns inside terminals unless they are still in their case, but there is a bill before the state Legislature to allow guns in public places such as airports.

How was air traffic affected?

The Fort Lauderdale airport was closed for the rest of Friday, and more than 10,000 travelers had their trips interrupted for hours.

Flight tracking website FlightAware said 159 arrivals and 149 departures were canceled -- about a third of the scheduled flights.

The airport said services resumed Saturday.

Roads reopened Saturday morning for passengers and airport employees to reach the airport, according to its Twitter feed. Passengers were advised to check with their airline before traveling.

The airport said earlier it was collecting and processing more than 20,000 bags and personal items left behind during the evacuation to return them to their owners.

About 10,000 passengers were taken Friday by bus from the airport to a terminal at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, officials said.

Some people were forced to remain on planes that landed but weren't allowed to reach their gates. One JetBlue passenger said he was stuck for six hours.


Airport security increased nationwide following Fla. shooting

Extra police patrols and officers armed with heavy weapons have been added to major airports in New York and Chicago

by PoliceOne Staff

NEW YORK — In the wake of an airport shooting that left five dead, eight injured and prompted a massive police response, airports across the country are increasing security.

Extra police patrols and officers armed with heavy weapons have been added to major airports in New York, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark-Liberty International Airport. Officials have also added armored vehicles and K9 units, reported USA Today.

Airports in Chicago have also received an increased police presence. "Travelers can expect to see additional officers walking in airport terminal areas as well as vehicular patrols in the arrival and departure areas," said Anthony Guglielmi, Chicago Police spokesman, said in a statement.

Maryland airports have also seen an increased law enforcement presence; officials said they do not perceive any threats at this time.

Airports on the east coast and in Florida are also said they are unsure how many diverted flights to expect from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport following Friday morning's incident.

“Operations are normal ... We are pretty much in a wait-and-see mode in terms of will there be security changes required. Certainly is not out of the question but we haven't heard anything yet,”Todd Scher, the assistant director at the Vero Beach Regional Airport in Florida, said.


New Mexico

Small percentage of hate crimes aimed at whites

by The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The horrific beating of a mentally disabled white man in Chicago by four black assailants broadcast on social media is highlighting anti-white hate crimes at a time of increased racial strife in the United States.

But federal statistics and experts say anti-white incidents remain a smaller percentage of overall hate crimes. Anti-black hate crimes are still the largest number of cases.

According to the 2015 FBI hate crime statistics, the latest available, there were 613 anti-white-related crimes out of 5,850 total cases. That's around 10.5 percent of all reported hate crimes, and within the yearly average, federal numbers show.

By comparison, the FBI reports there were 1,745 anti-black hate crimes or about 30 percent of all reported incidents. Jews were the most targeted religious group that year and were victims of 11 percent of all hate crimes. It's not clear how many anti-Jewish hate crime victims also may have been attacked because of their race.

That data also suggested that blacks and Jews remain disproportionally targets of hate crimes compared to their population as opposed to whites. African-Americans are only 13 percent of the U.S. population, while non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Filing reports for the federal count is voluntary, but guidelines call for reports to be submitted even if they list zero hate crimes.

Even then, experts say the FBI data on hate crimes isn't a full picture since anti-black cases are skewed lower by the lack of reporting participation by some southern law enforcement agencies.

Some large Florida cities, like Miami, reported no hate crimes to the FBI in 2015, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University. “I doubt that cities as diverse as those had no hate crimes,” he said.

In Chicago, two men and two women — all black — are facing hate crime charges in connection with the brutal beating of a mentally disabled white man that was streamed on Facebook Live. The video shows the victim is tied up and the suspects are making racial slurs and references to his mental capacity, Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin said.

The suspects are accused of forcing the victim to drink toilet water and kiss the floor, stuffing a sock into his mouth, taping his mouth shut and binding his hands with a belt.

The 18-year-old victim, who is from a Chicago suburb, suffers from schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder, authorities said.

The victim also was taunted with profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump.

Eighteen-year-olds Brittany Covington, Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill, and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington also face kidnapping and battery charges in connection with the attack.

The case heightened political tensions on social media and opened yet-to-be healed wounds from a nasty presidential election campaign. Some conservatives suggested the attack highlighted growing anti-white violence and was linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, although police said there was no indication of any connection.

The FBI does classify attacks based on disability as a hate crime. Federal numbers show 88 incidents related to attacks on disability in 2015.

In addition to underreporting, Levin said strong federal data of the race and ethnicity of assailants is incomplete because of the lack of consistent reporting.

The 2015 FBI data showed that of the 734 total reported offenses committed against whites — a single incident could have multiple offenses like assault or theft — 46 percent of those were committed by blacks.

In contrast, of the 2,125 reported offenses committed against blacks, 58 percent of those who committed by whites.

Still, despite the data, Levin said the Chicago beating is resonating because it was shown via social media and racial relations are tense following the November election. Live streams and 140 Twitter characters inflame the fires.

Levin described the situation as “a logjam of motivations” for conflict, saying it's like nothing he's ever seen.

“We are seeing the coarseness that exists in society generally, those embers, have crossed the fire lines to all parts of the racial, ethnic and ideological spectrum,” Levin said.



Grand Rapids chief links drop in street crimes to $2.5M community policing effort

by Justin P. Hicks

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Having grown up in a single-parent home in one of Grand Rapids' poorer neighborhoods, Kavon Frazier knows that setting could have paved a much different path for him.

Instead, the 22-year-old stayed out of trouble with help from a pair of Grand Rapids Police officers, whom Frazier credits with shaping him for a great future during his time at one of the city's three Boys & Girls Club locations.

Now an NFL rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, Frazier is being held up as a success story - an example of how the Grand Rapids Police Department's community programs can impact kids' lives.

"I grew up around officers and some were like father figures to me," Frazier said. "Having a relationship with those officers was good, because all them bad stereotypes about police officers, especially in the black community, it basically shut them down."

The city's commitment to community policing has evolved since Chief David Rahinsky took the top job in 2014, including the addition of the central service area in 2016.

There are 20 officers assigned as community policing specialists, which make up the bulk of the department's annual $2.5 million commitment to this relationship-based policing style.

If Rahinsky has his way, the department will add another 10 specialist positions in 2017 to expand community policing into night and weekend shifts.

In an interview this week with The Grand Rapids Press and MLive, the chief was quick to say he sees a correlation between the city's community policing efforts and its drop in crime.

While 2016 crime numbers have not yet been released, Rahinsky said Grand Rapids has seen a "significant decrease" in gun-related offenses, street robberies, residential burglaries and larcenies from vehicles over each of the last three years.

He lays a lot of the credit for that at the feet of his community policing team.

"There's no doubt that there is a direct correlation between investing in these programs and spending time with young people, and seeing (crime) decreases two and three years down the road," Rahinsky said. "It's done with purpose, and that's the result we're looking for."

A connection with kids

Of the department's community policing group, three are stationed at the Boys & Girls clubs full-time. The other 17 are assigned to day shifts throughout specific geographical areas of the city.

Youth center officers oversee hundreds of children ages 6-18 each year, providing guidance, safety, academic support, recreational activities and a daily meal after school.

Members pay an annual fee of $5, leaving the remainder of the program funding to be covered by donations and assistance from the police department. In 2016, GRPD contributed $74,000 to the club, in addition to officer salaries.

While Rahinsky acknowledged it's not an inexpensive endeavor, he called the department's work with the local Boys & Girls Clubs an investment. It reduces the cost of people going through the criminal justice system in the future, he said.

A community focus

Community policing isn't a new idea, nor is it unique to Grand Rapids.

Though it has gained traction as a popular method of policing since the early 1990s, Rahinsky saw an opportunity for improvement when he took over the department in 2014.

"There were benefits to be gained and room for growth as far as how we were perceived and the relationship we had with the members of the community," he said. "We're here to serve, and the community's priorities drive our operational goals. That's the way it should be."

The current structure has community policing specialists assigned to specific geographic locations, allowing them to build relationships with residents, neighborhood associations and organizations in that area. That allows them to address deeper problems that affect the community.

These specialists aren't tied strictly to service calls, though they act as a safety net on days in which high call volume requires their assistance -- sometimes multiple times a week.

"While we do have officers freed from the constraints of answering calls for service, everybody is a community policing officer - it's not something you have to wear a special hat or a special title for," Rahinsky said.

"It's the way you do business. It's about relationships and trust and taking extra time on calls, getting to know the people you are serving."

These specialists are selected based on experience, as well as the passion they exhibit for the community service aspect of law enforcement.

"It's a different way of looking at police work," Rahinsky said. "I don't want to make it sound like we're reinventing the wheel. It's a matter of emphasizing that we're not separate from the community - we're part of the community."

Award-winning crime prevention

Kavon Frazier's story is just one of several Officer Michael Harris rattles off when asked what has inspired his work at the Seidman Club, 139 Crofton Street SE, over the last 15 years.

Though Harris originally aspired to be a patrol officer with a focus on law enforcement, he takes pride in his crime prevention responsibilities, steering children away from trouble and toward success.

Some children warm up to him immediately, taking a liking to his permanent grin and tendency to break out in dance. Others who have had poor experiences with officers require a little more interaction.

In any case, Harris has made it his mission to break down the wall between uniformed officers and community members, demonstrating that police don't deserve the negative image they sometimes receive.

"If a young kid only sees police arrest people in his or her family, they might have a negative image of us," Harris said. "That's part of the job, but our main thing is to protect and serve. At a young age, I think you can have a big-time influence versus when they're older and set in their ways."

