June 2017 - Week 1
In Portland, images of knives, brass knuckles, bricks show viciousness of protests
by Derek Hawkins
If you want to get an idea of just how high tensions are running in Portland, where rival protest groups have clashed repeatedly in recent months, you could start by looking at the caches of weapons seized by police at a demonstration over the weekend in the city's downtown.
There are axes and crowbars, dozens of sticks and makeshift clubs, canisters of mace, knives, hammers, batons and even a set of brass knuckles. Together, they offer an unsettling glimpse of the violence that has seeped into Portland's protests as the city has drawn extremists on the left and right in increasing numbers, becoming something of a proxy for the country's ideological battles.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters and counterprotesters converged in the heart of Portland's business and government district for a pro-Trump free-speech rally. Once again, throngs of black-clad antifascist or “antifa” activists faced off with right-wing demonstrators in Americana garb.
Police formed barriers between the groups — and indeed many people in the crowd demonstrated peacefully — but the day was disrupted by flareups. After some antifa counterprotesters began throwing objects at police, officers in riot gear responded with a volley of flash grenades and pepper balls, according to local media.
Fourteen people were arrested over the course of several hours, two of them on charges of carrying a concealed weapon.
Throughout the afternoon, police posted Twitter pictures of items they confiscated from the demonstrators. It's not clear who they came from, but police and local media said some weapons were taken as officers cleared Chapman Square, a park where antifa activists had gathered.
There were lots of bricks, which police said protesters were lobbing at officers from a plaza near the main rally.
Police also seized dozens of sticks, poles and batons. Objects like these were banned from recent demonstrations in Berkeley, Calif., after groups used them to beat each other during political standoffs there earlier this year.
As the demonstrations dwindled and people started to leave the area, police displayed a number of more menacing weapons, including numerous hunting knives, folding knives, crowbars and clubs. One picture also shows a hatchet, multiple hammers, a chain and what appear to be several cans of mace.
Another picture shows brass knuckles, a foot-long knife, a helmet and a sack of small smoke bombs.
Someone even brought a homemade slingshot, according to police.
While some protesters were ostensibly prepared to fight, others came ready to defend themselves. Numerous demonstrators on both sides carried shields and wore helmets and gas masks. Some, including self-appointed security for the free-speech rally, even donned bulletproof vests.
Emotions are raw in Portland, where late last month 35-year-old Jeremy Christian allegedly stabbed two men to death and seriously injured a third amid what witnesses called an anti-Muslim tirade on a commuter train. Christian had given Nazi salutes and screamed racial slurs at a right-wing rally in the city in April, as The Washington Post has reported.
Since President Trump's election in November, Portland has struggled to quell mounting violence at political rallies from fringe groups, some of which have been so disruptive that the city has had to cancel public gatherings in recent weeks.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called on the federal government to revoke the permit for Sunday's rally, saying that the city needed more time to mourn and accusing organizers of promoting hate speech. “The timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation,” Wheeler wrote in a Facebook post last week.
The rally was allowed to move forward, and organizers called on followers to remain peaceful.
“Find it in yourself to make this day positive, with no hate and no violence,” Joey Gibson of the conservative group Patriot Prayer told the crowd on Sunday. “We have to understand Portland is legitimately shaken up right now.”
“Prove them wrong,” he said. “Hatred is a disease. We need to start spreading love to get rid of this hate.”
But some, it seems, came with their own agenda.
“I am definitely willing to use violence to make sure my family is safe and my patriot family is safe,” Pat “Based Spartan” Washington, a well known far-right activist and Internet personality, told the Guardian Sunday. “But do I want it? Not necessarily. Until antifa learns not to use violence … God, I hate them. I look over there and I just want to smash.”
Ahead of Sunday's demonstrations, Portland police said they had seen threatening messages on social media. They were mobilizing accordingly, a spokesman told the New York Times.
“It's almost like a street fight,” Sgt. Pete Simpson said, “like a rumble, the way it's being advertised.”
Even with all these terror attacks, it's still very rare to see police with guns in England
by Akshat Rathi
During the latest terror attack in central London yesterday—which killed seven people and injured more than 40—an elite unit of the Metropolitan Police was quickly called to the scene.
To Londoners, the extra detail about cops carrying guns underlined the severity of the incident; unlike many other countries, most police officers in England aren't routinely armed.
For a rich country with more than 60 million people, the UK's mostly firearm-free police is unique. The BBC explains that this goes back to the 19th century, when police without firearms wore blue uniforms to differentiate themselves from armed members of the infantry, who wore red uniforms. That idea of community policing without guns stuck. When firearms were given to the police in the early 20th century, only trained officers who could prove they needed a gun got one.
Today, fewer than one in 20 police officers in England and Wales carries a gun. (The police carry weapons in Northern Ireland.) These two territories employ 124,000 police officers, including only 5,600 authorized firearms officers. Armed officers very rarely discharge their weapons—there are generally only a handful of incidents per year.
And the few times the police have fired guns have not been without controversy. In 2005, following the deadly July 7 suicide bombings on London's transport network, police shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national that police mistakenly thought to have been involved in another subsequent attempted attack on the Tube.
The legal challenges against the police went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which decided to uphold a lower court's order to not charge the police officers who killed Menezes. Another incident in 2011 led to police controversially killing a man named Mark Duggan, who they said was in possession of a gun. The killing was deemed lawful—but only after three years of legal cases and an inquest.
There have been three terrorist attacks in the UK in the last three months. Since the first attack, the terrorism threat level has remained at “severe” (and was raised to “critical” after the Manchester attack in May). This has meant that armed police have been deployed on the streets in larger numbers than normal, which has allowed the police to respond quickly to terror incidents.
Yesterday, for instance, police confronted and shot the suspects within eight minutes of the first emergency call.
According to the Guardian, a survey of British police officers earlier this year found that a quarter of them said that they should routinely carry guns.
Run, Hide, Tell? London attack response likely saved lives
Larry Barton, a threat assessment instructor for the FBI, said the strategy saves lives, but people need to make decisions quickly
by Amy Forliti
College student Vashu Tyagi was leaving his dorm and heading to a nearby bar to celebrate the end of classes Saturday night in London when he saw people running frantically down the street. As three men with large knives moved through the area, stabbing anyone in their path, police yelled at Tyagi and others to get back inside — an order he credits with saving his life.
"Obviously they gave us good advice," he said. "I'm quite lucky to be here."
As reports of stabbings in a popular London nightspot started flowing in late Saturday, police sent out a tweet warning people in the area to run, hide, then call authorities. Officers on the scene also shouted at bystanders to disperse, a response that experts say likely saved lives.
Yet while the Run, Hide, Tell strategy — known in the U.S. as Run, Hide, Fight — has been credited with saving lives in certain circumstances, some say it's not perfect, especially when a victim's first instinct might be to freeze on the spot.
"The best thing you can do is to get as far away from the source of the danger as possible," said Denis Fischbacher-Smith, a risk analyst and professor at the University of Glasgow. "But it's never going to be a universal solution. It's never going to work all the time."
Saturday's attack unfolded over a few minutes: First, a rented van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on busy London Bridge. Three men wielding large knives got out of the van and attacked people at bars and restaurants in the popular Borough Market. The men killed seven people and injured roughly 50 before they were shot dead by police.
The Run, Hide, Tell strategy promoted by the United Kingdom's National Police Chiefs' Council says that in the event of an active attack, people should first run to a place of safety. If there is nowhere to go, hiding is the next best option, setting up barricades if possible. Then, when safe to do so, victims are urged to call police.
France has a similar strategy, and posters providing directions are meant to hang in all public places. The goal is to make sure people are vigilant and adopt the right attitude in the event of an attack, said Cedric Michel, president of the Union for Defense of Municipal Police.
Fischbacher-Smith said the strategies in Europe are an evolution of the Run, Hide, Fight approach in the United States, which started in 2012 in Houston, Texas. Run, Hide, Fight is standard protocol for active-shooter situations in the U.S. It advises people to run away if possible, get out of view, and if that's not feasible, try to incapacitate the shooter if there is an imminent threat.
Larry Barton, professor of public safety at the University of Central Florida and a threat assessment instructor for the FBI, said the strategy saves lives, but people need to make decisions quickly.
"The longer you wait and deliberate ... the chances of your survivability really diminish notably," he said.
Hiding is easier in a school setting or office, where people know the building's layout. On the street, or in a stadium or nightclub, hiding is virtually impossible. And if someone choses to fight, he or she has to be "all in," he said.
In the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, roughly 40 people hid in bathrooms — where they were trapped for hours as the gunman went through the club, then became cornered when he entered the bathroom and began shooting into stalls.
There are occasions in which people cannot protect themselves by running. Many people didn't have time to run when a truck careened into a seaside crowd in Nice, France, last year. More than 80 people died. Those who survived jumped from the promenade onto the beach below or threw loved ones out of the way.
In a study to be released later this month, Barton analyzed 61 deadly assaults in public places such as arenas, nightclubs, coffee houses or other venues from 2006 to 2016. He found that 73 percent of those who survived did so by running, and they had no injuries or moderate injuries such as a sprained ankle. Twenty percent of survivors hid, but about a third of the hiders were injured. The remaining 7 percent both ran and hid, he said.
But for those who are out enjoying life, running or hiding might be easier said than done.
Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience at New York University and head of the Emotional Brain Institute, said humans are evolutionarily programmed to freeze when there is danger, and a person can't run if they are frozen on the spot.
"It sort of short-circuits the entire slogan from the get-go," he said.
Dean Mobbs, assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology, said an individual's perception of the situation can also affect whether one flees or freezes. If someone feels they can't control a situation, or can't escape it, freezing is more likely, he said. In addition, people tend to greet horrific situations with initial disbelief, delaying their response.
But he said that after three attacks in London in as many months, Londoners are more prepared and will likely react more quickly.
One survivor of the London attack said he decided to fight before he ran and hid.
Chef Florin Morariu said he first froze when he went outside the bakery and saw two people stabbing others. Then, he said, he began fighting and hit one of the attackers on the head with a crate before police told him to run.
"There was a car with a loudspeaker saying 'go, go' and they (police) threw a grenade. ... and then I ran," he said. He then let about 20 people hide in the bakery and closed the shutters.
Trump signs bills into law to help LEOs, veterans
One measure aims to speed Justice Department processing of benefit claims for survivors of public safety officers killed in the line of duty
by the Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has signed two bills into law to help public safety officers and military veterans.
One measure prioritizes the hiring and training of veterans to become law enforcement officers, giving preference to certain Justice Department grant applications from state and local law enforcement agencies that use the money to hire veterans.
The second measure aims to speed Justice Department processing of benefit claims for survivors of public safety officers killed in the line of duty.
The measure also covers claims for officers who become disabled due to injuries suffered while performing their duties, and for the educational costs of spouses and children of officers who've been killed or injured in the line of duty.
Trump says he's "very happy" to sign the bills.
Mass. weighs limits on the use of drones by police
The bill would allow the use of drones to serve a warrant, aide in an investigation or assist in an emergency
by the Associated Press
BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing regulations aimed at the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, by police and other governmental authorities.
The bill would prohibit the use of drones to "track, collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation," or other entity unless the information relates to a criminal investigation.
The proposal would also ban drones from being equipped with weapons or using facial recognition and other biometric matching technology except to identify the subject of a warrant.
The bill would allow the use of drones to serve a warrant, aide in an investigation or assist in an emergency.
The Judiciary Committee plans to hear testimony on the bill at a public hearing Monday at the Statehouse.
London attack toll rises to 7 dead as Theresa May insists ‘things need to change'
by Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Rick Noack
LONDON — The death toll rose to seven Sunday, following the latest terrorist attack to strike Britain, with Prime Minister Theresa May blaming the “evil ideology of Islamist extremism” and vowing to conduct a review of the nation's counterterrorism laws.
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed that seven people were killed in Saturday night's incident that saw a van mow down pedestrians on London Bridge before the vehicle's occupants got out and started stabbing patrons of nearby bars and restaurants. That toll does not include the three attackers, who were fatally shot by officers within eight minutes of the first emergency call, Dick said.
London Ambulance Service earlier said it had taken “at least 48 patients to five hospitals across London.”
As doctors and nurses tended to the wounded, police carried out raids in the east London neighborhood of Barking in a signal that authorities are probing at least the possibility that others may have been involved in the attack's planning. A dozen people were arrested, police said.
The low-tech but high-profile attack will raise questions about how British security services failed to stop yet another mass-casualty strike after years of thwarting such attempts. May, who is running for another term in this week's general election, said the nation needs to step up its fight against radical ideologies in response, asserting that there is “far too much tolerance for extremism in our country.”
“Things need to change,” May said Sunday, speaking outside of the prime minister's residence at 10 Downing Street
The recent spate of terrorist attacks — Saturday's was Britain's third in as many months — were not connected, May said. But she described it as “a new trend” in which terrorists are “copying one another and often using the crudest means of attack.”
May had returned from the campaign trail to 10 Downing Street late Saturday for emergency meetings with security officials. On Sunday morning, all the major parties, including May's Conservatives, suspended campaigning ahead of an election due on Thursday.
May said the election would go ahead as scheduled, a position that was endorsed by her rivals, who joined her in condemning the attacks.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Twitter: “Brutal and shocking incidents reported in London. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Thank you to the emergency services.”
Witnesses described a rampage that left a trail of bloodied bodies on the bridge and in the adjacent Borough Market — both of which are London landmarks.
The attacks set off scenes of panic in the heart of London on a cool June evening as the city's streets were filled with people heading home from dinner or out for a drink.
In packed pubs — normally scenes of Saturday night revelry and merriment — patrons threw chairs, bottles and glasses at the attackers as the assailants used long knives to slash their way through crowds. Tourists gaped at the carnage from the roofs of double-decker buses.
Police said the attacks were being treated as “terrorist incidents.” The top priority of police now is to find out more about “these individuals who carried out the attack and the background to it,” Dick said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a statement condemning “a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors to our city enjoying their Saturday night.”
People in London should expect more police on the streets in the coming days, Khan said in a television interview on Sunday morning. But Londoners should not be alarmed and should not let terrorists disrupt daily life or the upcoming election, he said.
“We can't allow them to do that,” Khan told Sky News. “We are not going to be cowered by terrorism.”
In a dawn news conference, Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said that the three attackers had been shot dead and that authorities did not believe anyone else was directly involved in carrying out the carnage.
Rowley said the men had not used explosives, despite a widely distributed photo that appeared to show one of the assailants lying prone with metal canisters strapped to his body. Rowley said the vest was “a hoax.”
Saturday marks the third major attack in Britain this spring. The evening's carnage carried grim echoes of a similar incident in late March, when a driver swerved into pedestrians at Westminster Bridge, another Thames crossing, killing four. The driver then fatally stabbed a police officer at the gates of Parliament.
May had lowered the nation's threat level only days ago — from “critical” to “severe” — after having raised it following a bombing last month at a Manchester pop-music concert that was claimed by the Islamic State and that killed 22 people.
But even with the lower threat level, the nation's intelligence services had continued to judge that another attack was likely.
Witnesses reported that a white van was traveling fast — approximately 50 mph — when it mounted the sidewalk and plowed into a group of people crossing the Thames River on foot just after 10 p.m.
The van collided with a guardrail. Bystanders said they thought the crash may have been an accident, until the occupants got out.
