LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
"News of the Week"  

August, 2017 - Week 5
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonmstrators in Berkeley

by Kyle Swenson

Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about a 100 anarchists and antifa — “anti-fascist” — barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.

Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields . Another was attacked by five black-clad antifas , each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed “fascist go home!”

All told, the Associated Press reported at least five individuals were attacked. An AP reporter witnessed the assaults. Berkeley Police's Lt. Joe Okies told The Washington Post the rally resulted in “13 arrests on a range of charges including assault with a deadly weapon, obstructing a police officer, and various Berkeley municipal code violations.”

And although the anti-hate and left-wing protesters largely drowned out the smaller clutch of far-right marchers attending a planned “No to Marxism in America” rally, Sunday's confrontation marked another street brawl between opposing ends of the political spectrum — violence that has become a regular feature of the Trump years and gives signs of spiraling upward, particularly in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville.

“I applaud the more than 7,000 people who came out today to peacefully oppose bigotry, hatred and racism that we saw on display in Charlottesville,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement. ” … However, the violence that small group of protesters engaged in against residents and the police, including throwing smoke bombs, is unacceptable. Fighting hate with hate does not work and only makes each side more entrenched in their ideological camps.”

Last May, 150 similarly black-clad agitators caused $100,000 worth of damage when they smashed through Berkeley protesting a University of California Berkeley speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Portland, Ore., has been the scene of street battles between antifa and white nationalists this summer . White nationalist Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by a protester in a January video that went viral . And Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington, D.C., was marked by violence when masked protesters burned vehicles, smashed windows and clashed with police, leading to 231 arrests .

On Sunday, police in Berkeley maintained a strict perimeter around the area in the beginning of the afternoon, including enforcing an emergency city rule outlawing sticks and other potential weapons from the park. Fifty officers were spread out at the area's four entrances, according to The Daily Californian .

But antifa protesters — armed with sticks and shields, and clad in shin pads and gloves — largely routed the security checks and by 1:30 p.m. police reportedly left the security line at the Center Street and Milvaia Street entrance to the park. Berkeley police chief Andrew Greenwood told the AP the decision was strategic — a confrontation was sure to spark more violence between the protesters and police.

“No need for a confrontation over a grass patch,” Greenwood said.

Joey Gibson was among the right-wing activists assaulted on Sunday. Gibson, the leader of the Oregon-based Patriot Prayer group, had planned to hold a “Freedom Rally” at Crissy Field Beach. Gibson previously told the L.A. Times his group was not “white supremacist” but “feared that extreme or racist figures might try to co-opt his event.”

Yet, as with other planned right-wing events in the wake of Charlottesville, Saturday's rally drew controversy in the San Francisco area, with one group stockpiling dog feces to lay at the scene on Saturday .

Last Friday, Gibson canceled the event due to the mounting pressure. “It doesn't seem safe, a lot of people's lives are going to be in danger tomorrow,” he told Unite America First.

Attention shifted to Sunday's “No to Marxism in America” event. However, last week, that event's organizer, Amber Cummings, also signaled the event was off due to the growing tensions. “I stress I DO NOT WANT ANYONE COMING and if they do you will be turned away, I'm sorry for this but I want this event to happen peacefully and I do not want to risk anyone getting harmed by terrorists,” Cummings wrote online, according to NBC Bay Area.

On Sunday, Cummings reportedly did not appear for her event, and anti-hate marchers far outnumbered the right-wing element that did make an appearance, the AP reported.

Although Gibson was reportedly seen being taken into custody, on Sunday the Patriot Prayer Facebook page stated “Joey is NOT in jail, and has NOT been arrested. He was cuffed and released after being shoved through the police line.” Gibson did not reply to a Facebook message seeking comment.

“We're just puzzled as to why people consider violence a valid tactic,” Berkeley resident Kristin Leiumkuhler, 60, told SFGATE. She, like others had turned out with neighbors for a peaceful rally but left when things got ugly. “We felt disappointed and surprised by how many people were not in any way discreet about being with antifa — in fact being very bold and prepared to be violent.”


Washington D.C.

Trump to reverse ban on local police using military equipment: report

by Jacqueline Thomsen

President Trump is planning on reversing a ban on allowing local police forces to use surplus military equipment, according to a new report.

The Trump administration will now allow local police forces to take and use armored vehicles, high-caliber weapons and other kinds of heavy equipment that were once used in the military, USA Today reported Sunday.

The Obama administration initially banned the practice after police in Ferguson, Mo. were heavily criticized for using the equipment against protestors in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown three years ago.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to address the Fraternal Order of Police Monday, where it's believed he might unveil the new policy.

"Assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be re-purposed to help state, local and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime,” administration officials wrote in a document obtained by USA Today.

Trump has been a vocal supporter of police during both his campaign and his administration. He faced backlash for encouraging officers to rough up suspects during a rally last month.

"When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddywagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, ‘Please don't be too nice," Trump said.

Several police departments publicly rejected Trump's statements.



TCU police department focuses on 'community policing'

by Madison Smith

The white and purple cars, the black uniforms and the often friendly smiles are just a few of the markers of the TCU police department.

One marker that is harder to see on the surface, but unites many of the TCU officers, is their background as officers for the Fort Worth Police Department.

For many TCU officers, working for the TCU department means better leadership, less stress and a safer environment for the officers.

“When you're an officer in the 16th largest city in the nation, that is a lot of stress to carry on yourself for 25 plus years,” said TCU officer Clay Buckelew.

Robert Rangel, the interim assistant chief of police, has seen a similar effect and said that when officers just go from call to call seeing people at their worst, it takes a toll on them. If the police department becomes out of touch with its community, officers develop a “community fatigue” resulting in a negative view of the area in which they work and the people who they police.

A better and safer environment is attractive for officers who have been serving large cities, such as Fort Worth for over two decades.

“The industry fails to recognize the emotional toll that is taken on police,” said Rangel. “It's like being in combat for a while. You become disillusioned to the human spirit.”

With less than 35 officers in the department, the community is tight knit and easy for both officers and the community to remember familiar faces and form relationships.

“As an officer in Fort Worth, it's hard to form lasting relationships with the community because the people are more transient,” said Buckelew. “I can't be a personable guy on the streets of Fort Worth. At TCU, you know you have people for four years so there is more community.”

This emphasis on community is a philosophy the department as a whole is trying to emphasize.

“The department and community team up as one and use eyes and ears to interact with the people,” said Rangel. “It's about the relationship with the community.”

Rangel said that community policing is only effective when residents believe police officers are there to help them and not harm them. When residents feel comfortable reporting issues it changes the dynamic and becomes a safer environment for everyone.

t is essential for officers to understand that when a member of the community resorts to calling the police, they are already having a bad day, Rangel said.

“You are encountering people at their lowest point,” said Rangel.

The TCU department has worked hard to train officers on deescalating situations when they arrive at the scene.

“When people are scared, they often show anger and other emotions that tie into that and it is still our job to treat them with dignity,” Rangel said. “Everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes but knowing how to talk to people can even their emotions.”

Buckelew adds that the department is more interested in making sure everyone is safe, rather than disciplining students. “We won't get you out of everything, but we will help you get through it.”



Racine officer keeps kids wheels turning

by Jon Brines

RACINE — One Racine police officer is taking community policing up to the next gear by teaching neighborhood kids how to fix their bikes, and in some cases, finding them one to ride.

Community Policing Unit House Officer Tim Cisler said it's something that's in his personal wheelhouse.

“Some officers are good at sports. I'm terrible at sports but I can ride the heck out of a bike,” Cisler said. “I figure if there is a need to be met, let's do it.”

Cisler has competed in cycling races, worked in bike shops, rode bikes on patrol and even became the bike instructor for other officers at the Racine Police Department. But he also wanted to help the kids near the West Sixth Street COP House, 1522 W. Sixth St.

“There are a lot of kids and they ride bikes everywhere,” Cisler said. “When I was a kid, I covered all sorts of ground with a bike. These kids cover a lot of ground in this neighborhood and get a lot of flats.”

The bikes always need repairs, brakes, chains off the sprocket and hundreds of patches over a summer. Cisler teaches the kids how to fix their own bikes.

“His favorite thing to say is ‘fix it,' ” said Mitchell Middle School student Kamari Andrews. “Being a bike mechanic is harder than it looks.”

Andrews, 12, had to walk everywhere before he ran into Officer Cisler. Now he takes care of a full-sized purple Iron Man mountain bike as an incentive for positive behavior at the COP house.

Andrews admits he's seen crime in his neighborhood and stays out of trouble.

“I know who the gang members are. If I see them, I jump on my bike,” Andrews said.

Following a community service project with the kids, Cisler packed up his bike and led a group on a 10-mile bike ride.

Fratt Elementary School student Ismael Morales, 10, now has an 18-inch green BMX bike and smiled when he remembered the trip.

“It was fun. We went fishing and stopped for lunch at a taco place that was really good,” Morales said.

On Thursday, Cisler showed Andrews a damaged inner tube, fixed it and then taught Morales how to repair the bike tire.

Other opportunities

Once a year, his neighborhood kids pick a bike to strip down to the frame and rebuild it.

“It's a project. They get to paint the frame and pick whatever goes on it. It takes a long time,” Cisler said.

While Cisler won't say how much he puts into the bike operation personally, he said the community is generous.

“It seems like the need is always filled,” Cisler said.

Local mechanics and other businesses have donated tire patch kits, tools, a bike stand, a locking rolling tool box and even bikes.

“My mom goes to garage sales looking for cheap bikes to donate to the kids,” Cisler said.

The payoff for Cisler is keeping the kids on the straight and narrow.

“It's about creating young leaders in the neighborhood,” Cisler said. “There's one boy who we figured out was really good with his hands and fixing things. He's now got his own tool box and if I'm not around, kids go to him.”

Last month, Andrews joined the Police Department's Explorers, an organization for youth interested in law enforcement careers, to learn about Cisler's job, with the hope of becoming a police officer himself one day.

“I see what regular police officers do on the street,” Andrews said. “It's a lot of work.”

Cisler is proud of him, but he's trying to stay humble.

“He's very observant. Even if he doesn't become a police officer, he'll be a good witness,” Cisler said.



Oakland's new Police Commission has high hopes for fixing city's force

by Kimberly Veklerov

The inaugural members of Oakland's Police Commission hope to make sweeping changes to the city force in the new civilian body vested with broad authority over officer discipline and policy-making in the department.

