Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
ACLU hosts community policing forum in Worthington
by Erike Leigh
WORTHINGTON, Minn. (KSFY) - The ACLU, along with United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1161 and Familias Juntas, hosted a community policing forum at the Church of St. Mary in Worthington on Sunday afternoon.
The forum came just weeks after the ACLU released a video of a Worthington police officer brutally beating a man during a routine traffic stop.
Nearly 300 community members turned out to speak to Police Chief Troy Appel, Patrol Sergeant Brett Wiltrout, Mayor Mike Kuhle, State Rep. Rod Hamilton and House Rep. Tim Walz. The forum was simultaneously translated into different languages.
Residents said they think the police department needs to be more diverse in order to understand the needs of a community with a large immigrant and refugee population.
"They don't reflect the diversity of the community, I know a majority of them are white and there's a lot of people of color that live here," said Sarah Cham, a Worthington resident. "A lot of people in this community don't speak English in order to communicate we need to have people that speak Spanish. I think that's really important."
Cham explained to the panel, through tears, how she cried when her brother got his driver's license, because she says she's terrified that her 17-year-old African-American brother will end up like Philando Castile or Trayvon Martin.
The Worthington Police Department says they're all ears.
"We actually do consider their concerns and we're willing to talk about it rather than just shoving that off the side and just doing our job," said Chief Troy Appel. "There's more to it than that and that just makes for a better community when again, when we understand each other."
And the concerns of the community are headed all the way back to Washington, D.C.
"This is where Worthington, I think, helps teach not just this area and the rest of the state, but the rest of the country," explained Rep. Tim Walz. "How do we work through these issues of diversity? How do we work through community policing? How do we make sure we're building trust amongst our neighbors? And that's what today was about."
And there's one thing everyone agrees on...
"I just hope that we can continue to have these public forums and work together," said Cham.
"We're all in this together -- this reflection of the community will solve this -- and it felt really good to me, with the immigrant community that's here and seeing themselves as part of it and addressing it in a really positive manner," Walz said.
The Worthington Police will host its own community policing forum next Sunday, July 16, 2017 at Chautauqua Park from 4-6 p.m. The forum will include demos of traffic stops, K-9 policing, drug recognition and a question and answer session.
Chief Appel said he couldn't comment on the release of the police brutality video because the investigation is ongoing.
Citizens Police Academy builds relationships
by Lucas Simonds
AYDEN — A newly revitalized program is aimed at helping Ayden citizens better understand the police and how they can work together to build a stronger community.
The Ayden Citizens Police Academy held a graduation ceremony June 15 for the eleven citizens who completed the six-week course.
While the academy was once offered every year, before this year the last course had been held in 2009, according to Officer Jenny Clark, the community policing coordinator for the Ayden Police Department.
This year, the program was revamped with the goal of getting the community more involved with the department, Clark said.
“The community is a very big part of what we do,” Clark said. “We can't be everywhere all the time, so we rely on the community to let us know when there are issues. We want people to come to us with their concerns and to not be afraid of the police.”
The course covers a wide range of topics designed to give citizens a broad view of the work needed to keep the department running and the variety of services officers provide to the community, according to Clark. Classes during the course include topics such as administration, investigation, ethics, use of force, animal control and communications.
“For each we have a specialist from the department teaching the class, so for animal control it's our animal control officer and for communications it's one of our dispatchers,” Clark said. “We want to not only let citizens know all the things we do, but also all the work that goes into those things.”
Those who completed the course this year agreed they gained a deeper appreciation for the work of the town's police officers.
“This really brings you closer to the work they do,” said Juanita Nobles. “You know they have a dangerous job, but it's so much more than just going out on patrol.”
For Kelly Thornton, who recently moved to Ayden, the course was also a good way to get to know the community better.
“I'm new here, so I felt like I learned a lot about what the police do and the problems they deal with, not just negative things, but more how the town works and the challenges there are,” Thornton said.
It is comforting to know the variety of ways the police are involved in the community, Thornton added.
“I never really had a negative view of the police, but it seems they're more involved here then where I came from, and it's good to know they're looking out for us,” Thornton said.
Apart from the citizens academy, everyone should make an effort to connect with the police in a friendly way, Nobles added.
“It's good to know your officers on a friendly basis, to know them by name and to be in communication outside of the times when you need their help,” Nobles said.
After the success of this year's course, the department plans to offer the Citizens Police Academy at least one a year, Clark said.
Citizens looking to become more involved with the police before the next academy course are invited to attend the monthly meetings of the Community Policing Council, Clark added.
“I would encourage everyone to come to our meetings, they're a great chance to get to know the department better and to share concerns. We'll talk about anything that's going on in town,” Clark said.
The Community Policing Council meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the Ayden Community Building, 548 Second St., Ayden. For more information, email Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 252-481-5834.
Police officers from across nation to train on latest tacics in North Myrtle Beach
by Ruby Durham
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's their job to protect your life and keep you safe - that's why it's so important for police to learn the latest tactics.
The 66th Annual Southern Police Institute Alumni Association Conference is happening in North Myrtle Beach. This conference is all about following the current trends in law enforcement - specifically, seeing how they worked or didn't. There will be hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the nation soaking up as much knowledge as they can. The farthest agency is from Nevada.
Training sessions all week will have renowned speakers teaching the best practices of policing through lectures, power points and videos.
There will also be discussions about the areas covered in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, how the direction of modern law enforcement is constantly changing and what has proven to be effective over time.
It's all to trigger new ideas and tactics for all the visiting departments to take home with them. But most importantly, continue to build leaders who will stop at nothing to protect you.
"We're just trying to deliver effective law enforcement techniques and get it out into the field so we can be successful," said SPIAA President Phil Webster.
But the real purpose of the conference is to talk about policing in a post-Ferguson world. If you remember, Michael Brown, and unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.
The shooting started nationwide protests that happened for weeks.
Officers believe the Ferguson case, as well as similar cases are still affecting agencies around the nation. So at this conference, law enforcement agencies will address officer-involved shootings. They're looking at what they know and how things can be prevented.
They'll also talk about community policing and crime reduction.
Hurricane Matthew is a perfect example of how you can use different social media outlets to keep people informed. So technology and social media will be discussed.
How politics can effect police work and what they can do about it will also be a topic. Traffic safety stops will be brought up in conversation.
Over the years, there's been a big push to release body cameras, so attendees will also learn about the right times to put out information to make sure the public knows what's going on.
"It's good to get information out and not put up that wall that, 'Hey we will let you know when we find out that type of thing.' We need to tell people and let the public what's going on," said Webster.
The 66th Annual SPIAA Training Conference is July 10 through 13 at the Beach Cove in North Myrtle Beach.
U.S. Soldier Arrested in Hawaii, Accused of Trying to Support ISIS
by Tim Stelloh and Alex Johnson
An Army sergeant has been arrested in Hawaii and charged with seeking to provide classified military documents and training to ISIS, according to court records unsealed Monday.
