LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio, for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


April 2017 - Week 3



Police appeal to public for help finding missing 5-year-old; father arrested

by Karma Allen

Police in California appealed to the public for help finding a 5-year-old boy who has been missing since Saturday and whose father has been arrested after police found him unconscious in a park.

Police said they found Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, passed out near a car in Arroyo Park in South Pasadena, California, on Saturday and arrested him after an investigation about the whereabouts of his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., ABC affiliate KABC reported Sunday.

Police were still searching for the boy as of late Sunday and urged anyone with information to come forward.

Andressian was arrested on charges of child endangerment and child abduction, police said.

The child's mother reported the boy missing on Saturday after Andressian, her estranged husband, failed to drop him off at a scheduled meeting place, authorities said. The couple is in the process of divorce and a custody battle, according to police.

The boy currently spends one week with each parent and speaks with the other through a video call twice a week, according to the boy's mother. She said she spoke with the boy via Skype on Tuesday, but a second call scheduled for Thursday never happened.

Police in South Pasadena said they searched the park for signs of the boy to no avail, the report said. It was still unclear how and why the father passed out.

Police described the father's statements as "convoluted and not consistent" as well as "contradictory."

"When we found out the boy was missing we don't know if he crawled out of the car himself, if he walked away, if he was abducted - we have no idea," South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said Saturday during a press conference. "To become unconscious when you're supposed to be in the care of a child, that's where our main concerns are."

A judge increased Andressian's bail to $10 million from $100,000 after detectives provided additional information about the circumstances of the case.

In a Facebook post late Sunday, the South Pasadena Police Department said it was still "pursuing leads" and had requested assistance from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.


New Jersey


Public safety officers deserve some respect

by Joan Quigley

It was particularly dangerous to be an American police officer in 2016, statistics show. Not that it was ever really safe, but last year 135 officers were killed in the line of duty, a 10 percent increase over 2015. More alarmingly, 64 officers died in firearms related incidents, a 56 percent increase over 2015. Many died in ambushes or attacks that killed multiple officers.

"We've never seen a year in my memory when we've had an increase of this magnitude in officer shooting deaths," said Craig Floyd, president of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. "These officers were killed simply because of the uniform they wear and the job they do. This is unacceptable to the humane society we are."

Each year that Fund compiles statistics on police line-of-duty deaths, and almost always the majority of those deaths were automobile related. Officers struck by passing vehicles while assisting motorists, officers struck while directing traffic, or police drivers involved in accidents. However, as our roads get safer, such incidents are decreasing in number while police-as-target incidents are rising.

Not that it's a whole lot safer to be a firefighter. So far in 2017, 24 firefighters have died in the line of duty, a total running quite a bit ahead of last year's number. Although overall statistics have been trending downward for firefighter deaths for the last decade, any single incident anywhere could cause a jump in those numbers.

Emergency Medical Transport personnel face danger, too. They're usually dispatched while a violent incident is going on but are often held back by police or firefighters at the scene until things have stabilized a bit, so they're more likely to be killed on the road. That happened to six EMTs last year and we all saw on the news the horrible death of a New York City EMT just last month.

All these statistics show a person must be pretty darn brave to be a police officer, firefighter, or EMT in today's world. Of course, no one is certain to come home safely after a shift at work or a weekend at play, but most of us don't face the daily and nightly challenges faced by those public safety officers sworn to keep us safe.

You'd think the level of respect they get would be very high, but we all know it's not. Read the snarky comments on line or in social media after any news article involving police, and you'll see how little respect public safety officers get. They're generally accused of being some combination of Gestapo, Caligula and Houdini - joyfully wrecking lives and property while getting rich and escaping any negative consequences.

I admit not all are ideal public servants and some do get a little heavy-handed in their interactions with an often unruly public. But most try hard to protect and serve, and all face incredible peril every time they put on a uniform. They deserve not only respect, but also some applause every now and then.

That's why the 200 Club of Hudson County exists. Once a year the Club solicits nominations of the most valiant among regional, state and local public safety ranks and honors them at a luncheon. This year it'll be held at Liberty House in Jersey City on April 26. Scholarships will also be given to some sons and daughters of officers heading to college.

And all the Club members will say a prayer of gratitude that they didn't have to console any grieving public safety widows or parents last year. In Hudson, at least, everyone was safe.

A former assemblywoman from Jersey City, Joan Quigley is the president and CEO of the North Hudson Community Action Corp .


P1 Research: De-policing and police morale are troubling trends post-Ferguson and Dallas

A total of 3,346 responses from verified sworn LE professionals revealed data that supports two narratives that had heretofore relied heavily on anecdotal evidence

by Doug Wyllie

Researchers at Louisiana State University recently partnered with PoliceOne to conduct a survey entitled Policing in a Post-Ferguson Society. The survey garnered a total of 3,346 responses from verified sworn law enforcement professionals across all ranks and department sizes. Respondents consisted of line officers and supervisors working patrol and other assignments in the profession.

The survey — which was reflective of the prevailing opinions of a sample size of American LEOs represented by PoliceOne members — was aimed at discovering police officers' opinions about their jobs following three seminal events. Officers were asked how their morale and job satisfaction, confidence in use of force, and sense of safety changed following the Michael Brown OIS in Ferguson, and the deadly ambush attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Among the wide-ranging results — which you can read more about here and here — I observed two key takeaways that support two widely-held beliefs in law enforcement for which we had heretofore mostly anecdotal evidence.

The first is that following Ferguson, officers across the country began to disengage in proactive police work (a phenomena dubbed “de-policing”). This concept continues to be widely discussed, and up to now, the only real data to support the theory are spotty changes in police reports of citizen contacts and a decrease in the number of arrests in some select places.

The second is that many police officers feel that they are under attack. This notion also has been widely perceived to be true, but up to now there has been scant quantitative data to support this assertion.

With the completion of the LSU/PoliceOne survey of PoliceOne readers, we now have data that shows that our anecdotal observations seem to be accurate.


Asked about their feelings during the post-Ferguson period (August 2014 to June 2016), a full 45 percent of officers said that their motivation at work decreased. Further, nearly half of all respondents (47.29 percent) said that following Ferguson, the amount of stops they made (traffic and pedestrian) decreased. More than half of respondents (51 percent) said that their enjoyment at work decreased during that same time period.

In addition, in the aftermath of the fatal OIS on West Florissant Street, 39.80 percent of officers said that their apprehensiveness about using force increased. This is a surprising result, given the fact that 95 percent reported confidence in determining appropriate use of force, and 89 percent said they had confidence in UOF training.

Further, when queried about whether or not they are confident in their “ability to determine the appropriate decision in a shoot/don't shoot situation” 30 percent said they agree, and 65 percent said they strongly agree. That's a full 95 percent of officers polled who are confident that they will make the right decision when faced with a deadly threat scenario, and yet, a large number also say they have pulled back from proactive police work.

These are eye-opening responses. And frankly, it's a little concerning.

Several years ago I began writing about the notion of de-policing and deadly hesitation and have followed up on the topic on several occasions (see here and here and here).

That reportage was admittedly based on anecdotal evidence readily available at the time. It was based on conversations held with a relatively small, but well-informed, universe of law enforcement professionals. It was based on conclusions derived from those discussions.

According to the data derived from the LSU study, it was also accurate.

Based on the raw data from the LSU study, the trend of de-policing is real, and officers and police leaders alike need to figure out how to deal with it.

Under attack

Following the August 2014 fatal OIS of Michael Brown in Ferguson, 59 percent of officers responding to the LSU/PoliceOne survey said that their feelings of safety on the job decreased. Following the ambush attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge in July of 2016, 67 percent of officers said they felt less safe on the job.

Think about that for a moment: two thirds of police officers polled said that they felt less safe simply performing their job after the ambush attacks that left five officers in Dallas dead and three Baton Rouge police officers slain (with many others in those cities wounded).

Following those ambush attacks, 41 percent of officers responding to the survey said that their feeling that most people don't respect the police increased. When asked if citizens would be more apt to obstruct the police than to cooperate with them, 36 percent of respondents said their agreement with that statement became even stronger.

The LSU study focuses on officers' opinions following the ambush attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, but according to preliminary data supplied to PoliceOne by NLEOMF, police officers have also been shot and killed in ambush attacks in Salt Lake City (Utah), Danville (Ohio), Bel Air (Maryland), Prince William (Virginia), Landover (Maryland), and Richmond (Virginia) in 2016 alone.

Indeed, according to the NLEOMF, the number of officers shot and killed in ambush attacks in 2016 was 20 — the highest total since 1995. The NLEOMF also reported that 44 officers were killed in fatal ambush shootings since 2014.

Not all ambush attacks are fatal. About 15 hours after the attack in Baton Rouge, two Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Police Department officers thwarted an ambush attempt during a robbery in progress call. In September 2016, University of Pennsylvania Police Officer Eddie Miller and Philadelphia Police Sergeant Sylvia Young survived a shooting rampage. Last October, two Boston police officers who were responding to a report of a domestic disturbance were wounded in an ambush attack. There were numerous others — too many to list here.

It's clear that these ambushes are having a major impact on officers — and a large number of officers responding to the LSU poll feel unsafe and under attack. Everyone in the profession needs to account and accommodate for this paradigm shift. Cops cannot conduct their daily duties effectively if they are feeling fear on the job.


In the past two or three years, we have perceived precipitous decline in morale among many police officers. As a consequence, the dominant focus of the 2017 LSU/PoliceOne survey was about officer morale.

The bad news is that in collecting the opinions of more than 3,300 police officers, we confirmed some of our assumptions that the profession is suffering — that these incidents impact officers' motivation to work and feeling of safety.

The good news is that there remains a strong core of officers who counter that opinion, saying that after the OIS in Ferguson and the numerous attacks on officers, they continued about their business, trying to not let those events affect their work.

I'm hopeful that this latter group of cops can positively influence the former, and that the proud profession of policing regains what confidence has been lost in recent years. They chose not to rely on self-destructive behaviors to deal with recent events, but found solace in family and fellow officers.

I'm hopeful also that the overwhelming majority of American citizens who respect and admire their police become more vocal in their support, somehow finding a way to drown out any anti-police sentiment which is pervading our public discourse and hurts officer morale.

With the data in hand from the LSU survey of PoliceOne members, perhaps we can affect these ends.

Regardless of what feelings officers express regarding the morale issues examined in the PoliceOne/LSU survey, we hope that the findings begin discussions that move us toward a more positive period for American police in the future.

In terms of possible solutions to these two problems, we need to at least open the conversation about what can be done. When faced with feelings that the public doesn't respect or support the police, officers can find on PoliceOne and other websites a number of positive stories of citizens committing random acts of kindness. With a perception that attacks on officers are increasing, agencies may want to consider the officer safety benefits of patrolling in pairs, and officers on the street should do their best to back up their fellow officers on as many calls as possible.


New York

Jail to job: NYC to give jobs to released inmates

The "jails to jobs" initiative will guarantee all Rikers inmates serving sentences of a year or less a chance at short-term employment

by Tom Hays

NEW YORK — Neftali Thomas Diaz swears he's done with Rikers Island.

After being locked up twice at the notorious New York City jail for stealing a credit card and violating parole, Diaz entered a private jobs program. Once he's back on his feet with a paycheck, Diaz says, "I know I'm not ever going back there — ever."

New York City is betting that Diaz and other low-level offenders like him are right about the salvation in second-chance employment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city will spend $10 million a year on a "jails to jobs" initiative that will guarantee all Rikers inmates serving sentences of a year or less a chance at short-term employment once they do their time. The jobs will last up to eight weeks, with hourly wages covered by taxpayer money rather than coming out of the pocket of the employers.

The program, expected to be in place by the end of the year, is part of a broader effort to drive down the city's inmate population to the point where the city could build new, smaller jails to replace Rikers. The shutdown of one of the nation's largest jails could take years, so the mayor is pitching shorter-term remedies to ease the chronic violence and corruption at the sprawling facility.

Supporters say transitional jobs — kitchen, construction and other mostly menial work paying minimum wage — are a good investment because research shows that inmates who get them would be less likely to break the law again and go back to Rikers, where the costs of housing each prisoner can top $200,000 a year.

The economics make it "in everyone's interest to do this because otherwise they pay in the end," said supporter Martin Horn, a Department of Correction commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But the plan has come under fire by critics that include another former city jails boss, Bernard Kerik, who served his own prison term for tax fraud and lying to the White House during his vetting process for Homeland Security secretary. He says any new spending on rehabilitation should go to existing behind-bars programs offering high school educations and vocational training.

The jobs plan is "like giving money away" and "a feel-good approach that does nothing to fix the problem," Kerik said.

Another vocal opponent, former police detective and mayoral candidate Bo Dietl, puts it even more bluntly: "Why should we be rewarding people who commit crimes? I don't get that."

