January, 2017 - Week 2
FBI Most Wanted fugitive arrested in El Paso
by Aaron Martinez
EL PASO — A tip from an unnamed El Paso resident led to the arrest of a Milwaukee double murder suspect listed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list Sunday morning in El Paso, officials said.
Terry A.D. Strickland, 24, was arrested by El Paso FBI agents and El Paso Police Department officers at about 5:10 a.m. MT during a traffic stop near Woodrow Bean Trans Mountain Road and Dyer Street, said Douglas Lindquist, special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso division.
Strickland was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list on Dec. 15, five months after he allegedly shot and killed two men during a fight at a Milwaukee home.
FBI agents in El Paso received a call through the agency's public tip line that Strickland, who may have been going by a different name, was believed to be temporarily living in El Paso, Lindquist said.
"FBI special agents conducted an interview regarding a tip from our public access line," Lindquist said at a news conference. "The information involved the possibility that FBI Top Ten fugitive Terry Strickland was temporarily residing in El Paso." He said FBI and partner agencies worked through Saturday night and into the early morning hours Sunday to locate Strickland.
An investigation was conducted by El Paso FBI agents, El Paso police officers, El Paso Violent Crime Task Force, FBI Milwaukee and Albuquerque agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.
Strickland was spotted by law enforcement leaving the Parkland Mobile Home Park in northeast El Paso as a passenger in a black Dodge Durango, Lindquist said. El Paso FBI agents and police officers conducted a traffic stop and took Strickland into custody without incident.
The driver of the vehicle was questioned by agents, but was not taken into custody, Lindquist said.
Strickland was booked into El Paso County jail several hours later. He did not answer any questions from the El Paso Times as he was being walked into the county jail.
"Today's Top Ten arrest demonstrates great determination, coordination and cooperation the FBI and its law enforcement partners have here in El Paso, Milwaukee and throughout the country," Lindquist said.
It wasn't immediately clear why Strickland, who is originally from Illinois, was in El Paso, near the Mexico border, but Lindquist said they are continuing to investigate any connections Strickland may have to the area.
No information was available on how long Strickland may have been living in El Paso. Officials believe that Strickland was in the process of or had just moved from another location in El Paso to the mobile home park.
"We don't know that (why he was in El Paso) right now," Lindquist said. "That is something else we are still investigating and trying to sort out. But right now the most important thing is that Strickland is in custody and that gives us time to pursue that and help our FBI partners in Milwaukee and also the Milwaukee Police Department make their case."
Milwaukee police found two men, Maurice Brown Jr. and Michael Allen Reed, shot outside the home on July 17 where Strickland was believed to be living at with his 18-month-old daughter, officials said.
Several witnesses reported seeing a group of about seven or eight men arguing in front of the home, according to information released by the FBI at the time Strickland was added to the Most Wanted list on Dec. 15.
Strickland allegedly went into the home and grabbed a .40-caliber handgun. He then began shooting into the group, officials said.
One of the victims attempted to stop the fight but fell to ground.
Strickland allegedly then stood over the man and repeatedly shot him. He then turned around and shot the other man in the head, officials said.
He then fled the scene in a black SUV, leaving his daughter at the home, officials said.
"I am ecstatic that he's been arrested for the murder of my son," Janice Reed told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel .on Sunday.
"My son can rest now," she added.
Strickland was charged with two counts of first degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon. An arrest warrant was issued for him July 28.
A charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was added against Strickland and a federal warrant was then issued for his arrest by the U.S. Eastern District of Wisconsin, officials said.
Strickland was the 512th fugitive to be placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list, which was established in 1950, and the 480th to be taken into custody.
A $100,000 reward was being offered for any information leading to his arrest. Lindquist said the tipster is "certainly being considered" to receive the money reward.
Strickland is the third person on the FBI's Most Wanted list to be arrested in El Paso, according to the agency's records.
Emmett Kervan, wanted in a Connecticut bank robbery, was arrested in El Paso in 1959.
The last time a Ten Most Wanted fugitive was arrested in El Paso was in 1999 when Angel Maturino Reséndiz surrendered to a Texas Ranger at one of the bridges. Reséndiz, known as the "railroad killer," was wanted for a string of murders across the country. He was executed in 2006.
Community Conversations: Belmont's 'community policing': a two-way street
by Roger Colton
The Belmont Police Department is a step ahead of much of the country in the connections that exist between the police and the community. Sure, part of that can be attributed to the fact that we're a small town. Even in a small community, however, the connections between community residents and the police don't just happen. Specific, conscious actions are taken to promote the feeling that the police and community are a "we" and not an "us" and "them."
One important part of this connection involves stability at the top. Police Chief Richard McLaughlin will soon reach his 10th anniversary of being Belmont's Top Cop. Such longevity in police leadership results in a web of personal relationships that would not otherwise exist. It has been some time since Chief McLaughlin could count on his fingers the number of Memorial Day parades he's marched in, the number of PTO meetings he's attended, and the number of Light Up the Town and Town Day events he has helped celebrate.
Such events are a way for the chief to meet Belmont residents, and for those residents to meet him. This process works best, however, only when residents avail themselves of the opportunity. In a recent conversation I had with Chief McLaughlin, he encouraged Belmont residents to introduce themselves to him (or to any other Belmont officer) on the street or at events. A handshake and a hello, he said, is not an intrusion on an officer's job. Rather, individuals engaging in such small, personal interactions make Belmont a stronger, safer, healthier place to live.
I like Belmont's approach to "community policing." "Regardless of the town or city in which they reside," BPD's community policing mission statement says, "community members should have a say in what kinds of services they receive from the police." The BPD mission statement states that "the problems of terrorist threats, school shootings, and identity theft add new challenges to local policing. In addition, the other community problems of speeding cars in neighborhoods, domestic violence, vandalism and school bullying are still major issues that need to be addressed." In responding to such challenges, the mission statement goes on to assert, and I not only agree, but wholeheartedly agree, "making community members active participants in the process of problem solving is imperative."
The question, of course, is how to do this. BPD acknowledges that "some residents may have reservations about approaching the police for concerns they may have." BPD, however, defines part of its job as seeking to "knock down some of the barriers between police and citizens."
One action pursued by the Belmont police several years ago merits replication. In 2008, Belmont police officers and community members gathered at Belmont Town Hall to discuss problems being experienced in Belmont's neighborhoods. It is difficult to improve upon the direct exchange of information that such an opportunity for personal conversation can provide. The concerns that faced community members in 2008, however, may differ from those facing Belmont residents today. Hate speech and opioid addiction, for example, are concerns that may present themselves today in a way they would not have back in 2008.
The BPD's approach to community policing posits that "when community members are active participants in the problem solving equation, the level of service and quality of life for the community is improved." Much of that "active participation" depends on personal interaction, which is a two-way street, flowing from the community to the BPD as much as from the BPD to the community. Repeating the Town Hall meeting between town residents and Belmont's officers would be an additional important action that can be taken.
Cops' Feelings on Race Show How Far We Have to Go
This is "a crisis point in America's relationship with the men and women who enforce its laws."
by Nathalie Baptiste
This week, the Pew Research Center released a report entitled "Behind the Badge," a comprehensive survey of nearly 8,000 law enforcement officials across the United States examining their attitudes toward their jobs, police protests, interactions with their communities, racial issues, and much more. The report states that it is appearing "at a crisis point in America's relationship with the men and women who enforce its laws, precipitated by a series of deaths of black Americans during encounters with the police."
According to 2016 University of Louisville and University of South Carolina study, police fatally shoot black men at disproportionate rates. Since the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the last few years have been marked with protests leading to a national discussion around race and policing. This report explores how law enforcement officers in the United States view the intersection of policing and race—often, not surprisingly, with very different perspectives between white and black officers.
Here are some of the highlights:
Racial equality: When asked about racial inequality in the country, 92 percent of white officers answered that the United States does not need to make any more changes to achieve equal rights for black Americans. Only 29 percent of black cops agreed. This is in sharp contrast to white civilians, the report notes: Only 57 percent of white adults believe that equal rights have been secured for black people; a mere 8 percent of black people agree, Pew found in a separate survey.
Demonstrations against police: Sixty-eight percent of the officers interviewed say demonstrations against police brutality are motivated by anti-police bias, and 67 percent say the deaths of black people at the hands of police are isolated incidents. Once more, there is a significant racial divide between the respondents: 57 percent of black cops think the high-profile incidents point to a larger problem, while only 27 percent of their white colleagues agree.
Police involvement in immigrant deportation: During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump supported local law enforcement having more of a role in deporting undocumented immigrants, and a small majority of cops agree. Overall, 52 percent of police officers believe they should have an active role in immigration enforcement; 59 percent of white cops agree, compared with 35 percent of black officers and 38 percent of Hispanic police officers.
Community policing: The idea of training police officers to work with community members to achieve better policing has become the center of the conversation surrounding police reform since President Barack Obama organized a task force around the "community policing" concept. But 56 percent of all police officers interviewed consider an aggressive approach to policing more appropriate in certain neighborhoods than the approach of being courteous. There was no racial breakdown for this result.
Physical confrontation: For most police officers, according to the report, physical confrontations do not occur every day, but one-third of those interviewed reported having a physical struggle with a suspect who was resisting arrest within the last month. Thirty-six percent of white officers reported having such an incident, while 33 percent of Hispanic officers reported the same thing. Only 20 percent of black officers said they had a physical altercation with a suspect.
The report also includes police officers attitudes on job satisfaction and police reform proposals. "Police and the public hold sharply different views about key aspects of policing as well as on some major policy issues facing the country," the report concludes.
Read the full report here.
AG Lynch: US must hold police accountable
Lynch strongly defended the DOJ's aggressive intervention in local law enforcement during the Obama administration
by Eric Tucker
BALTIMORE — As a younger lawyer, Loretta Lynch prosecuted New York police officers who sodomized a Haitian immigrant in a precinct bathroom. As attorney general, she's broadened her focus to go after entire police departments for unconstitutional practices.
In an interview as her tenure ends, Lynch strongly defended the Justice Department's aggressive intervention in local law enforcement during the Obama administration, including the decision to repeatedly seek court-enforceable improvement plans with troubled police agencies. One such consent decree came Thursday in Baltimore, and the Justice Department a day later issued a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department.
"That is a role that the federal government absolutely has to play," Lynch told The Associated Press. "Frankly, it is our role to defend the constitutional rights of the citizens of our cities in this great country."
That approach seems likely to change in the next administration.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and President-elect Donald Trump's choice for attorney general, said at his confirmation hearing this past week that while consent decrees "are not necessarily a bad thing," enforcement actions against entire police departments can lower an agency's morale and unfairly malign all officers for the actions of some.
He would not commit that "there would never be any changes" in the agreements, which are overseen by a judge and require police departments to overhaul their practices.
Lynch leaves office following a nearly two-year tenure marked by massacres carried out by violent extremists, including the shootings at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida; persistent hacking from overseas, including Russian government efforts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election; and an election-season investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server that entangled the Justice Department in presidential politics and led to criticism for her ill-timed meeting on an airport tarmac with former President Bill Clinton.
She was sworn in as attorney general in April 2015 amid riots in Baltimore over the death of a black man in police custody. She visited Baltimore the following month, and later launched a tour of 12 cities to repair police-community relations, a cause she championed as attorney general.
In the interview, she said she believed that relationships between the Justice Department and local law enforcement were less adversarial than they once were, and that her agency has given police departments federal support and resources while also forcing troubled ones to make systemic changes.
"You've got to hold police accountable, you've got to help them hold themselves accountable, and you've got to build in community accountability," she said.
Lynch said her biggest disappointment is that Congress failed to pass legislation to overhaul how criminals are sentenced despite seeming bipartisan support for it.
"It would have helped people rebuild their lives, it would have unclogged the criminal justice system and allowed us to devote our resources to those people who truly deserve long terms of incarceration," Lynch said.
Lynch won praise from civil liberties advocates for suing North Carolina over a bill the Justice Department said discriminated against transgender individuals, and for an emotional speech linking the prejudice there to bias against blacks in the Jim Crow era.
She attracted global attention early in her tenure for the corruption prosecution of high-level officials at FIFA, international soccer's governing body. That criminal case jolted the world's most popular sport and burst into view with early morning arrests at a hotel in Europe.
"When you have an organization that has so much power, so many resources — yes, they have to run a sport, but they also have a responsibility to that sport. And to have them just abdicate that responsibility for personal gain to me was, and is, particularly galling," Lynch said.
Her tenure is also shadowed by the Hillary Clinton email investigation. She has expressed regret that an unscheduled meeting in Phoenix with Bill Clinton caused the public to doubt the independence of the investigation.
She announced after the encounter that she would accept the recommendations of the FBI. On Thursday, the Justice Department's inspector general announced an investigation into whether the FBI and Justice Department had violated policies in their handling of the case.
Lynch declined to discuss internal talks between the FBI and Justice Department just before FBI Director James Comey's much-criticized decision to send a letter to Congress days ahead of the Nov. 8 election that said the bureau would be revisiting the email investigation.
The Justice Department opposed sending the letter, and Lynch said "the director was well aware of my views on it."
"There will be a lot of analysis about the impact of all of these things," she said. "I'll let the pundits deal with that."
Sessions is expected to easily win Senate confirmation and may revamp Justice Department priorities, not only on policing but on immigration and national security policy.
Lynch, the former top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said she had been through political transitions before and understands how they work. But she said she expected some of the priorities she established to remain intact through career lawyers at the Justice Department.
"You come in and you work as hard as you can, as long as you can, for the American people," she said. "The value of that lives on."
Some Chicago leaders want to meet with Trump to talk about violence, DOJ report
by Fox 32
It was a blistering report announced by the Department of Justice on Friday. The Chicago Police Department has misused excessive force and hasn't held officers accountable or trained them properly. The DOJ began looking into the department after dashcam videos were released in 2015 of a police officer-involved shooting that killed Laquan McDonald.
Some of Chicago's most prominent leaders want President-Elect Donald Trump to support the Department of Justice report and to have a face-to-face conversation with him about the violence in Chicago.
“What about the high crime rate?” asked Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church. “We as leaders need to meet with the President-Elect Trump.”
Bishop Trotter and other religious leaders met Saturday. Many of them believe the DOJ report is a step in the right direction, but doesn't tell the whole story.
“We need to talk about race relationships and police relationships,” said Bishop James Dukes of the Liberation Christian Church. “We still live in a society when black men see blue lights behind them and they get scared.”
He is the pastor of a south side church said he wants to discuss jobs, mass incarceration and the root problem behind the violence with the President-elect.
Next the city will begin negotiations with the Justice Department on a consent decree, in which a federal monitor would be appointed to oversee change in the police department.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson welcomes the changes and said they've already started implementing reforms by hiring more officers, adding body cameras department-wide and increasing training.
“Since I became superintendent you've seen that we are doing things differently,” said Superintendent Johnson on Good Day Chicago Saturday. “We are getting videos out a lot quicker, we are taking decisive action when we see problem areas and so we are going to build on that, but believe me we recognize that CPD has to get better.”
Chicago cops grapple with balancing DOJ criticism, community policing
by Craig Wall
CHICAGO (FOX 32 NEWS) - Just hours after the Department of Justice report was released, dozens of Chicago police officers were assigned to a strategic anti-violence mission.