Like his fellow Grand Rapids Boys & Girls Club officers, Harris is on the clock weekdays between noon and 8 p.m. He helps kids with their homework, challenges them to video game contests, and coaches organized basketball.

He also leads discussion with some of the older members when police are in the news for officer-related shootings and other incidents that affect how communities see public safety personnel.

"I want to ease their fears about police," he said. "We're not out here to shoot you, to beat you down. The stuff you hear on the news, that's unfortunately a small segment of our population. Even in those situations I tell the kids, we're human and we're not perfect."

Near the end of 2016, Harris' contributions to the youth in the community were recognized with one of 12 Maytag Dependable Leader Awards, given to officers nationwide.

Along with the hardware, he was awarded a $20,000 grant for the Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids.

"Kids who deal with Mike, either short-term or who stay involved with the program for years, have a completely different perspective of police in Grand Rapids from people who never come in contact with people like Mike Harris," Rahinsky said.

"They see the human side of police; they see we're here to help and they see that these men and women wear the uniform out of a desire to make people's lives better."



Judge refuses to release 4 accused of beating disabled man

The two women along with two men were ordered held without bond on charges of hate crime and other charges in the beating of a mentally disabled man that appeared on Facebook

by Don Babwin

CHICAGO — A Chicago judge refused to allow four black people caught on cellphone footage taunting and beating a mentally disabled white man to post bail and leave jail, saying they are accused of such "terrible actions" that they are a danger to society.

"Where was your sense of decency?" Cook County Circuit Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil asked them on Friday during their first court appearance, sounding baffled that the suspects could be charged with such cruelty toward the 18-year-old victim.

The beating was captured on cellphone video by one of the assailants and has since been viewed millions of times on social media. The graphic footage shows the suspects taunting the victim with profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump.

Prosecutors offered new details of the assault, explaining that one of the suspects demanded $300 from the mother of the victim, who is schizophrenic and has attention-deficit disorder. They also said the beating started in a van when the same attacker became angry that the mother had contacted him asking that her son be allowed to come home.

A prosecutor told the judge that the suspects forced the victim to drink toilet water, kiss the floor and then allegedly stuffed a sock into his mouth and taped it shut as they bound his hands with a belt.

The four are charged with two counts of committing a hate crime — one because of the victim's race and the other because of his mental disabilities.

On the video, the male suspects use knives to cut the victim's hair and his sweatshirt. One of the females can be seen laughing. A female also laughs as she punches the victim.

One of the men pulls the cord from the victim's sweatshirt around the victim's neck and holds him up while the victim groans in pain, according to a document read in court. The victim can be heard screaming when one of the men walks up to him with a knife and asks if he should "shank" him.

At one point, the prosecutor said, someone on the video can be heard saying that he did not care if the victim was schizophrenic.

The four suspects were identified as Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, both of Chicago, and Jordan Hill, of suburban Carpentersville. All are 18. A fourth suspect was identified as Covington's 24-year-old sister, Tanishia Covington, also of Chicago.

They stood quietly as the prosecutor read the allegations. Some of their relatives also listened, including a woman who wiped tears from her eyes.

Defense attorneys portrayed the suspects as hardworking, responsible and religious. Cooper, for example, takes care of his twin brother, who is in a wheelchair. Tanishia Covington has two small children. Her sister attends college and has a job. Hill, the judge was told, goes to church with his grandmother.

All four have experienced brushes with the law, some for serious and violent crimes.

Hill, for example, was arrested as a juvenile in 2015 on allegations of armed robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and residential burglary. Chicago police said they did not know the disposition of those arrests by suburban officers.

Tanishia Covington was arrested in 2007 on attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery charges. Police records do not show any convictions as a juvenile. As an adult, she was arrested on charges of battery and aggravated assault, but those charges were dropped.

The uproar over the beating intensified the glare on Chicago after a bloody year of violent crime and protests against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a police department that has been accused of using excessive force and hushing-up wrongdoing. The department has also been the subject of a long civil-rights investigation by the Justice Department, which is expected to report its findings soon.

The incident also stirred emotions still raw after a presidential campaign that split the nation. Some conservatives suggested it was linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. Police said there was no indication of any connection.

The incident began New Year's Eve, when the victim and alleged assailant Jordan Hill met at a suburban McDonald's, and then called his parents later to say he was staying with Hill for a sleepover.

Instead, Hill drove the victim around in a stolen van for a couple of days, ending up at a home in Chicago, where two of the other suspects lived, police said.

The victim's parents reported him missing Monday evening, two days after last hearing from him. The victim eventually escaped and a police officer spotted him wandering down a street, bloodied and disoriented.


New York

Niagara Falls, Peace Bridge to light up blue for LE

Both landmarks will light up Monday for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

by PoliceOne Staff

NEW YORK — In recognition of Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, Niagara Falls and the U.S. Peace Bridge will light up blue on Jan. 9.

The Buffalo News reported that the tribute was set up by Western New York Concerns of Police Survivors to honor fallen LEOs and current officers.

The Peace Bridge will light up from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. to honor the fallen and Niagara Falls will turn blue in 15-minute segments starting at 10 p.m. to honor all law enforcement officers.


From the Department of Justice

Justice Department Announces Department-Wide Procedures for Eyewitness Identification

Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates announced today that the Justice Department is issuing, for the first time, department-wide procedures on eyewitness identification, which will apply to agents at FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service, and which will guide federal prosecutors when deciding whether to charge a case involving an eyewitness identification. The new procedures were outlined in a memo from Yates to the heads of the department's law enforcement agencies. The procedures address the use of “photo arrays,” the most common methods used by law enforcement to determine whether a witness can identify the perpetrator of a crime, and are designed to ensure that law enforcement personnel do not suggest to a witness, even unintentionally, that they know which photograph contains the image of the suspect.

“Eyewitness identifications play an important role in our criminal justice system, and it's important that we get them right,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates. “With today's procedures, we're taking one more step to ensure that law enforcement officers obtain the most reliable evidence possible during a criminal investigation and that all Americans can have confidence in the fairness of our criminal justice system.”

The memo issued today establishes a department-wide policy directing that, except in exceptional circumstances, agents should administer photo arrays using either “blind” procedures (where the administrator is not involved in the investigation and does not know what the suspect looks like) or “blinded” procedures (where the administrator takes steps to ensure he or she cannot see the order or arrangement of the photographs viewed by the witness). In addition, the new policy stresses the importance of documenting a witness's self-reported confidence at the moment of the initial identification, reflecting a growing body of research that such confidence is often a more reliable predictor of eyewitness accuracy that a witness's confidence at the time of trial. The department's new procedures call on agents to document the identification either by video- or audio-recording the test, or by having the administrator transcribe the witness's statement as close to verbatim as possible.

In the memorandum, Yates directed the heads of the department's law enforcement agencies to update their internal policies to reflect the new guidance and called on all department prosecutors to review the procedures prior to making a decision about whether to charge a suspect who was identified in part through the use of a photo array, whether obtained by federal, state, or local law enforcement officers.


From ICE

ICE Office of Community Engagement already hard at work in 2017

A critical part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mission is to increase local and national understanding of the agency and foster trust and collaboration in communities across the United States. To that end, community relations officers are hard at work promoting ICE's mission across the country by working with state and local law enforcement partners, community groups and other organizations to raise awareness and provide information about ICE and its activities.

Community relations officers are working to build a sustainable and agency-wide effort to actively engage with the public. They are identifying new community partners and opportunities to facilitate active discussions between the public and field leadership so that communities better understand ICE's mission to enhance public safety and national security. ICE is genuinely interested in listening and responding to the public's concerns and explaining its mission and focus while dispelling misinformation about the agency's activities.

Longtime Community Relations Officer and Field Coordinator Raul B. Bustamante summed up the work he does: “I go forth into communities and listen, understand and speak. I express my passion and my compassion, but most importantly, I demonstrate passion and compassion to all I serve in my communities. I believe our program has truly made a difference in strengthening relations between local communities and ICE.”

The field coordinators may be reached at and individual community relations officers can be contacted here.



Fort Lauderdale Shooting: Gunman Opens Fire at Airport, Killing 'Multiple People'

by Tom Winter, Kerry Sanders, Erik Ortiz and Elizabeth Chuck

A shooter opened fire Friday afternoon at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, leaving "multiple people dead" and injuring several others, the Broward County sheriff said.

A gunman was in custody, local law enforcement sources told NBC News.

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, located about 25 miles north of Miami, tweeted the incident occurred at a baggage claim inside Terminal 2.

In the aftermath of the chaos, cameras outside the airport showed firefighters and other emergency personnel, plus large groups of passengers, standing on a tarmac. The Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately order an official ground stop at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, but officials were not letting anyone inside.

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted that he was at the airport at the time of the shooting and "everyone is running." He later tweeted that "all seems calm."

The airport says it receives over 73,000 travelers each day.

A law enforcement expert said authorities will try to determine who the suspect is and whether there are other plots afoot.

"You're trying to understand, is this a one-off guy? Regardless of motive, is he alone, or is there something else?" law enforcement expert Jim Cavanaugh told MSNBC. "We hate to think that way, but that's the requirement for police commanders — to think that way."

Fatal shootings at airports, where security is tight, are unusual. In November 2016, a disgruntled former employee opened fire at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, killing a Southwest Airlines worker.



Facebook assault further tarnishes violence-plagued Chicago

by Aamer Madhani and Doug Stanglin

CHICAGO — Already facing unwanted scrutiny over a soaring murder rate and a civil rights investigation of its police department, Chicago again is receiving unwelcome attention after an 18-year-old special-needs student was viciously assaulted in an attack streamed live on Facebook.

