January, 2017 - Week 4
Six dead in ‘terrorist attack' at Quebec mosque: ‘We're all Québécois'
by Les Perreaux, Rhéal Séguin and Verity Stevenson
Two men were in custody after a mass shooting Sunday night at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six people and wounded several more, and was condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “a terrorist attack on Muslims.”
The Sûreté du Québec early Monday confirmed the number of casualties in the attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. The victims were aged 35 to 70, police said, adding that 39 people who were in the mosque at the time of the shooting were unharmed. Many of the witnesses spent the night at a sports centre near the mosque where they were questioned.
Of those taken to hospital, five were still in critical condition after being operated on overnight, hospital officials said Monday morning. Twelve others with minor injuries have been treated and released.
Investigators do not believe any suspects beyond the two men in custody remain at large and they would not comment on identity of the attackers, motives or methods. “It's much too early,” said Christine Coulombe, an SQ spokesperson.
Worshippers were at Quebec City's mosque for the evening prayers when witnesses say two gunmen dressed in black and wearing ski masks walked into the mosque and started shooting. Frantic worshippers started calling 911 at 7:55 p.m., according to police.
One man, who did not want to give his name, said he was in the mosque after the evening prayer when a man walked in and started shooting “everything that was moving.”
“It was someone who mastered weapons because it was calm,” the man said. “He killed and he killed. It was really horrible.”
He said he lay on his stomach near the front of the mosque as the man emptied his weapon. Then, he said, the gunman just stopped and left.
“I'm shocked,” he said. “We thought that here, we were in a safe city, a safe country. But unfortunately that's not the case.”
Ali Hamadi had said goodbye to a good friend and left minutes before the gunfire broke out. He was just home when he started getting phone calls telling him that the mosque had come under attack. One of his good friends was killed.
“He was my friend, my colleague. We worked together in the civil service for the Quebec government. Had I not left early I could have been among the victims,” Mr. Hamadi said.
When Mr. Hamadi went to the hospital and identified his friend's body all he could think about was the grief his friend's wife and three young daughters will suffer in the days to come.
“Such a tragic event. How can his children ever come to grasp how their father could have been murdered while praying in a mosque?” Mr. Hamadi said.
One of the alleged gunmen called police and turned himself in several kilometres form the mosque. Neither suspect was harmed in the arrests.
Quebec's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, consisting of investigators from the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec and the Montreal police service, took over the investigation around 10 p.m. Sunday, when the shooting was determined to be an act of terror.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume held a joint news conference at 1:30 a.m. Monday where they added no details about the attack but expressed condolences and solidarity.
“I want to say a few words to our Québécois compatriots of the Muslim confession. We're with you. You are home, you are welcome in your home. We're all Québécois,” said Mr. Couillard.
Mr. Labeaume, usually known for his self-confidence and boisterous nature, was shattered. “Quebec City is in mourning, this magnificent city,” he said, his voice drifting off. “I've often said that despite the peace we live, we are not immune to the fates.”
Hours after the shooting, the Centre sportif Sainte Foy acted as a hub where concerned community members gathered. Small groups huddled and exchanged information about their missing friends.
Gazi Hamrouni had spent six hours looking for a friend of 20 years.
“He was the first I called when I heard the news,” said Mr. Hamrouni. “His phone didn't pick up, now it's dead and I've been to every hospital in the city, several times.”
He said none were able to provide information about his friend, who wasn't on the injured list.
“He doesn't work Sunday nights so this is the place he would be (the mosque) -- he lives five minutes away from it.”
Abder Dhakkar and four other men standing in the parking lot were frustrated at the lack of communication to the families of victims.
“Shouldn't there be someone we can go to know what's going on?” Mr. Dhakkar said.
Others at the centre were there, they said, because they felt they had to be. At around 4:30 a.m., the final group of people gathered at the sports centre began to leave, some of them getting into the back of police cars sobbing.
“Out of solidarity,” said Lehachie Hakim, a 54-year-old father who was with his two sons when he heard of the shooting.
“My youngest is completely traumatized. He was crying. It's shocking; I never thought this would happen.”
Mohammed Yangui, the mosque president, said 60 to 100 people are usually at the mosque for evening prayers. He was not present for the shooting but spoke to several witnesses who said the men worked their way through two floors of the mosque, reloading as they went.
“A mass shooting. In Quebec City. I can't believe it,” he said. “We've never done anything to provoke anyone, and we've never cultivated hatred for anyone. I'm just beside myself.”
They walked in on the ground floor of the mosque where men pray, Mr. Yangui said, and also went to the second floor.
Mr. Trudeau said he was being briefed on the attack and was in contact with Mr. Couillard, who drove during the night to Quebec City from his home in the Lac St. Jean area.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”
Condemnations poured in from around the world as word of the attack spread.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the NYPD was beefing up security around mosques in the wake of the attack.
“All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our prayers tonight are with the people of Quebec City as they deal with a terrible attack on a mosque. We must stand together.”
French President Francois Hollande has condemned the “odious attack” on a Quebec mosque and offered support for Canada's leaders.
Hollande, whose country has suffered a string of Islamic extremist attacks, said in a statement that “it was the Québécois spirit of peace and openness that the terrorists wanted to harm” in Sunday's attack.
The mosque, also known as La Grande mosquée in the west end of the city, has been the target of vandalism in the past. Last June during Ramadan, a pig's head was left outside the mosque. The head was wrapped in paper and accompanied by a note that said “Bonne appetit.”
In the middle of the night the mosque posted a message on its Facebook page: “All our thoughts for children to whom we must announce the deaths of their dads. May Allah lend them patience and endurance.”
Vigils are planned in Montreal and Quebec City on Monday.
Muslim Mosque Burns in Texas Amid Unrest, But Town Leaders Have Message for Those Jumping to Blame
by Angie McPherson
Early Saturday morning, the Victoria Fire Department was called to the scene of a burning Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas.
According to Time Magazine, a clerk at a nearby convenience store noticed smoke and flames around 2 a.m. and called the fire department. But by the time they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.
Only hours after President Donald Trump had signed executive orders for his “extreme vetting” of Muslim refugees and visa holders from entering the country, many people were quick to judge the source of the fire.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon recorded by Victoria Advocate, the Victoria Fire Department said they were able to put the fire out in two hours, but they had no new information on the origin of the fire.
During the news conference, the fire department offered the floor to a member of the Islamic Center, Abe Ajrami, to share his insights from the past few hours.
He told members of the press conference:
“It's been a hard day. It's been a shocking day. This is our church, our home...this is the place where our kids grew up and we have a lot of memories in this place. Seeing the fire has been very hard, but that being said, we believe according to our faith that there's a reason for everything and God always has a plan. And after tragedies, sometimes good things happen. We've been able to meet with incredible people..."
Ajrami told members of the community not to be quick to judge, and that he was proud of Victoria for rallying around the Islamic community in times of need.
He then shared his message of hope:
“The other positive thing is unity. Either through calling, Facebook, text messages, people are doing so much to help. Four churches in town offered their church for us to pray in. This is the Victoria we know. This is a beautiful and great city. I don't care what they say in mainstream media. We have a wonderful community.”
The community has shared that they would like for people to refrain from judging to allow the investigators to determine the main cause.
Their post read, in part:
“Please don't politicize the tragedy! Stay United.”
In the same press conference, Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek said that it was a “sad day to lose any house of worship in Victoria," but that he was proud to see the community come together. The investigation continues.
As of the time of this writing, the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
Protests erupt at airports following Trump travel ban
Trump's travel ban barring citizens of seven nations entry into the U.S. has sparked protests nationwide
by The Associated Press
President Donald Trump's travel ban barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations entry into the U.S. has sparked protests around the country Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
A look at what is happening:
Individuals who were detained at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as a result of President Trump's executive order have been released by the Department of Homeland Security, a Port of Seattle spokeswoman said Sunday.
Kathy Roeder said DHS told port officials the individuals can continue their travels. She didn't know how many people had been released.
About 3,000 protesters holding signs and chanting "no hatred, no fear, immigrants are welcome here" and "let them in" gathered Saturday evening and continued demonstrating into early Sunday morning.
Roeder said the crowd dispersed shortly after midnight, but that about 30 to 35 were arrested during the demonstration and face various misdemeanor charges. She said there were no injuries or damage to the facilities.
The Port of Seattle Commissioners, which oversees the airport, issued a statement criticizing the executive order.
Cries of "Let them in!" rose up from a crowd of more than 2,000 people protesting at John F. Kennedy Airport, where 12 refugees were detained Saturday. Celebrities including "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon joined the demonstration. "What Donald Trump did in the last 24 hours is disgusting, disgraceful and completely un-American and I'm here in protest," said protester Pamela French. The agency that runs the airport tried to restore order by shutting down the train that runs to airport terminals. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, reversed that decision, saying people had a right to protest. "The people of New York will have their voices heard," he said in a statement.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
More than 120 people clutching signs denouncing the Trump immigration orders gathered at Newark Liberty International Airport. NorthJersey.com reports that they joined lawyers who'd rushed to the airport to defend the rights of refugees and immigrants who were being detained and denied entry.
Dozens of protesters inside Washington Dulles International Airport chanted "Love, Not Hate, Makes America Great" and "Say It Loud, Say it Clear, Muslims Are Welcome Here," as travelers walked through a terminal to a baggage claim area to collect luggage and greet their loved ones. There was a heavy police presence during the peaceful protest. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said during a press conference at Dulles that he has asked Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to look into "all legal remedies" available to help individuals who may be detained in Virginia
Dozens of people converged on Denver International to show their support for refugees. Standing in the main terminal Saturday, they sang "Refugees are welcome here." Some held signs declaring their identity, such as Jew or Christian, and the phrase "I come in peace." Denver has some direct international flights but it wasn't clear whether anyone has been detained under the president's executive order.
A crowd of demonstrators held a rally at O'Hare International Airport. The Chicago Sun-Times reports protesters blocked vehicle traffic to O'Hare's international terminal for a time. The newspaper says some arriving travelers joined the protest, while others were upset by the demonstrations.
Lawyers working with the International Refugee Assistance Project tell the Chicago Tribune that 17 people who had been detained at O'Hare all released by late Saturday.
Among those released before the federal judge's order was Hessan Noorian, a suburban Park Ridge resident returning with his family from Iran, the Tribune reported.
Noorian, who is of British and Iranian citizenship and has a green card, was detained at O'Hare after he and his wife, Zahra Amirisefat, a U.S. citizen, arrived from Tehran, the newspaper said.
The couple, who told the Tribune that they work at a community college in the Chicago area, said they were questioned for five hours.
After Noorian was released, his wife told the Tribune: "I can't believe something like this can happen to someone with a green card."
Protesters who gathered at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Saturday evening voiced their displeasure with Trump's executive order. The crowd of a few dozen ballooned into hundreds of demonstrators who frequently chanted "Set them free!" At times, cheers erupted from the crowd as those who were detained got released.
Among those still held at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport at midnight Saturday was a 70-year-old Iranian widow, Shahin Hassanpour, whose son said she suffers from high blood pressure and had breast cancer surgery four years ago. She obtained an immigrant visa in November on her son's petition.
Bahzad Honarjou, a 43-year-old network engineer, said he spoke twice to his mother by phone after her 9 a.m. arrival, but that they hadn't talked since courts stayed the executive order, meaning she should have been released.
Hundreds of protesters stood in the waiting area and chanted "This is what democracy looks like."
Immigration agents were not being very communicative, Honarjou said.
"They were like a machine when I talked to them today," he said. His mother only speaks a few words of English and a fellow passenger was translating for her from her native Farsi as no immigration agents spoke the language, he said.
Hassanpour was originally going to be deported on a Sunday flight, she informed her son the first time they spoke.
"She was about to cry," he said. "She is not able to take (tolerate) a 20-hour flight back to Iran."
Honarjou said he is a U.S. citizen, obtained entry in a lottery, and has been in the country for seven years. Why did he come?
"To have a better life and to make more money," he said. "And, you know, for the freedom."
A protest by several dozen people in and around Portland International Airport briefly disrupted light rail service at the airport. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the demonstrators carried signs and chanted "Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here" and "No ban no wall America is for us all."
About 300 people expressed their displeasure with the ban at Los Angeles International Airport Saturday night. Protesters entered the airport's Tom Bradley International Terminal after holding a candlelight vigil.
Avriel Epps held a candle and a large photo a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015 and became a haunting symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Hundreds of protesters blocked the street outside at San Francisco International Airport's international terminal to express their opposition to the barring of some people from Muslim-majority nations.
As motorists honked their support, demonstrators outside San Diego International Airport chanted "No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here."
Can Pollsters Drive Down Crime?
The NYPD's public opinion guru thinks so.
by Simone Weichselbaum
“Community Policing” aims to make trusted partners out of police and the residents they serve by engaging police more deeply in the neighborhoods they patrol. The strategy germinated in the chaos of the 1960s, had a heyday in the 1980s under advocates like Lee Brown, then the chief of the Houston Police Department, but ran into resistance from rank-and-file cops. Blessed by the Obama administration, and spurred by Ferguson and other evidence of a gulf between police and the public, community policing is enjoying a comeback, and with it, a new interest in polling as a policing tool.
John Linden, now a consultant with the New York Police Department, has been surveying big city cops since the early 1990s. In what he describes as the biggest project of his career, Linder is developing a real-time measure of police-community trust, called a “sentiment meter,” which he hopes will fold into NYPD's weekly review of crime fighting data, called CompStat. The Marshall Project's Simone Weichselbaum talked to Linder about polling as a policing tool. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What exactly is a sentiment meter?
If it works, it will be a system that will deliver to police and their executives real-time measures of public attitudes — whether trust is going up or down, whether the sense of safety is going up or down, and whether the job approval of the NYPD is going up or down—by neighborhood. The metrics of CompStat, which have always included crime and police activity, may in the foreseeable future include measures of trust, safety, and the job approval of the NYPD by every sector of the city on a continuous basis.
If the NYPD adopts your plan, then what? Will police commanders lose their jobs if the community satisfaction score in a particular precinct is low?
Not initially, I don't think. It will help precinct commanders take corrective action if these metrics are going in the wrong direction. It's a tool for them to have a reality check coming from the people they're trying to serve and protect.
Why should the public trust this sentiment meter? The past presidential election cycle showed us that surveying people on uncomfortable topics — who they plan to vote for, or in this case, what they think about local cops — produces unreliable results.
The guys designing our technology used it to predict exactly the presidential-election results in Ohio and Michigan, and Brexit in the UK. I think they may have found a way around selection bias in polling, which was a major reason most pollsters missed the Trump phenomenon.
How has police polling changed since you started?
In the early 1990s, Police Commissioner Lee Brown [then the chief in New York] asked me how to change the NYPD culture to embrace community policing, which was cops on foot beats asking citizens what they wanted the police to do. I did hundreds of cop focus groups and then sent them all a questionnaire. Polling was an inward-focused management tool. I defined the NYPD culture and made recommendations what to do, but I didn't survey the people of New York.
Back then, the crime was four times as high as now, murder seven times as high. Jack Maple, a Transit Police lieutenant who two years later co-invented CompStat, said to me, ‘I don't think we need to ask the public what they want. What we need is to keep their babies from getting killed in cribs by stray bullets flying through their windows. That's what they want, that's what they need. Let's go do it.'
Today, crime in New York, unlike some other cities, is 75 percent lower. Murder and shootings have been cut by four-fifths. And (Police Commissioner James) O'Neill wants to keep driving it lower. The reason he has the job is that he knows the only way to keep doing that is to get everybody into the game, not just police, but also the people who live In the neighborhoods where the crime is happening. To some extent people have been willing to report crimes. To a lesser extent they've been willing to testify. So what they feel and believe matters. He (and Commissioner Bratton) hired me to help the department find out.
CompStat helped drive down crime by getting police to focus on where the crime was occurring, and hyper focus on those areas. How does a sentiment meter bring down crime?
If we can find a way to give the commanders of the NYPD real time data on what people feel, then police brass can tailor strategies and tactics in response. It can give them more than just crime statistics, police activity (arrests, summonses, stop-question-frisks, case closures by detectives) to guide what they do and don't do. That's what O'Neill has told us to deliver.
So how can that work?
We are trying to deliver three measures. One: a measure of trust of the police. Two: a measure of the sense of safety in your neighborhood versus your sense of safety in the city at large. Three: your overall approval, job approval rating of the NYPD.
The early indications are that we will be able to deliver what O'Neill is looking for.
In real time? Are you kidding?
This is not traditional polling. This is an algorithmically governed sentiment meter that is gathering tens of thousands of data points 24/7, 365 days a year.
CompStat has been a staple in American policing for more than a generation. Why did it take so long for policing experts like yourself to fold community trust into the metrics?
I'm not a policing expert; I have cultural change tools strong leaders can use. But the answer to your question about why so long: A. We have the technology available now to do it. B. Crime is low enough that to drive it lower we need to try new things. And C. This police commissioner has determined that he needs to manage the police department in a way that builds trust rather than decreases it.
Trump wants to enlist local police in immigration crackdown
President Donald Trump plans to revitalize a long-standing program to deputize local police officers to enforce federal immigration law
by Jacques Billeaud and Amy Taxin
PHOENIX — To build his highly touted deportation force, President Donald Trump is reviving a long-standing program that deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration law.
The program received scant attention during a week in which Trump announced plans to build a border wall, hire thousands more federal agents and impose restrictions on refugees from Middle Eastern countries.
But the program could end up having a significant impact on immigration enforcement around the country, despite falling out of favor in recent years amid complaints that it promotes racial profiling.
More than 60 police and sheriff's agencies had the special authority as of 2009, applying for it as the nation's immigration debate was heating up. Since then, the number has been halved and the effort scaled back as federal agents ramped up other enforcement programs and amid complaints officers weren't focusing on the goal of catching violent offenders and instead arrested immigrants for minor violations, like driving with broken tail lights.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio used the program most aggressively in metro Phoenix, and he became arguably the nation's best-known immigration enforcer at the local level in large part because of the special authority. In a strange twist, he was thrown out of office in the same election that vaulted Trump to the presidency, mostly because of mounting frustration over legal issues and costs stemming from the patrols.
In his executive order this week, Trump said he wants to empower local law enforcement to act as immigration officers and help with the "investigation, apprehension, or detention" of immigrants in the country illegally.
The move comes at a time when the country is sharply divided over the treatment of immigrants. Cities such as Chicago and San Francisco have opposed police involvement in immigration while some counties in Massachusetts and Texas are now seeking to jump in.
Proponents say police departments can help bolster immigration enforcement and prevent criminals from being released back into their neighborhoods, while critics argue that deputizing local officers will lead to racial profiling and erode community trust in police.
Cecillia Wang, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said police bosses who want to get into immigration enforcement should consider what happened when 100 of Arpaio's deputies were given the federal arrest power.
The longtime sheriff used the authority to carry out traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. The patrols were later discredited in a lawsuit in which a federal judge concluded Arpaio's officers had racially profiled Latinos. The lawsuit so far cost county taxpayers $50 million.