The outdoor roll call was held in the Brighton Park neighborhood, where a gang shooting killed one person and wounded four others this week.
On the day where police were dealing with stinging, widespread criticism of the department's police methods, officers still had to put on their uniforms and go out and do their job, knowing that their boss and the community said they have to do better.
Their mission on Friday was to prevent gang retaliation after Wednesday's assault rifle attack.
“We've got to show that this is unacceptable to the community, we have phenomenal community that lives and resides in this area, we've got to provide a measure of safety for them,” Steven Chung, 9th district police commander, said.
Dozens of police officers from the 8th and 9th districts, as well as tactical and gang units, gathered for an outdoor roll call at 43rd and Rockwell.
“We're gonna gain control of this area and let them know that the residents aren't going to put up with this and neither are we,” said Ron Dontecore, 8th District.
But officers also had to suppress the scathing criticism of the department that some worry could paint every officer with the label of racist cops prone to unjustified violence against minorities.
“At a time when the report came out today, at a time when so many are looking so down on our department, you truly are Chicago's finest, the neighborhood is with you, I'm with you and I just want you to be safe, to protect yourselves and to protect all of our families,” Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) told the police at the roll call.
Black Lives Matters supporters gathered outside the 1st District Station to call for greater accountability for officers who cross the line.
Dorothy Holmes whose son Ronald Johnson was shot and killed by police in 2014 was one of those supporting Black Lives Matter on Friday. Prosecutors said there was evidence he was armed with a gun, but the video showed he was running away from officers when he was shot. Prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officer.
“We want accountability, we want these officers charged as criminals as they would charge one of us for something,” Holmes said.
Activists such as Kofi Ademola, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago, were skeptical about whether real change will happen.
“We have absolutely no idea how this is going to pan out, but we can look at Ferguson, We can look at Baltimore and we can look at other places where the DOJ has investigated and we can ask what real change and reforms have happened,” Ademola said. “We don't see any as the police murders across the country continue to happen”
Protesters Across US Decry Trump's Anti-Immigrant Stance
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Protesters gathered Saturday to support immigrant rights at rallies around the U.S., denouncing President-elect Donald Trump for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and his pledges to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and to crack down on Muslims entering the country.
"We are not going to allow Donald Trump to bury the Statue of Liberty," Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, told a standing-room-only crowd at historic African-American church in downtown Washington during one of dozens of rallies around the nation.
In Chicago, more than 1,000 people poured into a teachers' union hall to support immigrant rights and implore one another to fight for those rights against what they fear will be a hostile Trump administration.
Ron Taylor, pastor of a Chicago-area Disciples for Christ Church and executive director of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, told the audience there, "Regardless of what happens in the coming days we know that good will conquer evil and we want to say to each and every one of you, you are not alone."
In Los Angeles, several hundred people rallied at a downtown Mexican-American cultural center and plaza. Some carried signs saying "Here to Stay" and chanted "Si se puede," Spanish for "Yes, we can."
The protests mark the latest chapter in a movement that has evolved since 2006, when more than a million people took to the streets to protest a Republican-backed immigration bill that would have made it a crime to be in the country illegally.
Saturday's events in in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, California, and elsewhere took place as thousands participated in a "We Shall Not Be Moved" march and rally in Washington ahead of Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
The line to enter Metropolitan AME Church in Washington stretched nearly a city block. People attending included immigrants who lack permission to be in the country and their relatives and supporters. Also present were elected officials, clergy and representatives of labor and women's groups.
Participants carried signs with messages including "Resist Trump's Hate" and "Tu, Yo, Todos Somos America," which translates to "You, me, we all are America."
"I stand here because I have nothing to apologize for. I am not ashamed of my status because it is a constant reminder to myself that I have something to fight for," said Max Kim, 19, who was brought to the U.S. from South Korea when he was 6 and lacks legal permission to stay in the country.
The Washington crowd urged Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress not to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, aimed at helping people like Kim who were brought to the country as children.
Michael Takada of the Japanese American Service Committee urged the Chicago audience to "disrupt the deportation machine" that he and others fear will ramp up under the new president. He also urged them to keep a close eye on their local police departments and speak out if they see those departments help "ICE to deport our community members."
Dr. Bassam Osman, chair and co-founder of The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, elicited one of the loudest cheers from the crowd when he called out the president-elect by name in an opening prayer: "Lord, this land is your land, it is not Trump's land."
While there was plenty of cheering, there was also uneasiness and fear of what's to come after Trump is sworn in.
Rehab Alkadi, a 31-year-old mother of a young son who came to the United States four years ago from war-torn Syria, said she doesn't believe she can be deported because "there is a war in Syria, but who knows. It's so scary, what Trump says," she said. "He said a lot of things bad about the Muslim people."
In Los Angeles, Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said, "We put the Trump administration on notice that we're not going to sit idly by while he destroys our community."
President Barack Obama in 2012 launched an executive effort to protect some young immigrants from deportation, after multiple proposals failed in Congress.
The creation of the DACA program was heralded as a good first step by advocates who hoped it would be a prelude toward overhauling immigration laws. But that didn't happen, and Republican-led states pushed back against Obama's plans to expand the program.
Now the focus is on the next administration. As a candidate, Trump promised his supporters stepped-up deportations and a Mexican-funded border wall, but it is unclear which plans the celebrity businessman will act on first, and when. And many immigrants are fearful of the campaign rhetoric but less motivated to protest in the absence of specific actions.
Many participants Saturday said they would keep the pressure on Trump and said they planned to participate in next Saturday's Women's March on Washington.
"The threat of deportation is imminent for our communities," said Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream and one of the rally's organizers. "We will keep fighting. We're not going back into the shadows."
FMPD chief touts community policing
by Fox 4
FT. MYERS, Fla -- Since settling into his role as ft. myers police chief 5 months ago, Derrick Diggs mission is clear.
"One of my major thrusts here is to try and build relationships with the entire Ft. Myers community."
Based on past experiences, the veteran lawman says once the cops become involved in fighting crime as it happens, something went wrong long before officers arrived on the scene.
"You'll see that where the crime is high, the community has very little involvement with the police department."
The chief says FMPD thwarted plots that would have resulted in 6 serious shootings in 2016.
He attributes that to community policing, which residents like Patty Duffy are buying into.
"I saw that happen in Buffalo, and it actually led to a decrease in the amount of crimes that we had."
Chief Diggs says any kind of community group that brings people together will help raise everyone's awareness about what's going on in their neighborhood.
"If you don't have what I call a neighborhood watch program do what you have to do to start one."
The chief says he's committed to working with youths and non-violent offenders in the community who need a second chance.
"That being said, I'm not soft on crime, I'm not a hug a thug type of guy."
Chief Diggs says he'll look at starting a program in Ft. Myers that allows juvenile offenders to clear their records by performing various community service projects.
House Speaker Paul Ryan To Discuss Community Policing With Camden County Police Chief
Scott Thomson will be among a group of law enforcement officials to meet with the speaker on Monday.
by Anthony Bellano
Four days before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office, Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson will be among a collection of leading law enforcement minds from throughout the country that will make the trip to Wisconsin to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The discussion, to take place on Monday, Jan. 16, will be focused on the work being done by individual departments and national standards set by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) on de-escalation, tactical positioning and decision-making as it pertains to use of force, county officials said on Saturday.
Thomson has worked on developing a new set of standards for policing with PERF called the Integrating, Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training guide. Thomson will discuss the guide, along with other transformational training initiatives being implemented in Camden, with Ryan.
Thomson has taken a leading role in the conversation on de-escalation nationally with PERF focusing on the sanctity of life for victims and suspects and implementing training that relies on a different decision-making matrix than traditional academy teaching.
In addition, to the ongoing training, Thomson has also worked to implement a strategy that relies on community policing, according to county officials.
“Community policing cannot be a program, unit, strategy or tactic. It must be the core principle which lies at the foundation of a police department's culture,” Thomson said. “Community policing is not an option; it's an affirmative obligation we have to our customers and clients - the people of Camden.”
In October, the police department received a $1,875,000 grant to hire 15 officers for community policing, and in 2015, it received a $2,187,015 grant for the same purpose.
Both grants came via the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
The Camden County Police Department, established in 2013, has received its share of national attention under the outgoing administration.
In an appearance in Camden in 2015, President Barack Obama praised the progress made in Camden under the police department, which replaced the former Metro PD.
At the time, the president of the State Policemen's Benevolent Association warned the president that the department was misreporting its numbers.
Other police chiefs and law enforcement personnel who will join Thomson in meeting with Ryan include New Orleans, Louisiana Chief Michael Harrison; Janesville, Wisconsin Police Chief David Moore; Burlington, Vermont Police Chief Brandon del Pozo; Tucson, Arizona Police Chief Chris Magnus; Volusia County Florida Sheriff Mike Chitwood; and PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler.
Columbia City Council to hear about police practices, potential land sale to new company
by Megan Favignano
Several residents plan to address the Columbia City Council during this week's meeting about community policing and racism, and a purchase agreement between the city and an out-of-state company that could add jobs to the area will be introduced.
There are six different scheduled public comments on the agenda for city council when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Public comments include the introduction of a new neighborhood association; a resolution on water, human rights and energy; and racism and community policing.
The Columbia Police Department has said it needs more officers to fully commit to community policing, and it is an issue residents often speak to the council about.
During a news conference last week, police Chief Ken Burton said a town hall later this month will give residents the chance to share their experiences with racial profiling in Columbia.
“I'm very proud that we don't have the kinds of issues that we see in other parts of the country. But if there is a belief that officers are racially profiling on somebody's behalf, then that's their belief, and they have a right to it, and so I think it needs to be addressed,” Burton said.
He said while he doesn't believe Columbia police officers profile, he is open to the possibility that it does happen. The department, Burton said, is considering other ways of approaching its data to see whether there is evidence of racial profiling.
He also mentioned the grant the city council approved this month that will add four police officers dedicated to community policing efforts.
Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, with Race Matters, Friends, often has spoken to council about community policing. Residents, she said, want the department to adopt community policing as a philosophy, adding it could improve the relationship police have with Columbians.
“If you're just doing it so you can use it as a buzzword, you're not building that trust,” Wilson-Kleekamp said.
Aside from hearing public comments, the council also will see a new bill for a purchase agreement between the city and a Colorado-based company that could invest $90 million in a manufacturing plant that will create 100 jobs.
Aurora Organic Dairy — a Boulder, Colo.-based company that markets itself as the leading producer of store-brand organic milk and butter — wants to buy property on the northeast corner of Paris Road and Waco Road.
The purchase agreement will have an introduction and first reading Tuesday.
The council also will vote on a memorandum of understanding between Columbia Public Schools and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the memorandum of understanding, all entities involved would agree “students may be held accountable for certain offenses without referral to the juvenile justice system.”
The document further outlines guidelines for handling “minor school-based offenses,” which is meant to stop students from being referred to the criminal justice system for minor crimes while still following the new criminal code definitions.
During last week's news conference, police officials said bullying is a serious problem but that there is “no rush” to start arresting students every time someone publishes an inappropriate comment on social media. Officials said they are willing to approach legislators alongside the school district to advocate for changes to the law.
Police have said they are willing to approach legislators alongside the school district to advocate for changes to the law.
GPTC hosts Beyond Community Policing: Building & Sustaining Positive Relationships for the Long Term
by Cov News
Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) is delighted to host a 40 hour training workshop in assisting law enforcement in its interaction with the public.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the region will delve into such topics as effective communication, cultural diversity and responsiveness, mental health and building positive community relations among other topics.
WHO: Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) Law Enforcement Academy
WHAT: Beyond Community Policing: Building & Sustaining Positive Relationships for the Long Term. The conference will feature several informative breakout sessions and practical exercises. The week-long training will culminate with a face-to-face meeting among community members and the law enforcement officers that serve their community.
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 23,– Friday, Jan. 27, Daily sessions begin at 8 a.m. and wrap up around 5 p.m.
WHERE: GPTC's Newton Campus Law Enforcement Academy Conference Center, located at 8100 Bob Williams Parkway, Covington GA 30014. (This campus is located off City Pond Road in Covington near the intersection of Bob Williams Pkwy)
WHY: For the past eight years, GPTC's Law Enforcement Academy has been training new recruits to enter the rewarding field of law enforcement. The curriculum for this 17- week paramilitary course constantly evolves to address the changing demands of law enforcement. Now the Academy wants to train veteran officers and administration in grappling with the new demands they face. In light of recent incidents that raised the tension between law enforcement agencies across the country and the communities they serve, GPTC's Law Enforcement Academy wants to address these issues and bring both sides to the table to foster better understanding and open lines of communication. As the first CALEA-accredited law enforcement academy in the State of Georgia, the GPTC Law Enforcement Academy is in a perfect position to offer innovative training to current law enforcement agencies, as well as bring community leaders to the discussion table.
New Orleans considers gun-spotting cameras
The cameras would be able to pick up on differences in the temperature between guns and human bodies
by Jeff Adelson
NEW ORLEANS — Cameras that can spot guns through layers of clothing — using infrared or similar technologies — may be included in sweeping new security measures for Bourbon Street to be proposed soon by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, according to several people familiar with the plan.
The cameras would be able to pick up on differences in the temperature between guns and human bodies, allowing officers to then focus on those carrying weapons.
The idea is part of a broader effort to prevent the type of shootout that killed one person and wounded nine others on Bourbon Street in November, as well as to avert potential terrorist attacks. But stepped-up surveillance of that kind will inevitably raise questions about privacy and constitutional rights.
Details about the overall security plan have not been released by Landrieu's administration, and it is unclear whether the high-tech scanners will end up in the final version of the proposal, which also calls for making much of Bourbon Street a pedestrian mall.
But several people briefed on the ideas being discussed said infrared-type cameras are on the table.
Bob Simms, who runs the private police details known as the French Quarter Task Force, said administration officials had discussed using the new cameras as they laid out the security plan and likened them to installing metal detectors. But Simms said the cameras would likely involve fewer logistical challenges than trying to corral revelers through security gates and might seem less intimidating.
"A lot of the businesses don't like (metal detectors); they think it gives the wrong impression," he said. "I think people are looking at whether there is other technology that would achieve the same objective."
Various research papers have been written about the possibility of using infrared and other imaging technologies for just such a purpose. Several companies also market cameras claiming to detect any kind of contraband through clothing.
But it is not clear whether any city has tried to deploy the cameras on a widespread basis or along a public street.
Several media outlets reported in 2013 that the New York City Police Department was testing the technology, though it does not appear it was ever put to use. An NYPD spokesman said the department "does not have cameras that would be able to detect concealed weapons."
Published reports about the technology suggest it has a limited range and would not be suitable for scanning large crowds, meaning the devices likely would have to be set up at checkpoints near various entrances to the street.
Overall, the plan calls for an increase in the number of cameras monitoring Bourbon Street; the results could be fed into a centralized command center. Other cameras capable of reading license plates could be installed on the edges of the Quarter to allow officers to track suspects fleeing the scene of a crime, Simms said.
"I think we have a very multifaceted approach to this thing. Some people say, 'Let's just put more cops on the street,' but that's not going to solve everything even if we had them," he said.
But the surveillance plan, and the potential for new cameras in particular, raises concerns among some.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said she had not heard anything about the plans or the technology but found it "very disturbing."