The three men who had been in the vehicle immediately began stabbing people on the bridge with knives before making their way to Borough Market, a foodie paradise nestled under the archways of railway viaducts that attracts locals as well as tourists from around the world.
It was in the market, just south of the bridge, where police killed the attackers and ended the rampage.
“I heard many gunshots, and I heard people running away,” said Joe Dillon, 23, who was nearby when the attack occurred. “Police officers were shouting: ‘Get out of here, you need to go!' I heard at least eight rounds of gunshots, but I'm not sure who was shooting.”
Cellphone video from a restaurant in the market showed people diving under tables amid the sound of breaking glass as officers rushed in and ordered patrons to stay down.
Tamara Alcolea, 24, who works as a bartender in a pub called Southwark Rooms, which is near the bridge, said the first indication that something was wrong was when she heard that someone had been stabbed close to London Bridge.
“Then we heard gunshots, and people started to hide beneath the tables,” Alcolea said. “We locked ourselves in the office. From the window, I could see an injured person being treated by emergency personnel. Then the police came in and told us to run. Everyone was panicking.”
As Alcolea recounted her story, she saw two friends who she had lost track of during the melee. She cried and hugged them as they reunited outside a police cordon.
Chris Jacobs, 52, and his wife Kavita Jacobs, 49, were woken up by police officers banging on their door on the third floor of an apartment building at Borough Market.
“I heard gunshots as we left the building,” said Chris Jacobs, who stood next to a petrol station outside the cordon, with no shoes on and holding his dog.
Alex Shellum, an eyewitness, told the BBC he was at the Mudlark pub in the London Bridge area when about 10 p.m. “a woman probably in her early 20s staggered into the pub and she was bleeding heavily from the neck and from her mouth. It appeared to myself and my friends that her throat had been cut.”
Another witness, identified by the BBC as Gerard, said he saw three men running with knives: “They said, ‘This is for Allah.' Then they ran up and stabbed this girl. I don't know how many times — 10 times, maybe 15 times.”
He said he and others threw whatever objects they could find — including bottles, glasses and chairs — at the attackers in a futile attempt to stop the rampage.
Within minutes of the attack, dozens of police cars sped to London Bridge and to Borough Market, with helicopters hovering overhead. Police closed the bridge and urged the public to avoid the area.
The incident caused chaos in the heart of London in an area normally bustling on a Saturday night. Pedestrians near the bridge said they were ordered by police to run, and video footage showed people fleeing in a panic. Other images showed members of the public being escorted away from the bridge by police with hands on their heads.
Two hours after the incidents began, police were still widening cordons and pushing bystanders farther back from the scenes, as the sound of explosions — apparently controlled blasts carried out by police — echoed through the night.
President Trump was briefed on the incident, and immediately took to Twitter to say: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”
After taking criticism online for trying to use the attack to advance a policy goal that is now under review in the courts, he sent a follow-up tweet minutes later: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there — WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”
The White House later issued a statement saying that Trump and May had spoken by phone and that the U.S. president had “offered his condolences for the brutal terrorist attacks.”
On Sunday morning, Trump again took to Twitter with a series of messages that took aim at political correctness, the call in the United States for tougher gun laws and Khan, the London mayor. Trump chided Khan for attempting to calm the public by assuring that there was “no need to be alarmed.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the agency was monitoring the incidents in London.
“At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific, credible terror threat in the United States,” the spokesman said.
Third noose in a week found in D.C.
by Justin Jouvenal
WASHINGTON – A noose was discovered in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Southeast District of Columbia on Thursday, prompting shock and anger from the mayor and residents still on edge after two other nooses were discovered in the city within the past week.
Workers found the noose hanging from a home under construction on a residential street around 5 p.m. on Thursday, D.C. police said. The location is across the street from an elementary school.
Police canvassed the largely African-American neighborhood Saturday looking for clues and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) addressed a community meeting, saying she was confident the perpetrator would be caught and city residents would not be intimidated.
“Who would have thought in 2017 that I would be talking to you about a noose in an African-American history museum or a noose in Hillcrest?” Bowser asked the crowd of about 100 who gathered at the Hillwood Recreation Center. “Unfortunately over the last year, we have seen a rise in both hateful speech, hateful rhetoric and real hate crimes.”
D.C. Police Commander David Taylor said he has no evidence at this point linking the noose found in Hillcrest to one discovered in an exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday and another found hanging from a tree on the grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum on May 27.
Authorities are also investigating a length of rope found at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Friday afternoon and fake Immigration and Customs Enforcement fliers scattered across D.C. on Thursday that warned against offering aid to immigrants here illegally.
No arrests have been made and no one has claimed responsibility for any of the incidents.
After the meeting at the recreation center, residents from the neighborhood expressed anger about the noose. Ayanna Smith said her child attends the elementary school and she worried about her and other children's safety.
Smith told Bowser that if the school had outdoor security cameras installed as was planned the devices might have captured footage of the perpetrator.
“I”m outraged,” Smith said of the noose after the meeting. “There's no other word you can use. I'm not scared and I'm not intimidated, but I took it as a threat to our community.”
Tammie Hawkins, who lives near the home where the noose was found, said her 13-year-old daughter called her from school on Friday and asked her to pick her up. Hawkins said the girl was afraid to walk down the street to the bus stop after the noose incident.
Hawkins said she spent part of Friday going door-to-door in her neighborhood talking with residents about what happened and trying to build a sense of community, saying it was a time for people to come together.
“It's still so unbelievable,” Hawkins said. “That's not something that happens in Washington, D.C.”
Hawkins said the noose in Hillcrest was found dangling from a beam on the front porch of the single family home, which is unoccuppied. The block is quiet and backs up to a wooded area.
Taylor, the police commander, said the noose was likely hung some time after construction workers left the home on May 31 and when it was discovered on the evening of June 1. He asked residents in the area to check security cameras to see if footage of the perpetrator was captured.
Taylor said he has not received reports of any other hate-related incidents in the Hillcrest area in recent weeks.
“It's a highly unusual incident for this area,” Taylor said.
Bowser said she has called on the city's Office of Human Rights to activate its hate crime protocol and the Office of Religious Affairs to engage local religious leaders as a resource for the community.
Bias-related crimes increased from 66 to 107 in D.C. from 2015 to 2016, according to police data. Through April of this year, there have been 40 such incidents in the city, an even faster pace than 2016.
“We want to send a very powerful message that we won't tolerate this type of activity in this city,” Bowser said.
Community policing building in Linden to ‘strengthen ties'
by Elana Knopp
LINDEN, NJ — On May 22, the Linden Police Department hosted a community event to celebrate the grand reopening of the city's Community Oriented Police Station.
The event, which was held at the Linden Multi-Purpose Center, gave residents the opportunity to meet the officers working in their neighborhoods. The event also included a meet and greet with Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and Linden Chief of Police Jonathan Parham, as well as games and giveaways for children and their families.
The building, at Union Street and Bishop Evans Way, was last occupied in 2011 and fell into disrepair after it was closed that same year. The Linden Public Property Department remodeled the interior of the building, changed the layout to accommodate public access and gave the building a facelift, complete with new floors, walls and a fresh coat of paint.
The philosophy behind community policing emphasizes partnerships between police officers and residents, with police officers working closely with citizens and community agencies to implement crime prevention strategies and problem-solving measures.
Parham said the 128-member department has renewed its emphasis on community policing principles.
“We are excited to reopen this building as a symbol of our commitment to building a stronger partnership with residents,” Parham told LocalSource in a May 24 email. “The building represents a tangible commitment to improving police-community partnerships. Community policing in Linden started in this area over 25 years ago, so when we began to refocus on building stronger relationships with the community, this was the logical place to begin. It is important to remember, though, that community policing is more than a building. It is the people and relationships that make community policing work.”
According to Parham, who became the city's first black police chief in September, community policing is about fostering a strong partnership between the residents and the LPD.
“Community policing requires officers and citizens working together to understand the needs of our community,” Parham said. “This facility is just a one part of our plan to build trust and engage with residents. Through public events, social media and substations like this, we can help officers become more accessible to the public and increase transparency.”
Armstead expressed excitement at the opening of the community policing substation.
“We are very happy with Chief Parham's decision to reopen the C.O.P. (Community Oriented Policing) building,” Armstead said in a May 25 email. “This move will strengthen the ties between the LPD and our community. We feel that our community is our greatest resource when it comes to crime prevention. With the opening of this building, it will also be a benefit to the new proposed redevelopments soon to come.”
Parham noted that community policing is not restricted to one building or area.
“The entire Linden Police Department is committed to building trust and relationships with our entire community, and we are looking into adding additional substations in other locations throughout town.”
RI police anti-profiling measure OK'd
The law would mandate policies for police body cameras and reform the police department's gang database
by the Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island's largest city has approved final passage of a police accountability measure proponents say could be a national model to prevent discriminatory profiling based on race, gender identity and immigration status.
The Providence City Council voted 13-1 to pass the ordinance Thursday.
The all-Democrat council had voted 12-0 to approve it in April, but a required second vote was delayed after the police union called it a "slap in the face." The union this week expressed satisfaction with some changes made to it since April but said just before the vote it still couldn't support it.
The ordinance aims to "end racial profiling and codify into law best practices in police conduct from around the country," the council said in a statement.
The legislation was approved with recommended amendments from a panel including community members, police and police union officials, the city solicitor, council representatives and others, the council said. The final version of it reflects the panel's recommendation to change its name from the Community Safety Act to the Providence Community-Police Relations Act "to better demonstrate its intent," the council said.
Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza has said he'll sign it into law.
The law would mandate policies for police body cameras and reform the police department's gang database.
The ordinance, first introduced in 2014, incorporates practices adopted from cities including New York, which has the nation's biggest police department, and Seattle.
The council said highlights of the Providence Community-Police Relations Act include:
— Prohibiting racial and other forms of discriminatory profiling
— Establishing how police officers will document and collect data from traffic and pedestrian stops
— Mandating greater transparency and accountability in police-community interactions
— Establishing new protections for juveniles, immigrants and transgender people
— Improving and codifying policies for use of the police gang database
— Improving language access for people who have limited English proficiency.
From the FBI
FBI, Chicago Police Department Work to Combat Violent Crime
Tuesday, April 18, 8:15 a.m.: Along the 5100 block of Halsted Street on the South Side of Chicago, a quiet spring morning is interrupted by gunfire. Police respond to a gas station and discover a drive-by double homicide. As they secure the crime scene and work to identify the bodies and recover evidence, distraught family members of the victims begin to arrive, their faces full of anguish and disbelief. They will not be alone in their grief. By the end of the day in a city reeling from violent crime, there will be 13 more shootings and another murder.
Chicago's extreme gun violence—762 homicides last year and more than 4,000 people wounded—has been described as an epidemic. Primarily gang-related, the shootings are often spontaneous and unpredictable, and the toll on victims, families, and entire communities cannot be overstated. That's why the FBI's Chicago Division, working with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and other agencies, has undertaken significant measures to address the problem.
“The FBI sometimes battles a perception that we are only interested in terrorism or public corruption or large drug-trafficking organizations,” said Michael Anderson, special agent in charge of the Chicago Division. “The fact is, we are interested in those things, but in Chicago we are also getting down to the street level to address violent crime, and we are specifically going after the trigger-pullers and shot-callers.”
That street-level focus is in response to a city homicide rate that has “increased exponentially,” Anderson said. “The number of shootings is at a level that hasn't been seen here since the early 1990s.” As a result, he explained, “what you are seeing and will continue to see in Chicago is a sustained FBI effort to support and supplement our local partners.”
That effort involves three major areas:
The creation in 2016 of a homicide task force—in addition to the FBI's existing violent crimes squad—in which agents work alongside CPD detectives and other law enforcement officers to assist in solving the city's murder cases;
Increased intelligence-gathering efforts to identify shooters and “directors of violence,” which includes embedding FBI analysts at CPD headquarters; and
Stepping up community outreach efforts to gain the public's trust and enlist their help in solving crimes and making communities safer.
“Simply put,” said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, “the FBI has more resources than we do. We combine the resources we have with the ones they have to fight these crimes.”
FBI and CPD personnel working together in the city's most violent neighborhoods “has helped quite a bit,” Johnson said. “And we get real-time intelligence from the FBI that we didn't get before. They can look at our crime picture and help us figure out where to best deploy our resources.”
Johnson, a Chicago native and 29-year veteran of the police force who spent many years as a patrol officer, believes a key reason for the city's current violence is inadequate gun laws.
“The flow of guns into Chicago is just insane,” he said. “You will find that gang members would rather be caught with a gun by law enforcement than caught without one by their rivals. What we have to do through legislation is create a mentality where gang members won't want to pick up a gun,” he explained. “You create that by holding them accountable for their actions. We simply don't do a good job of that right now.”
Johnson recalled that when he joined CPD in 1988, he and fellow officers responded daily to calls of gang fights in progress. “We rarely hear that call anymore,” he said. “What we hear now is a person with a gun or a person shot. They just go straight to a firearm and they resolve their disputes with a weapon.”
“Communities are being hijacked by a relatively small percentage of people,” Anderson said. “The overwhelming majority of residents are hard-working citizens going to work, going to school, trying to go about their daily lives. These communities are under siege, and they are desperately looking for help.”
Of Chicago's 22 police districts, the majority of violent crimes are taking places in a cluster of neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. “A handful of districts—probably five or six—are responsible for the disproportionate number of homicides and shootings,” Anderson said.
FBI and CPD investigators have focused considerable effort on two of the city's most historically violent areas—the 11th District on the West Side and the 7th District on the South Side. “Since we put the task force in place,” Johnson said, “we've seen significant drops in gun violence in these two districts. We are making some real positive gains,” he said. “By no means are we declaring success, but we have seen some really encouraging results.”
Driving through the city's most violent neighborhoods—Austin, Englewood, North Lawndale, Auburn Gresham—the streets and parks appear peaceful, and often they are. But when the violence comes, it is sudden and usually without warning. One gang member might have disrespected a rival gang member—increasingly through social media (see sidebar)—and they go looking for each other to settle matters with their guns.
“When I started as a cop,” Johnson said, “if you had a gang of 10 guys, maybe two of them at most would be armed. Now if you have a gang of 10 guys, probably nine of them are armed. And we've seen kids as young as 10 and 11 with firearms.”
Investigators agree that gang members are arming themselves at younger ages. “Based on what I've seen over the last year,” one FBI agent said, “these guys are carrying around guns as if it's a symbol of their pride or who they are—and the bigger the gun, the better. We are seeing handguns with extended magazines and ammunition drums attached. It's like guns are a part of them, a part of their culture. And they are not afraid to use them.”
The FBI is working to reach some of these youngsters before they get involved with gangs—it's one part of the Bureau's larger community outreach effort in the campaign to stop gun violence. At the Plato Learning Academy middle school in the Austin community recently, Special Agent Rob Fortt spoke to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders about the choices they make and the consequences of those choices.
The school's principal, Charles Williams, welcomed the opportunity for the FBI to give students a fresh perspective on law enforcement and a positive message about making good decisions. Describing the neighborhood's reputation for violence, Williams said he has heard gunshots in the middle of the day from his office, and violent crime is a fact of life. “Our students are surrounded by it, unfortunately. It's just something that permeates the neighborhood.”
Gang-related homicides in Chicago are most easily solved when witnesses come forward. But in the city's violent neighborhoods, many who witness shootings or have information don't cooperate with law enforcement, either because they distrust the police or they want to engage in “frontier justice” and seek their own retaliation, the FBI's Anderson said. “So we are putting a lot of resources into community outreach. We are really focusing on going out in the community and building trust. If folks trust law enforcement, they are more likely to report crimes.”
Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Revive Travel Ban
by Adam Liptak
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to revive its revised ban that limits travelers visiting the United States from six mostly Muslim countries.
The move sets the stage for a constitutional showdown over the president's authority to make national security judgments in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism.
Last week, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., said President Trump's travel ban was a product of religious animus and intolerance, and so violated the First Amendment. Mr. Trump's national security justifications for the ban, that court said, were a pretext for the religious discrimination suggested by his campaign rhetoric, including his pledge to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the country.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit split along ideological lines in its 10-to-3 decision, with its three Republican appointees in dissent. Shortly after the decision was issued, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In its brief filed late Thursday asking the Supreme Court to consider the case, the Trump administration said the question for the justices was momentous.
“The stakes are indisputably high: The court of appeals concluded that the president acted in bad faith with religious animus when, after consulting with three members of his cabinet, he placed a brief pause on entry from six countries that present heightened risks of terrorism,” the brief said.
It added that the appeals court had gone badly astray.
“The court did not dispute that the president acted at the height of his powers in instituting” the executive order's “temporary pause on entry by nationals from certain countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism,” the brief said. The brief also said the order's “text and operation are religion-neutral.”
The Supreme Court is back at full strength with the appointment of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to fill a seat left vacant for more than a year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The new case will be an early indication of how Justice Gorsuch affects the balance of power on the court.
A week into his presidency, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump issued an executive order to ban travel from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It also banned all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order was blocked by the Ninth Circuit in February.
In March, Mr. Trump issued a new, revised ban that narrowed the scope of his original order. It omitted Iraq from the countries that faced the travel scrutiny and allowed case-by-case exceptions for travelers from the others. It also removed the complete ban on Syrian refugees and deleted explicit references to religion.
Like the earlier order, the new one suspended the nation's refugee program for 120 days and reduced the annual number of refugees to 50,000 from 110,000.
In its brief, the Trump administration urged the court to place law above politics.
“This order has been the subject of passionate political debate,” the brief said. “But whatever one's views, the precedent set by this case for the judiciary's proper role in reviewing the president's national security and immigration authority will transcend this debate, this order, and this constitutional moment.
“Precisely in cases that spark such intense feelings, it is all the more critical to adhere to foundational legal rules,” the brief said. It said the lower court ruling “departs from those rules, and calls into question the executive and his authority in a way that warrants this court's review.”
Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents people and groups challenging the ban, said the Supreme Court should let the appeals court decision stand.
“There is no reason to disturb the Fourth Circuit's ruling, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of the judges on the full court, is consistent with rulings from other courts across the nation, and enforces a fundamental principle that protects all of us from government condemnation of our religious beliefs,” he said.
Providence City Council approves Community-Police Relations Act
by NBC 10
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — After making several recommended revisions, the Providence City Council has approved the final passage of the Providence Community-Police Relations Act.
The legislation, which seeks to end racial profiling and boost police accountability and oversight, was passed on a 13-1 vote.
The vote was met with applause and cheers from a packed meeting at City Hall on Thursday night.
“The PCPRA is considered one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States, and includes a broad range of measures that strengthen protections for youth, transgender individuals, people of color, and immigrants,” a spokeswoman for the City Council noted in a press release. “The comprehensive scope of the ordinance makes it the first of its kind in the country.”
Some wording in the plan was clarified and the name of it was changed from the Community Safety Act to the Providence Community-Police Relations Act.
But the principles remain, including a ban on racial profiling, officers required to document more encounters with people on the street, and restrictions on the police department's gang registry.
Community activists, as well as residents, said they are excited about the new rules for police.
“I think a lot of things will change for the better, and especially because this is a victory that was won by the community,” Sarath Suong of Providence said.
Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, an activist leader, shared similar sentiments, but noted that she thinks “it is naive to think that this ordinance is going to solve racial profiling. It is naive to think that magically the police are going to start treating black and brown bodies better. But we are hoping to at least be able to give the community some power when incidents happen.”
Meanwhile, the police officers union still has concerns and is not on board. The president didn't want to talk on-camera, but told NBC 10 News that the officers still need time to digest what's in the plan.
When asked if officers should be concerned about what's in the ordinance, City Councilman Bryan Principe said “no.”
“I think it's very supportive of the good work that our police department has exhibited,” Principe said.
The release included a series of bullet points that explain highlights of the legislation. They are as follows:
Prohibits racial and other forms of discriminatory profiling
Prevents police officers from racially profiling or otherwise discriminating against individuals based on their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other factors
Establishes how police officers will document and collect data from traffic and pedestrian stops
Allows individuals stopped by the police to request and receive a report on their stop
Mandates policies for the use of body-worn cameras
Protects individuals' rights to photograph and film the police
Mandates greater transparency and accountability in police-community interactions
Requires officers to inform drivers of why their vehicle was stopped, sets standards for requiring information from passengers, and codifies policy on individuals driving without a license
Requires that officers inform individuals of their constitutional right to refuse before asking for consent to a search
Requires officers in uniform to show their federal ID numbers
Requires officers to provide their federal ID number when conducting stops and searches.
Requires the Chief of Police to submit quarterly reports to Providence External Review Authority (PERA) on the data collected
Establishes new protections for juveniles, immigrants, and transgender individuals
Establishes right of transgender individuals to be searched by an officer of their gender identity and requires Police Department to develop policies for handling those searches
Prohibits officers from inquiring about an individual's immigration status, and requires officers to accept valid identification from foreign governments
Sets standards for dealing with individuals lacking proof of identification
Prohibits officers from photographing juveniles under most circumstances
Improves and codifies policies for use of Gang Database
Requires the Police Department to establish policies for determining if an individual should be added to the gang database
Prohibits certain factors, such as race, from being included in the criteria for adding someone to the gang database
Requires parental notification when anyone under 18 is added to the gang database
Allows anyone over 18 to ask if they are on the gang database
Creates both an administrative removal process and a formal appeal process for people who feel they were added to the database in error
Requires an annual audit of the gang database to identify any errors and make recommendations for improving its use
Improves language access for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals
Requires the Police Department maintain its language access hotline to connect officers with qualified translators
Requires the use of qualified translators if the officer isn't fluent in the language spoken (except in emergencies)
Mandates policies on officer fluency and defining emergencies
Requires custodial interrogations of LEP individuals be recorded
Requires vital materials be available in the five most commonly spoken languages in Providence
A spokeswoman told NBC 10 News that Mayor Jorge Elorza plans on signing the revised draft. If so, the plan would go into effect at the beginning of 2018.
Chicago police see drop in homicides, shootings through May
The department said that May ended with 56 homicides compared to 68 during May 2016, and 257 shooting victims compared to 316 last May
by the Associated Press
CHICAGO — Chicago police say the number of homicides and shootings dropped significantly in May compared to the same month last year when the totals helped turn 2016 into one of the city's most violent years on record.
The department said Thursday that May ended with 56 homicides compared to 68 during May 2016, and 257 shooting victims compared to 316 last May.
Those totals are in part due to a dramatic drop in violence over Memorial Day weekend. Five people were killed this Memorial Day weekend compared to 13 last year. Police conducted targeted raids during this holiday weekend and put 1,300 more officers on the street.
Police say overall there have been 240 homicides so far this year. That's eight fewer than reported through May of last year.
ICE: Flyers asking public to turn in undocumented immigrants are fake
"Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community," an ICE spokesperson said
by PoliceOne Staff
WASHINGTON — Fake flyers have appeared around the DC area asking the public to turn in undocumented immigrants.
The flyers state that it's a felony to harbor, encourage, or help an undocumented immigrant remain in the US. The poster encourages citizens to call ICE with tips about “illegal aliens.”
ICE authorities said on Twitter the flyers were not from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office.
“Just like false reports of immigration checkpoints or random sweeps, notices like these are dangerous and irresponsible,” ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell told Buzzfeed in a statement. “Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue both tweeted that the signs weren't real and citizens should tear them down and throw them in the trash.
“Tear it down! DC is a sanctuary city. Clearly the flyer is meant to scare and divide our residents. We won't stand for it. #DCValues,” Bowser tweeted.
ICE officials and DC police said they are investigating.
Hours of new body-camera footage from Orlando nightclub shooting released
by Brian Ross, Josh Margolin and Megan Christie
The Orlando police released 11 hours of new body camera footage on Wednesday from inside the Pulse nightclub on the night of the worst mass shooting in modern American history almost one year ago.
The footage contains dramatic scenes of chaos and carnage as first responders tried to save the wounded and hunt down the shooter who killed 49 people in the name of the Islamic State.
In a series of interviews ahead of the release of the footage to be broadcast tonight on "World News Tonight With David Muir" and "Nightline," first responders and survivors told ABC News that the memories of that night, and the emotions stirred by them, are still raw.
“Several of us commented that this was gonna change the city forever,” said Roger Brennan, the police department's commander on the scene, “and probably change what we do forever.”
By early morning on June 12, it had already been a violent weekend in Orlando. Litte more than 24 hours earlier, a young singer named Christina Grimmie was shot and killed while signing autographs for fans following her performance at the nearby Plaza.
On Saturday, Pulse, a popular spot in the city's gay community, was packed with patrons, many of them young revelers eager to forget the previous night's tragedy.
“We were all in a great mood,” said Jahqui Sevilla, a young woman who was at the club with friends. “We were in the club dancing. It was, like, one of the best nights I had — that turned into the worst day of my life.”
Just after 2:00 a.m., a man named Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old American-born son of Afghan immigrants, entered the club, armed with a military-style assault rifle, and opened fire. Mateen, a security guard from Port St. Lucie, was an angry and troubled man with a history of violence and failure.
An off-duty police detective working security at Pulse radioed in, and less than a minute and a half later, backup units began to arrive. One officer, Graham Cage, heard the call and jumped on his bicycle. He ran into the club while everyone else was running out.
“I had a helmet, but a bicycle helmet,” Cage said. “It's not gonna do a whole lot with that.”
As patrons rushed for the exits, the shooter rapidly fired shots from inside the club. The bullets missed Sevilla but hit the two friends she was standing with, one fatally.
“He had a gunshot wound to his chest,” she said. “That's when I saw that he was injured. He was nonresponsive.”
The first responding officers returned fire, forcing the shooter to retreat further into the club. As those officers followed in pursuit, they passed bodies, dead and wounded, everywhere.
Police training calls for officers to head straight to the active shooter, even if it means ignoring the victims.
“A person reached up and asked for help, but at that point we didn't know where the shooter was, if he was detained, if he was deceased, or what was going on,” said Kyle Medvetz, one of the police officers who responded. “So as much as I wanted to help, I could not help him until we know for sure the shooter was detained, contained or deceased.”
The shooter had barricaded himself in the bathroom with several hostages, which according to Maj. Mark Canty, who led the Orlando SWAT team, required the police to change their strategy.
“This went quickly, very, very quickly from an active shooter to what we call a barricaded gunman to a hostage situation,” Canty said.
The shooter was still inside, cornered and dangerous, but rather than immediately storm the building, Canty decided to wait. It was a decision that would later be criticized by some, as it would take three more hours for police to gain full control and get all the wounded in the back to safety.
Chief John Mina, in the command post, however, says it was the right call.
“During that whole three hours, we were in there saving people from the dance floor, from dressing rooms, from the other bathroom,” Mina said. “We took 22 people out of the front bathroom. Once we were inside that club, there were no more gunshots until the final assault.”
A half an hour after he first opened fire, the shooter called the Orlando police department dispatch center.
“I want to let you know I'm in Orlando and I did the shooting,” Mateen said. “I pledge my allegiance to Baghdadi on behalf of the Islamic State,” referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
Sgt. Andy Brennan, a trained hostage negotiator, was working an off-duty detail at a bar downtown that night when he responded the radio call from Pulse and headed to the dispatch center. He engaged the shooter over multiple phone calls, listening to his rants about ISIS and Syria.
“You need to stop the U.S. airstrikes,” Mateen said. “They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes, OK?”
Meanwhile, officers used the time to get as many victims out as possible despite concerns that the shooter might attempt to hide among the victims.
Officer James Hyland arrived in his personal pick-up truck, which a partner quickly turned into a makeshift ambulance.
“We didn't have any ambulances or anything there. He just started loading people up,” Hyland said. “And he was just going back and forth, doing one run after another, after another, after another.”
Other trapped victims who could not be reached used their cell phones to call loved ones, who then called 911 to plead for help on their behalf.
“My girlfriend's in the bathroom,” said one caller. “There are now four dead in the bathroom and two more are bleeding out. If somebody doesn't get there soon they're going to die.”
“Yes, my son is shot in the club in the Pulse in Orlando, and he's still in the bathroom where he's bleeding,” said a sobbing mother. “He got shot, and nobody's going in for him.”
The rescue operation continued until Andy Brennan, the negotiator, heard words from the shooter that quickly changed the dynamic for everyone inside the nightclub.
“By the way, there is some vehicles outside that have some bombs, just to let you know,” Mateen said. “Your people are going to get it, and I'm going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.”
He escalated the threat, telling the negotiator that he had “a vest,” before abruptly hanging up.
“When you start talking about explosives,” said Roger Brennan, the scene commander, “now you have to pull your resources back.”
The information circulated among the officers on scene, but not a single officer pulled back to safety.
“We were in it to win it, you know?” Medvetz said. “And we didn't want to leave.”
Instead, the police prepared to move in. With victims still trapped inside the nightclub, and the suspect threatening to set off explosives, Andy Brennan knew he was running out of time.
In his fourth and final phone call with Mateen, Brennan tried again to persuade him to come out of the nightclub without his weapons, but after making his demands, Mateen hung up.
It was after that fourth phone call that Mina decided his officers would have to storm the back bathrooms of the nightclub.
“I wasn't going to sit here in this command post and hear that explosion, knowing that he was going to blow up everyone, all those hostages inside that club, because there were many hostages left inside,” he said.
After getting Mina's go order, the SWAT team moved toward the back bathrooms where they knew hostages were hiding.
“They said, ‘Hey, we're going to push the air conditioning unit in, but before we do, you guys have to catch it because if you let it drop or make any noise, the killer is going to know where you're at, and he might shoot through the walls and kill you,'” said Canty.
Canty said the hostages reached up to grab the air conditioning unit when it was pushed in and were able to set it down without making a sound. Eight hostages were able to escape from the nightclub through that opening, police said.
“I think the first person that came out was the person that was injured,” Canty said. “They were able to get out by themselves.”
Inside a different area of the nightclub, Jahqui Sevilla also made her escape, carrying a friend who had been shot in the chest. He later died from his injuries. Her father, Benigno Sevilla, an Orlando firefighter, was waiting outside for her.
“I give her a quick once-over, make sure she has all her body parts,” Benigno Sevilla said. “I knew she was one of those who could be killed or injured.”
“It wasn't until he was there and I knew that I could kind of just, like, collapse in his arms and I would be OK,” Jahqui Sevilla said.
After the air conditioning unit was out, police decided to move forward with their final assault. Officer Rob Woodyard drove an armored vehicle called a Bearcat toward the nightclub and tore open holes in the wall to create an escape route. SWAT team members following the Bearcat and then pulled hostages to safety as they ran out.
“Every person we got out was a victory for us,” Woodyard said. “At that point, we know that we need to get these people out this building. So one by one, they're coming out of these holes, and it's a great feeling, seeing them come out.”