The nine appointees awaiting City Council approval before beginning work in the coming weeks include a Harvard-educated lawyer, a probation manager, a grandfather of six, a former military attorney and a school administrator. They were chosen from a pool of 144 residents vying for a spot on the commission.

Based on interviews they gave with a selection panel and The Chronicle, commissioners in their first year are likely to take up issues of community policing, training, recruitment, racial profiling and uncompleted tasks spelled out in a 2003 negotiated settlement agreement overseen by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

One appointee said she wanted the Police Department to enact programs to improve interactions between officers and people who are homeless or mentally ill. Another said he wanted a better understanding of use-of-force policies during protests.

Councilman Dan Kalb, lead author of the ballot measure that created the body, said that with time, the commission will help increase the community's level of confidence in police. It's probably the most important citizen-led committee in the city, he said.

“We need to get to a point where everybody, no matter the color of their skin or their neighborhood, trusts the Police Department and officers, and we're not there yet,” Kalb said. “When you're talking about public safety and protecting people's rights and reducing crime, it's not surprising the Police Commission will be the most crucial city commission we have.”

The City Council is expected to confirm the seven appointed commissioners, plus two alternates, when it comes back from summer recess next month. Within some restrictions, commissioners will have the authority to fire the police chief, help select her successor, discipline officers and create new general orders for the department.

“The commission has the power to become the bridge for a stronger, more reflective, more problem-solving, de-escalating, culturally sensitive Police Department,” said Regina Jackson, president of the East Oakland Youth Development Center and one of the four commissioners appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I believe it'll take a total disruption of police culture as it exists now.”

The Police Commission and the companion Community Police Review Agency it will oversee are the realization of Measure LL, which passed in November with the support of more than 8 in 10 Oakland residents. With their creation, the old civilian police board that served in an advisory capacity will be disbanded.

The police union is reviewing legislation that provides staffing and further details on the commission.

Suzy Loftus, a lawyer for the San Francisco Sheriff's Department and former president of the San Francisco Police Commission, said the existence of the commission in and of itself won't improve police-community relations.

Still, its members will “have an opportunity to set an aggressive agenda, including issues just below the surface that are impacting communities,” such as rape kit backlogs or traffic collision data, Loftus said.

The Community Police Review Agency, which will have a civilian inspector general, investigators and an auditor, will be required to probe incidents involving use of force, in-custody deaths, racial profiling and demonstrations. Commissioners can also ask them to look into other allegations of misconduct.

Beyond its powers to discipline officers, the commission will have control over the Police Department's policies and procedures that govern use of force, profiling and public assemblies, subject to approval by the City Council.

The formation of the commission comes as a federal judge is demanding answers of city officials in response to a court-ordered investigation that found members of the Police Department's command staff and internal affairs division botched the handling of sexual misconduct allegations. The events that spiraled into a national scandal when revealed last year halted much of the momentum in the department toward emerging from 14 years of federal oversight.

The judge has ordered city officials to file by Sept. 15 their response to the scathing June report by court-appointed investigators that faulted not only the Police Department for the sexual exploitation scandal, but Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth for failing to review what went wrong.

Councilman Noel Gallo, co-author of Measure LL, said Oakland officials “can't get our act together.” By insulating the commission from the whims of the City Council, the mayor, the Police Department and the police union, it can be a direct line and resource for the public, he said.

“All we do is make excuses, and it's one lie after another lie,” Gallo said. “People lack confidence in law enforcement and city government. The commission is a step to have the voices of the public heard when their rights are violated.”

The City Council must approve or reject the entire five-person slate chosen by the selection panel — also composed of civilians — but can confirm the mayoral appointees individually.

Jim Chanin, a selection panel member and one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in the Riders police-abuse scandal, said it will be essential for the commission to set deadlines so any punitive measures it wants to take against officers happen within California's one-year statute of limitations for police discipline.

“Whether it's fair or not, right now, there's not sufficient confidence in the department's discipline process,” he said. “The commission, by handing out discipline when appropriate, can act as a risk management tool to prevent the city from getting sued.”


New York

'Briana's Law' makes CPR training mandatory for NYC, state cops

All state and NYC officer candidates must complete the training before graduation from the academy, and training must be repeated every two years

by Ted Phillips

NEW YORK — New York State and New York City police officers will soon be required to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation training under legislation signed into law Sunday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The new state law requires all state and New York City police officer candidates to complete the training before graduation from the police academy, and training must be repeated every two years. The law goes into effect in 60 days.

“This common-sense law will give law enforcement the training and the tools that will help save lives,” Cuomo said in a news release. “CPR is a critical skill and by requiring law enforcement candidates and officers to become certified, we can create a safer New York for all.”

The law's enactment follows years of advocacy by the parents of Briana Ojeda, an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl who died of an asthma attack on the way to the hospital in 2010. Ojeda's mother drove her daughter to the hospital from the Carroll Gardens playground where the medical emergency happened, but was stopped by a police officer on the way. The police officer didn't know how to administer CPR and the girl died shortly after arriving at the hospital, according to the news release and media accounts.

After her death, Ojeda's parents, Michael and Carmen Ojeda, sued the city and the police officer, but a state judge dismissed the case in part because police weren't required to know CPR, according to media accounts of the trial. Her parents pushed for the law first introduced by Assemb. Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) in 2011.

CPR is a medical technique administered through chest compressions and breaths in cardiac and breathing emergencies.

“By requiring NYPD and State Troopers to get certified and recertified in CPR every two years, we help make New York more prepared for life-threatening situations that may arise,” Ortiz said in a news release.


New Mexico

'He just started unloading': 2 dead, 4 injured in shooting at New Mexico library

by Andrew deGrandpre and Amy B. Wang

Two people were killed and four others were wounded when a gunman opened fire Monday afternoon inside a public library in Clovis, N.M.

A lone male suspect is in custody, police said, but his motive remains unclear.

Police Chief Douglas Ford said two females were killed, and two males and two females were injured. The injured were transported to a hospital across the state line in Lubbock, Tex., Reuters reported.

Speaking at a hastily arranged news conference Monday evening, Clovis Mayor David Lansford credited the city's police department for its quick and immediate response.

“This could've been much worse, but because of their training and their expertise and their courage, it was kept at a minimum,” Lansford said.

Officials have not provided names or ages for the victims or the alleged shooter, pending notification of their families.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the shooter entered the library and began firing at around 4:15 p.m. local time.

Lisa Baird told the Eastern New Mexico News that she observed a “young man” with a handgun fire several shots into the carpet in front of him, and yell: “Run! Why aren't you running? I'm shooting at you! Run!”

Baird added she hid under a desk “and tried to squish up as small as possible,” but could hear the person continue shooting as he moved around the library.

“Then I heard his pants ‘shooshing' as he approached the end of the reference desk,” Baird told the newspaper. “I heard a sound like a phone or something being put on the reference counter at the end of the desk, about four feet from my head.”

Sam Nathavong told KRQE News 13 that the shooter fired four or five rounds before approaching him.

“He just started unloading, pretty much the whole clip,” Nathavong told the news station. “I just kept my head down. I threw the table against the door to barricade myself in there. I thought he was coming my way but by then the cops got there.”

Ford said the gunman did not exchange fire with authorities and surrendered immediately when confronted. He did not resist arrest, the chief said.

Police then swept the building to ensure there were no other threats.

A photo posted to the Eastern New Mexico News website showed a male dressed in jeans and a short-sleeve black shirt being led away from the library in handcuffs. Local media identified the shooter as a teenager.

It's unclear how many patrons were inside the library when the shooting began, although it appears many were children.

One image from the scene showed a Clovis police officer, a rifle slung over his shoulder, carrying a small boy away from the building. Others showed children moving with police behind the relative safety of a parked van.

In another photo, a young woman, appearing dazed and bleeding, is seen being carried into an ambulance.

“This is a very young stage of this investigation,” Ford said, “so we're not going to have a whole lot more we can tell you until we've had time to finish gathering details and data, and look at everything we need to look at.”

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives indicated it is supporting the local and state police.



Houston furniture store owner opens warehouses as shelters


HOUSTON (WTHR) - A local business owner in Houston is being called a hero for opening his doors to those displaced by Harvey.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, a celebrity in Houston due mainly to his quirky commercials, opened two Gallery Furniture stores in the Houston-area as shelters. His large furniture warehouses give those in need plenty of space, beds to sleep on, and furniture to sit on.

Other local businesses are helping, too. Grocery store chain HEB has activated many mobile kitchens, which can feed large groups in multiple locations.


Washington D.C.

Trump: 'All options are on the table' after North Korea launched missile over Japan

by John Wagner and Anna Fifield

President Trump said that “all options are on the table” following North Korea's latest missile launch early Tuesday, this one fired over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in the most brazen provocation of Kim Jong Un's five-year-long rule.

“The world has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear: This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said Tuesday morning in a statement. “Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

Despite the grave warning, Trump's statement was notably measured in contrast to his response to previous tests of ballistic missile launches by North Korea. After a recent spate, he promised “fire and fury” if the isolated nation continued to provoke the United States.

Trump also said earlier this month that he would make Kim “truly regret” harming the United States or its allies.

As he walked from the White House to Marine One, en route to survey hurricane damage in Texas, Trump paused briefly to answer a reporter's question about what he plans to do about North Korea.

“We'll see, we'll see,” he said.

Trump's statement came more than 12 hours after White House aides had signaled a statement by the president was in the works.

The Japanese prime minister's office said Shinzo Abe and Trump talked by phone for 40 minutes after the launch, agreeing that they should increase pressure on North Korea.

The missile appears to have been a Hwasong-12, the inter­mediate-range ballistic missile technically capable of flying 3,000 miles that North Korea has been threatening to launch toward the U.S. territory of Guam.But North Korea launched Tuesday's missile to the east, over Hokkaido and into the Pacific rather than on a southward path toward Guam, apparently to test its flight on a normal trajectory without crossing a “red line” of aiming at the United States.

Still, this launch, coming after North Korea last month launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, underscore both Kim's defiance of the international community and his determination to press ahead with his missile program. Kim has now ordered the launch of 18 missiles this year alone, compared with the 16 missiles his father, Kim Jong Il, fired during 17 years in power.

The U.N. Security Council confirmed that it would hold an emergency meeting in New York on Tuesday to discuss the latest provocation. Missile launches and nuclear tests are banned by the U.N. Security Council, but North Korea has paid no attention to its resolutions.