"I think that this is a violation of people's constitutional rights, and I cannot imagine that the public will accept that," Esman said. "It really defies common sense because it presumes that everybody carrying a weapon is going to use it for an improper purpose, and that's just not the case."
There are significant questions about how police would use the information gleaned from the cameras and whether that information would be enough justification to search those believed to have weapons, Esman said. That's particularly true if they would be set up on a public street, where standards are different than requiring people to go through metal detectors or body scanners at airports.
And, she said, significant surveillance in any public area is cause for concern when it's not clear how the video will be used, who will view it and how long it will be stored.
"We know that people come to New Orleans and they do things that they don't necessarily want to be sent back to friends, neighbors and colleagues wherever they live," Esman said.
And, she noted, the recent high-profile shootings on Bourbon Street have come with police standing nearby.
"I'm not sure what a camera is going to do," she said.
Fla. airport shooting highlights nexus between mentally ill, cops
LE officials and mental health experts agree the nation's crumbling mental health system has exacerbated the problem, often making officers de facto crisis counselors
by Kelli Kennedy
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Just weeks before a gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale's airport, authorities said he walked into an FBI office in Alaska, telling agents the government was controlling his mind and that he was having terroristic thoughts. It's a daily occurrence for law enforcement agencies and authorities say the difficulty is in assessing whether people are reporting a credible threat, whether or whether they need medical help.
"A lot of resources, time and effort are all put into dealing with mentally challenged people and trying to sort through that type of information to find out what's valid," said Pat O'Carroll, former supervisor with the Secret Service and executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Relatives of the alleged airport gunman, Esteban Santiago, said his behavior had grown increasingly erratic in the year before the shooting. While there, his family said, he witnessed a bomb explode near two friends.
Santiago's brother Bryan said at one point his bother requested psychological help but barely received any, and it's not clear to what extent he was ever diagnosed or treated, if ever, for mental illness. After the incident at the FBI office, Santiago was held for four days for an evaluation and released.
Law enforcement says each hotline tip and visit is documented, but there is usually no record of whether someone appears to be mentally ill because authorities don't have the expertise to make that determination and don't want to stigmatize people.
"There are times of lucidness and you can't just reject everything the person says. Even if they have a frequent track record of calling up, they are going to be given the same amount of attention ... so it is even more time consuming," O'Carroll said.
In November, agents questioned an agitated and disjointed-sounding Santiago and called police, who took him for a mental health evaluation. Authorities said he clearly indicated at the time that he was not intent on hurting anyone, and that authorities had no legal right to detain him. Weeks later, he perpetrated one of the deadliest airport attacks in U.S. history, killing five people and wounding six, authorities said.
Law enforcement officials and mental health experts agree the nation's crumbling mental health system has exacerbated the problem, often making officers de facto crisis counselors.
In most states, the standards for involuntary hospitalization are stringent and require that someone be a threat to themselves or someone else. The FBI in Anchorage stressed that Santiago was not dangerous at the time they interviewed him.
"It's not an easy problem," said St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, president of the National Sheriffs' Association. "There's no simple fix to say the FBI should've just locked this guy away because he's hearing voices."
Experts are quick to point out that mental illness is not an indicator of violence.
"If you have a mental health issue you're more likely to be a victim of a crime than a perpetrator," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
Sometimes those suffering with mental illness fixate on law enforcement and government agencies, creating constant intersections between the two.
The Secret Service conducted a detailed investigation of 43 attacks on federal government officials and facilities between 2001 and 2013. Over half of the offenders experienced one or more mental health symptoms, including include paranoia, delusions and disorganized or odd thinking, according to the 2015 report.
"You can go through and look at a lot of the shootings, whether it's the Colorado theatre or Navy shipyard or Newton, obviously there were mental health issues involved," Bouchard said.
In 2011, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a shopping center parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner had been exhibiting symptoms of mental illness and engaging in bizarre behavior in the years before, including hearing voices and talking about the government trying to control his mind.
He once visited a sheriff's office to say his identity had been stolen and that his name and picture were being used online without his permission. It's unclear if that was true or whether it was part of the growing paranoia that plagued him as his illness worsened.
Yet despite his growing symptoms, his concerned parents couldn't get him to see a mental health expert, according to a report by the Secret Service.
Involuntary hospitalizations typically don't last more than three days and often function more as a holding place with little therapeutic benefit. Many patients are released with no follow-up appointments or medications, such as the case with Santiago, according to his brother.
"If the way we responded to heart attacks was to hospitalize people, save their life and discharge them after three or four days with no follow-up care, we'd have a lot of people dying and not recovering and that's in essence what I think we have with our mental health system," said Ron Honberg, senior policy advisor for the advocacy group National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Philly police: Crime at lowest level in decades
There were fewer violent crimes than in any other year since 1979
by Chris Palmer
PHILADELPHIA — Serious crime in Philadelphia fell last year to levels unseen in decades, according to the city police.
There were fewer violent crimes than in any other year since 1979, the fewest number of property crimes since 1971, and the fewest number of robberies since 1969.
The numbers of burglaries were the lowest on record, and although homicides decreased only slightly compared with 2015, they remained below 300 - once considered a low-end benchmark for Philadelphia - for the fourth consecutive year.
Those statistics were part of the year-end uniformed crime reporting (UCR) data provided by the department.
Commissioner Richard Ross on Wednesday described the results as a step in the right direction but said police would continue seeking to drive the numbers lower.
"We've got a long way to go," he said. "Nobody is suggesting anything other than that."
The commissioner and criminologists said the decrease was likely driven by a variety of factors, such as increased use of technology in fighting crime, continuing successful deployment and patrol strategies, and an overall crime rate that is lower across the country today than it was 20 years ago.
"It's not a simple answer, and there are probably multiple factors that are interacting with each other," said Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University.
Ross also acknowledged that crime reduction was not divided equally across the city. Parts of North Philadelphia, Fairhill, and Kensington, in particular, continue to be plagued by high levels of gun violence, he said, and high levels of poverty, unemployment, and drugs can complicate efforts to reduce it.
"We're not happy with the level of gun violence across the city, period," Ross said.
Year-end statistics provided by the department showed that violent crime - which includes homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault - was down about 5 percent in 2016 compared with 2015. The total number of violent crimes was 15,385, the numbers show, the lowest total since 1979, when there were 14,537.
The population of Philadelphia has shrunk during that time, meaning the violent crime rate has actually increased, from 849 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 1979, to about 981 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016.
Still, the 2016 rate - calculated using 2015's population, the most recently available data - would represent Philadelphia's lowest violent crime rate since 1984.
The 2016 homicide total, meanwhile, was 273, according to the UCR numbers; the department on its website reported 277. A police spokesman said the discrepancy was due to differences in how the department and UCR categorize certain cases.
Still, either figure was slightly lower than the 280 homicides recorded in 2015. The last time the city topped 300 homicides was 2012, when there were 331, according to police statistics. The record high in recent history was in 1990, when the city saw 500 homicides amid an epidemic of crack cocaine.
Non-fatal shooting victims is not maintained as a UCR category, but the department said in an email this week that the city had 1,280 shooting victims in 2016, the highest total since 2011, when there were 1,407.
The number of shooting incidents in 2016, however, was down significantly: 1,591, the lowest total of the last six years.
The uptick in victims - with a decrease in incidents - suggests shooters in 2016 either hit people more frequently, or hit more people at once.
Property crime last year was virtually identical to that in 2015, according to UCR figures, meaning that total "part one" crimes - the combined number of violent and property crimes - were lower than any other year since 1971.
Ross said the department would seek to continue any success - and evolve strategies as needed to improve.
"If you have something that is working, continue to improve upon it," he said. "You've got to keep moving forward."
From the Department of Homeland Security
Statement by Secretary Jeh Johnson Announcing First Round of DHS's Countering Violent Extremism Grants
In 2016, Congress answered our call for federal grants, awarded and administered by the Department of Homeland Security, to support local efforts to counter violent extremism. Today, I am pleased to announce the first round of awards of these grants.
A total of 31 proposals, from various organizations in multiple communities, have been accepted to receive some part of the $10 million appropriated by Congress last year. The funding will go for activities that include intervention, developing resilience, challenging the narrative, and building capacity. The organizations approved for grants include local governments, universities, and non-profit organizations, in locations across the country such as Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Detroit, Nebraska, Houston, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and New York City. Among the awardees are organizations devoted specifically to countering ISIL's recruitment efforts in our homeland, and Life After Hate, an organization devoted to the rehabilitation of former neo-Nazis and other domestic extremists in this country.
In this age of self-radicalization and terrorist-inspired acts of violence, domestic-based efforts to counter violent extremism have become a homeland security imperative. And, I know from visiting numerous communities across this country that very often the best efforts to counter violent extremism are local, tailored to a particular community. My hope is that Congress will continue to fund this type of grant activity in the future. Again, this is a homeland security imperative.
Awardees by Category and Areas Served
Police Foundation - $463,185 (Boston)
Ka Joog Nonprofit Organization – $499,998 (Minneapolis)
Heartland Democracy Center – $165,435 (Minneapolis)
Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities - $500,000 (Dearborn, Mich.)
Tuesday's Children - $147,154 (Nationwide)
Music in Common - $159,000 (Nationwide)
Peace Catalyst International, INC - $95,000 (Nationwide)
Coptic Orthodox Charities - $150,000 (Nationwide)
Training and Engagement
City of Houston, Mayor's Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security - $400,000 (Houston)
City of Arlington, Police - $47,497 (Arlington, TX)
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority - $187,877 (Illinois)
Global Peace Foundation - $150,000 (New Jersey)
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency - $300,000 (Nebraska)
City of Dearborn Police Department - $51,521 (Dearborn, Mich.)
City of Los Angeles, Mayor's Office of Public Safety - $400,000 (Los Angeles)
Denver Police Department - $240,000 (Denver)
National Consortium for Advanced Policing - $200,000 (Nationwide)
City of Los Angeles, Mayor's Office of Public Safety - $425,000 (Los Angeles)
Crisis Intervention of Houston, Inc. - $400,000 (Houston)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department - $425,000 (Las Vegas)
Life After Hate Inc. - $400,000 (Nationwide)
Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation - $393,800 (Nationwide)
Challenging the Narrative
Project Help Nevada, Inc. - $150,000 (Reno, Nev.)
Unity Productions Foundation - $396,585 (Nationwide)
America Abroad Media - $647,546 (Nationwide)
Rochester Institute of Technology - $149,955 (Nationwide)
Masjid Muhammad, Inc. - $450,000 (Nationwide)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - $866,687 (Nationwide)
Muslim American Leadership Alliance - $40,000 (Nationwide)
Counter Extremism Project - $298,760 (New York)
Claremont School of Theology - $800,000 (Los Angeles)
Statement by Secretary Johnson Concerning Airport Security
TSA Administrator Pete Neffenger and I call for Airport Operation Centers at the nation's busiest airports.
The recent active shooter event at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and the response to mistaken reports of an active shooter event at JFK Airport in August 2016, highlight the need for Airport Operations Centers, staffed by airport operators and security, local law enforcement, the airlines, as well as TSA and CBP, to manage security, incident response, as well as day-to-day airport operations. Airport Operation Centers improve communications and responses, and response times during security incidents, and in general promote unity of mission.
Recommendations for Airport Operations Centers came from two public area security summits held by DHS and from the multi-agency review (in which TSA participated) of the August 2016 incident at JFK airport.
From the FBI
Preliminary Crime Stats for 2016 Released
(Report Covers January through June)
Today, the FBI released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, which covers January through June 2016 and which shows an increase in the number of violent crimes and a decrease in the number of property crimes when compared to figures from the same time period in 2015. The data came from 13,366 law enforcement agencies across the nation.
According to the report, violent crime in the U.S. showed an overall increase of 5.3 percent. Each of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery—experienced increases: aggravated assaults were up 6.5 percent; murders increased 5.2 percent; rapes (legacy definition) were up 4.4 percent and rapes (revised definition) increased 3.5 percent; and robberies were up 3.2 percent.
And while property crime as a whole was down 0.6 percent (burglaries decreased 3.4 percent and larceny-thefts were down 0.8 percent), motor vehicle thefts increased by 6.6 percent.
This preliminary report features several tables which detail the percent change in offenses reported to law enforcement by population group, by region of the country, and by consecutive years back to 2012. It also contains a table showing the number of offenses reported to law enforcement, by state, in cities with populations of more than 100,000.
The full Crime in the United States 2016 report will be released later this year.
Chicago police officers have pattern of using excessive, unconstitutional force, Justice Dept. says
by Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky
A sprawling federal investigation into the Chicago police found that officers engage “in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force,” part of larger, ingrained failures in how the department trains officers and reviews misconduct, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced Friday.
The Justice Department released a scathing 161-page report elaborating on how police officers in the country's third-biggest city use force, “including deadly force, that is unreasonable” as well as unconstitutional.
This report is the culmination of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department, one launched amid a firestorm prompted by video footage of a white officer fatally shooting a black teenager.
Federal investigators excoriated the department and city officials alike for what they called “systemic deficiencies.” They said their inquiry found that the Chicago police force did not provide officers with proper guidance for using force, did not properly investigate improper uses of force and did not hold officers accountable for such incidents. Investigators also faulted the city's methods of handling officer discipline, saying that process “lacks integrity.”
Vanita Gupta, head of the department's Civil Rights Division, said that Chicago officers were found to have shot people who posed no immediate threat and shocked people with Tasers simply for not following verbal commands.
[ Read the full Justice Department report into the Chicago police ]
During the probe, investigators said they found cases where children were subjected to force for minor issues, including a 16-year-old girl hit with a baton and then shocked with a Taser for not leaving school when she was found carrying a cellphone. In another case described in the report, an officer “forcibly handcuffed a 12-year-old Latino boy” riding his bicycle near his father and refused to explain why.
Gupta faulted the department for inadequate training, saying it used decades-old videos that provided guidance inconsistent with current law and even the department's own policies. She also described Chicago's accountability system as “broken,” with officers rarely being held accountable for their misdeeds.
“In Chicago and around the country, reform cannot and will not happen overnight,” Gupta said at the news conference Friday.
Lynch said that the Justice Department's investigation found that there is “considerable work to be done” to reform the Chicago police force, which will require independent oversight. As a result, she said the Justice Department would begin negotiations with city officials to enter a court-enforceable consent decree. She was joined at the news conference by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent.
Authorities also released an agreement, signed Friday by Emanuel and Gupta, that commits the city to further reforms. Gupta said career lawyers would begin negotiating a consent decree that would put court authority behind that agreement, similar to the order just announced in Baltimore on Thursday
Both announcements, in Baltimore and Chicago, arrive in the twilight of the Obama administration. Under Obama, the Jusitce Department has aggressively pursued investigations of police departments to probe for civil rights violations and is seeking to cement that legacy before President-elect Donald Trump, who long portrayed himself as a staunch friend of law enforcement, takes office.
Trump's nominee to replace Lynch, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), has publicly been critical of such decrees, but the attorney general said she expected the agreement would live on beyond this presidential administration.
“Yes, the top people at the Department of Justice move on, but this agreement is not dependent on one, or two, or three people,” she said.
Speaking on Capitol Hill during his confirmation hearing this week, Sessions suggested that entire departments filled with good officers could be tarred by the work of individuals and was critical of lawsuits that force reforms.