"There are people like Joe Arpaio who have a certain political agenda who want to jump on the Trump bandwagon," Wang said, adding later that the Arizona sheriff was "most vocal and shameless offender" in the program.
When asked to comment on Trump's effort to revitalize the program, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said the executive orders would speak for themselves.
Traditionally, police stayed out of immigration enforcement and left those duties to federal authorities. But a 1996 federal law opened up the possibility for local agencies to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and do citizenship checks of people in local jails.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out these checks from 2006 to 2015.
The Obama administration phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013, but still let agencies check whether people jailed in their jurisdiction were citizens. If they find that an inmate is in the country illegally, they typically notify federal authorities or hand them over to immigration officers. Today, more than 30 local agencies participate in the jail program.
Alonzo Pena, a retired deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who once oversaw such agreements with police agencies, said some officers were using the authority in ways that didn't match the agency's enforcement priorities.
He said federal officials need to closely monitor participants to ensure their actions don't veer away from the goal of catching violent offenders and confronting national security threats. "It's hard to regulate to make sure it's followed," Pena said.
In California, three counties nixed the program after state legislation and a federal court ruling in nearby Oregon limited police collaboration with immigration enforcement. Orange County still makes the immigration checks inside its jail and flags inmates for deportation officers, but won't hold anyone on behalf of federal authorities out of legal concerns.
"The window has narrowed to a large extent," said Orange County sheriff's Lt. Mike McHenry.
With Trump in office, the program has new life.
Even before the change in administration, two Republican county sheriffs in Massachusetts said they were starting programs. In Texas, Jackson County sheriff A. J. "Andy" Louderback said two officers will get trained to run immigration jail checks this spring and nearby counties want to follow suit.
Louderback said teaming up with federal agents will cost his agency roughly $3,000 — a small price to pay to cover for officers while they're on a four-week training course, especially in an area struggling with human smuggling. Once the program is underway, he said immigration agents will send a daily van to pick up anyone flagged for deportation from jail.
"It just seems like good law enforcement to partner with federal law enforcement in this area," he said. "It takes all of us to do this job."
Experts said Trump's outreach to local law enforcement will create an even bigger split between sanctuary cities that keep police out of immigration enforcement and those eager to help the new president bolster deportations.
"There is no question that in order to do the type of mass deportation that he promised, it will require him conscripting local law enforcement agencies," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "It is going to balkanize things ... and we're going to see more of the extremes."
Can Baltimore address intense violence and police reform simultaneously?
In an effort to address rising violence, officials are reassigning 100 officers from mostly administrative posts to join street patrols
by Kevin Rector
BALTIMORE — Days into 2017, as Baltimore's historic spike in homicides stretched into a third calendar year, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced the latest approach to violence.
They would reassign 100 officers from mostly administrative posts to join street patrols.
They did not say where they would find the officers. But according to transfer documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun, nearly half were members of the Police Department's Community Collaboration Division — the unit that was expanded after the unrest of 2015 to rebuild relations with the community.
The reassignments slashed the unit by more than 80 percent.
A week later, Pugh and Davis appeared again in the same ornate room in City Hall to announce the agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to reform the department. Among the requirements: to "develop and implement community-engagement plans" to create opportunities for "routine and frequent positive interactions between officers and community members."
The debate around resources and budgets, and whether the need to protect lives and property is in conflict with the march toward justice, isn't new. But analysts say it has become more complicated.
"It's not that you're just taking on a new challenge," said Samuel Walker, a professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. "You're taking on a whole new approach to policing.
"We are going to have to go the extra mile here to get over this initial learning process, this steep learning curve."
Justice Department investigators concluded that police in Baltimore routinely violated residents' constitutional rights, and most often in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods; used excessive force; dismissed sexual assault complaints improperly; and engaged improperly with protesters, youths and those with mental disabilities.
Under the consent decree, officers will be required to contact a supervisor before making arrests for minor crimes such as resisting an officer or disorderly conduct. They will be barred from using restraints such as chokeholds, unless deadly force is authorized, and from stopping and detaining people who are in the company of others suspected of a crime without being able to make a case that they have committed a crime or are about to themselves.
They will be required to undergo new training. Techniques that have in recent decades become staples of the Baltimore police officer's tool kit — such as indiscriminately "clearing corners" in trouble spots — would be prohibited.
Meanwhile, violence in the city has grown in the 21 months since the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old Baltimore man died in April 2015 after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury in police custody. On the day of his funeral, the city erupted in arson, looting and riots.
Homicides in Baltimore jumped from 211 in 2014 to 344 in 2015 — the most, per capita, in city history. There were 318 more killings in 2016, the second deadliest year.
And with 28 homicides in the first 27 days, 2017 is now on pace to surpass both.
The Police Department — it's the eighth-largest in the nation, in the 29th-largest city — routinely blows through a $480 million budget before spending millions more in overtime.
The police union says the department has too few officers. Many activists think it has too many. Some residents complain of a constant, harassing police presence in their neighborhoods. Others say they don't see officers often enough.
The collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union controls the shift structure under which officers work. City officials have said the system presents a staffing problem, and low recruitment and retention have exacerbated the issue.
Pugh, who took office in December, has unfrozen 100 police officer positions to help address the violence. But the timeline for when those positions will be filled is unclear.
Early city estimates have put the cost of complying with the consent decree in the millions.
Other cities that have entered into similar agreements have underestimated the eventual cost.
The federal government does not pay for the reforms it mandates.
U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar, whose approval is required to make the consent decree binding, has scheduled a preliminary hearing this week to discuss his concerns about the deal.
He has cited a lack of clarity around the cost, the city's ability to comply, deadlines for specific initiatives and the interplay between the deal, the police union's collective bargaining agreement, and judicial precedent around standard policing actions such as stopping a person on the street.
While the administration of President Donald Trump is seen as skeptical of federal oversight of local police departments, analysts expect the deal to move forward in some form.
Baltimore is not the first city to attempt consent decree reforms while battling high crime. Analysts say other jurisdictions — from Los Angeles to Camden, N.J. to Prince George's County — have handled it successfully.
Many see the reforms proposed for Baltimore as part of the public safety solution, rather than as a competing draw on limited funding.
In order for the reforms to be successful, analysts and activists say, the city will have to be smart about tackling inefficiencies identified in the consent decree quickly in order to redirect the savings — in time and money — toward reforms and the crime fight.
Some savings, they say, will come through improvements to technology, such as the purchase of mobile computers for patrol vehicles. Some will come from redirecting resources away from street enforcement of minor infractions and toward violent offenders, gangs and the drug trade.
More, they say, will come from the "comprehensive staffing study" required by the consent decree to assess the appropriate number of sworn and civilian personnel needed "to perform the functions necessary for BPD to fulfill its mission."
Jonathan Smith oversaw consent decrees as chief of special litigation for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama. Pitting reform against public safety, he said, is a "false choice."
Relations between police and the community in Baltimore have deteriorated to the point that victims and witnesses aren't willing to come forward and police are left without tips in some of the most violent neighborhoods in Baltimore, Smith said.
"We know the strategies and tactics being used until now have not worked to reduce crime and are not going to work to reduce crime," Smith said. "That makes the reforms all the more urgent."
He said implementing the reforms could exacerbate staffing shortages, in part because training pulls officers off the streets and into classrooms, and backfilling shifts can become difficult.
But there are also opportunities, he said. New officers brought in to fill empty positions receive training on new policies from the start. And training everyone properly will reduce the need for specialized units.
For example, he said, the reduction of the community collaboration division could be cause for concern now, but at its core, the consent decree requires that "engagement be part of what every officer does, not just part of what some officers do."
Once engaging community members in a friendly way is part of every officer's job, Smith said, there won't be a need for a collaboration division.
Davis said he believes the reforms will help the department reduce crime — in part because he has already experienced the consent decree process as a commander in Prince George's County.
He noted the decline in violent crime in Prince George's County since it came out from under the nearly decade-long decree in 2009.
"It's all doable," he said. "Change is hard, and people have anxiety when change is afoot. All I have been saying to police officers is, 'Listen, we're going to get better training, better technology, better equipment and better help in the crime fight from the community.'"
Ganesha Martin, chief of the Police Department's compliance division, has said unilateral efforts by the department to implement reforms have primed it to hit the ground running under the consent decree.
But the deal cannot jeopardize public safety, she said, and officials overseeing the consent decree — from the judge to the yet-to-be-selected federal monitor — must recognize that Baltimore is burdened by a high rate of violent crime and be willing to work with the department as it tries to right it.
"I want them to be able to take high-level concepts and be able to break them down into a mechanism and manner that is easily translated to the streets, and to not get in the way of officers who have to do really hard jobs every day," she said.
Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the police union local in Baltimore that represents rank-and-file officers, said there are "definitely going to be some challenges and a conflict" in Baltimore between the reforms and the crime fight.
"Some of the stuff that the DOJ recommended we think is unconstitutional, and the police commissioner already put into place some policies that we think are overreaching," he said.
He cites the department's new use-of-force policy, which imposes new limits on the circumstances under which officers can use weapons.
"It's going to restrict the police officers from actually being able to do their jobs," Ryan said.
Others — including law enforcement analysts and civil liberties advocates — disagree. They say past concerns that reforms would undermine the crime fight proved unfounded.
David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, said there is "an inherent difficulty" in introducing reforms and dealing with high crime rates at the same time.
But there will never be a time when that isn't the case, he said, and allowing unconstitutional policing to continue indefinitely is not an option.
"There are precisely zero police departments in this country that have gone through consent decrees that haven't had to fight crime at the same time," he said.
Rocah said arguments against reforms were made in Baltimore a decade ago, as well, when the ACLU of Maryland sued the city over its "zero tolerance" policing strategy.
The advocacy group won, and the city saw a dramatic decline in arrests.
The decline coincided with a drop in crime, he said, not an increase.
"Everyone who I have heard advocating for police reform in Baltimore, including myself, wants a safe city, wants people to feel safe and to be safe," he said. "Changing the culture of policing in Baltimore and changing the way police officers are perceived by significant segments of the city's population is a necessary condition for that."
David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who studies policing and consent decrees, pointed to New York City.
For years, police in New York relied on controversial stop-and-frisk policing, and crime fell. Civil liberties advocates challenged the practice, it was ruled unconstitutional because it was directed disproportionately at minorities, and police dropped it.
Some law enforcement officials warned of a new wave of crime. But that never happened.
Instead, Harris said, crime continued to fall. He said the same thing can happen in Baltimore.
"The idea of addressing violence and public safety is not at war with the idea of reforming the Police Department," he said. "They do not contradict each other."
Ray Kelly, a community organizer with the No Boundaries Coalition, said the "time is ripe" to implement reforms.
Community members and police officials are finally agreeing in large part on what needs to be done, he said, and that will pave the way for cooperation to stop the violence where it never could have existed before.
"The parties involved in our city all recognize that these reforms need to happen, and since we've agreed, we need to put them in place as soon as possible," Kelly said. "We can actually create a safer environment by working together, and not pointing out the deficiencies in each other."
Trump orders Joint Chiefs to draft ISIS strategy, restructuring of security council
by Philip Rucker and Missy Ryan
President Trump signed three executive orders on Saturday afternoon, including one directing the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draft a plan to destroy the Islamic State and another formalizing new lobbying restrictions on administration officials.
One of Trump's directives orders the Joint Chiefs to submit a strategy within 30 days to defeat the Islamic State, signaling that the new president hopes to make good on his campaign promise to more aggressively confront global terrorism than his predecessor.
“I think it's going to be very successful,” Trump said. “That's big stuff.”
Both Trump and his new defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, have expressed a desire to expedite an end to the battle against the Islamic State. Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. air power and American advisers, have cleared half of the city of Mosul, but they have taken heavy losses and could require additional outside support. In Syria, the United States is struggling to recruit sufficient Arab fighters to recapture the city of Raqqa, an offensive that American officials hope can begin within several months.
Even before Saturday's order, military officials had been at work developing a series of potential actions for Mattis and Trump's entire national security team to consider. Those include potentially deploying additional advisers to Iraq and Syria, allowing U.S. military personnel to accompany local forces closer to the front lines, and delegating greater decision-making power to field commanders.
Changes to the existing campaign are expected to be modest adjustments to the existing strategy rather than any radical departure. How far the new measures go “would depend upon the political risk that the president is willing to take when we do certain things that could exacerbate things with Russia or Turkey or the PMF,” one defense official said, referring to Iranian-backed militias that have played an important role in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.
U.S. ties with Turkey are already strained in Syria over U.S. support to Kurdish fighters there, and any move to expand that support is sure to inflame existing tensions.
The proposals will seek to ensure that commanders in the field “have the wherewithal and the leeway to do what they have to do to successfully prosecute the campaign,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
But employing more combat power may come with serious drawbacks, including risking additional American lives and adding to the already significant cost of military operations overseas.
Trump also signed an executive order restructuring the National Security Council and streamlining procedures in a way that the White House believes would be more adaptive to modern threats.
Trump said that the change would bring “a lot of efficiency and, I think, a lot of additional safety.”
“People have talked about doing this for a long time,” he said. “Like, many years.”
The third executive order institutes new lobbying rules for administration officials. It stipulates that administration officials can not register as lobbyists for a full five years after leaving the government — and can never lobby on behalf of a foreign government. The lobbying rules are in keeping with Trump's campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”
“Most of the people standing behind me won't be able to go to work or do anything adverse to our wonderful country,” Trump said, as the aides standing around his desk in the Oval Office laughed.
As a small group of reporters were leaving the Oval Office, someone shouted out a question about the president's executive order signed Friday that temporarily blocks the arrival of refugees and immigrants from seven countries that are predominantly Muslim.
“It's not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,” Trump said. “It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It's working out very nicely, and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
It wasn't immediately clear on Saturday what effect the Trump administration's executive order halting entry of migrants and green card holders from Iraq and other Muslim-majority nations would have on the U.S. partnership with the Iraqi government in the battle against the Islamic State. Iraqi lawmakers have asked the country's Foreign Ministry to explain how the measure will affect Iraq.
‘Case By Case' Approach For U.S. Green Card Holders Under Trump's New Order
The ban affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
U.S. green card holders from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries traveling outside the United States need to check with a U.S. consulate to see whether they can return, senior U.S. administration officials said on Saturday.
New restrictions on immigrants and refugees in an executive order signed by President Donald Trump will mean legal permanent residents who have passports from the seven countries have to be cleared back into the United States on a case-by-case basis, an official told reporters in a briefing.
“It's being cleared on a case-by-case basis and being moved expeditiously,” the official said.
The official defended the scope and execution of the new rules, saying it moved with “astonishing rapidity” but worked as intended.
Confusion abounded at airports as immigration and customs officials struggled to interpret the new rules, with some legal residents who were in the air when the order was issued detained at airports upon arrival.
The ban affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The official argued the pause on travel from the countries is a response to concerns that immigration and refugee programs are being abused. The Trump administration is developing stricter rules for vetting people who want to come to the United States.
Asked about lawsuits filed against the order, the official declined specific comment, but said foreigners do not have a right to enter into the United States, and dismissed as “ludicrous” the notion that the move amounted to a “Muslim ban.”
Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Oman, Tunisia and Turkey were Muslim-majority countries not included in the order, a second official said.
A family suspected a caregiver was abusing an Alzheimer's patient. So they installed a camera.
by Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
(Graphic video on site)
Brenda Floyd was turning out lights, getting her 94-year-old patient ready for bed, when she noticed the plate of food on the floor. As the dog scurried away, Floyd turned her wrath on the older woman with Alzheimer's who she was paid to care for.
“I told you to stop feeding that dog human food!” she yelled, punctuating every sentence with a hit to Dorothy Bratten's head, according to a video of the interaction shared by Houston Crime Stoppers.
“Do you have another $4,000 to put that dog back in the hospital? Why do you keep feeding that dog human food, huh? Why do you?
“Get that s— up from there. Get your a– up and go to f—— bed, d—–. B—–, I told you to stop feeding that dog human food. Go to bed!”
The older woman shuffles to her walker, but Floyd gets in her face, demanding an answer. Bratten stammers that she didn't do it, but Floyd cuts her off.
“Stop lying to me,” she said. “I know you gave it to her. Go to bed and shut the f— up.”
The yelling and hitting continued as the two women walked out of the room.
On a wall opposite Bratten's easy chair, a camera captured the entire interaction. Her family had suspected abuse, police say; the New Year's Day video gave them proof.
Floyd is charged with elder abuse, a second-degree felony, and investigators are trying to determine whether similar incidents have happened in the past to Bratten, who has difficulty speaking. Floyd has taken care of Bratten for three years and worked as a caregiver for 15, Memorial Villages Assistant Chief Ray Schultz told The Washington Post.
Floyd had lived in the home in Memorial Villages, just outside Houston, tending to Bratten's needs six days a week. The 59-year-old had grown close to her patient's family. They had even helped her buy a car, Schultz said.
But in recent months, the woman's adult children found bruises on their mother.
“They had seen bruises for a while — at least for a couple of months,” Schultz said. “But it was nothing really massive or crazy. The bruises that they would see would be underneath her arm, like if someone was helping you get up. They had talked to the mother, but her communication is almost nonexistent.”
Suspicious, her son installed a nanny camera on New Year's Eve. He hid it in the living room, facing the chair where his mother often sat to watch television and eat meals.
The day after the alleged assault, he was reviewing the video and saw the alleged attack on his mother. He sped to the house, confronted Floyd, fired her and called police, according to police.
But Schultz said his police department wanted to consult with the district attorney and attempt to interview Bratten in a calm setting before they made an arrest.
Floyd “gave us a story basically admitting that she did hit her, but she said she kind of tapped her, to get her to wake up for a bath.”
When they went to arrest Floyd a few days later, she had disappeared.
Houston Crime Stoppers announced a reward for information leading to Floyd's arrest and released the video on YouTube this week.
It was aired on the local news and seen by millions. And tips began flooding in.
“She's anybody's grandma,” Schultz said of Bratten. “A lot of people have kind of adopted her. We've been getting flowers, and received phone calls. People were definitely very upset and disgusted.”
Early Friday, police got a useful tip: Floyd was at an apartment in northern Houston. The Lexus Bratten's family helped her buy was parked outside. Officers knocked on the door and Floyd was arrested without incident.
She was released on $5,000 bail, police say. She couldn't be reached for comment Friday and it was unclear whether she had hired an attorney.
According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, and some estimates say there are 5 million victims each year.
It's worse for people who have some form of impairment, according to NCOA.
“Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect,” the council says. “Interpersonal violence also occurs at disproportionately higher rates among adults with disabilities.”
Possible Serial Killer Uncovered in New Hampshire
(CONCORD, N.H.) — Police in New Hampshire believe a California inmate who died in prison in 2010 is responsible for the death of a woman who went missing in 1981 and for the murders of another woman and three children.
Authorities have linked Bob Evans, who served time in California for murdering his wife, to at least five other killings.
