March, 2017 - Week 1
TSA Warns Local Police About Its New Airport Pat-Downs
A universal “comprehensive” search may prompt passenger complaints to law enforcement.
by Justin Bachman
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined to say exactly where—and how—employees will be touching air travelers as part of the more invasive physical pat-down procedure it recently ordered.
But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. In fact, the TSA decided to inform local police just in case anyone calls to report an “abnormal” federal frisking, according to a memo from an airport trade association obtained by Bloomberg News. The physical search, for those selected to have one, is what the agency described as a more “comprehensive” screening, replacing five separate kinds of pat-downs it previously used.
The decision to alert local and airport police raises a question of just how intimate the agency's employees may get. On its website, the TSA says employees “use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”
Now, security screeners will use the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if one of the prior screening methods indicates the presence of explosives, according to a “security notice” Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) sent its U.S. members following a March 1 conference call with TSA officials.
“Due to this change, TSA asked FSDs [field security directors] to contact airport law enforcement and brief them on the procedures in case they are notified that a passenger believes a [TSA employee] has subjected them to an abnormal screening practice,” ACI wrote.
The TSA screens about 2 million people daily at U.S. airports. The agency said it doesn't track how many passengers are subject to pat-down searches. These searches typically occur when an imaging scanner detects one or more unknown objects on a person or if a traveler declines to walk through the machine and opts for the physical screening.
“Passengers who have not previously experienced the now standardized pat-down screening may not realize that they did in fact receive the correct procedure, and may ask our partners, including law enforcement at the airport, about the procedure,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson wrote March 3 in an email, describing why the agency notified police.
The pat-down change, first reported Friday by Bloomberg News, is “intended to reduce the cognitive burden on [employees] who previously had to choose from various pat-down procedures depending on the type of screening lane,” ACI-NA wrote in its notice.
Physical screening has long been one of the public's strongest dislikes regarding airport security protocols. The TSA has all pat-downs conducted by an employee of the same gender as the traveler, and allows a passenger to request a private area for the screening, as well as to have a witness present. Likewise, the traveler can request that the pat-down occur in public view.
The TSA won't reveal specific procedures on how its pat-downs are conducted beyond the general information on its web site. “Knowing our specific procedures could aid those who wish to do travelers harm in evading our measures,” Anderson said.
The TSA's calls to police were an effort to provide local law enforcement “situational awareness” about the new pat-down method, Christopher Bidwell, ACI-NA's vice president of security, said in an interview Saturday. U.S. airports have not expressed any reservations or concerns about the pat-down change, the association said.
“We appreciate our partner, the TSA, providing us information about these universal pat-downs and the standardization,” Bidwell said.
Canfield adopts community-police standards
by Justin Wier
CANFIELD -- The Canfield Police Department received certification for implementing standards set by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board.
The advisory board resulted from a task force established by Gov. John Kasich in 2014. The standards are intended to instill greater public confidence in Ohio's police department.
Sgt. Jim Conrad of the Canfield Police Department said that though the standards are voluntary, the department is fully committed to adopting the policies and practices the board puts in place.
“Anything that helps the relationship between the community and the police department that serves them is beneficial,” Conrad said.
Canfield's certification required complying with standards regarding the use of force and hiring practices. These were the initial standards created by the advisory board, but they have since developed others.
Conrad said the department's use-of-force policy met the board's standards, the department just had to provide documentation. While the department was practicing the hiring standards, they had to create a formal policy to comply. The standards state that departments should “strive to have a diverse work force that reflects the citizens served.”
The advisory board has developed additional standards regarding bias-free policing, law-enforcement telecommunicator training and body cameras.
Canfield intends to adopt the additional policies in the future.
“Unfortunately it's not something that can be done in one fell swoop,” Conrad said. “It's going to take some time.”
In Mahoning County, the Austintown, Beaver, Jackson, New Middletown and Springfield Township police departments have also adopted the standards along with the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office and the Mill Creek Metro Parks police department.
What to do when pulled over: A new chapter for driver's ed?
A North Carolina bill would require driver's ed instructors to describe "appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers"
by Gary D. Robertson
RALEIGH, N.C. — Deadly encounters between police officers and motorists have lawmakers across the country thinking driver's education should require students to be taught what to do in a traffic stop.
A North Carolina bill would require instructors to describe "appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers." Illinois passed a similar law recently, and another awaits the Virginia governor's signature. Mississippi, New Jersey and Rhode Island also are considering them.
Many lawmakers want to make police interactions more transparent and improve community relations, in particular with people who feel unjustly targeted or mistreated because of their skin color.
Most don't pretend to legislate exactly how drivers should react, leaving the details to be worked out by state law enforcement or education and driver's license agencies. The 2017 "Rules of the Road" for Illinois , published in February, could provide a model, making detailed "suggestions" about proper driver behavior.
"The goal here is to reduce what could be a tense situation that can be very stressful on both sides," said Dave Druker, with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office, which oversees licensing 2.2 million new and veteran drivers annually.
The overall message? Use "a common-sense approach" and don't be confrontational, Druker said.
Robert Dawkins, state organizer of the police accountability group SAFE Coalition NC, said it could help young drivers control their emotions at traffic stops. But he said North Carolina needs companion legislation "so that police officers can understand to control their emotions" as well, and be trained that racial profiling is unlawful.
Dawkins said that even drivers who have been taught to show "all kinds of respect" could be vulnerable if an officer sees their hands move from the steering wheel: "I make a quick movement, that that quick movement can result in me losing my life," he said.
Law enforcement officers worry about exactly the same situation: When motorists reach under their seats to get a driver's license, officers have to consider whether they're reaching for a gun, said Eddie Caldwell, executive director of the North Carolina Sheriffs Association, whose organization has strongly endorsed the North Carolina legislation.
The Illinois guidelines, now included in expanded form in driver licensing materials, encourage drivers to avoid this situation by keeping both hands clearly in sight on the steering wheel "until the officer instructs them otherwise."
Virginia Democratic Del. Jeion Ward said her measure, which the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed and is now on Gov. Terry McAulliffe's desk, aims to make sure all young drivers are properly informed.
"Heaven help us if they are getting information off of YouTube or the internet," Ward said. "We just have to make sure that our young drivers have the correct information so simple infractions will not become something more serious."
The Illinois guide focuses on driver responsibilities, while addressing officer behavior in several sentences at the end.
It says "a driver is to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officers," and that drivers should report what they consider to be inappropriate conduct to the officer's superiors as soon as possible. It also notes that "officers are required to provide their names and badge numbers upon request."
The American Civil Liberties Union's online "know your rights if you're stopped in your car" guidelines include some identical suggestions, and adds several more: It says drivers should turn off the engine, turn on the internal lights and open the window partway before placing their hands on the wheel, presumably to reduce the need for any risky movements.
The ACLU also says drivers can refuse a search request, but that officers don't need consent if they believe the car contains evidence of a crime. And it notes that both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. Passengers can ask if they're free to go; "If yes, silently leave," it says.
The proposed North Carolina curriculum would be developed in consultation with the sheriff's association, the state Highway Patrol and a group representing police chiefs. Civil liberties groups aren't listed in the bill.
Allen Robinson, chief executive officer of the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, which creates curricula in 35 states, said these mandates won't prevent all problems, but they should help teenagers avoid bad decisions.
"Anything that keeps the rancor and stupidness from going on inside of a car when there is a minor traffic violation, we're all for," Robinson said.
North Carolina's legislation is getting bipartisan support, with more than 35 House sponsors, black and white, from both parties.
"It's just a public safety issue," said Republican state Rep. John Faircloth, the former High Point police chief. "I think all of us want to do anything we can to make the public safer out there, and to not put our officers in a situation where they might make the wrong decision."
Andre Peterson, 35, a black father of two daughters, said he thinks it can help young people know what's expected of them.
"Compliance is a big issue between police and the people-of-color community," Peterson said while attending a civil rights rally in Raleigh. "If you show respect, you'll get it back in return."
Bill would create Vt. cold case police unit
The bill would create a cold case unit within the Vermont State Police to investigate cold cases
by The Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont legislators are considering dedicating a state police unit to solving cold cases.
MyChamplainValley.com is reporting that the state has 55 unsolved murders dating back to the 1950s as well as 35 unsolved missing person's cases that go back to the 1940s.
Republican Rep. Patti Lewis, of Washington, Vermont, is sponsoring a bill that would create a cold case unit within the Vermont State Police to investigate these cases. It would include at least two part-time investigators.
The state police's Major Crime Unit was created in 2015 but officials say current cases take priority. Major Glenn Hall of the Vermont State Police says it's a positive thing when police are able to resolve a case and give the family of the victim or missing person some closure.
New fingerprint searches in unsolved cases can solve violent crimes
Police agencies across the country would likely solve cold cases if they entered finger and palm prints from older crimes into an upgraded national database
by Rachel Dissell
CLEVELAND — Police agencies across the country would likely solve cold cases - murders and rapes - if they entered finger and palm prints from older crimes into an upgraded national database, a move the FBI encourages.
In Cleveland, re-submitting prints has resulted in charges in at least two unsolved rape cases, so far.
Investigators linked Rafiq Jones to a rape and robbery case last year after a fingerprint lifted from a beer bottle in 1996 was matched the to the 40-year-old. He has pleaded not guilty and his case is set for trial next week.
In another case, Javier Colon pleaded guilty to raping a woman and shooting her son a decade ago, after an investigator from Cuyahoga County's Sexual Assault Kit task force worked with Cleveland police to re-submit a palm print left on the trunk of a car Colon commandeered and used to kidnap the pair from a downtown parking lot. It matched Colon's.
He is scheduled for sentencing on March 7 and faces up to 36 years in prison.
Entering old prints has helped solve cases elsewhere too. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, as part of a cold case project, were able to identify more than 150 prints from crime scenes, including the print of a man later arrested in 2014 for the rape and killing of Amber Creek, a 14-year-old who ran away from a Chicago shelter in 1997 and was found strangled in a remote area of Wisconsin.
FBI encourages re-entering prints
The FBI says it first notified law enforcement agencies in mid-2013 to re-submit crime scene prints that in the past did not turn up matches to suspects.
That's because the agency upgraded the system used to store and match finger and palm prints.
Part of the upgrade included new software that could more sensitively match the swirls and ridges on latent or crime scene prints with prints collected during an arrest. Using the new system, matches were up to three times more likely.
In addition, all finger and palm prints collected by police and other government agencies since the upgrade go into the new system, called Next Generation Identification, or NGI. Unless a print is re-entered it won't be searched for a match to prints from more recent arrests.
Since 1999, the FBI has been in charge of national finger and palm print databases, which are fed by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Also in the database are prints collected as part of employment background checks and visa applications. It also now includes other information, such as more than 45 million facial photos.
The FBI told state-run criminal investigation bureaus, which often run crime labs, that prints in unsolved cases searched in the databases before the upgrade should be re-entered.
"We have been marketing it heavily to LEAs (law enforcement agencies), over the past year, especially in connection with cold cases," Stephen G. Fischer Jr., who works in the agency's Criminal Justice Information System or CJIS division, wrote in response to Plain Dealer questions.
It's not clear how many law enforcement agencies got the message. And, if they did, whether they have the resources or ability to sort through file cabinets of old cases to determine which are still unsolved and what prints might need to be re-entered.
Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation got a reminder from the FBI in July 2016 that old prints could be submitted to the new system, Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said.
It didn't pass that message on to police agencies that send prints through BCI, Del Greco said. Though, when a BCI search of crime scene prints doesn't turn up a match, the police agency is told it can make a request to re-run the prints.
Some local and state crimes labs can't yet fully use the FBI's upgraded system because their technology is too old to properly connect.
BCI's crime lab, for instance, uses the newer technology to compare latent fingerprints against more than 100 million others collected from arrests, convictions and background checks in the new system. But it needs an upgrade before it can fully search palm prints, Del Greco said. The office is contracting for that now.
Cleveland police officials said the department is now working to enter prints in older, unsolved cases as time allows. The unit that handles crime scene evidence is short-staffed and must prioritize current cases.
The only prints in unsolved cases that would not need re-entered are ones that were stored in a special "Unsolved Latent File" for high profile or violent crimes. Those prints should be automatically checked against the new system. Cleveland police officials said their software doesn't allow them to upload prints to that file. BCI can enter prints into the file.
Some local police departments contacted by The Plain Dealer didn't know about the FBI alert. Others said they were aware that prints needed to be re-submitted but that they didn't have any unsolved cases.
Parma Capt. Kevin Riley said his department didn't get any official correspondence from the FBI but that the department would re-submit prints if it is something the FBI or state BCI wants departments to do, though there could be some logistical or statute of limitations issues to pursuing older cases.
"Our police department is committed to protecting the community, and if there is the potential of bringing a resolution to an unsolved case that involves the identification and arrest of a criminal suspect, we will ensure it gets done," Riley said.
Fingerprint searches different than DNA
Dawn Schilens was a fingerprint examiner with the FBI before she came to the Cleveland area to oversee the fingerprint lab at the Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Laboratory.
Perhaps because of the popularity of crime scene television dramas, she said, many think a giant database of fingerprints can instantaneously spit out matches to solve crimes.
That's not how it works.
The fingerprint "system" is really a series of different buckets for local, state and federally entered prints that come from crime scenes, from arrested suspects or collected for background checks.
Automated searches and matches of latent prints have only been possible for about 30 of the 100 years fingerprinting has been around. Before that, comparisons were made visually.
Since 1999, when the FBI launched its first version of the system available for law enforcement computer searches it's worked to improve the matching capability, which is difficult because prints collected from crime scenes are often twisted or distorted, while the print collected during arrests are flat, Schilens said.
Though "automated" the system doesn't constantly search for matches when new prints are entered and notify law enforcement when a match is made, like another crime-solving tool, CODIS, which contains DNA profiles from both crime scenes and from people who are arrested or convicted of crimes.
Schilens said the new features are useful, especially for law enforcement agencies that have been able to keep up with the FBI's upgrades.
If departments have older crime scene prints they can re-enter, "there's definitely some benefit to putting them in," Schilens said. "It's going to take some work to get it done."
Oklahoma did that work. Law enforcement there advise departments to first research the old cases to determine which remain unsolved before entering the crime scene prints, said Meghan Jones, who ran the cold case project for Oklahoma until 2015.
In addition to identifying latent prints associated with crime scenes, the project also helped give names to five previously unidentified murder victims.
The FBI also has started a little-known program where it will, at an agency's request, run any latent prints kept the old system, called IAFIS, Jones said.
"It is absolutely a worthwhile project if states have the resources to do it," she said in an email.