“These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that,” Sessions said. He would not commit to leaving unchanged agreements that are in place when he takes over, though he said he would enforce them until changes are made.
Lynch did acknowledge that the agreement in many ways would require the buy-in of local authorities. Emmanuel also acknowledged that there were questions were surrounding what the next administration would do, but said he knew with “certainty” what Chicago's path would be.
“We will continue on the path of reform, because that is the path of progress,” he said. Emanuel later added, “We're going to continue to work with that new Justice Department.”
Emanuel said he has not spoken directly with the Trump transition team about the matter. “No, because I've been working on the report,” he said.
The Justice Department began its Chicago investigation in December 2015, just weeks after authorities in the city released video footage showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old.
This dashboard-camera recording, withheld for more than a year by city officials, showed Officer Jason Van Dyke firing 16 shots into McDonald, some after the teenager had already crumpled to the ground, despite initial accounts that the teenager had lunged at the officer. The video unleashed a torrent of anger on the streets of Chicago, which became the latest in a series of cities that boiled over in recent years after a fatal encounter involving police.
The recording has continued to reverberate in the city. Not long after it was made public, the Justice Department announced that it would begin what is known as a “pattern or practice investigation” into the police department. Emanuel, facing intense criticism, ousted Garry F. McCarthy as police superintendent, while voters decisively dismissed Anita Alvarez, the prosecutor in the case, in an election that highlighted the McDonald shooting.
Emanuel also created a task force to review how the Chicago police handled accountability, training and oversight, and the group released a highly critical report last year, describing the McDonald video as a tipping point giving “voice to long-simmering anger.”
In what some viewed as a prelude to the Justice Department's findings, the task force's report described repeatedly hearing from people who felt some police officers are racist and said the police force's own data “gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”
Chicago officials have vowed to pursue police reforms and increased transparency, and have also announced plans to beef up the policing ranks as the city confronts an explosion of bloodshed and just saw its deadliest year in two decades. Johnson, the police superintendent, has called for Van Dyke and four other officers to be fired over the episode, accusing them all of lying about the shooting. Van Dyke was arrested and charged with murder the day the McDonald footage was released.
McCarthy, Johnson's predecessor, had criticized the Justice Department before the report was released and said investigators never contacted him. Asked about that on Friday, Lynch said that investigators had tried but he was “unavailable,” although she did not elaborate.
Reached after the news conference, McCarthy declined to discuss the contents of the report — saying he still had to review it with his lawyer — but disputed that Justice Department investigators attempted to reach him.
“That is a lie,” McCarthy said. “With all the investigative resources of the federal government, they couldn't find me here, in River North, which is a neighborhood in Chicago. That is absurd.”
During the news conference Johnson, a longtime veteran of the department who was named McCarthy's replacement last year, said “some of the findings in the report are difficult to read.” But he also said that many of the problems had already been identified and officials were working to correct them.
“Quite simply, as a department, we need to do better, and you have my promise, and commitment, that we will do better,” Johnson said.
Distrust remains an issue between police officers and residents in Chicago. In a poll taken last year, 1 in 3 residents said the city's police officers were doing an excellent or good job; far fewer black residents (12 percent) felt that way then white residents (47 percent) or Hispanic residents (37 percent).
“The Chicago Urban League believes that the report must be viewed as a milestone,” Shari Runner, president and chief executive of the group, said in a statement. “It is verification of the worst of what we've been and continue to be, but offers a viable path to what we want to become.”
While Emanuel had initially resisted calls for a federal civil rights investigation, calling it “misguided,” he relented and said that he would welcome such a probe and pledged complete cooperation.
The Justice Department can investigate and force systemic changes on local police departments and sue them if they do not comply. This authority was given to the federal agency in 1994, when Congress acted in the wake of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers and subsequent unrest following the acquittal of the officers involved.
During the Obama administration, the Civil Rights Division has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies, according to the Justice Department. Probes have found patterns of excessive force used in police departments including Portland, Ore., Cleveland, Albuquerque, New Orleans, Seattle and Puerto Rico, among others.
The Chicago probe was among the the largest pattern and practices investigations in the Justice Department's history, involving a force that has 12,000 officers, trailing only the New York police force among local law enforcement agencies.
The announcement in Chicago came the same day that Justice Department officials also said that the Philadelphia Police Department was making “tremendous progress” in implementing findings from an assessment last year examining how officers use deadly force there.
A day before Lynch spoke in Chicago, she had traveled to Baltimore for officials to outline efforts to revamp policing there. Baltimore's agreement on reforms came after the Justice Department released, last year, a blistering report accusing the city of discriminatory policies targeting black residents.
The probes in Chicago and Baltimore were launched during a period of acute tension nationwide, coming amid heated protests sparked by the deaths, usually of black men or boys, during encounters with police.
In Chicago, the head of the police union has said he was concerned federal investigators were rushing to finish the probe before Trump's inauguration. When asked Friday about the timing of the report's release, Lynch noted the investigation had begun more than a year ago, though she acknowledged lawyers had worked “quickly” to bring it to fruition.
“This is not a political process, this is an investigative process,” Lynch said.
Obama has axed immigration privileges for Cubans. Here's how they may try to get around it.
by Nick Miroff
President Obama's move to rescind certain immigration privileges for Cubans arriving in the United States has rolled up the cushy welcome mat that for two decades essentially allowed any islander to stay if they reach American soil.
Symbolically, it's a big deal, nudging the United States and Cuba further along the “normalization” path Obama and Cuba's Raúl Castro announced in December 2014. But as a practical matter, it's unclear to what extent it can slow Cuban migration to the United States, which has more than doubled in the past two years.
Whether as auto mechanics or would-be migrants, Cubans are world-renowned for their resourcefulness, determination and ability to wring lemonade from desperate circumstances. They will now face the U.S. immigration court system, which has been swamped in recent years by border-crossers seeking asylum.
Cubans can potentially still benefit from the privileges afforded to them by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which only Congress has the power to lift. Any Cuban “inspected and admitted or paroled” into the United States is eligible for permanent residency after 366 days.
But immigration attorneys say Cubans who enter the United States without a visa, seeking asylum, would not be considered legally “admitted,” so they would not be eligible for residency through the Adjustment Act.
“You would need a legal entry into the United States,” said Wilfredo Allen, a Miami immigration attorney who handles asylum cases.
What the Obama administration eliminated was the policy of granting Cubans legal entry into the United States simply for setting foot in the United States. This ends the so-called wet-foot/dry-foot policy that dates back to the Cuban rafter crisis of 1994-1995, when the United States began sending back any Cuban intercepted at sea (wet) while allowing those who arrived on U.S. territory to stay (dry).
Yet that's not how the vast majority of Cuban migrants reach the United States today. The number who arrive in rickety boats and rafts is dwarfed by the amount who walk right in through U.S. ports of entry along the Mexican border.
Last year more than 50,000 did so, many citing a fear that U.S.-Cuba normalization had started the clock ticking for the expiration of their immigration perks.
Despite assurances by U.S. officials to the contrary, they were right. As of last night, Cubans can no longer walk across the border bridge and receive automatic “parole."
Instead, they will probably do what tens of thousands of Central American migrants do now: wade across the Rio Grande, wait for the Border Patrol vans to arrive, and ask for asylum, citing a fear of persecution if sent home.
Unlike migrants from Mexico, the U.S. can't quickly turn them back. They must be detained, processed and have their claims adjudicated. In theory, this should happen quickly. In reality, it often takes years.
Central Americans migrants, in particular, have swamped the federal immigration court system with asylum claims since 2014, telling U.S. authorities that they face mortal danger from rampant violence back home. Most of their petitions are ultimately rejected. But Central Americans have also figured out that the process allows them to remain in the United States temporarily, and they can go underground and stay illegally if judges deny their request for “relief,” i.e., asylum.
Now those same immigration courts will take on the cases of Cubans.
“There's not going to be a separate queue for Cubans,” Obama's deputy national security adviser, Benjamin Rhodes, who negotiated the normalization deal with Cuba, told reporters Thursday. “So just like any other migrant who reaches our border, they have certain claims that they can pursue, but they'll be treated as other individuals from other countries are."
Cuba isn't a hyper-violent, gang-plagued country like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where vulnerable migrants may be at risk of being murdered if they're sent back. But the United States government continues to view Cuba's one-party system as a repressive one that punishes its citizens for exercising democratic rights. Making the case for a fear of persecution may not be difficult for a Cuban seeking to delay or avoid deportation.
“This takes us back to the old policy,” said Allen, the immigration attorney. “Every Cuban will have to apply for political asylum.”
Allen said that while the credible fear standard is "low," most asylum requests are ultimately rejected. The federal immigration court system could adjudicate a Cuban asylum request, deny it, and send that person back to the island. But the backlog of asylum cases is so large that such a process often takes years.
A recent New York Times dispatch from the federal immigration courts in Arlington, Va. — which have a reputation for being among the nation's most efficient — says that it has eight judges and a backlog of 30,000 cases, with some hearings not scheduled until 2022.
The incoming Trump administration could reverse Obama's orders and reinstate the policies. The Obama administration also eliminated a program — despised by the Cuban government — that made it easier for Cuban medical professionals to defect while serving on foreign “missions.”
Cuban American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he would like to see that policy restored. But he was less categorical about the wet-foot/dry-foot rules, which he and other Cuban American leaders say has been abused by migrants, ostensibly seeking refuge, who obtain U.S. residency and then travel back and forth frequently to the island.
Armed motorist saves Arizona state trooper's life as he fatally shoots man attacking the officer
by David Boroff
An armed motorist saved an Arizona state trooper's life early Thursday by killing a man who had shot the officer and was slamming his head into the pavement.
Trooper Edward Andersson was in serious but stable condition following surgery after he was shot in the right shoulder and chest in what authorities say was an ambush in the desert west of Phoenix.
Authorities believe the man who shot Andersson was driving a vehicle involved in a rollover wreck on Interstate 10 that ejected and killed a woman.
Another driver reported gunfire, and the trooper was responding to that call when he spotted the wreck.
As Andersson put out flares, the suspect opened fire and then attacked the wounded trooper. The man was on top of the officer and "getting the better of him," according to Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead.
At that point the good Samaritan showed up and asked if the trooper needed help. After Andersson said yes, the motorist went back to his vehicle, retrieved his gun and told the suspect to stop the attack. When he did not relent, the driver shot him.
"The trooper says, 'Please help me,' and asks the uninvolved third party for help," Milstead told NBC News. "That person retreats back to his vehicle, removes his own weapon from the vehicle, confronts the suspect, giving him orders to stop assaulting the officer. The suspect refuses. The uninvolved third party fires, striking and killing the suspect."
The unidentified life-saving driver was heading with his wife to California, according to NBC News.
Yet another driver stopped and used the trooper's radio to alert authorities.
"I believe he was in an altercation with a motorist," Brian Schober said during the call, according to NBC News. "There's a lady laying on the road, uh, still moving, not dead. The other gentleman was shot by a passerby who, uh, stopped the altercation after the officer was shot.
"The suspect is occasionally snorting or breathing. He's been shot by the passerby. He's laying right next to the officer," Schober added.
Arizona has a "defense of third person" law that allows a person to use deadly force against someone else who is threatening or injuring a third party.
"Arizona was open-carry before it was a state," Arizona Citizens Defense League co-founder Charles Heller said. "If you see a guy walking down the street in Tucson, Arizona, with a gun on, you don't think much of it. It's natural."
"My trooper would not be alive without his assistance," Milstead said.
The identities of the two dead people were not immediately released. Investigators are attempting to find out what caused the rollover and whether the suspect was involved with the initial report of gunshots.
"We don't know what the story is, and we'll figure that out as time goes on," Milstead told NBC News. "In our worst hour, we may need your help, and this was today. ... Thank you. Thank you for the support."
Republicans more likely than Democrats to have confidence in police
by Anna Brown
The deep partisan divide that pervades much of American life extends to views about the police, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. Republicans and Democrats have vastly different opinions about how well police do their jobs and the realities of policing today – views that are likely linked to clear partisan splits on opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement and highly publicized fatal encounters between blacks and police in recent years.
About three-quarters of Republicans say that police around the country are doing an excellent or good job when it comes to treating racial and ethnic groups equally, using the right amount of force for each situation and holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs. Only about a quarter of Democrats agree. When it comes to protecting people from crime, 79% of Republicans say police are doing an excellent or good job, compared with 53% of Democrats. Independents fall between Republicans and Democrats on these questions.
Though attitudes about police are closely linked with race, these stark differences persist even when controlling for race. For example, 76% of white Republicans say they feel police around the country are doing an excellent or good job treating racial and ethnic groups equally, compared with 27% of white Democrats – about the same difference as between all Republicans and Democrats. (The sample size for black Republicans was too small to make a party comparison among blacks.)
Partisans also differ in the role they see police performing. For example, about a third of Democrats (31%) and independents (33%) say they see police in this country more as enforcers than protectors, roughly double the share of Republicans who say this (17%). Republicans, for their part, are more likely to say police in this country fill both of these roles equally (67%) compared with Democrats (52%) and independents (53%).
Partisan differences also are evident on questions about the realities of policing today. For example, while majorities of each party say that being a police officer is more dangerous now than it was five years ago, Republicans (87%) are more likely than Democrats (62%) and independents (69%) to say this.
Republicans and Democrats alike believe that the average police officer discharges his or her service firearm while on duty at least once during the course of their career (84% and 86%, respectively). But Democrats (39%) are more likely than Republicans and independents (27% each) to say that an average officer uses his or her service weapon at least a few times a year. Here, however, differences do appear to be driven by race: Only 22% of white Democrats say that an average officer discharges his or her weapon at least a few times a year, which is statistically no different from the 26% of white Republicans who say this. (For their part, 72% of police officers say they have never fired their weapon on duty outside of training, a separate survey of officers found.)
Overall, U.S. adults give higher ratings to police in their community than they do to police nationwide, and the partisan gap in views of local police is narrower. For example, about half of Democrats (53%) say police in their community are doing an excellent or good job treating racial and ethnic groups equally, compared with 69% of independents and 85% of Republicans. Even so, Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats to say they have a lot of confidence in their community's police department (51% vs. 29%).
Still, the parties largely are in agreement when it comes to the size of their local police force. A plurality of each group says they would prefer to see no change in the size of the police presence in their local area, though Republicans (59%) and independents (60%) are somewhat more likely to say this than Democrats (53%). Meanwhile, Republicans (37%) and Democrats (36%) are slightly more likely than independents (30%) to say they would prefer to see a larger presence than currently exists, and small shares of Democrats (8%), independents (10%) and especially Republicans (2%) say they would prefer a smaller police presence in their local area.
L.A. sheriff's department to begin using UAVs
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said his agency will begin deploying an unmanned aerial device to aid deputies responding to arson scenes, suspected bombs and hostage situations
by James Queally
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Thursday that his agency will begin deploying an unmanned aerial device to aid deputies responding to arson scenes, suspected bombs and hostage situations, but he promised the device would not be used to surveil residents.
The use or attempted use of drones by law enforcement elsewhere has come under fire from privacy and civil liberty advocates, and McDonnell and other agency officials avoided using the word “drone” during a 20-minute news conference unveiling the department's latest technological addition.
Instead, the sheriff praised the $10,000 device as a useful tool that can give deputies a life-saving advantage in potentially deadly situations.