Even with the Bearcat, officers said they were still being cautious because the suspect had told them there were explosives. Canty said there was also a concern that the suspect would start firing on the hostages as they ran out, and they knew people were still trapped in that back bathroom.
“You're trying to save as many people as you can,” Canty said. “There's 13 people in that bathroom, you want to save them, there's five with him.”
But the plan worked. Once the Bearcat came through the wall, police said Mateen stepped out into the open and started firing on the officers and the Bearcat.
“It was just, like, a wall of freedom,” said Michael Ragsdale, another officer who responded. “There was 30 seconds of just the most awesome sound you could hear, because it was us returning fire towards him.”
During the shootout with Mateen, Mina said a bullet struck Napolitano's helmet. If it had been an inch lower, Mina said, Napolitano “would have been dead.” But instead, Mina said, the officer “went down to the ground still returning fire, and the other officers returned fire, killing the suspect.”
When the call went out over the police radios that the suspect was dead, Andy Brennan said, a “giant cheer went up” inside the command center.
“We all hollered, ‘Yay!'” added Bill Hammer, a dispatcher. “It was a big uproar.”
After hours of fighting, the massacre was finally over, but the officers involved felt there was little to celebrate. Mina said he and many of the officers were heartbroken by what happened.
“I was very proud of the police response, but still, you know, this person went in and killed 49 of our community members,” he said. “And so as a community, we were devastated.”
How police are using soundwave technology for crowd control
Long Range Acoustic Devices are being embraced by law enforcement agencies as a powerful and versatile instrument of communication
by Lt. Dan Marcou
The Long Range Acoustic Device, a hailing and audio broadcast tool, was developed as a direct result of the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Terrorists on a small boat blew a large hole in the USS Cole, killing 17 and wounding 39 sailors aboard. After the attack, the U.S. Navy saw a need for a tool to communicate with and turn away or stop potential attackers from greater distances.
Navy ships equipped with the LRAD can effectively hail, inform, direct or warn the operators of boats that are in distress, engaging in illegal activity or whose actions potentially pose a threat on the high seas.
LRAD is now being embraced by law enforcement agencies as a powerful and versatile instrument of communication with a wide range of uses.
An LRAD unit is primarily a communication device that does two things under very difficult circumstances: It allows officers first to communicate clearly from a safe distance, and if no compliance is achieved, the device can be used to give a warning to targeted individuals or a large group.
LRADs can be mounted on vehicles, BearCats, boats and helicopters. There is even a handheld unit. They have been used by law enforcement agencies at large demonstrations, tactical standoffs, active shooter events and natural disasters, allowing officers to communicate in a clear and concise manner over long distances to inform, direct and warn people.
A trained operator can transmit a pre-recorded message or speak live via the microphone. The LRAD transmits the message so that it can be understood through crowd noise and over great distances. The message can even be sent in the targeted group's language or dialect.
The LRAD first gained national attention for law enforcement use in 2009 when the Pittsburgh Police Department used it during the demonstrations at the G-20 Summit. Chiefs, sheriffs and tactical team commanders all over the country took notice.
The LRAD has multiple tactical applications. It has been used in standoffs to establish and maintain communication with suspects. It has been used to warn endangered people if they are approaching active shooter events. This tool also has been deployed by police in Houston, Oakland, Dallas, Chicago and New York during large demonstrations and disturbances, as well as during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
Many agencies are pre-recording commands to use during unlawful assemblies after having the verbiage approved in advance by their legal departments. Trained operators at these large events have been able to communicate with crowds and individuals from substantial distances. The San Diego Police Department used an LRAD in 2016 with great success, giving warnings in English and Spanish to a large group of protestors.
In the past these communications were done with bullhorns, but this technique has limitations. The LRAD sends the message out in a 15 to 30 degree beam, and the audio is so clear and understandable that it is nearly impossible for individuals arrested at violent demonstrations to successfully claim, “I couldn't understand what the police were saying,” as a defense.
Another aspect of the LRAD is the non-lethal warning tone, which can be directed at individuals or a crowd who, after ignoring commands, continue to advance aggressively on police. The warning tone, in most cases, causes targeted individuals to instinctively cover their ears and turn away and can repel these individuals without requiring physical force.
“LRAD is not a weapon,” said Robert Putnam of the LRAD Corp. “LRAD is a highly intelligible long-range communication system and the safer alternative to kinetic force.”
Because the technology is so new, law enforcement has yet to arrive at a universal protocol for reasonable use of the LRAD warning tone. The use of the tone by the NYPD during a disturbance in 2014 has been legally challenged by six individuals, and the court has not yet ruled on their claims.
Technical and tactical
LRADs have been used successfully by SWAT teams in standoffs, high-risk warrant arrests and while dealing with suicidal subjects. Crowd control units have used them to cut through the extremely loud noises generated during riots to inform, direct and de-escalate potential confrontations. For example, the Columbus (Ohio) Police Department acquired an LRAD unit for better crowd control after riots at Ohio State University.
The advantage of enhancing our communication capability in law enforcement is the decreased likelihood of use of force. When we are communicating, we are not fighting or shooting.
Tactical teams have crisis negotiators who have trained extensively to de-escalate situations, and an LRAD unit can support communication by these professionals in even more situations than previously possible.
Communications expert James Humes once said, “The art of communication is the art of leadership.” Leading law enforcement agencies are enabling their best communicators to resolve tough situations with their words to prevent property damage, injury and even loss of life.
What does the Constitution say about the rights of law enforcement to obtain private data?
Fourth Amendment rights are no less impacted by emerging technologies, but standard legal understandings of what information will now be considered private versus public is undergoing new consideration
by Terrence P. Dwyer, Esq.
Q: What do U.S. Supreme Court justices Louis Brandeis, Frank Murphy and John Harlan have in common, other than each at one time occupied a seat on the nation's highest court?
A: Each of them predicted the future impact of technology on Fourth Amendment protections during his time on the Court:
• Justice Brandeis provided his prescient view in a dissenting opinion to Olmstead v. United States (1928) when he wrote: “The progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wiretapping.”
• Fourteen years later Justice Murphy, dissenting in Goldman v. United States (1942), would record his concerns over the ability of science to develop means of searching person and property without physical trespass.
• Justice Harlan's well-known concurrence in Katz v. United States (1967), wherein he proclaimed that the Fourth Amendment protects people not places, provided a warning against “bad physics as well as bad law” seeking to limit Fourth Amendment protection from electronic invasion.
Each justice was astute enough to recognize the progress of science and the limitless resources that one day would be available to law enforcement and the government for gathering information about individuals.
However, despite the prognostications of these men, the Supreme Court still wrestles with dated precedents largely concerned with physical trespass and reasonable expectations of privacy for determining whether an unconstitutional search has occurred. For modern law enforcement entrenched in major investigations, these futuristic musings of long-deceased jurists are no longer academic supposition – they have become present reality.
The FBI's dispute with Apple
The national dialogue concerning individual privacy rights and government access to personal data and technological devices gained prominence after the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015. The FBI investigation led to a legal and media war with Apple over the decryption of the dead suspects' phones. The FBI obtained a court order under the All Writs Act of 1789 compelling Apple to assist them in the decryption. Apple responded with a motion in opposition to the court order.
Part of the government's legal argument rested on a 1977 Supreme Court case, United States v. New York Telephone Co., in which a private third party was compelled to provide government investigators with the installation and operation of pen registers on two suspects' phones. The narrow Supreme Court majority decision (5-4) cited the All Writs Act as providing courts with the power to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdiction and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”
Public opinion polls on the validity of the government's position versus Apple's in the decryption controversy showed a near 50/50 split, with slight support for the government's position. The legal battle between the FBI and Apple over the decryption of the San Bernardino shooters' iPhones abruptly ended when the FBI withdrew its legal filings, apparently after obtaining access to the data through alternate means.
The decryption controversy remained, and subsequent cases across the country dealt with similar law enforcement investigative requests to Apple and other technology companies for access to stored data. As the national dialogue continues, as well as the debate over privacy rights versus government access to data ostensibly released to a third-party provider, we are finding an increasing bounty of technological resources to aid in police investigations.
Widespread use of technology
As a society we are tethered to communication and monitoring technology, which has become more fully integrated into everyday life. A recent Rand Corp. report, “Future-Proofing Justice: Building a Research Agenda to Address the Effects of Technological Change on Constitutional Rights” offers the following observation in its introduction:
“As technologies become more integrated into people physically – from implanted medical devices that record and transmit data to human-augmenting technologies surgically implanted to provide capabilities we lack on our own – the line between a technology and a person will continue to blur.”
My immediate reflection upon reading this sentence was to consider one of my favorite television shows as a pre-teen (I'm dating myself here), “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and how the fantasy of television in the 1970s has become millennial reality. The pretend technology used to save the fictional Col. Steve Austin after a horrific plane crash is now being used to save the lives of our soldiers and restore the use of missing limbs. Even crime fighter Dick Tracy's two-way radio wristwatch of 1940s comic strip fame has been realized in modern smartwatches.
Yet, modern legal arguments tackling these rapidly evolving technologies are still slogging through statutory enactments from the Judiciary Act of 1789, as evidenced by the present government use of the All Writs Act and decades-old case law.
The Rand report focuses on the rights of individuals in the 21st-century criminal justice system as the system itself becomes more technologically integrated. Researchers and panelists, including professionals from law enforcement, the courts and corrections, sought to develop best practices and training programs to confront potential threats to individual legal protections stemming from technological innovations within the criminal justice system.
The potential effect upon individual rights was as varied as the technology implemented. For instance, the virtual presence of a defendant in court, while convenient, might have a limiting effect upon the full exercise of Sixth Amendment rights, while data gathering might impact Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
An interesting aspect of the report defines specific technologies by function and notes the extent of our individual dependence on technology, which extends beyond our probable perceptions. From body-integrated technologies (fitness trackers and smartwatches) to carried devices (mobile phones and tablets) to home-integrated technologies (like Amazon Echo) and vehicle-integrated technologies (navigation systems), there is a limitless cache of personal information available that belies any claim to privacy.
Technology and privacy
Government access to personal information is a core concern of substantive and procedural due process protection. Fourth Amendment rights are not any less impacted by these new technologies; however, standard legal understandings of what information will now be considered private versus public is undergoing new consideration.
In their seminal work, “The Right to Privacy,” published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, law school classmates and eventual law partners Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis wrote:
“That the individual shall have the full protection in person and property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection.”
At no time have these words been truer than now.
The Supreme Court has made recent steps in clarifying privacy rights with its 2014 decision in Riley v. California by declaring that a smartphone is not subject to a search incident to arrest since it is more akin to a personal computer, thereby requiring a search warrant. But there remains a wide chasm between traditional Fourth Amendment understandings regarding privacy and today's available technology.
One of these chasms involves the third-party doctrine, a legal rule declaring that any information voluntarily turned over to a third party loses its privacy protection under the Fourth Amendment. In such a circumstance, the more stringent Fourth Amendment standards of probable cause and issuance of a warrant are not required prior to the government obtaining access to the information.
According to the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland, the government's capture of dialed telephone numbers by a pen register was not a search. Relying on the two-part Katz v. United States privacy analysis: 1. Is there an actual, subjective expectation of privacy, and 2. Is that expectation objectively reasonable and one society is willing to recognize? The Supreme Court said there was no privacy expectation in the incoming or outgoing numbers belonging to a telephone service subscriber. Furthermore, even if the subscriber did exhibit a subjective expectation of privacy, it was not reasonable.
The third-party doctrine would seem to foreclose any discussion regarding search warrants for the information present-day digital service subscribers willingly provide to service providers. However, the nature of information now being provided to service providers is beyond the sterile information of dialed and incoming telephone numbers at the center of Smith v. Maryland.
It is one thing to acknowledge that there is no expectation of privacy for dialed-in and dialed-out telephone numbers, but content is quite a different matter. Law enforcement has adapted readily to the changing technological landscape, even if case law and statutory law have been slower to respond.
The fail-safe approach of applying for a search warrant has been law enforcement's soundest means of ensuring Fourth Amendment compliance and maintaining the integrity of an investigation, but, as the Rand report indicates, there are still many potential constitutional issues facing the criminal justice system as technology is increasingly integrated. This puts the courts at the center of the debate as these constitutional questions are put to the test within state and federal courtrooms around the country.
Fourth Amendment protections and the digital age
An important chapter in this ongoing discussion of Fourth Amendment protections and digital age privacy rights may be written by the Supreme Court this year if the court grants certiorari (meaning it agrees to review the lower court's decision) in United States v. Graham , a case out of the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit, in its 2016 full panel decision, held that the government can obtain historical cell-site location information, aka CSLI, without a warrant under the third-party doctrine.
The cellular data allowed Maryland police to link suspects to a string of robberies. A Maryland federal district court had previously allowed the use of CSLI under the third-party doctrine, as it was considered information voluntarily surrendered to the telephone company. A Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals panel reversed this, concluding that there was an expectation of privacy in the information and a warrant was required. The full panel's reversal of the 2-1 panel decision reversing the district court decision resulted in a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court in 2016.
If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, the resulting decision, while likely to be narrowly circumscribed to the facts of this case, should give a clear indication of the sustainability of the third-party doctrine. A decision will also likely presage the justices' views on the extent of Fourth Amendment protections in technologies dependent on a user's surrender of information and data to third-party providers.
In Knotts v. United States (1983), Justice William Rehnquist wrote about “dragnet-type law enforcement practices” and said that if such investigative abilities came to fruition, “there will be time enough then to determine whether different constitutional principles may be applicable.” The historical CSLI at the heart of the Graham case and other similar data able to be gathered to provide a comprehensive profile of an individual's daily activities may be the sort of “dragnet-type law enforcement” Rehnquist envisioned. Or, as suggested by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her United States v. Jones (2012) concurrence, the third-party doctrine may be simply “ill-suited to the digital age.”
Then again, the third-party doctrine may find support, as it did in the Fourth Circuit's full panel decision. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that technology-related challenges within the criminal justice system continue to evolve.
While technology has been an asset in law enforcement investigations, vigilance is required to ensure preservation and admissibility of the evidence obtained. Future cases and legislation will more clearly develop the rights and responsibilities involved. In the interim, law enforcement must continue to adapt to the ever-changing legal landscape.
Facial recognition technology and a 'reasonable expectation of privacy'
Law enforcement might consider using discretion before a court decides whether police need a warrant to scan someone's face
by Val Van Brocklin
Sept. 11 demonstrated that the greatest military might in the world couldn't protect us against the “asymmetric threats” of a few “unidentifiable enemies.” The idea that FRT could identify terrorist suspects in public locations before they committed their crimes seemed to offer some protection.
Last May, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report about the FBI's amassing of 411.9 million facial images as part of its Next Generation Identification (NGI) program. It criticized the program's secrecy and intrusion on privacy. Eighty percent of the photos were of people who had committed no crime. That's a significant police-created biometric database of primarily law-abiding Americans.
“If you're reading this in the United States, there's a 50 percent chance that a photo of your face is in at least one database used in police facial-recognition systems,” reported the Atlantic Monthly last October.
Georgetown Law's Center for Privacy and Technology published a report the same month addressing the scale of local and state police involvement in facial recognition. The year-long investigation was based on more than 15,000 pages of records obtained through more than 100 FOIA requests. It found that police departments in nearly half the states can use facial-recognition software to compare surveillance images with databases of ID photos or mugshots. Some departments only use the technology to confirm the identity of a suspect who's been detained; others continuously analyze footage from surveillance cameras.