Sensitive matching and new arrests can solve cases
In the Rafiq Jones case, Cleveland detectives in 1996 did what they could with the technology available at the time.
In that case, a 31-year-old bartender gave the "last call" warning at a small club on Clark Avenue when a man, who'd been drinking Rolling Rocks asked if he could use the phone to call a cab.
After that, he tried to come behind the bar, telling the bartender, "I'll have you or I'll kill you. I have a gun."
He punched her in the head and sexually assaulted her before grabbing her tip money and running off.
At the scene, Cleveland officers collected beer bottles and lifted prints from them.
At the time, they didn't turn up a match for the suspect.
Fast forward close to 20 years.
Investigators with the Sexual Assault Kit task force were reviewing the results of DNA testing on the bartender's rape kit. No DNA profile was found to be entered into crime databases.
Cleveland police, though, had kept the fingerprint.
When entered into the new system, investigators learned the print belonged to Jones, who would have been just 21 at the time of the crime. He was arrested just days after the attack on drug charges, for which he eventually served a six-month prison term.
Jones' criminal history includes drug convictions but no sex crimes. He was living on West Boulevard when he was arrested in January.
‘Get out of our country': Kent police investigate possible hate crime
by Nadia Romero
KENT, Wash. – Kent Police officers call it a hate crime and now the FBI is investigating a shooting in Kent that injured a 39-year-old Sikh man. Police say the shooter was a white male who told the man to “Go back to his own country” before shooting him. The shooting happened Friday night at about eight in the Panther Lake Neighborhood on the East Hill of Kent.
Saturday morning, Q13 News spoke with members of the Sikh community about what happened. The say they won't let prejudice and violence frighten them.
“It was very disheartening to see the news that somebody was actually a victim of a hate crime in a city where we have never felt that before. It hasn't happened,” said Sikh faith leader Satwinder Kaur.
Saturday morning the Kent Police Chief and members of the religious faith Sikh met in solidarity to show support for a man gunned down in his own yard while working on a vehicle.
“He was approached, confronted by a subject and some comments were made to the effect of' get out of our country, go back to where you're from' and our victim was then shot,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas.
Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas says a white man hurled those angry comments including expletives at the 39-year-old victim now recovering from non-life threatening injuries. This sparked Thomas to call the FBI and open a hate crime investigation.
“It is our belief and our opinion based upon the opinion of my investigators that our victim is absolutely credible and this incident did occur exactly as he described,” said Thomas.
While law enforcement search the property for evidence, members of the victim's faith community band together.
“We're much bigger than one incident,” said Kaur.
Wearing ‘Faith Over Fear' t-shirts saying they won't be silenced or forced to hide their beliefs. Historically in this country, the Sikh are often times confused with people of the Islamic faith, but the Sikh are not Muslims. Sikh leaders believe ignorance leads to prejudice.
“Sikh is a faith from northwestern India. We believe in one God. We believe in selfless service,” said Kaur.
Kaur and other Sikh leaders hope to reach those who are confused or fearful of who they are to build understanding and tolerance for all members of every faith.
“We would be willing to teach them or answer of the questions they may have about our community, about our faith, why we tie the turban, why we look the way we do or anything,” said Kaur.
All while city, county, and federal law enforcement search for the gunman.
“This type of activity will generate the full force and effect of the Kent Police Department and all resources that we can possibly muster up to hold all people who commit this type of crime that is completely unacceptable to hold them responsible,” said Thomas.
Residents want community policing reforms
by Jeff Preval
BUFFALO,Y NY - A community meeting was held Saturday on the city's east side, so residents could have an honest discussion about how community policing in Buffalo should change.
And a lot of people have strong opinions.
"They have the training, they just don't use it," said one woman.
"I seen they in the news just recently to a friend of mine I know they ran him over instead of shooting with a taser," said Stephen Hunter of Buffalo. He's talking about an incident, several months ago, when a Buffalo police officer ran over a man police say was suicidal and carrying a knife.
Police don't carry tasers, because according to Commissioner Daniel Derenda, tasers could be deadly.
REPORTER: What other than a taser, do you think a police officer should've done with a man who's suicidal, threatening and has a knife?
"Show of force that shows you ain't got no chance," Hunter said. "When you see you got no way out, maybe you go ahead and give up."
Among many reforms, residents there said they want police to put more emphasis on deescalation training and eventually be accredited -- ensuring that the state oversee Buffalo Police, to make sure standards are being met.
"Ultimately the goal is to bring law enforcement and community together for a larger dialoge, but first I think we need to do the work to make sure the community is feeling safe and they have had a place to express themselves," said Denise Walden, a volunteer in charge of the meeting.
Eventually all proposed reforms will be submitted to Mayor Brown's administration.
"We would definitely like their ear and would like them to hear us and to hear policing as far as what is best again collaboratively in our community," she said.
Mayor, police chief to field questions from public
by Caleb Bedillion
TUPELO – Concerned and curious citizens will have an opportunity to pose questions about the city's police department during a public forum Monday evening.
Complaints directed toward the Tupelo Police Department erupted into view last summer during protests over the shooting death of a local man by a police officer following a traffic stop.
Mayor Jason Shelton's administration hopes the forum offers an opportunity to begin mending relationships, particularly between minority residents and law enforcement.
Shelton, Police Chief Bart Aguirre and other police department administrative staff will take questions during an open forum from 6 p.m. until about 7:30 p.m.
The forum will take place at a community meeting room in the recently opened police department headquarters on Front Street.
Member of the public will be invited to submit written questions. Officer Katarsha White will select from among submitted questions and pose them to the officials on hand.
Shelton pledged that that there will be no effort to select only favorable or easy questions.
“It's a disservice and would diminish the entire effort not to take the hard questions,” said the mayor. “If you have those questions come ask them. We want a meaningful conversation.”
Submitted questions should, however, pertain to the police department in some fashion. Questions about other topics will not be selected Monday evening.
Monday's forum is among a series of initiatives intended to spotlight the police department's commitment to community policing.
During unrest last summer, a coalition of some civic and religious leaders called for a renewed commitment to community policing.
Shelton's administration held that community policing was already in practice by city police. However, the mayor eventually adopted the position that better communication was needed to ensure the success of such efforts.
Monday's forum also offers the mayor a chance to begin fulfilling a longtime campaign promise to hold quarterly meetings with the public.
“We never really did those true town hall meetings in the different wards that we had originally intended to do,” Shelton said. “This is kind of a step in that direction.”
The mayor intends that additional forums will be scheduled on different topics, probably on a quarterly basis.
City leaders will be utilizing a framework for community dialogue created by the National Civic League and dubbed an “All-America Conversations Toolkit.”
This toolkit encourages the use of small-group conversations designed to foster dialogue across divisions.
The small-group format won't be used Monday night, however.
U.S. police departments amass own DNA databases
Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories
by Michael Balsamo
LOS ANGELES — Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held.
The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime. Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories.
Frederick Harran, the public safety director in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, was an early adopter of a local database. Since it was created in 2010, he said robberies and burglaries have been gone down due to arrests made because of the DNA collection.
Harran said the Pennsylvania state lab takes up to 18 months to process DNA taken from a burglary scene but with the local database authorities go through a private lab and get results within a month. He said he uses money from assets seized from criminals to pay for the private lab work.
"If they are burglarizing and we don't get them identified in 18 to 24 months, they have two years to keep committing crimes," he said.
DNA is found in cells and provides a genetic blueprint unique to each person. Blood, saliva, semen, hair, and skin are among the biological clues a criminal might leave at a crime scene and investigators need only a few cells to create a profile.
Police typically get a DNA sample by swabbing the inside of a person's mouth. That sample can then be compared against others in a database to see if a match occurs.
Some police departments collect samples from people who are never arrested or convicted of crimes, though in all such cases the person is supposed to voluntarily comply and not be coerced or threatened.
State and federal authorities typically require a conviction, arrest or warrant before a sample is entered into their collections.
"The local databases have very, very little regulations and very few limits, and the law just hasn't caught up to them," said Jason Kreig, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has studied the issue. "Everything with the local DNA databases is skirting the spirit of the regulations."
It's unclear how many police departments maintain their own DNA databanks because they are subject to no state or federal oversight, but police in California, Florida, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have spoken publicly about their local databases. Harran said he knows of about 60 departments using local databases.
In San Diego, in addition to voluntary samples taken from adults, police officers are allowed to take samples from juveniles who aren't arrested or convicted as long as they are for investigative purposes and the children sign a consent form. After the sample is taken, a police officer is required to contact the child's parent or legal guardian to tell them a DNA swab was collected.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against San Diego last month alleging the policy "purports to sideswipe" restrictions implemented by a California state law that bars those samples from being entered into the state's DNA database.
When police officers take DNA samples from children without a court order, "it's hard to imagine it's anything other than coerced or involuntary," said Bardis Vakili, an ACLU attorney who is spearheading the lawsuit.
"I think they are trying to avoid transparency and engage in forms of surveillance," he said. "We don't know what's done other than it goes into their lab and is kept in a database."
A San Diego police spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit and wouldn't provide additional information about the department's policy.
San Diego, the nation's eighth-largest city, has about 1.4 million people and a very large database, while Branford, Connecticut, population 28,000, has just 500 samples in its collection.
Still, Chief Daniel Halloran said the database has helped solve crimes and eliminate other people as suspects. The department has implemented strict guidelines to ensure samples are voluntary and they do not take samples from juveniles, he said.
"It's not like we're pulling over motorists and asking them for DNA," Halloran said. "There has to be some sort of correlation to a crime."
Milwaukee police to start carrying trading cards
"We've seen firsthand how that small gesture can go a long way toward fostering communication between law enforcement and the community"
by Ashley Luthern
MILWAUKEE — The basketball cards are coming back.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Daktronics, which makes trading cards and scoreboards, announced Thursday they will donate 10,000 packages of sports cards to the Milwaukee Police Department. Daktronics also will provide six new scoreboards for Milwaukee-area schools and youth centers, starting with the COA Youth and Family Center in Riverwest.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for us to have positive interactions with children," Police Chief Edward Flynn said at a news conference, which was streamed online by local TV stations.
Each set of Bucks player cards will feature all 15 team members in a package with the logos of the Bucks and Police Department.
"We've seen firsthand how that small gesture can go a long way toward fostering communication between law enforcement and the community," Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry said. He was joined by Mayor Tom Barrett and other city officials at the news conference.
"I love the basketball cards. I think it's a wonderful way, and a very simple way, to improve communication between young people in the city and our Milwaukee police," Barrett said. "I think it's a win the young people to see police in a good light, and I think it's a win for the police to see young people in a good light."
Years ago, Milwaukee police officers routinely carried baseball or basketball cards and gave them away to children they encountered on the beat. At some point, companies stopped donating the cards to the department, and the practice was over by the time Flynn arrived in Milwaukee nearly a decade ago.
But residents didn't forget about the cards. In conversations over the past several years, people have repeatedly brought up the subject when asked about police-community relations. One of the recommendations from listening circles police held with residents last year in several city neighborhoods was bringing back the cards.
Their return was "something we've been hoping for a number of years," Flynn said.
Texas officer brings joy through dance, celebrity impressions
Officer Arthur Parker has been directing school traffic while dancing for 27 years
by PoliceOne Staff
(Video on site)
PLANO, Texas — For the past 27 years, Officer Arthur Parker has brought joy and laughter to students and staff at Clark High School. He dances while directing school traffic, does celebrity impressions, and even plays the harmonica in the hallways while students switch classes.
On his harmonica, he plays the theme from “Star Wars” to get students to move faster to their next class, according to CBS News.
Principal Janice Williams said when she first met Parker, she was a little worried, but he's kept her laughing since day one.
“My first impression was ‘oh my gosh, this is gonna be the person that's gonna be protecting us' because he did his normal goofy OP (Officer Parker) thing and went into some kind of character, and he's kept me laughing ever since,” Williams said.
Students said he's a big part of their lives and he always works for find a connection with them.
“He's mostly just taught me how to be confident no matter what,” student Sapida Abbasi told the publication.
But students know that he'll still be strict when things get real.
Parker was voted Plano police officer of the year last year, and students surprised him with a pep rally and even let him perform. He said he appreciates the recognition, but he does what he does because he likes to see people smile.
“I feel like I have so much to give, and I'm still not giving enough,” Parker told CBS. “Not many people have the opportunity or are aware of the power they have to make someone happy.”
Who's behind the door? How FirstTwo is helping cops gather intel before approaching a home
Before an officer approaches a residence, he or she can know the names, ages, backgrounds and proclivities of everyone in the household
by Tim Dees
It takes years to learn about everyone on your patrol beat. Most cops never manage it. What if you could see who lived in every house and know something about them before you walked up to the door?
This, in essence, is the idea behind FirstTwo, an information service offered to public safety.
FirstTwo draws from social media, public information databases and a host of other sources to provide a mini-profile of everyone associated with any address. An agency can also optionally use this service to keep track of the location and identity of its own officers assigned to specific incidents, making it a single point of information about both civilians and responders in the service area.
Captain David Augustus of the Marin County (California) Sheriff's Office said, “FirstTwo is allowing us to be much more informed as we approach our daily work in law enforcement and we are looking forward to enhancing our situational awareness during significant events.”
The interface is a simple map. Enter an address or allow the mobile application's GPS link to find your location on a map, and you'll see a map (street or satellite view, your choice) of that neighborhood, with the names and sometimes the ages of everyone associated with each address superimposed on the location.
Each address has a numbered icon above the names. Touch or click the icon, and the app displays an expanded view of the information associated with that address.
For example, the listing for my own home shows my name (as I'm the only one living here), but not my age. A click of the icon on my house will show several phone numbers and links to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Zillow. Not all of the links are “live,” as some people have their information protected better than others, and some people just don't have Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.
The depth of information for some of my neighbors is more complete. The links to my neighbor's homes show the names of everyone living in the household, and their ages.
Public records databases
FirstTwo—the name comes from the importance of what you learn during the first two minutes of any incident—is the work of Niraj Shah, an entrepreneur based in Bellevue, Washington. Shah has built several companies, the most notable being Intelius, which is the database behind people search and background check services like Zabasearch.
Services such as Intelius have gotten a bad rap from many cops, as they can make public information that some cops want to keep more private. Many, if not most, police officers go to some trouble to protect their personal information, such as their home address and telephone numbers. Even some of the free search services can thwart those efforts, as they consolidate information pulled from public sources such as property assessments, utility bills, driver's license records and telephone directories.
It's very difficult to keep one's information out of all those sources.
Most entities will remove or hide your entries on request, but this is an arduous and continual process that will take a lifelong commitment. Fortunately, there are companies out there like ManageURiD that can help officers keep their online identity private.