At the Fortune Society — one of the social service nonprofits expected to partner with the city on the plan and a sponsor of Diaz — the mission is proving the critics wrong by training former state prison and jail inmates on how to land and keep jobs. Part of the focus is on winning the trust of employers who risk hiring criminals trying to go straight, said Stanley Richards, an ex-convictf who serves as the organization's executive vice president.

"It can be a tough sell," Richards said. "We're dealing with stereotypes of the formerly incarcerated. So what we're saying to employers is, 'We're concerned about your business, because we're helping to build new lives.'"

Though the Fortune Society sees some clients drop out and drift away, many manage to break out the cycle of recidivism. Some have held down steady employment at a large commercial kitchen in Queens shared by caterers and bakers.

"In the food industry, they want to know if you can cut 50 potatoes in five minutes, not whether you served time," said Seth Bornstein, who runs the facility as part of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. "A few of them are less reliable than others, but no more than the general population."

The 28-year-old Diaz is on his third strike. After serving time for his initial 2014 arrest, he violated his parole and was sent back to Rikers for another three months before being released again on May 17. So he says he understands "why people would say, 'He had his chance and he blew it.'"

But, after confronting drug and emotional problems, he insists he's ready to "have my mind occupied with something productive."

The starting point is noon Monday, the time he's supposed to punch the clock for a paid internship with a firm that provides support services for the city's non-emergency 311 hotline. He plans to be there an hour early.

"I'm free right now," he said. "So I want to keep it like that."


American detained in North Korea

by Ivan Watson, Yuli Yang and Zahra Ullah

North Korea detained an unidentified US citizen for unknown reasons as he was planning to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday morning.

The detention was confirmed by Martina Aberg, deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang. The Swedish Embassy represents US interests in North Korea, since Washington and Pyongyang do not have direct diplomatic relations.

"He was prevented from getting on the flight out of Pyongyang," Aberg told CNN. "We don't comment further than this."

The detained American is a professor with the frequently-used Korean surname "Kim," according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

At least two other US citizens are known to be in North Korean custody.

Otto Warmbier, 21, a student at the University of Virginia, was detained at Pyongyang airport on January 2 last year after visiting the country with a tour group. He has since been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly removing a political sign from a hotel wall.

Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized US citizen of Korean origin, was arrested on October 2015. Last year, North Korea sentenced him to 10 years of hard labor on espionage charges.

Other US citizens freed

Since 2013, at least two other US citizens and a British journalist have also been detained for shorter periods and then released.

All of them were grabbed by North Korean security forces as they attempted to fly out of Pyongyang airport.

Merril Newman, who at the time of his October 2013 detention was an 85-year old US veteran of the Korean War, was released two months later after a videotaped apology. American Jeffrey Fowle spent five months in detention in 2014 for allegedly leaving a bible at a club for foreign sailors.

And last May, North Korean security officers detained BBC reporter Ruper Wingfield-Hayes as he was about to fly out of the country. He was interrogated for at least 10 hours and accused of defaming the Korean nation before eventually being released.

Korean peninsula tensions

The detention comes amid a buildup of tension on the Korean peninsula. The US and Chinese governments have repeatedly warned the North Korean regime not to conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test. Pyongyang says it has the right to develop nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan -- both key US allies in the region -- have condemned frequent North Korean missile launches that are all banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Washington recently dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the region as a warning to Pyongyang.

J apan announced Sunday that two of its destroyers began conducting joint naval drills with a USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group in the western Pacific Ocean.



Columbia could take cue from other cities when it comes to community policing

by Claire Mitzel

COLUMBIA — When two Columbia police officers began to patrol Douglass Park in 2012, residents were wary. But before long, people warmed to James Meyer and Jamie Dowler, stopping to talk to the officers and sometimes give them hugs.

Meyer and Dowler were given the task of patrolling — mostly on foot — the Douglass Park area where several violent crimes have occurred. The idea was to build relationships and trust with the community. Crime began to drop, and the department hailed the experiment a success.

Dowler and Meyer were dubbed "Starsky and Hutch," referring to the 1970s crime TV show. They represented a version of community outreach policing in Columbia, though that's only part of what this policing involves.

The Douglass Park success prompted the formation of a community outreach team in May 2015, dedicated to building relationships with residents to identify problems before crimes occur.

Now, momentum is building in Columbia to create a full-force community policing program to engage with residents and prevent crime. City Council approved a resolution in February that was authored by Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas. A variety of stakeholder organizations have signed on to be part of a conversation about expanding community policing.

The resolution came amid ongoing debate about low officer morale, staffing shortages and the relationship between the community and Columbia police, especially in response to racial profiling data. Racial profiling has dominated the conversation in Columbia about police and the community.

Representatives of Race Matters, Friends walked out of a City Council meeting in July after Police Chief Ken Burton denied racial profiling by his department. Burton said in January that he was "not convinced yet" that racial profiling existed at the Columbia Police Department.

Police departments across the nation have implemented community policing, or parts of it, since the 1980s, but the idea has gained favor since a Department of Justice task force report in 2015 endorsed community-oriented policing in the wake of events in Ferguson.

But while the term "community policing" has been clearly defined, in practice, it involves a variety of methods and programs, and community policing models look different at departments across the nation. What is community policing, and does it work? The Missourian took a close look at three police departments for answers.

Lincoln, Nebraska: A culture change

Lincoln's community policing initiative is one of the oldest in the country. It's not so much a program as a culture, said Director of Public Safety Tom Casady.

"It certainly didn't happen overnight," Casady said. "This culture change here started in 1977, really took root in the '80s and '90s, and now our officers really don't have a concept of what a traditional department looks like. You start making an incremental change, and it's passed off from one generation to the next."

Lincoln police are proactive in trying to find the root cause of problems, he said. The approach reduces the crime rate and allows officers to work on other tasks instead of just responding to emergency calls.

Lincoln calls it problem-oriented policing, or POP, identifying a problem early-on to prevent it from recurring by bringing together stakeholders to determine solutions. Targets of POP range from minor crimes to violent offenses.

Lincoln, like Columbia, is a college town. Parties can get out of hand with noise violations, so instead of just handing out tickets, Lincoln police worked with landlords to come up with solutions to encourage students to hold down the noise, Casady said.

"It's about trying to identify it early, and then figuring out what are the levers you can pull to make this problem better," Casady said.

That could mean working with tenants, but also working with the property owner, the manager, "on some occasions, even the parents of the students," he said.

He said that for some crimes, it makes sense to make arrests. But there are many crimes and other problems where arrests aren't necessary.

"A far more effective approach is to prevent future crimes from occurring," Casady said. "Reduce the risk. Increase the guardianship. Reduce the provocation. Pardon the targets."

Because the department has a community policing culture that's woven into the fabric of the department, Casady said, there's no formal community policing department. All officers are expected to be involved with the community, and promotion is partly based on how involved the officer is on the beat.

Lincoln's command staff is decentralized, meaning that officers are assigned to one of five geographic teams; each geographic team has a substation with a police captain, sergeants and civilian public service officers. Each captain also has a citizen advisory group to facilitate communication with residents and act as a sounding board.

Officers are required to serve in the same geographic area for at least a year to maximize their time spent getting to know residents. Casady said some officers have spent decades in the same area.

Community policing hasn't been a panacea for Lincoln. Like Columbia, the city has a disparity in traffic stops. In 2016, black drivers comprised 10.9 percent of everyone stopped for a traffic violation, but they account for 4.1 percent of Lincoln's population, according to a Lincoln Journal-Star article. A 2015 vehicle stop report showed that black drivers in Columbia comprised 29.6 percent of people stopped for traffic infractions but account for 9.9 percent of the population.

Casady said the Lincoln Police Department has worked to prevent racial profiling. Applicants are asked about racist incidents on their required lie detector tests, and all officers go through implicit bias and impartial policing training. Despite this, Casady said, the racial disparity in traffic stops has increased slightly over the years since the department began to track the data in 2002.

He said he's not sure why there is a disparity. But he doesn't think it's solely about race. Driving on a suspended license, fictitious plates and no registration or insurance are often reasons drivers are pulled over, which is related to income, Casady said.

"I'm fairly convinced that the vast majority of that disparity is being driven by disparity in income," Casady said. Lower-income drivers are less likely to afford the costs that come with owning a car, and black people have historically received lower incomes than whites.

He pointed out that the disparity in traffic stops is just one of the many racial disparities that exist here in the United States. "There's racial disparity in prenatal care, in low birth-weight babies, in childhood immunizations, in educational attainment, income, even in life expectancy," he said.

"I think it's important to look at racial disparity and arrests and citations and traffic stops in the broader context of racial disparity in virtually every aspect in American life and to think about what you can do to impact that pervasive disparity," he said.

Gainesville, Florida: Embedded in the community

Gainesville, being a college town, had a similar approach to Columbia years ago — teams of officers who focused on community engagement. But then the department decided 20 to 25 years ago that all officers should practice community-oriented policing.

Gainesville Police Public Information Officer Ben Tobias described it as "embedded in the community."

Gainesville hasn't looked back, he said. The approach has worked well and without a question has been successful. Tobias said one of the most striking indicators of its success was the community's reaction in 2016 to an officer shooting of a 16-year-old black teenager who was holding a fake assault rifle.

"Had that happened in other cities, I think we would've had riots on hand," Tobias said. "But our community had the trust in us, had the faith in us to go, 'Okay, this is what happened, we're going to have everyone look at it to see what could have been done differently to make sure it doesn't happen again,' and I think because we did not have riots, we did not have giant protests, we did not have increased violence, I think that was one of the biggest ways I can measure that the community had faith in us and had trust in us."

The department has studied how the department interacts with the community. In 2012, the Gainesville Police Department was awarded a federal grant to study racial disparity in arrests; Tobias said young black men make up 23 percent of the city's population but were being arrested at a much higher rate.

"It's brought our arrest rates to a much more proportional level," Tobias said. "It's not really a community policing strategy so to speak, but it's being willing to talk about the hard stuff, and being willing to bring the public in and say, 'OK, there's a big elephant in the room, let's talk about it. Let's figure out how to make it better.'"

As in Lincoln, Gainesville police are assigned to a specific geographic area. Officers are assigned to one of 20 zones, which are based on population density.

Because of the unpredictable nature of the work, officers aren't required to spend a specific number of hours in the community. But they are encouraged to be out in it as much as possible, Tobias said.

An officer's community engagement work is a large part of the promotion process, he said. Chief Tony Jones and Major Terry Pierce, community policing proponents, are in the process of creating a community service award to recognize officers who are innovatively engaged with the community.

That work translates into crime prevention. The command staff for each sector meets for a weekly "tactical briefing" in which they discuss problems and how to solve them. They look at crime trends and data to develop solutions that supervisors implement in their teams.

The department has enough people to put in the time that community policing requires. It was down 30 to 40 officers just two years ago, but it hasn't had Columbia's chronic understaffing problem.

"I would think trying to implement community policing in a department that's understaffed is going to be very, very difficult because these officers are going to be running from dispatch call to dispatch call," Tobias said.

Community policing might not always be easy, Tobias said, especially when first making the transition to it the full force, but it's a worthwhile investment.

"Sir Robert Peel, who was one of the founders of police in general, had a very famous quote that says 'The police are the public, and the public are the police,' and that still rings true today because we have to be embedded in our community," Tobias said. "At the end of the day, when your community has full trust in your police department, it's going to be worth everything that's happened."

Kansas City, Missouri: Creating partnerships

In 2013, when Kansas City Police adopted a focused deterrence effort — the Kansas City No Violence Alliance — its main goal was to reduce violent crime.

It worked. Violent crime went down, and homicides dropped by 19 percent in 2014, the lowest rate in more than four decades, according to the Kansas City Star. But homicides spiked again in 2015 and 2016. All told, there were 100 homicides in 2013, 82 in 2014, 111 in 2015 and 128 in 2016.

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte said in 2016 that he thought the homicide rate would be higher if KC NoVA did not exist.

KC NoVA is a collaboration between law enforcement agencies and local community organizations that implements focused deterrence. Some of the entities included in the partnership are the Kansas City Police, City of Kansas City, FBI, ATF and probation and parole offices. Social workers are also part of the organization, as well as local community partners, such as churches and businesses.

At a job fair in Kansas City on March 20, Jason Cooley walked around talking to the participants and employers; he laughed with some, seemed to be engaged in solemn conversation with others and happily accepted hugs from many of the people he spoke with.

For Cooley, it's part of his job as a community interaction officer, which entails figuring out what the community needs while building relationships. It means taking phone calls from Kansas City residents who need help or have questions.

Cooley has worked for more than a year with the KC NoVA program after working for six years as a community interaction officer for the police department. He said KC NoVA's purpose is to get everyone on the same page about problems in the community.

"It helps identify individuals doing the worst of the worst," Cooley said.