They painted a portrait of him as a drifter, moving among cities and towns in New Hampshire, Idaho and California from the 1970s until the turn of the century and using multiple aliases that made his crime spree difficult to discover.
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin left open the possibility that Evans will be linked to more unsolved murders.
“We are concerned, based on his proclivities, that he could have hurt other people,” Strelzin said at a press briefing, adding that Evans fit the profile of a serial killer.
Strelzin suggested Evans' inclination to relocate suited his desire to continue killing without detection.
“What's he running from?” he said of the killer, who targeted women and children. “What he's running from is that he's killing people.”
Authorities say Evans murdered his girlfriend Denise D. Beaudin, 32, shortly after she spent Thanksgiving with relatives at her family's home in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 1981.
Strezlin said the family had pinned her disappearance on financial problems and assumed that she ran away.
Beaudin had a 1-year-old daughter at the time. She was located by authorities last year and has been reunited with her maternal family, according to police. Evans raised the child for about five years before giving her to a family in California.
The daughter was later adopted and now has her own family. She provided a DNA profile that was used during the investigation.
Evans disposed of at least two bodies in steel barrels that he left in a wooded area near Allenstown, New Hampshire, police said.
One of the bodies was a girl believed to be his daughter. The body of another girl was also found in those woods, authorities said.
Kim Fallon, the chief forensic investigator for the New Hampshire Medical Examiner's Office, provided ages and descriptions of the girls Evans allegedly killed.
The oldest was 9 or 10 years old and had double-pierced ears.
The other two were substantially younger. One was 3 to 5, and the other was 2 or 3 years old.
Emmett Till accuser admits to giving false testimony at murder trial: book
by Tribune News Services
The woman at the center of the trial of Emmett Till's alleged killers has acknowledged that she falsely testified he made physical and verbal threats, according to a new book.
Historian Timothy B. Tyson told The Associated Press on Saturday that Carolyn Donham broke her long public silence in an interview with him in 2008. His book, "The Blood of Emmett Till," comes out next week.
"She told me that 'Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,'" said Tyson, a Duke University research scholar whose previous books include "Blood Done Sign My Name" and "Radio Free Dixie."
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black tortured and killed in 1955 in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman, then known as Carolyn Bryant.
His murder became national news, was a galvanizing event in the civil rights movement and has been the subject of numerous books and movies. During the trial, Bryant said that he had grabbed her, and, in profane terms, bragged about his history with white woman. The jury was not present when she testified.
Donham's then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were acquitted by the all-white jury. Both men, who later told Look magazine they did murder Till, have since died. Milam's widow, Juanita Milam, would later tell the FBI she believed that Carolyn Bryant had fabricated her story. Juanita Milam died in 2014. The Justice Department re-examined the case a decade ago, but no one was indicted as a murderer or an accomplice.
On Saturday, the maker of a documentary on Till said he had long been sure that Bryant's story was false.
"His mother had mentioned that Emmett had a speech impediment and that the things Bryant claimed he was saying he could not have said easily," said Keith Beauchamp, whose "The Untold Story of Emmett Till" came out in 2005.
Tyson said that he spoke with Donham after her daughter-in-law, Marsha Bryant, contacted him. Bryant had read "Blood Done Sign My Name," about a racist murder during his childhood in Oxford, North Carolina, and invited Tyson to meet with her and Donham.
Tyson said he and Donham had two conversations, both lasting 2-3 hours, and that he planned at the time to place the material in the archives at the University of North Carolina. Asked why he waited so long to publicize his findings, he responded that historians think in different terms than do journalists.
"I'm more interested in what speaks to the ages than in what is the latest media thing," he said.
He added that he wasn't sure whether Donham knew about the book. He said he had fallen out of touch with the family and that when he last spoke with Bryant, a few years ago, she said Donham was in poor health.
Till was a fun-loving teenager from Chicago visiting the Mississippi Delta and helping out on his great-uncle Mose Wright's farm. On Aug. 24, 1955, Till and some other kids drove to a local store, Bryant's, for refreshments. At Bryant's, some of the kids stayed on the porch, watching a game of checkers, while the others filed inside to buy bubble gum and sodas. Carolyn Bryant, the 21-year-old wife of proprietor Roy Bryant, was behind the counter.
Accounts of what happened next differ.
Mrs. Bryant claimed Emmett bragged about dating white women up north. She said he grabbed her and asked her, "How about a date, baby?" Simeon Wright, his cousin, heard none of this. But there is no doubt about what he heard when they left the store, he told the AP in 2005.
Standing on the front porch, Emmett let out a wolf whistle.
Carolyn Donham's whereabouts have long been a mystery, but North Carolina voter rolls list a Carolyn Holloway Donham. Holloway is her maiden name.
The address is for a green, split-level home in Raleigh at the mouth of a neat cul-de-sac just two turns off a busy four-lane thoroughfare. The well-tended house has burnt-orange shutters and a front-facing brick chimney decorated with a large metal sunburst. Orange flags emblazed with the word "Google" dot the lawn.
A woman, who appeared to be of late middle age, and a small barking dog appeared at the front door. When a reporter asked if this was the Bryant family home, the woman replied, "Yes."
When asked if Carolyn Donham was at home, the woman replied, "She's not available."
At first, she refused to accept a business card, but relented after hearing about the upcoming book.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation has shared news reports about the book on Instagram and asked if Donham would have the "decency and courage" to speak with Till's relatives.
Beware new "can you hear me" scam
by Kathy Kristof
It's not a Verizon commercial: If you receive a phone call from someone asking “can you hear me,” hang up. You're a potential victim in the latest scam circulating around the U.S.
Virginia police are now warning about the scheme, which also sparked warnings by Pennsylvania authorities late last year. The “can you hear me” con is actually a variation on earlier scams aimed at getting the victim to say the word “yes” in a phone conversation. That affirmative response is recorded by the fraudster and used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or on a purloined credit card.
“You say ‘yes,' it gets recorded and they say that you have agreed to something,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America. “I know that people think it's impolite to hang up, but it's a good strategy.”
But how can you get charged if you don't provide a payment method? The con artist already has your phone number, and many phone providers pass through third-party charges.
In addition, the criminal may have already collected some of your personal information -- a credit card number or cable bill, perhaps -- as the result of a data breach. When the victim disputes the charge, the crook can then counter that he or she has your assent on a recorded line.
What can you do? If you suspect you have already been victimized, check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. Call the billing company -- whether your credit card company or your phone provider -- and dispute anything that you didn't authorize on purpose. If they say you have been recorded approving the charge and you have no recollection of that, ask for proof.
If you need help disputing an unauthorized credit card charge, contact the Federal Trade Commission. If the charge hit your phone bill, the Federal Communications Commission regulates phone bill “cramming.”
If you have not yet been victimized, the best way to avoid telemarketing calls from con artists is to sign up for a free blocking service, such as Nomorobo, or simply let calls from unfamiliar numbers go to your answering machine. Scammers rarely leave a message.
If you do answer a call from an unfamiliar number, be skeptical of strangers asking questions that would normally elicit a “yes” response. The question doesn't have to be “can you hear me?” It could be “are you the lady of the house?”; “do you pay the household telephone bills?”; “are you the homeowner?”; or any number of similar yes/no questions. A reasonable response to any of these questions is: “Who are you, and why do you want to know?”
If the caller maintains they are with a government agency -- Social Security, the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles or the court system -- hang up immediately. Government officials communicate by mail, not phone (unless you initiate the call). Many con artists use the aegis of authority to convince you to keep talking. The longer you talk, the more likely you are to say something that will allow them to make you a victim.
Fashion police: Cops ease rules on tattoos, turbans, beards
Police departments, compelled by a hiring crisis and eager for a more diverse applicant pool, are relaxing traditional grooming standards and getting away from old uniform rules
by Colleen Long
NEW YORK — The Joe Friday look is out. Tattoos, turbans and beards are in.
Police departments, compelled by a hiring crisis and eager for a more diverse applicant pool, are relaxing traditional grooming standards and getting away from rules that used to require a uniformly clean-shaven, 1950s look.
More officers are on the job with tattoos inked on their forearms, beards on their chins or religious head coverings like hijabs and turbans in place of — or tucked beneath — their blue caps.
"My turban is a part of me," said Mandeep Singh, among 160 Sikhs in the New York City Police Department who last month were allowed to wear navy blue turbans in place of the standard-issue police caps. "This opens a gate for other potential candidates who felt they could not be a police officer because they would have to choose either the job or their faith."
That followed a 2014 move by the St. Paul, Minnesota, police to create a special hijab for its first female Somali Muslim officer.
Muslim NYPD officer Masood Syed, who grows a beard for religious reasons, was suspended for its length and sued his department last year over a rule requiring beards to be trimmed to within a millimeter of the skin. As a result, the department changed the length to a half-inch and reinstated him. Syed's suit is still pending, though, because he said the length is arbitrary and it should be case by case, depending on the officer's needs.
"It's 2017," Syed said. "The police department is supposed to reflect the community that it's policing."
Many departments say it's tougher to attract candidates to a physically demanding job that offers low pay and is under increasingly intense public scrutiny. That has led many to make a nod to shifting fashion trends, particularly among millennials, and ease longstanding bans on beards and visible tattoos.
New Orleans; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Pinellas Park, Florida, are among the departments that look the other way if a recruit comes in with visible tattoos.
"Modern practice is colliding with dress codes," said Will Aitchison, an attorney who represents police unions during labor-related disputes. "And what police departments really should be focused on is how the officer performs his or her job, as opposed to how they look."
In Kansas, state police did a public survey on whether officers should be allowed to have tattoos to help determine whether to change their policy after they couldn't fill about 100 trooper jobs.
Half of the nearly 20,000 respondents had tattoos themselves. Sixty-nine percent said the department shouldn't have a policy prohibiting visible tattoos.
"We were surprised by the response," said Lt. Adam Winters. "It just doesn't seem to bother people."
Still, the department's prohibition on visible tattoos has stayed in place, in part because of the potential challenge of regulating the content of tattoos that might be offensive.
In Philadelphia, the department is considering tightening its policy after photos surfaced last fall of an officer in uniform with a tattoo on his forearm showing a Nazi symbol: a spread-winged eagle under the word "Fatherland."
In Chicago, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by tattooed officers — all military veterans — who objected to a new requirement that they wear long sleeves to cover up their inked arms during a sweltering Midwestern summer. The judge argued it would be too difficult for departments to determine what would be considered offensive and need to be covered.
But, the police brass recently started allowing them again — they said as a morale booster for a beleaguered force.
Ferguson missed deadlines in consent decree with DOJ
The manager of the city said although they have missed deadlines, they are now moving "in the right direction"
by Jim Salter and Eric Tucker
FERGUSON, Mo. — Ferguson officials have missed critical deadlines in the early stages of an agreement with the Justice Department, but the manager of the beleaguered Missouri city said the process is now moving "in the right direction."
Clark Ervin, a Washington lawyer monitoring the consent decree involving the St. Louis suburb that has been under Justice Department scrutiny since the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, told The Associated Press this week that Ferguson has missed some 120- and 180-day deadlines in crafting new policies and procedures on basic policing practices.
The missed deadlines underscore the challenges police departments can face complying with the sweeping overhauls mandated by the Justice Department, particularly when the troubles are as deeply-rooted as in Ferguson. The progress in Ferguson will be under particular scrutiny given how the city emerged as a flashpoint in the national debate over race and police use of force, and because of the city's initial resistance last year to signing a federal agreement that local officials feared would be too costly.
"While a number of deadlines have been missed, and deadlines are important, that does not mean that the city is not working hard both in terms of police reform and court reform," said Ervin, who is responsible for ensuring the city's compliance with the agreement.
He said the city was working in "good faith" toward meeting the procedures required by the federal government.
"This is difficult work," Ervin said. "Needless to say, there's a lot to be done, but progress is being made."
City Manager De'Carlon Seewood acknowledged that U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry, at a status hearing last month, felt the city was behind. But Seewood said the judge "also recognized we are further ahead than a lot of other places with similar consent decrees."
"It's moving and I think we're moving in the right direction and I see a positive outcome," Seewood said.
Ervin said one problem early on was that the city did not have a designated employee focused specifically on the consent decree. The city hired Frank McCall, formerly the police chief in neighboring Berkeley, Missouri, in October as a police commander tasked with shepherding the agreement. Ervin, Seewood and Justice Department attorneys are confident that will help expedite the process.
Ervin noted that the city had passed an ordinance to set up a civilian review board to handle allegations of police misconduct. Some revised policies, including on the duty to report use of force, have already been judged to comply with the consent decree. Others, including on accountability, are in the process of being reviewed.
The shooting of Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, resulted in an examination of Ferguson's criminal justice system that led to a March 2015 Justice Department report citing racial bias. Perry signed off an agreement between the city and the Justice Department last April that called for significant changes in police and court procedures.
Wilson resigned in November 2014, although a St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department found no evidence that he committed a crime.
The city's agreement with the Justice Department, expected to cost about $2.3 million over three years, requires diversity training for officers, body cameras for police and jail workers, dashboard cameras for squad cars, establishment of a civilian police oversight board, municipal court reforms and other changes.
The agreement spelled out a series of deadlines for compliance, including that the city within 120 days develop a process for reporting and investigating use of force incidents and provide crisis intervention training within 180 days to call-takers, dispatchers and their supervisors.
A key provision requires community policing, which relies on officers getting involved in neighborhood groups, meeting with people, and generally being pro-active, rather than simply responding to crime. But the city hasn't been able to fully implement community policing because the Ferguson Police Department is so short-staffed: Nearly one-third of the 49 police jobs are vacant.
As a result, Seewood said the city has re-prioritized its goals to put police recruitment — with a special focus of bringing in more minority officers — at the top of the list.
"You can do community policing with our current staff, but you can't do it at the higher level that you want because you are taking care of the day-to-day operations of the police force," Seewood said. "They're going on calls, they're handling those type of services."
Emily Davis, a member of a consent decree-mandated steering committee tasked with helping the city implement community policing, said she's been disappointed by the city's effort so far.
"The city has been so resistant to change because they didn't believe they'd ever done anything wrong," Davis said. "Community policing has not gotten implemented the way it needs to be because they've been dragging their feet."
Ervin said Ferguson officials are contemplating ways to free up officers to do more community policing.
Given the negative publicity surrounding the Ferguson Police Department, the city does face challenges in bringing in new officers.
On the other hand, Ervin said, "An officer could look at it as an opportunity to join a police department that's in the process of reforming itself and is in the national spotlight."
NH bill would require body cams for cops with complaint history
The bill would require any officer who is the subject of a "substantiated complaint" based on their job conduct to wear a body camera
by The Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. — The debate over whether the police should wear body cameras is back before New Hampshire lawmakers.
A bill up Tuesday for a hearing would require any officer who is the subject of a "substantiated complaint" based on their job conduct to wear a body camera. The cameras would be paid for by upping the penalty assessment on court fines to 27 percent.
New Hampshire doesn't require police to wear body cameras. But there are guidelines and procedures in place if local departments choose to use them. The debate over body cameras has heated up nationwide as the focus on officer-involved shootings increases.
The New Hampshire State Police use dashboard cameras in some of their vehicles.
NYC challenges lawsuit targeting NYPD use of 'sound weapon'
The case is one of the first legal challenges over police use of a so-called “sound weapon” against protesters
by John Riley
NEW YORK — In one of the first legal challenges over police use of a so-called “sound weapon” against protesters, a New York City lawyer argued on Thursday that deploying the “Long Range Acoustical Device” at a 2014 march over the Eric Garner case did not violate demonstrators' constitutional rights.
“In order to make the street safe for protesters and provide for the flow of traffic, the use of the LRAD was justified and not arbitrary,” city lawyer Ashley Garman told Manhattan U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet, arguing for dismissal of the case.
But lawyers for six plaintiffs — including protesters, bystanders and members of the news media — said the device's high-pitched tone amounted to using “pain compliance” that indiscriminately affected law-abiding citizens and forced them to leave places where they were entitled to be.
“Sound waves by operation of physics can constitute uses of force and can cause injury,” said lawyer Gideon Oliver. “.. The NYPD is treating an LRAD as if it's just a bullhorn, when it clearly is not.”
The portable LRAD, court papers say, serves two functions — amplifying sound like a super-megaphone to make police orders intelligible up to 600 meters, and emitting a targeted beam of high-decibel noise to cause ear discomfort and modify behavior for crowd control or “area denial.”
The NYPD has had the devices since the 2004 Republican Convention in New York City, when they were used to make announcements. The lawsuit targets the use of the crowd control function at a Manhattan intersection on Dec. 5, 2014, to break up a protest over a Staten Island grand jury's failure to indict a cop for Garner's death during his arrest for selling loose cigarettes.
Although the plaintiffs in the case contend they suffered “incredible pain” and injuries ranging from migraines and dizziness to vertigo, Garman said the police were justifiably responding to a chaotic scene of bottles and garbage being tossed into the street at 57th and Madison.
The 2016 lawsuit only alleges that the “deterrent tone” was activated for three minutes, she argued, and videos suggested the noise wasn't that bad. “People were walking away casually,” Garman said. “They're not running, not screaming, not covering their ears.”
Oliver said the LRAD's manufacturer uses the term “pain compliance” in its literature, but since the 2014 incident, the NYPD has steadfastly refused to adopt use-of-force policies on LRADs, and there are no court precedents setting standards for when their use constitutes excessive force.
He also complained that — like tear-gas — the device doesn't affect only protesters or wrongdoers, but also deprives others of their rights by forcing them to move.
“If you're a photojournalist and the police force you to move to location B, you're prevented from reporting what's occurring at location A,” he said.
The lawsuit is seeking both damages and an injunction limiting the use of LRADs. Sweet has to first decide whether the allegations if proved, would make out a valid legal claim. He did not indicate when he may rule.
77 years later, Ga. police chief, community apologize for lynching
LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar started the community's uncovering of this buried story several years ago
by Mark Rice
(Video on site)
LAGRANGE, Ga. — Even the 43-year-old mayor, who has lived his entire life in this west Georgia city of approximately 30,000 citizens, said he didn't know until recently the ugly secret of racial injustice that brought a diverse crowd together for a public apology in a standing-room-only church Thursday night.
“For all those years, I had never heard the story of Austin Callaway,” LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton told the crowd of approximately 300 in Warren Temple United Methodist Church. “That troubles me.”
It also troubled LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar, who started the community's uncovering of this buried story several years ago, when he overheard two elderly black women looking at historical photos of police in the headquarters and saying, “They killed our people.”
Thanks to the subsequent investigation, Dekmar and about 150 LaGrange citizens who formed a racial conciliation group as a result know at least enough about Callaway's death to use that injustice to heal and vow against it now.
According to their research, on the night of Sept. 7, 1940, the teenager was in the LaGrange jail for allegedly assaulting a white woman. A band of at least six armed, masked men forced their way past the 20-year-old jailer and drove off with Callaway.
The police didn't pursue the gang. Callaway was found the next morning, bleeding from gunshot wounds, and died a few hours later.
No law enforcement agency investigated Callaway's murder. No medical examiner performed an autopsy. The only finding from the grand jury was to suggest the jail should get better locks for its cells.