Kim's government had been threatening to fire a missile to land near Guam, which is home to two huge U.S. military bases, by the middle of this month. However, Kim later said that after reviewing the plans, he would “watch the Yankees a little longer” before making a decision about whether to launch.

After the Guam threat, Trump warned North Korea that “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” should the isolated country attack the United States or its allies.

With no missile launches during the first three weeks of August, the Trump administration had suggested that its tough talk was working. At a campaign-style rally in Phoenix last week, Trump alluded to his earlier rhetoric on North Korea, telling a boisterous crowd that Kim was “starting to respect” the United States.

“I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us,” Trump said at the rally. “I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a similar argument at the time, saying that he was pleased “to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past.”

Those comments came before North Korea's firing of three short-range missiles Friday.

Asked during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” if he still stood by his and Trump's assessments, Tillerson said, “I don't know that we're wrong. I think it's going to take some time to tell."


Untraceable 'ghost guns' concerns grow among LE

The 'ghost gun' kits contain parts that have no serial number, making them untraceable

by Kristina Davis

SAN DIEGO — Every gun tells a story.

It's a popular catchphrase used by law enforcement to describe how to trace a firearm, from manufacturer to distributor to point of sale to customer.

But a new crop of guns bear no markings of their origin.

They are hand-built in homes and shared workshops, using mail-order parts and drilling machines that range from the rudimentary to the complex. They don't bear the serial numbers of licensed manufacturers. They are untraceable, hence their nickname: “ghost guns.”

In just the past few years, the advancement and availability of milling and 3-D printing technology has made it easier than ever to build your own guns.

While not illegal on the face of it, authorities have grown increasingly concerned about the potential for a growing black market that sidesteps state and federal gun laws regulating everything from background checks to banned weapons.

The build-your-own-gun movement took off a few years ago in California, home to some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and has more recently been spreading to other part of the country, said Paul Ware, counsel for the Los Angeles division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The division spans Southern California, from the Mexico border north to San Luis Obispo.

Ware first heard of the practice a few years ago when an investigator forwarded him a clip from San Diego's 10 News. A local business was inviting people to make their own AR-15-type weapons around Christmastime. While state law prohibits the sale of the completed rifles, it is not illegal to posses them in specific configurations. A new state law also requires AR-15 owners to register their weapons.

“I watched the video and said ‘That's interesting,'” Ware said. He researched further and determined the business didn't have a firearms manufacturing license, which is needed to make guns for sale legally.

“They are no longer in business,” he said. “We told them they needed a license, and they decided not to get a license.”

By law, licensed gun manufacturers are required to engrave identifying information on the weapon's lower receiver. It's the hollow metal frame that by legal definition makes a gun a gun. The manufacturer name and unique serial number are marked on the piece, and the gun's path to a distributor is recorded in its company records.

The distributor and gun dealer must also record their possession of the weapon, ending with to whom the gun is ultimately sold.

ATF is prohibited by law from keeping a national register of firearms, so when a gun pops up at a crime scene, it is this process of checking through private corporate records that traces the gun to potential suspects.

When a ghost gun shows up at a crime scene, that presents a problem.

How does it work?

The most important component to building an untraceable gun is the lower receiver. The easiest way to get one without the markings of a licensed manufacturer is to buy an unfinished lower receiver online.

Called ULR for short, the unfinished piece can be sold legally without a license as long as it is missing key components that make it a firearm. The gun industry has attached a threshold to this, typically describing an unfinished lower receiver as 80 percent done. But ATF says that there is no 80 percent rule — it either is a gun or isn't a gun, Ware said.

Once at home, the buyer can easily drill a few remaining holes in the unfinished metal shell. The now-finished lower receiver is then ready for its other parts — such as barrel, trigger mechanism, upper receiver and stock — all readily available online. Assemble it and you've got a working gun.

Lower receivers can also be milled from scratch at shared workshops that rent expensive machinery to the public.

It is not illegal to make or own these kinds of guns, and gun enthusiasts make up much of the fanbase for this do-it-yourself method.

“It's not as nefarious as it sounds,” said Steve Herrick, owner of MakerPlace in Morena, a workshop that rents everything from metalworking tools to 3-D printers to industrial sewing machines.

He said customers bring in their own computer software for the Computer Numeric Control, or CNC, machines, where they can make anything from a Barbie to a lower receiver.

“The work required is not that hard. You don't have to be a skilled craftsman to do those things,” he said.

He added: “We try not to stick our nose in our customers' business.”

The one rule he asks gunmakers to follow is to not ever assemble the firearm at the workshop. “They can make individual parts, most of which are not recognizable,” Herrick said.

The guns are a far cry from the first models that were milled this way, Ware said.

“People laughed off the first versions of 3-D guns, they were terrible,” he said. “They shot a few rounds, blew up in your hand. It's not that anymore. They are nearly as good as ones you can buy.”

Against the law

What is illegal is to make these kinds of guns for sale, or to sell as a middleman. And a felon is prohibited from owning any kind of gun.

A black market for these untraceable guns — from Glock pistols to fully-automatic machine guns — has emerged, selling to customers without background checks.

“Prohibited people have easy access to these guns,” Ware said. “They can make them themselves or buy from someone who makes it for them. It subverts the whole Gun Control Act. Most people think it's hard to get a gun without a background check. It's not.”

It was easy for Rolando Magana.

Prior convictions for domestic violence and making threats using a gun made him ineligible to own a firearm. So he went to ROHG Industries.

“They were inviting the public to come in, you pick the parts you want, like a smorgasbord, a buffet,” Ware said. “They put it into the CNC machines and ask the customer to press the button. Believe it or not, they could manufacture and fully assemble a gun, in an hour, you walk out with a rifle.”

The La Habra business kept records of its sales and photos of customers, but did not perform background checks, authorities allege. When the warehouse was searched in 2014, agents culled through about 520 customer profiles and learned 20 were convicted felons and another person was deemed mentally unfit to possess a gun, according to court documents.

One of those customers, Magana, admitted that he'd bought guns and gun parts from the business and trafficked them in carloads to Michoacan, Mexico, according to the criminal complaint. A search of his house turned up an arsenal of guns marked with serial numbers, as well as unfinished lower receivers and plastic human restraints.

The warehouse owner, Joseph Roh, is set to go to trial in October in Orange County on a charge of manufacturing guns without a license.

Paul Joseph Holdy, a convicted felon with a history of drug offenses, was running a less sophisticated operation in San Diego.

Using drill presses and small CNC machine at his University City home, as well as the fancier machines at MakerPlace, Holdy made lower receivers and then assembled guns using component parts. He sold at least 18 guns to undercover ATF agents from June 2016 to May 2017, including short-barrel machine guns, assault rifles and handguns, according to his plea agreement and other court records.

The deals were often made in parking lots, and a few times the agents were invited to the house that he shared with his parents, according to court records.

Another local ring ran out of North County. A young mechanic, Christian Romero, was accused of making assault-style weapons from unfinished lower receivers and then selling the assembled weapons with help from friends for more than $1,000 each.

While federal authorities went after these operations criminally, ATF's Ware said the agency tries to first educate those in the industry about what is and isn't allowed. Most comply, he said.

ATF does not specifically track cases involving unfinished lower receivers, therefore it is unknown how frequently such guns are showing up at crime scenes or are seized. Local law enforcement are more likely to come across such weapons, Ware said.

San Diego police said officers rarely come across such guns.

An AR-15-style rifle pieced together from various parts was used in the 2013 rampage shooting in Santa Monica. John Zawahri, 23, killed five people, starting at his father's home and ending at Santa Monica College. Police shot him in the school's library. Zawahri was also carrying a .44-caliber pistol.

The rifle appeared to have been modified to fire more rounds.



Lynchburg PD, organizations go door-to-door with community policing effort

by Valencia Jones

Police have said an influx of drugs and other crimes are taking a toll on a Rivermont Avenue neighborhood in Lynchburg.

"A lot of the elderly are afraid to sit on their porches anymore, and we're concerned about our children being able to walk from their homes to the store," said Dr. James Camm with One Community One Voice. Camm is also the pastor of Living Word Ministries Church on Taylor Street.

Families said they've had enough, and police and other organizations said they're listening.

"They know the community a lot better than we do. They're in it every day, and they absolutely have a role in protecting their kids," said Sgt. Jeff Rater with the Lynchburg Police Department Community Action Team.

They all joined together for a community policing effort, walking down Amherst and Cabell Streets. The groups went door-to-door, listening to concerns and urging people if they see something, to say something.

"Just seeing police cars rolling up and down the street is one thing, but actually interacting with them and talking to them and playing basketball with the kids down the street, that's what's meant the most to me," said resident Pat Mitchell.

Others who didn't want to go on camera also said they're also tired of the gunshots and vandalism, but they're hopeful things will change.

"This is a great community, a great neighborhood. I love it here. I think everybody's going to step up and take care of the problem," said Travis Hamlett, another resident.

"That's the most powerful statement we can give. It shows that the police department not only protects, they also serve," said Camm.

From the Lynchburg Police Department:

"The LPD would like to make the public aware of a community informed policing effort in the area of Cabell Street and Amherst Street.

Between January 1 and July 31, 2017, this area has seen an increase in unlawful activity, street-level drug sales, disorderliness, and alcohol violations along with more serious crimes including robbery.

Residents have voiced their concerns to the LPD about the negative effect crime is having on their community's well-being. They have also expressed a willingness to partner with the LPD to enhance their community's safety and this cooperation is necessary and appreciated.

The LPD has listened to the resident's concerns and is responding with a specific, tailored action-plan with the goals of enhancing community safety and improving the quality of life in this neighborhood. The implementation of this plan will be accomplished in cooperation with our partners: One Community One Voice , Neighborhood Watch, Councilman Sterling Wilder, VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and most importantly the residents who live in the area.

This plan involves very specific efforts. On Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 6:00 p.m., the LPD Community Action Team along with pastors and community leaders will go door-to-door in the area to obtain feedback from residents and provide them with information. Environmental assessments are being conducted to examine how the current environment is affecting criminal activity. This will include surveys of streets, sidewalks, buildings, shrubbery, and lighting. The number of proactive police patrols has been increased with a corresponding increase in pedestrian and vehicle stops when violations are observed. Officers will converse with residents and those visiting the area to interact with the community and identify those who are in the area with criminal intent. Surveillance of public areas will also occur to detect criminal activity and identify offenders.