“The dangers of law enforcement can never be eliminated,” he said. “However, this technology can assist us in reducing the impact of risks on personnel.”
A forgotten mortgage stimulus program that was passed by Obama to help the middle class Americans reduce their monthly payments by as much as $4,264 each year.
Eight deputies have been trained to fly the device, according to Capt. Jack Ewell of the department's special operations bureau. The device can remain in the air for 20 minutes and fly up to a mile from the deputy controlling it; but under Federal Aviation Administration rules, Sheriff's Department personnel must maintain visual contact with the device while flying it, Ewell said.
McDonnell said the drone could provide deputies with critical information from previously inaccessible vantage points when dealing with a barricaded suspect or searching for a missing person lost in treacherous terrain, such as a canyon pass.
The FAA has issued 300 “certificates of authorization” to U.S. law enforcement agencies, allowing them to use similar devices, according to McDonnell. Thirty such certificates have been issued in California, he said.
Under the agreement, sheriff's officials have to notify the FAA anytime the drone is airborne, and provide information about where it will be flying and for what purpose, Ewell said. The Sheriff's Department had to submit a list of tasks the drone would be used for, and that list does not include surveillance, according to Ewell.
“The (unmanned aircraft system) will not be used to spy on the public,” McDonnell said, repeating the promise several times. “Our policy forbids using (it) for random surveillance.”
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, said any agreement between his agency and the Sheriff's Department would not actually govern how police use the device.
“We don't prohibit the type of flight activity that a law enforcement agency conducts,” he said via email. “We do have limitations on the conditions under which a drone can fly.”
Civil liberties advocates and local activists have long expressed concern that police might use drones to conduct warrantless surveillance. A bill that would have required police in California to obtain a court order before using drones for surveillance was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2014, a decision that came after concerns were raised about a plan by the Los Angeles Police Department to use drones.
Protesters descended on City Hall after the LAPD announced it had received two drones from the Seattle Police Department, which itself chose not to employ the devices in response to public criticism.
Since then, the devices have gone unused and remain in the office of the LAPD's inspector general, according to Capt. Andy Neiman, the department's chief spokesman.
There have been no discussions about deploying the drones in the near future, but Neiman said they could prove extremely useful to officers when dealing with heavily armed suspects.
He pointed to the hunt for the husband and wife who carried out the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack as a prime example of a situation where drones could have helped officers. After a gunbattle with the attackers, law enforcement officers had to risk their lives by approaching the couple's car to confirm whether they were dead or still posed a threat.
“Rather than sending live human beings up to see what they were doing in their vehicle, you could have sent a drone up there to see what their status was,” he said. “Are they armed? Do they have a bomb on them?”
The Sheriff's Department has been criticized for large-scale surveillance in the past. In 2012, a single-engine aircraft spent nine days circling Compton, recording low-resolution images of the city. Compton officials were not notified of the surveillance, and when the program came to light in 2014, several residents, including Mayor Aja Brown, expressed dismay.
Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, criticized the Sheriff's Department for not holding a public meeting on the use of the drone before deciding to employ it.
“What we see here is a unilateral decision of police executives as opposed to the community as a whole,” he said. “We think the process here is upside down.”
He also expressed concern about potential “mission creep” in the department's use of drones. Law enforcement's use of the technology, he said, can become more invasive over time to include such activities as monitoring protests, which could have a chilling effect on free speech.
“We've heard a million times that a tool is acquired to do one thing, and then it's used to do the next thing,” Schwartz said. “We are very concerned that whatever the rules are now, with the stroke of a pen, they get deployed to some new and more disturbing purpose.”
Bill to legalize silencers introduced to Congress
The legislation would remove silencers from the list of weapons banned for having "no common lawful purpose"
by The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state lawmaker is seeking an end to Tennessee's firearm silencer ban in the name of "hearing protection."
Republican Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown has filed legislation that would remove silencers from the list of weapons banned for having "no common lawful purpose." Others include machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, brass knuckles and explosive weapons.
The possession, manufacture or sale of a silencer is considered a felony under current state law.
Goins has dubbed his bill the "Tennessee Hearing Protection Act" of 2017.
The legislation follows several years of efforts to loosen gun restriction in Tennessee. Lawmakers are also expected to take up renewed efforts to eliminate permitting requirements in order to carry handguns in public.
About 582,000 Tennesseans currently hold handgun carry permits.
Police departments test gun-mounted cameras
The camera starts rolling when the weapon is drawn
by PoliceOne Staff
Body cameras have been implemented in various departments to strengthen trust with the community.
But some law enforcement officials and experts have criticized the technology, saying an officer's line of sight is easily blocked. Soon, there might be a different point of view — from the barrel of an officer's gun.
According to CNBC, Centinel Solutions has developed a gun camera aimed at providing a better perspective for police videos.
“Your typical body camera will pre-record 30 seconds before you hit the record button…so in an officer-involved shooting you can appreciate that if there is a threat, the priority isn't going to be to turn the body camera on,” CEO Max Kramer told Fox Business.
Kramer said the company wanted to build an improved system, creating the camera after multiple conversations with law enforcement.
“We spoke to the unions and they were all saying, ‘this is what we needed'…with a body camera that's a question of when do you record, when do you not record, what's privacy, what's not privacy? So this would be ‘I pulled my weapon, this is why I pulled it,'” Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway told Fox.
The camera is mounted under the barrel of the gun and starts filming when the officer draws their weapon. Paired with a mobile app, the camera sends an alert back to the station that informs the department of the officer's location.
Holloway said his department, which is testing the technology, likes the location alert because it allows departments to send backup faster.
“They have an extra feature that when you pull your weapon, it sends an alert to the supervisors and partners that the weapon has been pulled so they know you need help,” Holloway said.
The devices are built with safeguards and integrity controls as well.
“An administrator or shift supervisor will be notified of the battery status… if the device is actually pulled from the holster or if someone is trying to turn it off,” Kramer said.
The camera fits the majority of gun holsters and the software follows law enforcement protocol for accessing and logging files.
The gun camera is being tested at select departments in conjunction with body cameras. The devices will soon be rolled out on street patrol and departments will develop policies on footage storage, CNBC reported.
New TV show follows cop after controversial OIS
The fictional drama "Shots Fired" looks at a case of a black officer fatally shooting a white teen
by PoliceOne Staff
A new television show set to premiere later this year revolves around the aftermath of a controversial officer-involved shooting.
“Shots Fired” follows a case of an African-American officer who fatally shoots a white teen in a small North Carolina town, according to Hollywood Reporter.
“In flipping the narrative, it allows folks who don't normally identify with characters to empathize with them, and through empathy, you can change,” co-creator Gina Prince-Bythewood said.
When creators began writing the show, they reached out to officials involved in fatal shootings that caught national attention. AG Eric Holder, retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl L. Dorsey and former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly met with the writers to give insight on the topic.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss said the show is “probably the most current show you'll ever see,” saying that it will “very clearly” remind viewers of the current headlines.
Creators said the show doesn't tell viewers what's “right and wrong,” but “"they give you a version of the story, and you get to make the decision," actor Stephen Moyer told the publication.
“Shots Fired” premieres on March 22 on Fox.
Sheriff calls airport shooting video leak 'despicable'
by Alexi C. Cardona
NAPLES, Fla. — Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Wednesday that it is was “despicable, repulsive” for anyone to have leaked airport security video of the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
“If it ends up being that a deputy or any other law enforcement officer was involved, I won't let it taint what 99.9% of this agency did out there on Friday,” said Israel.
Michael Dingman, a 21-year veteran of the Broward Sheriff's Office assigned to the airport, was suspended with pay Tuesday in connection with the investigation into who leaked the video to TMZ.com.
The video, which surfaced Sunday, appeared to be a cellphone recording of the surveillance video.
The 20-second video appeared to show the first seconds of the shooting in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.
A man wearing a long-sleeves shirt and black pants is seen in the video walking through the baggage claim area and pulling a gun from his waistband. He points the gun at people outside the frame, then disappears from the camera's view.
The video shows people around the shooter scattering to find shelter. Others in the baggage claim area ducked behind luggage carts and baggage carousels.
The FBI, the Broward Sheriff's Office and airport security officials on Sunday began investigating officials who had security clearance to watch the video.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said Wednesday that the deputy's image was reflected on the glass of the security monitor.
“Everyone was disheartened,” said Sharief. “It was a heinous thing to do. For families to see the final moments of their loved ones, to see them killed or get hurt on a video is traumatic.”
Sharief said she is not familiar with all Sheriff's Office policies, but that she does not think Dingman deserves to continue to be paid.
“Law enforcement and airport staff worked nonstop to get travelers situated, protect them, get them help if they were hurt, return their belongings, get them back home,” Sharief said. “To have that distraction on top of everything else was an added toll and a disappointment.”
Sharief said she hopes criminal charges will be brought against whoever leaked the video.
“For us in Broward, we from the bottom of our hearts apologize that this happened,” Sharief said.
“This is not indicative of the Broward Sheriff's Office," she said. "This is someone who acted in bad faith and committed a crime. We are proud of what our law enforcement did that day.”
Dingman was ordered to surrender his identification card, patrol vehicle and all badges as part of the suspension, according to an internal affairs memo.
The deputy was ordered to call the Sheriff's Office Division of Internal Affairs twice a day, beginning Wednesday, to check whether there were special instructions from an investigator, the memo states.
Dingman was suspended on allegations of disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information, failure to use discretion and conduct unbecoming an employee, the memo states.
Israel said the investigation is in the beginning stages and that officials are trying to determine whether Dingman profited from the video.
“I made the appropriate decision to suspend Deputy Dingman with pay yesterday,” Israel said. “Tomorrow, I could put him back to work, I could suspend him without pay, or he could be arrested. Everything is in play.”
Dingman was reprimanded in 2012 after it was found he and another deputy used a law enforcement database to access information about a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who “became the subject of a major nationwide news story” when she stopped and ticketed an off-duty Miami police officer for speeding in 2011, according to an internal affairs report.
Dingman reportedly told investigators he didn't remember accessing the trooper's personal information, but that he must have done so if the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles system indicated he did.
Dingman also told investigators he realized that looking for someone's information “simply for the sake of satisfying one's curiosity is inappropriate” and against policy, the report states.
Dingman was reprimanded for inappropriate computer use and failure to use discretion.
The report states the recommended action was an “Admit it and Move On Option,” in which the deputy waived his rights to an appeal, the report states. The maximum discipline imposed under that option is a written reprimand. He also was given a a counseling report.
DOJ to unveil police reforms in Baltimore
by Darran Simon and Azadeh Ansari
The Justice Department will unveil an agreement mandating police reforms in Baltimore on Thursday, federal officials said.
A consent decree is expected to be signed by city officials in a special morning meeting, CNN-affiliate WBAL-TV reported. The decree would likely require better tracking of problematic officers, more documentation of citizen interaction and use of force reporting, the station reported.
In the case of Baltimore, the consent decree comes months after a scathing DOJ report in August that said the unconstitutional practices of some of the city's 2,600 officers led to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests of black residents, and excessive use of force against juveniles and those with mental health disabilities.
The report, which covered data from 2010 to 2016, attributed the practices to "systemic deficiencies" in training, policies, and accountability structures that "fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police effectively."
The DOJ had monitored the department's policing methods for more than a year after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury while being transported in a police van. Gray's death touched off protests and riots in Baltimore and other cities, fueling a debate over racial bias in policing that drew the Justice Department's scrutiny.
The decree comes in the same week as confirmation hearings for Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Justice Department and days before Attorney General Loretta Lynch steps down. Sessions' record raises eyebrows with civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which considers Sessions "hostile to consent decrees."
The ACLU cites a forward the Alabama senator wrote of a 2008 report published by Alabama Policy Institute in which the senator states:
"One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.
Session's skepticism on police reform is in sharp contrast to the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has investigated 25 law enforcement agencies for civil rights abuses, during the past seven years, 14 investigations have ended in consent decrees. The department is enforcing an additional 19 agreements with law enforcement agencies.
Sessions' testimony on police reform
During Tuesday's hearing, Hawaii's Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono asked whether the DOJ nominee would commit to maintaining and enforcing consent decrees. Sessions responded that a decree isn't "necessarily a bad thing." But, he remained wary of lawsuits against police departments.
"I think there is concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department that have done wrong," Sessions said. "These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that."
North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis followed up and asked Sessions whether the DOJ would help if cities asked for assistance. Sessions said, if asked, they would help.
"I think it's a good thing, that police departments might call on federal investigators," Sessions said.
Yet, the senator cautioned against undermining police departments.
"It really is important that people trust police departments and the police departments have respect from their communities, and when you don't have that, people's safety is at risk." Sessions said.
DOJ's Chicago investigation
Baltimore isn't the only pending investigation by the DOJ into police departments, the Ville Platte and Chicago police are also under the radar.
At some point, the DOJ is also expected to release the results of an investigation of the Chicago police department.
Known as a "pattern and practice" inquiry, it's expected to focus on use of force, deadly force accountability and how the Chicago police force "tracks and treats" those incidents, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said when she announced the investigation in December 2015.
In an unrelated news conference Wednesday, Lynch said she couldn't comment on when the Chicago report would be released but said justice officials have been working "very diligently" with the city and police department.
"We do intend to push through and ... give the city of Chicago, both law enforcement and the communities, the help that they deserve so that they can in fact work on this issues," Lynch said.
Attorney general to discuss community policing in Baltimore
by The Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) — Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled to travel to Baltimore to deliver a speech on community policing.
Lynch is set to speak at the University of Baltimore Law School on Thursday afternoon. She also is expected to attend meetings with community members, law enforcement and other local officials.
The visit comes as Mayor Catherine Pugh says her administration is working to complete a consent decree this week with the federal government to overhaul police practices.
The Justice Department opened an investigation into the city police department in 2015, months after the death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, who was injured in a police van. The city and the federal government reached an agreement in principle when a Justice Department report was released in August, finding pervasive civil rights violations.
Community-police dialogue is a win-win for all
What's the best way to bridge the disconnect that exists between some in our community and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office?
It's by being willing to address it in honest fashion.
That's why Florida State College at Jacksonville should be applauded for recently hosting a “Community Conversation” forum that brought together present and former members of JSO's command structure, FSCJ professors, students and other citizens to discuss the relationship between local law enforcement and Jacksonville's residents.
The conversation, one of three that FSCJ will host over the next several months, was held at the school's Kent Campus.
It drew a sizable and engaged audience.
And it played a productive role in advancing the mission of building better bonds between our police and our citizenry.
The challenge is pretty clear:
If we want to prevent the relationship between Jacksonville's police and community from regressing to angry voices, violent disruptions and clenched fists, we must seize opportunities that allow law enforcement and residents to have calm conversations, civil discourses and open dialogues.
REMOVING THE DISCONNECT
FSCJ Director of Campus Security Gordon Bass, who held several leadership positions during a nearly 40-year career with the JSO, made a number of compelling points during the forum.
Bass told the audience that removing the disconnect between law enforcement and many residents means acknowledging that it does exist but resisting the temptation to exaggerate the severity of the problem.
“We have our set of issues (in Jacksonville),” Bass said.
“But we don't have many of the problems that we've seen all across the country.”
Bass said one reason Jacksonville has not seen police-citizen relations deteriorate to the point of street unrest and demonstrations — unlike cities like Baton Rogue, Charlotte and Baltimore — is because the JSO has been embracing community-policing techniques that encourage officers to build relationships with residents in the neighborhoods they protect.