And the local press was complicit in the cover-up by not questioning the authorities about the crime.
With more than two dozen uniformed LaGrange police officers standing around the pews and against the church walls, in the same sanctuary where Callaway's family grieved his unaccounted murder 77 years ago, the chief apologized and condemned his department's decades-old negligence.
“All citizens have the right to expect their police department to be honest, decent, unbiased and ethical,” Dekmar said.
The police chief acknowledged some whites have asked why apologize for something that other people did so many years ago, and some blacks have wondered aloud whether this reconciliation would be “a hollow effort.”
“The institution responsible for Austin's death is still here,” Dekmar said.
And then the chief voiced the awaited words, “I sincerely regret and denounce the role our police department played in Austin's lynching, both through our action and our inaction. And for that, I'm profoundly sorry. It should never have happened.”
In addition to the mayor, Troup County State Court Judge Jeanette Little and LaGrange College president Dan McAlexander also expressed apologies on behalf of the judiciary and community, respectively.
LaGrange Councilman Willie Edmondson, Georgia NAACP president Francys Johnson and Troup County NAACP president Ernest Ward accepted those apologies. Then a member of Callaway's extended family graciously did as well.
Callaway was a cousin of Deborah Tatum's grandfather. Tatum said during her remarks, “I speak your name, Austin Callaway, and ask God for forgiveness for the people that did this inhumane thing to you. Some might say, ‘Forgiveness?' And I say to you that I believe God when he tells us that there is power and freedom in forgiveness.”
NAACP statistics show 4,743 documented lynchings, including 3,446 blacks, from 1882-1968 in the United States, mostly in the South. Dekmar, according to multiple reports, is believed to be the first police chief in the South to apologize for his department not carrying out its duty to protect anyone in its custody.
Thornton, the mayor asked, “How can you overcome history if you don't even know this history? … But make no mistake, we are beginning to change that tonight.”
From the FBI
NCIC Turns 50
Centralized Database Continues to Prove its Value in Fighting Crime
Last month, a Tennessee state trooper arrested an Illinois man wanted for questioning in a Kentucky murder. The FBI's National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, had a key assist in the arrest—the state trooper, after spotting a suspicious vehicle at a rest stop, ran the license plate through the NCIC database and received word back quickly that the car had been stolen by a suspect in a Kentucky homicide. A chase ensued, but ultimately the suspect in this case with connections to three different states was taken into custody.
Today, the FBI's NCIC system—created to give our law enforcement partners access to a computerized index of documented criminal justice information whenever and wherever they need it—celebrates its 50th anniversary. Launched on January 27, 1967, the NCIC database, according to Assistant Director Stephen Morris of the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, is “a cornerstone of the CJIS Division's information-sharing efforts, providing a lifeline to our local, state, federal, and tribal partners 24 hours a day.”
The information in the NCIC database can also help law enforcement officers perform their duties more safely—for instance, notifying them if the person in the car they are about to approach might be armed and dangerous.
In the beginning, 15 state and city computers were tied into the Bureau's host computer in Washington, D.C. At the time, NCIC contained just over 350,000 criminal justice records across five different files—wanted persons, stolen articles, stolen vehicles, stolen license plates, and stolen/missing guns. The very first NCIC hit came in May 1967, when a New York City officer radioed in a request for a search of a license plate. Within 90 seconds, he was informed that the car had been stolen the previous month in Boston.
By 1971, all 50 states were connected to NCIC and began making inroads in combating crimes that crossed state lines. And over the next three decades, the database expanded and adapted as new technology and new information needs emerged. For example, in 1975, a new file was added to record the details of missing persons cases. In 1980, Canadian warrants were added to the database. In 1999, a major technological upgrade—known as NCIC 2000—added new capabilities, including the ability to store digital images and expanded data fields, and also led to near-instant results for queries.
During the last 15 years or so, additional file categories have been added, including identity theft, gangs, known or suspected terrorists, and violent persons.
Currently, the database is organized into a total of 21 files and contains 12 million active records entered by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies—and it handles an average of 14 million transactions a day. NCIC serves more than 90,000 criminal justice and law enforcement agencies, along with judges, prosecutors, corrections officers, court administrators, and a variety of other criminal justice officials by providing information that can help apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, identify convicted sexual offenders, uncover weapons used in crimes, locate and return stolen property, and more.
So what does the future hold for NCIC? The CJIS Division is preparing for its next major upgrade, known as NCIC 3rd Generation, or the N3G Project, and is working with its stakeholders to identity new functionalities to modernize and expand the capabilities of the existing NCIC system. CJIS has already conducted the largest user canvass in its history, reaching out to criminal justice users in all 50 states and U.S. territories to help identity additional needs, which is vital input that will be used in the development of the next generation National Crime Information Center.
Here's to the next 50 years of this vital crime-fighting tool!
The Origins of NCIC
The FBI first got into the business of collecting, collating, and disseminating criminal identification records and histories in 1924. Over time, Bureau personnel maintained information about crimes with pen and paper, index cards, and typewriters—and they did so effectively—but as the volume of work increased, it was clear that something needed to change.
In 1965, an executive in the then-FBI Identification Division (since renamed the Criminal Justice Information Services Division) proposed that the Bureau lease data-processing equipment to “constructively assist the enforcement efforts of all participating law enforcement agencies” that contributed criminal histories, wanted notices, reports of criminal activity, etc., to the FBI. The original proposal was limited to law enforcement agencies in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, but the value of such a system for all of law enforcement couldn't be ignored.
Director J. Edgar Hoover presided over a meeting during which the decision was made to implement a computer system that would centralize crime information from every state and provide that information to law enforcement agencies around the country. Working with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI created an advisory board of state and local police to develop nationwide standards and also consulted with the U.S. Department of Commerce to build an effective telecommunications system.
And on January 27, 1967, the National Crime Information Center—soon to be better known by its initials NCIC—was launched.
ICE Milwaukee arrests 16 during operation targeting criminal aliens
MILWAUKEE — Sixteen convicted criminal aliens from Mexico were arrested in the greater Milwaukee area during a two-day operation conducted this week by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
This enforcement surge, which concluded Wednesday, is the latest effort by ICE to prioritize the arrest and removal of convicted criminals living illegally in the United States. ERO received significant assistance during this operation from the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
All 16 arrested during this operation had been convicted of crimes in the United States and fall within ICE's enforcement priorities. Their convictions include the following crimes: force/assault with a deadly weapon not firearm — gross bodily injury likely, receiving stolen property, battery, grand theft (auto), drug possession with intent to distribute, and drunk driving. Two were previously deported and two have outstanding deportation orders.
Following are two of those arrested during the operation:
A 50-year-old twice-deported Mexican national with prior felony convictions for force/assault with a deadly weapon not firearm: gross bodily injury likely, battery/police officer, grand theft (auto), and intentionally causing bodily injury to a child-habitual criminal. He has additional convictions for battery and resisting an officer-habitual criminal. He was previously removed to Mexico in 1997 and 2003, and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. He was arrested Jan. 25 in Waukesha and remains in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.
A 41-year-old Mexican national with prior felony convictions for receiving stolen property and attempted unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle, and possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested Jan. 25 in Milwaukee and remains in ICE custody pending a hearing before a federal immigration judge.
"ICE officers are focused on arresting and removing convicted criminals from our communities," said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago. "When we locate, arrest and remove the most egregious offenders, we immediately improve public safety in the Milwaukee area."
All 16 arrested are Mexican males. Arrests were made in the following Wisconsin communities: Milwaukee (8), Waukesha (4), and one arrest each in Greenfield, New Berlin, Oconomowoc and Pewaukee. All remain in ICE custody, except one individual who was turned over to MCSO on outstanding arrest warrants.
In fiscal year 2016, ICE conducted 240,255 removals nationwide. Ninety-two percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.
ICE remains focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes threats to national security, public safety and border security.
Florida middle school students accused of plotting Columbine-style mass shooting
by Jessica Schladebeck
Two teenage boys were arrested Thursday after police uncovered their plans for a Columbine-style mass shooting at their middle school in Central Florida, polices said.
The unidentified students — ages 13 and 14 — from The Villages Charter Middle School were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and were being held at the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Police caught wind of the potential attack after rumors of a shooting planned for Jan. 27 began circulating around the school on Tuesday, according the newspaper.
Officers were tipped off by school officials and on Wednesday questioned a 13-year-old student who admitted to deputies he and a classmate organized the plot, which “referenced the mass shooting at Columbine High School,” according to a press release cited by the Sentinel.
Police also questioned the 14-year-old student who similarly mentioned the 1999 school shooting, which left 12 students and a teacher dead and dozens more injured. He informed officers they had planned a full attack, including gestures to signal “open fire.”
No weapons were found in either of the students' lockers. Officers did find guns Thursday during a search at both of their homes, where deputies arrested them shortly after, according to the newspaper.
Officials arranged for more security at the school Friday.
Does Your School Arrest Students?
by Cory Turner
Niya Kenny pulled out her cell phone and began recording.
It happened in 2015, after a classmate had refused to hand over her own cell phone during class and was being pulled from her chair by a police officer based at their school, Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. When Kenny loudly protested and, like her classmate, refused to hand over her phone, she too was arrested.
The charge: disturbing a school.
Kenny's story is one of several featured in a new investigation from Education Week , "Policing America's Schools," exploring the debate over school discipline, the role of police officers in schools, and why it is that black students are arrested at disproportionately high rates in much of the country.
Education Week will roll out the results of its investigation over the next few weeks, including the tool below that allows users to explore their state and school-level data more closely.
In the 2013-2014 school year, according to a new analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center, black students accounted for 16 percent of students enrolled in public schools but 33 percent of arrests in those schools. In 10 states, black students' share of arrests in schools with at least one arrest exceeded their share of enrollment by at least 20 percentage points.
NPR Ed spoke with Education Week staff writer Evie Blad about the project. The interview below has been edited for clarity.
What stood out to you from the investigation's findings?
That the disparities we see in arrests and discipline referral rates are most persistent for black students across a majority of states.
Just looking at arrests in 43 states and Washington D.C., black students made up a larger share of students arrested than they did the population in schools that had at least one arrest. So, they're more heavily represented in the group of students that face contact with law enforcement in schools.
In most states, there are a couple hundred arrests. In some, the number is small enough that it doesn't take a lot to move a percentage point. But we found that, in 28 states, the share of arrested students who are black is at least 10 percentage points higher than their enrollment in schools that arrested students. And in 10 states, the gap is at least 20 percentage points. There's a pretty big difference between their representation and their share of arrested students. And the same is true for referrals to law enforcement.
What did you find in terms of a student's likelihood of being in a school with a law enforcement officer?
At both the middle school and high school level, black students are most likely to be in a school with a school-based law enforcement officer.
At the high school level, in general, officers are more common. So, 74 percent of all black students were in schools with an on-site officer, followed by 71 percent of both Hispanic and multi-racial students, 65 percent of Asian students, and 65 percent of white students.
In a middle school, it's about 59 percent of black students, and the next lowest group is Hispanic students at 49 percent, followed by white students at 47 percent. So, the disparity is a little more severe. Elementary school police officers are far less common so there's a little bit of a closer clustering of races.
Do we know whether a student who attends a school with a law enforcement officer is, for that fact alone, more likely to be arrested?
It would be hard to look at this one piece of federal data and draw that conclusion definitively because there are so many differences between schools. But other researchers have explored this. There's some research that came out in the last year that compared student arrests based on specific offenses, like vandalism, fights without a weapon — things like that — at schools that were demographically similar. They found that the rates were higher if a school had a school-based officer.
In theory, schools that have officers should be treating them like the officers you would call in off the street. So, if I have an officer and a student is doing something wrong, would I call 9-1-1 for this student's behavior? But, civil rights groups feel that schools aren't setting clear enough boundaries for officers and some of them are getting involved in routine discipline. Some [groups] also feel that the hiring of law enforcement and the push for school security are driving resources away from student supports like counselors and social workers who might be able to remedy some of these issues before they escalate.
One of the things that interested me about your reporting is the fact that some states have codified tougher penalties for being disruptive in class, which may lead to higher arrest rates for students doing things that, in many places, would not justify a call to 9-1-1.
Right. So, that's been a big focus in recent years. In 2015, one video that got a lot of headlines was of a girl being arrested in South Carolina. A school-based officer pulled her out of her chair and dragged her across the floor before arresting her. The charge that she and her classmate [Niya Kenny] were arrested under was disturbing a school, which is a South Carolina law. A lot of folks argue that it was originally written to apply to people who came in from the outside and disrupted public schools but that it's often applied to students. That law specifically limits things like obnoxious behavior.
[Kenny] is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the disrupting a school law in South Carolina. In other states, folks argue that laws against disorderly conduct are applied pretty broadly and subjectively — both in schools and on the street and that, if you have any kind of an implicit bias, that's where it will come into play.
Interesting. Can you think of other states that have laws like this?
It's a little difficult to spell out because the laws have different names. But they're pretty broadly spread throughout the country. Some states have done a better job of issuing guidance through their departments of education to help schools put boundaries around how those laws are applied. But in many states, the complaint is that, if things are too subjective and too broad, then there's not enough consistency in how they're applied.
Where do we stand now on practices being used in schools to not only minimize arrests but suspensions too?
People tend to think of arrests as a safety issue and suspensions as a discipline issue. But I think a lot of folks would tell you that this is all kind of on a continuum of how schools a.) deal with student behavior and b.) approach their climate. How do they support students and remedy their behavior so that it doesn't continue if they do something wrong?
There's been a big push in recent years to explore how schools handle things like classroom removals — if there's a way to reduce suspensions and expulsions. Rather than sending a student home for misbehavior, doing things like restorative practices. That means asking students to sit with their peers to discuss the Why behind their behavior and how it affected them and to find a way to stop doing it in the future. That is hard work for schools. It requires buy-in from administrators and teachers. It requires a lot of training and a lot of thought and a lot of work. But some researchers argue that it's a more effective way of ensuring that students behave better in the future and that discipline is fair in resolving these situations.
Washington D. C.
‘Law-And-Order' Trump Promised To Back The Police. Now Cops Worry He'll Kill Their Federal Grants.
Democrats, some Republicans and a big police union that endorsed Trump say they'll stick up for COPS, a federal grant program for police departments.
by Ryan J. Reilly
WASHINGTON ? In the months leading up to the election, Donald Trump touted his support for law enforcement on the campaign trail, telling police officers that he'd have their back when he got to the White House. Now, with the Trump administration reportedly considering killing off a Justice Department office that has distributed billions in federal funding to local police agencies across the country, even some of president's law enforcement supporters are worried.
Concerns about the future of DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grew out of a report in The Hill last week on the Trump administration's budget plans. The new administration's working budget, The Hill said, closely matched a budget blueprint from the conservative Heritage Foundation ? a budget that calls for eliminating the COPS Office altogether.
Despite multiple requests to government officials over several days about the future of the COPS Office, the Trump administration has yet to offer clarity on the issue. But supporters of the COPS Office ? Republicans, Democrats and a prominent law enforcement organization that endorsed Trump ? tell The Huffington Post they're prepared to fight for its future.
“We support the COPS office and will discuss that support with the Administration as well as on the Hill,” Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, told HuffPost in an email
The FOP, which endorsed Trump for president in September, could hold a lot of sway in the Trump administration. Still, the idea that Trump and congressional Republicans would even consider cutting funds to law enforcement may come as a shock to many in the policing world who have listened to their rhetoric in recent months.
During his presidential campaign, Trump declared himself the “law and order candidate” and said police were “the most mistreated people” in America. In his first days as president, the Trump administration has vowed to “end” what they describe as a “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.” Several House Republicans recently spent several days trying to make their support for law enforcement clear by taking turns removing a teenager's painting from a hallway on Capitol Hill because they believed it was anti-police.
Their pro-cop rhetoric aside, congressional Republicans have threatened the COPS funding before. A 2012 fiscal year budget out of the House would have eliminated COPS funding altogether, which FOP national president Chuck Canterbury said at the time was “simply irresponsible.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump's pick for attorney general, has previously voted to cut funding for the program (a Sessions spokeswoman said they would not address policy questions until after his confirmation). And if Trump's budget really does closely match the blueprint produced by Heritage, the COPS program is in significant danger.
The COPS Office was created during the Clinton administration as part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and has distributed more than $14 billion in grants. A recent report on the impact of COPS spending said the additional officers helped deter crime, and that the evidence suggested “additional police resources represent a cost-effective approach to reduce crime.” In addition to providing direct funding to police agencies, the office has supported law enforcement studies and collaborative reform efforts to bring about change in local police departments. A COPS-funded report on the police response to the 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, found that unconstitutional and “provocative” tactics used by St. Louis County law enforcement agencies escalated tensions in the region, and offered guidance for agencies dealing with protests.
Ron Davis, a law enforcement veteran who until recently served as director of the COPS Office under former President Barack Obama, said it would be a “huge mistake” to eliminate COPS and said it would violate Trump's pledge to support police officers.
“If you make the campaign promise of supporting local law enforcement, then the support has to extend beyond rhetoric,” Davis told HuffPost. “Real support means you're going to fund them, you're going to help train them, you're going to make sure they have the tools necessary to be safe and the skill sets necessary to police a democratic society appropriately. That's support. Just simple rhetoric like ‘I like the police' doesn't help the police. I'm sure the rhetoric is appreciated, but that's not support.”
Last year, 173 Democrats and Republicans in the House sent a letter to the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the program to urge its renewal. “These programs are critical to ensuring that state and local law enforcement have the tools, personnel, and resources necessary to protect and serve their communities,” the members wrote.
This week, some House Republicans indicated they wouldn't immediately go along with a Trump budget that would gut an office that is strongly backed by law enforcement groups.
Steve Stivers of Ohio, the National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman, said that if Trump did propose a funding cut, “I would want to hear why he would want to eliminate it.”
“Obviously we can't do everything, but I think that program's worked,” Stivers said, noting that Republicans have voted for the program in the past.
A spokeswoman for the co-chairman of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), said the power of the purse lays with Congress, and this program shares bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. “Ultimately it will be Congress who decides its fate,” his spokeswoman said.
But Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the other co-chair of the caucus, said recent reports that funding for the COPS program may be targeted for elimination are “extremely concerning to me and they should concern every American.”
“Despite Republicans' claim to support law enforcement, right wing tea-partiers don't put their pocket book where their mouth is by targeting the COPS program for cuts and even elimination since fiscal year 2014,” Pascrell said.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) wrote a letter to Trump urging him to reject proposals to cut COPS. “You have publicly stated your commitment to stand up for our law enforcement community, empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs, and support their mission of protecting the public,” Ryan wrote. “You have also stated the belief that ‘our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing.' As your administration works to prepare a budget, I hope it will keep these commitments in mind as it decides the future of COPS grants.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said that Democrats were the only thing stopping House Republican appropriators from ending the COPS program. “We hope that enough Republicans realize the critical role this initiative plays in keeping so many communities and neighborhoods safe across this country and reject this foolish, ideological proposal,” he said.