Law enforcement has made increasing use of public records databases in recent years and it's proving to be incredibly useful information. Where people wanted by the police can manage to stay “below the radar” for many purposes, it's as difficult for the bad guys to keep their information out of the systems as it is for the cops.
When a criminal justice records search fails to locate someone, the same search made on a public records database system can reveal details the criminal justice services never had. Many law enforcement agencies subscribe to these services for both criminal investigations and for background checks of police applicants and license applications.
Highly portable information
Because FirstTwo runs on both handheld devices and PCs, its utility is always available to the officer in the field. Before an officer approaches a residence for everything from a crime report call for service to a domestic violence incident, he or she can know the names and ages of everyone in the household, and possibly something about their background and proclivities.
If the link associated with a resident goes to a Facebook page filled with anti-police rhetoric, the officer might call for assistance or otherwise modify his approach to the situation before knocking on the door.
One of the more addictive features of the FirstTwo app is “simulate drive.” The user enters any two addresses into the app, and it takes them on a moving map tour of the route between the two. As the user moves down each street, he sees pop-ups over every address he passes, detailing the names of everyone associated with those locations. The app also provides an ability to search by a person's name.
A proposed feature, presently in beta testing, allows officers to opt-in to incident specific location tracking during a significant event, so incident commanders can track the identity and location of all responders, event those from assisting agencies. The location stream can be saved as a video and replayed, showing where each responder was at any point in time.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Statement By Secretary Kelly On DHS Support To Jewish Community Centers To Enhance Their Security
“Over the past several weeks, the country has seen unacceptable and escalating threats and actual harassment directed at faith-based communities around the country, with a particular focus on threats to Jewish Community Centers. As a complement to on-going law enforcement efforts to investigate specific threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working closely with Jewish communities to advise and support on protective measures they can put in place to help keep people in their community safe. DHS has Protective Security Advisors (PSAs) in all 50 states who serve as liaisons to government, industry, and community leaders, and who provide expertise on protective measures, threat reporting, and security awareness. DHS PSAs support state, local, tribal, territorial and community entities across the nation to ensure they are aware of these important public safety steps.
“In light of the nature of the threats to Jewish Community Centers, I have directed DHS to heighten our outreach and support to enhance public safety. Today, DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) spoke with the Executive Directors of the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, who represents more than 150 community-based Jewish federations around the United States, which provide educational, cultural, social, recreational, and Jewish identity building programs. NPPD offered support from Protective Security Advisors in terms of training, protective measures, exercises, and information sharing.
“Our counterterrorism professionals stressed the renewed community-level outreach on the part of DHS and provided information on federal assistance available. These include a number of federal resources available, such as facility vulnerability assessments, as well as assistance to connect organizations with active shooter preparedness and bombing prevention training and guidance, tabletop exercises, protective measures, guides and other tools to strengthen security. Over the past 18 months, we've held active shooter preparedness workshops with Jewish Community Centers in San Francisco, Richmond, Va., Cherry Hill, N.J., and Miami, with more sessions planned in Columbus, Ohio, Wilmington, N.C. and Philadelphia. DHS has also hosted six exercises with members of the Jewish community to enhance contingency planning and response. Further, DHS provides this specialized assistance to houses of worship, schools, and community centers upon request.
“The right to worship and commune within and across faiths is fundamental to the American experience and our way of life. DHS will continue to support communities across the country to preserve these fundamental freedoms. I look forward to working with business, education and faith leaders to learn more about their needs and to share how DHS can support their communities to ensure they are better prepared and aware, and to manage the consequences of incidents if they happen.”
Message from Secretary Kelly to DHS Employees on Celebrating 14 Years of Keeping America Safe
On this day, fourteen years ago, the Department of Homeland Security officially opened its doors, marking a new beginning in protecting America. The attacks of 9/11 taught us we needed to rethink our approach to national security; homeland security must be a top priority. By bringing together 22 agencies and offices into a single Department, we created a team of professionals and entities who could more closely unify our efforts to protect the American people and our Nation.
We have seen many changes over the past fourteen years, both in the world and in DHS. We have grown more unified and have integrated our many law enforcement, security, and counterterrorism capabilities. Much has been accomplished in the first fourteen years. We will do much more in the years ahead, especially by focusing on our mission, enforcing the law, and investing in our workforce.
The constant through these dynamic and challenging times has been the people who make up our Department. You have remained steadfast and faithful to your unique duties and to our common oath of office. I thank each of you for your professionalism and the hard work you bring every day to your important jobs.
To those of you who have been part of our DHS family since March 1, 2003—thank you for choosing a life of public service, and for helping build DHS from its very foundation. To those of you who have joined us since or very recently—and I count myself among the ranks of recent arrivals—we have joined a proud and principled organization. As we celebrate our birthday, let us continue to protect the American people, our homeland, and our values with honor and integrity.
John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
Fired reporter accused of threatening some Jewish centers, cyber-stalking
by Eric Levenson and AnneClaire Stapleton
New York (CNN)A former reporter who was fired for fabricating sources was arrested Friday and accused of making some of the bomb threats against Jewish institutions that have so rattled Jews recently.
Juan Thompson, 31, was charged with one count of cyber-stalking for making at least eight threats as part of an attempt to intimidate a particular person after their romantic relationship ended, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
The accusation against Thompson accounts for just a small minority of the 101 total bomb threats that have been received by Jewish institutions since 2017 began, according to data from the JCC Association of North America.
"No one has been arrested for making the nationwide robocall JCC threats," New York State Police's Beau Duffy said. "That's still an active FBI investigation."
The complaint alleges Thompson had emailed and phoned in threats to the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish institutions. Some of those threats mentioned a "Jewish Newtown," according to the complaint, an apparent reference to the infamous 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Thompson made some of the threats in the victim's name, while others were made in his own name, according to the complaint. Thompson then claimed that those threats had actually been made by the victim in an attempt to frame him, the complaint alleges.
It could not be immediately determined if Thompson has an attorney.
Jewish community centers and schools have been the targets of a series of bomb threats made via telephone since 2017 began, sparking fears of rising anti-Semitism around the country.
Thompson's arrest, in St. Louis, was the result of the ongoing investigation into those bomb threats, officials said.
"Thompson's alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement.
Thompson previously worked as a reporter for The Intercept, the online news publication, according to previous CNN reporting and a review of Thompson's Twitter account.
Several tweets from his Twitter account, @JuanMThompson, are referenced in the criminal complaint. That Twitter account is linked to articles bearing his byline at The Intercept.
Thompson was fired from the website in 2016 for fabricating quotes, The Intercept's editor-in-chief wrote at the time in a special note to readers. He had worked there from November 2014 until January 2016.
In one story, Thompson quoted a man he identified as the cousin of Dylann Roof, the man convicted of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Intercept editors retracted that story after members of Roof's family said they did not know of that cousin.
Jewish groups react
Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised the arrest of Thompson but noted that the threats remained an issue.
"The diligence of law enforcement at such a critical time for the Jewish community is very reassuring," said Bernstein. "Just because there's been an arrest today around our bomb threat does not mean that the threats have disappeared or will stop."
Leaders in the Jewish community met with FBI director James Comey on Friday to discuss the recent spate of threats against Jewish institutions, according to the JCC Association of North America.
The JCC released a photo of the meeting and said in a press release that leaders had the "highest confidence" that the FBI would resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Despite the many threats, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller affirmed that there has been "no specific, credible threat of violence" made to Jewish institutions in New York.
Police: 3 teen girls kidnapped by Salvadoran gang in Houston
by NBC 2
HOUSTON (AP) - Houston authorities believe two MS-13 gang members from El Salvador held three teenage girls against their will and killed one of them in a satanic ritual.
Police said Friday they're looking for others involved in the abductions and slaying. The 15-year-old girl's body was found Feb. 16 with gunshots to the face and chest.
Twenty-two-year-old Miguel Alvarez-Flores and 18-year-old Diego Hernandez-Rivera appeared in court Wednesday on charges of aggravated kidnapping and murder. Both are in the U.S. illegally.
Prosecutors said Thursday the two killed the girl in a satanic ritual because she disrespected their shrine to Satan.
MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, is believed to have been founded in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s by immigrants fleeing civil war in El Salvador. It is now a major international criminal enterprise.
Justice Department: Federal review of MPD back in the works
by Yolanda Jones
The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday morning it was ending its federal review process of the Memphis Police Department, but by the afternoon the federal agency had reversed its earlier announcement and said the review is now back in the works.
“The Department of Justice's COPS Office previously announced its intention to withdraw from the collaborative reform process in Memphis because it had not received a signed memorandum of agreement (MOA), which is a requirement of the collaborative reform process," DOJ officials said in a statement released shortly after lunchtime Friday. "The COPS Office is now in receipt of a signed MOA from the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department. The COPS Office is pleased to proceed with collaborative reform and applauds the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department for their leadership."
After The Commercial Appeal asked the City of Memphis for a statement about DOJ's plans to halt the review, city spokeswoman Ursula Madden responded in an email that officials were "shocked" by this news.
"We are shocked by the statement released by the COPS program. We have been in constant contact with members of the DOJ and COPS program since October, and have worked in good faith on this collaborative process. We can only attribute this to a miscommunication, and we are ready to move forward with the COPS program.," city spokeswoman Madden said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.
Madden added that the city's Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen confirmed Wednesday with acting U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi that the city would sign a memorandum of agreement for the city to participate in the COPS program.
"The two confirmed a promise that Jim Strickland would sign the memorandum of agreement today(Friday)," Madden wrote. "As promised, Mayor Strickland signed that MOA this morning."
Madden said Strickland signed the agreement at 10 a.m. At 10:17 a.m., DOJ officials emailed a statement announcing that its review process of the police department had ended.
“The Department of Justice's COPS Office will no longer proceed with the collaborative reform process with the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department,'' Justice Department officials said in a news release Friday morning.
The DOJ said its COPS office would still provide technical assistance and training resources to MPD.
"The COPS Office appreciates the leadership of MPD and the City of Memphis for requesting assistance from the Department of Justice and supports their efforts as they continue to move forward and advance community policing and strengthen relationships in their community," according to the release.
In October, the DOJ announced that it would review the department's community policing and use of force as part of a federal review that was requested by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Director Michael Rallings.
The review or assessment of the Memphis Police Department is expected to take two years and will be conducted by Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which promotes strengthening police ties with communities.
No recent event prompted a call for the review, but U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III mentioned a reform initiative last year after a federal review of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black man by a white police officer in 2015.
The Justice Department review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support charges against former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling in the death of Darrius Stewart. Schilling shot Stewart twice during a fight that began when Schilling tried to arrest Stewart on an active warrant at a traffic stop.
The COPS office has conducted assessments of police departments across the country, including in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Following the assessments, the COPS office issues a public report detailing the findings. They also evaluate progress made in implementing recommendations over an 18-month period following the initial assessment.
Last year, the federal review in San Francisco was released and found that department has issues with transparency, accountability, bias, data collection, internal oversight and hiring, as well as obstacles from the police union to implement reforms.
BUILDING COMMUNITY: Bringing Lexington youth, police, and lessons, together
by Al Gentile
"I went in to rob a bank, and it changed the rest of my life."
That is what Anthony Sideri, an anti-addiction advocate told a group of about 12 Lexington High School students Feb. 22 as part of the week-long "Police Camp" held by the Lexington Police Department.
The Lexington Minuteman was invited to one day of the week-long police camp program
Detective Kristina Hankins, who is the high school's student resource officer, held the police camp to give students a chance to see law enforcement from another perspective.
"What they see everyday is a cop in a cruiser driving around," said Hankins, herself a Lexington High School graduate. ""I put it together for them to learn all the facets involved in law enforcement. It's just to give kids a better idea of what we do on the day-to-day."
Included in the program was an introduction seminar on what law enforcement is, a SWAT team presentation, and a presentation of criminal forensic science by the Boston Police Department, among other activities.
Yet the program was not simply a public relations exercise. Sideri's Wednesday presentation was aimed at giving high school students, who he said are susceptible to drug addiction, a look into his past life.
While in high school, Sideri said he used to smoke marijuana and drink socially. Because doing drugs was a social norm in his time, he was much more able to move to harder drugs, eventually becoming addicted to heroin.
"I hope by the time [my children] are in high school it is not the social norm," Sideri said.
"Having drank and smoked weed in high school made it easier to take that pill."
The opioid crisis, which has swept nearly every Massachusetts community in recent years, gets only worse as it becomes more common, Sideri said.
"Now the problem is so big, and so many people are using, that people aren't scared," Sideri said. "For some reason people aren't scared of opiates. That's scary to me."
The threat of being online
Immediately following Sideri's presentation, students were given a lecture on the dangers of spending time online through social media and other channels.
Carmen Barrera, coordinator of education and prevention with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, wanted students to understand something they use every day can have detrimental effects.
"We know that teenagers are constantly going online," Barrera said. "It collects a lot of information."
In one instance, a video was shown where a man posing as an online predator lured young children out of their house with their parents waiting for them.
In another exercise, one student had his hands covered with glitter. Then, Barrera instructed all the students to shake every other student's hand.
As an exercise in seeing how "sexting," or sending sexually explicit text messages, can spread around quickly, Barrera wanted to show how quickly so many people can get into trouble.
"Once you put that message out there, everybody has access to it," Barrera said. "Sexting is a crime, it's illegal."
Barrera said in many cases, a young person who receives an explicit picture of a minor, either wanted or unwanted, could be charged for possessing child pornography.
"Sexting is a crime, it's illegal," Barrera said. "These get broken all the time by young people like you."
A closer community
Hankins said she hopes to find people interested in law enforcement.
But, far more important than a recruitment tool, bringing young people into conversation with police officers is, in her words, effective community policing.
"That community outreach makes them understand it shouldn't always be intimidating. They're more comfortable coming up to me and sharing something with me," Hankins said. "I went to Lexington High School. I wish I had these things when I was there."
For more information on the Lexington Police Department's community initiatives, contact the department at 781-862-1212.
The Amesbury Beat: Policing, a profession where you see just about everything
by Tom Hanshaw
I've always been a fan of game shows on television, watching many editions of “The Price is Right” at my grandmother's home as a child. One of the longest running game shows, still popular today is “Family Feud” with comedian Steve Harvey. Every once in a while, I am able to check it out and happened to catch an episode the other day. As I watched, a question popped up and immediately I knew I had one of the top responses. Steve asked the contestants to name a profession where someone could say they had seen just about everything. Although the top response was a physician, in second place was a police officer. As I enter my 35th year in law enforcement, I would certainly agree with those who gave that reply.