“The police represent the public, and the public represents the police,” Bass said in explaining how community policing can work to unite law enforcement and citizens on the street level.
“It takes work, but it pays off,” Bass said.
“The officers need to build relationships. And the citizens need to see the perspective of officers and the issues they confront each day.”
JSO Assistant Chief T.K. Waters, who has experience policing some of the city's toughest neighborhoods, echoed Bass.
Waters said the police department recognizes that being consistently accessible and visible to residents — and not just during moments of conflict and crisis — can break down barriers of lingering distrust.
“We're not robots,” said Waters, who noted that people often rush to “dehumanize” JSO officers and unfairly dismiss how much they care about the community they serve and protect.
“We're open to change,” Waters said.
“We're open to doing things differently. And we're having some success.”
Waters said that one way many citizens can help the unification process is by becoming more open-minded about developing partnerships with police — and encouraging their children to view officers as people to respect rather than fear.
Too often now, Waters said, a conversation between an officer and a citizen starts out with “an expletive (toward the officer), and it can lead to an escalation that's needless. That's why we need to build that mutual trust and respect.”
A MODEL WORTH EMULATING
The JSO's growing emphasis on community policing could particularly pay dividends because, as FSCJ criminal justice professor Kimberly Hall told the audience, the strategy is making a difference in other cities.
Hall said police departments in cities ranging from San Diego to Arlington, Texas, have relied on community policing to make gains in fighting crime in individual neighborhoods.
“Community policing is a philosophy, not a program,” Hall said.
“It really (promotes) partnerships and problem solving because it allows law enforcement and the community to work together.”
And it's by working together that our police and our community can build bridges.
And tear down walls.
CCSU Police Department Recognized By National Group
by Don Stacom
Central Connecticut State University's police force has earned accreditation by a national agency, one of fewer than 20 police agencies in the state to get that distinction.
CCSU's 23-officer department is one of just two nationally accredited college police agencies in the state; the other is the University of Connecticut's 82-member police force.
"We strive to be an example of what community policing and policy is about," Police Chief Gregory Sneed said in a statement.
CCSU's police officers undergo the same training as municipal police, and have the same arrest authority and other police powers. The department patrols the campus, investigates crime, handles emergency calls and enforces criminal and traffic laws.
The university's police force was initially accredited in 2013 for a three-year period, and successfully renewed late last fall. The university announced the outcome this winter.
Agencies that apply for distinction through the Virginia-based Council on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies undergo an in-depth review of their policies, procedures, management systems and day-to-day operations.
Departments must supply extensive documentation that they conform to more than 185 national standards. A CALEA team also visits each agency to watch it work and to conduct a hearing where the public can speak about the quality of local policing.
Other police departments in Connecticut that hold national CALEA accreditation are Avon, Berlin, Bethel, Bloomfield, Coventry, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Guilford, Madison, Manchester, New Canaan, Norwalk, Simsbury and Wethersfield. The state police and the state Capitol police forces also hold CALEA accreditation.
East Hartford, East Haven, Granby and North Haven are all seeking accreditation, a process than can take a full year.
The Meriden-based Connecticut Police Officers Standards and Training Council, known widely as the Connecticut police academy, and the Judicial Marshal Academy, which trains judicial marshals, hold CALEA accreditation for law enforcement training.
CALEA's standards are intended to improve the professionalism and success of police agencies. The organization was founded in 1979 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs' Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Calif. court: Grand juries can probe fatal police shootings
An appeals court tossed out a law that banned grand juries from determining whether officers involved in fatal shootings should face criminal charges
by Sudhin Thanawala
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals court tossed out a law that banned grand juries from determining whether police officers involved in fatal shootings should face criminal charges.
The 2015 law sought more transparency in shooting investigations by shifting charging decisions from closed-door grand juries to prosecutors.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that lawmakers can't restrict grand juries' constitutional authority to issue criminal indictments.
"To allow the Legislature to restrict this constitutional role in part would be to concede the power to restrict it in its entirety," Justice M. Kathleen Butz said in the ruling.
The California Legislature adopted the law after grand juries in New York and Missouri declined to indict officers who fatally shot unarmed black suspects, decisions that led to nationwide protests and unrest.
Supporters of the law said the secret nature of grand jury decisions can create the impression that the process is unfair and erode trust in law enforcement, particularly when the outcome seems to conflict with witnesses or cellphone video.
The law left the decision to file charges in deadly police force cases to prosecutors, who have been accused of using grand juries to avoid political fallout from their charging decisions.
The office of the state senator who wrote the law, Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, did not immediately have comment.
The appeals court said the Legislature could seek a constitutional amendment banning grand juries from investigating deadly police force cases or revise the procedural rules that make those grand jury investigations secret.
Prosecutors who challenged the law said grand juries gave them power to force witnesses to testify and could involve more thorough investigations.
Grand juries are composed of community members who weigh evidence presented by prosecutors behind closed doors.
Instead of banning the use of grand juries in deadly police force cases, transcripts of their investigations should be made public, said Mark Zahner, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association, which opposed the law. He said that could make the process even more transparent than an investigation by a prosecutor.
"Our position was always that there's no backroom, sneaky skullduggery going on in these things," he said.
The ruling came in the case of a fatal June 2015 shooting by South Lake Tahoe police. El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson challenged the law by seeking a grand jury investigation of the shooting.
Bill aims to make Colo. a sanctuary state
If the bill passes, Colorado would be the first sanctuary state in the U.S.
by PoliceOne Staff
DENVER — In an effort to combat President-elect Donald Trump's immigration policies, mayors and police chiefs of various cities have doubled down on their status as “sanctuary cities.”
A bill set to go before the Colorado House this month aims to make the state the first sanctuary state in the United States, according to the Denver Channel.
The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act prevents the state or a political subdivision from providing the government information on residents' race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation.
Rep. Joseph Salazar introduced the bill and told the news station the passage would be timely due to Trump's immigration rhetoric.
“I'm going to take him for his words and actions in terms of his cabinet appointments, and we are going to prepare state of Colorado to defend ourselves against it,” Salazar said.
NFL player who protested police undergoes UOF simulation training
Brandon Marshall was one of many NFL players who knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick
by PoliceOne Staff
(Video on site)
DENVER — After multiple NFL players began kneeling last year in protest of police brutality, various police departments extended invitations to their training exercises and academies.
When Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall began kneeling, Denver Police Chief Robert White met with him and offered Marshall a try at their training simulator, The Denver Post reported.
Marshall saw the offer as a way to take action after his protest.
At the beginning of January, Marshall tested out the VirTra V-300 simulator designed to train officers in shoot and don't shoot scenarios, according to the publication.
Along with trying the simulator, Marshall also participated in a ride-along.
“For the 1st half of the season, I've been taking a knee for the National Anthem to raise awareness for social injustice and to start conversation about what all of us can do to make a positive change,” Marshall wrote in an Instagram post. “I'm encouraged with the many productive discussions and progress that has taken place as the Denver Police department has decided to review its use of force policy.”
After their meetings, White said he believes Marshall recognizes that most officers are good.
New Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal zeros in on drug crime
by Tana R.H. Stevenson
Randy Fandal was inducted as the Chief of Police at Slidell Municipal Auditorium recently.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, the auditorium was filled.
"I had no idea so many people would come on a day like we had," Fandal said. "I was very excited about the turn out, and it all went well. Now, I can concentrate on work."
Among the dignitaries were parish and city officials, and state and local police officers. Fandal's family--his wife, Dania; his oldest son, Matthew Fandal with his wife and daughter were there.
And his family played a role in the ceremony. His son pinned the new chief badge on his father.
Fandal said he was humbled by the ceremony, but now he is ready to tackle the job.
"I'm going to concentrate on the police department," he said. "We've already hit the ground running on getting up our community policing."
Fandal said he was humbled by the ceremony, but now he is ready to tackle the job.
"I'm going to concentrate on the police department," he said. "We've already hit the ground running on getting up our community policing."
His number one focus will be drugs and the crime that surrounds the drug activity in the city.
Although the city doesn't have a huge crime problem, Fandal says a large majority of it has centered around drug activity in the last few years.
"If we don't admit it, we can't fight it," he said.
Another main goal is to have a highly visible police force.
"I would like to concentrate on our community policing program," he said. "I want officers consistently patrolling the community, and to know the business owners."
Fandal plans to start a new mentoring program between police and middle-school-aged youth called Kids and Police (KAP). He wants to build long term trust between police, kids and their families.
Also, he'd like to increase the number of police officers on his force. He hopes to do this by offering better pay to retain current officers.
"We've lost some really bright officers to other law enforcement agencies," he said.
Fandal wants to run as transparent as possible of a department that engages the community. To do this, he will have quarterly "Ask the Chief" meetings at various locations in the city. The sessions will act as a town hall, giving citizens direct access to him.
"I want citizens to reach out to us if they see suspicious activity," he said. "It will be anonymous."
For now, citizens can call the main dispatch number, 985.643.3131. However, there will be an "Ask the Chief" button on the police website soon.
Asked how the department will look when his job is finished, Fandal said he knows the bar is set high.
"I hope I can leave the office it in better shape, and it's in pretty good shape already," he said.
Suspected Fla. cop killer still at large
A $60K reward is offered for information leading to Markeith Loyd's capture
by Rene Stutzman and Stephanie Allen
ORLANDO, Fla. — Hundreds of law enforcement officers are searching overnight for a fugitive who is accused of killing a cop at dawn on Monday when she tried to chase him down at a Wal-Mart and arrest him.
A second law-enforcement official died in a crash just hours later as officers and deputies scrambled to find the murder suspect.
By Monday evening, officers largely abandoned the apartment complex in northwest Orlando that was the focus of their search for much of the day, and Markeith Loyd, 41, was still at large.
"We are going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he's going to jail," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
Loyd has been wanted for murder since his pregnant ex-girlfriend was shot at her front door on Dec. 13.
He has a long criminal history and on Nov. 30 wrote on his Facebook page: "Goals!!!! To be on Americas most wanted."
The manhunt prompted the lockdown of more than a dozen schools and snarled traffic for hours.
"If you don't have to be out, don't be out," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning.
A $60,000 reward was offered for information leading to Loyd's capture, and both Orlando police and the Sheriff's Office described him as armed and dangerous.
The violence started about 7:15 a.m. at the Wal-Mart at John Young Parkway and Princeton Street, when someone spotted Loyd, knew he was wanted for murder and told Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, who also happened to be at the store.
She was on the job, in uniform and wearing body armor, Mina said. She called dispatch, then started chasing after Loyd.
She yelled for him to "stop" but instead the felon opened fire. She shot back but didn't hit him, Mina said.
Backup officers who arrived 28 seconds later tried to save Clayton with CPR, according to the city, but she was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m. at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
A short distance from the Wal-Mart, a captain at the Orange County Sheriff's Office spotted Loyd near Pine Hills Road and North Lane, according to that department.
Loyd pulled into an apartment complex and fired at least once at the deputy, who was in an unmarked SUV. The bullet missed him but hit his SUV.
The suspect then carjacked a vehicle and fled. He abandoned that vehicle near Cinderlane Parkway, officials said.
A massive manhunt for Loyd resulted in two motorcycle crashes by Orange County deputies, one fatal.
Deputy Norman Lewis, 35, an 11-year Sheriff's Office veteran and former football player at the University of Central Florida, was killed 2-1/2 hours after the shooting.
He was traveling south on Pine Hills Road on his motorcycle when he was struck by a van turning left onto Balboa Drive, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
"We're sad on this day for many reasons," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a morning news conference at the hospital. "In my 36-year career, this is possibly one of the toughest days for me."
The driver of the van, Billie Jarrard of Clermont, could possibly face charges in the crash, troopers said. No one answered the phone Monday at Jarrard's home. Records show he is a 78-year-old recent widower with no criminal history in Florida.
Ten minutes after Lewis' crash, another deputy was involved in a wreck that sent him to the hospital. It happened just 200 yards down Pine Hills Road. Orange County Deputy Nelson Borjas, 46, had minor injuries and is expected to recover.
Officer called a hero
Clayton is the first Orlando officer killed in the line of duty in a decade. The last was Al Gordon, who was shot during a robbery Oct. 4, 2007, the agency reported.
Clayton, who is survived by a husband and college-age son, was one of the first officers to respond to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June that left 49 people dead and scores injured.
Mina called her a hero. "She gave her life for the community she loves."
TaQueria Jones, a Wal-Mart cashier, said Clayton checked out at her register minutes before the shooting.
"We talked about family, we talked about God," Jones said.
While the suspect was still at large, the cashier and others planted flowers in a spot just feet from where Clayton was killed.
"I'm going to be out here every day to straighten them up. Every day," Jones vowed.
Lewis, who had been with the Sheriff's Office since March 2005, was a member of the motors/DUI unit.
Both Lewis and Clayton had degrees from the University of Central Florida.
"They are heroes and Knights forever," UCF President John Hitt said.
Deputies had been on the lookout for Loyd for weeks because of a murder warrant: He's accused of murdering his pregnant 24-year-old ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13 and wounding her 26-year-old brother, Ronald Steward. They were shot at an Orange County home on Long Peak Drive.
Loyd has a long criminal record and served 10 years in prison and five years on probation for conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, according to federal court records.
"To lose two law enforcement officers on this Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is indeed a tragedy," Demings said. ... "It's a reminder that law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every single day to protect all of us."
Gov. Rick Scott was in Orlando on Monday for a business meeting, but that was canceled and he joined Mina, Demings and other local officials at a morning news conference.
"It breaks my heart that one of them was already senselessly killed this morning," Scott said.
Apartments focus of search
On Monday, officers searched dozens of apartments, single-family homes and vehicles in the Rosemont neighborhood. Much of the search focused on the Eagle Reserve apartment complex.
An Orlando SWAT team as well as armored vehicles and a helicopter came and went twice to the complex on Cinderlane Parkway, where Loyd was last spotted by law enforcement Monday morning after the shooting.
They pulled out for the second time about 6 p.m., but only after leaving some residents barred from their homes or from getting to work for several hours.
Lupe Garcia and her 9-year-old son, Migul Hidalgo, were stuck outside their home for most of the day.
Garcia walked to drop him off at school and came back to find her home surrounded in crime scene tape with dozens of officers holding long guns.
"It's scary," she said before she was let back into the complex.
After she picked her son up, they waited with dozens of others outside the complex.
Migul said as he and his mom were waiting, an Orange County deputy flagged him down and asked if he was hungry.
The deputy pulled out a chocolate protein bar and gave it to the boy.
Pew survey: Officers more reluctant to use force, make stops
The study found a significant fear among police about their safety and about carrying out some of the everyday acts of policing
by Lisa Marie Pane
ATLANTA — The so-called "Ferguson effect" — officers backing off of policing out of fear that their actions will be questioned after the fact — has been talked about but never really quantified. A new study suggests the effect is a reality, with three-quarters of officers surveyed saying they are hesitant to use force, even when appropriate, and are less willing to stop and question suspicious people.
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center questioned at least 8,000 officers from departments with at least 100 officers in them between May 19 and Aug. 14 last year — most of it ahead of the fatal shootings of five officers in Dallas and three officers in Baton Rouge.