It's unclear if Trump really sees the value in community policing grants, if he is fully aware of the work of the office, or if he's even aware of concerns his budget will put COPS on the chopping block. But bolstering the COPS Office would certainly be in keeping with Trump's campaign pledges, as he's characterized American cities as full of carnage and ravaged by drugs and violence.
The COPS program has been used in the past to help combat methamphetamine and now heroin, as well as all manners of violence ? even domestic terrorism. But funding for the program has varied greatly over the years, fluctuating from around $1.55 billion as recently as 2009 to $198.5 million in fiscal year 2012, the compromise reached after the House budget would have eliminated the office altogether. (Funding has remained at around $200 million ever since, despite the Obama administration's efforts to boost the COPS budget.)
Trump's campaign previously told the International Association of Chiefs of Police that the federal government “should provide assistance to state and local law enforcement” without dictating or interfering in their activities, “unless invited in by appropriate authorities or when verifiably improper behavior is clearly demonstrated.” The federal government, the campaign's statement said, “can provide grants to assist departments” and provide excess equipment.
“However, the burden for local law enforcement is local, after all,” the campaign told the IACP. “It is by taking the burden off state and local governments that the federal government can best assist.”
Since The Hill reported last week that the COPS Office could be eliminated, the issue has received national and local coverage. In South Carolina, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook told a local news station that COPS was “instrumental” for law enforcement and that they'd used COPS grants to fund 15 officer positions. In Ohio, Youngstown Mayor John McNally told a station the COPS grants had been “beneficial” to the city and allowed the police department to recently hire six new officers.
The COPS Office, meanwhile, has remained silent on the issue. At Justice Department headquarters, a spokesman said any future proposals “would be developed in concert with the Department's new leadership upon arrival, and discussed with [The Office of Management and Budget] and the Executive Office of the President as part of the budget process.” One White House spokeswoman did not respond to multiple requests for comment over several days, while another White House official said they would follow up when more information on the budget was available.
The lack of clarity on the future of the COPS Office under Trump leaves officers who have relied on the grants worried. Chris Cognac, a sergeant with the Hawthorne Police Department in LA County who previously served as a fellow at the COPS Office, wrote an open letter to President Trump asking him to keep the office intact.
“Mr. President-elect I am telling you, the Office of Community Policing is a vital tool that police departments and officers in America need now more than ever. Police-community engagement is just as important as enforcement. Please don't tie one hand behind our backs. Give us all the tools we need to stay safe and do our jobs,” Cognac wrote.
“You have had great support from law enforcement during the campaign, you promised to support police officers and help them do the difficult jobs they have. You said you would give them the tools that were needed to succeed. I, Sergeant Chris Cognac, am asking you to do just that.”
Miss. senate passes 'Blue Lives' bill, House eyes alternate plan
The bill would double penalties for crimes targeting police officers, firefighters and medics
by Jeff Amy
JACKSON, Miss. — A bill that would double penalties for crimes targeting police officers, firefighters and medics passed the Mississippi Senate by a 37-13 vote Thursday, despite impassioned cries against it from African-American senators.
Senate Bill 2469, a "Blue Lives Matter" proposal that moves onto the House, says any crime committed against emergency personnel because of their status as police officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians would be a hate crime. State law currently doubles penalties for targeting people because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.
Though there have long been enhanced penalties for certain crimes against police and others, the idea that a hate crimes law could cover someone because of their occupation and not because of intrinsic qualities is a new innovation that only sprung up after shootings of police officers last year in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"This is a response to law enforcement being shot down for nothing more than putting on their uniform and wearing the badge," said Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, the bill's lead sponsor.
The measure drew opposition from African-American senators. Some warned they feared that police would use the heavy penalties as a shield to abuse black men.
"If we pass this law, it will only embolden those law enforcement officers who hold a grudge, who don't like people," said Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson.
There was also a general concern that supporters were trying to change the terms of the national conversation from police violence against African-Americans to supporting police.
"I think this bill is another way that you can target black males," said Sen. Barbara Blackmon, D-Canton.
She said her two teenage sons had been stopped unreasonably by police, just because they were young, black and driving nice vehicles. She said she and her husband, Rep. Ed Blackmon, had to teach their sons to be submissive to police.
"You haven't walked in our shoes," Blackmon told white senators. "You haven't experienced that. Our concern is our child making it home after having been stopped by law enforcement."
The House Judiciary B Committee sent a separate proposal to the full House Thursday. House Bill 645 would triple penalties against anyone who commits a violent crime against emergency personnel. Unlike the hate crime bill, it doesn't require prosecutors to prove intent. However, it wouldn't apply to crimes that some skeptics of the bills had worried could be used to impose harsh penalties on protesters, such as resisting arrest.
Want to track cellphones? Get a warrant, lawmakers say
Law enforcement cellphone tracking devices are coming under scrutiny in several states
by Dave Collins
HARTFORD, Conn. — Law enforcement cellphone tracking devices are coming under scrutiny in several states, where lawmakers have introduced proposals ranging from warrant requirements to an outright ban on the technology.
Privacy and constitutional concerns, including Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations, are being cited with the proposed laws on cell-site simulators.
The suitcase-size devices, widely known under the brand name Stingray, mimic cellphone towers and allow law enforcement to collect unique subscriber numbers and other basic data from cellphones in a particular area. The data can help police determine the location of a targeted phone — and phones of innocent bystanders — in real time without the users even making calls or sending text messages.
Law enforcement officials say the devices are vital in helping to find suspects and victims, and to solve crimes.
At least 13 states already require warrants to track cellphones in real time: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah and Virginia.
Federal law enforcement officers also must get warrants, under policies put in place in 2015 by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
Courts around the country, meanwhile, have issued conflicting opinions about whether warrants are needed for cellphone location data, leading to a hodgepodge of rules.
Bills addressing use of the devices are now pending in at least eight states, according to a review by The Associated Press. Most of them would require police to get warrants. One bill, introduced by South Carolina state Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, would ban the purchase and use of cell-site simulators by law enforcement.
"I think most people would be offended if they knew exactly how much surveillance the government is doing," said Rutherford, a Democrat from Columbia who is the House minority leader and a criminal defense lawyer. "It's got to stop somewhere."
Rutherford isn't even sure if any police agencies in his state are using the simulators. Many state and local law enforcement agencies sign nondisclosure agreements with the device manufacturer.
The American Civil Liberties Union says it has identified 70 law enforcement agencies in 23 states and the District of Columbia that own cell-site simulators. But the actual number may be much higher because many agencies keep their use of the devices secret, the ACLU said.
This year, lawmakers in at least six states are proposing bills to require warrants to use cellphone surveillance devices: Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York and Oregon. A California bill would require local governments to approve the use of cell-site simulators and other surveillance technology.
In Connecticut, state Rep. Rob Sampson introduced a bill to require warrants, with exceptions for terrorism and other life-and-death situations.
"A cellphone is an individual's private property and law enforcement has no right monitoring activity on these devices unless there is strong reason to believe the individual is engaging in illegal activity," the Wolcott Republican said.
It also isn't clear whether any police agencies in Connecticut are using cell-site simulators. State police, Hartford police and New Haven police say they don't use the devices. Police in Bridgeport said they do not comment on their surveillance technology.
Last month, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a report calling for clearer guidelines.
"There's still a real pressing need for states to regulate this technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney for the ACLU's speech, privacy and technology project. "These devices are extraordinarily powerful and invasive. They can very precisely track where people's phones are, and knowing where someone's phone is can tell you a lot about them."
Arlington, DART officers earn federal praise for community policing efforts
by Julieta Chiquillo
Police with Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the city of Arlington have caught the eye of federal officials, and they are being recognized for it.
Both police departments in North Texas and 10 others beat nearly 200 agencies in a community policing photo contest by the U.S. Department of Justice. Each winner will be featured for one month on the website and social media accounts of the department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, also known as the COPS Office.
Federal officials will also highlight Arlington and DART policing efforts with articles in the COPS Office's monthly newsletter. Arlington will get February, and DART will get April.
The Arlington photo shows Cpl. Damien Gary help a boy tie a necktie during a "dress for success" after-school program last year at The Man's Shop, a formal-wear store in the city's downtown district.
Gary, who mentors students at Workman Junior High School, said he was watching the teens putting on ties when he spotted a boy who was struggling. The officer walked over and showed Isiah Austin how to wrap the tie around his neck and how to knot it.
The boy told Gary that he had been wearing clip-on ties because he didn't know how to put one on. Once Isiah got the hang of it, he went over to other teens to help them, Gary said.
"I feel like I changed a small portion of somebody's life," the officer said.
Many of the teens who participate in the Mentoring Arlington Youth program are raised by single mothers, Gary said, so police officers help fill the gap of a male role model.
Police officers meet with the teens two or three times a week. They have lunch with them at school and push them to boost their grades and embrace sports and extracurricular activities.
It's hard to gain teens' trust at first, but when police mentors say they'll show up, they do, Gary said.
"It also shows that we are normal people," the officer said, "and they can talk to us like normal people."
The award-winning DART photo features Officer Elmar Cannon kneeling down to interact with a little boy at the Rosa Parks Plaza in downtown Dallas. A DART staffer captured the interaction during a routine patrol in 2015.
Cannon was injured in the downtown Dallas ambush in July that killed one of his DART colleagues and four members of the Dallas Police Department. The officer recovered and is back on duty. He declined an interview.
The third Texas agency recognized in the contest is the Houston Police Department. Its photo shows a police officer coloring with a little girl at a hospital.
New Madison sheriff focuses on community policing
by Tom Holm
REXBURG — There's a new sheriff in town, but he knows the lay of the land.
Madison County Sheriff Rick Henry has lived in the Sugar City area for about two decades and commuted to his previous job at the Teton County Sheriff's Office.
Henry won the May Republican primary, defeating Madison County Sheriff's Capt. Cameron Stanford, who was former Sheriff Roy Klingler's hand-picked successor. Henry received a 333-vote advantage out of 4,223 votes cast.
Henry was sworn into office Jan. 9. His new post allows him to stay closer to home, but it also comes with added responsibility.
After several years as Teton County's chief deputy Henry, 49, is familiar with the administration side of law enforcement. The Madison County Sheriff's Office, with 59 full-time employees and 29 part-time workers, is a larger department than Teton County's 20 employees, according to the 2015 Crime in Idaho Report.
He said his administration background makes him comfortable making the decisions as sheriff, but he understands as sheriff the buck stops with him.
“Basically I was doing the same things you do as sheriff (when chief deputy), only I didn't take the hit at the end of the day,” Henry said.
One of Henry's campaign goals was to build professional relationships with the area's nonprofit agencies, such as domestic violence prevention advocates.
Madison County has seen dramatic growth, increasing 59 percent in population between 1990 and 2015, but Henry said he feels the community still has a strong trust in its law enforcement, and he wants that to continue.
Henry welcomes the growth and sees it as a sign of financial stability in the community. Henry spent several years at the Pocatello Police Department, and while not an extremely large agency, he said it prepared him for policing a large population.
“We want to build those relationships and sometimes that means having to step out a little bit and (have the officers) say ‘OK, I'll trust you first,'” Henry said.
Despite coming from an outside agency Henry said he hasn't experienced any hard feelings at the office.
Stanford, who stayed on with the agency and works as a school resource officer, has said he fully supports Henry.
“We came in and sat down every individual and asked them to tell us ‘Where do you fit in,'” Henry said.
The election behind him, Henry has a few plans in mind for his first term.
Henry said school safety is a top priority. Though the Sheriff's Office doesn't often deal with the large student population at Brigham Young University-Idaho, Henry said the office collaborates with the Rexburg Police Department regularly. He said the schools in the county have their own resource officers, and he wants to make sure students feel safe.
He said he's met with officials from the school districts, several nonprofits as well as prosecutors and judges. Henry said he wants to create active dialogue with nonprofits and programs in the area such as the Family Crisis Center, a women's shelter; and Madison Cares, a mental health program put in place by Madison School District 321.
Henry said he plans on often attending meetings and making himself available to area agencies.
“These people out in community trying to make community better and safer, we want to partner with them in any way we can,” he said.
Rick Croft, Madison Cares project director, said Henry recognizes the role mental health plays in students' lives.
Croft said the program has had a good working relationship with the Sheriff's Office and offered 8-hour training for some of its officers on “youth mental health first aid,” something Henry expressed interest in.
Croft said several officers took the training that guides them on how to be a first responder to a mental health crisis.
“I wouldn't be surprised to find he had gone through to his officers and found out who hasn't taken the class,” Croft said.
Henry picked former Fremont County Sheriff's Office deputy Bart Quayle as his chief deputy. Henry worked with Quayle during his nearly eight-year stay at the Fremont office. Quayle said he was surprised to get the call to come on as chief deputy but took advantage of the opportunity.
“I've been lucky to sit at the administration table and it's an opportunity to learn a lot,” Quayle said.
Quayle will be Henry's “right-hand man,” and make sure the day-to-day operations run smoothly.
Henry, starting his law enforcement career as a patrol officer responding to calls, has no qualms responding to incidents as sheriff, but won't step on anyone's toes.
“Bart and I are both old (patrol) guys … part of us just wants to be a part of it,” Henry said. “Not that we would ever go out and micromanage a scene for a detective or anything.”
Henry said he wants to create a stronger community policing model at the Sheriff's Office, listening to the community and building rapport with its people. He said it's especially important given national scrutiny to law enforcement about use of force following many high profile incidents of police shootings. Henry said Madison County tends to be immune to some of the critiques of law enforcement on the national scale, but he wants to maintain a good relationship with the people he is sworn to protect.
“You look around and see that this is a great place,” Henry said. “In general I think our officers are trusted the majority of the time. The guys that wear this badge, we're human.”
Johnstown police work to build relationships with community through internal policing
by Erika Stanish
JOHNSTOWN - Johnstown police are working to build respectful relationships with community members in Cambria County using a new strategy called community policing.
It's a nationally recognized movement in law enforcement.
The goal is to build relationships while improving officer safety and their professional work environment.
“It comes down to public trust, accountability and respect,” said Johnstown police Capt. Jeff Janciga.
Janciga said he hopes by following the strategy, it will prevent and stop crime, while remaining open and trusting to the public.
“Show them (public) that though you may not agree, you understand their viewpoint. That can go a long way,” said Janciga.
The initiative is focused on listening to community members while giving them the opportunity to explain.
“This is maybe something we're doing to make sure that we're doing the best we can with community satisfaction,” said Janciga.
6 News spoke with some in the community about the strategy. One citizen disagreed.
“They think they are above the law. They think because they are cops they can do what they want.”
While others had hope in the new concept.
“It's a good start. It's good to have interaction with police.”
This concept, relates to one kicked off in September 2016.
Hundreds of blue wristbands were created and passed out by police in hopes to break barriers and allow the community to open up with police and have a conversation.
“A lot of police experiences can be bad, bad call, incident, this is something that takes that away and we can walk up and talk to people,” said Joe Eckenrod, Johnstown police officer.
Community policing is a change, Janciga said, he hopes will improve future situations and build trust between his officers and the community.
"The principles are citizen voice, neutrality, respect and trustworthiness," said Janciga.
WPD releases open letter on community policing and immigration enforcement
by Nohely Peraza
On Dec. 7, 2016, Police Chief Kyle J. Johnson of the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) issued an open letter to Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch '95 addressing the police department's commitment to serve and protect the community amid concerns about possible new immigration laws.
“We want the community we serve to know that the Williamstown Police Department will continue to be committed to building and maintaining positive relationships within the community,” Johnson said in his open letter.
Johnson elaborated that the WPD would not involve itself in any investigations involving civil immigration laws since these cases fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. “All of those within our boundaries should be completely confident that we are here to assist them in any crisis situation,” Johnson said. This statement resembles the prerequisites of the sanctuary cities and campuses that many individuals around the country have been pressing to safeguard immigrants and undocumented students.
According to the American Immigration Council, sanctuary cities are defined as “trust acts or community policing policies that … make communities safer and increase communication between police and their residents without imposing any restrictions on federal law enforcement activities.”
The term arose in the 1980s when many religious establishments advocated for the protection of thousands of Central Americans who sought refuge from civil wars and did not receive asylum. Known as the sanctuary movement, this term saw a revival in the most recent presidential election. According to the Washington Examiner , there are over 200 “sanctuary cities” across 32 U.S. states and in D.C.
On Nov. 17, 2016, President Adam Falk sent an email to the entire student body explaining that numerous petitions received from community members and activist groups across the College helped initiate this movement after the presidential election.
“The petitions vary in what they seek, but they are inspired by sanctuary cities, where local laws prevent police from asking about people's immigration status and generally don't use local resources to enforce federal immigration laws,” Falk said.
He elaborated, however, that the application of this concept to a private college is somewhat unclear, specifying that the College does not have the ability to provide this full protection.
On Nov. 18, 2016, the day after Falk sent his all-campus email, students gathered to protest his statement and called on administration to make the College a “sanctuary campus” in solidarity with other #SanctuaryCampus sit-ins and walk-outs taking place on college campuses across the country. Students demanded that the College vow as an institution to protect undocumented students and keep their legal status confidential.
After the 23 California State University campuses committed to being “sanctuary campuses,” students at private colleges across the nation began to protest and petition that their schools do the same, but few protests have succeeded in securing that change given how public and private colleges follow different protocol surrounding immigration status.
Students occupied Hopkins Hall, which hosts many offices of the administration, and voiced their personal concerns and stories about how immigration policies affect them as undocumented students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students or as family members of immigrants.
Johnson later clarified that while the police department would not ignore federal laws, it would not be taking immigration information about members of the community that the federal government could use. “[The WPD] would always assist another law enforcement agency to the best of our ability, but on this specific topic, we would not have information to give as we do not ask, track or record immigration status,” Johnson said. He further specified that the WPD has not consulted with Falk or any other College administrators surrounding the topic of immigration or “sanctuary campuses.” “We work every day to maintain positive community relationships through Community Policing, but nothing specific regarding immigration at this time,” Johnson said.
Still, many students at the College and Williamstown community members are concerned about the protection of immigrants and undocumented students. Jaqueli´ne Serrano '17, one of many organizers of the Occupy Baxter protest, feels that immigration structures directly impact them as a DACA student. Serrano explained that they communicated with Movimiento Cosecha, “an immigrant youth, decentralized organization spearheading the #SanctuaryCampus walk-outs/ sit-ins” nationally. Movimiento Cosecha's “sanctuary campaigns aim to defend our communities, expose the repression, build rapid response teams and establish places of protection and resistance for the immigrant community.”
By bringing this movement to the College's cam- pus, Serrano aimed to “generate student power among young people” and “bring highlight to the awareness that exists among students and to say ‘we are watching' as power-yielding institutions like Williams remain quiet in times like these and continue to stand for legality, a construct that is built to bene t those in power.”
“Honestly, neither Chief Johnson's statement nor his answers to [the] questions are at all surprising,” Serrano said. “It just confirms what black and brown folks have always known: oppressive institutions, including the police, are not meant to protect us.”