Even in small communities, a police officer sees quite a bit over his or her career; a lot of good things, too many bad and plenty of calls that leave you shaking your head. The profession has also evolved over the years to include much more public service today. In fact, many police agencies volunteer with efforts to address social concerns, such as reducing hunger, finding a cure for a disease or preventing overdoses. Officers often wear many other hats too as they help with school programs, coach youth sports and help make their community a better place. The old police motto, “to protect and to serve,” is certainly alive and well in most cities and towns.
“Community policing” is a term which has been around for many years and refers to partnerships between community groups and police agencies, with a goal of making cities and towns safer and better places to live. Some examples include crime prevention talks, safety presentations, appearances at health fairs, a coffee hour, cable television show and even a weekly newspaper column. Officers may be assigned to work with their schools, be a liaison with the Chamber of Commerce, visit the Senior Center or attend neighborhood meetings. Quite often, the partnership involves something, which is not truly a police matter but more of a social issue, such as fighting cancer, addressing hunger or collecting toys at Christmas for those less fortunate.
A week or so ago, I caught a story about a community policing effort, which had been abandoned by a local police department after some complained about the practice. My understanding of the program is that police officers greeted students at an elementary school each Friday morning and gave “high-fives” to them as they arrived at school. I also believe this program had been in place for some time. According to the report I read, a few complaints were raised saying some students might not feel comfortable with police officers at their school because of past encounters or stories in the media.
While I understand how people have a right to voice their concerns, I must chime in and say how awful it is that we have gotten to this point. Police officers are not the bad guys and most work tirelessly to make communities safer places. We are not blind to the stories that make the news too often and, yes, I am sure there are bad police officers, as there are bad employees in every profession. I have seen the results, importance and benefits of community policing in our cities and towns and must argue it is the right thing to do and the future of policing. These officers were trying to break down some of those stereotypes and barriers, which make some hesitant to approach an officer. I ask: What are we teaching children, when we eliminate a program such as that? That you don't ask a police officer for help when you need it? I cannot relate how many times I have been able to de-escalate a situation or comfort someone because they recognized me as the officer who visited their school – sometimes many years later.
Police officers are the ones who go running into a scene when everyone else is running out, they are the ones who see things most people cannot imagine and they are there to catch dangerous people. We are fortunate and understand the true level of support for police officers, especially in our small communities and are certainly appreciative. We cannot do the job alone and rely on the public to help us make cities and towns safer. Community relationships between the public and police must be encouraged and increased, not discouraged and decreased. We must stand up together and say we want safer and better communities for the future.
Officer Tom Hanshaw is the crime prevention officer for the Amesbury Police Department.
Police: Indicted Baltimore officers '1930s-style gangsters'
by Juliet Linderman
Seven Baltimore officers were so unfazed by U.S. Justice Department scrutiny of abusive policing that they kept falsely detaining people, stealing their money and property, and faking reports to cover it up, according to a damning federal indictment.
Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against seven officers in Baltimore, where a consent decree approved in the final days of the Obama administration obligates police to stop abusive tactics and discriminatory practices, including unlawful stops of drivers and pedestrians.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said the investigation began about a year ago, and that his office has "quietly dropped" five federal cases brought by one or more of the officers. In a statement, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said the charges will have "pervasive implications on numerous active investigations and pending cases."
The announcement comes just one day after newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that intense federal scrutiny of police might hinder their crime-fighting ability. Sessions suggested that his Justice Department might "pull back" from civil rights investigations involving police departments.
Rosenstein has been nominated for deputy attorney general.
"I know the attorney general is committed to prosecuting criminals, whether they're in police organizations or anyplace else, so I'm confident we have his support," Rosenstein said.
The indictment describes a criminal enterprise that began in 2015, when the city was rocked by civil unrest after the death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody that April. Weeks later, the Justice Department began a "pattern and practice" investigation of the city's police force. Intense reform efforts followed, including the expanded use of cameras to record police interactions.
In August 2016, the Justice Department released a scathing report detailing systemic failures, including excessive use of force, illegal stops, inadequate oversight and a dearth of training.
By then, federal agents had spent months following officers assigned to the Gun Trace Task Force, a squad formed to reduce violent crime by tracking and removing illegal guns from the streets.
The officers charged with racketeering are detectives Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Daniel Hersl, Wayne Jenkins, Jemell Rayam, Marcus Taylor and Maurice Ward. Gondo also is charged with participating in a drug conspiracy. All were arrested, suspended without pay and jailed overnight pending detention hearings Thursday.
These officers "arrogantly" ignored clear directives, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.
In September 2016, Gondo was recorded telling Rayam he had switched off his body camera before hitting a cellphone out of a woman's hand.
"I turned the camera off," Gondo said.
"Oh yeah, f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) that s(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)," Rayam said. "So, basically it's like you were never here."
The explosive indictment reads more like a Hollywood movie script than a routine charging document, as the feds followed what they described as a squad of renegade officers committing brazen robberies and staging cover-ups to avoid detection by their supervisors.
"These officers are 1930s-style gangsters," Davis said. "They betrayed the trust we're trying to build with our community at a very sensitive time in our history."
Those scenes included:
— Three of the officers stopped a man on the street, searched his car without a warrant, took him home and stole $1,500 he had earned working as a maintenance supervisor at a nursing home. Rayam then allegedly wrote a false incident report, not mentioning the stolen money, and Jenkins approved it.
— Five of the officers stopped a man leaving a storage facility, lied that they had a search warrant, and then stole $2,000 from a sock containing $4,800. Federal authorities were listening: Inside an electronically surveilled police car, Rayam was recorded telling Gondo he'd only "taxed" the man "a little bit."
— Four of the officers arrested a man during a traffic stop and confiscated drugs and $21,500 but turned only $15,000 over as evidence. Then they went to the man's home and stole $200,000 and a $4,000 wristwatch from a safe deposit box.
The officers also routinely filed for overtime pay for hours they didn't work, the documents allege. Jenkins filed for five days when he was on vacation with his family, and other officers discussed going to a casino or a bar on days when they filed for overtime pay.
Rosenstein also announced a second indictment charging a drug conspiracy. In it, Gondo is accused of dealing drugs and protecting his operation by tipping off drug dealers about law-enforcement tactics.
"This is not about aggressive policing; it is about criminal conspiracy," Rosenstein said.
Davis acknowledged that much work must be done to right wrongs inside the department.
"We wouldn't be under a consent decree if we didn't have issues," he said. "We have issues."
Davis said other officers weren't surprised when they learned who was indicted, because several of them have been the subject of numerous misconduct complaints and civil lawsuits alleging abuse.
Gene Ryan, Baltimore's police union president, issued a statement saying he's "disturbed" by the charges. He declined to make other comments.
DeRay Mckesson, a Black Lives Matter activist from Baltimore, said the charges are disturbing but also encouraging.
"It is promising to see the beginning of accountability being applied to the Baltimore Police Department," Mckesson said. "The indictments confirm what activists and community members have been saying for decades."
What's ahead? More talk between police and community
by George Kennedy
Our community conversation about the best relationship between the police and the people they are sworn to serve and protect — a conversation that has already begun — seems likely to broaden and deepen over the next year.
That's the outlook after last week's unanimous endorsement by the Columbia City Council of Ian Thomas' resolution calling for a “community engagement process” on the subject of community-oriented policing.
After that vote, Ian told me he sees this process as the logical follow-up to recommendations made in 2014 by then-Mayor Bob McDavid's Task Force on Community Violence.
That task force, 15 citizen members plus co-chairs Michael Trapp and Laura Nauser, Ian's council colleagues, urged among other things adoption of a “community policing model” and “greater public involvement and accountability of the Police Department's vision, mission and goals.'”
The next steps, Ian told me, will be a conversation with those colleagues and a month or two of planning and rounding up a broad-based working group that includes representatives of all the “stakeholders,” from the Chamber of Commerce to the NAACP. The previous task force has disbanded.
One early task will be reaching agreement on just what community-oriented policing — or community policing, for short — means in the context of Columbia.
There is an Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (acronym, of course, is COPS) in the U.S. Justice Department. That office defines community policing as “a philosophy of full-service personalized policing, where the same officer patrols and works in the same area on a permanent basis, from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems.”
Seems clear enough. It also seems quite different from the model of citywide patrols responding to calls and stopping suspicious-looking motorists, who turn out to be disproportionately black.
The proactive approach is already being tried out in three lower-income neighborhoods. Chief Ken Burton has expressed his support of the approach, as has the police officers' association.
So what requires a year of further conversation, you might well ask.
I put that question to Ian, to Race Matters, Friends leader and police critic Traci Wilson–Kleekamp and to City Manager Mike Matthes.
They agreed that the trial run is a good start but only that. As the manager put it, “We're already doing community policing to the extent that we can, but we can't put more resources into it and still answer those 911 calls.”
Both Ian and Traci stressed the need for developing broader understanding and broader support throughout the community. Both believe minorities remain skeptical — with good reason, in Traci's view — of the willingness and ability of the overwhelmingly white police force to change its ways.
There is also the matter of money. If further study bears out the widely shared assumption that our department is 30 to 50 officers short of the staff it will need to pursue “full-service personalized policing” citywide, we'll be facing the need for a substantial revenue increase. Columbia voters have been reluctant heretofore to impose higher taxes on ourselves.
So what we have to look forward to is a year-long conversation that will include research to reveal the facts about crime and public safety in Columbia, explanation of just how community policing will affect us all and, not least, the making of a case for taking more money from our pockets and investing it in our police force.
It promises to be, as Mike Matthes said to me, “a critical conversation to have.”
NYC's crime drop is result of precision and community policing, NYPD says
by Alison Fox
There were nine days last month without a single shooting recorded in the city, police said on Wednesday, as overall crime continued to go down.
In total, there were 40 recorded shootings in February, a 35.5% decrease from last February when police recorded 62 shootings. Overall crime decreased by about 9.7% with 6,630 major felony crimes recorded last month compared to the same time period last year.
Officials credited the confluence of precision policing, a strategy aimed at targeting resources where the crimes are committed, and neighborhood policing, where cops focus on a small area and get to know the community.
“As we move through 2017 and this becomes ingrained into how we do business, I think this is going to help us push crime down, especially the violence,” Police Commissioner James O'Neill said, speaking at a news conference at the 114th Precinct in Astoria, Queens. “I see this definitely going in a positive direction.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also credited the deployment of 2,000 more officers on the streets with helping crime decrease, calling them “an X-factor that's going to have an increasingly big impact.”
“It's very gratifying for all of us to be able to come before you month after month and show progress, but there isn't a hint of complacency,” de Blasio said. “They see this as a beginning, not an end. We have a lot more to do.”
Crime decreased in all five boroughs last month, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Dermot Shea.
“We were confident we could push crime down even further,” said Shea. “We have a lot of momentum in our crime fighting efforts right now. A lot of things going very well.”
However, there was a small uptick in homicides — 20 murders were reported this February, compared to 18 last February, police said.
Effectiveness of community policing touted at JFK forum
by Jennifer Smith
While tensions continue to simmer across the country between police forces and community members, the Boston Police Department's commitment to a community policing model remains a solid foundation for neighborhoods, Commissioner William Evans said on Monday, adding, “but every day, we strive to get better.”
The commissioner spoke on an evening panel with Rev. Mark V. Scott, associate pastor with the Azusa Christian Community and member of the City of Boston's Streetworker Team, and the Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, founder of RECAP (Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace).
Moderated by Byron Barnett, reporter at WHDH and host of Urban Update, the “Towards a Safer Community” panel was part of the Kennedy Library Forum Series hosted by the JFK Library and Museum on Columbia Point.
“I would characterize the relationship as strong,” Rev. Scott said. “I would also characterize it as tremendously improved. The improvement is something that has been worked on over a period of time, and worked at hard.”
The panelists, steeped as they are in the day-to-day impacts of community violence, noted that the policing system in Boston is not perfect but is making progress. A force that is roughly 30 percent non-white in a city that is 54 percent non-white does not fully reflect the demographics of a majority-minority city, though the reinstated cadet program is providing a fresh pool of recruits from the neighborhoods they hope to serve.
And although the homicide rates are declining, five murders have occurred so far in 2017, which Evans said was “five too many.”
The commissioner and the reverends dealt sensitively and frankly with politically charged questions about the meaning of Black Lives Matter, the purpose of body cameras, and the difficulty of maintaining strong relationships with communities that historically mistrust police.
Peace walks, youth and police dialogues, and other efforts intended to divert youths from the criminal justice system are core efforts for the force, Evans said. If there are fewer arrests in trade for sending youths to the most appropriate social services, so much the better, he said.
Another mark in the police department's favor, said Rev. Brown, is its practice of showing community leaders footage of police-involved shootings after violence breaks out. He was one of the people called in to examine footage of the fatal shooting of the 40-year-old felon Angelo West, who, in March 2015 ,opened fire and shot Boston Police Officer John Moynihan in the face during a drug unit traffic stop.
“I think it was unprecedented,” Brown said, “for the commissioner to be open in calling community leaders… and when I go to other communities, across the country and let them know that this is part of what is being developed with the Boston Police Department, they look at me as though I have eight heads, because they just think it's so crazy to have the community come in and look at some of this evidence with this technology.”
Although initially cautious regarding implementing body cameras, Evans ultimately backed the current 100-officer pilot program. “We're using it in a lot of positive ways,” he said. The one request to view footage was from an insurance agency, he said, “so the good thing is, we haven't really had any demand by anybody suspecting our officers of any misbehavior, where we got into a situation where we would look at it and try to justify the officer's behavior.”
The body cameras have captured thousands of hours of footage and Evans said he has heard almost no objection to the program from officers assigned to wear them. Police and the city leadership are in talks about extending the pilot.
The full video of the event is available at the Kennedy Library's online archives. The next forum, on March 6, will be a discussion with Ryan Tubridy and PJ Lynch on JFK's visit to Ireland. It will be moderated by Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe.
Minneapolis police launch new division aimed at community outreach
The new division for neighborhood outreach to be led by Cmdr. Charlie Adams.
by Libor Jany
A new Minneapolis police division focused on neighborhood outreach and smoothing police-community relations was launched this week, with a familiar face at the helm.
The Division of Community & Collaborative Advancement, or CCA, will be made up of a mix of about 40 sworn officers and civilians from various units: the department's Community Engagement Team, the police Community Support Team and the Cedar Riverside-West Bank Safety Center. The division will be run by newly promoted Cmdr. Charlie Adams, a longtime detective and lifelong North Sider who has maintained deep connections to the community.