The four African-American suspects charged with hate crimes and other felonies for allegedly beating, torturing and humiliating a white acquaintance are due to appear in court for a bond hearing Friday afternoon.

The mayor and police superintendent of the nation's third-largest city quickly denounced the disturbing assault after charges were announced Thursday. The nearly 30-minute video, which exploded on social media Wednesday, appears to show at least one black male suspect torturing and taunting the 18-year-old victim and making disparaging remarks about President-elect Donald Trump.

"Let me be very clear, the actions in that video are reprehensible," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. "That, along with racism, have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago. Or anywhere else for that matter." Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the actions in the video "sickening.”

The controversy comes following a bloody year in which Chicago has faced nationwide media attention for a surging murder rate, and as the police department struggled to restore trust in the city's African-American community amid a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation of the agency's patterns and practices.

The city tallied 762 murders and more than 4,300 shooting victims in 2016, more than New York and Los Angeles combined. Earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to say if Emanuel can't solve the endemic violence — a level the city has not seen in nearly 20 years — then “he must ask for Federal help.”

Some law enforcement analysts suggest the rise in violence may be due in part to the city's officers becoming more cautious following the court-ordered release in late 2015 of a police video showing a white officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on a city street.

The officer in the incident, Jason Van Dyke, fired 16 shots at the black teen and was charged with murder on the day of the video's release, which set off weeks of protests in the city and lead to the Justice Department's civil rights investigation.

Johnson and Emanuel, meanwhile, have blamed the spike in violence on a rise in gang activity and gun laws that they say don't do enough to deter convicted felons from arming themselves.

Police stops and arrests declined following the department agreeing last year to implement new measures to head off litigation from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the department was disproportionately targeting black men for questioning.

“The police activity is horrific. Honestly. And there, and there's not an excuse that could be made in my book,” former police superintendent Garry McCarthy told CBS 60 Minutes . “The noncompliance of the law is becoming legitimized. And the police are on their heels. ... We're reaching a state of lawlessness.”

After the video of the beating and torture of the special-needs student went viral, conservative radio host Glenn Beck appeared to blame activists with Black Lives Matter, a nationwide movement that has protested police treatment of African-Americans.

“Stand up with me and demand justice in Chicago for the beating of a disabled trump supporter by BLM,” Beck wrote on Twitter. Police said they did not know if the victim was a Trump backer, and have not indicated the suspects were Black Lives Matter activists.

On Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blamed Obama and his former attorney general, Eric Holder, for a “dramatic rise in racial tension.”

“I think a lot of their language, a lot of their approach heightened that sense of racial tension,” he said during an interview on Fox & Friends . “And I think we have to oppose white racism, but we also have to oppose black racism.”

In a series of interviews with Chicago TV stations Thursday, President Obama called the attack “despicable.” He also suggested racial incidents get more attention now "in part because we see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth because of smartphones and the Internet."

The Cook County prosecutors office charged Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville, Ill., along with Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, all of Chicago, with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary in the alleged torture and kidnapping of the special-needs teen.

Hill also was charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Authorities said the victim was a classmate of Hill and the pair spent a day and night driving around Chicago in a stolen van before ending up at an apartment, where two sisters, Brittany and Tanishia Covington, lived. The victim's parents reported him missing Monday evening, two days after last hearing from him, when they dropped him at a McDonald's in suburban Streamwood.

Hill allegedly tied up the victim and began a methodical, five-hour assault on him Tuesday after playful fighting turned ugly, police said. The assailants kicked and punched the victim, forced him to drink toilet water and appeared to carve into his head with a knife.

"They (the female suspects) got aggravated with him, and that is when he was tied up, and the racial slurs ... started coming out," police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.

Police said a downstairs neighbor threatened to report the suspects over the noise. The sisters, angered by the threat, went downstairs and allegedly kicked in the neighbor's door, giving the victim a chance to escape.

The bloodied and battered victim was spotted by police Tuesday afternoon walking along a sidewalk in cold weather wearing only sandals, shorts and a tank top turned inside out and backward.

The victim has since been reunited with his family.

"He's doing well, as well as he could be at this time," the victim's brother-in-law David Boyd told reporters. "We appreciate all the support from everyone."



Newport News, Hampton police urge community to speak up, help stop preventable crimes

by Sarah J. Ketchum

When Hampton police were responding to a shooting near Bethel High School Wednesday, Newport News Police Chief Richard Myers said he got a phone call from Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult.

Myers spoke about his conversation with Sult to a group of reporters, city officials and others at a news conference Thursday. He said Sult told him people in cars were recklessly driving down the busy street spraying bullets at unintended targets.

Hampton police officials later said a person in a nearby car not involved in the exchange was shot. Two other vehicles were also hit while driving through the intersection

“At the end of the day, when a grandfather who is trying to teach his grandson to drive a car in the school parking lot gets struck by a stray round, too much is too much,” Sult said in a separate news conference Hampton Police Department held later Thursday

Myers said the chiefs think the crime could have been prevented with the public's help.

“Together we lamented this recurring theme,” Myers said. “It's well-known within the community who's carrying a gun with ill intent, sometimes putting innocent people at risk. And yet no one notifies the police until the damage is done.”

“When people fail to intervene, it often results in friends, relatives and neighbors falling to preventable violence,” he said.

The two police chiefs held the news conferences Thursday to address a recent spike in violent crimes in both cities. Newport News recorded 31 homicides in 2016, up from 26 in 2015. Hampton recorded 23 in 2016 after tallying 16 in 2015, according to police and Daily Press archives.

The conferences aimed to disclose the departments' recent efforts to reduce violent crime and urge members of the communities to help with the fight.

“It isn't just a policing issue,” City Manager Jim Bourey said at the Newport News conference. “It's a community issue.”

Police efforts

Newport News police piloted a Violent Crime Reduction Task Force in early November with an emphasis on getting illegal guns off the street. The 12-member team held community meetings and worked closely with officers on the department's gang and major crimes units and patrol officers, Myers said.

During the last two months, the team's efforts resulted in 66 arrests, 29 firearms recovered and 26 fugitives apprehended, police said. While the department is unable to continue the task force with its current staffing, Myers said officials are looking for ways to make the efforts ongoing after the officers return to their normal assignments.

“You can't argue with results like this,” he said.

Hampton has a similar task force that started in November, Sult said, and the department plans to double its size by devoting training and experienced officers to the task force.

“This is a marathon,” Sult said. “It is not a short-term sprint.”

The department plans to allocate resources, like a radio system that will allow the department to work with private security officers, and automatic vehicle locators that would allow police to send their closest car, or ask Newport News police to send officers.

“It shouldn't matter who's responding as long as we can help a citizen in need in those locations,” Sult said.

Myers emphasized that the department is casting a wide net in attempt to address a “staffing crisis.”

“This might be a good time to issue this plea,” he said. “We are hiring police officers.”

The department is seeking people who are problem-solvers who want to work on something bigger than themselves, “including second-career folks who seek a higher purpose in their careers,” he said.

Community policing

Both departments are working to build trust within the communities and maintain a constant dialogue with members in an effort to prevent crimes and arrest violent offenders, officials said.

Information from the community is vital in getting many of these cases solved.

Myers gave recent examples of cases that would not have resulted in arrests without the community's help. In one, a witness followed a Shell Station robbery suspect and was able to direct police to the vehicle the suspect climbed into, he said.

“The assistance of a citizen in this case was absolutely instrumental in solving it,” he said.

Sult said the department wants to offer help to families and assess probation parole.

“If you want to turn your life around, we'll hold your hand and we'll walk you through it. We'll help you with that,” Sult said.

That doesn't mean people won't be held accountable, he said: “Make no mistake: you pick up a gun, you do a gun crime, you're gonna do time.”

Newport News officials want to build trust and keep the community better informed through new initiatives. Officials plan to start holding bimonthly media briefings, Facebook live-streams and a weekly chief's blog.



Community concerned over Baltimore police staffing levels

The Baltimore Police Department is at the tipping point, FOP says

by Vanessa Herring

Two Baltimore police community council presidents said the department is under-staffed and needs some help from Maryland State Police.

The community leaders are asking state lawmakers to consider assigning state police to patrol I-83 from the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line to President Street.

The presidents of the Northern and Central police district community councils said responding to traffic incidents pulls at least three cars off of neighborhood patrols. They added that the burden on the police department is overwhelming.

"There are not enough police officers on patrol, that's for sure,” Bill Miller, president of the Northern Police District Community Council, said.

According to the Baltimore Police Department's report on community policing released this week, as of Dec. 1 there were 2,528 sworn police officers, which is 118 fewer officers than last year.

In a letter, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Gene Ryan expressed concern about staffing levels within the department.

“Our members can only do so much and, at this point, the Baltimore Police Department is at the tipping point of being unable to protect the city and its citizens,” Ryan wrote.

“Many of our officers are being forced to take overtime that they really don't want and it's going to cost us morale problems,” Miller said.

Miller said staffing is strained when central and northern district officers are pulled off patrol for traffic incidents on I-83.

"If there's an incident in those communities, police cars have to come from other distant areas which are high crime areas like along York Road and Greenmount Avenue,” Miller said.

Miller is urging state lawmakers to have state police assume that responsibility.

"It makes sense for the state police instead of stopping at the city-county line and turning around, which is what they do now, to patrol the whole area and respond to the whole area."

Baltimore police spokesman Chief T.J. Smith said the department hasn't taken a position on this issue.