Sgt. Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, an air traffic control operator with the 25th Infantry Division at U.S. Army Pacific Command, was taken into custody Saturday by an FBI SWAT team after having been under surveillance for almost a year, according to the records, which were unsealed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
He is charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
Kang's attorney, Birney Bervar, told NBC News late Monday that Kang "may have some service-related mental health issues which the government was aware of but neglected to treat."
The Army referred Kang, who was most recently assigned to Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, to the FBI in August 2016, reporting that he had begun making threatening remarks and pro-ISIS statements as early as 2011, the FBI said in an affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint, which says that Kang's security clearance was briefly revoked in 2012.
Kang has the Army's highest level of combat instructor training and used that training to conduct military-style combat training for a person whom he believed to be a member of ISIS, according to the affidavit. The sessions were videotaped "so they could be used by ISIS to train other fighters," it said.
This past March, an undercover FBI operative reported that Kang said he had been researching "the most effective and painful ways people had been tortured," adding that "he was still angry at a civilian who had taken away his air traffic controller's license, and that he wanted to torture him," according to the affidavit.
The same month, Kang and the undercover operative were discussing the shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida , when Kang remarked that "the shooter did what he had to do and later said that America is the only terrorist organization in the world," the FBI said. Later in March, Kang told the operative "that Hitler was right, saying he believed in the mass killing of Jews."
A search of computer hard drives belonging to Kang revealed 18 military documents marked "SECRET," 16 of which remain classified today, the FBI said. Also found were almost 500 documents that referred to ISIS or violence, including 13 issues of the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, the FBI said.
The undercover operative reported that Kang said he wanted to travel to Turkey because ISIS had a consulate there and discussed the possibility of joining and fighting for the terrorist organization, the FBI said.
"People still say it's illegal to join them, but the way I look at it is they're just fighting people who are committing genocide there," Kang said, according to the affidavit. "I'm just going to go there ... and fight these guys who are committing genocide."
Last month, the FBI said, Kang bought a commercial drone equipped with a camera for more than $1,100, telling other undercover operatives that it could be used to allow ISIS fighters to escape a battle involving U.S. tanks.
Authorities moved in to make the arrest on Saturday after Kang swore a pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and said he wanted to kill "a bunch of people," according to the FBI.
Kang's father, Clifford, told NBC affiliate KHNL that his son was a mostly normal kid — if a bit introverted — who grew up on the island of Oahu, graduated from high school with honors in 2001 and enlisted in the Army after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
After Ikaika converted to Islam, he would teach his father the Koran when he was home and living in Hawaii, his father told the station.
“I listened to him, but other than teaching or learning that belief, there was no mention of him going astray," Clifford said.
When Clifford heard about the charges, he told the station, he was “just in shock.”
Kang has served extensively in overseas operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea and has been awarded several commendations. He is also a mixed martial arts enthusiast who had one professional fight in 2013, the FBI said.
Kang appeared in federal court Monday afternoon and was held pending a detention hearing on Thursday. A preliminary hearing was set for July 24.
U.S. says missile defense system successfully intercepts projectile during test
by Joshua Berlinger and Michael Callahan
A United States-built missile defense system on Tuesday successfully intercepted its target during a test run, the US Missile Defense Agency said.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system successfully shot down a target over Alaska, according to a news release.
"I couldn't be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today," said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in the statement. "This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats."
An official with the US Department of Defense told CNN the test is not related to North Korea's recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.
Each THAAD system is comprised of five major components: interceptors, launchers, a radar, a fire control unit and support equipment, according to Lockheed Martin, the security and aerospace company that serves as the prime contractor.
It's is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles with shorter ranges than the ICBM that North Korea launched July 4.
The radar first detects an incoming missile. Those manning the system identify the threat, then a launcher mounted to a truck fires a projectile, which Lockheed Martin calls an "interceptor," at the ballistic missile in the hopes of destroying it using kinetic energy -- basically just its sheer speed.
Some analysts liken it to shooting down a bullet with another bullet.
Tensions on the peninsula
In the wake of the ICBM test, the US military and intelligence communities began to take a second look at the latest intelligence about North Korea's nuclear warhead program, according to two US defense officials.
North Korea has previously claimed it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead that could go on the front end of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Though analysts say it's quite difficult to verify that claim, US commanders have decided, for the purposes of planning military options, they have to assume Pyongyang has that capability.
"I know there's some debate about the miniaturization advancements made by Pyongyang," Adm. Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, said in a speech last month. "I take him at his word. I must assume his claims are true -- I know his aspirations certainly are."
The escalation of Pyongyang's nuclear program also has prompted a closer look at the effectiveness of missile defense systems maintained by the United States and its allies.
The US military had already begun deploying the THAAD system in South Korea earlier this year, much to the chagrin of some of Seoul's neighbors.
Its presence is vociferously opposed by China, Russia and North Korea, which all say THAAD is fueling an arms race. Analysts note that Beijing's biggest concern is likely that THAAD's powerful radar could be used to snoop inside China and negate its own deterrent capabilities.
But the system has detractors in South Korea, as well. THAAD's deployment was approved by disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye, who is currently on trial in a corruption scandal. Her more dovish successor, Moon Jae-in, campaigned on a promise to put the issue to the country's Parliament.
Moon has suspended the THAAD deployment, pending an environmental impact assessment.
Last month, a US and Japanese missile test conducted in Hawaii missed its target, but both stopped short of calling it a failure.
In May, the Pentagon successfully shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile using its own upgraded long-range interceptor missile.
That test involved firing a new version of the military's single long-range, ground-based interceptor missile, which is currently based in Alaska and California. That program has been in existence for more than a decade, but only about half of the tests have been successful, according to the Defense Department.
While the Pentagon called the test a success, some experts cautioned that the $40 billion missile defense system still has a long way to go before it can be considered fully developed.
Judge orders new restrictions on Oakland police following scandal
by Alissa Greenberg
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge said on Monday he would impose new restrictions on the Oakland Police Department following a scathing report into a scandal in which officers engaged in sexual misconduct with a teenage girl.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who has had oversight of Oakland police since the 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit, said the report found the scandal was mishandled by both the department and the city.
While the police department had clearly made some progress since the settlement, Henderson said during a hearing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, "some of the critical areas giving rise to this case remain unresolved."
The judge said he would issue a written ruling this week setting forth additional monitoring and reporting requirements for the police department.Three Oakland police chiefs resigned in quick succession last year after the local East Bay Express newspaper reported that numerous officers in Oakland and elsewhere sexually exploited a teenage girl.
Seven current and former San Francisco Bay Area law enforcement officers, including five from Oakland, were criminally charged last year in connection with the sex scandal, including some on charges of sex acts with a minor.
A report on the scandal filed by a court-appointed monitor in June found that an internal investigation by the department was "severely mishandled" and not given enough attention by city officials, including Mayor Libby Schaaf.
An attorney for the city said that officials intended to go above and beyond recommendations of the report and had confidence in the abilities of a newly appointed police chief to implement reforms.