The GAO and Georgetown Law's reports are fueling public debate, which often lags behind evolving technology – as do court decisions. To date, I could find no court ruling on police use of FRT and the Fourth Amendment's reasonable expectation of privacy against government intrusion absent probable cause and a warrant.
Proponents of police use of FRT argue:
• There is no expectation of privacy to your face once you take it out in public.
• Any privacy intrusion is a small price to pay for increased public safety .
• What difference does it make if the government has a digital algorithm of your face they can use to ID you if you haven't done – or aren't doing – anything wrong?
Privacy advocates' concerns include:
• A reasonable expectation of privacy includes a reasonable expectation of anonymity from government use of computer algorithms and databases to capture law abiding citizens' faces and identify them without their knowledge or consent.
• FRT allows for a different kind of tracking that can occur from far away, in secret, and on large numbers of people. Fingerprints are only left on things you touch and you know when police are taking them. You can't leave your face at home and, with limited exceptions, it isn't acceptable to cover it. Depending how it's used, FRT could rob citizens of a reasonable expectation of anonymity.
• Giving police the right to do this without judicial oversight creates a slippery slope that could lead to real-time, mass surveillance like that of Big Brother. Police have an incentive to collect as many photos as possible because the larger the database the more likely they are to get a match and solve a crime or identify a suspect or person of interest.
• Real-time, mass surveillance could also chill First Amendment speech unpopular with the government. Advocates point to the FBI's disgraced COINTELPRO program of surveillance against civil rights activists and Vietnam War protesters during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
When debating any privacy compromises associated with FRT and active surveillance, society must weigh the costs associated with forgoing anonymity in public versus the benefit of active crime prevention using the newest technology available.
While the courts have not yet addressed the following, they will. Law enforcement would serve itself well not to go into those cases with a record of overreaching, else the courts restrain us more than we might have effectively restrained ourselves.
1. Does a face recognition constitute a “search” that triggers Fourth Amendment protection?
2. What is the legal standard police must meet before using FRT?
3. Does your state have a law regulating the collection of biometric data?
4. Do your state courts offer more protection against government intrusion under your state constitution than the Supreme Court does under the U.S. Constitution? See, for example, an analysis of FRT under Utah case law as distinguished from the same analysis under federal case law.
Plan and consider
1. Consulting with your prosecutor about federal and state laws and court cases that might be relevant to police use of FRT.
2. Adopting FRT use policies and making them public. Here is a sample policy .
3. Training officers to ensure the most effective use of the scanners. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Certified Biometrics Professional (CBP) program offers courses which set a baseline of biometric knowledge for those who plan to use FRT. These course standards aren't yet national but some agencies have adopted them as certification standards.
Law-abiding citizens are not against police use of FRT. Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology noted:
The benefits of face recognition are real. It has been used to catch violent criminals and fugitives. The law enforcement officers who use the technology are men and women of good faith. They do not want to invade our privacy or create a police state. They are simply using every tool available to protect the people that they are sworn to serve. Police use of face recognition is inevitable. This report does not aim to stop it.
But the public has real concerns about FRT and privacy. Concerns we'd do well to consider in advance of court rulings.
What a traffic stop could look like in 2030
All police officers know that no traffic stop is routine, but the procedure could evolve with new technological advancements
by Andrew Rathbun
It's the year 2030, and you're on patrol in a futuristic crime-ridden dystopia much like those depicted in movies from the 1980s such as “Tron" and “Blade Runner.”
The hovercraft in front of your squad just committed a violation in your presence. Your lights are automatically activated by the in-car artificial intelligence computer. The violating hovercraft proceeds to a halt and you exit your patrol. You approach the hovercraft, the sound of your Robocop-like uniform clanking on the concrete.
While this is what the 1980s wanted us to think police work would look like in the year 2030, we can safely assume this will not exactly be reality in the next decade. However, given the recent developments in technology, we can speculate what a traffic stop could look like in the next decade or so compared to generations past.
Regardless of how much technology has evolved over the decades, traffic stops have largely remained the same and likely will not change much in the near future: A violation is observed, and the occupants of the vehicle are temporarily detained on the side of the road while the traffic stop is investigated. This includes checking for warrants and other potential crimes; traffic stops are still one of the most effective tools patrol officers can use for proactive crime prevention.
What about vehicles that are not controlled by humans? That begs the question of whether traffic stops will be as prevalent in our daily patrols. If humans are no longer able to control vehicles, vehicles can no longer be stolen – but they can be hacked. If something runs on a computer, eventually someone will figure out a way to hack it. This becomes a significant cybersecurity issue. Arguably, the legal definition of automobile theft would have to evolve to include the hacking of self-driving vehicles in this reality.
While a lot of these issues remain unknown, officers can safely speculate that the world in 2030 won't look like “The Jetsons” cartoon show as we probably thought it would decades ago. Instead of hovering cars, self-driving vehicles are right around the corner. One can only imagine the daily implications of self-driving vehicles on society, let alone traffic.
What potential violations could a self-driving vehicle commit? Lane change, speed, running traffic lights and countless other violations would be things of the past. This assumes, of course, that the vehicle is programmed to obey posted speed limits, use proper turn signals and follow all laws
Equipment violations such as blown headlights and brake lights are essentially what's left once the human element is taken out of the equation. Law enforcement and legislation will have to determine whether the manufacturer or the occupants of the vehicle at the time of the incident are responsible for equipment violations.
In the age of self-driving vehicles, the potential to catch other, bigger violations such as drugs or warrants would decrease dramatically when conducting a traffic stop. This would also decrease the incidence of high-speed police chases. A combination of artificial intelligence in self-driving vehicles communicating with smart traffic lights and emergency vehicles could mean a suspect's vehicle would automatically stop or pull over when a cop's emergency lights are activated.
Additionally, routes to emergency scenes would be plotted for the fastest response based on current traffic patterns as monitored by traffic sensors. This could make the roads a much safer place on an emergency run and effectively eliminate fleeing and eluding incidents.
What if you locate contraband in a self-driving vehicle? It is predicted that people in the future will share self-driving vehicles, ultimately decreasing the total number of vehicles on the road, whether manned or automated. This would make prosecution more difficult for crimes that have allegedly occurred in the vehicle given that multiple citizens could have shared the space inside the vehicle. This could be a nightmare for detectives and prosecutors trying to identify who was in possession of illegal contraband found within a self-driving vehicle shared by potentially hundreds of people a day.
Research indicates that widespread use of self-driving cars is potentially less than five years away, with estimates reaching upwards of 10 million self-driving cars on the road by 2020. This is merely a few fiscal years away for any municipality.
Other vehicle technologies soon may have an impact on our profession. Embedded dash cameras, potentially a staple in new cars, would revolutionize the insurance claims process and provide assistance for accident investigations. License plate readers are now used on a larger scale around the United States. These tools have potential to make a dent in the amount of stolen vehicles roaming the streets.
No traffic stop is routine, as we've learned in the police academy and through our experience on patrol. It's safe to assume the traffic stop is going to evolve with new technologies being developed, commercialized and implemented into everyday vehicles, including police vehicles.
These are exciting times as technology has grown more rapidly than it has in generations past. It would be wise for law enforcement to adapt quickly to new technologies rather than play catch up as we've done in the past. That way, we can have a hand in writing the script rather than responding to the one that's been written for us.
Kabul: At least 80 dead, over 350 wounded in blast near Indian Embassy
Sushma Swaraj said the Indian Embassy staffers were safe.
At least 80 people were killed and around 350 were wounded on Wednesday after a massive explosion targeted an area in Kabul where several embassies, including the India's, are located, Reuters reported. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Embassy staff were safe. An Afghanistan public heath official said a majority of the victims were Afghan civilians and that no reports of foreign embassy staff being wounded or killed had emerged yet.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack. “The terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people,” Ghani said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
The Chinese and French embassies said their buildings were among those damaged, Reuters reported.
It was not immediately clear who or what was the target of the blast. The attack is believed to have been a car bomb near the German embassy, Basir Mujahid, Kabul police spokesperson said, according to Reuters.
The blast took place not too far from the presidential palace. Windows were reported to be shattered in shops and restaurants around the blast site. At least 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged in the blast, Najib Danish, deputy spokesperson at the Afghan Interior Ministry, told AP.
Several journalists located in Kabul had tweeted the pictures of the blast, including BBC's Kabul bureau manager, Karim Haidari, who said some of their staff were affected by the explosion.
“India stands with Afghanistan in fighting all types of terrorism,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. “Forces supporting terrorism need to be defeated.”
Pakistan, too, denounced the perpetrator's actions.
US Missile Defense Successfully Shoots Down ICBM in First Live-Fire Test of Its Kind
by Mike Gruss
WASHINGTON — The Missile Defense Agency's ground-based defense system successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first live-fire test of its kind Tuesday (May 30), the agency said.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is designed to intercept and destroy missiles during the midcourse of their trajectory through space. Tuesday's test was the first time the system had faced a live-fire ICBM-class test, MDA said in a press release.
The interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision," the release said. [The Most Destructive Space Weapons Concepts]
"The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for this program," MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said in a statement. "This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat."
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said the successful test will help deter U.S. adversaries.
"The dictator in North Korea surely understands that the United States will not allow itself or its allies to be subject to his threats," Rogers said. "We must do more to build on the success of today's test to truly keep Americans and their allies safe from the threat of ballistic missile attack."
The ICBM test target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to MDA. The Sea-Based X-band radar in the Pacific tracked and targeted the launch, as did "multiple sensors," MDA said, which would most likely include the Air Force's main missile-warning satellite constellation, the Space-Based Infrared System.
The intercept is likely the last major test Syring will oversee before leaving MDA. Air Force Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, former leader of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, will succeed him.
Cleveland Police Officer Who Shot Tamir Rice Is Fired
by Jacey Fortin and Jonah Engel Bromwich
The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 as he held a pellet gun, setting off national protests, was fired Tuesday, officials said.
At a news conference, officials said that the officer, Timothy Loehmann, would be terminated immediately and that Frank Garmback, an officer who was driving the patrol car, would be suspended for 10 days beginning Wednesday. They also said Officer Garmback would be required to take an additional tactical training course.
The decision came after what Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland called an “exhaustive process” of investigation.
“This has been tough on our entire community, and definitely on the Rice family,” said Calvin Williams, the police chief. “When this happened in 2014, I made the comment that this is, of course, a tragedy, but it's even more tragic that it happened at the hands of a Cleveland police officer.”
While Officer Garmback was suspended for violations related to the shooting, like failing to report his arrival to a radio dispatcher, the administrative charges leveled against Officer Loehmann did not even mention the 2014 episode.
Officer Loehmann was instead fired for lying on his employment application in 2013, a violation that came to light only after officials began investigating the officers after Tamir's death. Still, the police chief noted that since the shooting, changes had been made in the way officers are trained.
Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, said her family was relieved to hear of the firing but still considered it too little, too late. “Shame on the city of Cleveland for taking so long to render a decision like this,” she said in a phone interview. “Timothy Loehmann should have never been a police officer in the first place.”
She added that Officer Garmback should have been fired rather than suspended, “for pulling up so close to my son to create the danger” at the time of the shooting.
On Nov. 22, 2014, the officers were dispatched after Tamir was reported for playing with a pellet gun near a recreation center. Though the caller specified that the gun was “probably fake,” that information was not communicated to the responding officers. Video released after the episode showed that Officer Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of the patrol car pulling up beside the boy.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against any of the officers involved in the shooting, which inflamed national outrage over this and other prominent killings of young African-Americans by police officers.
In January, it was announced that the two officers along with a third officer, William Cunningham, would face administrative charges from the department. Those charges were brought after a special committee was created by the department to investigate Tamir's shooting. In March, an emergency dispatcher was suspended from work for eight days for violating protocol in her handling of the call.
Officer Cunningham, who was off duty, was at the scene because he was working a second job as security for the recreation center. In March, he received a two-day suspension because he had not been authorized to take on a second job.
Before joining the Cleveland police force, Officer Loehmann worked for a smaller police department, in Independence, Ohio, where supervisors recommended his termination, citing instances of insubordination, lying and an “inability to emotionally function.”
But Officer Loehmann was allowed to resign instead, and he did not mention this in a personal history statement when he applied to join the Cleveland force in 2013. He had not yet completed his six-month probationary period when he shot Tamir in 2014.
“There's no accounting to the public for who it is that failed to check Loehmann's application, to check his background, to do proper due diligence before entrusting this man with a badge and a gun,” Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the Rice family, said at a news conference after the announcement.
“And the result of those failures, which remain unaccounted for, is that a child is dead.”
The Cleveland police have “learned a lot from this incident,” Chief Williams said, adding that “our use of deadly force went dramatically down here in the city of Cleveland since 2014.” He said that all front-line officers are now equipped with body cameras and that officer training has begun placing more emphasis on de-escalation and first aid.
Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland police union, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision to fire Officer Loehmann and suspend Officer Garmback. “Evidence clearly shows that these gentlemen did not do anything illegal,” he said. “They did not do anything outside of our policy, outside of our training, and this is a politically motivated witch hunt.”
In recent years, police shootings resulting in the deaths of black men and boys, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016 — neither of which has resulted in criminal charges against the officers involved — have spurred protests across the country and increased public scrutiny of policing practices.
How a rare DNA match cracked open a cold case of two young women dumped on L.A. freeways
They were discarded near freeways, dumped in brush among the trash and leaves.
Michelle Lozano had disappeared Easter evening in 2011. Her body was discovered the next day. The 17-year-old was raped and strangled before being stuffed in a plastic container and left near the southbound 5 Freeway in Boyle Heights.
Nine months later, Bree'Anna Guzman, 22, was found along the Riverside Drive on-ramp to the 2 Freeway with blunt-force trauma to the head. Missing for a month, her body was so badly decomposed that her mother was kept from the scene.
The killings stirred up fear of a serial killer in Lincoln Heights — the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood where the two victims had lived, less than a mile apart. They had been strangers, but shared similar traits: long-haired Latinas with soft eyes and wide smiles.
In 2014, authorities announced that the homicides were linked by forensic evidence and two $50,000 rewards for information were offered to reinvigorate the cases. Three years passed. The families of the victims faded into that desperate population of those waiting for justice.
A break in the case
Last week, they were informed it had arrived.
Torrance resident Geovanni Borjas, 32, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing Lozano and Guzman, the Los Angeles Police Department said. Booking records listed his occupation as a “medical biller.”
Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that investigators were unable to match DNA from the victims' cases to state and national DNA databases. They then went through “exhaustive protocols” to request a familial DNA search, a controversial method that looks for partial matches that indicate the relative of a suspect.
About a month ago, a familial match led detectives to a man who had previously been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence assault. He appeared to be a close relative of the suspect in the 2011 killings. After ruling out other family members, investigators eventually began surveilling the man's son, Borjas.
When Borjas was seen spitting on the sidewalk, the opportunity for a DNA sample struck. What was collected turned out to be an exact match in Lozano's and Guzman's killings, police said.
Beck said he did not believe that Borjas' name had been mentioned in the murders until the DNA hit. Although no other related cases came up in state and national databases, the police chief said he hopes that anyone aware of Borjas' role in other crimes will come forward.
A rare DNA hit
This was the second successful case the agency has had with familial DNA, Beck said. The first was Lonnie Franklin Jr., known as the Grim Sleeper, who detectives believe killed at least 25 women and was sentenced to death last year.