The FOP also has not commented on the proposal.

However, Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman, did respond to the proposal.

“Our troopers stay very busy with our current responsibilities,” Shipley said in a statement. “We work in support of other law enforcement agencies on a regular basis, but are not seeking additional duties."

Miller said he is concerned that there has not been more of a response to the letter he sent to legislators in August. He believes state lawmakers could mandate the change through the budget process, if they wished to do so.


Fatal police shootings of unarmed black men drop more than half in 2016

Data shows that police used fatal force on 16 unarmed black men, compared to 36 in 2015

by PoliceOne Staff

Recent data released by The Washington Post, shows fatal police shootings of unarmed black men were down in 2016 compared to 2015.

Data from 2015 found that a total of 36 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police. In 2016, 16 were killed. One unarmed black woman was killed as well.

Law enforcement and others have argued that the anger over police shootings of unarmed black men is excessive given the actual number of such incidents.

According to Heather MacDonald, author of “The War on Cops,” the shootings of unarmed black men “is not a national crisis.” She cites FBI data that shows the overall number of black homicide victims in 2015 was approximately 7,000.

According to data from the Washington Post, police fatally shot 258 black men and women in 2015.

“We have been having a discussion for the last 20 years of phantom police racism in order to not talk about a far more difficult and uncomfortable reality, and that is the wildly disproportionate levels of black-on-black crime,” MacDonald told Newsweek.

Opal Tometi, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, told the publication last year that crime in black communities doesn't cancel out police brutality.

“Critics who raise this type of rhetoric aim to derail a desperately needed conversation about violence and abuse perpetrated by police.”

Law enforcement said that an unarmed person can still pose a threat to officers and the community. In the 2015 Washington Post data, at least five of the unarmed tried to reach for the officer's gun or beat them with their equipment.

Command staff credit increased and better police training with the decrease in fatal shootings of unarmed black men.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole told the publication that when she joined the department, they began implementing de-escalation training and crisis intervention.

“No police officer wants to take someone's life,” she said.



Roanoke Valley law enforcement agencies work to improve community policing

by Amy Friedenberger

A man is standing behind his brother in the doorway of his brother's house. He's holding a beer in one hand and flipping the middle finger with the other to the police officer. He's got an arrest warrant out on him for misdemeanor larceny.

Can the officer arrest him while the man stands inside his brother's house? No. He needs a search warrant to enter a third party's residence to arrest someone, Randy Means told an audience of Roanoke Valley police officers.

Means, an attorney with the Thomas & Means Law Firm in Charlotte, North Carolina, provided this scenario among several others dealing with policing and Constitutional law in a seminar for area law enforcement agencies Tuesday at the South County Library. The training, which continues into next month, is focused on improving the quality of contact between officers and citizens and was available through a grant the Roanoke County Police Department got approved by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Board.

As Means rattled off scenarios and asked if what the officer did was legal or not, some were no-brainers, but other times, officers in the audience were split, nodding their heads up and down or side to side.

“I want you to win,” Means said. “But like you, presumably, I want it done right.”

Roanoke County Assistant Chief Jimmy Chapman said he wanted to provide the training because of a national conversation dealing with Constitutional policing and fair and impartial policing.

Tuesday's training covered topics including vehicle stops and searches, entering private premises, when handcuffing is appropriate, and what is reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

“My object is to keep you from having problems and getting into trouble,” Means said.

Roanoke County Chief Howard Hall said that while these topics are covered in police academy training, it's good to have a refresher and possibly learn a new way of thinking about how they do things.

The Criminal Justice Services Board awarded $756,000 in grants this year to law enforcement agencies across the state in support of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's “Policing in the 21st Century” initiative. Grants go toward training and equipment intended to improve community policing efforts.

The Vinton Police Department received $20,000 to purchase a mobile community services unit, which will be used to promote outreach and education, community engagement, crime prevention, and build relationships between officers and residents.

The Salem Police Department, which got $17,333, and the Roanoke Police Department, awarded a total of $46,000, are still waiting to hear which specific proposals they submitted are being supported by the grant money.



Number of patrol officers declines in Baltimore, report finds

by George Lettis

There were fewer officers working neighborhood patrols in Baltimore City in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the Baltimore Police Department's annual end-of year community policing report.

According to the report, as of Dec. 1, 999 of the 1,255 officers assigned to patrol division are assigned to sector patrol, representing 79.6 percent of the total number of officers assigned to the patrol bureau.

The General Assembly started requiring city police to produce the report in 2015. Delegate Curt Anderson co-sponsored the move.

"This will give us the tools that we need to help the police come up with a better policing strategy for the city and we're all in it together," Anderson said.

This compares to 1,102 out of 1,271 officers, or 87 percent assigned to sector patrol as of Nov. 1, 2015, according to last year's report.

The report also found there were 494, or 19.5 percent, of the police force that lived in Baltimore City. This compares with 567, or 21.4 percent, of the force in 2015.

These numbers come as the city is pushing for more community policing and for more of their officers to live in the city.

“A fundamental rule for effective community policing is having a visible and tangible presence in the community,” the report said. "Having uniformed officers on the street in the same neighborhoods makes the community feel safe while reinforcing mutual trust between police and ordinary citizens. In other words, assigned post officers and foot patrols are the bedrock of community policing."

From 2015 to 2016, 73 fewer Baltimore City police officers are city residents, even though the city now gives them up to a $2,500 tax break to own a city home.

The number of officers on neighborhood patrols has also declined, with 103 fewer than in 2015.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the patrol assignments often change as other needs arise in the violent crime section.

"I've got to make some hard choices," Davis said. "The focus on closing cases is so very, very important."

The commissioner is encouraged about future officers living in the city.

"The most recent academy class that graduated (had) 42 percent city residency," Davis said.

The report also showed improvement in two areas. There were 33 fewer use-of-force complaints from citizens against officers, and 18 fewer cases of officers being suspended.

"It's never just one thing, right? But I will say that the body-worn cameras have brought a level of civility to police and civilian encounters," Davis said.

Other findings in the report include:

- Forty-six officers were suspended with pay, compared to 62 in 2015

- Three officers were suspended without pay compared to five in 2015

- Ninety-five reports of excessive force compared to 128 in 2015

The report also shows the number of sworn officers from year to year is down by 118, but the commissioner expects to fill those positions this year.



City approves federal grant to hire more police officers

by Sharon Mai and Olivia Liu

COLUMBIA — A $500,000 federal grant that will enable the city to hire four more police officers was approved by the Columbia City Council on Tuesday night.

The grant will come from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing. The council voted unanimously to approve it.

The grant gives preference to post-9/11 veterans, and the new officers will focus on gun violence and gang-related crimes as members of the Community Outreach Unit, according to a report from City Manager Mike Matthes.

Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas praised the grant as a good tool for helping the city combat crime, but this concept of increasing the police force is not new.

Thomas and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala questioned the ability to fund the contributions expected by the city and the ability for the police force to find the post-9/11 veterans. Representatives of the public that were associated with Race Matters, Friends, a local racial equality group, questioned race relations.

The $500,000 will be dispersed over three years, with smaller amounts coming each year. That will require the city to contribute more toward the officers' salaries and equipment each year.

In the first year, the city will contribute $70,721. In the second and third years, it will contribute $106,082 and $176,803, respectively. The grant also requires that the city retain the additional positions for at least another year at its own expense, which will cost an estimated $284,536.

"The fourth year is contingent to some degree of additional funding in the future," Skala said.

When the grant expires, the city will have to fund the four jobs on its own, but City Manager Mike Matthes said city staff has not yet decided on how to do that.

Over the past three weeks, Police Chief Ken Burton said the police department has hired seven recruits to be trained to fill the 10 vacancies on the police force. Burton said he does not foresee any issue with finding the post-9/11 veterans, but recognizes the fact that the police department is currently understaffed.

"We have officers that get frustrated with the number of calls they are holding," Burton said. When asked about the diversity of the seven officers hired, he said they were not diverse.

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, president of Race Matters, Friends, and Martha Brownlee-Duffeck, coordinator of Race Matters, Friends, said they want to see more from the police department by way of community policing.

"What I object to is them using community-oriented policing language, but they are not committed to it as a philosophy. They are taught that the community is a threat. We want them to embrace the philosophy about the community being a core value of driving the practice that you do of policing us," Wilson-Kleekamp said.

"If they did that, we would rally behind them. We would rally behind a ballot initiative to support them financially if they made the policy changes that codify this philosophy," Brownlee-Duffeck said.

The grant comes as the city seeks a way to combat gun violene. In 2016, there were 123 firearm assaults reported, according to the Uniform Crime Report statistics on the Missouri State Highway Patrol website. That compares to 162 in 2015 and 68 in 2011. The lowest number was in 2013, when there were 49 firearms assaults.

The FBI defines "firearm assaults" as “all assaults in which a firearm of any type is used or is threatened to be used.” That includes, but is not limited to, crimes involving revolvers, automatic pistols, shotguns, zip guns, and rifles.



Teens step forward to serve as pallbearers for veteran with no family

by Todd Starnes

Navy veteran Jerry Wayne Pino died on Dec. 12 th in Long Beach, Mississippi. He was 70 years old.

We don't know that much about Jerry. He was born in Baton Rouge and joined the Navy in New Orleans. He was a petty officer third class in Vietnam. That's the extent of his biography.

No family. No friends. He died alone.

Jerry's body lay unclaimed for several weeks at Riemann Family Funeral Homes.

“No one stepped forward,” funeral home worker Cathy Warden told me. “He just didn't have any family.”