Additionally, there will be a predetermined, specific timeframe when officers will conduct proactive targeted enforcement against criminal actions and traffic violations. This effort is intended to send the message that the area will be a crime-free zone and that those involved in criminal activity will be identified and arrested.

Efforts taken thus far appear to be having an impact. The increased proactive police encounters combined with increased drug enforcement efforts appear to have disrupted street narcotic sales in the area. Specific activity results will be provided at a later time.

The LPD would like to thank its partners and community residents for their willingness to assist our agency to make our community safer. The LPD would like to invite the media to assist in this effort by bringing awareness to the community and highlighting the cooperative efforts and successes related to this effort.

To learn more about the Community Action Team, Neighborhood Watch, or Free Security Assessments call (434) 455-6070."



Trust damaged between Milwaukee police and community, Department of Justice draft report says

by Ashley Luthern and Gina Barton

The Milwaukee Police Department fails the community and its own officers by not communicating clearly, making too many traffic stops and applying inconsistent standards when disciplining officers, according to a draft of a federal report obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The draft report offers a particularly damning critique of Chief Edward Flynn's reliance on data, a signature component of his strategy since he took over the department in 2008. Federal evaluators found this approach is having a damaging, if unintended, effect on police-community relations.

“MPD's attention to crime data has distracted the department from the primary tenet of modern policing: trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve,” the draft report states.

What's more, many officers don't know what community policing is and don't think it's part of their jobs — even though Flynn promised when he was sworn in nine years ago that the department would implement it.

The draft report is the result of a U.S. Department of Justice review known as a collaborative reform initiative — a voluntary, non-adversarial process aimed at improving the community's trust in the Police Department.

Flynn requested the review in November 2015 amid public outcry after federal prosecutors declined to charge a now-fired officer in the on-duty fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park.

Since then, the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith in August 2016 sparked two nights of violent unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood and the ACLU of Wisconsin filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the department of illegal stop-and-frisks targeting African-Americans and Latinos.

It's important to note that the draft report obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers a snapshot in time. It is not dated, but it appears to have been written in mid-2016, based on context and on the data sets used.

More recent drafts likely have been written, incorporating context and feedback from police officials, correcting mistakes in earlier drafts, and updating information. For example, the draft report did not mention federally funded efforts at community policing that have shown results in reducing crime in the Washington Park and Amani neighborhoods , a success the department would likely want to highlight.

It's also unclear if federal evaluators intended to address the shooting of Smith and its aftermath in subsequent versions of the report. In the meantime, Flynn persuaded the conservative Bradley Foundation to hire one of his mentors to evaluate the department's actions in the wake of the shooting.

Flynn declined to talk with reporters Tuesday.

His spokesman released a statement attributed to Flynn that said, in part: "The initial report was riddled with erroneous assertions and inaccurate data. MPD worked in true collaboration with DOJ consultants to rectify these errors. The results of that work are contained in the final report which remains at the Department of Justice.

"I have been requesting the report for months as I want the Milwaukee Police Department's efforts accurately portrayed. It is my goal to move forward with the recommendations for reform rather than to be mired in the need to refute errors I have been assured have been corrected."

However, the department refused to provide the Journal Sentinel with items Flynn or others contended were inaccurate in the draft. And neither the Police Department nor the Justice Department has released subsequent drafts, much less a final one.

The draft made available to the Journal Sentinel validates concerns voiced for years by residents and officers alike — concerns that have continued to percolate since Flynn first asked for the review. It includes analysis by the Justice Department that incorporates data from Police Department members, city residents and community groups. And it sheds light on at least the direction of the review at a time when skepticism has grown among community leaders and public officials about whether a final report ever will be released.

Federal officials did not make good on their estimate that an initial report would be released in January . Since then, they have declined to give a timetable for finishing the review. Further, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled that police reform is not a priority, saying he believes in local control and local accountability, and adding that federal officials have no role in managing local law enforcement.

Community policing

Throughout his tenure, Flynn has touted partnerships with large nonprofits, such as Sojourner Family Peace Center, which helps domestic violence victims; and Safe & Sound, which helps organize efforts such as block watches.

He has highlighted monthly crime and safety meetings in the police districts and the role of Community Liaison Officers, who frequently attend cookouts, neighborhood clean-ups, toy giveaways and other community events.

But those are “one-off” efforts — not a guiding philosophy embedded within the department, according to the draft report.

“Attending community meetings or giving away toys does not require establishing ongoing and collaborative relationships with community stakeholders to address the root causes of social issues that drive crime within Milwaukee's neighborhoods,” the evaluators wrote.

For police departments to prevent and solve crimes, all officers need to work routinely in partnership with residents to find solutions to problems. That's the definition of community policing.

And it often does not happen in Milwaukee, federal officials found.

Patrol officers cannot articulate what community policing is. Many of those who try say it's the responsibility only of those assigned to outreach efforts.

That's because the Milwaukee Police Department doesn't have a strategic plan for community policing or a set of guidelines regarding it, the draft report says. And department-wide training on how to implement the strategy has not been offered in years.

Federal evaluators highlighted one example of an attempt at community engagement that fell flat.

Officers held a roll-call, or shift change, outside a Milwaukee school. The stated purpose was to let kids know officers wanted them to have a safe summer. The problem? There were no kids in sight, not even student leaders.

The evaluators noted the event may even have sent the wrong message: That the students on summer break were a problem, and the police planned to deal with them.

Lack of diversity

Racial tensions between the department and the public are exacerbated by a lack of diversity in the policing ranks , according to the draft report.

And the hiring process is designed to screen out unqualified candidates, rather than identifying those who are most qualified for the job, the report says. MaryNell Regan, executive director of the civilian Fire and Police Commission — which is responsible for hiring — said it has developed a strategic plan for hiring more women and people of color, but federal reviewers never asked about it.

Racial disparities also existed in the results of surveys commissioned by the city, the report notes. While most residents were satisfied with their interactions with police, white respondents reported greater satisfaction than their non-white counterparts.

Those differences of opinion persisted during interviews and listening sessions conducted during the federal review. The report noted a consistent theme: “African-Americans are subject to an unwritten rule in which they are questioned about their presence in certain areas of the city.”


•  Although African-Americans are 39% of the population, they account for about 17% of sworn officers.

•  Hispanics make up nearly 18% of the population, but just over 12% of sworn officers.

•  Women account for about 52% of the population, but account for less than 17% of sworn officers.

•  In general, the ranks of caption and above in the department have more diversity than lower ranks.

Traffic stops

The most common interactions between police and members of the public are traffic stops, with the department making nearly 150,000 in 2015.

That's where the Milwaukee Police Department runs into a host of problems: a de facto quota system for issuing tickets; allegations of racial profiling; and complaints of bias and disrespect generated by “curbing,” a practice in which officers make drivers sit on the curb or sidewalk while their cars are searched.

Flynn has always been clear about his goal of a patrol-driven department with officers who focus on geographic areas where crime is concentrated, known as hotspots. The philosophy includes interrupting violence with traffic and pedestrian stops.

Traffic stop data is a regular fixture in weekly CompStat meetings, where the chief and his commanders scrutinize crime statistics and quiz district captains about what they are doing to address problems.

But many officers said they didn't think pulling over more cars reduced crime and they never heard the rationale fully explained. For some, an immense pressure to make more stops resulted in pulling over drivers who seemed easy to deal with and wouldn't take a lot of time to process.

Although high-ranking department officials publicly denied the existence of a quota system as recently as last year, and there isn't one on paper, officers said they felt they had to make two stops per shift or there would be “some sort of retribution.”

That fear, combined with a shortage of officers, has led some to engage in dangerous practices, the report says.

Officers told federal officials they often went “hitch to hitch,” or from one call to the next, during entire shifts. Because that left no time for traffic stops, officers said they sometimes didn't tell dispatchers they had finished an assignment until after they also pulled someone over.

This practice raises huge concerns for officer safety if one of those stops goes bad because dispatchers do not know where officers are. It also can create problems with transparency because there is no dispatch record of the traffic stop.

The emphasis on traffic stops also has raised concerns within the African-American community. In the past , Flynn has said racial disparities are the result of the city's demographics. He has produced maps showing that hotspots correspond with poverty, segregation and other social ills.

Nonetheless, the stops are straining relationships with residents, according to the report.

“While they expressed their understanding that resources are focused in their community because crime is high, they felt that many innocent individuals are being stopped, harassed and detained unduly simply because they lived in the community,” the report says.

“We heard from teenagers and young adults that they are sometimes afraid of walking in their communities not because of the danger of crime but in fear of being stopped by the police.”

Traffic stops

•  African-Americans are stopped three times more than white residents but account for only 2% more of the city's population than whites.

•  African-Americans represent 8% of the population in District 1, an area that covers downtown and the east side, but represent 66% of all traffic stops in the district from 2013 to 2015.

•  Overall, African-Americans were three times more likely to be searched when compared to white drivers, both with and without consent.

Internal Investigations

The way the Police Department deals with officers suspected of misconduct also undermines the community's trust, the report says.

Internal affairs investigators and supervisors who evaluate officers' use of force receive "no formal training," the report says.

The Police Department also “does not have specific guidelines for conducting use-of-force investigations, specifically how investigations are conducted, what evidence should be collected, and which supporting materials are gathered,” the report says.

Investigators are required to make audio or video recordings of statements from civilian witnesses, but not from officers who participated or who saw what happened.

Officers involved are often not interviewed by internal affairs for months, and they are allowed to review their earlier statements beforehand.

“Tactics and decision-making were rarely addressed” in use-of-force reviews, the report says.

The Justice Department also found shortcomings in the investigations of non-fatal police shootings, due in part to the fact that internal affairs does not participate in crime scene investigations. Those tasks are handled by the same division that investigates shootings by civilians. They then pass on their files to internal affairs.

When it comes to officer-involved shootings, the cases reviewed by the Justice Department were inconsistent and the documentation was inadequate.

In both non-fatal shootings and other uses of force, information about officers' training, prior use of force, complaints and discipline were not included in internal affairs files.

That information also does not seem to have an effect on whether officers are promoted.

The report found that neither the department nor the civilian Fire and Police Commission — which has the final say on hiring, serious discipline and promotions — has “a written directive that describes the procedures used for each element of the promotion process for sworn personnel.”

Wisconsin law, the report points out, requires the civilian board to review all aspects and policies of the department annually — something it has not done.