The governing board comprises top brass from the various law enforcement agencies and meets each month. Cooley said having leadership in the room is effective in solving some of the city's crime.

KC NoVA isn't a community policing program, but Cooley said components of it involve community policing, such as getting out in the community to meet neighborhood residents and being available to help.

Cooley said that last fall, the police department worked with the Royals to purchase 100,000 baseball cards to hand out to kids.

"And that was 100,000 positive connections we made," Cooley said.

KC NoVA hosts events throughout the year along with its community partners, ranging from spring flings at schools to the job fair that's open to convicted felons. The day before the March job fair, KC NoVA brought in resources to aid the prospective employees. Organizations provided free business clothes, free haircuts and resume assistance.

Resources KC NoVA provides include job training, education, mental health assistance and homeless assistance.

"It's about seeing a need, meeting a need, identifying leadership within home associations, schools, churches that can help," Cooley said.

The organization also hosts a quarterly meeting between people on probation and parole and the leadership of KC NoVA. At the meeting, the organization's leadership talks about available resources and tries to inspire participants to stay on the straight and narrow by talking about success stories. The attendees then have dinner together. Cooley said about 30 people on probation or parole typically attend.

Not everyone is open to reforming their ways, Cooley said. If the individual continues to commit crimes and is not willing to utilize resources offered, KC NoVA will quickly crackdown on the offenders.

"But if you're truly going to make a concerted effort to change, then all day long, we'll work with you," he said.

Columbia: Looking forward

Every time Columbia discusses the possibility of implementing a full community-oriented policing program, hesitation about community policing comes up: Not enough officers and not enough funding to hire more officers. But the conversations will happen anyway.

The City Council resolution passed in February, drafted by Councilman Thomas, states that the community engagement process will develop recommendations for City Council on whether the city should adopt a community policing process and how to implement it. The deadline for the process is Feb. 28, 2018. Parts of the resolution were similar to recommendations made by the former 2014 Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence, one of which proposed implementing a community policing program.

Thomas said he became interested in community policing after visiting the Gainesville and Nashville police departments and seeing the impact of community policing on residents. Officers seemed genuinely excited about it, he said.

"We were aware that we still have a serious staffing shortage as well as a morale problem, and as well as a lot of tensions among communities of color — concerns about racial profiling, whether certain groups were being targeted and so on," Thomas said.

The understaffing has been linked to an increase in response times, increased overtime and lower officer morale.

"It occurred to me that the process we would need to go through to adopt a community-oriented policing philosophy and program would address all of those things, if we did it right," Thomas said.

So Thomas took steps that culminated in the resolution. He wrote a position paper about community policing and spoke with his fellow City Council members, the police department, the Columbia Police Officers Association, activist groups and other stakeholders, including Race Matters, Friends.

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, president of Race Matters, Friends, said she hopes the police department works to have genuine, meaningful conversations about "community controlled policing."

"It would be nice if the police department would not be on the defensive about this and see it as an opportunity to self-reflect as an organization," she said. "It's an opportunity for our community to reflect as a city about the disparities that we have and be real about what those challenges are and to meaningfully address them."

After the resolution was approved, Thomas met with fellow council members Michael Trapp and Laura Nauser, the two co-chairs of the community violence task force and City Manager Mike Matthes to plan the next steps. A 12-question survey about community policing and what people wanted from a community engagement process was sent to stakeholders or people who expressed an interest — 26 groups in total. All 26 groups said they supported the resolution.

Some of the recommendations from the Task Force on Community Violence will be implemented through the engagement process, Thomas said, because one of the task force's recommendations was to hold an annual forum on crime, policing and social need, which is "very much the same thing" that he envisioned.

The department's community outreach unit is a smaller version of a full-force community policing program. The outreach unit began following the success of the Douglass Park officers James Meyer and Jamie Dowler. Six officers and one supervisor comprise the unit. Columbia Police Public Information Office Bryana Larimer said the department wants to expand community policing efforts, but it hasn't been feasible because of understaffing by as many as 50 officers. Hiring that many officers isn't in the budget.

Wilson-Kleekamp takes issue with that notion. She said changing the department's mindset to a guardian mentality, which is essential in having a good relationship with the community, won't cost money.

"I've been talking to a retired black police chief in Las Vegas and he's implemented community policing in two departments in Michigan, and he said it's not about the numbers of cops," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "It's about the mindset. It's about the philosophy. And that seems to be the hardest part to get across because, quite frankly, politicians are used to doing things the way they've always done it."

In changing the department's mindset, she said it's important for all officers to look at history and learn about people's lived experiences. She said the department also needs to be genuine when addressing problems and honest about its shortcomings.

In a response to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015, the department said it had policies in line with a guardian mindset. But the report questioned whether that mindset had actually been put into practice.

"There appears to still be some evidence of low morale in the first line employees and supervisors," the report read. "This will undermine the efforts for internal procedural justice practices. There appears to still be a lack of trust, communication, and department unity."

Wilson-Kleekamp cites this as evidence that the department knows it has problems.

"What they said is that they're ahead of the game on everything, but the document doesn't say they're ahead of the game," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "Their document is absolutely critical of what they do."

City Council approved a $500,000 federal grant in January to hire four more officers who will expand the community outreach unit. A Columbia police focused deterrence program based on KC NoVA and the High Point, North Carolina Police Department's unit is almost ready for roll-out. A partnership of local and regional law enforcement agencies, such as the Columbia Police Department, Boone County Sheriff's Department, Boone County Prosecutor's office and FBI , will focus on getting people off the streets and into a stable life, Larimer said.

"These agencies will come together and say, 'Look, we want to work together to get these career criminals off of the streets and into jobs and into having an income, being able to get their housing, helping them be productive assets in the community rather than turning back to their criminal ways," Larimer said.

Deputy Chief Jill Schlude said the department is finalizing the program with its partners and determining the criteria for inclusion in the program.

"Once that has been completed, we will have more details about how the program will work, the intended outcomes and the overall scope," Schlude wrote in an email. "Our program will not be a carbon copy of the others we have seen. It will be tailored to our community needs and priorities."

Beyond this, the department has no immediate plans to hire more officers to implement a full community-oriented policing approach. Larimer said an ideal program would allow officers to split their shifts into thirds: one-third responding to calls, another third doing administrative tasks like writing reports and another third engaging in the community.

"We would like to have staffing consistently at a level that allows us to integrate structured community policing activities into the regular expectations of beat officer," Schlude wrote. Those would be activities such as attending school and community meetings, patrolling on foot and solving problems proactively, she said.

It's unclear what sort of funding would allow for new officers to be hired. When the community engagement process resolution was approved at the February City Council meeting, City Manager Mike Matthes offered up one solution: using council reserves, which is an annual fund for unanticipated issues not worked into the city budget.

Another option could be a property tax, which would fund the hiring of more officers. It was o n the ballot in 2014 and defeated. But a recently released 2016 City of Columbia Citizen Survey of 960 Columbia residents showed that 62.3 percent of respondents said they'd be "likely" or "very likely" to support a property tax increase for the purpose of hiring more officers, and 59.1 percent said yes in support of a quarter-cent sales tax.

In the meantime, the engagement process will move forward with tough conversations about how community policing might work to bridge gaps between the police and community. Thomas said he hopes as many people as possible will get involved in the conversation.

Community policing's sole focus isn't just to lower crime rates, all the departments say. It's designed to instill a sense of trust between community and police and collaborate to improve the city.

Wilson-Kleekamp said she encourages people to have empathy for "shoes you don't walk in."

"I think that the kind of impact they would have as an institution would be much greater if it was embraced as an institutional philosophy," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "I think all the work that police do is valuable, but I think it's much more valuable when it's leveraged in collaboration with the community and the community drives it."

Next steps for the engagement process

Following City Council's approval of the community engagement process resolution, council members Ian Thomas, Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp and City Manager Mike Matthes distributed a survey to 26 stakeholder groups. The survey asked questions about what the groups would like to see throughout the engagement process.

All voiced support for the community engagement process resolution and provided suggestions such as what other stakeholders should be contacted and proposed goals for the process.

Proposed goals include discussing community policing, improving police staffing levels and morale and reducing the crime rate.

Thomas said he, Nauser, Trapp and Matthes are in the process of working with Heart of Missouri United Way and New Chapter Coaching to host a symposium in the fall.

The following organizations, boards, commissions and groups responded to the survey and are the stakeholders committed to having conversations about the future of community policing — the Columbia Missourian is one of them:

•  Columbia Police Department

•  Community Outreach Unit

•  Columbia Police Officers' Association

•  Social Equity Outreach Team

•  Citizens Police Review Board

•  Commission on Human Rights

•  Members of (now disbanded) Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence

•  Columbia NAACP

•  Minority Men's Network

•  Youth Empowerment Zone

•  Race Matters, Friends

•  Empower Missouri

•  Columbia Faith Voices

•  Diversity Awareness Partnership

•  Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students

•  Centro Latino

•  Refugee and Immigration Services

•  Columbia Neighborhood Watch

•  Crimestoppers

•  Columbia Chamber of Commerce

•  Columbia Public Schools

•  Heart of Missouri United Way

•  Central Missouri Community Action

•  Columbia Housing Authority

•  Boone County Commission

•  Columbia Missourian


Washington D.C.

Justice Dept threatens sanctuary cities in immigration fight

AG Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally

by Sadie Gurman

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, warning nine jurisdictions Friday that they may lose coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.

It sent letters to officials in California and major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. But some of the localities remained defiant, despite risking the loss of funds that police agencies use to pay for everything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"We're not going to cave to these threats," Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic said, promising a legal fight if the money is pulled.

Playing off Sessions' recent comments that sanctuary cities undermine the fight against gangs, the Justice Department said the communities under financial threat are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime."

After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California's Bay Area "city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next," the department said in a statement.

The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person's immigration status with federal authorities.

The money could be withheld in the future, or terminated, if local officials fail to prove they are following the law, wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs. The grant program is the leading source of federal justice funding to states and local communities.

Kevin de Leon, leader of California's state Senate, rejected the administration's demand, saying its policies are based on "principles of white supremacy" and not American values.

"Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level," he said.

Leaders in Chicago and Cook County, which shared a grant of more than $2.3 million in 2016, dismissed the threat. So did the mayor's office in New York City, which received $4.3 million. The Justice Department singled out Chicago's rise in homicides and said New York's gang killings were the "predictable consequence of the city's soft-on-crime stance."

"This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality," said Seith Stein, a spokesman for the New York City mayor's office, calling the comments "alternative facts." Crime is low thanks to policies that encourage police cooperation with immigrant communities, he said.

The jurisdictions also include Clark County, Nevada; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

They were singled out in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found local policies or rules could interfere with providing information to immigration agents. Following the report, the Obama administration warned cities that they could miss out on grant money if they did not comply with the law, but it never actually withheld funds.

The report pointed to a Milwaukee County rule that immigration detention requests be honored only if the person has been convicted of one felony or two misdemeanors, has been charged with domestic violence or drunken driving, is a gang member, or is on a terrorist watch list, among other constraints.

It also took issue with a New Orleans Police Department policy that it said might hinder communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That city received nearly $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal year 2016. New Orleans has used Justice Department funding to pay for testing DNA kits, police body cameras, attorneys for domestic violence victims and other expenses.

Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials. It was reviewing the Justice Department's letter.

"We don't think there's a problem," he said.

Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department has seen a 28 percent drop in calls for service from people with limited English since November.

"People are scared, and because of that, they're less willing to report crime," Butterworth added.

Other places also insisted they were in compliance. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said the city and county were wrongly labeled sanctuary cities.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said that community is hardly succumbing to violence.

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration," he said in a statement. "My far greater concern is the proactive dissemination of misinformation, fear, and intolerance."



LA Police Commission: Police must 'defuse tense encounters before firing guns'

Officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms

by Kate Mather

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board's attempts to curb shootings by police.

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department's policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday's unanimous vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department's manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.

Not everyone supported the new policy, however. The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday's meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer's use of force was reasonable.

Without such language, the letter said, the ACLU urged commissioners to “refuse to accept the proposed revisions as complete.”

At Tuesday's meeting, the commission's inspector general said because commissioners can consider whether an officer's actions before a shooting contributed to that shooting, the revisions do allow the panel to consider an officer's de-escalation efforts — or lack of them — when deciding if a shooting was justified or not.

New training and directives from the LAPD reinforce the importance of de-escalation and the policy change, the inspector general, Alex Bustamante, added.

The revamped policy is the latest in a series of changes the five-person Police Commission has made in hopes of reducing shootings by officers. For almost two years, the civilian panel has pushed LAPD brass for more training and to provide officers with less-lethal devices, as well as a stronger emphasis on avoiding deadly force whenever possible.