Miss Cathy explained the situation to her colleague Eva Boomer and together they decided something must be done to give this veteran a proper send off.

“Something had to be done with respect,” Miss Cathy said. “We had to give him what he deserved. Nobody should go alone.”

Miss Eva, who is also a veteran, wondered if some of the boys at Long Beach High School might be willing to serve as pallbearers. It was a longshot, though, seeing how most of the students were out on Christmas break.

But Miss Cathy called her teenage son Bryce who in turn texted some of his friends – and within a matter of minutes, six young men had volunteered to serve at a stranger's funeral.

Nobody should go alone.

“It was the right thing to do,” 17-year-old Bailey Griffin told me. “He served our country. He fought for our rights. For him to be buried with nobody there was just sad. I told myself I was going to do it and I did it.”

They buried Petty Officer Third Class Jerry Pino on a Tuesday. The sun was shining and there was a cool, gulf coast breeze meandering through the Biloxi National Cemetery. An honor guard stood at attention.

The boys were smartly dressed in khaki pants and buttoned down shirts and neck ties. They solemnly took their places on either side of the flag-draped coffin and escorted a man they did not know to his final resting place.

“I went out there for the service and cried the whole way through,” Miss Cathy said. “He had no one there. This veteran had nobody standing there but these boys.”

But what happened at the end of the funeral was incredibly moving and poignant.

The flag that had draped Jerry's coffin was folded and presented to the six young men from Long Beach High School, home of the Bearcats.

“It touched my heart,” Miss Cathy said.

The Sun Herald newspaper shared a message from the mother of one of the young pallbearers.

“Proud mom when he told me that no one should be buried without people who care present, especially a veteran,” Stacie Tripp wrote on Facebook.

Evidence that moms and dads are doing something right in Long Beach, that's what Miss Cathy said.

“Our community is teaching these boys from the heart how it should be – how to care,” she said.

They are still trying to figure out what to do with the flag that draped Jerry's coffin. It's being encased in glass – along with a plaque that bears his name.

There's talk about putting the flag on display at the high school or perhaps inside the locker room where four of the pallbearers play football.

It would be a fitting tribute to a man who died alone but who was buried surrounded by his fellow countrymen.

And oh what a lesson for the rest of us – demonstrated by a group of young boys from Mississippi who committed in their hearts that nobody should go alone – especially a veteran.


New York

New NYPD boss tested early in first 100 days

While not a celebrity like William Bratton, James P. O'Neill's approachable style has impressed subordinates

by Anthony M. Destefano

NEW YORK CITY — The night before James P. O'Neill took over as the New York City police commissioner, he went on a subway ride with his boss, William Bratton, as part of a final inspection run. Afterward, the thirsty and hungry former transit cops ducked into Neary's pub on East 57th Street.

Amid the cozy dark-wood furnishings and photos of politicians, O'Neill and Bratton had a final meal of pork chops as they waxed nostalgic about their careers. O'Neill was to take over the next day, Sept. 16, as the city's 43rd police commissioner while Bratton would ride away to a lucrative job in private industry.

It was a calm moment before the storm. Forty-eight hours later O'Neill found himself facing his first challenge as police commissioner. A pressure cooker bomb had exploded in Chelsea, injuring 31 people and spreading new fears in a city on guard against terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The way O'Neill directed the NYPD after the bombing provided an early glimpse of how the department would be carefully crafted in his style during his first 100 days in charge.

While not a celebrity like Bratton, O'Neill's approachable style has impressed subordinates, police department observers say. When a baby started crying during one of his speeches, O'Neill got laughs saying the noisy kid reminded him of his days changing diapers.

The explosion on the night of Sept. 17 and the quick arrest of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahimi served as a formidable test for O'Neill as the NYPD's new boss. The quick reaction of O'Neill's department and the FBI, as well as his hands-on presence at the Chelsea crime scene that night showed many that the NYPD had not missed a beat.

The smooth transition was on display in the weeks that followed. O'Neill dealt with the in-the-line of duty killing of NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, a Long Island resident. He oversaw efforts to protect the city in November amid warnings about a possible terrorist attack the day before the presidential election. Afterward, O'Neill faced the challenge of guarding President-elect Donald Trump's Manhattan home at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

In terms of crime fighting, the changeover to O'Neill has been just about seamless. With 1,300 additional cops aided by new technology, the city flirtedin 2016 with its second lowest homicide numbers in modern history and could see a drop below 1,000 shootings for the first time in recent history.

“The crime data couldn't be better,” said Richard Aborn, head of the nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. “He has done all this without much upheaval in the department, which is remarkable.”

Noted author and police historian Thomas Repetto, referring to the troubling violence in places like Chicago, said O'Neill gets initial high marks for his crime-fighting approach.

“He has done a pretty good job containing crime, especially when you consider what is happening in other cities,” Repetto said.

Bratton went even further in his praise of O'Neill and the NYPD.

“New York is truly showing up as a national model,” Bratton told Newsday a few days ago.

As chief of department and the highest uniformed member of the NYPD, O'Neill was one of two candidates Mayor Bill de Blasio had to consider as Bratton's successor. The other candidate, Benjamin Tucker, was Bratton's first deputy commissioner and his civilian right arm. DeBlasio's eventual choice of O'Neill was a decision grounded in the new commissioner's role as the prime architect of the NYPD's emerging neighborhood policing strategy, some police experts said.

One of the big questions when Bratton announced his decision to leave was how much of the leadership team he had assembled would stay. So far, most of the big names have remained, although Repetto thinks over time some will exit.

The continuity of leadership has allowed O'Neill to ramp up his neighborhood policing plan, something heartily endorsed by de Blasio. The evolving strategy is seen by O'Neill as a way the NYPD can repair relationships with minority communities alienated by prior stop, question and frisk practices while continuing to keep the focus on reducing crime.

O'Neill was not available do a sit-down interview with Newsday but at a recent Crain's business forum he contrasted his community strategy, where cops attempt to establish deeper relationships with residents, with how officers had previously spent most of their time responding to 911 calls.

“Neighborhood policing is another way of doing business,” O'Neill said at the forum.

As O'Neill has repeatedly explained over recent months, the new policing model, which is up and running in about half of the city precincts, has the same cops in patrol cars stationed in the same neighborhood sector as a way of getting the officers closer to the communities.

Another overlay will be two neighborhood coordinating officers as supervisors. Cops will have the chance to spend 30 percent of their day responding to 911 calls and the rest of the time dealing with other important issues as they come up, O'Neill said.

“The best part about this is that now we have ownership: ‘If I don't take care of it today, it is there tomorrow and I have to face the people,'” the new police commissioner said recently.

New Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said NYPD statistics in the commands where neighborhood policing is in place show overall crime down 2.8 percent compared to 2015, with homicides falling by three percent and shootings and robberies eight-percent lower.

“They're establishing relationships, more contacts and building the trust,” Gomez said of officers.

Going forward into 2017, O'Neill has said he plans to survey community and department-wide reaction to the neighborhood policing model, which could justify even more money for additional cops, according to Bratton.

In the long term, Aborn said, O'Neill and the NYPD will have to develop new ways of measuring the strategy's effectiveness beyond crime statistics and anecdotal reports.

Although Aborn said that so far, the rank-and-file and the public trust O'Neill, that feeling has not been universal.

After an NYPD sergeant shot and killed a 66-year-old mentally ill Bronx woman in October, O'Neill and de Blasio criticized police actions. Those remarks got immediate blow back from Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeant's Benevolent Association who said O'Neill was mirroring de Blasio's sentiments and unfairly prejudging the officer's actions. Because of that, cops have not been overly impressed with O'Neill, Mullins said.

Yet, Roy Richter, head of the Captain's Endowment Association, believes O'Neill's personal style, said to be based on fairness, directness and honesty, is working well within the NYPD.

Prof. Franklin Zimring of Univeristy of California, Berkeley School of Law, a noted criminologist, said that criticism of O'Neill and his ties to de Blasio is more in the line of political gossip than an issue of substance. This is especially true when there are no major policing or crime crises in the city, Zimring said.

“No news is good news,” noted Zimring, referring to New York's low crime levels.

However, Repetto believes that the city is always just one step away from another tests of its policing strategy.

“You never know what the terrorists are going to do,” he said.


2016 in Review: Was this the year of the criminal?

Spoiler alert: Despite an increase in violent crime in many cities, along with a rise in ambush attacks on police officers, 2016 was actually “The Year of the American Cop”

by Doug Wyllie

This time last year, I wrote about two troubling trends — deadly hesitation and de-policing — which stood out as the most important developments for law enforcement in 2015.

I wrote that “if deadly hesitation and de-policing continue to become more prevalent, some places in this country are in peril of becoming at least more dangerous, if not downright lawless,” and that “if these troubling trends continue, a year from now we may be writing about 2016 as the year of the criminal.”

So, was 2016 the year of the criminal? The answer is complicated, multifaceted, and perhaps even unsatisfying.

Simply said, a dialectic “yes” or “no” just won't do.

The answer to the question is, “it depends”

In most places in America, crime remained about the same as last year (and years past) but in some cities, violent crime increased significantly. Even in places where violent crime dropped, property crime and quality-of-life crime multiplied.

Calling it “a tremendous achievement,” NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill recently predicted that the total number of shootings in the Big Apple will be fewer than 1,000 for the first time in more than two decades.

While at the time of this writing the murder rates are down in New York City and up only slightly in New Orleans, other American cities have exploded with violence.

Nearly a dozen cities — including Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville, and San Antonio — “have had sizable increases” in murders in 2016, according to a report in Time magazine.