Oakland officials in January named a high-ranking Chicago law enforcement official, Anne Kirkpatrick, as the first woman to head its police department. Schaaf has publicly slammed the department for its "toxic" and "macho" culture."I am the chief now, so I apologize. I apologize to you sir, I apologize to everyone in this room who has been affected," Kirkpatrick said to Henderson during the hearing.
Officials at the department became aware of the scandal after an officer took his own life in September 2015.
The officer left behind a suicide note detailing his interactions with the girl and her claims that she was involved with other Oakland policemen while still a minor.
Oakland officials in May agreed to pay the now-19-year-old woman nearly $1 million to settle her legal claims, according to the Los Angeles Times.
More details emerge in fatal shooting of NY trooper
Trooper Joel Davis was approaching the couple's home when Staff Sgt. Justine Walters shot him in the torso with a rifle, leaving him in a roadside ditch
Duty Death: Joel Davis-[New York, New York]
End of Service: 07/09/2017
by Chris Carola
THERESA, N.Y. — A state police trooper responding to reports of gunfire was shot to death by a soldier who had just killed his wife at their home near his Army base in northern New York, authorities said Monday.
Trooper Joel Davis was approaching the couple's home in rural Theresa, near the Canadian border, when Staff Sgt. Justin Walters shot him in the torso with a rifle, leaving him in a roadside ditch, according to police and court documents. Another trooper arrived and found Davis, 36, who died about an hour later at a hospital.
Walters' wife, Nichole Walters, was found dead in the driveway, with multiple gunshot wounds. A female friend of hers, who was living on the property, also was shot, suffering non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Davis had been a state police trooper for four years, after 10 years as a county sheriff's deputy in the area.
"He truly did love being a law enforcement officer," family friend Chris Fletcher said. "One of his last texts to another one of his cousins was he couldn't believe he got paid to do what he does."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "the entire New York family grieves" for Davis. A married father of three teenagers, he was the commissioner of a youth baseball league in his tight-knit community.
"It's not just the police who suffer a loss like this," said state police Superintendent George P. Beach II, noting that signs have already sprung up around the area to pay tribute to Davis.
Justin Walters, 32, was clad only in shorts when he was brought to a town court around 4 a.m. Monday to be charged with murder, WWNY-TV reported. Ordered held without bail, he was scheduled to be re-arraigned late in the day, authorities said. A message left with the lawyer assigned to his case wasn't immediately returned.
A native of Zeeland, Michigan, Walters joined the Army in 2007 and did two one-year tours in Afghanistan, in 2009 and again from March 2011 to March 2012, Army officials said. Walters was stationed at Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division.
The sprawling post is home to about 15,000 soldiers who are among the most-deployed in the U.S. military. More than half the soldiers with families live off base in nearby towns in a region known for its harsh winters and farmland.
Fort Drum's senior commander, Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, called the slain trooper a hero.
"It takes an uncommon valor to run toward acts of terrible violence, to sacrifice for the safety of strangers," Piatt said.
Cuomo, a Democrat, called Davis' death "yet another sad reminder of the risks law enforcement officers face each day." Davis was the second New York law enforcement officer killed on duty in less than a week. New York City police Officer Miosotis Familia was fatally shot last Wednesday by a man who was then killed by other officers.
The state police superintendent said Davis was wearing body armor, but the round hit him in his side, where he had no protection.
Beach said Walters gave no motive for the shootings.
Walters and his 27-year-old wife met around the time she finished high school in Mattydale, a community near Syracuse, said her hometown friend Jerry Mikels. He said Nichole Walters was devoted to her toddler-aged son and was always willing to help people.
"She got along with everybody," he said. "If she knew you needed help, she would help out. She was there for my wife when she had cancer."
Data on domestic violence among military couples varies widely. A 2010 federal Centers for Disease Control survey , prepared for the Defense Department, said domestic violence aimed at military wives occurs at a similar rate as it does to women in the general population, with about 30 percent of the wives having ever been physically attacked, raped, or stalked by an intimate partner.
But other studies on the percentage of women in military couples who've experienced domestic violence have given rates ranging from about 13 to 60 percent.
The disparities are partly due to differences in methodology, says Keith Klostermann, a psychology professor at Medaille College in Buffalo and an author of a 2012 academic journal article on domestic violence in the military. He suggests that whatever the differences in statistics, military life has some features — such as deployments and frequent moves — that can strain individuals and relationships.
"This is a huge issue, and it requires more attention," he says. "From a scientific perspective, we need to better understand this phenomenon and how best we can help these families."
State Highway Patrol to help address violence in St. Louis
A proposal calls for a special unit of the State Highway Patrol to target violent felons on highways, collect better intelligence to aid local police and push to stop drug trafficking
by Jim Salter
ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday unveiled a plan to quell violent crime in St. Louis, a place where he has a home but one he called "the most dangerous city in the United States of America."
The Republican's proposal, outlined in an outdoor news conference on a hot day in a high-crime part of St. Louis, calls for a special operations unit of the State Highway Patrol to target violent felons on interstate highways, collect better intelligence to aid local police and push to stop drug trafficking. The Missouri Department of Public Safety also will work with the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to go after violent criminals.
"We have too many neighborhoods where good people feel that they need to get inside before the sun sets because it's too dangerous after the sun goes down," Greitens said. "Crime tears communities apart."
St. Louis has earned a spot among the most dangerous U.S. cities. Homicides have been on the rise over the past three years, with 188 in both 2015 and 2016. So far, 2017 is shaping up to have a similar pace, with 95 killings through July 4, according to police statistics.
Greitens' family has seen violence firsthand. In December, his wife, Sheena, was robbed at gunpoint. She was unharmed. Three suspects, ages 14, 15 and 19, were arrested a short time later. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL officer, said at the time that he was glad "the men and women of law enforcement found these young men before I did."
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, said at the news conference that violence in the city "is at a crisis point" and she welcomed the governor's intervention, something they first discussed in April during her first week in office.
Her support comes even as the two don't see eye to eye on many other issues. Greitens has called for a special legislative session scaling back a St. Louis ordinance aimed at housing and employment discrimination based on reproductive health decisions such as pregnancy or abortion.
Greitens also is allowing a bill to become law next month that pushes the city's increase of the minimum wage back to the state minimum of $7.70 per hour. In May, the city's minimum wage was raised to $10 an hour.
The minimum wage decision drew about two dozen protesters to Monday's news conference, many of whom shouted "Liar!" or "We need to get paid!" so loud that Greitens' words were often drowned out.
Governors in other states also are stepping up efforts to help violence-plagued cities. Last week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, announced the creation of an investigative joint task force that includes law enforcement at all levels, calling it an effort to take back the "streets of Little Rock." It followed a July 1 shooting at a downtown Little Rock nightclub that left 28 people injured.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, also a Republican, announced a plan earlier this year to fund 200 more state police cadets to patrol Chicago-area expressways, where an increasing number of shootings have occurred. Chicago had 762 homicides in 2016.