A new Minneapolis police division focused on neighborhood outreach and smoothing police-community relations was launched this week, with a familiar face at the helm.
The Division of Community & Collaborative Advancement, or CCA, will be made up of a mix of about 40 sworn officers and civilians from various units: the department's Community Engagement Team, the police Community Support Team and the Cedar Riverside-West Bank Safety Center. The division will be run by newly promoted Cmdr. Charlie Adams, a longtime detective and lifelong North Sider who has maintained deep connections to the community.
Its mission is: Building trust between officers and residents, at a time when police agencies across the country are under pressure to address the anger and frustration that have inspired widespread protests.
"This is something that I truly believe in — community involvement," Adams said in an interview Wednesday at police headquarters downtown.
His role will include everything from attending community meetings to overseeing implicit bias and procedural justice training.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau said that Adams, whose 31-year career with the department includes stints with the Homicide Unit and, most recently, Internal Affairs, was a natural fit for the job.
He was promoted to commander this week and will officially take over the unit on Sunday.
"Commander Adams' legacy is felt everyday through his work, not to mention the work of his brother, son and daughter, all members of our department," Harteau said in a news release. "I am confident Charlie will continue his legacy through this new position, which will ensure the MPD continues its progressive initiatives and community policing plans in the years to come."
Adams' son and daughter work for the department, and his brother, Tony, runs the Police Athletics League program.
The responsibilities of the outfits under Adams' command will remain unchanged. But, Harteau said, by bringing the department's community-oriented units "under the one umbrella, it helps us make those connections" with residents.
How the North Hollywood shootout changed policing
More than 300 outgunned LEOs from five agencies, fighting for their lives, fired more than 550 rounds
by Dana Bartholomew
LOS ANGELES — LAPD Officer James Zboravan was two months and eight days out of the police academy when he faced a barrage of machine-gun fire, shot and wounded a bank robber and dove across unarmored officers to shield them with his bulletproof vest.
He was shot four times before leaping through an exploding glass doorway.
“There was no time to be scared. It's not a macho thing. There's so much going on. You fall back on your training — the best in the world,” recalled Zboravan, an award-winning sergeant now serving as an assistant watch commander at Northeast Division. “The lesson is, very plainly: “Just because you're shot doesn't mean you're going to die. You must fight on.”
Twenty years ago, on Feb. 28, 1997, two men armed with fully automatic weapons and clad in heavy body armor did more than rob the Bank of America at 6600 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.
For 44 thunderous minutes, they marched through a neighborhood under siege, spraying stores, homes and cars with 1,100 armor-piercing bullets, wounding 11 police officers and six bystanders.
More than 300 outgunned law enforcement officers from five agencies, fighting for their lives, fired back with more than 550 rounds. But most were from .38 revolvers or 9 mm pistols pitted against an arsenal of high-capacity AK-47s and automatic rifles.
The nation then watched the terror unfold on live TV as news helicopters broadcast the battle now known as the North Hollywood shootout.
When the shell casings stopped rolling, two bandits lay dead — one after shooting himself after sustaining 10 gunshot wounds — and the other after bleeding to death from 29 gunshots after telling police, “F--- you. Shoot me in the head.”
A ‘seminal moment'
Like the scars still left by the hail of bullets across North Hollywood, the gunbattle would transform the Los Angeles Police Department, boosting its reputation after the Rodney King Jr. debacle, while altering its response to what became known from then on as “an active shooting situation.”
Los Angeles, once known as the bank-robbery capital of the world with up to 900 heists in 1992, according to the FBI, had 11 such heists last year after police tactics developed after the infamous shootout were implemented.
The shootout also left indelible marks on scores of cops and civilians, with many suffering depression, nightmares and flashbacks more typical of battle-scarred soldiers. For their heroism, 19 officers would receive medals of valor.
One seriously wounded officer who later quit the force to become a minister said: “I heard the devil; he told me: ‘You're gonna die, you're gonna die.'”
And in a case of life imitating Hollywood, 14 months after the bank-robbing movie “Heat,” the shootout laid siege to North Hollywood. The real-life gunbattle then inspired made-for-TV documentaries and movies.
“It was really a seminal moment in law enforcement,” said Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, who served as LAPD commander during the shootout and who now lectures around the world on how it changed police tactics, weaponry, communications and mutual aid. “After North Hollywood, this was the most significant event that involved the most change to not only the LAPD, but police departments throughout the world.”
As a result, police departments in Los Angeles County and beyond now have access to more powerful weapons, including assault rifles and shotguns with plug rounds.
LaChasse joined Los Angeles and federal officials yesterday at the North Hollywood police station for a 20th anniversary tribute in honor those who stopped the North Hollywood bank bandits.
Armed to the teeth
The gunmen in “Heat” had nothing on these two.
Larry Eugene Phillips Jr., 26, was a gruff-looking man with a pencil mustache, a former grifter once arrested for real-estate fraud. He had a wife and two children.
Emil Dechebal Matasareanu, 30, was a scraggly haired, 283-pound native of Romania who suffered painful seizures after being struck in the head by a mental patient at his mother's home-operated day-care center.
He had brain surgery months before his death and was estranged from a wife and two kids.
A civil-rights lawsuit later filed on behalf of Matasareanu's two young children alleged he was deliberately allowed to bleed to death. It ended in a deadlocked jury, with the city ultimately agreeing to pay $50,000 in legal fees.
The former Altadena residents had once served a brief stint in jail for possessing what Glendale police said was virtually a bank-robbery kit.
The two men were later tied to two San Fernando Valley bank heists netting $1.67 million, as well as an armored truck robbery in which a guard was killed. The cash was never found.
For Matasareanu and Phillips, suspected of pulling off a number of sophisticated bank heists, the North Hollywood robbery was to be their biggest yet.
The bank was expected to have more than $750,000 to accommodate a Friday payday.
The pair, drawn together by a love of weight-lifting and weapons, had planned for months, assembling the body armor and reinforcing it over vital organs.
They gathered their automatic arsenal, including a Chinese-made AK-47 for Phillips, with a 70-round drum magazine, and a Bushmaster XM15 assault rifle for Matasareanu, with twin drums containing 100 rounds. Of their nearly 4,000 rounds of ammo, many were armor-piercing.
‘How many officers down?'
On the morning of the robbery, officials believe they took phenobarbital to help control their nerves.
At 9:17 a.m., they pulled up to the North Hollywood bank and synchronized their watches to account for an anticipated 8-minute LAPD response time once they entered. But as the pair lumbered from their Chevrolet Celebrity sedan, they were spotted by LAPD Officers Loren Farrell and Martin Perello, who were on patrol and called in for backup for a possible robbery.
Inside the Bank of America, the two gunmen shot out the tellers' windows and forced their way into the vault.
Apparently enraged to find only $350,000 in its coffers, they beat a bank branch officer.
But in the time it took them to place the money on a cart and leave the building, the LAPD had surrounded the bank, and the SWAT team was on its way. Some SWAT members had been working out at the LAPD academy and arrived in gym shorts and bulletproof vests.
Both men left the bank and took aim at the surrounding officers.
Military veterans quickly recognized the telltale “blat” of the Russian-designed AK-47 assault rifle.
The robbers, clad in cut-up Kevlar, emptied their clips, sending hot rounds through concrete walls, iron fences, dozens of cars and through the walls of a nearby ice cream parlor and pizza joint.
A golden retriever was shot in the nose while on the way to his vet.
“Does any unit know how many officers are down?” asked a police radio dispatcher.
“More than one, more than one,'” responded a frantic officer recorded on audiotape.
During the standoff, frustrated police ran into the now-defunct B&B Gun Shop to grab high-powered weapons and ammo. But most police officers remained calm, despite ineffective weapons, faulty radios and a command post relocated four times.
‘Bullets spraying everywhere'
South of the bank, Carlos Lemus, an employee of the Goodyear tire shop, was walking toward its ATM when he realized he'd forgotten his billfold.
“Forgetting my wallet was the luckiest thing I ever did,” said Lemus, 59, who still works at Mountain View Tire. “It wasn't my time.”
At another nearby shop, Miguel Lopez was installing a battery in the car of an off-duty police officer when the shooting started. “It sounded like a war, like death,” said Lopez, 58, who is now retired. “He said, ‘Oh man, it's my lucky day.'?”
North of the bank across Archwood Street, bullets drilled through the stucco of Baskin-Robbins, piercing ice cream counters above the pistachio almond bucket, as well as an ice cream cake in a now patched-up freezer. “I think it's like a movie,” said store manager Eim Tang.
The bullets then whizzed through Mr. Jiffy's Pizza, narrowly missing a driver before bouncing off a warming oven. Its owner, Fred Abdo, was headed to work when he saw the bandits, in dark clothing and ski masks.
“I saw their faces. They looked like zombies, no emotion. Like drugged. Scary,” said Abdo, an Armenian immigrant from Iran. “We ran away from Iraqi bombs and came here.”
Outside, LAPD Officer Bill Lantz was five days out of the police academy when he and his training officer cowered behind their cruiser in the intersection.
“It was like the movie ‘Heat,' bullets spraying everywhere,” recalled Lantz, now a corporal, while revisiting the scene. “Our car started taking rounds. Plink plink. The windows shattered. The light bar was shattered.”
But while beating a retreat, he took a bullet in the knee and collapsed in the strip mall driveway. His partner, Officer Dean Schram, saved his life by drawing returning fire.
“LAPD shined that day,” said Lantz, who has had three knee surgeries. “The citizens need to know we're only human. We put on these badges to help them. We put our lives on the line. But we all have families to go home to.”
Across Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Jose Haro had hit the floor in his locksmith kiosk, where Zboravan and three other police officers took cover. The kiosk would take 150 rounds, some of which are visible today.
The Argentine immigrant then sprinted to a nearby cleaners, where he pulled a woman to safety just as bullets shattered a window. For his valor, he would receive an award from the county.
“After everything was over, I saw the bullet holes in my kiosk, and my arms started to swell,” Haro, now retired and in ill health, told the Daily News a decade ago. “For eight months, I didn't sleep during the night.”
It was from the kiosk, once positioned directly across from the north bank door, where Zboravan had nicked Phillips with his shotgun. And it was at the key shack that he dove atop Detective William Krulac and Officer Tracey Angeles as Phillips returned fire.
He and Krulac were then hit by bullets. Wounded and bleeding, they sprinted toward the doorway of an upstairs dentist office, between a defunct Builders Emporium and Hughes Market, in what is now a Smart & Final and a Ralphs.
“Who's the doctor? Who's the doctor? I've been shot,” the dentist recalls Zboravan crying out atop the stairway.
Dr. Jorge O. Montes, who would receive an award, risked his life to treat the wounded cops. For his trouble, he later suffered nightmares and a nervous tic in one eye. His father, worried during the ordeal, suffered a heart attack and died later from the anxiety, he said.
He recalled the detective saying of the AK-47 nightmare, “I served in Vietnam. And I'll never forget that sound. We have pea shooters compared to what these guys have.”
Phillips walked down Archwood Street, continuing his gunbattle with police. When his gun jammed and he was no longer able to advance, he shot himself.
Matasareanu tried to hijack a pickup, but he was unable to get it started and then began a 6-minute gunbattle with police, until he collapsed from his injuries. He bled to death while police, concerned about reports of a third masked gunman, searched the area.
Still vivid today
The North Hollywood siege ended at 10:01 a.m.
As the gunfire suddenly ceased in front of her Archwood home, Anna Kazanchyan crouched inside with her two young children watching it play out on TV.
“I can't forget that day,” said Kazanchyan, now 49. “It sounded like they were shooting at the house. We only knew what happened when we saw it on the news.”
Twenty years later, the North Hollywood shootout is still vivid for those who suffered through it, and it has become part of the cultural lore of Los Angeles.
At the Los Angeles Police Museum in Highland Park, the robbers' stickup duds and guns are on display in what has proved to be its most popular exhibit. Out back, their bullet-ridden getaway car, a destroyed LAPD black-and-white, and an armored car that helped rescue cops and civilians gathers crowds.
“We did a great job,” said David Fryar, director of the nonprofit museum. “If you look at the civilians who were injured, the policemen who were injured, the cars that were destroyed, it was amazing that nobody died.”
AG Sessions: DOJ to limit PD civil rights suits
The DOJ is shifting toward an emphasis on making those in minority or poor communities feel safe from violent crime
by PoliceOne Staff
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday civil rights suits against police departments will be limited under President Donald Trump.
During a meeting with state attorney generals, Sessions said the Department of Justice is “pulling back” on the suits, NBC News reported.
“We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I'm afraid we've done some of that,” he said.
Sessions said the DOJ is shifting toward an emphasis on making those in minority or poor communities feel safe from violent crime, a move which will require more effective policing with help from the federal government. He believes the change is not “wrong or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.”
Federal prosecutors will be encouraged to pursue charges for crimes committed using firearms, resulting in heavier penalties for offenders than what courts at the state level can impose, according to NBC News.
"We need to return to the ideas that got us here, the ideas that reduce crime and stay on it. Maybe we got a bit overconfident when we've seen the crime rate decline so steadily for so long," he said.
Bloomington Police Host Second Community Meeting Tonight On 21st Century Policing
(BLOOMINGTON) - In April of 2016, Mayor John Hamilton announced that Bloomington would join approximately 50 other cities across the nation considering implementation of a voluntary series of recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
After careful review by the Board of Public Safety and members of the Bloomington Police Department, those recommendations were implemented as applicable to a department the size of Bloomington's.
Tonight, the Bloomington Police Department will host the second community meeting regarding the implementation of these task force recommendations.
The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Bloomington Police Department from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The purpose of these community meetings is to open dialogue with community members regarding the Bloomington Police Department's ongoing implementation of action items identified in the 21st Century Policing Report. Sixty-four of the action items in the report applied to local police departments. The Bloomington Police either meets the requirements or has already implemented the recommendations in 60 of the 64 action items.
"I'm proud of our Bloomington Police Department's efforts to embrace transparency, accountability and effectiveness by implementing the recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. I hope many members of our community will attend at least one of these community meetings to let us know what they see us do well and what areas for improvement exist. Good community policing requires the participation of not just our sworn officers, but of caring, concerned residents, too," commented Mayor Hamilton.
The department hosted its first community meeting on February 20th . There is a third meeting scheduled for March 6th .
Does Boston Have the Best Police? A Case Study in Police-Community Relations
by Alisha Ukani
In the past four years, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray have become household names after they were killed by police. Their deaths helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement and initiated a conversation about the relationships between police and communities of color—in particular, black communities. As other cities have seen major protests, Boston has remained relatively quiet and has even been praised for its strong community-police relations.