While final data are not yet available for the entire year — that information will likely become available in early 2017 — according to a mid-year report released by the Major Cities Chiefs Association , the number of murders in 29 of the nation's largest cities increased during the first six months of 2016.

The starkest example is in Chicago, where more than 4,250 people were shot in 2016 — a 50 percent increase over last year. An estimated 742 of those people shot in the Windy City died, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It is believed — although given the lack of final data, not yet proven — that most of the shootings in the country are gang-related incidents. As former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said on “The O'Reilly Factor” on December 12 of this year, “The violence is about the rival gang. They shoot each other because they're on the other team. They shoot each other because ‘my father shot your father.'”

We also must remember that murder rates and gun violence are not the only measure of criminal activity to be considered.

While it is true that the murder rate is down in Los Angeles, according to a mid-year report released in July, the “department still faces a continuing rise in assaults, robberies and property offenses, marking the city's second straight midyear increase in overall crime,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The beginning of a long-term trend?

It's important to note that 2016 does not necessarily represent a single, stand-alone pivot point toward a rise in violent crime in America. In reality, this year is probably the continuation of a trend that started last year — following the “Ferguson Effect” which began in late 2014.

When the FBI released its annual report on crime statistics for 2015, it noted that there was a 3.9 percent increase in violent crime over 2014.

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight reported that “preliminary evidence suggests that the number of murders is up about 10.5 percent so far in 2016 in big cities for which data is available.”

In 2015, the number of murders went up 14.7 percent in that same group of cities, according to FiveThirtyEight.

No statistics are kept on whether police have pulled back on proactive policing, but there appears to be anecdotal evidence that such a drawdown is taking place. On the PoliceOne homepage we recently posed the question, “Have you pulled back on proactive police work?” Two thirds of the nearly 1,000 respondents said they are — 66 percent said yes, while 34 percent said no.

The New York Post recently reported that arrests are down 28 percent in Chicago this year — less than half what they were in 2010. Drug arrests are down by half, and “pedestrian stops were down 82 percent by early fall,” the Post said.

It is impossible to draw a direct correlation or make a declaration of causation, but the coincidence that crime has increased while proactive policing seems to be on the decline cannot be denied. And longtime law enforcers are speaking out about it.

McCarthy said on “The O'Reilly Factor” that “proactive policing — and not just here in Chicago, across the country — has come under fire. The anti-police political environment that we're in has it that we're emboldening criminals and we're hamstringing police.”

FBI Director James Comey was quoted in the New York Times. earlier this year as saying that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a ‘viral video effect' — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — ‘could well be at the heart' of a spike in violent crime in some cities.

“There's a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime,” Comey told the New York Times.

Violence against police on the rise

American citizens are not the only ones suffering from an increase in violence in certain cities. Cops across the country are on high alert as violence against men and women in uniform has spiked.

Deadly attacks on police officers increased this year. Gunfire deaths of police officers are up 72 percent over last year according to ODMP, and as the Washington Post reported in November, ambush attacks on police officers are at the highest level in a decade.

During a single week in November, six officers were shot — two of them fatally — in the state of Georgia. On a single November day, four officers were shot across the nation — three of those shootings appear to be targeted ambush attacks .

It is the rise in ambush attacks which is most disconcerting. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported in November that the number of officers shot and killed in ambush attacks was at least 20 — the highest total since 1995. At the time of this writing, NLEOMF reports that 44 officers have been killed in fatal ambush shootings since 2014.

Several ambush attacks have claimed the lives of multiple officers in a single incident. Two Palm Springs police officers were murdered in an ambush in October. In early July, five officers were killed in Dallas. Three more were killed in an ambush later that month in Baton Rouge.

It's important to note that not all ambush attacks are fatal — even when the officer survives an ambush, it is still an ambush. It is unclear how many officers have been shot in ambush attacks, but saved by body armor and improved trauma care — we simply do not have that data.

We will have to wait for the FBI LEOKA report to be released in mid-2017 to find out how many assaults on cops happened this year, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the statistics will rise.

Where do we go from here?

At the close of this year, we have multiple cities in America with increased murder rates and a rise in violent crime, property crime and quality-of-life crime.

We have the FBI director FBI admitting he believes that de-policing — the “Ferguson Effect” — in America is real and very well could be one of the reasons for the increase in crime in the country.

We have two-thirds of respondents to a PoliceOne homepage poll saying that they have pulled back from proactive policing.

Last year at this time I cautioned that we might be looking back and calling 2016 “the year of the criminal.”

I am very much the kind of guy who will tell you “I told you so” — I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it either. It is what it is, and I am who I am.

However, with all of the above being said, here's the big surprise ending: I refuse to call 2016 “the year of the criminal” — at least not yet.

Instead, I will call 2016 the “Year of the American Cop.”

Despite all the adversity and the attacks from the press, protesters, and politicians, the American cop has been resilient. With honor and pride LEOs have time and again heard the Shakespearean call of King Henry the Fifth and “gone once more unto the breach.”

American cops have saved lives despite all odds, and sacrificed their own lives in service to their community and their country — that's just what heroes do.

It is undeniable that the criminals have gained ground this year. But they have not won (nor will they).

Where we go from here — what we in law enforcement see, and say and do in 2017 — will determine what future historians will conclude about these troubled times.

As we look to the New Year, let's recommit to the oaths, the vows, and the promises we all took. Let's make 2017 the year that the narrative in the media once again favors law and order, and the initiative on the streets favors the police.

Years from now — maybe even just one year from now — we will be judged by what happens next.

Stay safe out there.

See you in the New Year.



The Latest: Turkey says 339 possible attacks foiled in 2016

by The Associated Press

ISTANBUL — The Latest on the manhunt for the Istanbul nightclub attacker and the aftermath of the massacre (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

Turkey's interior minister says authorities have thwarted a total of 339 possible attacks in 2016, most of them by Kurdish militants.

Suleyman Soylu told parliament Tuesday that the foiled attacks include 313 planned attempts by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and 22 by the Islamic State group.

The minister said authorities seized 247 explosive devices, 23 car bombs and detained 23 would-be suicide bombers last year.

Speaking a day after the IS claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at a popular Istanbul nightclub, Soylu said some 80 of the attacks were thwarted in the past three months.

More than 3,506 IS suspects were detained in 2016, including 1,531 foreign nationals, the minister said.

Soylu said authorities had stepped up security on public transportation such as trams and buses as well as airports and at train and bus terminals.

4 p.m.

Thousands of people have attended the funeral of an Arab Israeli teen who was killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack.

Layan Nasser, 18, was among those killed in the attack. Mourners wept and wailed as they marched behind her wooden coffin through the streets of the Israeli city of Tira Tuesday.

Tira Mayor Mamoun Abd El Hai said the city had declared a day of mourning in memory of Nasser, meaning banks and municipal offices were closed.

“She had dreams to work, to progress, to study, to raise a family, but unfortunately the terror put an end to her dreams,” Abd El Hai said.

Nasser, a dental assistant, traveled to Istanbul to celebrate the New Year with three friends.

3:30 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says police have detained two foreign nationals at Istanbul's main airport on suspicion of links to the deadly nightclub attack.

Anadolu Agency said the two were taken into custody on Tuesday at the international flights terminal at Ataturk Airport. No information on their nationalities was available.

It said police checked the pair's cell phones and luggage before they were taken away to Istanbul's main police headquarters.

Meanwhile the private Dogan news agency said airports and border crossings were put on high alert and that anyone resembling the wanted gunman was being stopped and questioned by police.

2:40 p.m.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper says a woman identified by Turkish media as the wife of the Istanbul nightclub massacre suspect has told police she did not know her husband was a member of the Islamic State group.

IS has claimed responsibility for the New Year's Eve attack that killed 39 people at the Reina nightclub. Police are still searching for the gunman.

The woman was detained in the central town of Konya as part of the investigation. Neither she nor her husband has been identified by name. Hurriyet said on its online edition Tuesday that the woman said she learned about the attack on television and told police she didn't know her husband harbored “sympathies toward” the Islamic State group.

Media reports say the gunman flew to Istanbul from Kyrgyzstan with his wife and children on Nov. 20. From there they drove to the Turkish capital, Ankara, by before arriving in Konya on Nov. 22.

The family rented a studio in Konya, paying three months of rent upfront. The gunman told the estate agent he had arrived in Konya in search of work, according to the report.

Hurriyet said the gunman returned to Istanbul Dec. 29.

1:50 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says six more people have been detained in connection with the deadly Istanbul nightclub attack, raising the number of suspects held to 14.

Anadolu Agency said Tuesday all 14 were being questioned at Istanbul's main police headquarters. It did not provide details on the suspects or say where they were taken into custody.

Anadolu said police were receiving numerous reports of sightings or tips from citizens, following the release of photos and videos of the alleged gunman, who has not been publicly identified.

12:50 p.m.

Turkey's prime minister has slammed the Obama administration for backing Syrian Kurdish forces which Turkey considers to be terrorists, and urged President-elect Donald Trump to put an end to “this shame.”

Binali Yildirim said that Turkey's military had killed more than 1,200 Islamic State militants since the start of its military incursion into northern Syria in August, insisting that Turkey was the country leading the most effective fight against the extremist group.

Yildirim was addressing members of the ruling party in parliament a day after IS claimed responsibility for the Istanbul nightclub attack, which killed 39 New Year's revelers.

Yildirim said: “They are pretending to fight Daesh. Turkey is the only country that is leading a fight. The United States isn't doing anything.”

12:10 p.m.