The St. Louis program began Sunday night. "And in their first night alone, they had dozens of felony arrests, drug stops, and took drunk drivers off the streets," Greitens said.
Democratic state Rep. Joshua Peters of St. Louis was critical of the plan, saying it does nothing "to address the real issues of crime prevention, prosecution, or getting at the root causes of crime." Peters said Greitens is using members of the patrol "in what amounts to a political commercial to bolster his national image."
Greitens said the approach being used in St. Louis could eventually be expanded to Kansas City and other Missouri cities.
Ghoulish online game urges young people to end their lives
by Claudia Lauer
The family of a Texas teen who hanged himself says their son was involved in a ghoulish online game that calls on participants to complete a series of tasks before taking their own lives, and some schools are warning parents about the so-called Blue Whale Challenge.
Jorge Gonzalez told San Antonio television station WOAI (http://bit.ly/2ufDDhG) that he wanted to caution others after his son, Isaiah, was found hanging in his bedroom closet Saturday in the family's home with his cellphone propped up on a shoe to record his death.
A report on the boy's death from the San Antonio Police Department does not mention the challenge. But Gonzalez' family said in the days after the teen died, they pieced together from his social media and communication with friends that he had participated in the game.
His sister, Alexis, told the TV station that a person behind the challenge had gathered personal information from Isaiah and had threatened to harm the family.
The police department did not return a message left by The Associated Press asking whether authorities were investigating the game as a factor in the case. Many parents and other authorities are skeptical that the game actually exists, citing a lack of suicides directly attributed to it.
Agent Michelle Lee of the FBI's San Antonio office said the agency is not assisting in the investigation, but urged parents to monitor their children's online activities.
"It's a reminder of one of the many dangers and vulnerabilities that children face using various social media and apps online every day," Lee said. "Parents must remain vigilant and monitor their child's usage of the internet."
Gonzalez is the second parent this week to tell news outlets about a child who died by suicide allegedly as a result of the game. A Georgia woman spoke Monday to CNN about her 16-year-old daughter killing herself as part of the challenge but asked that their names not be used.
Educators, law enforcement officers and parents across the country have reported rumors about the challenge for months. But until this week, there had been no allegations in the United States about a death directly linked to the game. Suicides in Russia, Brazil and a half dozen other countries were reportedly linked to the challenge in cases that usually involved teenagers or young adults.
Notes have been posted on school district social media pages and sent home to parents in school districts across the country, including Vacaville, California; Baldwin County, Alabama; Warwick, Rhode Island; and Denver.
In Connecticut, Danbury Public Schools Superintendent Sal Pascarella sent a short note to parents around May after administrators from the district's 19 schools started hearing about the challenge from kids as young as elementary schoolers.
"The elementary school principals started hearing their kids talk about this thing. Then the secondary principals started mentioning the same thing," he said. "We discovered on our school network content about the challenge had been looked at on YouTube. ... I decided I would rather err on the side of information with parents."
Parents allege that teens reach out to game administrators called curators through various social media platforms. Those curators lead the players through 50 days of challenges including watching scary movie clips, cutting symbols into their arms and legs and taking pictures of themselves in dangerous positions such as on the edge of a roof or on train tracks.
The participants are allegedly required to take pictures of their challenges being completed and share them before being directed to end their lives on the 50th day. A search of related hashtags on Instagram shows users posting pictures of scars and cuts or memes that depict suicide, and a similar Twitter search shows users reaching out for curators to lead them through the game.
Instagram warns that some images tagged under some of the related phrases could be harmful and directs users to mental health resources. Twitter assesses reports of self-harm or suicide and also directs users to mental health or suicide-prevention resources.
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children is aware of the challenge and encourages parents to report it and similar activity to the center's cyber tip line even if they feel like they do not have enough information to go to police, said Eliza Harrell, the group's director of education and outreach.
Harrell said she had not heard about the use of threats and intimidation, but said it was particularly concerning.
"That really adds another level to this," she said. "We do not tend to address specific apps or games when we give advice to parents."
When parents talk to their children, "the underlying conversation needs to be about dealing with strangers online and putting themselves in a position of trust," she added. "It's an issue that a child is listening to someone anonymously and doing what they are told by a stranger to do."
What Does '21st Century Policing' Really Mean?
by Megan Harris
(Audio on site)
Its an oft-repeated mandate: law enforcement needs to change for the 21st Century. But what does "21st Century policing" actually mean, and how would a forward-thinking department be different than what most jurisdictions have now?
On this week's episode of the Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and host David Harris talks to Ronald Davis, the former head of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.
Davis helped write the 2015 blueprint for President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
RONALD DAVIS: Community policing is when the police and the community come together and become co-producers of public safety, which means together we're responsible for identifying problems. Together we're responsible for developing solutions to these problems. Together we implement that, and most importantly, together we hold each other mutually accountable for successes or setbacks.
DAVID HARRIS: And we get to the summer of 2014. A lot changes. Michael Brown is shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo. Riots erupt there. There's the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. That year, in December 2014, President Obama asks you to serve as the executive director of the brand new Task Force on 21st Century Policing. What was the mission of the task force?
DAVIS: The biggest change that occurred was not the controversial incidents themselves or the concerns that the minority community shared. It was the revealing of that in such a public venue that many who did not understand the issues were forced now to look at and deal with the reality of what many communities of color had been talking about for generations.
The idea of the task force was to say, "Look, how do we now come up with some tenable, credible recommendations to help law enforcement improve its relationship with the community while ensuring that we're still getting the historic gains in reducing crime and violence in our communities?"
HARRIS: You've been in law enforcement for three decades and one of the things that I've heard you say is how certain police approaches cause collateral damage. What do you mean by the collateral damage of these kinds of tactics?
DAVIS: It goes back to the question that's asked. If we're guardians, that means we're there to guard our community, which in doing so, you have to use tactics to not harm the community. You can't burn down a village in order to save it.
So when it's a tactic that has collateral damage, you can't arrest your way out of crime. Because the collateral damage has been -- and this is not theoretical, these are factual -- has resulted in the mass incarceration of our people in general. We still have the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. Inside of that, we have significant racial disparities, which means primarily young men and women of color.
The collateral damage is that we're destroying our trust, the credibility of the system, we're destroying communities, we're taking people out of the American way of life where they can vote and get jobs and really live a prosperous life.
So there's a lot of collateral damage for the temporary satisfaction of taking people to jail for very low-level offenses.
HARRIS: Now it's been about two years since the final report from the task force came out. Changes are beginning to happen. What kind of change are you seeing?
DAVIS: I think we're seeing broad, widespread, heartening and impressive change. It came from the field. We learned from what works or doesn't work. What I mean by the field, I'm not just talking police. I'm talking communities. We have people testify in front of the task force that came from community activist groups to civil rights organizations to labor unions to police to academics. So it came from the people that are fighting battles every day. What's the best thing that worked? It came from the best thinking, from the science, we did research. It's been embraced, because it makes sense.