What it found was a significant fear among police about their safety and about carrying out some of the everyday acts of policing.
It also shows a stark difference in how white and black officers view the protests that have taken place after some of the high-profile shootings of black suspects in the past several years, with black officers believing the protests are genuine acts of civil disobedience designed to hold police accountable, while white officers are more skeptical of the protesters' motives.
"White officers and black officers have very different views about where we are as a country in terms of achieving equal rights," said Kim Parker, the director of social trends research for the Pew Research Center.
Some of the key findings:
— 86 percent of officers said that fatal encounters between blacks and police have made policing more difficult
— 93 percent said they're more concerned about safety
— 76 percent said they're more reluctant to use force when appropriate
— 75 percent said interactions between police and blacks have become more tense
— 72 percent said they or their colleagues are more reluctant to stop and question people who seem suspicious
In 2014, a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed black teen Michael Brown, setting off a movement drawing greater scrutiny of police use of force, particularly against black citizens. In the years since, other fatal encounters with police in such cities as Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York have put officers under the microscope, especially as video has captured more of these events.
There has been a concern, largely shared in anecdotes, of officers holding back on stopping suspicious people or other policing out of concern that they'd be cast as racist. But the Pew survey provides the first national evidence that those concerns may be having a real impact on how officers do their jobs.
"Officers are concerned about being the next viral video and so that influences what they do and how they do it and how they think about it," said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He added that he doesn't believe it's rampant or that officers are turning a blind eye, "but I still have to believe it may be in a marginal-call situation where there's a reasonable suspicion on the bubble ... that those are the ones they pass up."
The survey also suggested a divide between police and the communities they serve on some social issues of the day.
For example, two-thirds of all officers say deadly encounters with blacks are isolated incidents, but 60 percent of the general public said they believe they are signs of a broader problem between police and blacks.
Ex-LA County sheriff Baca faces retrial in corruption case
A mistrial was declared last month when a federal jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal on the obstruction count and a charge of conspiracy
by Brian Melley
LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will be retried on obstruction of justice and other charges related to an effort by deputies and top department officials to derail an FBI investigation into violence in the nation's largest jail system, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
A mistrial was declared last month when a federal jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal on the obstruction count and a charge of conspiracy.
The trial scheduled for next month will also include a third count of lying to federal authorities.
Judge Percy Anderson had previously ordered a separate trial on that count after prosecutors said evidence of Baca's early stage Alzheimer's was only relevant to that charge and could harm their obstruction case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox said the government was prepared to take the risk that evidence of the disease could hurt its efforts to hold Baca accountable for a scheme to mislead federal authorities and intimidate an FBI agent investigating corruption and inmate beatings at the jails Baca oversaw.
"We may suffer the prejudice," Fox said. "We are prepared to do so."
Baca, 74, headed the nation's largest sheriff's department for more than 15 years before he resigned in 2014 amid allegations that jail guards took bribes, beat inmates and falsified reports to cover up misconduct.
He managed to escape charges in the scandal until February when he abruptly pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements in a plea deal that called for him to serve no more than six months behind bars.
Anderson rejected the sentence as too light and Baca was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. He was then indicted on the more serious obstruction charges in addition to the lying count.
Defense lawyer Nathan Hochman said prosecutors were acting in bad faith by opting for separate trials and then combining all three charges in one, though he acknowledged he originally argued for a single trial.
"Now the government is backtracking, saying it won't be prejudiced by the Alzheimer's defense and wants to try all three counts at the same time," Hochman said outside court. "We welcome that development."
Baca's diagnosis didn't surface publicly until last year during court proceedings. Doctors found he was in the early stages of the disease and competent to stand trial.
The conspiracy to obstruct justice accusation dates to 2011 when jail guards discovered that an inmate with a contraband cellphone was an FBI informant.
Baca was furious when he learned about it and met with top brass to discuss the situation.
His second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, spearheaded what became known as Operation Pandora's Box. The inmate was moved to another jail and hidden under a false name, and deputies threatened to arrest his FBI handler, according to testimony at several trials.
Tanaka — one of nine people convicted on obstruction-related charges — was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Another 11 members of the department were convicted of various other charges, including beatings, falsifying reports and taking bribes.
The lying charge Baca faces dates to 2013 when he was questioned by federal authorities about the conspiracy two years earlier and denied knowing about it.
Baca's lawyer wants to present evidence that his memory was impaired by Alzheimer's at the time.
Anderson scheduled jury selection for the week of Feb. 13 and said he plans opening statements on Feb. 21.
Navy destroyer opens fire after ‘harassing' behavior by Iranian patrol boats
by Dan Lamothe
A Navy destroyer opened fire Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz after four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats acted in a way that a U.S. defense official described as “harassing.”
The USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, fired three warning shots with a .50-caliber machine gun at four Iranian boats after at least one of them traveled within 900 yards of the Mahan with a sailor manning its main gun. The Mahan was traveling north through the strait toward the Persian Gulf with two other Navy vessels, the amphibious craft USS Makin Island and the oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
“This was an unsafe and unprofessional interaction,” Davis said, citing the speed with which the Iranians approached and the manning of the weapons on board. “They only stopped their approach following the warning shots being fired.”
Davis said the incident marks a return to a series of provocative encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels that had started to wane over the latter half of 2016. The Navy counted 23 interactions in 2015 and 35 in 2016 that included actions by the Iranians that were considered “unsafe and unprofessional,” but the last significant one occurred in August. In that incident, the coastal patrol ship USS Squall fired three warning shots after three Iranian boats approached the Squall and another similar U.S. ship, the USS Tempest, at a high rate of speed.
The incidents last year involving Iranian and U.S. vessels also included one in which the Iranians took 10 U.S. Navy personnel at gunpoint and held them blindfolded overnight, angering U.S. officials and embarrassing the Navy. The service later determined that the unit involved was “poorly led and unprepared,” and removed at least three officers from their jobs.
In the incident Sunday, the Iranian boats broke away after the warning shots were fired, and established radio contact with the Mahan afterward to ask for the destroyer's course and speed, U.S. officials said.
The move came one day before Iran's parliament on Monday approved expanded military spending, including funds for its long-range missile program, Iranian media reported.
Iran insists its ballistic missile tests do not violate a 2015 accord with world powers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program. But the nuclear deal specifies that Iran halt development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads. Iran, in turn, claims its missile program is not designed for such warheads.
Trump has pledged to oppose any expansion of Iran's missile capabilities, which Iran asserts can already reach Israel and other points in the region.
Iran's Tasnim news agency said the enlarged military spending also includes programs such as armed drones and cyber warfare capabilities.
Orlando shooting: Police search for suspect after female officer is killed
by Madison Park, Ralph Ellis and AnneClaire Stapleton
A massive manhunt continued Tuesday after an Orlando police officer was shot and killed, and another officer died in a traffic accident as he helped search for the gunman.
The suspect, identified at Markeith Loyd, is considered "armed and extremely dangerous." Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been hunting for him since Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, was shot outside a Walmart on Monday.
On Monday morning, Clayton had received word that Loyd, who is a suspect in the killing of his pregnant girlfriend, was near a local Walmart. She chased after him and was fatally shot.
The suspect fled the scene, triggering an intense manhunt that included door-to-door searches in apartment complexes. Dozens of schools were placed on lockdown until Monday afternoon.
Hours later, another officer died while taking part in the manhunt when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle. He was identified as Orange County Sheriff's Deputy First Class Norman Lewis.
With two officers dead and a suspect at large, police have vowed to find Loyd. They are offering up to $60,000 in reward for information leading to his arrest.
"I'm confident we will find him," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. "It doesn't matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth to find him."
After the shooting, Loyd fled in a vehicle and fired shots at another officer, police said. That officer was not seriously injured.
The suspect then abandoned the first vehicle and carjacked another one. He ditched that second vehicle shortly after and ran into an apartment complex, Mina said.
Residents were urged to stay inside. Mina said officers searched "dozens of apartments and residences."
"I believe there have been people out there helping him all along," he said. "If we find out about those people we will criminally charge them."
He said Loyd would be charged with first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and attempted murder of the officer he fired at.
Many officers in the area joined the effort to find Loyd. Among them was Deputy Norman Lewis with the Orange County Sheriff's, who died in a crash as he was on his motorcycle.
"A motorist turned in front of him," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. "Based on eyewitness testimony, he had a green light, he was not traveling at any (high) rate of speed."
Lewis had worked 11 years with the sheriff's department.
"To lose two law enforcement officers on this Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Day is indeed a tragedy," the sheriff said.
The department is mourning Lewis, but there is also a suspect on the loose.
"While we're processing our own emotional feelings, we still have a job to do," Demings said.
'He shot her down'
The shooting happened early Monday morning after Clayton had received word that Loyd was in the area near a local Walmart. She radioed at 7:17 a.m. to say she was trying to contact a murder suspect.
Loyd was wanted in the December 13 fatal shooting of Sade Dixon, 24, his pregnant girlfriend, CNN affiliate WFTV reported.
Clayton tried to stop Loyd and briefly chased the suspect on foot, said the Orlando police chief.
"As soon as she said stop, he basically opened fire on her," Mina said.
A witness outside the Walmart described a similar scene.
"I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her," witness James Herman told CNN affiliate WFTV. "He shot her down."
The gunman continued shooting behind him as he was running from the scene, Herman said. He also said the man wore a security shirt, but Mina said the suspect was not a security guard.
Clayton returned fire but investigators don't think she struck the gunman, Mina said.
Colleagues mourn death of veteran officer
Mina said his department is grieving the death of Clayton, a 17-year veteran.
"I've known Debra for 17 years. She was extremely committed to our youth and the community. She did so many different projects in the community.
"She organized several marches against violence by herself," the police chief said.
Clayton was married and the mother of a college-age son.
Clayton's death marks the first fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer in the United States in 2017, said Steve Groeninger of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Clayton and Lewis are the second and third on-duty law enforcement officer to die in 2017.
2 arrested after La. wildlife agent shot during traffic stop
The agent is in stable condition after being shot multiple times
by The Associated Press
PERRYVILLE, La. — State agency officials say a Louisiana wildlife agent is in stable condition after being shot multiple times while on patrol.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said in a Facebook post Sunday that 25-year-old Tyler Wheeler was responsive to commands at the LSU Health Shreveport Trauma Center. Wheeler stopped a vehicle while patrolling in Morehouse Parish around 2 a.m. Saturday.
Department officials say Wheeler was shot multiple times.
Louisiana State Police say 31-year-old Amethyst Baird and 34-year-old Jeremy Gullette were arrested in connection to the shooting. Both are being held at the Ouachita Correctional Center.
Baird is charged with attempted first-degree murder. Gullette is charged with accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder. It's not clear if they have attorneys.
Experts Weigh In On Mental Illness Factor In Lauderdale Airport Shooting
by CBS Miami
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — After hearing that the man accused of killing five people at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport had a history of mental problems, some have assumed that explains his actions.
Experts say don't.
“There is no one explanation that will fit this case or any case,” says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, an expert on violence.
While mental health troubles could turn out to play a role in the case, it's unusual for symptoms to drive violence, says Edward Mulvey, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who studies violence and mental illness.
There has been no public explanation of a motive for the crime, and terrorism has not been ruled out. It could be that mental illness played no role — it is unclear if Santiago, 26, had been formally diagnosed with any mental condition or was undergoing treatment.
A few reported details suggest he was troubled. The mother of the Iraq war veteran said he had been deeply shaken by seeing a bomb explode next to two friends while serving in Iraq in 2010, and relatives said he seemed different when he returned from service.
Santiago's brother Bryan said Esteban told him last August that he was hearing voices and felt he was being chased. In November, he walked into an FBI field office in Alaska and said the federal government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State videos, authorities said.
At that point, officials seized his handgun and had him formally evaluated. After four days he was released and his gun was returned.
But none of these details, by themselves or even together, are enough to draw conclusions, experts say.
Plenty of people have had such experiences in their past and don't commit mass murder, Fox said. The fact that Santiago was released after the evaluation indicates authorities believed he was not dangerous to himself or others, Fox said.
“There's a difference between being psychotic and being dangerous and psychotic,” Fox said.
While certain factors often show up in the history of mass murderers, like a history of failure, a tendency to blame others and social isolation, they also appear in the histories of people who don't harm anybody, Fox said. That's why mass killers can't be reliably identified in advance of the crime, he said.
Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York, also warned against jumping to the conclusion that a psychiatric disorder is the reason for the shootings. Most behaviors have multiple causes, he said. And even if Santiago suffered from psychosis when he walked into the FBI office, symptoms wax and wane, Appelbaum said, so it's not clear what his situation was at the airport.
In any case, even if had had a psychotic disorder, “most people with psychotic disorders never hurt anybody at all…. There may still be other influences on him that affected his behavior in a material way,” Appelbaum said.
Santiago had other recent stresses. He recently became a father, he said in court Monday he hadn't worked since November, and he had no money.
Mulvey said there are people who are driven to violence by delusions, but “they're rare, they're much less common than people might expect.” Often when psychotic people are involved in violence it's not because of their mental illness but rather something else, like substance abuse, he said.
The American Psychological Association says that while there's a small association between mental illness and violence directed at others, the overwhelming majority of people with serious mental illness don't pose a risk to others and should not be stereotyped as dangerous.
Pentagon tests the world's largest hive-mind-controlled drone swarm that can jam weapons, spy on the enemy and launch deadly attacks
by Abigail Beall
The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries.
This is after it successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones that many are tipping to be its next 'super-weapon'.
The drones are capable of confusing enemy defences and blocking radar signals.
They could be used as a swarm of spy cameras to track down terrorists running to escape.
And while the drones are described mainly as a a surveillance tool, the Washington Post points out that the small devices could be capable of carrying half-foot-long bombs.
Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defenses with their great numbers.
The test of the world's largest micro-drone swarm in California in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16cm) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The drones, known as Perdix, measure just six inches (16cm) long and are equipped with radio transmitters, receivers, and cameras.
Military strategists have high hopes for these drone swarms because they would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defences with their large numbers.
'Perdix can be used as decoys to confuse enemy air defences or equipped with electronic transmitters to jam their radars,' Dr William Roper, director of the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office, said in the CBS documentary 60 Minutes.
'As a swarm of miniature spy planes fitted with cellphone cameras they could hunt down fleeing terrorists.'
Each drone has a radio that transmits to the others around it where it is, and what direction it is travelling in.
Improvements in artificial intelligence allowed scientists to design the robots that work together as a team.
'The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviours such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing,' the Pentagon said.
Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,' said Dr William Roper, director of the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office.
'Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.'
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, a technophile and former Harvard professor, created the SCO when he was deputy defense secretary in 2012.
The department is tasked with accelerating the integration of technological innovations into the US weaponry.
It particularly strives to marry already existing commercial technology, in this case micro-drones and artificial intelligence software, in the design of new weapons.
Originally created by engineering students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 and continuously improved since, Perdix drones draw 'inspiration from the commercial smartphone industry,' the Pentagon said.
WHAT WILL THE DRONES DO?
Perdix drones could be used as decoys to confuse enemy air defences.
They can also be equipped with electronic transmitters to jam enemies' radars.
If they are equipped with cameras, the drones might also be used to hunt down terrorists fleeing a scene.
While the drones are described mainly as a a surveillance tool, the small devices could be capable of carrying half-foot-long bombs.