Other law enforcement agencies have done the same. As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, officials looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, agencies have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

In Seattle, the Police Department's manual requires that officers attempt de-escalation strategies and lists some examples, such as trying to calm someone down verbally, calling a mental health unit to the scene or asking for help from officers with less-lethal devices. Santa Monica, Calif., police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there's an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. Just as some approaches increase the likelihood that force will be used, others will reduce those chances. The LAPD's new policy reflects that, Walker said.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

The move comes after a year in which the Police Commission ruled eight shootings by LAPD officers were unjustified — the highest number in at least a decade, according to a Los Angeles Times review of nearly 440 shootings reviewed since 2007.

At the same time, the Times found, commissioners more often faulted the tactics officers used before a shooting, such as forgetting to carry a Taser or splitting from a partner during a foot chase. Last year, the panel decided there were tactical errors in 50 percent of the 46 shootings it reviewed, up from 32 percent the year before and 16 percent a decade ago.

Also on Tuesday, the LAPD released a 400-plus page report detailing how and when officers used force in 2016. It was the second year in a row that the department published such an analysis, another effort designed to help identify ways to reduce the amount of force officers use.

The number of shootings fell last year, down to 40 from 48 in 2015. Nineteen people were killed by police gunfire, a slight decrease from the 21 killed in 2015.

In more than half of the shootings last year, police shot at someone who had a gun, according to the LAPD's report. Four more involved someone with a replica or pellet gun. Five others involved knives or some other type of edged weapon.

The number of incidents involving less-serious forms of force — such as when an officer grabs someone or uses a less-lethal device — rose by 100 last year, to 1,925. Officers used Tasers in 573 of those encounters — about 50 more times than last year.

The report outlined the efforts the LAPD has made in recent months to reduce shootings by officers: More Tasers have been deployed across the department, and more officers have been assigned to mental health units. Only four of the people shot at last year showed signs of mental illness, a significant drop from 2015, when nearly a third of the 48 people fired upon showed such signs.

In addition, the report said, LAPD brass issued a department-wide directive last fall outlining how officers should try to de-escalate confrontations. There is also a new policy in place requiring a supervisor and officers with a bean-bag shotgun or another less-lethal device that shoots foam rounds to respond to calls reporting people armed with edged weapons. Supervisors must also respond to calls involving people showing signs of mental illness.



Audit: Conn. police underreporting required racial profiling data

Police in Connecticut's capital city have failed to report thousands of traffic stops as required by a state law aimed to prevent racial profiling

by Dave Collins

HARTFORD, Conn. — Police in Connecticut's capital city have failed to report thousands of traffic stops as required by a state law aimed to prevent racial profiling, data analysts said Friday.

Hartford police submitted records for about 2,000 traffic stops between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, but dispatch logs show there were about 6,500 stops during the same period, according to an audit by analysts at Central Connecticut State University.

Police brass said they are confident officers collected the required data and they're looking into why data from several thousand paper forms filled out by officers weren't submitted. They said there might have been a computer problem or a data-entry problem.

There also may be similar underreporting problems in Bridgeport and New London, but officials in those cities have not responded to requests to see their dispatch logs, said Ken Barone, an analyst with the university's Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy. The institute compiles the statewide traffic stop data, which officials say is the most comprehensive examination of police stops in any U.S. state.

The Hartford audit was discussed Friday at a meeting of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board, which oversees the data collection and expressed concern that underreporting problems would damage public confidence.

Members said they were considering whether to warn Hartford and other cities that they could lose state funding for failing to submit accurate data. They also noted that the vast majority of the more than 100 police agencies in the state are complying with the reporting requirements.

"I think at the very least we need to put these departments on notice," said board member David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. "This is really troublesome."

Board Chairman William Dyson, a former state lawmaker, added, "The intent is not to smear any department. The intent is to have credible data."

Analysts also said there were a variety of errors on the Hartford forms they did receive.

Hartford is one of only a few departments in the state that has officers fill out paper forms after each traffic stop. Officers in nearly every other department enter information on their in-vehicle computers.

Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said there appeared to be problems with entering data from the paper forms into a computer system, or in sending the data to the institute.

Foley said police officials are investigating, and similar problems in the future should be avoided because officers will be entering the data into computers in their vehicles.

Police officials in Bridgeport and New London did not immediately return messages Friday.

The Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy has been compiling the data since October 2013 for reports analyzing the race and ethnicity of drivers stopped by police and why they were stopped.

The reports have said Connecticut police stop black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionately high rates.

The most recent data showed police statewide reported making about 586,000 traffic stops between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015.

About 14 percent of the stops involved black drivers, while black people of driving age comprise 9 percent of the state's population. Nearly 13 percent of traffic stops involved Hispanic drivers, while Hispanics of driving age comprise 12 percent of Connecticut residents.


New York

Textalyzer: NY distracted driving law advances

Evan's Law would require drivers to give police their cell phones and enable officers to use textalyzer technology at auto accident scenes

by Andrea Fox

NEW YORK — Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, who introduced a proposed New York state law in 2016 that would enable law enforcement officers at the scene of an auto accident to use a device to determine when a driver's smartphone was last used, said authorizing police use of textalyzer technology is as important as the breathalyzer has been to reducing drunk driving deaths.

Proponents of the legislation, dubbed Evan's Law, are emboldened by new data and studies that show increased smartphone use while driving has a direct correlation to 2016 being the deadliest year for motor vehicle accidents in nine years. Last year more than 40,000 Americans died in automobile accidents -- an increase of 6 percent over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014, according to the National Safety Council.

The New York Senate version of the bill has advanced out of its transportation committee and moved forward to the finance committee on March 21st, while the New York Assembly legislation is in the transportation committee.

A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that in-car breathalyzers for previous drunk-driving offenders have curbed drunk-driving deaths by 15 percent. Proponents say the textalyzer technology could do the same thing for deaths caused by distracted driving -- while the proposed law ensures privacy.

Supportive Studies

According to data reviewed by the Alliance Combating Distracted Driving (ACDD), the increased 2016 fatalities happened despite continued reductions in drunk driving and increased use of seat belts. ACDD said that despite a 3.3 percent increase of the number of drivers on the road, an 18-year declining trend in crashes per vehicle miles traveled (VMT) should have continued.

This study looked at the relationship between yearly crashes and VMT since 1994, and found that new crash causes emerged in 2012, which they attribute to an increase in cellphone ownership:

"The introduction and dependence of smartphones trend is more in aligned with this spike than any other factor. Distracted driving information at crashes remains almost nonexistent so its impossible to pinpoint the exact cause. We can determine that the rate increase is more profound than can be explained by a more populated roadway," according to ACDD.

A new 90-day study by Zendrive, whose technology supports a General Motors and Life360 Driver Protect application that accesses smartphones to detect and illicit faster response to auto accidents and is racking up data on millions of miles driven for future use by insurance carriers, supports the claim that drivers distracted by smartphones are causing more accidents.

Zendrive calculated that drivers are handling their cell phones 88 percent of the time.

For its study, Zendrive tracked anonymized data from 3.1 million of its 5 million users, according to the executive summary. The company calculated the ratio between the average daily trip time and the average amount of time drivers used their phones. The rate is based on results showing cellphone use in 88 out of every 100 trips, which totaled 600 million trips with phone use in the United States during the study.

"By comparing duration to duration, i.e. apples to apples, Zendrive came up with the most direct and accurate measurement of driver distraction," according to the summary, which also noted that Vermont had the highest level of driver phone use, and Oregon had the lowest.

A 2015 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction occur even if drivers eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel. Distracted driving could last as long as 15 to 27 seconds after completing a voice-activated, hands-free task, which analyzed a range of the easiest to the most complex tasks in commercially available, voice-activated systems.

Textalyzer Technology

Ben Lieberman co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, whose son died as a result of terminal injuries sustained in an automobile accident where the driver's cellphone logs his family subpoenaed revealed texting throughout the trip, said police could not investigate the driver's phone in the 2011 crash due to privacy.

The result is a "nameless and faceless crime," Lieberman said.

James Grady, chief executive officer of Cellebrite, told EfficientGov in a recent press call that the textalyzer technology could be brought to market within six to nine months of a distracted driver law passing.

The Israeli company already works with law enforcement throughout the United States on mobile data forensics. In a proof of concept, Grady said Cellebrite demonstrated that the company's existing mobile data forensics technology could be modified. While ensuring privacy, a textalyzer device would give officers the ability to determine -- within 90 seconds -- if a smartphone's applications had been used -- but without revealing or reporting on any of the material content.

Privacy Exchange

"We have to fight through some bad information," Lieberman said, noting that publications like the Washington Post and others frequently use the same erroneous quotes, such as:

"The technology may in fact be scanning through the content of people's phones and collecting data, even if that is not apparent," which is a statement by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Lieberman said statements like these about the textalyzer prototype developed are absolutely not accurate.


New York

Community policing needs the Watchmen

by The Rev. Winston M. Clarke

The term community policing is being touted as something that is going to be a cure-all for the Afro-American and Latino communities. In this day and age, the phrase is a misnomer. For those of us growing up in Harlem during the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s (before the drugs), community policing was the norm. The police knew the people in the community, the people in the community knew the police. There was a mutual respect between the police and the community.

With the introduction of drugs into the Black and Spanish communities, the respect has gone, which has led to many shootings by the police of Blacks. To alleviate the apathy of the police toward the Black community and the community toward the police (locally and throughout the United States), the community has to ban together with the police and patrol together their neighborhoods. An example is the Williamsburg section in Brooklyn. The Jewish community has their own patrol, protecting their turf. You don't have anyone in the Jewish community being shot by the police. This cooperation is true community policing.

One of the main reasons community policing is not going to work in the Black and Spanish communities is drugs. Those communities that have some semblance of patrols do not patrol where they are selling drugs and neither do the police. When I was pastoring in Mount Vernon, N.Y., I formed a patrol called the Watchmen. Members of my church and I patrolled Third Street, where drugs were sold with impunity. Mayor Ernie Davis gave me police assistance every week, and we prayed and went out on patrol. We had the police stay a short distance from us so that we could evangelize and talk to the people in the community regarding employment, housing, voter registration, etc. The presence of the police made the community safe when we were patrolling. The other churches and community groups would not join us because of fear and apathy.

When you patrol your community, when you respect yourself, others respect you also. You then don't have shootings by your own people or by law enforcement.

The Rev. Winston M. Clarke
Retired Captain, NYC Department of Correction



Bipartisan congressional group looks at Houston's police-community relations

Houston called 'far ahead' in bridging divide

by Keri Blakinger

Houston is "far ahead" when it comes to bridging divides between residents and law enforcement, Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Thursday after a Houston roundtable with a bipartisan congressional working group dedicated to exploring community-police relations.

The roundtable came as part of a day-long Bayou City stop for the Policing Strategies Working Group. Along with the private discussion with mayor, district attorney and other local leaders, visiting representatives got a tour of the county jail, federal lock-up and juvenile detention center.

"During our time here, we have discussed how we can best strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities that we serve," said Godlatte, a Virginia Republican. "It's imperative that we come together to address violent attacks on police officers and instances of excessive force by police officers."

The 12-member working group initially formed in mid-2016, just after last July's Dallas police shootings.

The aim has been to stop at cities around the country and gather ideas to create legislation to prevent future attacks on police, improve police accountability and boost community-police relations.

"The idea of this task force is to look police-community relation in the eye and to be able to respond to concerns in the community, while responding to concerns of police, law enforcement and bringing those two entities together," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee , D-Houston, told reporters during a news conference.

Some of the hot topics during Thursday's discussion included bail reform, community policing and Mayor Sylvester Turner 's Complete Communities Initiative.

Afterward, Goodlatte praised the Houston stop as productive and singled out the city as a source of inspiration for others.

"I must say that Houston, compared to some other communities around the country, is far ahead in learning how to address this and understanding that it is an ongoing issue," he said.

"But the kind of dialogue that has been taking place here and the kind of leadership that has been shown here needs to be translated to other communities all across the country."

Although the working group is focused on making change at the federal level, Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen said the discussion could guide local policy as well.

"We had a very candid conversation, a very open dialogue, that is going to help us all move forward and develop strategies both at the federal level and at the local level that will help us improve what do," he said.

"I think we're on the road to making some real changes."



Officials: Police had Paris attacker in their grasp

Officials said Karim Cheurfi was detained at the end of February after speaking threateningly about police but was then released for lack of evidence

by Lori Hinnant and John Leicester

PARIS — The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a police officer just days before France's presidential election was detained in February for threatening police but then freed, two officials told The Associated Press on Friday. He was also convicted in 2003 of attempted homicide in the shootings of two police officers.

The French government pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday's vote as the attack deepened France's political divide.

"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country," Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after a high-level meeting Friday that reviewed the government's already heightened security plans for the two-round vote that begins Sunday.

"Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night," the prime minister said, appealing for national unity and for people "not to succumb to fear."