Community Point of View
While Boston has been quiet, it still has its own history of police mistreatment of minorities. In 1980, an unarmed teenager named Levi Hart was killed after a confrontation with Boston police. Police stated that Hart grabbed an officer's gun and was killed when it was accidentally discharged. However, this story did not explain the autopsy results, which found a skull fracture caused by a blunt object. This was just one of nine police-involved shootings between 1970 and 1991, eight of which were fatal.
“I just don't see it. He's only 14 years old. I mean, what's he going to try, struggling with police? I just don't see it,” Hart's brother explained to the Boston Globe while crying. The black community in Boston was similarly outraged by both Hart's death and the lack of transparency.
This trend has only worsened. Between January 2013 and April 2016, 40 people had been fatally shot by police in Massachusetts. Between January 2013 and September 2016, the Boston Police Department was responsible for seven deaths.
One of the victims was Ross Batista, a 38 year-old black man who allegedly shot at officers and was killed when officers responded by shooting back. Batista's family echoed the distress of Hart's brother. “He was executed,” Batista's father told the Boston Globe . “There was no chance for him to survive those wounds.” His mother added, “No police came to my door to let me know what's going on. Why? Why? They kill my son while I've been sleeping, and they didn't tell me.”
Only 65 percent of black residents of Boston have a positive view of the police, compared to 82 percent of white residents. Even the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has recognized these tense relations when it ruled that running from the police should not be used against black suspects because they might have fled just “to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled.”
The data and stories show that Boston has a long record of negative interactions between police and residents, and that the BPD's community engagement programs have not resulted in more trust among the people they serve.
Police Outreach: Getting to Know Communities
These broken relationships are not from a lack of trying. BPD has created new programs to engage with residents and increase accountability. For one, they established the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel, an independent group that increases accountability by reviewing complaints and randomly-chosen cases. However, most people—109 out of 116—do not actually appeal their cases to the panel because of misinformation or negative experiences during the request process. Even when the panel receives an appeal, it can take two years to process, which is in part because of the panel's extremely limited power.
BPD also created Neighborhood Advisory Councils, which are groups of community members who design local police initiatives. These groups have had some success; the one in Dorchester created the Safe Neighborhood Initiative, in which Assistant District Attorneys work with residents to provide them with resources in an effort to deter crime. In 1994, then-Attorney General Janet Reno said that “I haven't seen any community in the country that involved so many different disciplines—hospital workers, police, community activists, social services—as Dorchester.”
In addition, BPD created a group dedicated to increasing dialogue between the police and residents, which gives feedback on instances of officer-involved shootings and includes members of the police department, members of community groups like the NAACP, and other community leaders.
These community groups value the BPD's communication and outreach, according to Nia Evans, Executive Director of the Boston NAACP. In an interview with the HPR, Evans expressed her appreciation that the police commissioner was thoughtful in communicating with organizations like hers. Soon after crises like the one in Roslindale, BPD has called the NAACP explaining what happened, and has even shown videos of the situation that the NAACP can then use to fact check the officer reports.
In addition to these programs, the BPD has more informal ways of involving the communities. They engage with youth in sports games and talent shows, visit members of the community on special occasions, and go on neighborhood walks to meet residents.
They also developed a body camera pilot program in conjunction with the ACLU and the Boston Police Camera Action Team, a group dedicated to making body cameras a standard tool for the BPD. It will start out as a voluntary, six-month test for up to 100 officers, but Evans hopes it will lead to a bigger, permanent program.
In an interview with the HPR, BPCAT co-founder Segun Idowu praised BPD for working with the community and implementing the majority of their policy recommendations. In particular, the BPD led the nation in banning the use of facial recognition software, which is important to maintain citizens' privacy.
Room for Improvement
The BPD is successful in working with community relations and is trying to forge strong relationships with residents. However, the aforementioned data shows that residents still do not trust the police.
According to community leaders, one reason why the programs are not increasing public trust is because they do not emphasize major topics that the community is interested in, like accountability. BPCAT surveyed hundreds of residents and found that every single one wanted consequences as part of the body camera pilot program. The section about consequences in the six-page BPD policy document consisted of merely one sentence.
Idowu believes BPD can improve its accountability is by changing its policy in the pilot program. In particular, he would change the policy allowing officers to watch body camera footage before writing reports. This creates a fear that officers can change their reports depending on the footage, preventing the footage from being used to keep the police accountable.
Reverend Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Massachusetts ACLU's Racial Justice Program, thinks that accountability can also be improved by changing the way BPD engages with the community. In an interview with the HPR, Hall explained that the BPD currently develops plans and then presents them to the community. Instead, he thinks they should make have conversations with members of the community and then develop a plan based on what the people want. “There are voices that are not included” in these policy conversations, Hall said, and the BPD needs to change that in order to gain the community's trust.
Idowu and Evans also mentioned how residents feel that BPD is over-policing their neighborhoods by flashing their lights in neighborhoods all night, even if there was no emergency. Evans recounted a little girl who told her how bad she felt when the police were always on her block, just waiting for something to happen. While the police may hope their presence makes the neighborhood safer, Idowu explained that they also serve as a “reminder that your neighborhood is a jail cell.”
Evans proposed that rather than over-policing, BPD should invest in solutions for the problems that promote crime. If they want to address the community's concerns, it “would be useful for the police not to view everything through a crime lense.” Instead, they should “switch to a public health and social service lense,” meaning that they would develop preventative and restorative programs that address health and social problems in Boston.
This solution is similar to the Cambridge Police Department's strategy. In an interview with the HPR, Cambridge Police Commissioner Christopher Burke explained one of these programs, the Safety Net Collaborative. The CPD works with various organizations like the Cambridge Public Schools and Cambridge Health Alliance to identify young kids engaging in risky behavior that can develop into more serious actions. Through the program, they track their behavior during the school day and during out-of-school programs while connecting them with resources. The success is clear: juvenile arrests have been reduced by upwards of 70 percent, and kids have mentioned that youth-police relations “have never been better.”
In addition, Evans and Hall both emphasized the importance of police training. Evans mentioned that the NAACP does training-related work, especially related to mental health, implicit bias, and use of force. In addition to mental health and implicit bias, Hall also proposed more training in de-escalation and understanding the consequences of poverty. By strengthening these programs, they believe that the BPD can be more prepared for interacting with residents, and ultimately have more positive interactions.
Finally, Evans and Hall advocated for more diversity within police forces. The NAACP advocated for William Gross's appointment as the BPD's Superintendent-In-Chief, and he is now the first black person to hold this title. As Evans explained, the “presence of people of color in institutions matters.” Hall proposed using different hiring techniques and promotional exams to increase diversity within the police force.
Boston's police still lead the nation in community-police relations. Their established programs for community engagement allow them to build trust within the communities they serve, and their body camera pilot program demonstrates their interest in increasing transparency and accountability. They have established communication with organizations that allow these organizations to help keep them accountable. But if the city wants to improve, it needs to take more action in increasing accountability, focusing on preventative and restorative justice instead of over-policing, and invest in more training and diversity initiatives.
It's Long Past Time To Stop The Fistfights In Waianae
The teenage fight culture needs a concerted community effort to fix — and quickly — for the sake of the students and the residents.
While kids in Waianae have been regularly duking it out on a grassy knoll, the adults in their community have been busy pointing fingers.
As Noelle Fujii recently reported for Civil Beat, large groups of students from Waianae High School and Waianae Intermediate School congregate once or twice a month to fight in the Ulu Wehi residential neighborhood between the schools.
The fights are so commonplace they're practically institutionalized. The hill where they occur is commonly known as “the ring.” And State Rep. Cedric Gates, who represents Waianae, Makaha and Makua and grew up in the area, says he became aware of the fights when he was in first grade.
Fighting among high school students is a tale as old as time, affecting nearly every corner of the United States. In a 2013 nationwide survey, about 24.7 percent of high school students reported having been in a physical fight in the previous year. Just last fall, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, said that if he were in high school, he would take Donald Trump “behind the gym.”
But while fighting might be inevitable during the hormonal and fragile time of high school, there is a real difference between sporadic and spontaneous outbursts and an organized, almost sanctioned habit.
Waianae's problem has clearly crossed that line, and the adults in Fujii's article — from the school principals to the police to the politicians — all seem to think they've done enough to address the situation, that the real responsibility lies elsewhere. They seem to be resigned to the “culture” as it is, a culture where students are beating the crap out of one another.
But the real problem isn't just the physical harm these kids are inflicting on one another. Violence among students is often indicative of larger issues, such as behavioral health.
As Karen Umemoto and Katherine Irwin wrote in a Civil Beat Community Voice, “helping youth address underlying pain from trauma” can be an effective way of deterring fighting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes that exposure to such violence can cause depression and anxiety among students, often leading to alcohol and drug use and even suicide.
All of which means that fighting in “the ring” can lead to more destructive ramifications for the Waianae community.
Given all that is at stake — from the physical and emotional health of our keiki to the property values of the homes nearby — there needs to be a more concerted effort to put a stop to this disturbing and harmful practice.
While everyone admits it's a problem, no one seems to be actually addressing it.
A Honolulu Police Department spokesperson told Fujii that officers regularly patrol the area, especially before and after school hours. John Wataoka, principal of the intermediate school, says it's only a minority of kids who fight. And Disa Hauge, principal of the high school for the past three years, insists the school's “positive behavioral intervention system” has been effective, reducing the number of fights, but that change doesn't happen overnight.
With all due respect to Hauge and Wataoka, with multiple fights a month attracting as many as 100 students, there is certainly reason to demand a faster rate of change. And it won't happen if police officers stay in the comfort of their patrol cars.
With so many stakeholders involved here — two schools, the residential neighborhood and the police — no one entity can stop the fight culture on its own. It's going to take a more holistic approach, perhaps best implemented by HPD as a community policing initiative.
As Umemoto and Irwin note, HPD can't arrest its way out of this problem.
“Arresting and punishing youth for fighting,” they wrote, “does little to increase their capacity to resolve conflicts in beneficial and less harmful ways. … In our research, we found that teens who were arrested could become more violent as a result of their punitive experiences.”
Community policing, on the other hand, attempts to address the root causes of neighborhood crime and unrest by stressing more direct officer involvement with citizens and more effective community partnerships.
A report by the University of California Berkeley's law school highlights an effort in Naperville, Illinois, as an example of effective community policing. To combat an emerging gang and burglary problem in one neighborhood there, the Naperville police opened “a neighborhood service center” staffed by a mix of sworn and civilian personnel. While that center focused on crime prevention (to great success), a similar set-up in the Ulu Wehi neighborhood could focus on youth intervention.
Community policing efforts like this have proven successful not only because of the immediate results, but because the short-term costs to get started are often offset by long-term savings. Address the root problems of anger management and conflict resolution in students would likely make them less likely to turn to crime and drugs as adults.
By partnering with already active nonprofits like Adult Friends For Youth, community organizations like the Waianae Boxing Club and Rep. Gates, the schools and the police could do so much more than just reduce the number of fights. They could encourage a healthier mindset and culture for the future of Waianae.
2 Houston officers shot, 1 in critical condition
Police said one suspect was killed in a shootout with the officers and one other man was being sought
by Michael Graczyk
HOUSTON — Two Houston police officers were shot and taken to hospitals, one of them in critical condition, as they were investigating a home burglary Tuesday, authorities said.
One suspect was killed in a shootout with the officers and one other man was being sought, police said.
"If he's hiding somewhere, we're not leaving," Police Chief Art Acevedo said as hundreds of officers combed the southwest Houston neighborhood. "We ain't going away."
"My primary concern now is for the condition of the two officers," Mayor Sylvester Turner said outside one of the hospitals where the officers were being treated.
One officer, Jose Munoz, was shot in the foot and his condition was not considered life-threatening. The other officer, Ronny Cortez, had a bullet lodged near his spine, the mayor said.
Cortez is a 24-year veteran of the department and was at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Munoz has been an officer for 10 years and was at Ben Taub Hospital.
Houston Emergency Services Director Dr. David Persse said Cortez's condition "is improved since he first got here."
"He is awake and talking and is with his family," Persse said.
Acevedo said the officers were among several called late Tuesday morning to investigate a burglary call in the neighborhood. A woman at one of the homes alerted them that a door at a storage shed behind her home was ajar and appeared to be suspicious.
"Two of our officers actually jumped the fence and went into that backyard to clear that storage shed when a male Hispanic suspect opened the door, came out and opened fire on our officers," he said. "Officers were able to return gunfire."
One gunman was killed there. He described the second suspect as a Hispanic man dressed in black and with a blue bandanna.
"We will assume the second suspect at large is armed and dangerous," Acevedo said. He apologized for the inconvenience to the neighborhood, "but someone that's willing to shoot and try to kill two fully uniformed officers in broad daylight after committing a burglary, which is a property crime, is someone that will not hesitate to kill a member of that community."
Fla. deputy shot, but will survive; suspect killed
Sgt. Richard Stelter was shot while trying to serve a warrant on a suspect wanted for robberies
by Mike Schneider
ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida deputy was shot multiple times while trying to serve a warrant Tuesday, but he is expected to survive, authorities said. The suspect was killed in a shootout with other deputies.
Sgt. Richard Stelter was shot while trying to serve a warrant on a suspect wanted for robberies in the Orlando area, said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who didn't identify the suspect since his family hadn't been notified of his death.
Demings said the suspect opened fire on the 46-year-old Stelter and other deputies after they blocked his car outside an apartment complex. Four deputies returned fire, and the suspect was killed.
A woman who was in the car with suspect had minor injuries, Demings said.
As is customary, those deputies will be assigned to other duties pending a review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sheriff said.
"Given the details that we know at this time and eyewitness testimony, it appears that the actions taken by the deputies were appropriate," Demings said.
Stelter was in stable condition. He has been with the sheriff's office since 1996.
Deming said he had visited Stetler in the hospital and that he was in "relatively good spirits."
"We're very, very confident he's in the best hands possible," Demings said.
The suspect previously had been convicted of attempted murder and served three years in prison. During the robberies he was wanted for, the suspect and others targeted elderly women leaving shopping malls, authorities said.
Last month, an Orlando police lieutenant was fatally shot while attempting to arrest a fugitive wanted for questioning in the slaying of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. An Orange County deputy was killed in a traffic accident while responding to the shooting.
Fort Worth cops 'Shake it Off' for bone marrow foundation
The video, a spoof of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off," had one main message: Get swabbed
by Ryan Osborne
(Video on site)
FORT WORTH, Texas — Police recruit Ty Veltre made news earlier this week for traveling 1,300 miles to donate bone marrow to a 9-year-old Italian boy with leukemia.