Serrano explained that the Chief's “belief [in] and reliance [on] ‘community policing' demonstrate a reformist approach, one that is shared among many that made that stance comfortable “When these institutions that purport to protect you and your community are actually oppressive, it leads us to commit to more radical actions and futures,” Serrano said. “In the end, that's all most black and brown folks have, especially those that are undocumented.”
Plan takes aim at city's high crime rate
by Jeffrey Schweers
Tallahassee has seen a 16 percent reduction in violent crimes between 2015 and 2016, City Manager Rick Fernandez said during a workshop on public safety Wednesday.
He credited Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo and his focus on community policing and other changes for helping achieve that goal.
“Now that we've made some progress on violent crime, we want to focus our effort on communication and awareness activities,” said Cynthia Barber, deputy city manager for safety and neighborhood services.
Community policing is at the core of the department's five-year plan, she said. The department has been working with community partners, including the sheriff's office, school district and universities, to make safer neighborhoods.
“There's a general expectation we work together,” Barber said. “When something happens, the neighbors don't try to think whether I'm in the city or county.”
For two years, Leon County has been saddled with the highest crime rate in the state, with more than 83 percent of those crimes occurring within the city limits. While violent crimes have gone down, property crimes have gone up by 16 percent between 2015 and 2016.
DeLeo said community policing is the key to reducing that rate.
“Community oriented policing is our driving force,” DeLeo said.
All 600 police department officers and staff received training in community policing, and officers presented the policy in community forums to the people in the neighborhoods they patrolled.
The department is committed to filling vacancies and boosting its ranks with federal Community Oriented Policing program. TPD has 15 officers whose salaries are funded by the COP program.
“We're getting back to the policing levels where we need to be,” DeLeo said.
The department also is pursuing a grant to buy body cameras, he said.
Commissioner Scott Maddox noted that the COP grant program is under attack at the federal level and wanted to know how DeLeo would deal with that if the funding is cut.
“Politics aside, it would be a bad thing for everybody, not just our community but nationwide,” DeLeo said.
The department has gone through a reorganization to eliminate layers of bureaucracy and streamline the decision-making process. TPD eliminated the rank of captain and the Administrative Services bureau director position.
Now, the major who leads each bureau responds directly to the deputy chief.
DeLeo described a plan to divide the South District in two and to go from three primary patrol areas to four. The idea is that creating smaller patrol areas will lead to officers having more time to interact with people in the community, DeLeo said.
“They will have a better chance to build relationships with neighborhoods,” he said.
DeLeo also described an approach to reducing crime by beefing up human services and other resources, like a Ready for Work re-entry program the department is working on with Rev. R.B. Holmes of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
Mayor Andrew Gillum noted that the city has added $1 million for the last two years toward human services.
DeLeo also said the department is working closely with the Refuge House to make sure crime victims receive the social services they need to help them.
'Sanctuary cities' undaunted by Trump move to cut funding
Leaders in various "sanctuary cities" said they won't change their stance on immigration despite Trump's vows to withhold taxpayer money if they don't cooperate
by Gene Johnson
SEATTLE — Politicians in New York, Seattle and other "sanctuary cities" that protect immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally declared Wednesday they won't be intimidated by a move by President Donald Trump to cut off millions in federal funding to such communities.
Many cities vowed legal action, arguing that the threatened punishment would be unconstitutional. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised to let immigrants who feel threatened by the administration's actions take shelter in City Hall if necessary.
"This city will not be bullied by this administration," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, adding that he instructed city departments to rework their budgets to prepare for the possibility that federal dollars could be lost. "We believe we have the rule of law and the courts on our side."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called Trump's executive orders on immigration mean-spirited and unnecessary. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, tweeted: "See you in court."
In New York, Trump's hometown, city officials said the administration's action could take away over $150 million in law enforcement funding mainly for counterterrorism efforts, protecting international missions and dignitaries and, arguably, safeguarding Trump Tower, city officials said.
"Here in New York City and in cities across this nation, this order could in fact undermine public safety," Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Wednesday evening â a concern echoed by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser.
While there is no formal definition of the term "sanctuary city," it generally refers to jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration officials.
In some cases, these cities tell police not to inquire about the immigration status of those they encounter, or they decline requests from immigration officials to keep defendants in custody while they await deportation.
Others say they do cooperate with such "detainer" requests as long as they're backed by court-issued warrants, but won't allow local officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Advocates say such noncooperation policies protect people who may not have exhausted their rights to apply for U.S. residency. They also say that crime victims and witnesses are more likely to cooperate with police if they are not afraid of being deported.
"We're not going to sacrifice any of our folks here in Providence," said Jorge Elorza, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. "My job is to represent every single resident in the city of Providence, and we will continue to do that."
Supporters of a crackdown on sanctuary cities point to cases like the fatal shooting of Kate Steinle in 2015 on a San Francisco pier. A man who had been previously deported and had been released by local law enforcement was charged in her death.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the Trump administration is going to "strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants."
Trump signed an executive order that appeared more limited than that. It referred to withholding Justice Department and Homeland Security funds from only those jurisdictions that bar local officials from communicating with federal authorities about someone's immigration status.
Peter L. Markowitz, a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York, said such an attempt to cut off funding would face strong legal challenges.
"The Constitution prohibits the president from defunding jurisdictions that won't do his bidding," Markowitz said. "There's nothing in federal law that requires localities or states to participate in federal immigration enforcement. Second, the Constitution grants Congress â not the president â the power to determine how federal dollars are spent."
In California, local law enforcement officials are barred from holding immigrants arrested on lesser crimes for deportation purposes.
More than 100 immigration rights advocates crowded on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, holding signs that said "Undocumented & Unafraid" and "Don't let hate Trump our values."
"When we know that there is a violation of human rights here, this is where we excel," San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said to cheers. "This is where we lead the nation and we say, 'We will not back down and we will stand up for what we believe is right.'"
Affidavit: Couple intended to kill Texas officers when they set house on fire
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the couple was angry about how police handled a traffic mishap
by Ngan Ho
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A couple arrested after confronting police officers who responded to a house fire on San Angelo's north side set the fire with the intent of killing police who responded, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Texas Rangers have identified husband and wife Gary Ray Wright and Brenda Joyce Wright as the suspects involved in the fiery shooting standoff with San Angelo police on Friday January 13.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit in the case, the couple intended to go out with bang by killing police officers because of a grievance they had with the San Angelo Police Department.
"Brenda Joyce Wright detailed how she and her husband had become frustrated with life," the affidavit stated. "The couple was dissatisfied over how a recent traffic accident had been investigated with the San Angelo Police Department. The couple viewed this as the 'last straw' and decided to put into motion a plan the couple had been planning for several weeks."
The wife and husband plotted to set their house on fire, summon police to their residence and then kill officers as they responded, according to the affidavit.
Brenda Joyce Wright, 60, told detectives that she armed herself with a shotgun, hid in the bathroom next to a window and waited with the intention to kill any officers who would come into range, the affidavit stated.
She was unable to carry out her plan because of heavy smoke from the house fire.
Her husband, Gary Ray Wright, said in the 911 phone call to summon police that he intended to cause a standoff with law enforcement and kill police, according to the affidavit, and asked for the neighborhood to be evacuated.
Gary Ray Wright, 67, had called a local television news station, KLST, before communicating with dispatch, to announce his plans and asked the news director to have reporters bring cameras to the scene.
Police arrived shortly before noon and encountered Gary Wright, who was armed with a rifle, and his wife near the front of their home in the 1200 block East 21st Street, according to the affidavit. Wright ignored police instructions to drop the rifle, and officers shot him. Both the husband and wife were taken to Shannon Medical Center.
Shannon would not release any information on Wright's condition late Monday afternoon.
The Rangers indicated Tuesday morning that an investigation is ongoing and no further information can be released.
There was significant fire damage to the front and back of the house.
Brenda Joyce Wright was arrested the same day and charged with attempted capital murder, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison. She remains at the Tom Green County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Trump warns he's ready to 'send in the Feds' to Chicago
President Donald Trump says he's ready to "send in the Feds" if Chicago can't reduce its homicide problem
by Don Babwin
CHICAGO — President Donald Trump says he's ready to "send in the Feds" if Chicago can't reduce its homicide problem, and the city's police superintendent says he is "more than willing" to work with the federal government to combat the violence.
Trump tweeted Tuesday night: "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!"
In response to the president's tweet, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reiterated that the city is receptive to assistance from the Department of Justice, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. He also repeated that city officials have sought a "boost" in federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago since homicide figures spiked.
Trump's tweet came a day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized Trump for worrying about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Emanuel, a longtime political ally of former President Barack Obama, has acknowledged his own frustration with Chicago's crime rate.
The figures cited by Trump are the same as those published Monday in the Chicago Tribune. The tweet was posted about the time Tuesday evening that the figures were cited on Fox television's "O'Reilly Factor."
The numbers were slightly different from the latest tally by the Chicago Police Department. As of Tuesday, police said, 234 people have been shot in 2017, including 38 who died. At this point last year, 227 people had been shot, including 33 deaths.
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi explained that the department's numbers are slightly different because they do not include officer-involved shootings, shootings that were considered "justified," such as those that were in self-defense, and shootings that were investigated by state police because they occurred on expressways.
It appears that the president's numbers for homicides came from the county's medical examiner's office, Guglielmi said.
Earlier this month, before he took office, Trump tweeted that Emanuel should ask for federal help if he isn't able to bring down the homicide rate. Last year, the death toll soared to 762 — the most killings in the city in nearly two decades and more than New York and Los Angeles combined.
In Tuesday's tweet, Trump did not offer specifics about how the federal government could help. The White House website says: "Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement and more effective policing."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, criticized Trump, suggesting in a statement that the president, whom he called the "tweeter-in-chief," would "rather spend his time on Twitter" than look for ways to reduce gun violence.
"The president wants publicity and to be seen beating up on Democratic elected officials and appearing hostile to a big city like Chicago in the eyes of his suburban and rural voters," Gutierrez said, adding that he does not believe the president "will do anything constructive to get cheap handguns off the streets of American cities."
NYPD to install bullet-resistant windows in all patrol cars
The change comes after the multiple officers were killed while sitting in their patrol vehicles
by PoliceOne Staff
NEW YORK — In an effort to combat ambush killings of officers in their vehicles, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to install bullet-resistant glass in all patrol cars.
The New York Post reported the city decided to implement the new glass after the 2014 killing of two NYPD officers sitting in their patrol vehicles and the killing of Officer Brian Moore in an unmarked patrol car.
“This is about having the backs of our men and women in blue who, with courage and commitment, don the uniform every day to protect and serve,” City Hall spokesman Austin Finan said. “This investment is our commitment to ensuring the safety of those officers on the beat.”
According to the publication, NYPD began a window pilot program in 2016. The glass protects the back portion of the both the driver and passenger-side windows, but doesn't allow the windows to be rolled down.
The city allocated $6.8 million in July to install the bullet-resistant panels that protected the doors, but weren't ready to sign off on the window inserts.
Now, they have approved the spending of $10.4 million to install the windows in all patrol cars.
70-year veteran cop to young cops: 'Watch your back'
"I don't understand why … every time you get out on the street, you're a target"
by PoliceOne Staff
FORT WORTH, Texas — A 70-year law enforcement veteran has words of advice for young officers: Watch your back when you're on the street.
Deputy Bill Hardin, who turns 94 in March, said he's learned from his years in law enforcement that it doesn't matter who's inside the uniform; the uniform is the only thing people see.
“I don't understand why … every time you get out on the street, you're a target,” Hardin told CBS DFW.
Hardin spent most of his 40 years with the Fort Worth Police Department. He also spent eight years with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department. Now, he serves as a Johnson County sheriff's deputy - where he's worked for 24 years.
According to the news station, Hardin is the oldest officer in Texas and has been on the force longer than any other cop.
“As long as I can make a contribution, how little or how much, it makes me feel good,” he told the publication.
He said that despite being confronted by armed suspects multiple times, he's never fired his service revolver.
Although he hasn't set on a date, Hardin is looking to retire soon. But wants to offer advice to young officers who are facing dangers he didn't experience when he began.
“All I'd say is, watch your back.”
Community policing builds trust, reduces crime
by Louise Wrege
BENTON HARBOR — Police officers are on the road every day arresting criminals and helping people in crisis situations.
But, what happens when officers help an elderly woman change a light bulb or shovel her sidewalk?
St. Joseph Public Safety Director Brian Uridge said that kind of community policing is what is needed to build trust between police and the residents they serve.
“Community policing needs to be a belief. It needs to be throughout your organization,” he said during a Southwest Michigan ALPACT meeting Tuesday at Kinexus in Benton Harbor.
While he worked at Kalamazoo Public Safety, he said he helped the department change its mindset towards community policing.
“We would ask our officers every day to get out of your car and do 20 minutes of foot patrol,” said Uridge, who took over as public safety director in St. Joseph two months ago. “Don't arrest somebody. Just get out of your car, pick a street when you're not on a call for service, and go out and talk to someone, and talk to them about nothing. Just talk to them about the weather.”
He said people were amazed when officers were walking down the street.
“We didn't have just one person do it,” he said. “If we had 18 police officers on the road, we asked all 18 of them to get out of their car for 20 minutes. Every one of us has that capacity.”
He said it's important throughout the entire nation that community policing become the norm for all officers.
“In Kalamazoo, we just started rewarding (officers) for different things,” he said.
Uridge said Kalamazoo Public Safety officials started listing non-traditional things officers did at the bottom of their weekly update. He said it was hard to get the officers in Kalamazoo to think about community policing.
“The only way to change a culture is every day to reinforce it,” he said.
He said that helps get officers out of an enforcement mindset and gets them thinking like ambassadors.
“Our goal is to reduce crime,” he said. “You do that through community policing.”
Southwest Michigan ALPACT has several ways citizens can get involved in creating a positive relationship between law enforcement officers and the community.
Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic will talk about “How Crimes are Charged” 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Benton Harbor Housing Commission, 721 Nate Wells Drive.
A community forum on “Diversity Training” will be presented 6-8 p.m. April 18 by Danny Sledge, a diversity consultant with Lake Michigan College in Benton Township. That forum will be at the Berrien County Health Department, 2149 E. Napier Ave.
Citizens can attend ALPACT's regular meetings.
ALPACT stands for Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust.
Ayden police hold first community meeting of the year
The meetings have been going on for nearly two decades and police say they now have a stronger relationship with the community.
Ayden Officer Jenny Clark says, "I feel like it is a huge importance for the police and the community to work together and build that trust because we can not do it alone. We have to have the community's help."
Clark says residents have come to express concerns, some crime related and others for things like a street light being out. It also gives the community and the police department a chance to plan their yearly events, like shop with a cop.
Officers say they are looking to expand the Community Policing Council.
Buffalo Police grilled on community issues
by Jeff Preval
BUFFALO, NY - On Tuesday, Buffalo police officials were grilled by lawmakers and community members on a range of issues important to city residents -- from community policing to better training and equipment for officers.
All were present for the Buffalo Police Oversight Committee meeting.
Residents spoke out, saying they want better police community relations -- these were residents from Non-English speaking communities of the city. Meantime, community groups say they want police officers to wear body cameras, something the department is moving on.
Another question for police was why the department doesn't have tasers?
"We searched tasers and we don't believe it's an option for the Buffalo Police Department, we have our reasons," said police commissioner Daniel Derenda.
The questions are coming up, because earlier this month, a Buffalo Police officer used his patrol vehicle to run over a knife-weilding man, who police say was making threats to officers.
"What the police officers were then struggling to find out is how do I get the interpreter? Do I have a number I call and that's where they were hitting a dead end," said Lisa Strand, an attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau.
Officials say police should know how to get in touch with an interpreter.
REPORTER: Do you have any other information on that and why that didn't happen?
"No I don't and it's unfortunate that it didn't happen because I actually dealt with that family through the whole process and for some reason they didn't talk to me," said Captain Steve Nichols of Buffalo Police.
REPORTER: Do police officers need to be retrained in who to call with these situations?
"Well we will get it back out again, we reissue the general bulletin every couple of months just to put into their head," Nichols said.
Police agreed to work with city leaders in possibly getting the department accredited by the state. This comes after an extensive investigation from our news partners at Investigative Post.
Congressman Ryan urges new president to protect grants for community policing
by Danielle Cotterman
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Congressman Tim Ryan is urging President Donald Trump to protect a federal office that's helped communities all across the country put police officers on the street.
In a press release, Congressman Tim Ryan comments on reports that say Trump is considering eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The office helps communities fight drugs and train police officers but, the majority of their funding goes toward putting entry level officers on the street at no cost to local departments for the first few years.
In Youngstown, Mayor John McNally says the city just recently entered into an agreement with the COPS Hiring Program for six new officers.
"We're finishing up a previous COPS grant as well, so it's a program that's been beneficial to us," said McNally.
Despite talks that the new administration could be considering eliminating the office that operates the grant, McNally says he's cautiously optimistic. He says, last week he attended a Mayor's Conference in Washington D.C. where Vice President Mike Pence said the administration wants to not only help provide funding for infrastructure improvements but, additional dollars for training and hiring of first responders.
"For right now, we're going to to give the administration the benefit of the doubt until they get into real specifics about what they want to do," said McNally.
In Niles, the budget has been under tight scrutiny. Captain John Marshal says the city's police department will be hiring additional officers to bring the department back to full strength.
But, he says if the COPS Program is eliminated any hiring above and beyond could be at risk.
"The good thing about the COPS grants was that it didn't actually require any out lay of capital expenses by the police agencies," said Marshal. "So in theory you could be approved to hire an additional two law enforcement personnel and put them on the road three years, completely cost free to the agency that is employing them under the condition they will be absorbed into the agency at the end."
In Ryan's letter to President Trump he says, in addition to hiring officers "the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force program and the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program provide critical support to state police agencies as they pursue traffickers or heroin, prescription opioids, and methamphetamine."
Policing reform under a new president
by Sharon Smith
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -- Police-involved shootings have come under more scrutiny nationwide over the last few years.
The Obama Administration introduced policing reforms and encouraged Justice Department investigations into police departments with allegations of bias and excessive use of force.
Now, there's new leadership at the top under President Donald Trump, and policing issues are high on his agenda.
On the White House website, the Trump Administration has a page titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community.”
It states reducing violent crime is a big priority for President Trump. Crimes, like homicide, are up in cities like Charlotte as well as nationwide. Trump says his will be a “law and order” administration and that “the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong.”
As law enforcement agencies nationwide wait and see how policies could change, WBTV examined the similarities and differences between the current and past administrations.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department adopted many of the policing reform recommendations under President Obama's 21st Century Task Force on Policing. The reform is largely based on building trust, community policing, and transparency.
At CMPD, some of those adopted recommendations are reflected through the “Cops and Barbers” program, which facilitates engagement between officers and the community, the issuance of body-worn cameras, and the release of that video under court order in officer-involved shootings.