Investigators believe at this stage that the gunman, 39-year-old Frenchman Karim Cheurfi, was alone in killing a police officer and wounding two others and a German tourist on Thursday night, less than 72 hours before polls open, a French official who discussed details of the investigation with the AP said on condition of anonymity.

The official and another, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Cheurfi was detained toward the end of February after speaking threateningly about police but was then released for lack of evidence.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack unusually quickly in a statement that sowed confusion by apparently misidentifying the gunman.

Police shot and killed Cheurfi after he opened fire on a police van on Paris' most famous boulevard. Investigators found a pump-action shotgun and knives in his car. Cheurfi's identity was confirmed from his fingerprints.

A key question was how the attack might impact French voters. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it "will have a big effect" on the election and that "the people of France will not take much more of this."

The risk for the main presidential candidates is misjudging the public mood by making an ill-perceived gesture or comment. With polling so close, and campaigning banned from Friday midnight, they would have no time to recover before voters cast ballots.

The two top finishers Sunday advance to a winner-takes-all presidential runoff on May 7. Two of the main candidates, conservative Francois Fillon and centrist Emmanuel Macron, canceled planned campaign stops Friday.

The attack brought back the recurrent campaign theme of France's fight against Islamic extremism, one of the mainstays of the anti-immigration platform of far-right leader Marine Le Pen and also, to a lesser extent, of Fillon, a former prime minister. In the wake of the assault, they redoubled appeals for a firmer hand against Islamic extremism and promised get-tough measures if elected.

Le Pen, speaking at her campaign headquarters, urged the outgoing Socialist government to immediately re-establish border controls. Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused the National Front leader of seeking to make political hay from the assault.

After Le Pen spoke scathingly Friday of the government's fight against extremism, Cazeneuve said Le Pen's party in 2014 voted against an anti-terrorism law and, in 2015, against a law that beefed up resources for French intelligence services.

He said: "She seems to be deliberately forgetting everything that has been done over five years to make people forget that she opposed everything, without ever proposing anything serious or credible."

Fillon separately pledged to maintain the state of emergency that has been in place since IS-claimed gun and bomb attacks killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015.

"The fight for the French people's freedom and security will be mine. This must be the priority," he said.

As Paris got back to business, municipal workers in white hygiene suits were out before dawn to wash down the sidewalk where the assault took place — a scene now depressingly familiar after multiple attacks that have killed more than 230 people in France over two years. Delivery trucks did their early morning rounds. Everything would have seemed normal if not for a row of TV trucks parked along the boulevard that is a must-visit for tourists.

Asked if the assault would impact voting, the centrist Macron said: "No one knows."

With some voters doubtful whether the 39-year-old former banker is experienced enough to be head of state, Macron appealed for cool heads.

"What our attackers want is death, symbolism, to sow panic (and) to disturb a democratic process," he said.

Macron said he canceled campaign stops out of a sense of "decency" and to allow police to concentrate their resources on the investigation.

Said by polls to be running neck-and-neck with Le Pen, he tore into her claims that previous attacks wouldn't have happened under her watch.

"She won't be able to protect our citizens," Macron said of Le Pen.

The two police officers injured in the attack are out of danger, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said. National police spokesman Jerome Bonet, also speaking on BFM television, said there were thousands of people on Paris' iconic boulevard when the gunman opened fire and that the rapid response of officers who shot and killed him avoided possible "carnage."

Voters also wondered how the latest attack might impact the election.

Elena Worms, walking her dog near the Champs-Elysees, called the attack "destabilizing" and said she fears it will "push people to the extremes." She said her plans to vote Fillon remain unchanged.

"He wants to lead Muslims away from fundamentalism to security," she said.

In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the IS group gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian or had lived in Belgium. But Belgium's interior minister said the pseudonym did not belong to the attacker.

Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack and police detained for questioning three of the gunman's family members — routine in such cases.

The attack appeared to fit a spreading pattern of European extremists targeting security forces and symbols of state to discredit, take vengeance on or destabilize society. It recalled two recent attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris: one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

For Sunday's vote, the government is mobilizing more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect the 70,000 polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol.


South Carolina

2 SC officers wounded in shootout, suspect killed

The two officers are in critical, but stable condition

by Ashley Jean Reese

HARDEEVILLE, S.C. — Two officers were shot after responding to a domestic dispute at the Sanders subdivision in Hardeeville.

A Hardeeville Police officer and Jasper County deputy have been shot by a suspect, according to Jasper County Sheriff Chris Malphrus.

The two officers are in “critical, but stable condition,” Malphrus said. The suspect, whose identity was not immediately available, was killed in the incident, Malphrus said.

The incident began when law enforcement officers responded to a domestic complaint after 6 p.m. Thursday, where a man was reported to be shooting at a woman, Malphrus said.

The deputy was identified by Malphrus as Justin Smith, who has been with the office about two years.

He identified the Hardeeville officer as Sgt. Kelvin Grant, with the department since 2010.

Family members of both men are with them at the hospital in Savannah, and deputy Smith is up and talking.

Both officers have multiple gunshot wounds, but the exact number had not been confirmed Thursday night, Malphrus said.

Hardeeville Police Chief Sam Woodward says it appeared both officers were going to survive their injuries.

Also the departments have received an outpouring of support and food donations from citizens, he said.

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division will take over the investigation, as it routinely does for shootings when officers are involved.



Baltimore setting up oversight of police under Obama decree

The next step is to choose residents of the city for a new police oversight committee

by the Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Baltimore is moving ahead with police reforms mandated by an agreement with the Justice Department under President Barack Obama.

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Thursday's launch of a website that outlines the process. The next step is to choose residents of the city for a new police oversight committee.

A federal judge recently approved the agreement, despite objections from President Donald Trump's Justice Department.

Online applications are being taken through May 22, and by July, the panel should begin reviewing the city's current civilian oversight process.

The city also is looking for an independent monitor who would be approved by the court to assess whether the consent decree is being implemented and publish regular reports on the city's progress.


Washington D.C.

How community policing is bridging gaps between police and the public

by David Thornton

One tenet of law enforcement that can never be forgotten is that the authority of the police officer to enforce the law is granted by our collective society. Checks and balances on that authority are in place, for sure, but different subcultures of our society often experience police interactions very differently. An episode from the HBO TV series VICE titled "Black and Blue" examined the relationships between police and the community since the Ferguson riots two years ago.

To sum up their findings, the relationships between police officers and many communities of color remain strained. Police shootings of African-Americans and attacks on police officers continued to be a problem throughout 2016.

While working for my former agency, I had the pleasure to meet Jason Lehman, who interned with my squad while completing his criminology degree at the University of South Florida. Jason then returned to his home state of California, became a police officer with Long Beach PD, and founded the community policing group Why'd You Stop Me (WYSM, pronounced Wizz-em).

WYSM's approach has been to reach out to inner-city youth and try to bridge the gap between police officers and the community by providing empowerment education. In addition, WYSM has also trained police officers on better techniques to interact with the citizens they serve. For Jason, it has been a personal journey.

In December, 2011 with six years on the job while working in a gang suppression unit in Long Beach, Lehman learned that he had been targeted to be killed in an ambush by gang members. Lehman and his team considered how to respond. Of course, their first plan was to identify all the members and hit back hard in a "scorched earth" approach of parole searches and probation sweeps. Lehman knew that would only be a temporary solution to the problem, as a roundup would only put off the threat to another day when they might not be able to develop the same intelligence to prevent the attack.

Instead, Lehman walked into a classroom at a high school where he knew there was a concentration of the gang members. He had an open conversation with the entire room about the fears that police officers face every day when they contact people. Lehman told them about the training he received throughout the academy and in roll call showing officers getting ambushed by suspects, and how perception equals reality.

Several of the teenagers in the room, including identified gang members, admitted that they had a similar perception of police officers killing people like them. Lehman found common ground.

As he left the room, the school principal stopped him and asked him what the name of his program was. Lehman thought about this question, then answered, "These kids seemed to really be concerned about WHY they were getting stopped, so let's call it 'Why'd You Stop Me?'" The name stuck and is now the thriving nonprofit that has provided educational presentations to more than 20 cities across five states.

Lehman's message quickly spread among seven other high schools in the Long Beach area, and WYSM was born. Lehman began to coordinate presentations with police officers and community members standing side by side to hash out their concerns.



Residents, police talk relationships and crime reduction in Southwest neighborhood

by Susan Baldrige

Residents in the Southwest section of Lancaster want to know their police better. Police in those sectors are tight on time and manpower.

How they could bridge the gap was the focus of a meeting held Tuesday night.

"Can't the officers take a break every now and then and just walk up and down the block?" asked Dick Hecker, of W. Vine St, who organized the meeting between the residents and police of the Southwest sectors.

He said personal contact with residents would help build trust with the police and help reduce crime in a neighborhood that has seen its fair share over the past ten years.

Hecker is a 67-year resident of the neighborhood and became chairman this year of the Southwest Neighborhood Leadership Board's community safety committee.

The board is awaiting word, later this month, on whether they will receive a $1.25 million grant from Wells Fargo to help launch a neighborhood revitalization plan.

But relationships with the police in sectors five and six, are of major concern to the residents who have seen violent crime sweep through their community, particularly in the form of shootings and burglaries.

The meeting was an important step in forging those relationships, which studies show are critical to reducing crime.

"We do need to do a better job to get out there," said city police Sgt. Mark Radmore, who is in charge of sector police in the Southwest.

An investigation by LNP last year revealed that few people in the city could identify their sector officers.

"Invite us to block parties, feed us, come to meetings like this," suggested Radmore, who noted that only about 35 people had turned out to get to know the police better.

Radmore also gave residents some advice about reducing crime, including urging them to lock both their cars and houses every night, get to know all their neighbors, and call police if they see anything suspicious.

"If it doesn't seem right, it probably isn't," Radmore said.

Not all of the sector police were able to attend the meeting. Several were injured; others were on a call.

Those who were able to attend talked about the importance of community policing.

Like freshly minted officer, Micaela Heckman, who has only been on patrol in Lancaster for a few weeks.

"If you build rapport within the community, it's easier to communicate. And generally getting to know residents is a help down the line," Heckman said.

"I'm pleased with the progress we've made," Heckman said after the meeting. "But I'd like to see them (the officers) get a little bit more involved."



A Columbus Cop Went Viral For Dancing. Now He's Talking To Harvard Students

by Debbie Holmes

A Columbus Police officer known as "the dancing cop" to some because of his community policing efforts, will take his message back to Harvard University next week.

Officer Anthony Johnson got recognition after a video of him dancing with South Side residents posted on YouTube two years ago. Johnson says he uses his dance moves to develop relationships with residents, so they see the human side of an officer and will feel more comfortable talking to police.

Johnson's address to Harvard students will be his second. In November, Robert Livingston, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard, asked Johnson to come to the school to discuss community policing in two master's classes with the ACLU's Laura Murphy.

Johnson says that building relationships with the community is made easier with music.

"To me it just comes natural," Johnson says. "I feel like dancing is an easy way to relate to anyone, no matter what situation they're in. So you know, any time I get a chance to get out of my car and dance with somebody, I take full advantage of it."

Johnson says that people's impressions of officers change when they see their "human side," in contrast to the image of police as aggressive.

"I grew up in the inner city, on the east side of Columbus, and I actually grew up not a fan of the police," Johnson. "It actually took me to meet a police officer when I was 18 who showed me his human side, who got me on the right track."

According to Johnson, that senior officer suggested he go back to the community he was raised in to help continue that work.

Fixing community-police relations won't happen quickly in Columbus, especially after a very different viral video emerged last week of a city officer kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head.

"I feel like I'm personally responsible to combat the negative media that's portrayed on the officers," Johnson says.

Such incidents don't affect his community work, Johnson insists, and he won't let another officer's actions change his rapport.

Johnson says that protecting and serving requires getting to know people on an individual basis. That means people end up reaching out to him before they even contact 911 dispatchers or even the regular police department.

"I don't really look at it as community policing," Johnson says. "I just look at it as doing my job."



'We're better together than apart'

by Richard L. Gaw

The graphic identity for the new Southern Chester County Regional Police Department contains an eagle with widespread wings.

In its claws, the eagle holds a ribbon, on which is included “2016," a year that signified not just when the department was officially incorporated, but one that tested the patience of those who dreamed it into being.

The seeds of the concept to form a regional police unit in southern Chester County date back more than two years ago, when then New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson asked the township to consider merging or partnering with other police units as a way to stabilize the costs of providing police coverage.

Initially, the concept of forming a regional police unit in southern Chester County garnered the attention of several townships and municipalities.

The timing of its placement coincided perfectly with national attention to community policing. On Dec. 18, 2014, President Obama issued an executive order appointing an 11-member task force to develop a report on 21st century policing, in response to a number of serious incidents between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect. A large component of the report included Six Pillars of 21st Century Policing, which are building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; training and education; and officer wellness and safety.