Veltre discovered he was a match for the boy through Hallie's Heroes, a foundation started by 8-year-old Fort Worth girl Hallie Barnard, who's looking for a match of her own. She suffers from a rare blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia.
And while Veltre happened to be a match for one sick child, it's rare that matches are found, said Jennifer Scott, a spokeswoman for Hallie's Heroes. That's why the foundation pushes for more cheek swabs to build up a national registry and hopefully give sick children a better chance at finding a match.
Part of that push, Scott said, has been working with the police department, which takes cheek swabs from all incoming officers, including Veltre. And the officers also have a little fun for the good cause, too.
This week, Hallie's Heroes released a music video Barnard made with officers and firefighters. The video, a spoof of Taylor Swift's “Shake it Off,” had one main message: Get swabbed.
If you're interested in helping Hallie's Heroes, you can go to their website: TeamHallieBea.org.
N.J. has seen 'substantial increase' in bomb threats at Jewish centers, officials say
by S.P. Sullivan
TRENTON -- The bomb threat phoned into a Camden County Jewish center on Monday was at least the eighth such hoax across New Jersey this year and one of dozens reported at religious facilities across the U.S., according to state and federal law enforcement officials.
New Jersey's top homeland security official told NJ Advance Media there has been a "substantial increase" in threats and suspicious activity reported at religious institutions this year.
More than 500 people poured out of the Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill on Monday morning -- just as the same scene played out at community centers around the country.
"I'm not angry. I'm not scared. I'm sad," said A.J. Greenetz, a personal trainer and nutritionist who works at Jewish community centers in several states. Monday was her third such evacuation.
"I'm sad that this is the way the country is going since January," she said.
All told, there were 21 threats called into 13 community centers and eight schools in 12 states, according to the JCC Association of North America. It was the latest of several waves of such threats phoned into Jewish facilities since January 1.
In all of the cases, police quickly swept the facilities and found no explosive devices. But the timing of the bomb threats and the fact they targeted religious institutions have the FBI and federal Justice Department conducting a civil rights investigation, according to a statement from the FBI's Philadelphia office.
New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino also said his office was "coordinating and sharing information with our federal and local partners regarding this latest cowardly threat" and reaching out to the religious community.
Chris Rodriguez, the head of New Jersey's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said in an interview that law enforcement agencies around the U.S. were comparing notes to stem the flow of such dangerous hoaxes.
He said in most cases, the Jewish centers received automated "robocalls" featuring what "appear to be female voices repeating essentially the same threatening information about a bomb at the facility."
Rodriguez said investigating the bomb scares will be more difficult than simply tracing the phone calls, comparing them to a string of "swatting" incidents in New Jersey in 2015 in which prank callers sent police armed in tactical gear to homes and businesses.
In such cases, callers can use internet services to "spoof" the call and display a phony number, masking the source of the threat.
Although none has been found credible, Rodriguez said, the centers have to take every threat seriously, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of children attending school and day care, elderly patients receiving physical therapy and others who rely on such facilities.
Rodriguez said the calls are also happening "against the backdrop of other incidents across the country," including the large-scale vandalism of headstones at two Jewish cemeteries and the distribution of white supremacist literature in several New Jersey towns.
So far this year, the state's Suspicious Activity Reporting System saw a jump in reported incidents compared to previous years, according to an unclassified memo from the homeland security office.
They included 19 incidents at religious facilities, including eight bomb threats targeting six Jewish community centers, according to the office's data.
In a statement, David Posner, an official at the JCC Association of North America, called on law enforcement and elected officials to "speak out - and speak out forcefully - against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country."
President Donald Trump has faced criticism for not coming out more forcefully against the anti-Semitic threats, and for dismissing the role his campaign rhetoric may have played in stoking it.
Last week, after another round of bomb scares, Trump said "anti-Semitism is horrible and it's going to stop and it has to stop."
On Monday, Rodriguez and other top law enforcement and intelligence officials held a briefing with religious leaders to update them on the investigation and encourage them to share any information with law enforcement. He said his office was asking anyone who received bomb threats to record the call and take down phone numbers.
The office's Interfaith Advisory Council, a group of religious leaders and police heads, will also discuss the matter at their regular meeting on Wednesday.
"As you can imagine, it's at the front of everybody's mind," he said.
Racial concerns prompt enhanced police training, changes in San Diego
by David Garrick
San Diego is boosting police training and revising some traffic stop procedures after an independent analysis released in November showed evidence of racial disparities in the Police Department.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Monday she was optimistic the changes would help reduce such disparities, which she warned could "degrade the department's credibility and erode the public's trust."
Zimmerman said, however, that the city won't be able to adopt four of the 10 recommendations in the independent analysis by San Diego State researchers until state officials finalize new regulations for collecting traffic stop data.
And even then, Zimmerman said the city may struggle to find software needed for such data tracking and the personnel required to thoroughly analyze the more than 200,000 traffic stops made by San Diego police officers in a typical year.
The City Council generally praised Zimmerman's approach on Monday, but stopped short of requiring her to implement the report's recommendations and declined to adopt additional policy changes suggested by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Councilman David Alvarez criticized his colleagues for not being more aggressive in the face of the SDSU report, which showed that blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely to be searched and questioned in the field after being stopped by police.
"I'm not seeing us take any real action," said Alvarez, urging his colleagues to be more bold. “The City of San Diego needs to accept this uncomfortable reality and must address it with swift and decisive action.”
Alvarez and Councilwoman Georgette Gomez cast the only votes against a council resolution to accept the 140-page SDSU report, but not its recommendations.
The resolution, which was approved 6-2, also requires that the council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee analyze traffic stop data at least once a year.
The ACLU lobbied the council to not only accept the SDSU recommendations but also change some policies regarding how people who get pulled over are asked to submit to searches or field interviews.
Christie Hill, an ACLU policy analyst, also criticized Zimmerman's proposals as unimpressive.
"The chief's presentation fails to provide responses on how disparities will be addressed," said Hill. "It is time to go deeper and beyond the table of contents for trainings. While these trainings may be a good start, they are clearly not enough."
Council President Myrtle Cole and Mayor Kevin Faulconer both stressed that city efforts to fight racial profiling will include a community policing board the council revived on Monday after 16 years of inactivity.
Cole asked the new panel — The Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations — to tackle racial profiling and potential policy changes at its first meeting.
Faulconer expressed optimism about the group.
“We have assembled a group of dedicated men and women to work alongside the city and help us create a better understanding of how to keep our neighborhoods safe,” he said in a statement. “The board members will bring their unique voices to the conversation and we look forward to the dialogue to come.”
Zimmerman said the police department is adopting six of the 10 recommendations in the SDSU report, which analyzed nearly 260,000 traffic stops in 2014 and 2015.
The analysis compared traffic stops during night hours, when police can't tell the race of drivers due to darkness, to traffic stops during daylight hours, when police can tell the race of drivers.
The report's first recommendation was that the department simply acknowledge the racial disparities it found because a problem can't be solved until people agree it exists.
The report showed that race and ethnicity were not a significant factor in determining who police pulled over, but that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be searched and questioned in the field after being stopped.
Zimmerman said the department fully acknowledges that such a disparity is a problem and that "combatting disparities is a top priority for our department."
The labor union representing San Diego police officers submitted a letter last week contending that the disparities aren't evidence that officers intentionally treat people differently based on race or ethnicity.
The letter, written by union president Brian Marvel, notes that the SDSU study said researchers didn't find evidence that disparate treatment of people was “the result of deliberate discrimination or racism on the part of SDPD officers.”
Marvel said claims that San Diego officers engage in racial profiling are unfounded.
“While the Police Officers Association is not naïve enough to believe that racial profiling can never occur within SDPD, we are confident that if any such instances come to light they will be dealt with promptly and appropriately,” Marvel wrote.
The second SDSU recommendation calls for enhanced officer training on racial and ethnic issues, which Zimmerman said the department has been tackling aggressively.
Some of the enhanced training was in response to a federal review of department policies launched in 2014, but much of it also applies to concerns about possible racial profiling.
Zimmerman said San Diego officers get 46 hours of cultural diversity and discrimination training, compared to 16 hours required by the state, and 24 hours of community policing training, compared to 18 hours required by the state.
In addition, San Diego officers get 15 hours of training for dealing with the mentally ill and six hours of training on sympathizing with crime victims. The state doesn't require training in those areas.
And in 2015, the department added several new programs focused on racial profiling and diversity.
Since spring 2015, all new officers take a bus tour of the city's ethnically diverse neighborhoods and also visit Chicano Park, Zimmerman said.
They also get 16 hours of training on emotional intelligence and effective interaction techniques and spend one month in community engagement training, she said.
The third and fourth recommendations in the SDSU report focus on greater transparency on how traffic stops are conducted.
Zimmerman said transparency concerns have been solved by training officers to be more open with people they pull over.
"Officers have been directed to take that extra time needed to fully explain to individuals the reasons they were stopped," she said.
The fifth and sixth recommendations in the SDSU report focus on community engagement and community policing, which Zimmerman said is already a priority.
“Community policing is instilled from the very first day at the academy and throughout our officers' careers," she said.
The final four recommendations focus on data collection, which Zimmerman said won't be upgraded until the state finalizes regulations under AB 953, a new law authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, requiring law enforcement agencies in California to track traffic stops.
Zimmerman said it may be difficult to find software to fully implement the new law.
"We do not currently have an application that will collect all of the suggested data elements described in the draft regulations," she said.
She also warned that it would require an estimated 17,000 hours per year to track the data as the state suggests.
"The added requirements will affect the number of hours officers are available for calls for service and proactive time to address the community's priorities," said Zimmerman, suggesting overtime expenses may also rise.
Judge deals setback to SF police union in fight over use-of-force policy
by Vivian Ho
A San Francisco judge on Monday turned back an effort by the city's police union to go to arbitration over a new use-of-force policy that bars officers from shooting at moving vehicles and using a neck hold on suspects known as the carotid restraint.
By denying the motion by the Police Officers Association, Superior Court Judge Newton Lam is allowing the department to continue rolling out the new policy, which was written in the wake of a series of controversial police shootings and passed by the Police Commission in December.
Union officials sued the day before the vote, asserting that the commission violated officers' collective bargaining rights by going forward with the policy without their consent.
Lam ruled that under case law — established after the San Jose police union sued that city over a change in use-of-force policy — such policy shifts do not fall under the union's right to meet and confer with city officials over any changes to working conditions.
San Francisco is “within its constitutional and city management authority to exercise local police authority in regards to use of force as defined in San Jose,” Lam ruled.
The new use-of-force policy puts an emphasis on deescalating potentially dangerous encounters. The Police Commission reopened the policy for the first time in decades in December 2015, after the fatal shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview neighborhood was caught on video, sparking public outrage and a push for police reform.
After months of meetings, a version of the policy was passed in June, with the union and community representatives “agreeing to disagree” on the issue of shooting at moving vehicles and the use of the carotid restraint.
The union says officers' safety will be compromised by the restrictions, while police commissioners noted that using the carotid restraint and shooting at moving vehicles were not considered best practices by experts with the U.S. Department of Justice's community policing division and President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The hope was that the two sides could reach an agreement on the two issues during meet-and-confer negotiations granted to the Police Officers Association. But the city declared an impasse in October. The union filed a grievance in hopes of bringing the matter to binding arbitration, but the commission passed the policy as it was.
Following the judge's ruling Monday, union officials plan to meet with their attorneys to discuss options, said union President Martin Halloran.
“We are going to seek other remedies in court,” he said.
While some say the carotid hold can be a useful police tactic on a large subject, many experts warn that a carotid hold can shift into a fatal choke hold.
The Police Commission concluded that shooting at moving vehicles is often unnecessary, if a suspect is trying to flee, or dangerous, because a car with an incapacitated operator may not stop.
But the union argues that officers must be allowed to shoot at moving vehicles if a motorist is trying to use the vehicle as a deadly weapon, citing the truck rampage in Nice, France. The commission maintained that the new policy has a carve-out for exceptional circumstances.
New policing efforts help Klamath Falls cut crime
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) - A community policing initiative in the southern Oregon city of Klamath Falls has been deemed a success, as the city has reported a seven-year low in crime statistics.
The Herald and News reported (http://bit.ly/2lrfjRH) Sunday that city data show a 7.4 percent reduction in crime in 2016, compared to the previous year.
Police Chief Dave Henslee says the police department has focused on using enforcement based on community feedback and current crime trends.
Efforts have included analyzing criminal activity, encouraging officers to interact more with residents and local businesses and patrolling in areas with specific enforcement goals.
According to the crime report, the biggest downward trend was in assaults, robberies, rapes and homicides.
Klamath Falls did see an 8 percent increase in "society crimes," which include drug and DUII offenses.
Sarasota leaders, union clash over patrol changes
by Isabel Mascarenas
SARASOTA, Fla. - The city's police chief is stepping up patrols in one of the higher violent crime areas but it means officers ride alone. And while the union says the chief's new patrolling tactic is dangerous, some in the community support her strategy.
“It's scary,” says Valencia Morgan Smith about life in Newtown on the north side of the city.
“Sometimes at night, you hear shots fired not sure how close they are to you. It makes you scared, especially if you have grandkids, grandchildren in your house. It's very scary.”
Newtown is one of two out of 10 zones where police used to double up in patrol cars but not anymore. As of two weeks ago, officers work solo - one per patrol car.
Chief Bernadette DiPino points to a map of the city and its zones. As she isolates Zones 3 she says, “There are still police officers here, one here and one here. They can respond quicker to areas and also back each other up.”
The staffing change, says DiPino, is her next step in community policing and it's part of the latest collective bargaining agreement with the union.
“I now have more flexibility to deploy officers where needed and increase visibility,” says DiPino.
But it's also increasing an officer's vulnerability, according to the police union president Mick McHale. He says he's getting an earful from officers.
“I am getting inundated on a daily basis with their concerns of safety - the public's and themselves,” he says.
Is the public safer? McHale says, “In our opinion, no!”
Single-officer patrol cars aren't the answer, he says. "We need more officers at the Sarasota Police Department,” he adds.
“Just doubling up police officers in itself is not going to stop anyone from attacking or killing a police officer,” says DiPino.
Violent crime across the city is down 17 percent since 2014, according to the police department. With lower crime and increased community policing and training of officers, DiPino says, officers are safer.
“I see a cooperation between police and citizens and that ultimately makes police officers safer,” says DiPino.
But McHale questions if the city is adequately covered. He says under the new agreement SPD doesn't have to guarantee a minimum number of officers patrolling each zone, and that they are gathering data to present to the city commission.