As one chief told me, and it was the San Jose chief, I'm going to put him on blast, as they say. I think it was very powerful. And he said the following: "I'm not implementing 21st century policing pillars because President Obama asked me to and I'm not going to stop if President Trump asks me to. I'm implementing it, because it's in the best interest of my community, and my community and I have decided this is how we advance public safety in San Jose."
That one statement covers it all, and I think President Obama knew that. That it wasn't about politics, it wasn't about an administration -- it was about leadership and allowing people to come together to solve problems. And that's why this report is so widely implemented and embraced.
NYC mayor at officer's funeral: 'We must help our police'
The mayor's remarks came after he faced complaints from critics for spending the weekend with world leaders in Germany as his city grappled with Familia's death
by Colleen Long
NEW YORK — The public needs to step up to protect police at a time when they're under attack, New York's mayor and police commissioner said Tuesday as they eulogized an officer ambushed and killed in a parked police vehicle.
"We've watched with horror these attacks on our police here in New York City and all around our country. It sickens us, and we know they cannot be tolerated, and we know they must end," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at Officer Miosotis Familia's funeral.
"But in fact," he added, "we must end it. It's not a one-way street, my friends. We must help our police in every way, just as we ask them to help us in our moment of need. ... They need us to be their eyes and ears. They need our solidarity and support."
Taking aim at protesters and the media for what he sees as too much criticism of officers, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Familia's death "should remind everybody that the civility of our city rests on a knife's edge."
"Where are the demonstrations for the single mom who cared for her elderly mother and three children?" he asked to a thunderous, extended standing ovation from an audience packed with officers. "There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage?"
He called safety and order a shared responsibility between police and residents and pressed the public "to make a commitment to help your police, to work with us."
The Democratic mayor's remarks came after he faced complaints from critics — including President Donald Trump — for spending the weekend with world leaders in Germany as his city grappled with Familia's death, which happened early on July 5. De Blasio attended Monday's wake.
"She embodied the American dream" and "a beautiful New York City story," de Blasio said Tuesday, calling Familia a hero who "lived life the right way."
A sea of police in blue uniforms filled the landmark Bronx movie theater and the street outside to pay tribute to Familia, a 12-year officer, former health care worker and single mother of three who also cared for her 86-year-old mother. A child of immigrants who was the first person in her family to go to college, she had always wanted to be a police officer, her family said.
"She was brave enough to do that knowing that there's consequences, like danger, but she loved us," said her 12-year-old son, Peter Vega, who has a twin sister, Delilah. "She wanted to sacrifice for us, so she did it."
Familia was posthumously promoted Tuesday to detective. And to her family, she was also a "protector, defender, guidance counselor, spiritual adviser ... philosopher, philanthropist, theorist and mother," said her 20-year-old daughter, Genesis Vilella.
Familia, 48, was in an RV-like command post stationed in a crime-ridden Bronx precinct early Wednesday when 34-year-old Alexander Bonds walked up to the vehicle and fired once through the passenger window, striking Familia in the head. Bonds ran from the scene but police caught up to him and opened fire, killing him after they said he turned the gun on them. Bonds had sought psychiatric care just days earlier.
An ex-convict, he had railed about police and prison officers in a Facebook video last fall.
At the wake Monday, Bronx resident Bill Simpson, 56, said he felt the need to mourn the loss of Familia, even though he never met her.
"It hurt everybody. All of us feel it," he said.
After joining the NYPD in 2005, Familia worked her entire career in the Bronx precinct where she was killed.
Familia is the first female New York Police Department officer to die in the line of duty since 9/11.
Palmetto citizens evaluate their police department, with high marks for officers
by Mark Young
Palmetto -- An inaugural civilian evaluation of the Palmetto Police Department has revealed strong support for the department's officers, but also found that more attention is needed on crucial community concerns.
At the behest of Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler, a group of University of South Florida students conducted the citywide survey to evaluate his department's perceived relationship with citizens. Scott particularly wanted the study to focus on the Community Redevelopment Agency, which includes about 40 percent of the overall population, yet averages 65 percent of the city's crime rate.
The CRA boundaries encompass the heart of the city's downtown area from 11th Avenue West, south to the riverfront, north to 17th Street West and with sections extended eastward beyond Haben Boulevard.
Each year, Tyler presents an updated community policing plan to the CRA, which funds six full-time and two part-time officers, but this is the first time a civilian study was included in the plan. Tyler will seek almost $550,000 from the CRA to pay for six full-time officers and two part-time officers dedicated solely to the CRA.
“I believe we are being successful,” Tyler said. “Part of the strategy of having these officers in the CRA is building relationships where they can get to know the citizens, and it's important for the officers to get to know the area and the residents. These particular officers are dedicated to come up with strategies that address specific concerns that residents and businesses are telling us exist in the CRA.”
According to the study, the department's relationship with the community is fairly strong, with an average between 70-80 percent of respondents saying they trust the police department and believe its officers act in a professional manner. Almost 95 percent of respondents say Palmetto is a safe place to live, but when asked if the city is safer than last year, 35 percent said no.
The overall study also included two focus groups and again, as a whole, the department's perception within the community is largely positive. But participants raised several concerns, including the need to address gangs, the sale and use of drugs, disorderly youth and a growing homeless population north of the Manatee River.
Tyler said he understands the perception from years past, but stated there is a substantial decrease in gang activity in Palmetto. Drug use, however, specifically opioid overdoses are spiking. Since January, the city has responded to 40 overdoses, but only one fatality. As part of his strategy, Tyler's department has focused their attention on business parking lots where most of the drug transactions appear to be taking place.
“It's smart on the part of the dealer, because the users aren't coming to a traditional drug house any more,” Tyler said. “The user picks up the phone and meets his dealer in a parking lot, and that's where the transactions are taking place.”
Tyler acknowledged a growing homeless issue, but said his department takes a compassionate approach to enforcing the law. Being homeless isn't a crime, but they can be dealt with, specifically with community policing strategies at the forefront. Tyler is a strong advocate for community policing strategies that bring his officers and the community together with common goals of creating a good quality of life in Palmetto.
“When I hire new officers, I have a conversation from the get-go to explain what community policing is,” Tyler said. “I'm very proud of them because they take that vision and make it their own.”
The effort to build relationships in the city's high-crime areas appears to working. Tyler said the citizens in those neighborhoods are cooperating more with law enforcement, which led to resolving some of the city's most serious crimes during the past year.
While the survey was a good first look at how the community views the police department, both Tyler and CRA Director Jeff Burton acknowledge some flaws in the survey. It was intended to focus more on the CRA, but was overly represented in responses from outside the CRA. The majority of respondents, 83 percent, were white and tended to be elderly with an average household income of $65,000.
“The data does not represent the population distribution of the CRA, “Burton said. “The CRA is different from the rest of the city in a variety of ways.”
Tyler and Burton agree that continuing to do a civilian evaluation of the police department has value, and they hope to conduct one every four years to build a database of progress and determine where to readdress resources as needed.