Simpson's idea was not a novel one. Hundreds of communities across the nation have merged their police units into regional departments -- but it was new to Chester County. In theory, it would set the tone for how policing in the region would be implemented in the county for generations. It would create the opportunity to bring all police operations in the southern region of the county under one roof; give each officer and each department the gift to wrap their best skill sets into the fold of a larger whole; and allow for added police protection by virtue of strength in allied numbers.

But like a tumbling arrangement of dominoes -- and for a number of reasons -- the townships and municipalities that had latched themselves onto a study to explore the feasibility of establishing a regional police department in southern Chester County began to fall, one by one. As the plan slowly began to unravel, Simpson feared that his idea would become "Simpson's Folly."

When the dust cleared, only two players remained: New Garden and West Grove Borough and its five-member police department, who provided coverage to its nearly 3,000 constituents with between 12 to 16 hours a day. Over the course of several meetings and discussions between the Borough's Public Safety Committee and Borough Council, it soon became evident that joining forces with New Garden Township was a good idea.

"I thought then that it was a tremendous amount of work to do, only to potentially see it come apart," Simpson said. "Yet, we were able to reset our compass with a partner who ended up being the best fit. West Grove had the needs that we were able to offer. In turn, they had something they were able to offer New Garden in order to allow us to reach the stability we wanted in our coverage."

On Jan. 1, 2017, after several months of meetings, proposals, contract negotiations and approvals, the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department went live. Two weeks later, before an audience of more than 250 at the Kennett Middle School, Magisterial Judge Matthew Seavey swore in 19 officers, each of whom received their official departmental pin from the person of their choice.

Those sworn in included officers Justin F. Busam, Matthew T. Cordone, Eric S. Shallis, Joseph Fetko, Christoper Connelly, Richard N. Townsend, Stephen M. Madonna, Benjamin Brown, Jeremy A. O'Neill and Ryan Kushner; as well as first class officers Justin T. Fonock, Jason L. Ward, Mario M. Raimato, Jr., Joseph Cooper and Gerard Lindenlauf.

In addition, officers John M. Gibson, II and Joseph P. Versagli, III were sworn in as corporals; Joseph F. Greenwalt was promoted to the office of sergeant; while Michael King and Simpson were sworn in as the department's deputy chief of police and police chief, respectively.

The regional unit provides 24-hour coverage, seven days a week, 365 days a year to both the borough and the township; employs 15 full-time officers, eight to ten part-time officers; one administrative assistant and one records clerk. The unit works out of two locations: New Garden's temporary barracks on Gap-Newport Pike, and West Grove Borough's police offices in the borough's administration building.

The annual cost of the regional department will be divided according to population: The township, with close to 13,000 residents, will pay for 80 percent of the yearly budget, and the borough, with nearly 3,000 residents, will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent. The total budget for the new department will be $2.358 million – an investment of $128,710 per officer, a lot lower than many departments invest in their officers, some of whom are over $200,000 per officer.

While Simpson is charged with the task of overseeing the entire department as its police chief, Deputy Chief King heads up day-to-day operations and scheduling, which will provide regional patrol to three areas of coverage, with at least two police vehicles patrolling each: north of Gap-Newport Pike into Toughkenamon and south of Gap-Newport Pike into Landenberg, which will be patrolled twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; and throughout the West Grove Borough, which will be patrolled from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., and quite possibly extending until 3:00 a.m.

"We didn't just merge two different data base systems, we merged two families as well," King said. "I am pleased with how things are going, but I shouldn't be surprised at our progress, because the process of this merger was very well thought-out, and we took the time in the months leading to its beginning to plan correctly."

The regional department will also benefit in its first year from a $10,000 grant offered by Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan. Of those funds, $3,400 will go toward the purchase of two police mountain bikes – as well as equipment – that will be used by officers. About $2,000 of the grant will be used to produce 'Challenge Coins,' which will be distributed to residents and community members for doing good works. In addition, citations will be given to youngsters for good behavior – such as helping the elderly, behaving properly, and wearing the right safety equipment

It's part of a concerted effort by the regional department to engage the entire community it serves.

Sgt. Joseph Greenwalt, who is heading the Community Service Unit, has engaged his unit in a lengthy roster of community outreach initiatives, including establishing a constant connection to area youth, especially those who frequent the After-the-Bell Program in the Kennett Consolidated School District, and Garage Community & Youth Center in West Grove. Every week, officers stop by the Garage and have individual conversations with youngsters who visit the youth center, "just to make sure everything is good at home," Greenwalt said. "If we're going to call ourselves a community service unit, it's important to become involved with these young people."

By the summer, Greenwalt expects complete a community policing policy handbook that outlines the department's philosophy.

"Community policing isn't just walking around a community," he said. "It's dedicating a day to ride our bikes through the neighborhoods and allowing ourselves become visible, not just ride around in our vehicles with our windows up. It has to become more than an action, but a philosophy and then a directive, one that the entire patrol division can take with them to the communities they serve."

If there is one blemish to the operations of the newly-merged unit, it is a temporary one. As a result of a severe mold problem that forced the close of the former headquarters of the New Garden Township Police Department, Simpson and his staff have been forced to conduct business in a connected splotch of temporary trailers on Gap-Newport Pike.

On Feb. 21, Sean Goodrick and Jason Maguire of the Wilmington-based architectural design firm Tevebaugh Associates gave a presentation to the New garden Township Board of Supervisors that cracked open the doors to the plans now for a new headquarters.

The 11,716-square-foot, single-story, L-shaped facility will include a 400-square-foot lobby and a 540-square-foot community multi-purpose room; a secure administration area, which will include offices and a conference room; a detective bureau area and interview and testing rooms; storage and locker rooms; and holding cells and two sally ports for transportation of the incarcerated and storage of vehicles retained as evidence.

The design and construction for the facility will go out for bidding this summer, and estimated that construction should be completed by October 2018. Before construction begins, the now closed site will be demolished and the temporary police facility will be moved off the site. While the new facility is being built, the regional unit will use temporary space.

On Aug. 15, 2016, New Garden Township's supervisors gave final and unanimous approval to the sale of the township's sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater, Inc. (Aqua) for the price of $29.5 million. At several public meetings since the sale, New Garden's appointed and elected officials have said that a portion of the proceeds from the sale will go toward the construction of the new police facility.

Simpson believes that the need for a new police facility has been the number one issue facing the New Garden community for some time.

"I know we have road construction and improvements we need to do, but from an infrastructure standpoint, you have a professional police organization that has been operating in some terrible working conditions, for some time. I am so happy to see this board [of supervisors] -- all of them, and Township Manager Tony Scheivert and others finally see that, and put energy to this, with a purpose of finding a solution and getting it to a resolution."

When Corporal John Gibson first began his career as a police officer in 1985, under former police chief Gerald Davis, he said there was one traffic signal in the middle of Toughkenamon, Penn Green and Newark Roads were controlled by stop signs, and Somerset Lake was not yet a lake. Even then, he said, the talk of police merging was on the discussion table, based on how to properly police a growing population that was beginning to call the Landenberg community home.

"As time goes by, we have had more and more people coming to the area, who are coming here from areas that had full-time police service," Gibson said. "It's going that way and it's been building up to this. I think this is going in the right direction, and this is the future of policing in this area."

King said that the 24-hour, seven-day a week operation of the merged department, now in its fourth month, has already been embraced enthusiastically by the staff, and that its impact has already been felt by community residents and business owners.

"If I could use one word to describe our current operation, it would be 'Legitimate,'" King said. "We all just feel that we are more legitimate as a professional police organization now, as opposed to going about policing on our own. A lot of that comes from the resources that became available because we merged."

In an interview he gave to the Chester County Press in 2016, Simpson was undeterred in his belief that a regional police department would gradually -- and eventually -- change the way Chester County looks at policing.

"I'm confident that I have great people around me -- great officers and personnel -- to handle the mission that's in front of us," he said. "We will stabilize our coverage, beef up our administrative staff, and improve our investigations. By putting our two departments together, we can deliver public safety better.

"We're better together than apart."



Hogsett talks beat policing, increasing youth education opportunities at State of the City address

by Victoria T. Davis and Katie Heinz

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett gave the community a look at some of the accomplishments achieved and a look into what's next on his agenda at the State of the City address Wednesday evening.

Two of the most highlighted topics included community policing within the IMPD district, and ways to engage the city's youth to lower crime and increase education opportunities.

Commander Roger Spurgeon said the policing initiative is all about getting to know the residents.

"Their concerns and my concerns may not match up at all. So, my job is to find out what their concerns are and then us work together to find out mutually acceptable solutions to those concerns,” said Spurgeon.

Hogsett said by the end of 2018, every IMPD officer and 911 operator will have completed crisis intervention training. He also plans to put 86 more officers on the streets, in addition to the 38 already added.

Also during the address, Hogsett unveiled the signing of an executive order for an initiative called The Indianapolis Promise, which will work to ensure every student has quality, post-high school training. He said students need to complete higher education to compete in today's job market.

The mayor said the way to educating the youth is though crime prevention programs.

“We must get guns out of the hands of our children and we must get guns out of the hands of our young people,” he said.

In partnership with Crime Stoppers, IMPD will offer youth $750 for a tip that leads to a felony arrest. A $300 reward will also be given for tips that led to a misdemeanor charge.

“Together we can send a message that one life, young or old, one life lost to gun violence is one life too many,” said Hogsett.

He also mentioned several items accomplished over the past 15 months, such as the installment of 100 new street lights, the decrease in the city's structural deficit by 50 percent and increased funding to city parks for the first time since 2003.

You can watch Hogsett's full address on site.



Santa Ana police, city officials, say ‘holistic approach' needed to combat gang shootings and violence

by Jessica Kwong

SANTA ANA — The first month of 2017 – like the beginning of last year – saw a shooting-per-day average, and while gang violence in Santa Ana hasn't reached the levels of the 1990s, the rise prompted one city council member to call for a public discussion.

“Why I brought this up is we can't just put blame and the entire responsibility to the police chief and the police department,” Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez said at Tuesday's city council meeting. “One of the first things that we tend to do is (say) that the police is not doing its job, the city is not doing its job. What we need to say is that we all need to do the job as a community.”

The Santa Ana Police Department came under fire when there were 55 shootings in the first 50 days of 2016, a five-year high for Orange County's second-largest city. Shortly after, the police department stopped releasing the number of shootings – which include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and firing into an inhabited dwelling or vehicle – citing problems tracking from multiple databases.

Figures the department released last month showed shootings in May and June last year exceeded the pace of shootings from the beginning of the year, and that the trend eased before climbing back to 30 in January of this year. Shootings increased from 2013 to 2016 by 183 percent, to 292 incidents, according to the report, and many were gang-related.

“Gang prevention is a big challenge for us,” Police Chief Carlos Rojas said, adding, “We are seeing the increase in shootings for a variety of reasons.”

Rojas said the department has placed areas under gang injunctions and entered into a Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership with the school district and county aimed at keeping youth in school and out of gangs. But the efforts, he said, should be melded with those by nonprofits and interfaith groups.

“We need to connect the dots,” Rojas said. “What we really do need is a holistic approach when we're talking about gang violence and violent crime in our community. We can't arrest ourselves out of the problem.”

The four council members present on Tuesday agreed. They directed city staff to explore evidence-based best practices and come back with a holistic approach.

Councilman David Benavides suggested holding a study session and said that if more youth were involved in sports, leadership and other afterschool programs, “we wouldn't end up seeing what we're seeing right now” with gun violence.

Councilman Juan Villegas, an Orange County Sheriff's officer with a background in crime diversion, said the root of the problem is with parents who are absent and don't teach their children the right values.

“There is no solution for the gang problem. We had the best minds come together, millions of dollars poured across the nation. The best thing we can do is contain the gang problem,” he said. “It's going to take everyone on this.”

The police department's gang unit in the 1990s was double the size it is now, according to Rojas, and some officers are moved from their assignments to fill in gaps in community policing.

Councilman Jose Solorio said the city's past police program has been criticized as ineffective and a waste of money, “but we got to a very low level of crime because of this comprehensive approach.”

“It's not all suppression,” Solorio said. “Good police work is prevention, intervention and enforcement. We need to continue to do well by all that.”

Martinez asked staff to examine Project Longevity, a community and law enforcement initiative to reduce violent crime in three of Connecticut's major cities.

She invited the public to a discussion on gun violence she is co-hosting with Santa Ana Unified School District board member Valerie Amezcua, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 21, at The Life Center, 1920 17th St., Suite 102.



After warning to drug dealers went viral, Fla. sheriff says more videos to come

Sheriff Peyton Grinnell is considering other topics — fraud, cyber crime and general public announcements — as a follow up to the controversial video

by Jason Ruiter

(Video on site)

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, who became an internet sensation last week with an ominous warning to heroin dealers, isn't done making videos.