“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department remains committed to the culture shift towards 21st Century Policing. The CMPD has already adopted several recommendations from the task force and continues to identify opportunities to actualize additional recommendations,” said CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano in a statement.
None of those steps toward reform and transparency just go away under new leadership. They have been adopted by city leaders as well as Chief Kerr Putney.
Former CMPD Chief Darrel Stephens, who was consulted with the Obama task force, said President Trump's transition teams at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are actively engaging and talking about policy with some of the same stakeholders.
Stephens, who leads the Major Cities Chiefs Association, will meet with other law enforcement groups in Washington, D.C next month. Reducing violent crime will certainly be part of the discussion.
“We are very interested in working with them on that issue and others dealing with policing and public safety,” said Stephens.
Trump has said he wants more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing, which are all familiar themes.
Cracking down on illegal immigration is also big part of the President's crime-fighting strategy. On the White House webpage, Trump states he is “committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities. He is dedicated to enforcing our border laws, ending sanctuary cities, and stemming the tide of lawlessness associated with illegal immigration.”
It's unclear how that vision could affect local police officers. The federal 287-g program which enabled local police officers and deputies to question immigration status was largely scaled back several years ago under the Obama Administration.
Stephens said his group is ready to support the steps they believe will help police and communities, and that they will speak out against reforms they disagree with, as they have always done.
Suspect arrested in hit-and-run death of Cleveland officer
Police arrested Israel Alvarez after they found the car linked to the accident that killed Officer David Fahey
Duty Death: David Fahey - [Cleveland, Ohio] - End of Service: 01/24/2017
by PoliceOne Staff
CLEVELAND — Authorities arrested a man Tuesday in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of Cleveland Officer David Fahey.
Israel Alvarez, 44, was arrested at gunpoint after police discovered the car at his ex-girlfriend's house, Cleveland.com reported.
After SWAT responded to the home, Alvarez surrendered and was arrested. He was handcuffed with Fahey's cuffs.
Police told the publication that a Homeland Security Agent spotted the car after police put out a description of the vehicle.
Fahey was killed while directing traffic away from a previous accident Tuesday morning.
Alvarez is held on suspicion of aggravated vehicular homicide and felony hit-skip.
Ore. protesters demand firing of police chief or they'll 'shut down city'
The protesters accused officers of using excessive force during a demonstration on Inauguration Day
by PoliceOne Staff
PORTLAND, Ore. — Demonstrators protesting President Donald Trump's inauguration Friday said police incited violence with flash bangs and pepper spray when they tried to cross a bridge.
Direct Action Alliance Spokesperson Jacob Bureros told KOIN 6 that the group wants Police Chief Mike Marshman fired because of the alleged excessive force.
“They created a confrontation where there didn't need to be a confrontation and a lot of people got hurt because of it,” Bureros said.
Police said the protesters threw “rocks, bottles, flares and unknowns liquids” at police.
The group said if the mayor doesn't fire Marshman by Tuesday night, they'll “shut down the city” Wednesday.
“A decentralized, citywide occupation of squares, shutting down bridges, shutting down intersections, whatever it may be,” Bureros told the news station. “And it's going to last for a very long time until the city takes responsibility for what happened that night.”
LMPD Community Policing Unit collecting books for inner city kids
by Stephan Johnson
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- LMPD needs the public's help to round up hundreds of children's books by 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The department's community policing unit was created to improve LMPD's relationship with the public, and it's hoping a book drive will do more of that and help some inner city youth.
Portland Elementary is well-kept and doesn't really look like a school that needs help, but that's not the case.
"Ninety-eight percent or our students are on free and reduced lunch," said Angela Hosch, the principal of Portland Elementary.
"We are one of the highest poverty schools in Jefferson County," she said.
Hosch said because of the poverty level, educating students is just part of her job, and some of the basic essentials are missing.
"Most of our students don't have reading material at home," she said.
So LMPD's newly formed Community Policing Unit is working to help the school with books. The unit spends most days on foot, meeting the people they are sworn to serve and protect.
"Any gently used or new books that can be donated would be greatly appreciated," Officer Donnie Cardell said. "Reading is always a good thing."
The unit has placed boxes at every division in the city for people to donate books.
"When they get to know us, they see that we are humans too, just like everybody else," Cardell said. "Just letting them know that we are here. We care."
Cardell said he has seen a difference since the unit hit the streets a few months ago.
"I see it on Facebook, and I've had parents walk up to me and tell me they see a difference and appreciate what we are doing."
The books will delivered to Portland Elementary school on Wednesday.
"Every little bit helps." Hosch said. "Books will make a huge difference."
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine will help deliver the books on Wednesday morning and read to the students.
You can drop off the books at any police department or if you have a lot of them, officers will come to you.
Mpls. police fight crime with community
by Camille Williams
MINNEAPOLIS - Inside Sojourner Truth Academy, Minneapolis city leaders announced 2016 crime statistics and a new focus on fighting crime.
Police Chief Janee Harteau revealed that burglaries are at a 36-year low. She added homicides are down year-over-year, but shootings remain a challenge.
"We have shootings where people don't care that cops are right around the corner. We continue to have uncooperative victims who hinder our investigations and prefer street justice," said Chief Harteau.
That's where Minneapolis police officers, like Mike Boelk, come in.
Officer Boelk is part of the "community policing" which, Harteau says, is key to preventing crime and building relationships with kids and community members.
"Nobody is asking officers not to be aggressive on enforcement. Certainly not with repeat and chronic offenders, but we need both. We need relationship building. We need public trust -- because that's how you achieve public safety to the level that you can," said Chief Harteau.
The idea of community policing, Chief Harteau says, comes after doing research and figuring out who are gun violence victims.
She says out of the 344 gunshot wound victims in 2016, 56 percent of those victims have gang association, 62 percent of them live in Minneapolis, and a majority of them are black men between the ages of 18 and 24. Officer Boelk says getting to kids before that age can really make a difference.
"Especially when you get into that 10,11, 12, 13 age. That's the stuff that's going to stick and it's extremely hard to break any of those beliefs or habits that somebody learns at that age. It's extremely hard to break no matter how hard you try," said Officer Boelk.
"Our goal isn't to make a multitude of arrests. Our goal isn't that our crimes will no longer. But, when they do, we have good partners, witnesses and people who are willing to come forward and help resolve issues," said Chief Harteau.
She added the department has put officers through extensive training, including the use of body cameras and de-escalation tactics. She says she plans to add more officers to the department as well. Currently, there are 872 sworn MPD officers. Her goals is to have more than 900 by 2022.
Police in Arizona share hopes for improved community relations
by Kathy Cline
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Law enforcement professionals, community leaders and others came together Monday to discuss the relationship between communities and police.
The Bridge Forum hosted, among others, Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell. He said a good relationship with the community benefited everyone.
“As guardians, we need to be in partnership and not overseers of the public,” he said. “Community policing just means spending time, communicating, listening to each other's needs.”
Michael Johnson, with forum partner Checkered Flag Run Foundation of Phoenix, agreed communication was one of the big keys to good relations.
“Every effort, everything we do to bring about and bridge those communication gaps, certainly improves the relationship,” he said.
Mayor Jim Lane said a strong community-police relationship was not only good for residents, but visitors, too.
“[Tourists] come from around the country … and around the world,” he said.
“Certainly we want to have everybody feel safe. And, we want everybody to feel that they are being treated equally and fairly.”
The Monday forum was held in Scottsdale and was hosted by Nielsen, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Checkered Flag Run Foundation.
The nonprofit Checkered Flag Run Foundation‘s mission statement was listed online as “investing in education to ensure every student and veteran gets to cross the finish line.”
Other panelists included Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir and Chief Karl Auerbach of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Despite new year, Chicago violence continues
Ten people were wounded in three multiple-victim shootings over the weekend
by Tony Briscoe and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
CHICAGO — Tucked into the third row of a minivan, talking on FaceTime with a friend, Angela Wojcik wasn't paying much attention to the conversation of her boyfriend and his acquaintances in the front of the vehicle as it sat parked in West Town on Sunday morning.
That was until the percussion of gunfire began shortly before 9 a.m.
"The driver was bleeding from the mouth," said Wojcik, who lives in the suburbs and spent the previous night out at various clubs in the city. Police later identified the driver as a 26-year-old man who was shot in the lip.
"It was blood over his whole face. It was so surreal," Wojcik said.
Her boyfriend, 30, was hit twice in the right calf. The front passenger, who police said was a 25-year-old man shot in the left shoulder, appeared to be in the worst condition of the three, Wojcik said.
"No one screamed," Wojcik said. "But I was FaceTiming with my friend Robert, and he was freaking out."
All three were taken to Stroger Hospital, where their conditions were stabilized, police said.
It was the second triple shooting of the morning Sunday. The other happened around 6:30 a.m.
Hours later there was another shooting with multiple victims, this one leaving four people wounded at 12:15 p.m. in the 1800 block of West 63rd Street in the Englewood neighborhood. In all, 10 people were wounded in multiple-victim shootings within less than six hours Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon.
"We've had quite a few multiple-victim incidents this weekend," said Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago police spokesman. There were six triple shootings from Friday afternoon to early Sunday afternoon, in addition to the quadruple shooting.
The most seriously injured in the Englewood shooting was a 26-year-old man who suffered a gunshot wound to the right eye and was taken by a family member to St. Bernard Hospital before being transferred to Stroger Hospital in critical condition, police said.
The others wounded were: Another 26-year-old man, shot in the right buttocks and left foot; a 56-year-old woman, shot multiple times in the left leg; and a 48-year-old woman shot in the right hip. All three were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where their conditions were stabilized.
The four were in a convenience store when they heard gunshots and ran outside, where four armed men or boys shot them, police said. The four attackers got into a white sedan and fled the scene. No one was in custody.
In the first of the three multiple-victim attacks, three people were shot about 6:30 a.m. Sunday in the 3500 block of South Calumet Avenue in the Ida B. Wells/Darrow Homes neighborhood, according to police, correcting earlier information that the shooting happened on Rhodes Avenue. A 22-year-old man was shot in the left leg and was taken by a friend to Mercy Hospital. He was later transferred to Stroger Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
A 24-year-old man was shot in the left leg, and his condition was stabilized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. A 23-year-old woman was shot in the leg, and her condition was stabilized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The victims weren't being cooperative, and police had no narrative information on the shooting.
About 9:30 p.m., a 16-year-old boy was shot in Bridgeport. A friend took him to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the calf, and he told investigators he had been shot in the 2800 block of South Hillock Avenue. The boy's condition was stabilized.
Earlier in an attack that only injured one victim, a man was shot while driving along the 1100 block of North Lockwood Avenue about 11 a.m., police said.
He was traveling north on Lockwood in a 2014 Ford Escape when someone opened fire on his vehicle. He was shot in his left shoulder, arm and ear before crashing his vehicle in the same block, causing his SUV to overturn. He was taken to Stroger, where he was listed in stable condition, officials said. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting and authorities continue to investigate.
The shootings come as part of a particularly violent weekend in Chicago, with 29 people shot, three fatally, in a 24-hour period from Saturday to Sunday. From Friday to Saturday, one person was killed and 14 were wounded in shootings across the city.
Trump's first 100 days: 2 big changes to policing
On Day One of his administration, President Donald Trump made several moves which indicate a White House far different than the past eight years
by Doug Wyllie
There were clear signs on the campaign trail that if elected president, Donald Trump would move swiftly to reverse some of the anti-cop sentiment which has gripped the nation during the Obama administration.
We didn't know it would take Trump less than two hours to make moves in that direction.
Almost immediately after taking the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States, the Trump administration posted a statement on the White House website entitled,
“Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.”
“One of the fundamental rights of every American is to live in a safe community,” the statement began. “A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence. The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
The statement went on to say,
“Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing. Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter. Our job is to make life more comfortable for parents who want their kids to be able to walk the streets safely. Or the senior citizen waiting for a bus.”
The statement concluded:
“It is the first duty of government to keep the innocent safe, and President Donald Trump will fight for the safety of every American, and especially those Americans who have not known safe neighborhoods for a very long time.”
A few hours earlier, police marching bands, motorcycle and mounted drill teams, color guard teams, and police pipe and drum corps from across the country were prominently featured in the inaugural parade.
One of the inaugural galas that Trump attended on the first evening of his presidency was the Commander-In-Chief Ball, which is typically only open to enlisted members of the military. This year however, the Trump team opened the event up to firefighters, EMTs, and police officers.
The statement issued Friday and the prominence of police being featured in the ceremonies throughout the day were essentially symbolic. The probable policy changes which are likely to happen in the next 100 days are anything but symbolic.
In fact, two very concrete changes are all but certain to happen almost immediately.
1. Trump will end DOJ consent decrees
Under Obama, the DOJ actively sought to conduct investigations on — and subsequently place stringent restrictions on — many police agencies. Attorney Generals Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder combined to investigate nearly two dozen police departments.
“Rather than reach informal agreements to correct misconduct, as the Bush administration often preferred, most of the cases under Obama ended up in court, either in settlements approved and monitored by a judge, or, in a few examples, with lawsuits filed by the federal government against police departments and officers,” said a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The DOJ, under former President George W. Bush, issued zero consent decrees. Under Obama, the DOJ issued at least 16 such documents according to information made available toward the end of 2015.
Trump's nominee for attorney general — Senator Jeff Sessions — has called consent decrees “one of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power” and is highly unlikely to even issue a single one in the Trump administration.
2. Trump will reverse Executive Order 13688
The evisceration of the 1033 Program will almost certainly be reversed. Two years ago, Obama declared — by Executive Order 13688 — that local law enforcement agencies shall no longer be able to obtain certain surplus military equipment.
EO 13688 established the classification of certain types of equipment which had previously been available to police from military surplus stocks as either “controlled” or “prohibited” and required agencies which possessed the latter category to return those items to the Federal mothball lot.
The “controlled” items list included aircraft, UAVs, armored vehicles, command and control vehicles, as well as riot shields and helmets. The “prohibited” items list included “weaponized aircraft,” despite the fact that no helicopter acquired under the 1033 program has ever been delivered with an M134 mini-gun for a door gunner.
By conflating armored vehicles with gunships — conflating ballistic helmets with grenade launchers — the Obama administration created a widespread bias among some people against the safety equipment that becomes necessary when ISIS-inspired attackers lay siege to a Christmas party in San Bernardino or a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando.
These tools aid police agencies and keep officers safer when responding to a variety of incidents — from large-scale public disturbances to barricaded gunmen.
Some pundits have talked about an avalanche — a shock and awe volume — of executive orders in the very first days of President Trump's administration. With so many cabinet posts still to be approved by the Senate, that seems not just unlikely but imprudent. But one of the first will almost surely be an order nullifying EO 13688.
45 will be tested in ways we cannot now fully predict
Despite the deep divide between people in this country, Trump's oratory during his inaugural address on Friday included soaring language about unity and bringing the country together.
“We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity,” Trump said. “When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear — we are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.”
Despite his calls for unity, the man who authored “The Art of the Deal” will have his work cut out for him to bring a polarized public together around common goals of safety and prosperity. The man who was a Democrat before he was a Republican will need to work with both sides of the aisle in the legislative branch to achieve populist victories for the American people.
His success will depend in large part on the willingness of those who oppose him to refrain from obstreperous opposition, and embrace a strategy of collaboration and cooperation. And it isn't news to anyone that there is a great deal of opposition — on Saturday, more than one million people marched on Trump's first day in office.
One more thing is certain: the 45th president of the United States will be tested in ways we cannot now fully predict. As Donald Rumsfeld once famously said, we just don't know what we don't know.
International issues from Trans Pacific-Partnership to Syria, China, and Russia, and domestic issues from the economy to securing the borders, are wildly unpredictable. Equally unpredictable is how President Trump will respond to the vagaries of the volatility of those and other issues.
We're in for a really interesting ride. Let's do our best to stay vigilant, be tactical, and watch out for each other.
ICE arrests nearly 2,000 human traffickers in 2016, identifies over 400 victims across the US
WASHINGTON — In Fiscal Year 2016, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 1,952 individuals for human trafficking – the illegal trade and exploitation of people for commercial gain, most commonly in the form of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. From those cases, over 400 trafficking victims were identified and offered critical services.
This year marks the seventh anniversary of January as National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention month. ICE participates in a variety of human trafficking awareness events in January and throughout the year.
“HSI special agents work tirelessly to disrupt criminal trafficking networks, and just as importantly, to assist the victims of this terrible crime,” said Acting ICE Director Daniel H. Ragsdale. “ICE will continue to work with our counterparts at home and abroad to educate the public to recognize signs of trafficking and provide the crucial services needed to aid in the recovery of those impacted by this heinous act.”
While human trafficking can occur in a variety of scenarios and industries, indicators of trafficking activities often look the same across cases. Educating the public to recognize the signs is crucial to identifying victims and bringing traffickers to justice.
Since 2010, HSI has arrested over 7,000 individuals for human trafficking offenses. Examples of HSI human trafficking cases include:
HSI San Antonio was contacted by the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) about two human trafficking victims. The victims said they came to the U.S. as domestic workers for an officer in a foreign military, but had not been paid for their services, and were not being provided sufficient food to eat. They added that their employer was in possession of their passports and refused to return them. The victims had also been refused medical care. The perpetrators were indicted on violations 18 USC 1589-Forced Labor- and pled guilty to Visa Fraud and Misprision of a Felony, agreed to pay restitution of $60,000 to each victim, and accepted Judicial Removal.
As part of Project Wire Watch, HSI New York and HSI Mexico City conducted an investigation into a sex trafficking organization after interviewing a Mexican female who was trafficked by a member of the organization. The victim provided information that she was smuggled into the United States from Mexico and forced into prostitution by a member of the organization. The victim identified several members of the organization and stated that their modus operandi was to recruit Mexican females, arrange for them to be smuggled across the United States border and subsequently forced them into prostitution. To date, this investigation has resulted in the rescue of 5 victims, 4 minor children reunited with their mothers, 5 criminal arrests, 10 administrative arrests, 4 indictments and 16 search warrants.
HSI Phoenix initiated a human trafficking investigation which identified a sex trafficking organization using Thai females posting as escorts in the Phoenix metropolitan area. HSI Agents and DPS Detectives executed search warrants at multiple brothel locations. Based on the information provided by the victims, it is estimated these traffickers earned a combined $1,248,000 a year. Victims were placed with an HSI-partnered non-governmental organization (NGO) to help facilitate recovery, housing and transitioning back into society.
HSI Columbus conducted an investigation into a father and son who together trafficked a 17-year old female victim, but separately and on different occasions also trafficked adult victims between Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. The father often wore a military uniform when he traveled to gain the trust of new girls he was trying to recruit to work for him. The two were sentenced to a combined 282 months in prison.
ICE works with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure engaged in human trafficking. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of its authorities and expertise, stripping away assets and profit incentive, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations to identify and provide assistance to trafficking victims.
If you notice suspicious activity, please contact ICE through its tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or www.ice.gov/tips. For more information about the Department of Homeland Security's overall efforts against human trafficking, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
ICE HSI Detroit launches first-ever intel internship with Michigan State University
DETROIT — Two Michigan State University undergraduates were recently selected to support active criminal investigations as interns at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit.