“We are leading the way here on how we measure the value of community policing,” Burton said. “It's something a lot of CRA directors don't like to talk about. It's a touchy situation for them because it can get political, but we want to do it right and I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Police, public to interact at community gathering
by Ryan Severance
The Pueblo community will have a chance to mingle with officers from the Pueblo Police Department, get crime prevention tips and have some fun when the department hosts its annual Neighborhood Safety Night Aug. 1.
The event is set to run from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo.
Neighborhood Safety Night will feature police personnel presenting crime prevention information as well as neighborhood watch information, free food, raffles and give-a-ways, free boat rides and even a water tank where citizens can dunk officers, among other fun activities.
This will be the fourth year the police department has put on the event, and the second consecutive year it has been an independent event with a new name.
Before, the police department joined departments across the country for National Night Out, a similar event was held in communities nationwide.
Sgt. Eric Gonzales of the police department said there were too many guidelines and restrictions in being associated with National Night Out, so last year the department decided to do its own event and started calling it Neighborhood Safety Night.
The event is still held on the same evening as National Night Out.
Gonzales said the event is a great opportunity for the police department to bond with the community.
"It's about community interaction and letting the community know they can interact with police officers. It's a positive event," he said. "And we're going to impart on them information such as crime prevention tips, home burglary tips and how to keep themselves safe in their homes."
Gonzales said community policing is an important initiative for the department.
"The Pueblo Police Department has always been involved with community policing. It's just unfortunate that over the last few years with budgets being cut in the city that we haven't had the opportunity to do as much as we would like to," Gonzales said. "So we always made sure we at least did something like this so we could be really close to the community."
As for which Pueblo officers are going to be in the dunk tank? Gonzales said that's unknown at this time, but a few brave men or women in blue will certainly step up to the plate.
Missouri police officer continues to address violent crime
by Alisa Nelson
A police officer who walked from Kansas City to the Missouri capitol in May to talk to Governor Eric Greitens continues to talk to the governor's office about violent crime in Kansas City. Sapp tells Missourinet that he's trouble about the number of young people getting killed in his city.
“The randomness and the unconscionable decisions being made is like something that I've never seen before,” says Sapp. “At least back in the 90s, you can even ask folks that lived in the inner city and grew up around crime. They will say there was a code. You don't mess with old folks and you don't mess with the kids.”
According to TV station KMBC, about 36% of this year's homicide victims in Kansas City are 24 or younger.
There's been about 75 homicides in Kansas City this year. Sapp says the number of officers and community policing must increase. He's working with an organization of mothers who have lost children to homicide to make the community aware about violence occurring.
“We need to come together. We need to start a very serious dialogue,” says Sapp. “We need to come together as community because it's affecting all of us. The cops, the parents, the children, the infrastructure. Everything is affected by this violence.”
State Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, is also addressing the violence in Kansas City during an upcoming event.
The city of Kansas City will soon begin taking applications for a newly created job that aims to reduce violent crime. The liaison position involves working with law enforcement, elected officials, organizations and neighborhood leaders.
Governor Greitens has campaigned heavily in support of protecting Missouri's law enforcement.
Report: Police pursuits are causing unnecessary deaths and injuries
About 17 percent of the pursuits that took place in the 12-month period beginning in October 2015 resulted in a collision
by James Queally and Jack Leonard
LOS ANGELES — Police chases in Los Angeles County are “causing unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths” and most pursuits are launched in response to relatively minor crimes, according to a new grand jury report.
The grand jury said local agency rules on police chases should take into account the likelihood of a dangerous collision compared with the chances of catching a suspect.
Two-thirds of the 421 pursuits that took place in the 12-month period beginning in October 2015 resulted in a suspect's capture, the grand jury's report said. About 17 percent of pursuits resulted in a collision.
Over the same period, three fleeing drivers were killed and 45 people were injured, including suspects, their passengers or officers, the report said. That put the rate of injury or death at 11 percent.
“Is this the best balance that can be realized between law enforcement goals and the risk of unintended consequences?” the grand jury report asked.
In calling on local law enforcement agencies to revamp how they approach pursuits, the grand jury cited analyses by the Los Angeles Times showing that LAPD car chases have led to bystander injuries and deaths at a higher rate than pursuits in the rest of the state. In 2015, LAPD pursuits injured more bystanders than in any other year in at least a decade.
The Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department should provide officers with recurring training on driving in pursuits and each department's trainers should investigate injuries at pursuit crash scenes, the grand jury said.
Grand jurors described the Sheriff's Department's pursuit training facility as “substandard” compared with the LAPD's and called for improved and longer training for deputies.
Remains buried in backyard belong to 'most wanted' fugitive
by the Associated Press
BOSTON — A decades long search for a fugitive charged in the 1980 killing of a Pennsylvania police chief came to a dramatic end Friday as authorities positively identified remains found buried in a Massachusetts yard as the man they have long suspected in the fatal shooting.
Donald Eugene Webb was one of the longest-tenured fugitives on the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list, appearing there from 1981 to 2007. Authorities believe Webb shot and killed Saxonburg police Chief Gregory Adams in December 1980 after Adams pulled him over for running a stop sign.
Webb, then 49, was a jewelry thief from Massachusetts with connections to the New England mob. Police believe he was in Saxonburg, outside Pittsburgh, to case a jewelry store he planned to rob when Adams stopped his car.
Webb disappeared after the killing, but his car was found two weeks later in a parking lot in Warwick, Rhode Island. Within weeks of the killing, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Webb after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and charged in Pennsylvania with first-degree murder
Police were led to Webb's body Thursday by his ex-wife, Lillian, who showed them where he was buried in her back yard in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Prosecutors in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that authorities have agreed not to prosecute Lillian Webb in the investigation.
The FBI said investigators believe Webb died about 17 years ago. Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts said Webb's cause of death has not yet been determined, but it “does not appear his death was the result of a violent act.”
The police chief's widow, Mary Ann Jones, said she is livid that Lillian Webb kept her ex-husband's whereabouts hidden for years, as Jones and her two sons struggled with their loss and the thought that the killer was still at large.
“I guess I'm angry at her at this point because she could do that to my family — hide him for years and then bury him so we never know,” Jones said. “Why hide him? Why not allow us closure?”
Lillian Webb could not be reached for comment Friday. A message was left at her home.
Adams was 31 when he was killed, leaving his wife to raise two young sons. She eventually remarried.
Last month, Jones' lawyer, Thomas King III, filed a notice in court saying Jones planned to sue Lillian Webb and her adult son for civil conspiracy claims after FBI agents said Webb may have hidden out in a secret room in Lillian Webb's home during short stints in the 1990s. A cane was found in the room.
King said Friday that Jones agreed to drop her claims after Lillian Webb agreed to tell authorities where her ex-husband was buried.
Joseph Beachem, the current police chief of Saxonburg, praised the FBI and police in both states for never giving up on finding Webb.