Grinnell was flanked by masked undercover deputies in a video in which he warned heroin dealers that “we are coming for you.”

Sitting at his desk, adorned with an American flag coffee mug and Bible, Grinnell said Friday that there will be more.

“I'm going to have … weekly segments of things that are not in the news, predominantly positive things that are going on in this county regarding law enforcement,” Grinnell said.

He is considering other topics — fraud, cyber crime and general public announcements — as a follow up to the controversial video. It sparked criticism and praise on social media from some who said the law-enforcement lineup looked like an ISIS beheading video and others who labeled Grinnell a hero for taking on the bad guys.

His first national media foray included an interview on Fox & Friends and a story in the New York Times. Grinnell, who was elected in November after a decade as the agency's chief deputy, also fielded a congratulatory call from Gov. Rick Scott.

“He just wanted me to know that he appreciated my tough stance against this heroin epidemic and that he stands with me and that he was going to make this a priority of the great state of Florida,” Grinnell said. “I think those were his exact words: ‘great state of Florida.'”

Grinnell, who heads the department, said his public-service announcements aren't meant to be controversial but only to build the Sheriff's Office presence and serve Lake residents. When he made the video in early April, he said undercover deputies who are passionate about their work requested to be a part of it.

Earlier this week, the Sheriff's Office made five arrests in Groveland through undercover work and anonymous tips, seizing more than 6 ounces of cocaine, two AR-15 rifles, 500 ecstasy pills and two pounds of marijuana. Since October, Lake had 24 opioid-related overdoses resulting in four fatalities. Grinnell said he wants to train his officers to use Narcan, a fast-acting treatment for opioid overdose victims.

Grinnell said he doesn't expect every video to spark the same outrage.

“Time changes, technology changes,” he said. “We need our public's help.”

On the Sheriff's Office Facebook page alone, the video garnered 1.3 million views by Friday and 3,500 comments.

Corey Pendergraft, the agency's digital media manager, said of the roughly 40,000 likes the post fostered, only 636 were negative with Facebook's “angry face.” About 24 percent of the views in the video came from Florida residents.

“I read every single comment,” Pendergraft said. “Positive feedback tended to be from this area.”

“Way to go!” wrote one Facebook commenter on the video post. “Thank you for protecting the citizens of Lake County.”

But to others, the video's ski masks and eerie music score was bizarre. Many mistook the video for a joke or the echo of a militarized police force.

“Is this an SNL skit?” one commenter wrote. “That was ridiculous.”

“You look either like little boys playing soldier or masked thugs,” wrote another.

“This really smacks of police state,” wrote one.

Grinnell, who was born in the area, said, “I'll be straight up with you — I only care what people in Lake County think.”

The sheriff was elected by two-thirds of the vote last November. The former Marine — who served in the Persian Gulf War — was also a participant and winner of a local “Dancing With the Stars” competition that is a fundraiser for the Educational Foundation of Lake County.

Since being elected, Grinnell said he has pushed for a stronger social-media presence, more policing against DUI and aggressive drivers and bringing back the Drug Abuse Resistance Education to elementary schools.

Ralph Smith, owner of Lake Tire & Auto in Tavares and a Republican state committeeman, said he liked the risk Grinnell took with the video.

“I understand a few people … to be a little bit offended,” he said. “The simple reality of it is I like out-of-the-box thinking.”

Smith said he doesn't think the issue is liberal or conservative, but in knowing — or not knowing — the role heroin has in the county.

“Maybe in hindsight it'll be a misstep,” he said. “But by golly I like guys who take chances."



Facebook murderer Steve Stephens kills himself after McDonald's visit and police pursuit in Pennsylvania

by Jason Silverstein, Elizabeth Elizalde and Larry McShane

He ordered 20 McNuggets to go — and then took himself out.

Facebook killer Steve Stephens, outed by a fast-thinking fast-food worker, ended his life and a massive three-day manhunt Tuesday by pumping a bullet into his head as Pennsylvania state troopers closed in.

McDonald's workers held the internet executioner at the drive-thru window in Harborcreek Township, Pa., until cops arrived at the scene beginning a slow-speed chase, said police Major William Teper Jr.

The fast-food outlet's owner recounted how one of his workers dialed 911 while another cooked up a story about a problem with the French fries ordered with the McNuggets — at a cost of $5.35 — around 11:10 a.m.

“We told him we were waiting on his fries for a minute, to buy some time for the cops,” owner Thomas DuCharme Jr. told the Erie Times-News.

“And he said he had no time to wait. He had to go. At that point, he took his chicken McNuggets and left.”

Henry Sayers, speaking with WOIO-TV in Cleveland, said the fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted List “acted normal” as he placed his late morning order.

Four state police cars and one local police cruiser wound up chasing Stephens, 37, about 2 miles into a quiet stretch of Erie, Pa., near an abandoned school.

One of the cars slammed into Stephens' white Ford Fusion to start the end game.

“The vehicle spun around, came to a stop,” Teper said. “He immediately pulled a weapon out and shot himself, in the car.”

Teper said the car chase never hit speeds above 50 mph.

The deadly drama started on Easter Sunday, when Stephens fatally shot Cleveland retiree Robert Godwin Sr., the 74-year-old father of 10 and grandfather of 14.

The killer, upset over his girlfriend, posted video of the Sunday afternoon killing on Facebook. Stephens approached Godwin on the street and asked him to say the woman's name, Joy Lane. Then he fatally shot the innocent man in the head.

The next clear shot showed Godwin dying on the ground. Stephens remained on the run for nearly 48 hours after the cold-blooded killing.

In a subsequent Facebook Live rant, Stephens blamed the bloodshed on Lane and claimed he killed 13 people — with more murders to come until cops caught him.

Lane met with the victim's family on Tuesday morning.



Hate crime is suspected after a gunman kills 3 white men in downtown Fresno

by Veronica Rocha, Joseph Serna, Diana Marcum and Hailey Branson-Potts

Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America.

On social media, he referred to white people as “devils.” Earlier in year, he released a rap album replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “black soldier.”

On Tuesday morning, police say Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno, fatally shooting three white men with a .357 revolver. Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward white people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Local authorities said they don't believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime.

“If in fact he's lashing out at white people — white males in this case — that would constitute a hate crime,” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.”

The chief said investigators don't believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.”

The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief.

In addition to Tuesday's killings, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white man, last week.

Muhammad's father, Vincent Taylor, told The Times on Tuesday that his son believed that he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that “a battle was about to take place.

The attack began at around 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue. Within a few seconds, a second burst of gunfire was heard, then a third and a fourth. Sixteen rounds were fired in four locations, Dyer said.

After the shots were heard, Dyer said the driver of a PG&E truck arrived at the city's police headquarters to report that a passenger had been shot by a gunman who had approached them on foot.

After mortally wounding the truck passenger, Muhammad walked west on East Mildreda Avenue, where he came across a resident and opened fire but missed his target, Dyer said.

Muhammad continued walking on Mildreda and approached Fulton Street, where he fatally shot a second man before reloading his weapon, Dyer said.

He then headed toward Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street and fired another fatal volley of gunfire, killing a man in the parking lot.

An officer in the area spotted the gunman running south on Fulton. He then “dove onto the ground” and was taken into custody, the chief said.

“As he was taken into custody, he yelled out, ‘Allahu akbar,' ” Dyer said.

“Allahu akbar” roughly translates to “God is great” in Arabic and is a common positive refrain uttered by Muslims in prayer or in celebration. But the phrase has also been linked to terrorist attacks. The gunman who killed 13 people in a terror attack at Fort Hood, Texas, screamed “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire in 2009, and the phrase is often tweeted by social media accounts sympathetic to Islamic State and other terror groups.

The victims in Tuesday's attack were not immediately identified. In a statement released last week, Fresno police identified the security guard slain Thursday as Carl Williams. The unarmed 25-year-old was shot outside a Motel 6 on North Blackstone Avenue.

The gunman did not make any references to race during last week's attack, according to Dyer, who said investigators will need time to determine the exact motive in the shootings.

“There was no statement made on Thursday night when he shot the security guard and killed him,” Dyer said. “There was no comments or no statements made at that time, so I am not certain why he said what he said today.”

Muhammad legally changed his name from Kori Taylor when he was a teenager, according to his grandmother, Glenestene Taylor, who said Muhammad was acting strangely when he visited her Sunday. He was crying, but she believed he was simply going out of town.

“I thought that's why he's upset, because he thinks of me as a mother,” said Taylor, 81. “He's always telling me, ‘I'll take care of it. I'll protect you. Don't you worry about it.' He really didn't want to go but he was going.”

A Facebook profile page for a Kori Ali Muhammad from Fresno paid homage to black pride and black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist.

The rambling profile includes militant and apocalyptic language and repeated demands to “let black people go.” He referenced “white devils” and praised melanoma skin cancer.

On Saturday afternoon, Muhammad posted a photo of himself in a colorful garment, with his head covered, and the words: “LET BLACK PEOPLE GO OR THE DOOM INCREASES REPARATIONS & SEPARATION NOW.”


Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said many of Muhammad's social media postings make reference to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pointing to Muhammad's repeated references to “white devils” and “Yakub” — the villainous figure responsible for creating white people, according to Nation of Islam lore — Levin said it is likely Muhammad thought he was taking part in a race war against whites.

“We're living in an era of violent reciprocal prejudice, and there are references on his website to Fard Muhammad, the founder of Nation of Islam, and Nation of Islam uses the term white devils quite prolifically, as did this shooter,” Levin said.

Muhammad also repeatedly used the phrase “Black Dragon Lion Hawk” in his Facebook posts, and Levin said such nods to warrior culture are also common in black separatist circles.

But Glenestene Taylor said she didn't remember her grandson showing a racial bias, toward whites or anyone else, in all his years staying with her or during countless visits to her predominately white Fresno neighborhood.

“He would say something derogatory about anybody, didn't matter about the color,” she said. “If he didn't like what they did, he didn't like what they did no matter the color."

Muhammad had run afoul of Fresno police before. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2005 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, after a Fresno police officer searched his car and found two large bags of cocaine, a loaded handgun and two rifles, court records show. A federal judge later declared Muhammad mentally incompetent to stand trial.

He was deemed competent in August 2006 and pleaded guilty to the charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and a weapons charge. He ultimately served 92 months in federal prison, records show.

Hours after the shootings Tuesday, two shaken workers at the Catholic charity said they had ducked under yellow police tape to get out.

They said they were told not to talk to the news media. But one, a Vietnam veteran, said a person never forgets the sound of guns. He said that the charity gives away food every day and that families are allowed to come only once a week.

“We feed a lot of children, so we have to make sure that the food gets spread around,” he said.

“This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said in a statement. “None of us can imagine what they must be going through.”

Vincent Taylor said he hopes his son's capture headed off any future bloodshed.

“I'm happy he was arrested,” he said. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”



Okla. deputy fatally shot, suspect arrested after fleeing in police car

Deputy David Wade was serving an eviction notice when Nathan Aaron LeForce opened fire

Duty Death: David Wade - [Logan County, Oklahoma]

End of Service: 04/18/2017

by PoliceOne Staff

LOGAN COUNTY, Okla. — A suspect is in custody after fatally shooting a deputy Tuesday morning.

According to KOCO, Deputy David Wade, 40, was serving an eviction notice when Nathan Aaron LeForce, 45, opened fire. Officials told that Wade was able to return fire, but didn't clarify if LeForce was hit.

Wade was transported to a local hospital with three gunshot wounds, including one to the face. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

LeForce fled in the deputy's vehicle and officials told KOCO he allegedly carjacked two vehicles after that. Local schools were placed on lockdown while authorities searched for LeForce. He was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, FBI Oklahoma City confirmed in a tweet.

Sheriff Damon Devereaux told that Wade was an Army veteran. He is survived by his wife and three children.

According to, LeForce has a criminal background. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to pointing a firearm and eluding police. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle. He was charged in 2015 with kidnapping, child endangerment and domestic abuse.



Ambushed trooper: 'Coward' shot me and killed comrade

Limping to the witness stand, Trooper Alex Douglass testified against Eric Frein, who prosecutors say targeted a police barracks in hopes of sparking a revolution

by Michael Rubinkam

MILFORD, Pa. — Alex Douglass used to be 180 pounds of muscle and sinew, a CrossFit and running enthusiast who ran a 50-mile ultra-marathon when he wasn't working his day job as a state police trooper.

All of that was ended by a sniper's bullet.

Douglass survived the ambush that took his comrade's life on Sept. 12, 2014, but the devastating wounds caused by that single rifle shot still haven't healed. On Monday, Douglass got the chance to confront his alleged assailant, describing years of pain and rehabilitation for a jury weighing capital murder charges against the man he called a coward.

"I started back into CrossFit," explained Douglass, who has a replacement hip and walks with a brace on his foot. "It's not like it used to be."