Los Angeles Police Capt. William Hayes told The Times that Borjas was acquainted with Lozano and worked at an Eastside medical clinic that Guzman visited. Public records show that Borjas previously lived a few blocks from Lozano in Lincoln Heights.
In 2014, a judge granted Borjas' ex-girlfriend a domestic violence restraining order against him. The woman alleged in court documents that the 6-foot-1, 265-pound Borjas was physically abusive throughout their 2 ½ year relationship and that he broke her nose, choked her and pushed her down the stairs. She added that he would follow her and that she lived in fear.
The restraining order prohibits Borjas from coming within 100 yards of the woman, her home or workplace.
At his Tuesday arraignment, Borjas appeared in a blue button-down shirt and a neatly trimmed beard. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping. Because of the circumstances of the crimes, prosecutors said he is eligible for the death penalty.
Asking the court to set bail, defense attorney Aaron Spolin told the court that Borjas has a full-time job, a fiancee and is a father. However, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Hanasono rejected the request, citing the protection of the public.
Spolin would not offer further details about his client, and Borjas' family members who appeared in court declined to comment.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman, who also prosecuted Franklin, would only say that the case against Borjas was based on DNA.
Two families' long wait for answers
On Tuesday, family and friends of the victims listened with emotion to statements about the case from the police chief and Mayor Eric Garcetti at LAPD headquarters.
Family members of Lozano declined to comment.
The Guzman family, who said they had never seen Borjas before, expressed gratitude to the LAPD for its efforts.
“All I wanted was to find somebody who hurt her,” said the victim's mother, Darlene Guzman. “And we're there. We're there. I'm so happy. I'm overwhelmed with happiness. I mean, we'll never get her back, but he's arrested. He's arrested, and he won't hurt anybody. I won't know why – I'll never know why – but we're that much closer to closure.”
Last week, she celebrated her daughter's birthday. Bree'Anna Guzman would have turned 28.
Her mother still remembers her saying she would return soon. That was on Dec. 26, 2011. Guzman said she wasn't feeling well and was going to head to the drugstore and do a quick meet-up with her boyfriend.
A month later, Guzman's body was found three miles away.
At the time, there was only speculation that the killing was related to Lozano's case.
A homeless person had notified police on April 25, 2011 about the body near State Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue.
Detectives concluded that Lozano had been wrapped in plastic bags and then shoved into a container. When the suspect dumped the container over a concrete barrier along the freeway, it cracked open, leaving Lozano's body among the brush.
In Chicago's Crisis of Violence, Some Signs of Hope
by Monica Davey
CHICAGO — After spiraling gun and gang violence brought Chicago more homicides than any other American city in 2016, officials took a more aggressive stance this year at the start of the period that is seen as the most violent season for the nation's third-largest city.
In preparation, the police held raids targeting gangs and illegal nightclubs, arresting hundreds of people and seizing almost 100 guns before the traditional spike in violence that begins on Memorial Day weekend. They put 1,300 extra officers on the streets. And they relied on new, real-time crime analysis to decide where to send officers in the most dangerous districts.
In the end, at least 46 people were shot and five of them were killed in homicides across the city between Friday evening and the end of a warm night of picnics and parties on Monday, police reports show. That amounted to a drop in violence from last year's holiday weekend, one some Chicagoans said they hoped might be a glimmer of a larger, lasting trend. When The New York Times fanned out across the city to track shootings over Memorial Day weekend in 2016, 64 people were shot and seven of them were fatally wounded.
“Considering that last year was horrific, I'm not sure exactly how much it says that it was better this year,” said the Rev. Ira Acree, who leads a church in a West Side neighborhood that has regularly been pummeled by gun violence. “But the numbers were down, and that is definitely worth something.”
Mr. Acree said he was grateful for the new police tactics. “Any type of preventive measure from the police — you've got to be willing to do it,” he said. “These are real lives we're talking about."
Among those lives affected over the weekend: A 15-year-old was shot in the back around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday on the city's West Side when a gray sedan drove up and someone inside started firing. A 20-year-old who had severe vision problems was shot in the head and killed after playing basketball at his favorite South Side park. And in the hours before dawn on Monday, two men riding along an expressway here were shot and wounded by gunfire from another vehicle — a pattern the police have seen rise in recent years along some of the city's busiest thoroughfares.
On Tuesday, Chicago Police officials said that while no level of violence was acceptable, they were pleased that shootings had declined. “I think we're trending down over all,” Kevin Navarro, the first deputy superintendent, said.
Beyond a single holiday weekend, some officials say they see modest signs of improvement in recent weeks. As of Tuesday, the city had seen 235 homicides in 2017, about a 4 percent decrease from the same period a year ago. The number of shootings in Chicago has dropped by more than 14 percent, though that remains well above the counts in the nation's two larger cities, Los Angeles and New York.
A decline in shootings is especially pronounced, officials say, in two of the city's most violence-prone districts, where special police centers were recently created as a way to use more predictive analytics, gunfire data and surveillance footage in real time to decide where to deploy officers. In one of those police districts — an area on the city's West Side with the largest concentration of shootings over the Memorial Day weekend in 2016 – no shootings were reported this holiday weekend.
On Tuesday, the police announced the opening of a third special center inside a South Side police station, revealing giant computer screens that map 911 calls, squad cars and predictions of where homicides are most likely to take place soon. Three more centers are due to open this summer.
Yet many here said it was far too early to declare the city's crisis of violence controlled. While somewhat lower than last year, the number of shootings over the weekend was still high. Shooting statistics can rise and fall abruptly, and some people wondered whether the city could afford to maintain higher police staffing levels beyond a long holiday weekend. Some praised the extra officers and the raids, but also questioned whether such tactics would worsen Chicago's long-strained relations between the Police Department and the community, particularly in mostly black and Latino neighborhoods.
“I'm a little torn,” said William Calloway, a community activist. “We have to find a way for them to be present but not excessive. You don't want it to feel like police are now occupying forces in neighborhoods.”
For those who lost loved ones over the weekend, no statistical trend really mattered. Jervon Morris, 20, was playing basketball in a South Side park not far from his house late Monday afternoon when shots rang out — again and again.
Mr. Morris, an avid basketball player who liked to draw N.B.A. logos despite being visually impaired, was struck in the head and killed. He had volunteered in that park since high school, and appeared to get caught in crossfire, said Rashawnda Rice, his sister. “I don't think he even knew how to make an enemy,” said Ms. Rice, who said she had heard the shots from inside their house and hoped they were firecrackers. “I guess his first instinct wasn't to get down on the ground, but to try to run home.”
As is almost always the case in Chicago, nearly all the shootings took place on the South or West Sides, not the city's wealthier and whiter downtown and North Side. Most of those shot were men, many of them in their 20s. Several of the shootings, including a suspected murder-suicide, were domestic disputes, the police said, rather than the sort of shootings that have plagued Chicago: gang shootings over disputes — and over previous gang shootings.
“Let's not throw a parade yet,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest who leads a South Side parish. “To say we're better than last year is good, but last year was disastrous, so it's not a great benchmark. This is one weekend.”
Father Pfleger and others said that policing alone would not stop the city's violence. Community leaders here called for more jobs in struggling neighborhoods, improved public education from a system that has wrestled with funding woes, and more low-income housing options in neighborhoods all around the city, not just in struggling ones.
“Is this a turnaround?” Father Pfleger said of the weekend shooting numbers. “I would be a little leery to say yet that this is a turning point. The turning point will be when we decide as a city that there won't be two Chicagos.”
Orleans Police Department honored for community policing work
The Orleans Police Department is proud to announce that it has been formally recognized for the Department's exceptional community policing work.
The New England Association of Chiefs of Police has awarded the Orleans Police Department first place (pop. under 15,000) in the “All New England Community Policing Award” program.
The department's policing philosophy places a strong emphasis on community policing and recognizes that strong community / police relations are essential in all successful police organizations.
The department has embraced both traditional and nontraditional policing methods that have proven to be exceptional approaches for cultivating healthy relationships between the police and the community we are sworn to serve.
A statement said their community policing approach is that we have developed organizational strategies with many community partners to promote problem solving and to address our various community issues.
Daytona police Chief Capri puts focus on relationships with children
by Katie Kustura
DAYTONA BEACH — Amber Horn watched her 4-year-old daughter burst into tears and run inside their family's residence.
Joy Jones was playing outside when she saw a police car rolling through the Gardens of Daytona apartments — it was the third time the sight of cops made Horn's daughter cry.
Horn, 28, said she didn't know why her daughter was scared — maybe someone in the low-income complex said Joy should be — but Horn knew she needed to do something, so she approached Officer Gnatee Doe with Joy and told him about her daughter's reaction to police.
Doe held the girl in one arm and pulled a bag of candy out of the trunk of his patrol car with the other and told her to take some.
Joy took just one piece of candy, but Horn knew her daughter got much more out of meeting Doe.
Being involved in the community, outside of responding to crimes, wasn't always the culture at the Daytona Beach Police Department. If officers wanted to do more than respond to 9-1-1 calls, it was typically on their own time.
Police Chief Craig Capri said he was involved with the community from the very start of his tenure as a cop, and now that he's at the helm, residents can expect even more from the agency and its officers.
Cops and kids
Sports have long been a way that law enforcement agencies have connected with their communities whether it's through an organized event or joining a pick-up game of basketball while on patrol.
Capri said when he first joined the department in 1990, he made it a point to jump in on a game of basketball with children in the neighborhoods he patrolled. He said his bosses would look at him like he was crazy and remind him that his job was to respond to calls.
“I would do it anyway, of course I wouldn't listen to them, because I saw the big picture,” Capri said.
Former Daytona Beach police chief and current Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood saw that picture, too, and made positive interactions part of the job.
Capri said the leadership before Chitwood, who served as chief from May 2006 to November 2016, talked a big game but that was about it.
“People can talk community policing, but unless you practice it and live it, it's not something you can just turn on and off, it's got to be a culture,” Capri said.
Creative events with a focus on children are part of that culture.
In April, more than 100 children and their families descended on department headquarters to paint, with cops, rocks to hide throughout the city. One officer even offered the young artists another canvass on which to express themselves in the form of his patrol car. A couple of weeks later, dozens of children joined officers for the inaugural Daytona 100, a 3-mile bicycle ride followed by food, games and dancing.
And on June 24 police will put fishing poles in kids' hands at the first fishing tournament at Lake Valor, in front of headquarters. In April the lake was stocked with about 1,400 catfish, shellcracker fish, brim and one big albino catfish.
“Whoever catches that one albino catfish, we're going to give a huge prize for that,” Capri said, not to mention the barbecue and other services that will be available.
Capri said with improved relationships he expects a decrease in crime, a trend seen in other parts of the country.
Yost Zakhary, public safety director in Woodway, Texas, and past president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said during a summit on community-police relations that leaders in law enforcement know that “no single factor has been more crucial to reducing crime levels than the partnership between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.”
“We know that in order to be truly effective, police agencies cannot operate alone; they must have the active support and assistance of citizens and communities,” Zakhary said.
In contrast though, some organizations such as the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, say communities should direct their resources and support toward other problems, like food security, housing and jobs, faced by poorer areas, where community policing efforts are often focused.
While other government entities and nonprofit organizations are in place in many cities to tackle those problems, officers often find people turning to them.
“We're kind of the face of the city, I think, at times, so we need to be even more ahead of the game,” Capri said.
Daytona Beach police in recent months launched a Facebook page and Twitter account to keep residents and the social media world aware of what they're doing. Most of the postings show positive policing efforts in the community, but the accounts also have been used to update residents on suspects police are looking for and results of investigations.
In a time where videos of violent police incidents go viral, Officer Doe said the move to promote the positive on social media was long overdue with hopes to change people's perspective on policing.
“We got to show them the other side of what exists,” Doe said. “I can't really fault somebody for being shown messages upon messages and then thinking a certain way if I'm not showing them anything positive.”
He said now Horn's daughter Joy has a new perspective. The video of Doe's and Joy's interaction posted April 22 had been viewed more than 89,000 times.
When he walks through a neighborhood, Doe said children ask him what happened, assuming the worst.
The perspective some children have of police is influenced by their parents or an adult who's had a negative experience with law enforcement, Deputy Chief Jakari Young said.
“We could be on our lunch break and we're in full uniform, and a little kid may be acting up and the parent will say ‘You see that police officer right there? If you don't knock it off, they're going to take you to jail,' ” Young said. He wishes parents wouldn't do that.
“We got a hard enough time on our own breaking down the barriers and getting out from underneath the stereotypes,” Young said. “We're not going to take any small kid to jail because they're acting up in a McDonald's.”
When Chitwood left to become sheriff, Young said some residents worried Daytona Beach police's relationship with the community might deteriorate. The deputy chief said that's not happening.
“When you look at what's happened across the country as far as civil unrest between minority communities and police, it starts with community policing, getting back out into the community, allowing them to see us, not when we're just there to make an arrest, but to see us as human beings,” Young said. “The community engagement is just as important, if not more than, the arrests.”
While there might not be an exacting measure for the effects of community policing, city leaders have told the chief they believe there is a payoff.
“If you don't have a strong, true-hearted relationship with the community, you're setting yourself up for failure,” Capri said. “I know what we do and it's been successful, and it's sincere.”
Amber Horn's daughter no longer runs away crying when she sees Doe or other police officers.
“We got a little bit of hope here,” Horn said. “Whenever I need them, they come through.”
New Sacramento police chief will have a tough job in tense department
by Anita Chabria and Nashelly Chavez
Sacramento is interviewing potential police chiefs this week, moving quickly on a pivotal hire intended to fix a department plagued by community mistrust, internal upheaval and deep discord with city leaders.
The new chief will walk into a tough job – attempting to navigate a thin line between anger from rank-and-file officers and calls for continued reforms from community members and some elected officials.
“We're at a turning point,” said Brent Meyer, a Sacramento police officer and current vice president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the statewide law enforcement lobbying group. “It's a really difficult time to do this job, so we need to find someone who is going to do it right.”
Depending on whom you ask, Sacramento police have one of two problems that will be dropped in the new chief's lap.
Some, including the police union and department personnel, say they are a maligned force beleaguered by bad press and low morale. They say they're desperate for a leader who can advocate for officers and effectively reshape public perception without resorting to unneeded reforms.
Others, including leaders in African American and faith communities, say the Sacramento Police Department is a good-old-boy agency reluctantly forced toward transparency and accountability in the past year by high-profile confrontations caught on video and the resulting community outrage. They want a chief committed to change.
The city received 33 applications for the chief's position and chose seven to interview – including current Interim Chief Brian Louie and Deputy Chief Ken Bernard, both men confirmed.
Roseville police Chief Daniel Hahn, a former captain in the Sacramento department, is likely also a contender, said people familiar with the search. Four other candidates from outside the area will also be considered.
Sacramento police have been through major reforms in the past year following a controversial shooting of a mentally ill black man – Joseph Mann – in North Sacramento last July. Last November, the City Council passed a series of reform measures, including a more restrictive use-of-force policy, funding for body cameras and a new requirement that video from officer-involved shootings be made public within 30 days.
But the Mann shooting, combined with other use-of-force incidents and acrimony in some minority communities over a perceived bias in how they are policed, has led to calls for further change – and a fear that the wrong chief would curtail momentum.