Turkish tourism industry professionals have marched to the nightclub where 39 New Year's revelers were killed, in a show of solidarity and to protest a spate of attacks that has crippled the sector.

About 200 people, including restaurateurs, hotel owners and gastronomy students, took part in the protest, marching behind a large banner that read: “We won't be daunted! For our tomorrows.”

Turkey's crucial tourism industry has suffered enormously after a series of recent attacks in the country.

The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian early Sunday outside the Reina club before entering and firing at some of the estimated 600 people inside.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the nightclub attack.

11:45 a.m.

Turkish media are quoting security experts as saying that the man who killed 39 and wounded nearly 70 people in a New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul before fleeing the scene is a highly professional assassin.

The English-language Daily News quoted anti-terror expert Abdullah Agar as saying the way the attacker operated shows that “he is absolutely a killer and he probably shot at humans before.”

Agar is quoted as saying that “the attacker is determined, faithful, practical, coldblooded expert and knows how to get results ... he probably fired bullets in real clash zones.”

The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian early Sunday outside the Reina club before entering and firing at some of the estimated 600 people inside.

10:50 a.m.

The United Arab Emirates has warned its citizens not to travel to Turkey following the attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people.

The UAE's Foreign Ministry has issued a terse statement in Arabic to “postpone plans to travel to Turkey until further notice.”

While no Emirati was killed in the attack, one Kuwaiti and seven Saudis were killed in the New Year's assault.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Reina nightclub.

10:40 a.m.

Turkish media have run a “selfie video” of a man they say is the gunman who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub.

The video broadcast on Turkish television Tuesday shows the alleged gunman filming himself at Taksim square. It wasn't immediately clear if it was filmed before or after the New Year's massacre at the Reina nightclub.

The Islamic State group claimed the attack. The gunman, who is still at large, hasn't been identified.

Several media reports said the man was believed to be from a Central Asian nation. Haber Turk newspaper said the man is thought to be a member of China's Muslim Uighur minority. It said he arrived in the Turkish city of Konya with his wife and two children. His family was detained, it said.



Baltimore police say they're prioritizing beat cops, officers who live in city -- but numbers have dropped

by Kevin Rector

For the second year in a row, officials with the Baltimore Police Department stressed the importance of foot patrols and assigning officers to regular neighborhood beats in their end-of-year "community policing" report.

"A fundamental rule for effective community policing is having a visible and tangible presence in the community," the report says. "Having uniformed officers on the street in the same neighborhoods makes the community feel safe while reinforcing mutual trust between police and ordinary citizens."

However, numbers outlined in the report show that, as of Dec. 1, the department had more than 100 fewer officers working neighborhood patrols than during the previous year, representing a smaller percentage of the overall patrol force.

As of Dec. 1, 999 officers out of 1,255 — or 79.6 percent — assigned to the department's patrol division were assigned to "sector patrol," the department reported.

The year prior, as of Nov. 1, 2015, 1,102 officers out of 1,271 — or 87 percent — were assigned to sector patrol, the department said in last year's report.

The state legislature required in 2015 that a report be compiled annually.

The department also has fewer officers this year who live in the city, despite saying in recent months that recruitment of city residents was a priority and holding meet-and-greet events to attract local recruits or lure current officers to move into the city.

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said last month that she wanted more officers to be city residents, and state lawmakers saw it as a big enough issue to require such numbers in the community policing reports.

As of Dec. 1, 494 officers — or 19.5 percent of the force — lived in Baltimore. Last year, 567 officers — 21.4 percent of the force — lived in the city.

T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, said the department has had to redeploy some officers to deal with violent crime — he said it recently quadrupled the number of robbery detectives — and has limitations on how it can fill shifts based on its collective bargaining agreement with the police union.

"We certainly recognize the staffing challenges that exist and are working as hard and as fast as we can to alleviate some of those problems," he said.

He also said the number of officers who live in the city is "something that ebbs and flows," but that recent academy classes have had high numbers of city residents.

Police union officials did not immediately respond to questions about the numbers Monday. Del. Jill Carter, the sponsor of the legislation requiring the community policing reports, could not be reached for comment.

The report comes out as city officials continue to negotiate over police reforms with the U.S. Department of Justice, following a scathing report by the Justice Department last summer that found discriminatory policing by the Police Department and stressed the need to repair relationships between police and community members.

Officials from the city and the Justice Department have said they are working toward reaching an agreement and signing a consent decree mandating the reforms before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated later this month.

The declines in beat patrol officers and officers who live in the city are likely related to the drop in the overall number of officers. The report says the department had 2,528 sworn officers as of Dec. 1, compared with 2,646 a year before.

The decline is driven by various factors, including a spike in retirements after the unrest in 2015, a newly negotiated contract that cut positions and rearranged shifts with an eye toward saving money on overtime, and many open positions. The police union has complained about understaffing, while department officials have said they are sending out enough officers to maintain public safety and are doing their best to recruit.

During the recent 12-month period outlined in the new report, the department held 29 recruiting events, far more than the 12 events the department held during the previous 12-month reporting period.

State lawmakers required the department to report the community policing data during the 2015 legislative session, after rioting and unrest broke out in Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody.

In addition to the patrol numbers, police also reported on demographics within the force, all as of Dec. 1.

There were 1,011 black officers — or 39.9 percent of the department — compared with 1,050 black officers — 39.6 percent of the force — in November 2015. There were 402 female officers, compared with 403 last year.

The department reported that complaints of excessive force by officers had declined. They reported 95 complaints during the 12-month period covered in the new report, compared with 128 complaints the year prior. They also reported fewer officers had been suspended.



After bloody 2016, superintendent promises new Chicago Police initiatives will help reduce violence in 2017

by Jeff Mayes

Following a deadly 2016 that saw nearly 800 homicides in the city, the Chicago Police Department has announced plans to reduce the violence in the new year.

Last year, five police districts on the South and West sides accounted for the 65 percent increase in murders, according to a statement from CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. There were at least 780 homicides in the city last year, according to Chicago Sun-Times records.

The majority of violence was not random, as more than 80 percent of shooting victims were identified by police as likely to be involved in gun violence, he said. Attacks on officers also nearly doubled last year, which Guglielmi said falls in line with statistics from the rest of the country.

Five districts on the North and Northwest sides saw declines in murder or remained the same, police said.

And officers were able to recover about 8,300 guns, a 20 percent increase from 2015.

“CPD took more bad guys with guns off the street in 2016 than we did in 2015,” Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a press conference.

Some of the 2017 initiatives focus on hiring additional officers, funding economic growth, and providing support for young men in violent neighborhoods, police said.

By the end of the year, nearly 1,000 more beat officers, detectives, lieutenants, sergeants, field training officers and other personnel will be working for the police department. The mayor will invest in mentoring programs for men in the 20 most violent neighborhoods; and offer incentives for commercial retail and industrial developers. The mayor will also financially support the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and Community Catalyst Fund, police said.

Another important focus will be working with state legislators on a bill to increase sentencing for repeat gun offenders.

Police call that a “key factor” in reducing Chicago's violence. They hope by creating a culture of accountability, people might be deterred from violence. They are also working with the Cook County State's Attorney's office to strengthen how gun cases are investigated and prosecuted.

Johnson said “CPD can't do it solely on its own, no one can.” But he added that, “anybody in Chicago who's a leader—anybody—if you think 700 murders last year is OK, then you shouldn't be a leader. You shouldn't be. It's not OK.”

“If you give us the tools that we need to hold these individuals accountable, I promise you 2017 will be a much better, and safer, year for the city of Chicago,” Johnson said.

In the coming year, Chicago Police will also emphasize technology, training and transparency in the department, police said. By the end of the year, officers from all districts will wear body cameras. Gunshot detection systems are set to be expanded in District 7 and 11; and in the same area, more than 44 street cameras were installed this past year.

More than 2,400 officers were trained in crisis intervention, and learned skills to best help people with mental illness, or in trauma and crisis situations, police said. As a result, those officers were able to respond to 13,258 incidents through October.

For the first time, a revised use of force policy focused on the sanctity of life and was released for public comment, police said. The Community Policing Advisory Panel was a strategic effort to increase community-based policing and gain the trust of residents. A few months into 2017, CPAP will make recommendations for a revised community policing strategy.

“The violence in 2016 was driven by emboldened offenders who acted without a fear of penalty from the criminal justice system,” Johnson said in his own statement.

“The challenge we face as a city is serious, and like other cities it is significant. We will be adding to our police department, we are committed to partnering with residents, we will benefit from the investments being made by the mayor, and if we come together and work together, I know we can turn the tide in 2017.”



Portsmouth's police chief talks about 52% drop in homicides

by Joe Fisher

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Police records show a drastic drop in the number of people killed on the streets of Portsmouth in 2016 compared to the previous year.

The 13 homicides reported in 2016 is 52 percent lower than the 27 police investigated in 2015.

Chief Tonya Chapman, who took over the department in February, believes the relationship between officers and citizens continues to improve.

The chief admits the department was plagued with negative public perception in 2015, which is why she says “99 percent” of her initiatives last year were focused on rebranding the department.

“I think it's been a very rewarding year,” said Chapman. “My purpose was trying to restore that confidence, especially in our community.”

Chapman says the take down of two gangs helped in decreasing crime. With the help of area and federal partners, Chapman says they broke up the Nine Trey Gangsters and Corna Sto Boys.

The chief, who calls community, who calls community policing her “passion”, also launched two different kinds of community walks.