“The biggest question in the history of Saxonburg has been answered,” Beachem said. “Our thoughts are with the family and we hope this eases their minds, if even only slightly. While the hurt will continue, at least doubt about what happened that day has been eliminated.”
State police detectives assigned to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's office obtained a search warrant for Lillian Webb's property as part of a separate investigation into an illegal gambling operation that led to the discovery of Webb's body. The application for the search warrant said police were looking for Webb's body and evidence of him living in the house before his death.
The FBI offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to Webb or his remains, but said Friday that the reward will not be paid because Webb's remains were found as part of the investigation.
How San Diego PD is enhancing its outreach to kids
by Doug Wyllie
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman – who joined the department in 1982 and became chief in March 2014 – recently attended an event hosted by the San Diego Padres to celebrate her agency's participation in a new program offered by Big Brothers and Big Sisters called Bigs in Blue.
Bigs in Blue is a mentoring program that connects youth with police in communities throughout the nation, building strong, trusting and long-lasting relationships. Through the program, police officers volunteer as Big Brothers or Big Sisters for kids between 7 and 17 years old who need and want a mentor in their lives.
The program builds bridges of communication to offer youth a positive perspective about the police, while providing police officers with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child.
Expanding on SDPD's existing outreach programs
The SDPD already has a tremendous relationship with the San Diego community, particularly with the youth of the city. Officers and command staff from SDPD attend more than 400 community events every month, as well as going door-to-door in every neighborhood in the city. Those LEOs spend thousands of hours every year enhancing the department's community partnerships.
“We literally go door to door to give a voice to the voiceless, because we know it is difficult for people to attend the town hall or go to city council to make their opinions known,” Chief Zimmerman said.
“Part of our community policing philosophy is to visit with the community – sit on a porch, sip some iced tea or lemonade, or to walk into one of our beautiful parks or walk around the beach to just say hello to community members and start a conversation. We know that for us to be successful, we need the trust of our community, which is a community that needs us,” Zimmerman said.
The City of San Diego is known as a major tourist destination, but is also a busy place for the officers of a badly understaffed police department. San Diego has one of the busiest international borders, with about 50,000 cars and 25,000 pedestrians crossing the border every day. It also has the largest military footprint in North America.
“We received more than 1.4 million calls to our communication center last year, which is why Bigs in Blue is so important. Let's face it, when somebody calls us, it's not for something good. It's because something bad has happened. We don't get calls saying, ‘Please hurry, our child made honor roll,'” Zimmerman said.
Adding Bigs in Blue to the SDPD citizen outreach programs further solidifies the department's current community policing strategy.
“Our police officers courageously patrol our streets every day, investigate crime and hold those who victimize our loved ones accountable for their actions. But the reality of doing this honorable and noble profession is that we are often seen in a negative light,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman believes the Bigs in Blue program enhances the department's already extensive efforts to build stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve. SDPD adds Bigs in Blue to existing youth programs such as its Police Athletic League, the program called Making Changes (which helps underserved kids graduate from high school), Girl League (which teaches girls about self-esteem and leadership), Man Up (which teaches young men about responsibility), and other outreach programs.
The agency has a program called Homework Assistant, in which remedial help is offered to students studying in libraries at various locations. In addition, the PD also has a Cadet Program for people 16 to 21 years old.
“We want our youth to fall in love with the profession and then join our department,” Zimmerman said. “Several cadets have gone on to be police officers. We had one who started as cadet and is now a captain in our department – these are huge success stories, as it makes all the difference when we have the trust of our communities. Bigs in Blue is just the next evolution. We are thrilled to participate, but we are already investing in the youth of our great city,” Zimmerman said.
Community outreach as crime prevention
San Diego PD's motto is “to maintain peace and order by providing the highest quality police services.” Zimmerman sees programs like Bigs in Blue as a crime prevention tactic as much as a community outreach effort.
“Would you prefer to have the best cardiologist after you've had your heart attack or would you prefer to prevent the heart attack? We all want to prevent the heart attack. Let's prevent the burglary so that our mothers, fathers, our friends, our neighbors, our brothers, our sisters are not victimized by crime. That's what this means. There are real people who were not victimized because we're all working together. When you bring youth and law enforcement together today, you build safer communities for tomorrow.”
Community Resource Officer breaks down barriers with Hispanic residents
by Wendy Burton
Community Resource Officer Josh Garza has made strides into building a relationship with Hispanic residents of Muskogee — strides that have gained the attention of officials statewide and even Spanish television and radio stations.
His role in the police department as a community resource officer is to “enhance the quality of life and lessen the fears of all citizens,” said Deputy Chief Reggie Cotton, noting that Garza is doing a good job in his position serving all members of the community, regardless of nationality.
But his work with the Hispanic community, in particular, has made a noticeable difference in the community's relationship with law enforcement, say those who work toward the same goal.
“Garza is the only bilingual sworn officer that we have, and he has utilized his skill in breaking the down the barriers to communication in this community, and he has done a great job at building relationships and trust throughout the community,” Cotton said. “Garza continues to be a diplomat for trust and partnership building in our city, and well respected in the Latin community and city.”
About a year ago, Cotton and Police Chief Rex Eskridge noticed a need for a better relationship with Muskogee's Hispanic families, who account for 7 percent of the city's population, according to the 2010 census, and has likely grown larger since, Garza said.
“Crimes in the Hispanic community appeared to be going unreported due to a fear of police and immigration,” Garza said. “They don't know how to navigate the court system. They don't know how to approach the police department.”
As an example, Garza talked about a woman with small children who feared talking to police. Instead of reporting her children were being sexually abused by her boyfriend here in Muskogee, she went back to Mexico.
"And that leaves a man walking the streets who could victimize another child one day," Garza said. "That man is still free to do whatever he likes."
Those working toward establishing a trust in law enforcement with the Hispanic community say Garza has already established an excellent relationship with the community.
"From the time I get to know him, I think that he is a person who is dedicated to his work," said Vicente Ruiz, a Tulsa man who works on numerous boards and committees for the Hispanic community there. "He cares for others, and that is what's important."
Ruiz said Garza and he first met at a forum in Muskogee both were presenting at — working to encourage the Hispanic community to not be afraid to make a phone call if they see something suspicious, see a crime or are a victim of a crime, he said.
Ruiz was impressed with Garza's ability to connect with others and has since invited him to appear on radio and television to educate others.
"He's good at communicating with people. He is friendly and he's not afraid to talk to people. That's important," Ruiz said.
Rodolfo Quilantan Arenas, the Consul de Mexico at the consulate in Little Rock, Arkansas, whose jurisdiction includes eastern Oklahoma, also has come to know Garza well.
Arenas first met Garza when he was scheduled to speak during Arenas' visit to Saint Joseph Catholic Church for a day full of appointments with Hispanic residents needing assistance from the consulate.
“We had more than 100 people sitting there, and I introduced him and I explained how we wish to build confidence and trust with all local authorities, and of course, police departments are fundamental,” Arenas said.