“The old guard continues to carry over the old way of doing things,” said Ryan McClinton, a community leader for Sacramento Area Congregations Together, an organization advocates for reforms. “This is an opportunity for Sacramento to step forward and say we are not OK with the status quo.”
McClinton said the department has taken “small steps” toward greater transparency and accountability, but he wonders if they have just been political machinations to “massage public perception.”
Police union leader Tim Davis said public perception has been unfairly skewed by media and city leaders. He said Sacramento has one of the best trained and educated law enforcement agencies in the region.
“There seems to be a push to have someone come in and reform the department. The department doesn't need to be reformed,” said Davis. The next chief needs to “let everyone know what our strengths are. Our officers are desperate for that advocate.”
During the past few years, dozens of Sacramento officers have quit – 20 left in 2016 and 28 are projected to leave this year, according to Louie. He has called it an “exodus” that some say is crippling the force's ability to police the city and sometimes leaves the department struggling to fill shifts.
Davis said morale in the department is dangerously low in part because of eroding public perception and because Sacramento police are paid less than those in nearby agencies like the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. In August, The Sacramento Bee reported that the average total pay for a Sacramento police officer was $92,762, second-lowest among eight local police departments. Sacramento police officers were given a one-time bonus of $2,150 apiece by the City Council in March to acknowledge the pay gap.
The city is in negotiations with the union now, with the current contract set to expire in June. Pay is a major topic, said those familiar with talks.
Some businesspeople and civic leaders worry that officers – reacting to low pay and the possibility of public censure – are backing off from enforcing the law. They fear Sacramento may experience the “Ferguson effect” – a rise in crime that some law-and-order advocates attributed to police being hesitant to make arrests due to public hostility after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Christena O'Shea, a former Sacramento police officer who worked at the department until 2014, according to a public salary database maintained by Transparent California, posted about that sentiment on the SPD Underground, an unauthorized Facebook site frequented by current and former Sacramento police officers and dispatchers.
“When there's no backing by public officials and the general public, it's not worth risking your life anymore” O'Shea wrote on Jan. 31 in response to a post about officers in the Mann shooting being cleared of wrongdoing by the Sacramento County district attorney.
O'Shea declined a Facebook message request to comment further. An analysis of the website by The Bee cross-referenced with pay records found about three dozen active and former Sacramento officers and dispatchers using the Facebook page. As of Friday, it had 236 followers.
The Facebook page also talks about Steinberg. The police union didn't support the mayor during his campaign, and rank-and-file animosity toward him has grown in recent months as he's spoken forcefully about the need for further changes in policing.
“He's a liberal politician that's not going to support cops. He's divisive and disgraceful for a community such as Sacramento that loves its cops,” posted Jerry Thomason on the SPD Underground page on Feb. 17. Thomason identifies himself as retired from Sacramento police on his personal Facebook page.
Thomason did not respond to a request for comment.
In this polarized atmosphere, the question of whether the new chief should come from within or outside the department has taken on particular significance.
Some on the force say that bringing in an outside chief would worsen the situation and prove their perception that Steinberg and other city leaders don't support the department. They say hiring from within is the only way to restore confidence among the rank and file.
“The Police Department doesn't need so much a fixer but someone who understands the history of the Sacramento Police Department,” said Meyer.
The department has a history of hiring from within. It has only brought in an outsider once – Arturo Venegas in 1993. He was a reformer who pushed community policing – a mandate the next chief will likely also have.
“Venegas, when he was there, was a good leader,” said Mark Harris, a lawyer and founder of Law Enforcement Accountability Directive, a major backer of local police reforms. “He was accessible, and he was responsible.”
But Venegas was not liked by officers.
“Art was a necessary change agent,” said retired Deputy Chief Matt Powers, who worked for Venegas and other chiefs during his 23 years with the department. “But he didn't know how to engage with street cops and detectives.”
Powers cautioned that another outside chief could face similar pushback if they weren't able to get buy-in from the force.
“You bring somebody from the outside, they can bring a lot of wonderful ideas in just like Art did … but you've got to win over the hearts and minds of the men and women on the street.”
Hostility toward an outsider is already brewing on SPD Underground.
“How will bringing in an outsider impact the department you may ask? … it will have an immense negative impact,” reads an anonymous post from the site administrator on April 10, responding to the city's hiring brochure for the position.
A Facebook message requesting comment from the SPD Underground site administrator was not answered.
Louie, who took over the department in December and is a 37-year veteran of the force, said his five months as interim chief have given him “a good sense” of what the job involves. If selected, he said, he would continue to push to improve morale along with increasing community engagement, diversity and transparency.
“I'm motivated, and I've got the energy and passion for this,” said Louie.
But Louie made a major misstep with elected leaders and city administrators in March when he failed to release video involving a shootout between a parolee and officers in North Sacramento within the mandated 30 days. Offering conflicting reasons, he asked the City Council for an extension without briefing them first. During the March 21 council meeting, multiple council members expressed anger.
Councilman Steve Hansen told Louie it was “frustrating” that city leaders had not been told ahead of time. At the end of a tense debate, Ashby told Louie: “We all made it really clear we never want to see you back here again (for a waiver) unless you have an exact reason.”
Bernard, the deputy chief with 26 years on the force, may have a better chance based on that incident, said sources familiar with the confidential search. He said that he thought the department was in a period of flux where further changes would be required, and said he would focus on a “return to community policing … and getting out of our police cars and having conversations” if he is successful in his bid for the job.
Bernard is widely viewed by city administrators and rank and file as capable and forthright but also old guard, said the sources.
They also said Roseville chief Hahn could be a compromise candidate. He enjoys community respect but is also viewed as an insider by Sacramento officers who used to work with him, making him the choice with the least political risk.
“If it's a beauty contest then Hahn wins,” said Harris.
Hahn left Sacramento for Roseville in 2011. A south Sacramento resident who grew up in Oak Park, he has strong support in African American communities and with some elected officials, most notably Ashby. Hahn was captain overseeing her Natomas district.
Hahn declined to confirm he had applied, saying he was focused on his current job.
Some in the community said an outsider without ties to the Sacramento Police Department is the stronger choice if the city is serious about reform over appeasement. “I'd say somebody with fresh blood would probably be a better route,” McClinton said.
He and some other activists would like to see a chief brought in with a proven track record of community service and neighborhood policing. They are concerned an internal hire would have too many existing relationships to effectively pursue reforms.
“When you have an internal choice, you run the risk of someone not being as aware of a house that needs to be put in order,” said Harris. “What happens with any one of us is when we are so used to a certain set of circumstances, we don't see the need for change.”
The City Council does not have an official say in the confidential hiring process, though some candidates have met informally with members of the council. The pressure and power of this hire – and essentially choosing the direction of the force for the next decade – rests in one man's hands: City Manager Howard Chan.
A panel that includes Chan; Assistant City Manager Arturo Sanchez; Francine Tournour, head of the city's Office of Public Safety Accountability; and a “sitting chief of a very similar-sized agency” will interview candidates in the next few weeks, said Sanchez. The city has also received about 1,500 responses to a community survey asking for input on characteristics for a chief. That survey is available to take until May 31 on the website for the city's recruiter at www.ralphandersen.com/sacramentosurvey. Sanchez said the results would be incorporated in final interview questions.
A final decision is expected in July.
Chan said Friday he has met with officers, community members and elected officials and understands each of their views. Whomever he hires, Chan said he knows it will take time to restore equilibrium and trust within the department and in the communities they police. His goal is to hire a partner, not a subordinate, he said, someone who even if they don't have answers understands the stakes and the people holding them.
“I'm counting on this chief to come in and we'll figure it out together,” said Chan.
ICE arrested 190 immigrants in Southern California “public safety” operation
by Genevieve Leigh
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested nearly 190 people across Southern California in a five-day operation covering six counties last week.
ICE officials boasted that 90 percent—169 of the 188 people—of those arrested had prior criminal convictions. Among the detained immigrants, there were 15 people convicted of “sex crimes,” including one man convicted of rape, and a previously deported cocaine trafficker. The latter two stories have been promoted by ICE officials and media outlets to push the narrative that the operation was conducted to remove “public safety threats.”
The field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICE in Los Angeles, David Marin, commented on the operation in an interview with the Daily Breeze : “It's a win for us, and now we've taken these convicted criminals off the streets so they can't re-offend, they can't make more victims and, ultimately, our goal is to remove them from the country,” later adding, “they weren't people who just had traffic tickets or speeding violations.”
The portrayal of the ongoing crackdown on immigrants as a “public safety” operation is a campaign of fear-mongering that lacks any factual basis.
In this case, of the 188 immigrants detained in last week's sweep, the most common offense was for “drug offenses,” which included 43 people.
While a more detailed analysis of the criminal records is not provided by ICE documents, this category can include very minor offenses such as possession of small quantities of drugs like marijuana. The second most common offense, 30 of the cases, was driving under the influence (DUI). Three people were arrested for reentering the United States after being deported once already, and 19 were arrested despite having no criminal record whatsoever.
It is a widely accepted fact among experts that the claim that immigrants are more likely to be “criminals” is entirely false. In fact, there are innumerable studies that support the opposite conclusion.
According to data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), for example, roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. These conclusions are consistent throughout decades. Census data from 1980, 1990, and 2000 show that the incarceration rate of native-born individuals were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.
Despite these well-documented studies, the notion of the “criminal immigrant” is being used to try to garner support for the Trump administration's very unpopular immigration policies. Like the majority of the recent immigration initiatives, this tactic is hardly a creation of the Trump administration; it has been prepared, in a bipartisan effort, over the course of decades.
The confluence of the terms “criminal” and “immigrant” emerged as a conscious policy in conjunction with the “War on Drugs” in the 1980s. During this campaign, the battle against illegal drugs and “illegal aliens” became frequently linked to each other in political rhetoric.
This rhetoric was heavily promoted by private prison companies that worked actively to shape the federal and state laws regarding immigration, detention, corrections, and law enforcement policies. The persecution of immigrants during this period provided these companies, which were rapidly expanding, a fresh market to fill their prisons. The 1980s and 1990s gave rise to the current massive prison apparatus, locking up working class men and women, both immigrant and native-born alike, by the millions.
Another pivotal event in the criminalization of immigrants came with the signing of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) by Democratic President Bill Clinton.
This legislation impacted immigration policy in two profound ways. First, the laws introduced the mandatory detention and deportation of non-citizens (both lawful permanent residents and illegal immigrants) who had been convicted of an “aggravated felony.” Second, the laws transformed the definition of “aggravated felonies” to include a much wider set of offenses. Today, aggravated felonies have been expanded to include more than 30 types of crimes, including simple battery, theft, filing a false tax return, and failing to appear in court.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, these measures were both strengthened and expanded as part of the fraudulent “war on terror.” The US Patriot Act of 2001, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 collectively make up the Bush administration's contribution to the criminalization of immigrants.
Among the many newly enshrined powers was granting to federal officers the ability to apprehend and detain non-citizens on immigration grounds without legal review for up to six months if the case is deemed a “national security risk.”
Finally, the Obama administration built on the policies of its predecessors through the massive expansion of the Secure Communities Act, which introduced a new mechanism for identification and apprehension of immigrants through the use of biometric data, combining local law enforcement databases with immigration databases, to screen for “deportable immigrants” who were being jailed. It is through these very mechanisms that the Trump administration is now able to target the “criminal” immigrants, such as those victims of the recent Southern California raids, who are being apprehended and deported in droves.
The policies of the Trump administration certainly mark a significant escalation in the criminalization and assault on immigrant workers in the US; however, they were not created from scratch overnight. They flow from the policies of previous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, over the course of the last almost four decades.
ICE raids have spiked significantly since the signing of Trump's executive orders on immigration in January. Immigrant apprehensions have increased by nearly 40 percent compared to the same period last year. The same ICE forces responsible for last week's raids in Southern California conducted a similar campaign in February that netted 161 arrests. Official statements by local Los Angeles ICE agents indicate that more such sweeps are still to come this year.
These raids have a particular significance in the Southern California region, which is home to the largest cluster of people living in the country without proper documentation. About 1.4 million undocumented immigrants live in the area between Los Angeles and the US-Mexico border.
Drones Provide 400-Foot Perspective on Public Safety Issues for Hamilton County, Tenn., Sheriff's Office
The sheriff's office is the only law enforcement agency in Hamilton County that has an unmanned aerial surveillance system program.
by Emmett Gienapp
Sometimes, the best way to look at something is from 400 feet in the air — especially when that something is a fugitive trying to outrun the police.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has learned that lesson well over the last year by flying its fleet of drones over crash scenes, SWAT standoffs and wildfires to get an overview of thorny situations, all without having to put deputies at risk.
So far the sheriff's office is the only law enforcement agency in Hamilton County that has an unmanned aerial surveillance system program, and deputies are finding the potential applications of their drone division are myriad.
"They have a lot of advantages," Sheriff Jim Hammond said Friday while watching a detective fly a drone at Chester Frost Park. "It's good to get up there and cover a wide area in a short amount of time."
The drone division has proven as much by responding to a variety of calls over the last several months, including a wildfire in Rhea County, Tenn. Firefighters asked for air support because the terrain was rough and they needed an accurate picture of the fire.
"They couldn't see from their command post," said Detective Marty Dunn, one of the pilots. "We made sure their fire lines had actually stopped the fire."
Dunn said drones can be useful in a number of situations, such as bomb disposals, natural disasters and rescue missions. His team has flown 160 training missions since April 2016 to cover many of those scenarios, according to a news release.
He said they recently flew a mission to locate a missing person and cleared much of the mountain the individual was supposedly lost on, allowing them to focus resources elsewhere.
"We covered a large portion in about 10 minutes," he said. "The ticks that we didn't get from walking all that was worth it."
Using drones also saves the department a boatload of money, since the division can quickly run up a camera to peek around instead of scrambling a helicopter that would cost considerably more to fly.
"The cost to fly manned aviation in public safety is estimated around $350 per hour," the news release stated. But law enforcement agencies using drones estimate operational costs are just below $25 per hour, according to the release.
Rather than ponying up several million dollars to invest in a helicopter and maintain it, law enforcement agencies can buy drones for a sliver of that cost, saving precious resources for other needs.
The sheriff's office couldn't say Friday how much it has spent on the drone program to date, but the Times Free Press reported in October the department had spent about $9,000 for training $10,000 for five drones for operational use and one drone for training.
"We have to think in terms of the money we have," Hammond said.
Cost and effectiveness may mean little to residents worried about the implications greater drone usage might have for their personal privacy.
"The biggest negative I hear from people is that 'You're going to be looking in bedroom windows,'" Hammond said.
Sheriff's office pilots said drones are used exclusively for limited purposes and missions and video footage cannot be used to obtain search warrants if something is seen from the sky. Incidental footage also must be deleted within 24 hours.
But that's not enough for groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee, which supports stricter state and federal laws to guarantee citizens' privacy.
"We believe that drones should be prohibited for indiscriminate mass surveillance, with their use by law enforcement only permitted where there are grounds to believe they will collect evidence relating to a specific instance of criminal wrongdoing, or in emergencies," ACLU Executive Director Hedy Weinberg wrote in an email.
"As they stand, our state's privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that new drone technology will be used responsibly and consistently with our democratic values. Courts are still wrestling with the constitutionality of the usage of this technology," she wrote.
The proliferation of drones over the last several years has presented problems nationwide as people begin to experiment with privately owned drones that are restricted from many areas.
"Over crowds — that's a no-no," Dunn said. "Flying over an open-air event with more than 100 people is illegal."