A neighborhood is selected each month for the community enhancement opportunity walk. The chief, joined by the city manager and department heads, have gone door-to-door to hear the concerns of residents. RE.S.E.T. walks, or rapid engagement of support in the event of trauma, are aimed at immersing the police department in a particular community after a homicide or other violent crime. Chapman says the department did 12 R.E.S.E.T. walks in 2016.

A geographic policing model was also rolled out, which keeps the same officers in the same neighborhoods.

“It is working,” said Chapman. “It was a seamless transition. The officers become familiar with their area. They get to know who the citizens are, who the business people are, who belongs [and] who doesn't.”

Violent crime numbers have dropped each month since September, according to Chapman, who says that month she started a new Street Crimes Unit. A Violent Crimes Task Force, initiated earlier in 2016, has worked to pinpoint causes for crimes such as armed business robberies.

“[Thieves] tend to target businesses that have the cash on hand. Some of it may be inside information that [suspects] are receiving,” said Chapman.

Police have solved six of the 13 homicides in 2016. Chapman says she hopes they will close more cases with the community's help.

“They are our eyes and ears,” she said. “We can not do this alone. We need them to step forward.”

Chief Chapman says the biggest challenge since taking her oath has been recruiting and retaining staff. The Portsmouth Police Department is currently down about 20 officers.

Starting salaries in the department are the lowest in Hampton Roads, according to the chief, who hopes new city leadership will take measures in 2017 to make it more enticing for officers to stay in the city.



Istanbul attack: ISIS claims nightclub shooting

by Euan McKirdy and Ian Lee

Istanbul (CNN)ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly New Year's attack at an upscale Istanbul nightclub which left 39 dead.

As authorities in Turkey continue their search for the attacker, the terror group offered no further clues about the identity of the assailant. The claim -- made in a statement posted to Twitter -- cannot independently be verified by CNN.

"In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday," the statement posted to Twitter reads.

Earlier on Monday, the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, distanced itself from the attack, which took place at the Reina nightclub during the early hours of January 1.

"No Kurdish forces have anything to do with this attack," it said in a statement. "The Kurdish freedom fight is also the fight for democratization of Turkey. That's why we won't target innocent and civilian people."

Dozens of people were hospitalized following the attack. As of Monday, 46 were still being treated, including one American, according to the Istanbul governor's office. A handful of the injured were in critical condition.

Those killed in the attack hailed from 14 countries, including India, Morocco, Jordan, Canada, Russia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The suspected shooter, who stormed the nightclub soon after the clock struck midnight, appears to have evaded the tight security that blanketed Turkey's largest city over the New Year, but authorities were confident they would apprehend him soon.

"There is strong coordination and we will find him, no delay," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters gathered outside an Istanbul hospital, where he had been visiting people injured in the attack.

Footage of the attacker shooting a security guard and police officer at the entrance of the nightclub has emerged, lending credence to Turkish authorities' claim that he carried out the attack alone.

A security official showed the entrance to CNN, confirming that it was the site of the video.

"We are face to face with a terror attack," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters Sunday morning, adding, "the efforts to locate the terrorist are ongoing. Security forces have begun the necessary operations. God willing soon (the attacker) will be apprehended."

World leaders condemned the shooting and US officials also called it a terrorist attack, making it the first of 2017.

'At first we thought it was a fight'

Witnesses who survived the attack explained how what should have been a celebratory evening turned into a bloodbath.

"We were having fun. At first we thought it was a fight, then there was a lot of gunfire," eyewitness Yunus Turk told CNN.

"After the gunfire everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas."

Another eyewitness said he didn't know how many attackers there were, but he saw one person and hid.

"I got shot in the f****** leg, man," he told journalists as he was taken into an ambulance.

"These crazy people came in shooting everything."

On Sunday, the club issued a statement on its Facebook page.

"This terrible incident is a terror attack against our citizens' peace, brotherhood, serenity, economy, tourism and against our nation," the statement read.

"Our hearts bleed and the bullets are in our heart," it added.

A violent year

ISIS and Kurdish militants both have staged attacks in Turkey, which is still reeling from a bloody and failed military coup in July.

ISIS was suspected to be behind the attack on Ataturk Airport in June that left 44 people dead and an explosion at an August wedding, not far from the border with Syria, that killed at least 54 people.

Meanwhile, Turkish security forces clash almost daily with Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, militants, mostly in predominantly Kurdish parts of southeastern Turkey.

In December, a pair of bombings in Istanbul killed 44 people and wounded 155 others in an attack by a breakaway group of the PKK. The two explosions occurred after a heavily attended soccer game at Besiktas Vodafone Arena.

Also in December, a car bomb exploded near a public bus, killing 13 soldiers in the central province of Kayseri. Three days later, a gunman assassinated Russia's ambassador to Turkey at an Ankara art gallery.



2016 ends with 762 homicides; 2017 opens with fatal Uptown gunfight

by Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas and Tony Briscoe

An argument between two men at an Uptown bar in the early hours of Jan. 1 ended with the two shooting at one another, leaving both dead.

Their deaths ushered in the new year, marking the first and second homicides of 2017 and keeping up 2016's pace of violence – levels that haven't marred the city for 20 years.

By the time police were dispatched to the double homicide at 4:30 a.m. there had already been an officer-involved shooting, according to Chicago police. A man who led police on a car chase, before physically resisting arrest, ultimately was shot by an officer before 3 a.m. That man, whose name was not released and for whom a warrant was issued, was in critical condition Sunday.

The last homicide in 2016 came before 1 p.m. Saturday when a 24-year-old, whose name has not been released, was killed in South Austin in a possible road rage act that may have been retaliation for hitting another driver's Mercedes. According to data from the Chicago Police Department, his death became the 762nd homicide for the year – the most since 1996, when there were 796.

Data kept by the Chicago Tribune tallied at least 781 homicides for the year; the Police Department statistics do not include killings on area expressways, police-involved shootings, other homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense or death investigations.

At the double homicide scene on Broadway Street near Wilson Avenue, a fire official said first responders found a 38-year-old man with gunshot wounds to the chest and right leg, as well as a second man, 25, who had multiple gunshot wounds to his right side. Both men were taken by ambulance to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where they later were pronounced dead, officials said.

There were nine homicides in Uptown in 2016, according to data kept by the Tribune. There were 45 violent crimes in Uptown in September 2016, the most for the area by month since 49 in September 2008, community data show.

Statistics for the city as a whole have been grim enough to receive national attention and to compell the police department to make public its plan for combatting crime this year.

"2016 saw an unacceptable rise in violence, beginning at the outset of the year," said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.

At a news conference at police headquarters, Superintendent Eddie Johnson lamented the gun violence that ensnared the city's West and South sides, casting much of the blame on “anti-police sentiment,” and the judicial system's lax sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders.

“In many instances, the individuals who chose to pull the trigger are repeat gun offenders emboldened by the national climate against law enforcement and willing to test the limits of our criminal justice system,” Johnson said. “… These emboldened criminals are responsible for destroying families and communities as well as dozens of attacks on Chicago police officers in 2016.”

Johnson attempted to snuff out the notion that the skyrocketing violence could be attributed to a lack of effort by police, citing a 10 percent increase in gun-related arrests and 20 percent more gun recoveries in 2016.

“I still get on the street quite a bit, I'll still talk to gang members,” Johnson said. “Almost every one I talk to will say, ‘I knew it was wrong. But I still chose to do it.' The mentality that you'd rather CPD to catch you with a gun than your rival to catch you without it, that's Bizarro World. It shouldn't be like that. We should have a culture where everyone is accountable.”

Johnson said he was optimistic 2017 will be a safer year for Chicago, pointing to several new policing initiatives, including the rollout of data-driven command centers in violence-plagued Englewood District and Harrison District later this month.

CPD has installed 44 new surveillance cameras across the two districts that police plan to use in tandem with gunfire detection technology, which already allows them to discover shootings on average 5 minutes faster than a typical 911 call.

With these new innovations, deputy police chiefs in these districts will be able to better understand gun violence and alter policing strategies to better combat it, Johnson said.

He also stressed the importance of renewed community engagement, vowing to assign officers to work with community leaders to address quality of life issues. CPD also intends to hire 970 new officers over two years, including roughly 500 in 2017, Johnson said.


New York

Syracuse PD Offers Training To Help Civilians Understand Police Tactics


As police shootings face increasing scrutiny, police departments must not only deal with fighting crime—but also the media and public perception, which are often not completely aware of the expectations, circumstances, and tactics involved in the use of deadly force.

Toward helping the public better understand police tactics, including the use of deadly force, the Syracuse Police Department is offering a three-day “civilian police academy” to city residents.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler told news reporters that the course puts residents “in the shoes of a police officer” so they can gain perspective and better understand the expectations of police officers, and their response to different situations.

The course also aims to facilitate discussion about recent deadly force incidents, some of which have sparked nation-wide outrage.

The city of Syracuse regrettably had its own recent deadly force incident, involving suspect Deric Brown, who shot and killed by a Syracuse police officer during a traffic stop in October. Video of this incident shows that Brown fired his gun first at Officer Joseph Mauro III, who then returned fire. Officer Mauro was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Toward improving community relations, and promoting community-oriented policing, Syracuse PD invited residents—along with activists, church leaders, news reporters, school administrators, the Civilian Review Board members, and others to participate in the course.

It's worth noting that community-oriented policing is more than just a training course, or an “objective” for the Syracuse Police Department. According to a recent annual report, the department has four organizational branches, one of which is the Community Services Bureau, which includes a Community Policing Division.

The three-day course will total about 10 hours of training over three days, during which time police instructors will teach and demonstrate various aspects of police work—including the use of deadly force.