HOW THE SWARM WORKS
Each Perdix drone has a radio that transmits to the others around it where it is, and what direction it is travelling in.
The drones are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals.
They work as a team, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature.
Because every drone communicates and collaborates with every other drone, the swarm has no leader.
This means it can adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.
Policies, Programs for Police-Community Relations Begin to Form
by Daniel Kleifgen
Initial tensions on Mayor Ivy Taylor's Police-Community Relations Committee have given way to a more cooperative atmosphere as members began hashing out specific policies and outreach programs aimed at bridging gaps between law enforcement and communities Monday night at City Hall.
It will meet in four subcommittees focused on police recruitment, training, communication, and community collaboration before its next meeting in March.
“It's going in the direction I want it to,” Taylor told the Rivard Report during the fifth committee meeting. “We've got to see what will happen with these breakout meetings, but my staff, we're really going to try and monitor them.”
When the committee reconvenes in March, it plans to draft a report with policy recommendations for consideration by the Criminal Justice, Public Safety, and Services Committee in April. The five-member City Council committee is chaired by Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3).
In the subcommittee breakout sessions Monday evening, several preliminary proposals emerged including cultural competence and emotional management training for police officers and programs to help citizens better empathize with the challenges officers face.
Taylor initiated the committee in response to community outcry after the City Council approved a controversial contract with the police union in September 2016, which followed a wave of police shootings across the nation. Some, including members of the local Black Lives Matter movement, argued the contract leaves officers unaccountable. Taylor and the eight other City Council members who voted in favor of the deal described it as a successful compromise.
While prominent activists like SATX4's Mike Lowe have withdrawn from their committee membership, calling it a “losing battle,” others remain cautiously optimistic.
“There's an old adage that says you hang around a dog long enough, you're gonna get fleas,” said Martin Henderson. “So if I keep showing up to these meetings, you know, I could be the one that brings about change. But at least I want to be able to go to bed at night knowing I tried.”
Henderson is the founder of Fatherhood Matters Incorporated, a support group for fathers, and outreach manager of a violence prevention program.
“The system was not broken over night, so it's not going to be fixed over night,” he added. “And that is something the community needs to understand.”
This echoed a theme stressed by the committee's facilitator, University of Texas at San Antonio Professor of Criminal Justice Michael Gilbert.
A sense of “trust, respect, and reciprocity” between the police and communities, Gilbert said, is the cornerstone to resolving tensions. Policy can help foster these sentiments, but only when informed by the arduous commitment of genuine dialogue.
“We have to invest in each other's communities,” he explained, “and we have to be willing to listen, even when it's uncomfortable.”
Several citizen speakers appeared less confident in the conversations they watched from the side of the room.
“This is not something I haven't seen in my 72 years,” said Richard Dukes said. “But I'm here to find out if the hot water is going to come down the hill, and when it gets to the bottom, it's cold.”
Like many other citizen speakers, Dukes argued that the police force on its own can't solve the high crime his Eastside neighborhood faces, calling on community leaders to reach deeper into San Antonio's most neglected areas.
Others detailed stories of police neglect similar those told during the committee's previous session.
“When I first went to the police department at the Eastside police substation, I was told to be patient,” said Joseph Garcia, describing his experience living next door to a major drug operation.
“The house was not shut down for 23 months. In this time, there were seven gun calls – a couple of threats to me personally – 69 drug calls, three news segments on this house… What does patience mean? When I get shot or killed? This kind of behavior would never be allowed in Stone Oak.”
In response to these concerns, SAPD Chief William McManus emphasized the overall strong performance of the police in his charge.
“What we need to know – instead of hearing generalities – what we need to know are specifics so we can go back and look into what happened,” he told the Rivard Report.
Meeting attendance resurged after a dip in December. McManus and the mayor were joined by Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, District Attorney Nicolas LaHood, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, City Council members Alan Warrick (D2), Viagran, Rey Saldaña (D4), and Cris Medina (D7), and San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Richard Perez.
City of Columbia, police department to hold meeting on racial profiling
by Megan Favignano
Columbia police and city officials will host a town hall-style meeting about racial profiling later this month.
The town hall will give residents a chance to discuss with City Manager Mike Matthes and police Chief Ken Burton data from the Missouri attorney general's vehicle stops report released last year, according to a city news release.
Last fall, city leaders said they would have meetings like this month's town hall, which is open to the public and will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 30 in Conference Room 1A/1B at City Hall. A plan for meetings to discuss racial profiling and the vehicle stops report came after concerns from residents and city council members about the data in the report.
The report showed that the Boone County Sheriff's Department and Columbia Police Department are three times more likely to pull over black motorists than white motorists.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said community policing efforts have been an important discussion for the city.
“I'm in favor of airing as much of this with the public as possible,” Skala said. “There's a great deal of concern about policing within our community. It's been on the burner here for a long time.”
Police officer staffing and residents' push for a community policing philosophy at the department have been topics of discussion at numerous city meetings. Skala said he hopes the town hall this month will help continue that discussion.
“There's a lot on the table, but conversation and a community dialogue is the best way to resolve some of these issue,” Skala said.
He hopes city officials and residents leave the town hall with a better understanding of community needs, where the city stands on police-related issues and what the city wants to work toward.
Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, of community group Race Matters, Friends, said her group had not been told of the meeting and that the city and police department need to make more of an effort to involve the community in discussions. Wilson-Kleekamp has been a strong advocate for community policing, encouraging the police department to embrace it as a philosophy.
“Policing should be driven by what the community wants, and it wants community policing,” Wilson-Kleekamp said.
When the attorney general's report was published last year, officials at both the Boone County Sheriff's Department and Columbia Police Department denied profiling based on race. Both agencies pulled over black drivers at a higher rate than the statewide average in 2015, according to the report.
At the time, Burton said the attorney general's data was incomplete. Columbia Police Department officials did not respond to messages seeking comment about the upcoming town hall by press time Monday.
Police walk a fine line with hate incidents
Investigators say information can help them prevent hate crimes, but it also forces police to walk a fine line, probing without infringing on the free speech rights
by James Queally
LOS ANGELES — When he first read the letter mailed to the Islamic Center of Long Beach last November, Tarek Mohamed wasn't terribly surprised by the hateful screed inside.
The note was addressed to the “Children of Satan,” called for the extermination of Muslims in the U.S. and referenced Donald Trump's election night victory. But Mohamed, the center's president, had received similar messages before, and knew he would again.
Authorities examined the letter — and ones sent to other Islamic institutions in California — and quickly determined it didn't rise to the level of a hate crime that could be prosecuted.
But in an increasingly common move, police officials classified the letter as a “hate incident” and, working with the U.S. Postal Service, began a search for the author.
Typically, the standard for a police investigation focuses on whether a crime has occurred. But as police departments across the nation deal with sensitivities about hateful and threatening speech, they are trying to get ahead of the issue.
Police are encouraging citizens to report any and all bias-motivated incidents, from simple verbal attacks to overt crimes. And detectives are investigating even when the reports don't amount to a crime.
Investigators say that information can help them prevent hate crimes or build evidence against someone who goes on to commit a crime. But it also forces police to walk a fine line, probing without infringing on the free speech rights of those they investigate.
“People have a right to say what they want. No matter how bad it is and how hurtful it is to other people,” said L.A. Sheriff's Department Detective Chris Keeling, a veteran hate crimes investigator. “We have to know those people are out there, but what we have to fight against is allowing that person's statement to cause us to react in a negative way.”
The perceived rise in bias actions has been a source of intense debate across the country ever since Trump rose to the front of a crowded field of GOP candidates last year, and some critics believe his ascension to the presidency has emboldened those who hold anti-Muslim or white supremacist views.
Officials said they don't know whether there are actually more hate crimes since the election or whether they are simply getting more attention. But FBI statistics show that reported hate crimes throughout the U.S. rose 7 percent in 2015.
Police across California said they developed strategies for dealing with hate incidents long before Trump's election, something they said was a necessity in the diverse communities they serve.
There is a difference between a hate crime and cruel or hurtful comments, many of which are protected under the First Amendment. The law makes it illegal to physically harm someone based on his or her race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation, among other characteristics.
Hate incidents are a different matter. A person on receiving end of a hateful email or racist rant can feel attacked, but police say many of these encounters don't amount to a crime.
Some police agencies have been taking down information about both the victims of hate incidents and the offending party. Officials say it's similar to the way they catalog information to calls for service.
Such incidents will often be referred to a department's hate crimes unit, but not entered into a central database tracking those who engage in hate speech, according to Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Horace Frank, assistant commanding officer of the department's counterterrorism and special operations bureau.
Frank said believes having the information on file could be helpful in preventing future hate crimes — or at least help with those investigations.
“Incidents quite often develop into crimes,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is to be on the responsive end as opposed to the preventive end.”
The LAPD will go to great lengths to identify the perpetrator of a hate incident, even if no crime has been committed, Frank added. In some instances investigators have used partial license plates or even DNA to track down potential suspects, though those tactics are more normally used in the investigation of an actual hate crime, he said.
Still, there's only so much police can do without evidence of an actual crime.
Sgt. Daron Wyatt, an Anaheim police spokesman, said his department aggressively investigates and tracks information on hate incidents, and they will often try to make contact with people engaged in such behavior. But they can't even have a conversation with the offending party without consent.
“If we walk up to someone and say hello … and they say ‘I'm not talking and I'm walking away,' then we have to let them walk away,” he said.
Peter Bibring, director of police practice for the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California, said there's nothing wrong with police collecting information when they receive reports about possible bias crimes. But he cautioned law enforcement against going a step further and creating specific pools of information regarding people involved in hateful speech, the way they might track those involved in gang activity or other classes of crimes.
“They can go out and ask questions to make sure that there's nothing more serious involved, but they shouldn't maintain information about people unless there's reasonable suspicion to believe they're involved in criminal activity,” he said. “They certainly shouldn't maintain information about people just because of their political viewpoints, repugnant though they may be.”
Fears that the election might embolden some to commit racially motivated attacks have been stoked by violent assaults in California and elsewhere in the past few weeks.
Last month in Simi Valley, two men hurled racial slurs at a group of people who had just left an Islamic prayer service. While that on its own might have been considered a hate incident, the clash quickly turned physical. One of the mosque attendees was stabbed, and police have labeled the attack as a hate crime.
On Thursday, four people were charged with a hate crime in Chicago after they kidnapped, pummeled and slashed a mentally disabled 18-year-old and broadcast the attack on social media. The suspects, who were black, shouted profanities about white people and Trump. The victim was white, according to the video of the assault.
The heightened sensitivity to hate and concerns over potential First Amendment abuses have made partnerships between police and advocacy groups that focus on bias more important than ever, officials said.
In recent weeks, the Los Angeles city attorney's office has been discussing hate incidents and crimes with the Anti-Defamation League, and the Sheriff's Department has a long established relationship with the league, officials said.
Unlike police, the Anti-Defamation League, as a private organization, has more latitude in the types of information it can document, said Oren Segal, director of the agency's Center On Extremism.
“As a nongovernmental organization who tracks extremists and hatred, I don't need to get permission to monitor somebody's public statements and their social media account, or if they attend a rally, to collect information,” he said. “We're allowed to collect that information … and we're allowed to share it with law enforcement.”
While investigators' primary focus in tracking hate incidents might be to collect data and observe trends in extremist behavior, Segal said law enforcement's serious approach to such activity can also help act as a balm for a victimized community.
“Having law enforcement not only take it seriously and document it, but for them to reach out to victims and let them know we're not going to forget about you, goes a long way,” he said.
Keeling said the tough stance on hate incidents might cause someone to think twice about committing a bias-motivated crime later on.
If a person is the subject of multiple hate incident reports, Keeling said, he or she might get a visit from investigators, something the sheriff's detective hopes acts as a deterrent.
“If I have a series of reports, and the same name keeps coming up, at some point, as a detective I am going to make contact with that person.
“But when I contact, it's not always to make an arrest. Sometimes I contact you for intervention, prevention,” he said. “I'm trying to keep you from rising to the level and crossing that threshold of a crime.”
The aggressive stance from police has been welcomed by some of the communities who are most likely to be the targets of hate speech.
Nolan Lebovitz, the rabbi at Adat Shalom in Los Angeles, said a quick response from the LAPD helped calm members of his synagogue after someone spray painted the word “Nazi” on the building in March.
“Whether or not it's officially a crime, hate is something that needs to be addressed seriously,” he said. “Hate in general is like a bubbling volcano. Once it erupts it's already too late.”
For others who have been targeted, the distinction between a hate crime and a hate incident doesn't mean much.
Mohamed doesn't care what term police use to describe the hateful letters sent to California mosques, as long as detectives identify the author and make sure he or she doesn't present a larger threat.
“We don't want to wake with a bloodshed in Southern California, because this letter doesn't meet the criteria of criminal action,” he said.
Study: Racial disparities in Vt. police traffic stops
Black and Hispanic drivers were more likely than white drivers to get traffic tickets versus warnings, the study found
by Lisa Rathke
BURLINGTON, Vt. — A study of statewide police traffic stops in Vermont, the second-whitest state in the country, has found racial disparities in how police treat drivers.
Black drivers were four times more likely than whites to be searched after traffic stops, and Hispanic drivers were nearly three times more likely, according to the University of Vermont study, "Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont." At the same time, black and Hispanic drivers were less likely than white and Asian drivers to be found with contraband that leads to an arrest or citation, according to the report, which was based on 2015 data.
Black and Hispanic drivers also were more likely than white drivers to get traffic tickets versus warnings, and black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested after stops, the study said.
"Almost all of the agencies in our study exhibit disparities in traffic policing to one degree or another," said study co-author Stephanie Seguino, a professor in the university's Department of Economics. "In other words, the results are not uniquely attributable to one or two agencies, but it's really a widespread problem in terms of policing."
One of the reasons some police officers use to explain the higher rate of searches of black drivers versus white drivers is concerns about the opioid crisis and drugs coming in from out of state, and there's a racial component to those perceptions, Seguino said. But the study found white and Asian drivers were more likely than black or Hispanic drivers stopped to be found with contraband.
Vermont, which has a population of about 625,000, was 94.8 percent white the year the policing study was done, according to U.S. Census figures. Only Maine, at 94.9 percent, was whiter. Blacks made up 1.3 percent of the Vermont population, Hispanics 1.8 percent and Asians 1.6 percent.
The study looked at traffic stop data from 29 departments across Vermont, following a 2014 state law that required police to collect such race information. But many agencies had missing data in key categories, said co-author Nancy Brooks, of Cornell University, who said more work is needed to improve the data quality.
Police treatment of drivers varied among departments, the study found.
In Rutland, for example, police searched black drivers at a rate of more than six times that of white drivers while white drivers searched were found with contraband at a higher rate than black drivers.
Rutland police Chief Brian Kilcullen, who has been on the job since November 2015, said he was somewhat surprised by the findings.
"You start with awareness, and that's what this does," he said of the report, adding that the police department has done training sessions.
Burlington police Chief Brandon del Pozo said his department is seeing an improvement in the rate at which searches lead to contraband, called the hit rate, meaning police are doing fewer unnecessary searches.
To reduce the racial disparities, the report's authors recommend creating a standardized system for collecting data, giving officers feedback on their performance during stops, supporting police departments in giving frequent training sessions on bias and monitoring disparities annually.