He was impressed with Garza's presentation and has since invited him to speak twice more that day.
“He spoke to the people, and he gave his personal cell phone number and told them they could contact him 24/7,” Arenas said. “He told them, ‘You call me. We are not going to ask anything about your immigration status.'”
Arenas said Garza shared the message that everyone needs to work together to have safe neighborhoods.
“And little by little, people began raising their hands and asking questions,” Arenas said. “And this is important, because once they learn what the police are able to do to help, you will have better neighborhoods.”
Garza also has helped establish the Latin Community of Muskogee, an organization that holds cultural events and offers support to Hispanic families in need in Muskogee.
He has been an assistant coach in high school soccer here and volunteered at summer basketball games at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, given presentations to Bridges out of Poverty classes and takes calls from concerned citizens — even in the middle of the night.
Garza is one of four community resource officers who also work to get to know at-risk families in the community — all nationalities, all walks of life — and he made sure to note their successes, too.
He said Officer Brandon Garner, Officer Jeramie Garcia and Officer Ron Mayes all have their own successes with various aspects of the community and are daily making a difference for many.
"We all use community policing tactics to answer the needs the community has, whatever those needs are," he said. "I'm proud of what we do. It's not ordinary policing. It's community-need policing."
London acid attacks: 5 men assaulted in 1 night; 2 arrested
by Angela Dewan, Euan McKirdy and Muhammad Darwish
London (CNN)Five men were attacked with acid in London, with one man suffering life-changing facial injuries in what police on Friday were treating as linked assaults.
The five attacks on Thursday night, which were reported to police over a 70-minute period, are the latest in a spike of incidents using corrosive liquids as weapons in robberies and gang-related violence in the British capital.
Police said at least four of the five attacks involved two males on a moped, and in at least two cases the attackers stole mopeds belonging to their victims. Another incident involved a robbery.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and robbery, and is currently in custody at an east London police station. A 15-year-old boy was later taken into custody on the same allegations, according to police, who appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Four of the attacks happened in the eastern borough of Hackney, and one other in Islington, in the city's north. All five victims were taken to hospital.
Attacks are on the rise
According to a report released by the Metropolitan Police in March, acid attacks are on the rise in London. In 2014, there were 166 filed incidents, rising to 261 in 2015, and 454 in 2016. Police have told CNN that trend has continued this year.
Acid attacks in London are largely concentrated in the city's east.
Simon Laurence, chief superintendent for Hackney borough in east London, called on retailers to question youths buying household chemicals alone that could potentially be used in attacks.
"It's drain cleaner, oven cleaner, ammonia -- different types of household products which can be bought. My plea is to sellers to have moral responsibility, social responsibility, to ask the questions," he told CNN in an interview.
London's police chief, Cressida Dick, said police were concerned by the spike in acid attacks, which she called "completely barbaric."
"We will arrest people. We will enforce the law as we can. We are working very closely with the Home Office to try to see whether there's any changes in the law required," she told LBC Radio.
'Ministers need to act'
Sarah Newton, an official from the Home Office, told the BBC that tighter restrictions on acids and tougher penalties for their misuse were being discussed.
"I and my colleagues in the Home Office have been increasingly concerned about the escalation of instances -- especially in London. So, we've been working with the Metropolitan Police and community policing some months now," she said.
Parliament is due to debate the issue on Monday next week at the request of MP Stephen Timms from the main opposition Labour Party.
"Too many people are frightened of becoming a victim. Ministers need to act," said Timms in a statement before Thursday assaults.
Corrosive acids are still quite easy to purchase from local, everyday stores around the UK.
Acid was in the past more commonly used in personal disputes, often perpetrated by men against their female partners. Several other recent acid attacks in London have appeared to be racially motivated.
Following an attack in June on 21-year-old aspiring model Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Muhktar, a petition on Change.org demanding that the UK Parliament require individuals purchasing acid to hold a special license now has almost 370,000 signatures.
From the FBI
Health Care Fraud Takedown
Nationwide Sweep Targets Enablers of Opioid Epidemic
Federal officials today announced charges against more than 400 individuals—including doctors, nurses, and licensed medical professionals—for their roles in fraud schemes involving about $1.3 billion in false Medicare billings.
The coordinated nationwide sweep by more than 1,000 law enforcement personnel—operating as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force —is the largest action to date. Of the 412 individuals charged, one in four cases involved opioid-related crimes, underscoring the scope of what federal officials are calling a drug-abuse epidemic that is killing approximately 91 Americans every day.
“It's obvious to anyone who picks up a newspaper or turns on the news that the nation is in the midst of a crisis,” FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe said at a July 13 press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he joined Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in announcing the charges. “Opioid abuse destroys lives and it devastates families. This week, we arrested once-trusted doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals who were corrupted by greed. These people inflicted a special kind of damage.”
Additionally, HHS began suspending 295 providers—including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists—so they can no longer participate in federal health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE, a health insurance program for veterans and the military.
The takedown targeted schemes that billed the federal programs for medically unnecessary prescription drugs. It also focused on medical professionals who unlawfully distributed opioids and other prescription narcotics, thereby contributing to the opioid epidemic.
The charges—which span 41 federal districts—are the culmination of deep dives into the submissions and payment data at the federal health insurance programs, which can reveal trends and anomalies that investigators at the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) can then probe and send to federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to further investigate. In addition to more than 300 OIG agents, this year's Medicare Fraud Strike Force action included 350 FBI personnel from 28 field offices. The FBI's Health Care Fraud Unit started a Prescription Drug Initiative specifically to go after individuals who overprescribe opioids or seek to profit from illegally selling prescription narcotics.
According to the Government Accountability Office, fraud, waste, and abuse account for more than 10.8 percent of Medicare spending—or $75 billion annually.
“These people inflicted a special kind of damage.”
FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe
“We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting the vulnerable people and stealing our hard-earned tax dollars,” said Attorney General Sessions. “We are sending a clear message to criminals across this country: We will find you. We will bring you to justice. And you will pay a very high price for what you have done.”
Officials laid out case examples to illustrate to scope of the alleged crimes, including:
In Michigan, six physicians were charged with prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances—some of which were sold on the street—and then billing Medicare for $164 million.
In Palm Beach, Florida, the owner of an addiction treatment center was charged in a scheme to submit more than $58 million in fraudulent claims—a case that alleges kickbacks of gift cards, plane tickets, and trips to casinos and strip clubs.
In Houston, a physician and pain management clinic owner who saw 60 to 70 clients a day allegedly issued medically unnecessary prescriptions for hydrocodone in exchange for $300 cash per visit.
“Their recklessness and their greed puts Americans at significant risk of addiction and death,” said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator at the DEA, who said four out of five new heroin users started with pain pills and about 600 new users take up heroin every day.
“With great privilege and great authority comes great responsibility to handle and prescribe controlled drugs lawfully, carefully, and thoughtfully,” Rosenberg said. “Where and when practitioners fail in that responsibility, we are going to hold them accountable.”