Regan did not answer a specific question about that contention.

She said the Justice Department "spent 99.5% of all the resources researching the MPD."

"They did not review the job announcements, the union contracts, reports, data, or the job descriptions, all of which were frequently updated," she said in an email. "The DOJ never interviewed a single FPC commissioner, recruiter, investigator, or other relevant staff member."

Use of force

•  The is a general decline in uses of force from 2011 to 2015.

•  In that time period, 11 officers used force 21 or more times.

•  African-Americans subjects are 118% more likely than white subjects to have a chemical agent, such as pepper spray, used against them by Milwaukee police instead of bodily force. The evaluators controlled for whether the person was armed, resisting or assaulting an officer unprovoked.

•  87% of uses of force involved someone reported to be "resisting," but the type and level of resistance is not known because of MPD reporting procedures.


Flynn has repeatedly said dishonesty is one of the most egregious offenses that can be committed by a member of law enforcement. He has fired people for lying.

However, there is no written department policy that says “dishonesty in any matter of official police business is a terminable offense,” the report says, and “the ability to testify in court with credibility” is not listed in the job description for officers.

At the same time, the department's “Progressive Discipline Matrix,” updated in 2008, allows several types of misconduct to be categorized as either minor or major, including excessive force, sexual harassment, filing false official reports or entering someone's residence without valid reason.

The ability to classify these actions as minor allows for "too much discretion,” the report says.

There are two ways to file complaints about police: directly with the department or with the commission.

The federal investigators did not study the commission's process, Regan said.

In terms of complaints to the department, supervisors have too much latitude, according to the report.

Under department rules, supervisors may decide upfront, before any investigation is done, that a complaint form should not be filed because the allegation does not “rise to the level of a standard operating procedure or code of conduct violation.”

The evaluators noted "accepting all complaints is crucial to ensuring transparency and community trust in the complaint process."

For the department overall, complaints increased from 2011 to 2012 but decreased for the next three years, the report says.

Flynn has long characterized the reduction as evidence that the department's relationship with residents is improving. But evaluators pointed out the data "does not provide any insight into the reasons why community complaints decreased.”

During the time period studied by the Justice Department, about 19% of misconduct complaints were sustained. Even then, only about one-third of those officers were subjected to formal disciplinary action.

“There is a perception that the current process favors police personnel,” the report says.

When complaints are not sustained, they are tracked under the department's Early Intervention Program, designed to identify potentially troubled officers.

But the system flags only officers with three hits in 90 days. As a result, it has missed officers with long histories of misconduct such as Ladmarald Cates , who had been investigated 13 times before he raped a woman after responding to her 911 call in 2010.

The department acknowledged in 2012 that the system — which also keeps track of squad accidents, uses of force, pursuits and sick leave — was ineffective.

“However, this is still a concern at present,” the report says. “Failing to flag officers who exceed benchmarks is problematic, because without any intervention from their supervisors, unwanted actions or behaviors by officers will likely continue.”


•  From 2011 to 2015, eight officers were accused of misconduct 10 or more times.

•  One officer racked up 86 complaints during that time.

•  From 2011 to 2015, about 19% of all misconduct allegations filed by community members were sustained by the Police Department. Of those, formal disciplinary action was taken about 30% of cases.

•  The proportion of African Americans and Latinos whose complaints received an outcome of "not sustained" was 79.7%, compared to only 20.3% of whites.



Edmond P.D. building relationships to identify solutions to problems

by Paul Fairchild

Public safety is the number one concern of any police department. With that in mind, Edmond Police have been continually working with the public to communicate, address areas of concern, form long-term plans, and be held accountable.

These actions are being taken by the Edmond Police Department in its emphasis on Community Policing.

“Community Policing,” starts Edmond Police Chief J.D. Younger, “is more than a specific organizational model. It's more than a tactic. But as a philosophy it is quite simply the acknowledgment that police and the communities they serve are partners in the task of providing a safe environment. They work together to identify permanent solutions for the social harms that a community encounters.”

Younger is just continuing a custom that goes back to 1977, when Edmond incorporated a community policing council made up of citizens.

Younger said the costs of the program can't be measured in dollars and cents.

“What I would say are costs that are not doing it for you are really available through media, posts, communities where interactions with law enforcement have not been positive. I think community policing provided that foundation of trust between the citizens and their police department so when there are questionable incidents the police department and its personnel could be accountable for things that maybe could have been done better. And the citizenry is prepared to accept that. Again, police departments are made up of people and whether you're wearing a blue uniform or not, humans are powerful.

“Having that relationship and that trust travels out from the police department to the people and helps us to be accountable for mistakes that might occur; and its through that that we're in a much better position to be successful in the long run,” Younger said.

Edmond's police chief stresses that community policing isn't something a police department does to a community. Policing is something that is demanded by the community. It's a way of discovering the citizens' expectations and making sure those priorities fall in line with the citizens' expectations.

To that end, Younger puts his officers in the community as often as possible, making them easily accessible to citizens with concerns about crime. On the second Tuesday of every month, the police department sponsors Coffee-with-a-Cop. Officers go to coffee shops and restaurants around the city to chat with citizens.

Younger also likes his officers to make it to neighborhood block parties and cook outs to meet and greet. These community ties are invaluable.

“Community policing isn't a thing that we can go and do in a particular area or a strategy that we apply to one particular problem. It is a philosophy that our police members understand their role in serving a community and we are open to partnering with the citizens of our community in identifying social harms and identifying long term solutions to address those social harms,” Younger said. “Hopefully, you see that philosophy in all aspects in our service delivery, regardless of the geographic area you might live within in Edmond or whether it's in your residential neighborhood or in your business.”

The primary way people can get involved with community policing is through the community oriented police council. But, says Younger, that has a very small membership for a community of 91,000. For that reason, the department works through other organizations: nonprofits, civic clubs, neighborhood associations, and the public school system.

The department has an annual event, Neighborhood Night Out, scheduled where officers attend block parties and cookouts.

“We're constantly looking for opportunities to make ourselves accessible to the public in a non-enforcement or non-confrontational setting. To just kind of hear thoughts about what they expect as a community member and how we're meeting those expectations,” said Younger.



Md. police, fire departments used as 'safe stations' for opioid addicts

The program turned police and fire department into safe havens for those addicted to drugs and has helped 45 people in the last three weeks

by Phil Davis

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. — The “Safe Stations” initiative in Anne Arundel County has taken off over the past month, offering opioid addiction help to 45 people over the last three weeks.

At 15 people a week, according to Anne Arundel police, its popularity is well beyond what county officials expected.

The program — which turned police and fire departments into veritable safe havens for those addicted to drugs looking for help — originally launched with the expectation that its capacity would be about five people per week.

The increase has led to an influx of people in need of detoxification and caused those in charge of the program to make some changes to fit the growing demand.

“A large portion of the people, because they're fearful of the withdrawal, need that detox piece,” said Jen Corbin, head of the Mobile Crisis Team that oversees the program.

Corbin said word of mouth is helping the Safe Stations program's popularity, with people coming out of it and “spreading the word that, ‘This has helped me.'”

The initiative was expanded last month after the state sent the county a $287,000 grant to hire personnel for the county's Crisis Response Team, which refers those in the program to various resources throughout the county to help with treatment.

For Peter D'Souza, executive director of the Hope House Treatment Center, it's part of what's led to a longer waiting list of people awaiting treatment.Souza, executive director of the Hope House Treatment Center, it's part of what's led to a longer waiting list of people awaiting treatment.

Currently, 60 people are on a wait list for treatment at the Crownsville-based center, D'Souza said.

Not all of it can be attributed to Safe Stations, he added. Part of the center's policy is to prioritize those who are referred there after having suffered an overdose over those who voluntarily commit themselves.

With 715 people having overdosed as of Wednesday, according to Anne Arundel police, there's no shortage of new patients as the county continues to set weekly highs for overdoses.

But he said he's worried he won't be able to adequately staff the center, which just increased its capacity from 16 beds to 49 beds as of July.

Maryland law requires the center to have one substance abuse counselor for every eight patients admitted, D'Souza said.

While he has the beds to accommodate more patients, he only has three counselors and is struggling to find more with an accredited counseling degree.

“The salaries in the addiction field are lower than those in other fields,” D'Souza said. “That is something that the state and the county … needs to start addressing.”Souza said. “That is something that the state and the county … needs to start addressing.”

County Health Officer Fran Phillips said while a federal waiver that allows treatment centers in Maryland with more than 16 beds to receive federal dollars allowed places like House Hope to expand, it magnified the issue of a lack of accredited addiction counselors.

“They're full and they're looking for staff like everybody else is,” Phillips said of Hope House. “Where are we going to find qualified addiction counselors?”

Corbin said her team has started to work closer with many of the detoxification providers — such as Hope House and Pathways in Annapolis — to better accommodate incoming patients.

In addition, the team is referring some people who come through Safe Stations to treatment centers outside the county if it's more convenient, she said.



Cobb County, Georgia Officer in Dashcam Footage: 'We Only Kill Black People'

by Daniel Arkin

A veteran police lieutenant in Georgia who was caught on camera during a traffic stop last year saying officers "only kill black people" is now under investigation, authorities said Thursday.

In dashcam footage from July 2016, first obtained by a local Atlanta television station , a white woman can be heard telling Cobb County police Lt. Greg Abbott that she was scared to put her hands down because she had "seen way too many videos of cops." Abbott, who is also white, then says, "But you're not black. Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right?"

Abbott, a 27-year veteran of the police department, has been moved to administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation, authorities said.

"No matter what the context, statements like these are unacceptable and are not indicative of the type of culture we are trying to facilitate here in the police department, as well as within the county," Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said in a statement.

Abbott's lawyer, Lance LoRusso, said his client was cooperating with the internal investigation.

"His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context," LoRusso said in a statement. "He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger. In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passenger's own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest."

The date of the incident was not immediately clear. It happened the same month that Baton Rouge police fatally shot Alton Sterling during a confrontation outside a convenience store and a suburban Minneapolis officer fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. It also came in the wake of several other high-profile police shootings of black men, many of which sparked protests.

A study released in May of this year said Cobb County police must face up to public perceptions of racism and discriminatory policing. The study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police encouraged the department to keep track of what happens when officers interact with people of different races, "given the societal concerns over biased policing."