Gina Kramer, a criminal justice senior, and Madeline MacLean, a junior studying criminal justice and Arabic, will work with special agents, task-force officers and intelligence research specialists with the HSI Detroit Intelligence Group.
“Through this unique partnership between HSI and the MSU School of Criminal Justice, we are building our next cadre of skilled leaders who will be armed with the mindset and the aptitude to confront 21st century threats against the homeland and beyond,” said Steve Francis, HSI Detroit's acting special agent in charge.
While MSU students have interned with HSI Detroit in the past, this is the first year interns will focus exclusively on intelligence operations and gain real-world experience in field intelligence analysis.
“Given the growth in technology and information, it is critical that law enforcement expand its analytical capacity in order to address the challenges our society faces,” said Mary Finn, director and professor of MSU's School of Criminal Justice.
The university currently offers a master's degree in law enforcement intelligence and analysis, Finn said the internship is a natural development that undergraduate majors are interested in criminal intelligence as well.
“I'm thrilled that I have been selected for this new program,” MacLean said. “I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons and gaining new experiences with the agency, and I hope that I can help this program be successful.”
Kramer and MacLean were selected through the highly competitive process led by HSI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
“I'm most looking forward to the collaboration with other analysts at HSI and working with my co-intern, Madeline,” Kramer said. “I think it's going to be a really great experience, not just for Madeline and I, but for the agency as well.”
Fairfax Co. Police search for driver that shot at police cruiser
by ABC 7
Fairfax County Police are searching for the driver of a vehicle that reportedly shot at a police cruiser around midnight in the Great Falls/Reston area.
According to police, an officer attempted to pull the vehicle over on Georgetown Pike near Ad Hoc Road when a passenger got out of the vehicle and fled the area on foot. The vehicle then sped off, made a u-turn, then fired at the police cruiser in the area of Georgetown Pike and Walker Lane. Police confirm, the cruiser was struck by a bullet but the officer was not injured.
The officer proceeded to chase the vehicle west on Georgetown Pike until the suspect vehicle was lost. After losing the suspect's vehicle, the officer returned to the area where the passenger had previously fled the scene and assisted with a search that was underway with the help of K9's.
Police believe the suspect's vehicle to be a late 90's to early 2000 white four-door sedan, but due to the rainy condition, the officer could not make out the specific make and said it could also be a Toyota or Mazda. The vehicle may have a shattered window and black molding on the doors and was last seen heading westbound on Georgetown Pike.
According to police's latest report, the driver and the passenger have still not been located.
Police ask that anyone with information contact them at (703) 691-2131.
Police credit community, technology with 26 percent drop in crime
by Amanda Christman
Crime in Hazleton decreased significantly in 2016.
Year-end numbers show a 26 percent decrease in crime reported by the police department in November held steady through the final weeks of December.
Police officers and the community working together, along with technology contributed to the crime decline, which Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale said is at a 10-year low for the department in the major crime categories.
Even though major crime is down, calls aren't.
First Lt. Kenneth Zipovsky said he believes they are either “on par” or exceeding last year's figures, though the exact number of calls wasn't tabulated yet.
“These guys are working,” Speziale said.
The department had more than 540 criminal arrests in 2016 and with 37 officers, a figure that includes the police chief position, it's an average of more than 14 arrests per officer. Those numbers do not include task force officer arrests but does include arrests involving longer investigations, typically handled by the force's detectives.
There was one homicide in 2016, compared to two in 2015. Forcible rape amounted to seven while there were eight in 2015. There were 46 robberies in 2016 compared to 52 in 2015, 37 aggravated assaults in 2016 with 40 in 2015, 36 motor vehicle thefts while there were 39 in 2015 and 117 burglaries compared to 120 in 2015.
The steepest decline was in larceny, a category that excludes motor vehicle thefts, showing 211 thefts in 2016 while there were 353 in 2015.
Zipovsky said historically, property theft crimes increase during the holidays.
However, while explaining the theft reduction in 2016, Speziale said it's attributed to an increase in arrests of drug users who typically perpetrate the majority of those crimes. People know there is “zero tolerance” for drug activity in the city, Speziale said, and officers see the relationship between drugs and other crimes.
“We've put a lot of good criminals in jail,” the chief continued.
“They're in the penalty box, so they can't play the game,” Zipovsky added.
Overall success in crime reduction, Speziale said, is thanks to the talented men and women who make up the police department and who are equally dedicated to the welfare of citizens. Speziale worked in many places in his 36 years in law enforcement and Hazleton officers are “an unbelievable, talented group of individuals. They are great cops. They understand the job,” he said.
Success is also attributed to the relationship police have with the community and the morale, technology, training and techniques within the department, like hot-spot policing where officers patrol areas frequented for crime.
There is no longer a splintered community in Hazleton either, Zipovsky said. The department has also been able to hire a variety of officers with different backgrounds and language skills that help break down communication barriers, he said.
People have seen, Zipovsky said, that officers are putting forth an effort and those small steps have brought the community together.
The collaboration between police and the community, Speziale said, has allowed a great force to be unleashed in town that is edging out crime.
Technology has allowed residents to report crimes anonymously through the department's text for tips program and through an online crime submission form. In four days time, Zipovsky said, the department's license plate reader helped officers recently spot two stolen registration plates and two stolen vehicles. Mobile data terminals recently installed in police vehicles will also make their work more efficient and faster, he added.
Zipovksy said while the department has a limited budget they use the tools they do have in a creative way to better serve the public.
An increased police presence came from grants, Zipovsky said. One from the Liquor Control Board targets underage and dangerous drinking which is a serious issue that mostly presents itself on nights and weekends. Grants from the county have also paid for driving under the influence checkpoints which the department would otherwise not be able to afford.
That money doesn't only provide for alcohol safety, it's another shift with an officer visible in the community, Zipovsky said.
When people see a cruiser on the street, they don't know who's funding it, all they know is they saw a police car, he said.
Police will use another grant this year from the Department of Justice which will not only provide for two additional officers but will focus on community policing and mediation strategies used to resolve crime.
Mayor Jeff Cusat said a lot of what was implemented in the department the past year is on display with the crime figures and it charts how well the department is doing as it continues to move the city in the right direction. The community is coming together, he said.
Tyler Police Department's CRO Unit connects with citizens in various ways
by Augusta Robinson
If Carissa Jackson, of Tyler, ever needs assistance from the Tyler Police Department, she feels confident that officers will be able to help her.
While visiting a local Wal-Mart, she stopped at a table occupied by Community Response Unit officers Oliver Hall and Ken Caudle, who where at the location fielding questions as part of the unit's Ask a Cop program.
Ms. Jackson got the chance to learn about what the officers do daily and asked several legal questions. She said that she appreciated both officers' time and that her experience made her trust in police even more.
“My questions were answered thoroughly,” Ms. Jackson said. “I believe you should be comfortable with law enforcement.”
Her positive experience is what the department's Community Response Unit would like all citizens to have, and is what officers in the unit try to accomplish each day.
“Most of the time, when people meet the police they're at one of the low points in their life,” Derreck Wagoner, the unit's lieutenant said. “They've been a victim of crime, they're a suspect, they're being charged with a crime, they've been involved in a major wreck…
“What we actually want to do is to make contact with people when they're not at that low point,” he said. “We actually want to build trust with the community.”
The primary duties of officers in the Community Response Unit include leading community policing efforts, community education and crime prevention.
While the officers may respond to a variety of calls, their biggest responsibility is to help fight crime before it takes place by connecting with members of the community.
“Our specific goal is to build partnerships with businesses, the media, nonprofits, churches and places like that,” Matt Leigeber, Community Response sergeant said. “There's been research from the Department of Justice that has shown that people's opinions and perceptions of police are often directly related to their informal contact with police.”
Throughout the year, officers in the unit can be spotted in the community having coffee with residents at local restaurants for events such as “Coffee With A Cop,” or helping to organize neighborhood crime watch meetings, as well as church and community meetings.
The bonds the Community Resource officers said they are able to form with citizens help them to serve a unique role within the department.
“We've become the direct liaison from the people to the police department before (a call) ever gets to actual patrol or dispatch,” Tish Powell, Community Resource officer said. “They will contact us for anything varying from needing a stop sign at a certain location or how to get a streetlight.”
Leigeber said the needs of each neighborhood within the city can vary greatly.
Recently, when several citizens in one neighborhood reported that they were seeing an increased amount of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) being flown in their yards, officers from the unit organized a meeting to talk about the problem - which they said stopped immediately afterwards.
Leigber said such meetings are also very useful when officers are helping citizens to combat crimes such as drug use and other illegal activities in their neighborhoods.
And while officers in the unit said citizens will often inform them of their needs, officers also look for ways to improve the neighborhoods where they work.
Community Response officer Darrell Gardner and his partner Larry Christian, a patrol officer, once helped identify a pollution and dumping problem at Bellwood Lake.
Gardner said some visitors who fished at the lake were throwing their trash in the water, but that the amount of litter floating in the lake intensified when some contractors began dumping bricks and scrap wood into the lake.
The officers were able to enlist the help of agencies from both the city and Smith County to get the lake clean. A barricade was also placed at a trail where several individuals were backing their vehicles next to the lake to dump out loads of trash.
Although the officers' roles in the unit can take them in many different directions over the course of each day, many like Leigber said their ultimate goal is to look for opportunities to connect with the community.
“When I walk out of the door I'm thinking who am I going to help today?” Leigber said. “I try to find someone's hand to shake and try to strike up a conversation.
“It's that relationship that is going to help us build our future as a city together,” he said.
The Community Response Unit is partnering with the North Tenneha Church of Christ, 1701 North Tenneha, for an event designed to help citizens get to know law enforcement officers and first responders from throughout the city and county. The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. April 8. Fire Chief David Coble is one of several officials expected to speak at the event. Attendees will also be able to view and learn about several emergency response vehicles and participate in other activities.
Decatur Police testing enhanced communication
by Chris Lusvardi
CATUR — The Decatur Police Department is testing a new computer software system that could enhance the ability of its officers to communicate and access information from other agencies.
The department is evaluating use of the COPsync Network, which provides an advanced communication and information sharing system. It offers advance warnings of dangerous people and real-time notification of crimes in progress, which the company said can save minutes when seconds count and save lives by doing so.
“I place a high priority on both the safety and accountability of my officers,” police Chief Jim Getz said. “Any product that could potentially improve both of those things, as well as give us the ability to share information with other agencies and jurisdictions more quickly, is worth looking into.”
Sgt. Chris Copeland said the system has been easy to use. He is anticipating several weeks to months of testing.
It is awaiting approval from the state to allow the product connect to the Law Enforcement Agencies Database System, or LEADS, Copeland said. He said officers use that system to search for background information, such as checking on license plates, driver's licenses, outstanding warrants, criminal history and stolen checks.
“Once that happens, we will expand the number of officers testing it and we'll have a better idea of how it functions,” Copeland said.
Testing the system comes at no cost to the department, he said.
“If it meets our needs, and we ultimately decide to replace our current system with it, it appears it will be a significant annual savings,” Copeland said.
He said the Decatur department has received positive feedback from police in other states, including Texas, where COPsync got its start.
The system includes a report writing and approval system, similar to what Decatur police use now, Copeland said.
He said Decatur officials are interested in several features, including the ability to integrate with GPS units on squad cars to see where officers are at in real time. It can overlay a weather radar layer on top of that map, Copeland said.
City Manager Tim Gleason supports the police department's evaluation process.
“One of the most important functions of city government is providing for the safety of residents and visitors,” Gleason said. “The city of Decatur is committed to exploring products and services which could potentially enhance our ability to do so.”
Copeland said the police department has gone almost completely digital, becoming virtually paperless in tasks such as writing reports and citations. He said the COPsync evaluation is part of an ongoing effort to look at products that could provide the same or enhanced functionality, while being more easy to use and at a lower cost.
State Report Highlights Public Safety Threats to Texas
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has released the 2017 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview , a state intelligence estimate that offers an assessment of the current public safety threats to Texas.
“Protecting Texans from the full scope of public safety and homeland security threats is the foremost goal of DPS, and the department works with our fellow law enforcement partners at all levels of government to prepare for the unthinkable,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This report provides an invaluable assessment of the most significant threats facing our state and is a crucial tool in combating those threats.”
The report draws on the data and perspectives of multiple law enforcement and homeland security agencies, whose contributions were essential to developing this assessment. It also includes a description of the state's systematic approach to detect, assess and prioritize public safety threats within seven categories, including terrorism, crime, natural disasters, motor vehicle crashes, public health, industrial accidents and cyber threats.
The report ascertains that, due to recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by domestic lone offenders and large foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the current terrorism threat to Texas is elevated. The assessment also recognizes that the heightened threat is expected to persist during the next year, due in part to the relatively high number of recent terrorism-related arrests and thwarted plots, and the prevalence of ISIS's online recruitment and incitement messaging.
Additional significant findings include:
Threats from violent domestic anti-government extremists remain concerning in light of standoffs with federal law enforcement in Oregon in 2014 and Nevada in early 2016, as well as a series of ambush murders of police officers.
Crime threatens the public safety and liberty of all Texans in some way. DPS Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program data for 2015 shows a 4.7 percent decrease of the major crime rate in Texas from 2014. This is positive for the safety and welfare of our citizens. Conversely, violent crimes in particular increased for the second year in a row. Texas' UCR program includes seven index crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. What the index crime data does not currently account for are other crimes typically committed by criminal organizations that impact the security of Texas communities, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, and public corruption.
Criminal organizations – including Mexican cartels and transnational gangs – and individual criminals engage in a wide range of illicit activities in Texas. Among the vilest crimes these organizations and other criminals engage in is the exploitation and trafficking of children and other vulnerable victims. Human trafficking is highly profitable, and is the fastest growing organized crime business in Texas.
All eight of the major Mexican cartels operate in Texas, and they have enlisted transnational and statewide gangs to support their drug and human smuggling and human trafficking operations on both sides of the border.
Gangs continue to pose a significant public safety threat to Texas, and their propensity for violence and many kinds of criminal activity is persistent. While the greatest concentrations of gang activity tend to be in the larger metropolitan areas, gang members are also present in the surrounding suburbs and in rural areas. Gang activity is especially prevalent in some of the counties adjacent to Mexico and along key smuggling corridors, since many Texas-based gangs are involved in cross-border trafficking.
Motor vehicle crashes killed 3,520 people in Texas in 2015. In addition, the high volume of commercial motor vehicles on Texas' roadways is a particular concern because of the increased potential for loss of life when large-mass commercial vehicles are involved in crashes.
Texas faces an array of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, and drought, with more major disaster declarations than any other state in the nation. These disasters result in loss of life, damage to infrastructure, and billions of dollars in personal property damage and economic losses.
Public health threats to Texas remain a significant concern, with emerging infectious diseases and other illnesses such as influenza and enteroviruses.
Major industrial accidents constitute another potential threat to public safety, especially because of the large industrial base in Texas. The state's vast size and economic importance contribute to the potential for severe consequences if any significant accidents occur.
Since technology has become a target, a vulnerability and a tool used by criminals and foreign governments, cyber threats continue to be a significant area of concern, and we are especially concerned about the potential consequences of a successful cyberattack on the state's critical infrastructure.
“As terrorism has become more disaggregated, communities in Texas and across the nation are facing a heightened threat of terrorism, and the continued potential for attacks against civilians and members of law enforcement is a serious ongoing concern,” said Director McCraw. “The report identifies several other unique threats to our state – including organized crime and Mexican cartels, natural disasters and cyber attacks – for which we must be prepared. With the 2017 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview in mind, DPS will continue working with our law enforcement partners to prevent, respond to and recover from all potential threats facing our state.”
To view the complete 2017 Teaxs Pubic Safety Threat Overview, visit:
Minn. lawmakers chart new course in response to OIS protests
The legislature wants tougher penalties for highway marchers and potentially putting some demonstrators on the hook for the enforcement costs at unruly protests
by Kyle Potter
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota officials responded to months of unrest last year after the death of a black man shot by police officers with funding meant to reduce the state's widespread racial disparities. This year, a new Republican-controlled Legislature is plotting a crackdown on protests, with tougher penalties for highway marchers and potentially putting some demonstrators on the hook for the enforcement costs at unruly protests.
It's a marked shift in reaction to the protests that simmered for weeks after the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark in November 2015 and again last summer after 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop near St. Paul. In both cases, protesters from Black Lives Matter and others set up encampments that police departments said cost more than $1 million in officer overtime and some damages. And in the days after each shooting, dozens of demonstrators were arrested after shutting down Interstate 94 with massive rallies, though charges were later dropped.
Emboldened by taking full control of the Legislature this fall, Republican-backed bills would make it easier for prosecutors to charge for blocking highways with a gross misdemeanor and up to a year in jail, while also allowing local police departments to sue convicted protesters for the costs associated with demonstrations.
"At some point, the rule of law has to matter," said Rep. Nick Zerwas, an Elk River Republican pushing for both bills. "I think it's time to show there is accountability."
Zerwas and other Republican lawmakers had proposed the harsher punishments for protesters before, but their expanded power at the Capitol makes it a potential reality this year. And with protests across the country motivated by officer-involved deaths, controversial pipelines and President Donald Trump, Minnesota Republicans aren't alone in considering how to respond.
Similar measures meant to curb protests that snarl traffic or disrupt business have cropped up in Iowa, Indiana and Washington. In North Dakota, where protesters have gathered to obstruct the Dakota Access Pipeline, a Republican lawmaker's bill would protect drivers who inadvertently hit or kill demonstrators on roads.
The response to demonstrations in Minnesota last year was far different.
Fueled by decades of growing racial disparities and the outcry after Clark's killing, Minnesota lawmakers eventually approved $35 million in new programs in 2016 meant to close income and educational gaps between the state's black and white residents. At the time, Democrats controlled the Senate.
Rep. Rena Moran, a St. Paul Democrat and one of the Legislature's few black lawmakers, said that's where the focus should remain to truly address protester's issues.
"They have not had one conversation with those people, who are feeling the injustice. If they did, I don't think this would be their first priority," she said. "This may be a wake-up call that elections matter, that your voice matters, that your voice is your vote."
Minnesota's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is on high alert. Legal director Teresa Nelson said both measures are ripe for constitutional challenges, saying they could have a chilling effect on free speech and assembly by dissuading people from getting involved in marches and rallies due to fear of getting stuck with a big bill or jail time.
Zerwas said there's no constitutional right to blocking traffic. He's working on another bill that would expand the increased criminal penalties to blocking airport entryways or traffic on light-rail train tracks — both sites of protests since Clark's 2015 death. His bill allowing law enforcement to recoup enforcement costs is due for a first hearing on Tuesday.
Moran stressed the need for safety but said the extraordinary tactics can be necessary to highlight "the injustices that were happening in the dark."
"That was important: That they disrupt business as usual, that they move in to a place and bring awareness to an injustice," she said.