Generally speaking, drones cannot be flown into or over events such as the Riverbend Festival or football games without permission from event's directors. Not only would the pilot potentially be sidestepping the entrance cost of the event, the drone could fall from several hundred feet and hurt someone.
This is new territory for the Federal Aviation Administration, which has found itself grappling with an uptick in drones cluttering American air space. The FAA has authorized the sheriff's office to fly under certain restrictions, but there are many more drones being flown by members of the public in dangerous areas.
"Over the last two years, the FAA has received numerous reports from pilots and residents about unmanned aircraft systems – UAS, or 'drones' – around some of the nation's busiest airports, including JFK," an FAA news release read.
Dunn said private drones can be especially problematic in situations where authorities need open air space. Life Force air ambulance helicopters will actually circle in the air instead of landing if a drone is detected in the response area, because it could get caught in a propeller and cause the helicopter to crash.
"Life Force will not come in," he said. "In those situations, minutes count. Seconds count."
Dunn said he understands why drone hobbyists may be tempted to fly into a fireworks show or over an emergency situation, but that flight could have serious consequences, so his advice is to leave it on the ground.
"It's cool, I totally get it, but it's illegal," he said.
Vegas protest of man's in-custody death leads to 10 arrests
An NAACP leader and the ACLU of Nevada have called for Las Vegas police to stop using a neck restraint that can render suspects unconscious
by Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — Fighting erupted during a weekend protest on the Las Vegas Strip amid calls for a police officer to face criminal charges in the death of a black man in custody, leading to 10 arrests, authorities said Monday.
Three people were jailed and seven were cited and released following Sunday's incident, Officer Jacinto Rivera said. No injuries were reported.
The protest had been organized by activists upset about the May 14 death of 40-year-old Tashii Brown.
Department officials say an officer fired a stun gun at him seven times, punched him and placed him in what police say was an unauthorized neck hold.
The county coroner says it is expected to take several weeks to receive test results to determine what caused the death of Brown, who also used the last name Farmer.
Las Vegas police and the Clark County district attorney are investigating the actions of the officer, Kenneth Lopera, who is on paid leave pending the review.
An NAACP leader and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada have called for Las Vegas police to stop using a neck restraint that can render suspects unconscious.
A police administrator identified Lopera as white, but the officer said through a legal representative that his heritage is Colombian and Puerto Rican.
Rivera said police were near the protest and didn't initially act when demonstrators linked arms across the Strip between The Venetian and The Mirage resorts. Traffic stopped for several minutes.
Officers intervened when fighting broke out between a pedestrian crossing the street and some demonstrators, the police spokesman said.
Rivera didn't provide the names of people who were told to appear in court on allegations of misdemeanor pedestrian, traffic and right-of-way violations.
Nicholas Bloom, 26, and Melissa Score, 19, were booked into the Clark County jail on battery and disorderly conduct charges. Rivera said James Cawthra, 24, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon.
It wasn't immediately clear if Bloom or Score had attorneys.
Cawthra is a transgender woman who uses the first name Ruby, said her partner, Wesley Carter of Las Vegas. Carter said Cawthra didn't immediately have a lawyer.
Carter, who didn't attend the protest, said Cawthra carries a retractable baton but didn't use it and had been at the event to support "Black Lives Matter" activists.
Police arrest 14th man in Manchester bombing inquiry
The suspects have not been identified or charged, but all are being held on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act
by Gregory Katz
LONDON — British police arrested a 23-year-old man Monday on the south coast of England, hundreds of miles south of Manchester, in the widening inquiry into the deadly concert bombing.
Greater Manchester Police said the man was arrested in Shoreham-by-Sea on suspicion of terrorism offenses and an address there was being searched.
The arrest means that 14 men are now in custody in Britain for suspected roles in the May 22 bombing of an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people and wounded nearly 120 others. It was Britain's worst attack in a decade.
The suspects have not been identified or charged. All are being held on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act.
Police and security services have said very little about the network believed to be behind suicide bomber Salman Abedi, a Manchester native whose parents had moved to Britain from Libya. Abedi's elder brother Ismail is among the suspects being held in Britain, and a younger brother and Abedi's father have been detained in Libya.
Britain's intelligence services have launched an inquiry into how warnings about the 22-year-old Abedi's radical views were handled amid indications that vital warning signs were missed.
Police are scouring 12,960 hours of closed circuit TV recordings in their search for clues, have collected more than 630 pieces of evidence and have searched 21 addresses.
Authorities say Abedi returned to Britain from Libya on May 18, and likely completed assembling his bomb at a rented apartment in central Manchester.
Britain's official terror threat level was set at "critical" in the days after the attack but was downgraded Saturday to "severe." The country remains on high alert, however, as officials caution that some suspects who helped Abedi may still be at large.
Texas approves banning drones over prisons, stadiums
The final version of the bill also prohibits drones over immigrant detention centers
by Meredith Hoffman
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers have given final approval to a ban on drones over sports stadiums and correctional facilities.
A measure making it a crime to fly unmanned aircraft over sports arenas holding at least 30,000 people, jails or prisons passed the Legislature on Sunday night. The final version of the bill also prohibits drones over immigrant detention centers.
Starting Sep. 1, operating a drone intentionally over such a facility will be punishable by up to six months in jail.
The regulation is designed to protect the public from weapons that drones could possibly carry, and to prevent drones from sneaking drugs or contraband to inmates.
But opponents say the federal — not state — government is charged with overseeing airspace, and worry the bill could stifle the booming drone industry.
12 wounded in Chicago shootings Saturday and Sunday
Most recently, a 34-year-old man was shot in the back and taken to the hospital
by Elyssa Cherney
At least 12 people were shot from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning during the long Memorial Day weekend, police said.
Most recently, a 34-year-old man was shot in the back in the South Shore neighborhood about 5 a.m. Sunday. He was outside in the 6800 block of South Crandon Avenue when he heard a gunshot and felt pain. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious condition.
Two of the most recent shootings occurred in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side. A 29-year-old man was walking in the 6600 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue about 4:05 a.m. Sunday when a man came up to him, demanded money and opened fire before running away. The victim made his way to South Shore Hospital with a gunshot wound to the lower back and had his condition stabilized.
About two hours earlier in the same neighborhood, two men were shot while driving in a vehicle in the 400 block of East 62nd Street about 4:10 a.m. The men, ages 27 and 28, told police they were traveling southbound on King Drive near 62nd Street when they heard shots and felt pain. They got themselves to University of Chicago Medical Center. The 27-year-old was hit in the right calf, and the 28-year-old was hit in the right ankle.
A 25-year-old woman was shot while walking in a park about 2 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Throop Street in Englewood. A man came up to her and shot her in the abdomen and left arm. She was taken to Stroger Hospital, where her condition was stabilized.
A 27-year-old man was shot in the back while standing on a porch in the Marquette Park neighborhood about 1:05 a.m. Sunday. Several men fired shots from the gangway in the 6600 block of South Campbell Avenue. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
A 22-year-old man was shot while walking in the Old Irving Park neighborhood just after 12:30 a.m. He was on the sidewalk in the 4200 block of West Addison Street when he heard shots and realized he was hit in the lower abdomen. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized.
A 29-year-old man was shot multiple times just before 12:30 a.m. Sunday while standing on a sidewalk in front of a liquor store in the Park Manor neighborhood. He was hit in the abdomen, buttocks and thigh, and taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.
An employee at the liquor store, Grand Palace Liquor, said he heard multiple shots and ducked down before coming outside to see what happened in the 7100 block of South State Street.
A man was lying in the street and crying, the worker said. A baseball cap and green piece of clothing sat next to a splatter of blood on the sidewalk, which was littered with stray papers and empty food cartons.
As paramedics lifted the man onto a stretcher, his arms were limp and his back slid off.
One man was parked in his car when the shots rang out. He dropped to the floor and then went to buy a Modelo beer in the store.
A 19-year-old man was shot while walking in 1300 block of South Millard Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood about 10:55 p.m. He told police he heard shots and realized he was hit. He got himself to Mount Sinai Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right hip, and his condition was stabilized.
A 23-year-old man and a 24-year-old man were shot in the South Austin neighborhood just before 7 p.m., police said. The men said they were in the 1100 block of North Lockwood Avenue when they heard shots and felt pain. Both got themselves to West Suburban Medical Center. The 23-year-old was shot in the left leg, and the 24-year-old was shot in the right wrist and bicep.
In the Chatham area, a 21-year-old man suffered a graze wound to the left arm about 5:45 p.m. in the 7700 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue, according to a police media notification. The man went in a private vehicle to St. Bernard Hospital, where he was in good condition. The man told police he was walking west near 7700 S. Cottage Grove Ave. when he heard shots and felt pain.
Just before 3:50 p.m., a 23-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg in the 5500 block of South Honore Street in the West Englewood neighborhood, and went to Stroger Hospital in good condition. The gunshot appeared to be self-inflicted, and police confiscated the gun, according to police. The man was in police custody, and charges were pending against him, police said.
This holiday weekend has more extra officers working each day than Memorial Day weekend 2016, according to Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
This year, 1,300 extra officers, on top of the normal staffing levels, will be working this weekend, Johnson said. Last year, there were about 880 extra officers working, according to police.
By just before midnight May 28, 2016, 32 people had been shot in Chicago since the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend. In all, 71 people were shot, six of them fatally, Memorial Day weekend in 2016, according to data compiled by the Tribune.
More Protections for Juvenile Offenders Are Before California Legislators
by Julio Moran and Linda Jacobson
Proposed legislation would move juvenile justice in California closer to rehabilitating youth rather than punishing them, juvenile advocates say.
State sens. Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara, both Democrats, introduced bills in March that would keep more youth out of the juvenile justice system by focusing on crime prevention and family ties rather than incarceration.
While none of the proposed laws are groundbreaking, they could lead to changes in other states.
“Some states may look at look at California and say if California can do it with all those kids, wow, then maybe we can do it, too,” said Melissa Sickmund, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.
The four bills are:
SB 190, which would eliminate court and administrative fees that families of juvenile offenders pay.
SB 394, which writes into state law a U.S. Supreme Court decision that minors can't be sentenced to life without parole.
SB 395, which would require that minors talk with a lawyer before waiving any legal rights.
SB 439, which would keep children 11 and under out of the juvenile courts.
“I feel optimistic that our entire juvenile justice and equity package will be signed into law," Mitchell said. "My colleagues in the Legislature and the governor's office have heard the general public loud and clear in their approval of Proposition 47. The people have demonstrated their desire for a shift away from a punitive orientation system, to a new approach that focuses on prevention, and rehabilitation."
SB 439 has been approved by the Senate; the other three bills are awaiting that step.
Next Friday, June 2, is the deadline for bills to be passed out of the legislative body where they were introduced.
If approved by the Senate, similar bills must be approved by the state Assembly. The bills would then go to the governor for approval, which is not expected to happen until the fall.
The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) in San Francisco co-sponsored SB 190 and SB 439 to help combat the long-term trauma that the financial burden of fees and the juvenile court system have on youth and their families.
Families of incarcerated youth are charged administrative fees that can easily reach thousands of dollars and disproportionately affect poor and low-income families, said Maureen Washburn, a policy analyst at the CJCJ. A family in Orange County, for example, accumulated $16,000 in debt and ended up losing their home to pay the bill, she said.
The fees vary by county. Some, including Los Angeles County, have already suspended charging those fees.
Michael Wilson, whose family had to pay for his detention when he was incarcerated as a teen, was in Sacramento this week working with the Youth Justice Coalition to pass the bill.
“For me personally, the reason why it's very important is because number one, it doesn't bring any type of stability to the home once that young person is released,” Wilson said. “It actually causes more harm, and it's been shown that this bill and these charges directly affect black and brown underserved and underprivileged families.”
Laura S. Abrams, a professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs who specializes in the study of juvenile justice, said charging families for incarcerating their children makes no sense.
“We provide county services for other types of facilities for young people at no charge,” she said. “I never quite understood the philosophy of charging families for an involuntary confinement. To charge a person is just adding salt to the wound.”
“We know that the majority of the families that have young people enter the juvenile justice system are poor or low income. Charging these families only exacerbates the problems,” said Patricia Soung, senior staff attorney and policy associate for the Children's Defense Fund in Los Angeles.
Keeping children under 12 years old out of the juvenile justice system is also a priority for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
California currently does not have a minimum age threshold for prosecuting children. Having one would follow guidelines established by the United Nations. Nineteen other states already have minimum age thresholds.
Opponents to the age threshold expressed concern that children who commit serious crimes, such as murder, could endanger communities. Advocates say very few youth under 12 commit serious crimes, and those who do commit such crimes usually have serious psychological problems that incarceration would not solve. In 2015, no serious crimes were committed by children under 12 in California, according to the CJCJ.
Washburn said children under 12 who commit crimes may have psychological issues or problems at home that are better resolved through counseling or placement outside the home rather than incarceration.
“We are just coming into compliance with what is happening elsewhere,” she said. “A lot of children are being swept into the juvenile justice system at an early age.”
“Incarceration is really inappropriate for very young children,” said Maria F. Ramiu, senior staff attorney for the Youth Law Center in San Francisco. “They should be able to deal with these issues with social service agencies.”
“We are over-responding by incarcerating children,” Soung said, noting that in 2015 a 5-year-old was arrested for violating curfew. “Existing alternatives should be able to address the issues.”
Banning minors from being sentenced to life without parole and requiring consultation with a lawyer before they waive any legal rights is needed because minors are not yet developed enough mentally to understand their actions, according to advocates.
"Young people are different, we can't treat them like adults," Soung said. "A life sentence without parole is an extreme punishment. We cannot know at that young of an age what kind of person they will become."
"Kids are more capable of change," Ramiu said. "They should have the opportunity to get out of prison."
The waiving of so-called Miranda rights-the right for a person to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning by police-is sometimes difficult for youth to fully understand, advocates say.
"In the face of a police officer, young people can be intimidated into talking," said Abrams of UCLA. "It would have a major impact on young people if they had an attorney present during questioning."
Wilson remembers that feeling of intimidation.
"Being a young person, you don't understand the gravity of the coercion that they use. They kept directly giving me a story and asking me, 'Isn't this right? Isn't the right?' That coercion is very devastating," he said. "I use my experience to help those young people who may have not committed a crime but are so scared."
Wilson was among 10YJC members who traveled to Sacramento to visit with legislators and lobby for the four bills and several more.
"I've been organizing since I was 13," says 19-year-old Tauheedah Shakur, who also went to Sacramento. "We do things on issues that probably will never affect us, but...will affect our community. Our community is us."
One of the bills YJC was supporting would have made records of police misconduct available for public review. While the bill died early, YJC members are working locally to advocate for changes in the complaint process to improve how incarcerated youth are treated. They followed up their Sacramento trip with a presentation before the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, where they presented their recommendations.
To YJC member Dayvon Williams, making sure youth are aware of the complaint process and that it is clearly posted in facilities is very important. "We're going in here to testify about that," he said.
At 18, he spent seven months in jail and was placed in solitary confinement for two weeks because the guards thought he was faking a seizure.
"The complaint process is different depending on where you are," explained Kim McGill, YJC organizer. "There's not really any clear standards. You might ask a deputy and he might say, 'Well you can just give me the complaint,' or you'll ask a deputy and hel'll say, 'We don't have any complaint forms,' or you'll ask a deputy and it's like 'I don't know where the complaint forms are."