Flooding trapped workers at a Mexican bakery for two days. They spent it baking for Harvey victims.

by Amy B. Wang

As Hurricane Harvey approached Texas last week, the bakers at El Bolillo Bakery in Houston worked overtime, knowing people would be eager to stock up on food.

By Saturday evening, the Mexican bakery's Wayside location, on the southeast side of the city, had sold out of just about every piece of bread it had.

“We were trying to open up late and trying to make enough bread for everybody. We knew we get absolutely slammed busy during these days,” Brian Alvarado, the manager of the bakery, told The Washington Post. “We didn't think it was going to rain for that long and that badly.”

As the storm pummeled Houston with record rainfall Saturday, most of El Bolillo's employees were able to leave work. Alvarado said he barely made it home before roads became impassable.

Four bakers, however, found themselves trapped inside the Wayside store, just south of Interstate 45 and north of Brays Bayou. Hemmed in by rising floodwaters, the bakers had no choice but to hunker down among El Bolillo's ovens and its now-empty display cases.

On social media, the bakery notified people that it would be closed until further notice.

What Alvarado didn't know was that the four bakers trapped inside the bakery would grow restless.

“They were desperate to get to their families and they couldn't,” Alvarado said.

So they turned to what they knew best: baking.

For two days, the trapped bakers churned out hundreds of pieces of bread, filling the shelves again with bolillos (a Mexican sandwich bread), kolaches and their signature pan dulce. They watched as, at the peak of flooding, water approached the doors of the building; fortunately, it never seeped in, and the store never lost electricity, Alvarado said later.

At night, the bakers slept on the ground, on makeshift beds and a large sack of flour.

El Bolillo's owner attempted to rescue the workers Sunday but was turned around by police, Alvarado said. On Monday morning, the owner was finally able to reach the bakery — and was shocked by what he saw.

The store's display cases, empty on Saturday, were filled with bread again. Large containers of neatly packaged pan dulce and bolillos crowded the counters. Freshly baked bread peeked through nearly every slot of the bakery's cooling racks.

“That's when we took the image and they had made so much bread,” Alvarado said. “We were not expecting to come in here and see every single display case full of bread.”

The bakery posted a picture of three of the trapped bakers, amid their bounty of baked goods, to its Facebook page: “Some of our bakers got stuck at Wayside location. Finally got to them! They made all this bread to deliver to those in need.”

The post was widely shared, with praise pouring in from around the world for the bakers' kind gesture.

“These people are as sweet as their baking. Thanks!” one Facebook user said.

A Cincinnati man who came across the bakers' story offered to donate money to help defray the bakery's and employees' costs.

“Your act of humanity is what we should all aspire to be and achieve,” he wrote, according to an image of the message posted by the bakery.

“Honestly, this is one of my favorite ‘Harvey hero' stories because it's so very Houston,” Julia Retta, deputy chief of staff to Houston City Council member David Robinson, said on Twitter.

Alvarado said they didn't count how many loaves they baked but said the bakery's display cases can hold about 3,000 pieces of bread. There could have been about 1,000 more pieces of bread on the counters and cooling racks, he added. He estimated that the bakers used 4,400 pounds of flour.

“They just couldn't handle the stress and they needed to do something, so they just made bread,” Alvarado said. “They were just thinking of everybody else, and they just started making bread for the community.”

The bread from their two-day marathon baking session was delivered to various shelters, including the George R. Brown Convention Center, and a police station nearby, Alvarado said. The four bakers who camped out at work have since been reunited with their families, he added. The bakery's owner has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to help employees whose homes and cars were damaged because of Harvey.

El Bolillo has since reopened all three of its Houston locations — and the bakers who were trapped in the Wayside store have been busy fielding interview requests. Alvarado said all three locations will continue to set aside bread at the end of the day to distribute to those in need.

“We're trying to take it to everywhere that we possibly can,” Alvarado said. “We don't like to just drop it off at one location. We're trying to help.”



Worth Another Look: Police-Community Relations

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

In January of 2017, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) published a list of the top 10 issues that will be before state legislatures across the nation this year. While we're just over a quarter of the way through the two-year 2017-2018 legislative session, it's worth a look to see what our own elected officials are doing to address each of the issues. The next topic up for consideration: police-community relations.

If recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia have taught us anything, it's that racial and social justice issues are still at the forefront of our national discourse. Nationwide, marches and protests are creating a combustible atmosphere, ripe for police-citizen interactions. Legislatures are charged with enacting state policies that strike the ever delicate balance between ensuring public safety while preserving citizens' constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. Across the country, there are new laws on the books addressing police body cameras, investigations into officer-involved deaths and community policing.

Just this summer, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed S.B. 560 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which amended the state Wiretap Act to allow police officers to record audio (in addition to video) inside a home. The bill, now Act 22 since it has been signed into law by the Governor, also eliminated the requirement that police officers notify a person that they are being recorded where it is clear to the observer that the person to whom they are speaking is a law enforcement officer. The bill also established procedures for the request and use of the recorded footage that are different than the procedures under the state's Right to Know Law. In addition to these statutory changes that allow for the expanded use of body cameras, the Commonwealth received a $52,000 federal grant to help fund a body camera pilot program. In a similar vein, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania also issued a ruling this summer that would allow audio recording by police car “dash cams” to be released in the course of court proceedings, in addition to the already permissible use of video footage.

We've also seen movement this session on legislation, H.B. 27 (White, R-Philadelphia) that would withhold the identity of police officers who are involved in incidents where a firearm has been discharged or where the use of force by a police officer results in death or serious bodily injury to an individual, unless and until the officer is charged with a criminal offense. The bill passed the House of Representatives in March, was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and reported to the full Senate for consideration. The bill is now “on the table” in the Senate, but could be brought up for consideration when session resumes in September.

While moving ahead on those two fronts, Pennsylvania has yet to establish any statewide policy or adopt any legislation related to community policing. The idea of community policing is that police take more of a proactive role in their communities and neighborhoods: think “beat cops” from years gone by. While the “reactive” role of the police, responding to calls for help, is certainly essential for safe communities, it has been shown that when police are a fixture in the community, known to the public and are allowed to follow-up on cases, better policing and safer neighborhoods are a result. Some communities and even regions of the state are moving toward a community policing model, but state funding will likely be required for this initiative to really take off because community policing requires the that local departments be appropriately staffed and have adequate resources to become entrenched in their communities.

A civilized society needs to balance preserving public safety and upholding our constitutional rights to privacy and against self-incrimination, which makes police-community relations difficult to address. Further complicating the matter, the issue often creates a textbook split between liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans. As the legislature continues this fragile yet important balancing act, we will keep you updated.



'Hells's breaking loose': A 911 center under siege by Harvey

At its worst, some 75,000 calls poured in, more than eight times the normal 24-hour load, and those dialing sometimes endured long waits to reach an operator

by Matt Sedensky

HOUSTON — Some of the callers are panicking; others exude a strange serenity. One moment, Harvey's floodwaters are pouring into a home, the next a motorist is trapped on an inundated interstate. A woman goes into labor in a washed-out neighborhood, and a split-second later, a family seeks rescue from their attic. The pleas for help stream in hour after hour, call after call after call.

In the thick of a paralyzing storm and its aftermath, the weight of this swamped city's problems are landing at the cavernous 911 call center, where operators are racing to keep up as people dial in by the tens of thousands.

"This is like nothing we've ever experienced before," operator Erika Wells says, in a short reprieve between calls.

At its worst, from Sunday into Monday, some 75,000 calls poured in, more than eight times the normal 24-hour load, and those dialing sometimes endured long waits to reach an operator. Even as time passed and the volume dropped, more than 21,000 people called between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon, when an Associated Press reporter was given exclusive access to observe work at the center. In a single hour, dozens of calls can arrive at a single operator's headset.

Wells reported for work on Saturday at 2 p.m. and worked a 20-hour stretch through Harvey's immediate aftermath before she finally stepped away at 10 a.m. Sunday. Like her colleagues, she has camped out at the center since. She works frenzied 12-hour shifts and sleeps each night on a cot in a darkened hallway with a cluster of female colleagues. It feels like some sort of strange summer camp.

She is 26, a lifelong Houstonian, and first set foot in the call center nine years ago, when she was a high schooler taking part in a co-op program. She's worked here ever since, through floods and Super Bowls and New Year's Eves, but never something quite like this.

Wells sits before four screens in a massive, dimly lit room thick with the hum of the dozens of others tending to Houston's misery. Giant displays hang from the back wall, projecting images from the world outside — streets turned to rivers, rescues from rooftops, and officials chattering about a storm that won't seem to go away. All the while, the calls stream in to her.

"Houston 911: Do you need medical, police or fire?" she asks each one.

After so many hours and so many calls, it all has become a blur. Still, some stick out: The man who calmly reported water had reached his knees and drowned his dog; the house packed with 10 people in desperate need of an escape; the woman whose baby chose the worst time to enter the world.

"I literally watched it go from a regular Saturday, to this water is everywhere, to now all hell's breaking loose," she says.

She cajoled callers to breathe and stay calm as she tried to collect the information she needed to help them. Some surprised her with their seeming nonchalance in the face of tragedy, like the man who was trapped in his home, and the woman whose husband had died. Each time she hung up or transferred the caller to a police or fire dispatcher, another came through, almost immediately.

"It was back to back to back to back," she says.

As operators have tended to strangers' tragedies, they've juggled their own lives. Though Wells' home is unscathed, on Monday she received word her ex-husband's home was not and that her children, ages 2 and 4, had to be evacuated by boat. Other operators have suffered severe losses to their homes. Wells said one operator needed to dial 911 to request a rooftop rescue.

They have taken to heart the suffering of others, too. LaKendric Westbrook, a call center supervisor, says some operators have been overwhelmed by the pain they hear through their headsets, and the limited relief they can offer.

"You just want to go through the phone and help them," Westbrook says.

On Tuesday afternoon, as 841 calls reach the center in a single hour, Wells encounters the ordinary and the harrowing. A little girl, with shrieks and laughter in the background, calls to say she needs a firetruck; clearly, she does not. A woman seeks help for her sister, trapped in her home with a sick baby. A burglary, an assault, a report of looting, mixed among repeated misdials.

"I need to get out of the house. I need help," a trembling voice pleads.

This is the slowest it's been in days, and still the pace is furious. A woman calls wondering if she's in danger, if the rising waters mean she should be rescued. A report of a woman seen drifting into chest-deep water on the freeway. A woman fearful for the fate of a friend.