Meanwhile, Smith has seen more patrol cars on the road and says the higher visibility of officers is making a difference.
“Less crime, less shooting, less drug activity. I think it's very beneficial,” she notes.
The police chief is doing an independent staffing analysis. The union president says he wishes she had finished the study first before “rushing” into any decision.
DiPino says, “I think this is a safe way of patrolling. If we find it's not working we'll change it back. It's a management right."
Multiple rounds fired at Dallas patrol station
No injuries were reported after an alleged gunman fired multiple rounds at the patrol station
by Domingo Ramirez Jr.
DALLAS — A gunman who authorities say was in a vehicle fired multiple rounds at a patrol station on East Camp Wisdom Road, police said Sunday.
No injuries were reported.
Parts of Camp Wisdom Road are closed as authorities investigated the shooting.
Shots were fired shortly about 5:30 a.m. at the station in the 1900 block of East Camp Wisdom Road, police said.
“The perimeter officer who was parked in front of the building observed muzzle flashes but could not see the suspect,” officer Carlos Almeida, a police spokesman, said in an email.
The gunman was in a vehicle that was traveling east when the shooting started, police said.
WFAA-TV reported that nine rounds were fired, two of which hit the station. One round hit a window in the administration area, the station reported.
Almeida said the station was damaged.
Police continued their search Sunday for the gunman, who faces a charge of aggravated assault on a public servant.
Officers have repeatedly called for the city to enhance security at the city's seven patrol stations. Four Dallas police officers and a DART officers were killed by a sniper in the July 7 downtown ambush attack. The sniper, Micah Johnson, was killed by a remote-controlled robot bomb.
In June 2015, the department's headquarters came under attack when James Boulware opened fired from an armored van. Boulware was subsequently killed in a standoff with police. Police also found four bags outside headquarter containing pipe bombs.
“We were promised extra security after headquarters got shot up by that maniac and nothing has been done,” a south-central patrol officer, who asked not to be named because he feared retaliation, told WFAA-TV
He said the only thing that's been done is to station officers on the perimeter of the stations. “They don't want to make the stations look fortified,” he said.
“They're unwilling to do anything.”
Inauguration Day protests spur call to study police actions
Among the concerns were issues with arrest procedures and the use of non-lethal weapons
by Jessica Gresko
WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia's police department should appoint an independent consultant to examine the actions of police on Inauguration Day, when more than 200 people were arrested and charged with rioting, the city's Police Complaints Board said in a report Monday.
The recommendation was included in one of two reports released by the office that oversees police complaints and monitors police interaction with protesters. The first report covered Inauguration Day, when self-described anti-capitalists broke windows and set fire to a limousine, while the second report covered the Women's March on Washington, the day after the inauguration.
The report on Inauguration Day concludes that in many instances Metropolitan Police Department officers "conducted activities in a constitutional manner," but says several instances "cause concern and raise questions." Among the concerns were issues with arrest procedures and the use of non-lethal weapons like pepper spray and "sting balls."
The report says that when protests turn violent, standard operating procedure requires police to give warnings for people to disperse before arrests begin. The report says there's no indication any warnings were given before police corralled a large group that was later arrested.
The report also says that under standard operating procedure, police must have probable cause to believe those arrested participated in violations of the law.
It notes that many who committed acts of vandalism and violence were dressed primarily in black, but other arrestees wore items clearly showing they weren't associated with the protests. Prosecutors have so far dropped charges against 16 people, including some journalists who were arrested that day.
Finally, the report says that "less than lethal weapons were used indiscriminately and without adequate warnings in certain instances." Police generally must give a warning before using pepper spray and must not use it to disperse a crowd, but the report says pepper spray "was deployed to move the crowd, without warnings, and in many instances it was used on people who were simply standing in the wrong place."
The reports only cover the actions of Metropolitan Police Department officers, though other law enforcement agencies including Secret Service and U.S. Park Police were involved on both days.
"The Metropolitan Police Department stands by its assertion that our officers acted responsibly and professionally during Inauguration Day. In response to the riots, the men and women of MPD made reasonable decisions during extremely volatile circumstances," police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said in an email, adding that the department will take the report's "suggestions into account."
Mark Goldstone, an attorney who represents more than 30 people charged in the Inauguration Day protests, said in an email he agrees "that an independent monitor is needed to review whether there were violations at the inaugural march."
The report on the Women's March on Washington noted two areas of concern. It says police had little presence in certain areas and that multiple intersections became dangerous for pedestrians. In addition, the report says "several uniformed officers assigned to monitor the march" were seen wearing pink hats which were also being worn by marchers.
"As the pink hats are likely viewed as support for the Women's March and its political message, officers in uniform wearing the hats give the impression to the public of political support while on duty," the report said, adding that police aren't supposed to engage in political activity while on duty.
Ill. 'Blue Lives Matter' car sticker stirs debate
The sticker features a black and white American flag with a blue stripe running horizontally just below the field of stars, and the words "Orland Park Supports Police"
by Mike Nolan
ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Vehicle stickers tend to be fairly non-controversial and innocuous, but the new windshield decal that will be going on sale in Orland Park in a few months has prompted a debate among some residents.
It features a black and white American flag with a blue stripe running horizontally just below the field of stars, and the words "Orland Park Supports Police" at the top. Often referred to as the "thin blue line" flag, it has more recently been associated with the Blue Lives Matter pro-police movement formed in late 2014.
Most of the comments posted on the village's Facebook page are supportive and congratulate the village on the design, while some question whether the village, via the decals, is compelling vehicle owners to subscribe to a message they don't fully agree with and that Orland Park should offer them an alternative sticker.
The stickers are on vehicles for two years, and the new sticker will go on sale after Memorial Day.
The village's current sticker denotes Orland Park's involvement as a commemorative partner in the Department of Defense's observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, while the 2013-15 sticker recognized the village's Lions Club on its 50th anniversary.
In unveiling the new sticker, Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin said a number of village residents had requested Orland Park do something to support law enforcement.
"We want our local police and law enforcement across the country to know that Orland Park supports them," the mayor said in a news release about the sticker. "Police officers on all levels have had a hard time these past few years and it's time for people to thank them for their service."
Police Chief Tim McCarthy, a former Secret Service agent who took a bullet for the late President Ronald Reagan, also is servicing as interim village manager.
On the thin blue line flag, one "black bar below represents the criminal element in society. One black bar above represents the innocent citizens. What stands in the middle is a thin blue line of committed police," Blue Lives Matter explains on its website.
Reactions such as "awesome," "excellent" and "way to go, Orland Park" represented the tone of many commenters at the village's Facebook page, although one resident said it is "wrong and I deeply resent being forced by a civil authority to 'take a side' in such a hot button issue," and that the village needed to offer "an alternative for those who have concerns."
Others said they feared having their windshield shattered and one woman said the sticker design was akin to the village thumbing its nose at the Black Lives Matter movement and "demonstrating once again that there is a clear hierarchy and that Black people are ... less important." Those who expressed concerns about the sticker noted their dissent wasn't because they did not support law enforcement.
One man cited the Supreme Court decision in Wooley v. Maynard, and paraphrased the court's ruling that "government cannot force individuals to act as mobile billboards for its ideological message."
In that New Hampshire case, a Jehovah's Witness, George Maynard, objected to the display of the state's motto, "Live Free or Die," on the state's license plate. The motto was contrary to his religious and political beliefs and Maynard cut the "or Die" section from his plate, and he was convicted of violating state law, fined and even given a jail sentence, according to a synopsis of the case from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law's website.
The court's 1977 ruling found that the state's law regarding the display of the plates effectively required individuals to "use their private property as a 'mobile billboard' for the State's ideological message." It also found that "where the State's interest is to disseminate an ideology, no matter how acceptable to some, such interest cannot outweigh an individual's First Amendment right to avoid becoming the courier for such message."
Parallels to court ruling
Officials with the Citizen Advocacy Center and the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Orland Park's vehicle sticker has parallels to the Wooley v. Maynard decision.
"In both cases, it is government-compelled speech," Maryam Judar, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, an Elmhurst-based nonprofit public interest law firm that promotes government accountability, said.
"It's terrific that they (the village) want to honor law enforcement, but can they choose a different symbol that's not so divisive?" or offer an alternative sticker to drivers, she said.
Because not displaying the vehicle sticker puts a driver at risk of being ticketed, Orland Park should offer residents an alternative to ease any concerns, suggested Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU of Illinois.
"There are workarounds to this," he said.
He said the sticker issue mirrors the First Amendment rights of residents taken up in the Supreme Court decision, and there is "a penalty that attaches (in the form of a ticket and fine) for not engaging in the speech" being promoted.
Any debate over the vehicle sticker comes at a time when "we're in a very important discussion in our country about just what kind of policing we want" and "how we want them to behave in our communities," he said. What has happened is that people are being forced to take sides, and "either you support the police or you support Black Lives Matter."
Noting he has "an enormous amount of respect for the police and what they do," Yohnka points out that Black Lives Matter is calling for law enforcement reforms.
"It's about scrutiny, it's about reform, making sure it works right across the board and in every community," he said.
The village's vehicle sticker grew out of requests from residents about how the village could recognize the work of Orland Park police, with many residents suggesting the village distribute blue lights to residents for the front of their homes or possibly blue ribbons for front yard trees, according to Joe La Margo, assistant village manager. Although the Village Board would not typically vote on a design for the vehicle sticker, it was not clear what the vetting process for the new decal might have been, or whether other designs along the same theme were considered.
PD removes 'Blue Lives Matter,' Punisher car decals after criticism
Police Chief Cameron Logan has removed large decals from eight police cars after backlash from the public
by Fernando Alfonso III
CATLETTSBURG, Ky. — An Eastern Kentucky police chief has removed large decals with the Punisher skull and “Blue Lives Matter” from eight police cars after a backlash following the publication of a Herald-Leader story.
The Catlettsburg Police department, which employs eight full-time and two part-time officers for a population of about 2,500, featured the images on the hoods of its 2013 and 2017 Ford Interceptor sedans and sport-utility vehicles, assistant police chief Gerry Hatzel said. The stylized skull was from “The Punisher” comic book series.
The logo was praised by local residents but raised questions among others in the commonwealth.
The designs were spearheaded by Police Chief Cameron Logan, who worked with a vinyl decal shop in Louisiana to get the decals printed. Logan installed the decals on all the police vehicles in December. He would not discuss how much the decals cost.
“That design is basically to give back to the police officers,” Logan, who has been with the department for 13 years, said before reversing course on the emblems. “Our lives matter just as much as anybody's. ... I'm not racist or anything like that, I'm not trying to stir anything up like that. I consider it to be a ‘warrior logo.' Just 'cause it has ‘Blue Lives Matter' on the hood, all lives matter. That decal represents that we will take any means necessary to keep our community safe.”
Overdoses and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, the chief said.
The city council and Mayor Randall Peterman approved the designs, Logan said. The Herald-Leader unsuccessfully sought comment from the mayor.
Richard “Andy” Brown, 37, who was elected to the six-person council after its vote on the decals, was critical of the decals.
“I don't see why they'd waste the money, honestly,” said Brown, a Catlettsburg native whose family owns the IGA grocery in town. “My main objective is to make sure the taxpayers' money is used in the most efficient way possible. It wasn't expensive, but still. If it's something they feel strongly about, they're risking their lives and I understand that. I just think it's a little bit strange. There's been a lot of people mistreated by police, and their lives matter, too, like that guy in North Carolina.”
The shooting Brown referred to was of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in September 2016 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.
Central to the decals was the Punisher, the nom de guerre of the Marvel anti-hero Frank Castle, a former Force Reconnaissance Marine and Vietnam War veteran who doles out justice “using torture, murder and kidnapping in his anti-crime crusade,” according to Time Magazine. The logo has been unofficially used by military units and was popularized in the award-winning film “American Sniper.”
The “Blue Lives Matter” movement unofficially began in December 2014 after two New York Police Department officers were shot and killed “by a fanatic who believed the lies of Black Lives Matter, the media, and politicians,” states Bluelivesmatter.blue, a media company founded by active and retired officers. The movement has since been embraced by President Donald Trump and has been used to describe a series of bills in Mississippi and Kentucky that would label crimes against police officers as hate crimes.
Kentucky's “Blue Lives Matter” legislation is House Bill 14. The bill passed in Kentucky's House on Feb. 13 after Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester, was called a racist by Black Lives Matter protesters angry over her support of the legislation. Louisiana became the first state to pass a “Blue Lives Matter” bill in May 2016.
Some Catlettsburg residents said they hope Kentucky is the next to formally embrace the “Blue Lives Matter” movement.
Daniel Ray, 63, grew up in Catlettsburg and said that respect for police has suffered nationwide.
“I think everybody should be out there supporting their police and their community,” Ray said. “They're out there putting their lives on the line every day. They get little gratitude for that already, and when we have silly people who challenge them and wonder what's going to happen, what do you expect is going to happen? We shouldn't be challenging our police officers. We should be supporting them.”
That opinion was shared by Charles Allen, the pastor of Catlettsburg's United Methodist Church. Allen has lived in Catlettsburg since 1968 and is originally from Michigan.
“I think it's a good thing,” Allen said. “I think all lives matter. Nothing to do with color. Black lives, yellow lives, red lives, whatever color of your skin. To God, every human being has a soul and we matter to God and we matter to each other.”
Photos of the Catlettsburg police cars were positively featured on the Kentucky Going Blue's Facebook page, but on Reddit's Kentucky community, the response was more critical. Reddit users questioned the legality of the decals and suggested the Punisher was “a really poorly thought-out message for a law enforcement agency to be putting out there.”
Syracuse University's Roy Gutterman, who also is director of the school's Tully Center for Free Speech, said the Catlettsburg Police Department was within its rights to feature the decals, which are often “an ordinary governmental administrative decision.”
“Even though the slogan mimics the ‘Black Lives Matter' movement, I would not say that ‘Blue Lives Matter' necessarily demeans any other slogan that would subject the city to any other additional criticism,” Gutterman said.
Gutterman also said the department's use of the Punisher could generate negative attention from the Walt Disney Co., which acquired Marvel Entertainment in December 2009 for $4.2 billion. Disney threatened legal action against a gun accessory manufacturer in Nov. 2015 for using its Punisher imagery. The city didn't seek Disney's approval, the chief said. Disney did not respond to a request for comment.
“If the department is using an actual comic book character, I suspect this usage is an infringement of intellectual property rights, specifically the copyright held by the creators or owners of that character,' Gutterman said before the decals were removed Friday. “The appropriation of that image might be more troubling than whatever the character may stand for. They might as well put Batman or Superman on the cruisers while they're at it.”