Limping to the witness stand, Douglass testified against Eric Frein, the anti-government marksman and survivalist who prosecutors say targeted the Blooming Grove barracks in hopes of sparking a revolution against the government. Frein allegedly hid in the woods across the street and shot Douglass and Cpl. Bryon Dickson II during a late-night shift change. He was caught after a 48-day manhunt.

Douglass was shot through both hips as he tried to rescue his mortally wounded comrade, the .308-caliber bullet leaving an exit wound the size of a silver dollar. He has undergone 18 surgeries to repair the damage but said he still has no feeling below one knee.

He's also incontinent, the result of a perforated intestine and devastating injuries to his rectum. He described a severe burning sensation that feels like "taking a serrated knife and sticking it in your rectum and twisting."

He choked up, glancing at Frein and asking for a tissue.

Frein, who could face a death sentence if convicted, looked back at him with a blank stare.

Douglass' testimony was the most anticipated of a trial in which prosecutors have introduced hundreds of pieces of evidence tying Frein to the crime. The prosecution plans to rest its case Tuesday.

Douglass told jurors how he had just gotten to work and was in the parking lot when he heard two loud bangs and a scream. He got off the phone with his girlfriend, drew his gun and began walking toward the front of the barracks, where Dickson — who'd just left the barracks after working his shift — was lying face up on the sidewalk.

Douglass said he grabbed Dickson by the leg and was preparing to drag him into the barracks when "it felt like I got hit in the back with a baseball bat." He opened the barracks door with his right hand, fell into the lobby and began crawling, trying to take himself out of the sniper's line of fire.

"At that point I knew that either some coward or cowards were shooting at us from across the street," he said.

A colleague dragged him through an interior door, where troopers began packing his wound while waiting for an ambulance.

"It was probably the worst pain you could imagine," Douglass said. "It felt like your whole body was on fire."

The bullet shattered Douglass's hip and thigh bone and left him with other injuries. He said he dropped from a "solid 180 pounds" to 135 in the months after the shooting. He had his latest surgery two months ago with "possibly more to go."

Frein has said he didn't know Douglass or Dickson before the attack, telling police after his capture that he chose to ambush the Blooming Grove barracks because it's surrounded by woods and offered good cover.

In a letter to his parents that was read to the jury on Monday, Frein complained about the loss of liberty, spoke of a revolution and said, "The time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men."

The author wrote: "I tried my best to do this thing without getting identified, but if you are reading this then I was not successful."



Baltimore police create homicide review panel

The committee is made up of four commanders who review homicide cases in which detectives and prosecutors disagree on whether evidence is strong enough to proceed

by Justin Fenton

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police have ended an agreement with city prosecutors and taken back the authority to charge homicide suspects without first getting approval from the state's attorney's office.

The agreement, in place for about six years, was an effort by previous administrations to reduce the number of cases charged by police but dropped by prosecutors due to concerns about proving a suspect's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

But the Police Department has formed a committee of four commanders who review homicide cases in which detectives and prosecutors disagree on whether evidence is strong enough to proceed. Prosecutors are not part of the panel, and the committee can authorize police to charge over their objections.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis signaled the change at a January news conference during which he bemoaned the criminal justice system's revolving door.

"It's in existence nowhere else in Maryland," Davis said of the previous agreement on charging homicides. "That protocol that's been in place for several years in Baltimore quite frankly is leaving people we believe we have probable cause to charge with murder still out on our streets."

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Goldberg, a supervisor in the homicide unit, said when differences have arisen in the past, police and prosecutors would convene intensive case review meetings to iron out problems. Such meetings were convened only 11 times over the past two years, leaving prosecutors puzzled as to why police sought a change.

"At the end of the day, it's your prosecutor who is charged with trying the case," Goldberg said in an interview. "While you might have probable cause to charge, there's so much more that needs to be done and we need to have it done before charging."

"We have the same goal: We want murderers off the street," she said. "We want the right people charged, with accurate evidence."

Police and prosecutors say the change affects a small number of cases. Since the police committee was created in February, four cases have been reviewed. The panel approved filing charges in two of them, over the disagreement of prosecutors.

The other two cases brought by detectives were rejected by the commanders, who said more work needed to be done. But prosecutors eventually brought charges in those cases after detectives did additional work.

The panel has to be unanimous in its decision to go forward with charging a homicide suspect.

Police declined to discuss the individual cases.

Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the new panel "is not a way to circumvent" prosecutors. "They're still in the conversation," he said.

Police have been trying to improve their diminishing rate for solving homicide cases, called a clearance rate. It for years was regularly above 50 percent but dropped below that threshold the same year prosecutors asserted more control.

When killings increased sharply two years ago, the homicide clearance rate fell to 30 percent. The year-end closure rate last year was 38.5 percent.

As of April 10, the rate of closed cases was more than 53 percent, the same figure as this time last year.

When police file charges in a homicide, they fill out a statement of "probable cause," a standard that is lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt," which prosecutors must meet to win a conviction in court.

Charles Wellford, a University of Maryland criminologist who has studied homicide units in Baltimore and elsewhere, says the different charging standards for police and prosecutors can lead to conflict.

"It's not unusual to have the issue come up, but in my experience, in most cases the police and prosecutors reach some kind of accommodation that works for both of them," Wellford said. "That appears not to be the case in Baltimore."

Joe McCann, a former Prince George's County police commander, was hired last year by Baltimore police to the newly created position of director of quality control. McCann said he created the new charging review committee.

In an interview, he and Maj. Donald Bauer, the commander of the homicide unit, said police want to move more quickly to charge in cases but still have proper oversight.

"Unfortunately with the increased amount of violence we had in 2015 and 2016, we don't have time to slow down on these cases," Bauer said.

McCann said police did not have to defer to prosecutors in Prince George's County. In Baltimore County, State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said police don't have to consult with his office, but with only 25 to 30 homicide cases a year the agencies are typically in close communication.

Goldberg, the homicide prosecutor, said Baltimore police have long deferred to prosecutors on charging of homicides even before the formal policy in 2011. But the approach to developing cases has changed over time.

"There was a time when cases could be charged, and there was a hope that we could" continue investigating and uncovering new evidence, Goldberg said. "As the criminal justice system has evolved, we're not charging people without having every duck in a row."

Goldberg noted that prosecutors can lose the power to use the grand jury to conduct investigations if a case has already been charged and indicted. When the grand jury is involved, prosecutors can subpoena witnesses in an effort to elicit more evidence. "If we charge a case prematurely, we may have roadblocks," Goldberg said.

But Davis, in January, said taking a suspect off the street by charging him may open up new investigative avenues. "That's when people feel comfortable coming forward and cooperating more with police," he said. "Sometimes, a really great prosecution begins with a really good arrest, and the case gets enhanced before the trial date."

When Gregg Bernstein was a candidate for state's attorney, he criticized his predecessor, Patricia C. Jessamy, for cases in which police would file charges in a homicide that prosecutors would drop before taking it to a grand jury. So after Bernstein took office in 2011, then-Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III agreed to change the process.

After the change, detectives stewed that they were being blocked from making arrests. But officials say tension between the agencies was overstated. Bauer, the homicide commander, said "not every case they [detectives] want charged is chargeable."

Melba Saunders, the spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, said prosecutors were "open and willing to explore new ways to support BPD's pursuit to increase homicide closure rates."

"The overall impact to active cases appears to be minimal; however, we will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach unless and until it proves to be detrimental to the overall pursuit of justice," Saunders said.


Washington D.C.

AG Sessions: More proactive policing needed to combat violent crime

In an op-ed, Jeff Sessions said consent decrees "handcuff police instead of the criminals" and hurt communities

by PoliceOne Staff

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a USA Today op-ed that too much focus is being placed on consent decrees rather than arresting criminals, leading to an increase in violent crime.

Sessions called for a return to proactive policing, and said in order to restore trust and public safety, common sense reforms like de-escalation training need to be emphasized.

“Too much focus has been placed on a small number of police who are bad actors rather than on criminals,” Sessions wrote in the article. “And too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.”

The attorney general said the DOJ will prosecute officers who violate civil rights, but consent decrees won't be signed for “political expediency.” Consent decrees “cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals,” leaving minority communities less safe, Sessions wrote.

Sessions argued that the main priority of the United States needs to be restoring public safety by bringing back community policing that works.

“To help achieve those goals, the department, with the help of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will focus our efforts on thwarting violent crime, drug trafficking, and gun crime and gang violence,” Sessions wrote. “If combating violent crime and restoring public safety are seen as dramatic reversals, then I fully support such a sea change.”



'To win is to prevent shootings': Wilmington's new police chief will implement proven strategies

by Amy Cherry

Newly appointed Chief Bob Tracy already has two city shootings to deal with, and he only just helmed the Wilmington Police Department Friday.

In his first radio interview, Tracy rattled off the locations of the shootings, saying he will know where crime is happening.

"I want to know about every shooting that's happening; I want to know about every murder that's happening--immediately," he said on WDEL.

Tracy said he wants to implement proven strategies, including enhanced community policing and data-driven tactics through CompStat which have reduced crime in major cities he's worked like Chicago and New York. Despite being geographically much smaller, Wilmington has a "big city" crime problem, with 59 shootings and 14 murders in just the first four months of this year.

"The meaning of strategy is to win, and to win is to prevent shootings," he said, adding that he will know Wilmington's neighborhoods and crime inside and out.

"I reviewed every shooting [in Chicago], and if we had 2,400 shootings, I knew immediately what has happening, the response, what we were doing to prevent the next shooting, retaliation," he said. "And if I took that time to immediately look at 2,400 shootings and 400 murders, I'm certainly going to do the same thing here in Wilmington."

In Chicago, Tracy was well-known for holding commanders responsible for shootings in their districts; he rejected the notion that CompStat puts pressure on officers to "fudge" numbers to show a crime reduction.

"I pretty much call that accountability--more than pressure--because they should be accountable for the crime that's happening and make sure they have a plan to deal with it, help reduce it," he said. "Not so much pressure, but accountability to do your job [is] going to be my expectation."

He added integrity audits can ensure the legitimacy of crime statistics and whether strategies are working.

Tracy's first day on the job was Friday, but now he'll spend time taking a closer look into the department, though he said he did his homework before taking this job.

"Now I actually get to look under the hood or behind the curtain--so to speak--there's a lot of good things in this department, and I want to build off those things," he said. "This is a place that I saw a lot of optimism, a lot hope, and I think the things we can do, really good things here, working together with the community."



Man stalks, opens fire on Ohio deputy

As the deputy drove away from a surveillance op, the suspect followed, pulled up alongside the deputy's unmarked car and opened fire

by Lori Monsewicz

CANTON, Ohio — A coordinated investigation Thursday by three police agencies and the U.S. Marshals Service led to the arrest of a man accused of firing shots at a Stark County deputy taking part in a surveillance operation.

Frederick M. Hill, 49, of Barberton was nabbed Thursday by the Barberton Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Hill faces charges of felonious assault on a peace officer, first-degree felony, and illegal cultivation of marijuana.

Stark County Sheriff George Maier said a Stark County Metro Narcotics Unit deputy was assisting Canton's Vice Unit on a drug investigation Wednesday night about 10:45 in the 2600 block of Cleveland Avenue SW. He was there only for a short period when a suspect spotted him.

"Our deputy attempted to remove himself from the situation," the sheriff said.

But as he drove away, the suspect got into a car, followed, pulled up alongside the deputy's unmarked car several blocks away and opened fire.

"As far as we know, only two shots were fired," Maier said. One bullet struck the car door pillar. The other shattered a window.

The deputy sped away and called for help.

"We're just happy that our deputy's OK and that nobody was injured," Maier said, adding that "this is what we deal with here in Stark County."

He noted the drug-related shooting of a deputy this week in Tuscarawas County, adding "This is just the nature of the business we're in. We're dealing with bad people."

The investigation is continuing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Canton Police Department at 330-489-3144 or the Stark County Sheriff's Office at 330-430-3800, or on the tip line at 330-451-3937. Anonymous tips can be sent by texting CANTON and the message to 847411.



Ariz. governor signs bill protecting off-duty police officers

The bill adds tougher sentences for assaults on off-duty law enforcement officers

by the Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation adding tougher sentences for assaults on off-duty law enforcement officers.

Ducey signed the legislation Monday after heated debates arose over it in the Legislature. The governor said in a written statement the legislation "sends the clear message that Arizona stands firmly with its men and women in uniform."

The "Blue Lives Matter" law drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers who called it an affront to the "Black Lives Matter" movement that protests police killings of black people and racial profiling. Republican backers say even off-duty officers deserve higher protections.

Prosecutors would have to show the assault was motivated by the officer's employment. Assaulting an on-duty officer or an off-duty officer acting in a law enforcement role already draws a harsher sentence.