"I got flooded," one woman says flatly. "Do you need to be rescued?" Wells asks. "Yes," she answers.

Wells shows no sign of stress as the calls come in. Her pink-manicured fingers type away the details of each person's report.

Inside this bunker, the tragedy feels both intensely personal and strangely distant. The news coverage plays over and over and the calls continue to come in, but it doesn't quite seem real — Wells hasn't yet emerged from this building or seen the damage first hand.

Her children have said they're proud of her, and she has felt a bit of pride too. She saw a tweet about the volume of calls coming in and thought to herself, "I was part of that."

A circle of new faces has emerged in the center of this sprawling space, a signal that new operators have arrived and Wells' shift has finally neared its end. The faint sound of a helicopter can be heard outside as a steady rain continues to fall. She misses her children, her bed, and soy chai lattes at Starbucks.

But after all that this storm has brought, she says, her colleagues feel like family, and this place feels like home.

"This is like nothing we've ever experienced before," operator Erika Wells says, in a short reprieve between calls.

At its worst, from Sunday into Monday, some 75,000 calls poured in, more than eight times the normal 24-hour load, and those dialing sometimes endured long waits to reach an operator. Even as time passed and the volume dropped, more than 21,000 people called between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon, when an Associated Press reporter was given exclusive access to observe work at the center. In a single hour, dozens of calls can arrive at a single operator's headset.

Wells reported for work on Saturday at 2 p.m. and worked a 20-hour stretch through Harvey's immediate aftermath before she finally stepped away at 10 a.m. Sunday. Like her colleagues, she has camped out at the center since. She works frenzied 12-hour shifts and sleeps each night on a cot in a darkened hallway with a cluster of female colleagues. It feels like some sort of strange summer camp.

She is 26, a lifelong Houstonian, and first set foot in the call center nine years ago, when she was a high schooler taking part in a co-op program. She's worked here ever since, through floods and Super Bowls and New Year's Eves, but never something quite like this.

Wells sits before four screens in a massive, dimly lit room thick with the hum of the dozens of others tending to Houston's misery. Giant displays hang from the back wall, projecting images from the world outside — streets turned to rivers, rescues from rooftops, and officials chattering about a storm that won't seem to go away. All the while, the calls stream in to her.

"Houston 911: Do you need medical, police or fire?" she asks each one.

After so many hours and so many calls, it all has become a blur. Still, some stick out: The man who calmly reported water had reached his knees and drowned his dog; the house packed with 10 people in desperate need of an escape; the woman whose baby chose the worst time to enter the world.

"I literally watched it go from a regular Saturday, to this water is everywhere, to now all hell's breaking loose," she says.

She cajoled callers to breathe and stay calm as she tried to collect the information she needed to help them. Some surprised her with their seeming nonchalance in the face of tragedy, like the man who was trapped in his home, and the woman whose husband had died. Each time she hung up or transferred the caller to a police or fire dispatcher, another came through, almost immediately.

"It was back to back to back to back," she says.

As operators have tended to strangers' tragedies, they've juggled their own lives. Though Wells' home is unscathed, on Monday she received word her ex-husband's home was not and that her children, ages 2 and 4, had to be evacuated by boat. Other operators have suffered severe losses to their homes. Wells said one operator needed to dial 911 to request a rooftop rescue.

They have taken to heart the suffering of others, too. LaKendric Westbrook, a call center supervisor, says some operators have been overwhelmed by the pain they hear through their headsets, and the limited relief they can offer.

"You just want to go through the phone and help them," Westbrook says.

On Tuesday afternoon, as 841 calls reach the center in a single hour, Wells encounters the ordinary and the harrowing. A little girl, with shrieks and laughter in the background, calls to say she needs a firetruck; clearly, she does not. A woman seeks help for her sister, trapped in her home with a sick baby. A burglary, an assault, a report of looting, mixed among repeated misdials.

"I need to get out of the house. I need help," a trembling voice pleads.

This is the slowest it's been in days, and still the pace is furious. A woman calls wondering if she's in danger, if the rising waters mean she should be rescued. A report of a woman seen drifting into chest-deep water on the freeway. A woman fearful for the fate of a friend.

"I got flooded," one woman says flatly. "Do you need to be rescued?" Wells asks. "Yes," she answers.

Wells shows no sign of stress as the calls come in. Her pink-manicured fingers type away the details of each person's report.

Inside this bunker, the tragedy feels both intensely personal and strangely distant. The news coverage plays over and over and the calls continue to come in, but it doesn't quite seem real — Wells hasn't yet emerged from this building or seen the damage first hand.

Her children have said they're proud of her, and she has felt a bit of pride too. She saw a tweet about the volume of calls coming in and thought to herself, "I was part of that."

A circle of new faces has emerged in the center of this sprawling space, a signal that new operators have arrived and Wells' shift has finally neared its end. The faint sound of a helicopter can be heard outside as a steady rain continues to fall. She misses her children, her bed, and soy chai lattes at Starbucks.

But after all that this storm has brought, she says, her colleagues feel like family, and this place feels like home.



ICE warns Harvey victims of people impersonating immigration agents

Officials said fake ICE agents are knocking on doors and telling people to evacuate so they can steal from their homes

by PoliceOne Staff

HOUSTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are warning the public after multiple reports of people impersonating Homeland Security Investigations agents.

According to a statement issued on the ICE website , the impersonators are telling people to evacuate their homes so they can steal from the empty houses.

“Real HSI officials wear badges that are labeled "special agent," which members of the public can ask to see and verify,” the statement said. “ICE officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) also wear badges labeled with ERO Officer. They also carry credentials with their name and organization.”

Officials said citizens who interact with the fake agents should ask to see their badges and credentials. If the public suspects something, they are asked to call ICE at 866-347-2423.

FEMA, ICE and the city of Houston issued statements Tuesday informing the public that no one will be asked for papers or ID if they seek shelter from Harvey.


FBI, DHS: Watch Out For More Antifa Attacks

by Henry Rodgers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned violent attacks by the radical group antifa have increased, and more assaults could be on the way.

The DHS and the FBI have concluded that far-left “anarchist extremist” groups were mainly responsible for inciting violence at a number of public rallies, under the cause of opposing fascism, according to a Friday Politico report .

“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,” a senior law enforcement official told Politico . “These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people. They're using Molotov cocktails, they're starting fires, they're throwing bombs and smashing windows.”

There are dozens of armed antifa groups that have emerged across the country and the government is aware, according to government reports. Their clashes with the far-right have become more frequent and more violent in recent months.

“It's an orchestrated dance. The rallies spill over into social media and then even more people show up at the next rally primed for violent confrontation,” a former New York City police officer and domestic terror expert Brian Levin said.



Utah nurse's arrest raises questions on evidence collection

by Amy Forliti

The videotaped arrest of a Utah nurse who refused to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient has raised questions about how far officers can go to collect evidence and has led to policy changes within the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Here are some of the legal issues involved:


Police body-camera video released Thursday shows Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne handcuffing nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26 after she refused to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient after a car crash.

In the video, Wubbels, who works in the burn unit at Utah University Hospital, explains she's protecting the patient's rights and she can't take the man's blood unless he is under arrest, police have a warrant or the patient consents.

None of that applied, and the patient was not a suspect. Payne's written report says he wanted the sample to show the victim did nothing wrong.

The dispute ended with Payne telling Wubbels: "We're done, you're under arrest." He pulled Wubbels outside while she screams: "I've done nothing wrong!"

Wubbels is being praised for her actions to protect the patient, while Payne and another officer are on paid leave. Criminal and internal affairs investigations are underway.


A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling says a blood sample can't be taken without patient consent or a warrant. But in this case, the officer reportedly believed he had "implied consent" to take the patient's blood.

Implied consent assumes that a person with a driver's license has given approval for blood draws, alcohol breath screenings or other tests if there's reason to believe the driver is under the influence.

Paul Cassell, a criminal law professor at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law, wrote in an opinion piece for The Salt Lake Tribune that state law doesn't permit a blood draw in this situation — especially since the blood was being sought to prove the patient was not under the influence.

Wubbels' attorney, Karra Porter, said the state's implied-consent law "has no relevance in this case whatsoever under anyone's interpretation. ... The officer here admitted on the video and to another officer on the scene that he knew there was no probable cause for a warrant."


Charles Idelson, a spokesman for National Nurses United , said a nurse's prime responsibility is to be a patient advocate and protect patients, especially when they can't consent themselves.

Meanwhile, police are investigators and have to capture forensic evidence, which in the case of a blood draw, is decaying with every passing minute, said Ron Martinelli, a forensic criminologist and certified medical investigator.

"For the officer, the clock is ticking," Martinelli said.

But even with those different objectives, police and medical professionals routinely cooperate and conflicts like the Utah case are infrequent, Martinelli said.


A second officer who was put on leave Friday has not been formally identified, but officials have said they were reviewing the conduct of Payne's boss, a lieutenant who reportedly called for Wubbels' arrest if she kept interfering.

Wubbels, who was not charged with a crime , has said that Payne "bullied me to the utmost extreme." Payne hasn't returned messages left at publicly listed phone numbers.

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologized and changed department policies on blood draws. Police spokeswoman Christina Judd said the new policy does not allow for implied consent for any party and requires a warrant or consent.

Judd also said the agency has met with hospital administration to ensure it does not happen again and to repair relationships.


Hurricane Irma remains potential threat to the East Coast possibly matching Harvey's wind strength

by Greg Porter

On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, now estimated to be the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, attention is turning to the next threat, Hurricane Irma.

Irma, which weakened slightly overnight — now down to Category 2 strength with sustained winds of 110 mph — is currently marching westward across the Atlantic Ocean. Irma's center of circulation is still more than 2,000 miles away from U.S. coast, but signs continue for future concern.

As highlighted Friday, this storm will definitely be one to watch over the next several days — particularly along the East Coast — despite the high uncertainty in impacts at this juncture.

Current status

Although it has dropped to Category 2 strength, Irma continues to look quite healthy on satellite images, as of this morning.

Irma initially underwent rapid intensification on Thursday — it is already the longest-duration storm at hurricane strength of the 2017 Atlantic season — and these kinds of fluctuations should be expected in an intense storm that far east.

Forecast updates

Proceeding with the caveat in mind that exact track forecasts for tropical systems beyond five days are full of uncertainties, let's take a look at what overnight guidance showed regarding Irma's potential track beyond the cone.

The GFS has been painting an ominous picture over the past few model runs, swinging Irma around a large blocking high-pressure system anchored over the central Atlantic. It ultimately brings the storm up the East Coast.

The ensemble (spaghetti plots) for the American model are also currently focusing in on this type of solution. None of the ensemble members have the storm going into the Gulf, with most now showing a powerful storm near the East Coast by later next week.

Unfortunately, a similar solution is also being emerging from the most recent runs of the European model.

As a whole, global models are trying to converge on the idea that a strong high-pressure system located over the central Atlantic will remain entrenched through next week, perfectly placed to allow Irma to stay over beneficially warm waters and head ever closer to the U.S. shoreline.

Again, a similar story shown on the European ensemble members. Individual members, of this ensemble system that historically does quite well, are showing striking agreement in the immediate track of Irma. They only truly diverge in solution after 120 hours, which if course leaves plenty of questions for the East Coast unresolved.

It is still absolutely worth mentioning that these model solutions are not official forecasts. No one (or no model) can tell us exactly where Irma will go.

However, we can start to look at the trends from each model and ensemble run to get a better idea of how the situation might play out early next week. It is safe to say that the situation has become slightly more concerning for East Coast residents.

I can think of no better advice than that of Richard Knabb, a former director of the National Hurricane Center, gave on Twitter on Friday night:

No one, I mean no one, knows if #Irma will strike U.S., but we have time in case it does. Shop for supplies this weekend while lines short.

Let's close with that, for now.



How can police better serve your community? The NOPD wants to know.

by Laura McKnight

Check out almost any news conference featuring NOPD Superintendent Michael S. Harrison and you'll hear him emphasize the importance of community input in quelling crime.

The New Orleans Police Department often seeks help from citizens in reporting crimes, identifying suspects and catching those who threaten public safety.

During the month of September, the NOPD is asking for input from residents in updating the department's Community Policing Plans, of which there are eight--one for each of the city's eight policing districts. The plans, available here by selecting "Community Policing" from the list, aim to nurture partnerships between police officers and the communities they serve in each district.

The online survey, available Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, includes seven questions and takes only a few minutes. The questions seek feedback on problems facing each district and how the NOPD can better work with residents to correct those problems.

To take the survey, click here .

For more information on NOPD Community Policing Plans, call the NOPD Compliance Bureau at 504-658-5080.


Finnish police officers to get submachine guns

A Finnish news agency said the country's more than 7,000 police officers will soon have submachine guns

by Jan Olsen

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Police in Finland released a third suspect Friday in a fatal stabbing attack allegedly carried out by a Moroccan asylum-seeker, a development that came hours after the Nordic country's news agency said officers will be issued MP5 submachine guns in addition to their normal equipment.

The released man was arrested a week ago on suspicion of helping plan the Aug. 18 attack that killed two people and injured eight, the National Bureau of Investigation said.

Two other Moroccans who also had been detained as suspects were released earlier this week.

None of them still are considered suspects, the bureau said.

The main suspect — a Moroccan asylum-seeker whose application was denied — is being held on suspicion of murder and attempted murder with terrorist intent.

Investigators said he had become radicalized, but did not elaborate. He also had given a false name and age when he first was interviewed.

Investigators have said they weren't aware of a motive for the attack in southwestern Finland, but that it appeared to target women.

Earlier in the day, Finnish news agency STT said the country's more than 7,000 police officers soon will have submachine guns. A top police official cited the increased terror threat is the main reason for the upgrade.

Ari Alanen of Finland's top police body told STT on Friday that "we must increasingly consider the weapons we need to take with us."

No one with the National Police Board was immediately available for comment. No details were immediately available on when the weapons would be handed out.

In June, Finland's security agency raised its threat assessment to the second level on a four-step scale.



Calif. court rules LDR data can't be kept private

The court stopped short of ordering the PDs to release the raw data, saying that doing so would violate the privacy of motorists

by Richard Winton

LOS ANGELES — The California Supreme Court decided Thursday that data from millions of vehicle license plate images collected by the Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments are not confidential investigative records that can be kept from public disclosure.

The unanimous opinion came as civil liberties groups raise concerns about the increasing use of police cameras mounted on cruisers or street poles to take photographs of passing vehicles. The devices use software to almost instantly compare the plates with vehicles linked to crimes and the information can be stored for years.

Law enforcement officials say the data are invaluable for tracking down stolen cars, catching fugitives or solving other types of crimes. But the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have criticized the indiscriminate nature of the surveillance and how the movements of innocent drivers are captured alongside potential criminals.

The latest legal dispute arose when the two groups sought data from about 3 million license plate images that the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department collected in a week. The organizations said they planned to analyze the data to determine if police were disproportionately capturing license plates in particular neighborhoods.

The Supreme Court stopped short of ordering the agencies to release the raw data, saying that doing so would violate the privacy of motorists whose licenses were captured. But the justices said there may be other ways to make the information publicly available by redacting some of the information or replacing each license plate number with a random unique identifier.

“It is an enormous win for disclosure and transparency,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the ACLU of California. “The court recognized California's sweeping public records exemption for police investigations doesn't cover the mass collection of data.”

The city and county did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The civil liberties groups submitted their requests in 2012. At the time, the LAPD gathered about 1.2 million images of vehicle plates a week while the Sheriff's Department collected as many as 1.8 million, the Supreme Court said. The data are stored on confidential computer networks. The LAPD keeps its data for five years; the Sheriff's Department keeps its for two.

The two departments declined to release the data, arguing that they were investigative records protected from disclosure.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, noting that the vast majority of the images were from vehicles not linked to any crime. The justices said at least some disclosure should be attempted.

“It is hard to imagine that the Legislature intended for the records of investigations exemption to reach the large volume of data that plate scanners … now enable agencies to collect indiscriminately,” the court noted. It pointed out that the scans are not gathered as part of a targeted investigation.

The court cautioned, however, that disclosing the raw data could help someone figure out where a motorist lives, works or frequently visits.

“The act of revealing the data would itself jeopardize the privacy of everyone associated with a scanned plate,” the court said, adding that with so many scanned images, the “threat to privacy is significant.”

The justices sent the case back to the trial court to consider whether the raw data can be redacted or turned over in another form that protects the identity of drivers.

Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the court's privacy qualms validate her organization's concerns about police collecting huge volumes of data to track the movements of millions of people. Agencies could misuse the data to obtain personal information about department critics or target people based solely on their political activities, she said.

“Location data like this, that's collected on innocent drivers, reveals sensitive information about where they have been and when, whether that's their home, their doctor's office, or their house of worship,” she said.



New Calif. law will extend immigrant protections

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will extend the protection to victims and witnesses of all crimes unless police are executing a warrant

by Sophia Bollag

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California police will soon be barred from arresting crime victims or witnesses just because of actual or suspected immigration violations under a new law the governor signed Friday.

The measure is one of several authored by state lawmakers to ensure people living in the country illegally who otherwise follow the law are not deterred from reporting crimes or serving as witnesses.

Police are already prohibited from detaining people who report or are assisting with investigations of hate crimes.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will extend the protection to victims and witnesses of all crimes unless police are executing a warrant.

It will also prohibit police from turning a crime victim or witness over to federal immigration authorities without a warrant.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who authored the measure, says it will help immigrants cooperate with law enforcement.

The Los Angeles Democrat has argued the measure is particularly important in light of Republican President Donald Trump's promises to crack down on illegal immigration and ramp up deportations.

California is home to a significant portion of the country's undocumented population. Democrats who control the state Legislature have vowed to push back against Trump's immigration policies.

Also on Friday, another high-profile immigration bill, SB54, passed out of a key committee. That bill, known as the "sanctuary state" bill, would prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. It now heads to the floor of the Assembly for a vote.


From the FBI

Hurricane Harvey

Avoid Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes

Federal authorities are issuing warnings to potential donors wishing to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey that unscrupulous scammers may set up shop in the storm's wake.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) this week warned that phishing scams and bogus e-mail solicitations may target potential givers. US-CERT warned users to be cautious when handling unsolicited e-mails with subject lines, hyperlinks, and attachments related to Hurricane Harvey. And the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday issued a reminder to be vigilant about potentially fraudulent activity on the heels of a disaster.

“E-mails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters,” said US-CERT, an organization within the Department of Homeland Security that analyzes and responds to emerging cyber threats.

National Center for Disaster Fraud
Phone: (866) 720-5721

“Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events,” the FTC warned .

The National Center for Disaster Fraud , which was established by the Justice Department to investigate fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, said in press release this week that tips regarding suspected fraud should be reported by phone to (866) 720-5721 or online at . Suspected Internet-based fraud can also be reported to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, at .

To assist those seeking guidance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tweeted a link to “trusted sources for helping out with #Harvey,” which takes users to the website for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster . The Virginia-based non-profit group describes itself as an “association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters” and counts many well-known national aid organizations among its members. FEMA also posted a link to a list of the organization's members in Texas .

The agencies offered these tips (among others) to individuals who are considering making donations:

•  Donate to charities you know and trust.

•  Designate the disaster to ensure your funds go toward disaster relief.

•  Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited e-mail.

•  Don't assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization.

•  Verify the legitimacy of any e-mail solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number.

•  Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.

•  Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

•  Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charity websites end in .org rather than .com.

•  Make contributions directly, rather than relying on others to make a contribution on your behalf.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region in 2005, the immediate devastation was followed by years of complaints of fraud. In the four years after Katrina, the fraud task force—consisting of more than two dozen local, state, and federal agencies, including the FBI—received more than 36,000 complaints. By 2009, more than 1,300 individuals had been indicted for Katrina-related crimes .

If charitable giving after past disasters is any indication, millions of aid dollars will flow in the coming weeks and months to areas affected by Harvey's damaging storms and flooding. Federal agencies want to make sure those contributions end up where donors intend, and not in the hands of criminals.

“Unfortunately, criminals can exploit disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, for their own gain by sending fraudulent communications through e-mail or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions,” the National Center for Disaster Fraud warned.

Perrye Turner, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Houston Division, echoed these warnings: “As we all work to rebuild the Houston/Gulf Coast region and look for ways to help, it's important to perform due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide assistance to those affected by Harvey, whether the solicitations are in person, via e-mail, or by telephone,” Turner said in a statement. “The FBI is dedicated to investigating and preventing this type of fraud, especially when it involves preying on individuals during times of great need.”