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.
9/11, 16 years later: The scenes then and now
by Joanne Cleaver
I nearly stepped on her as I walked down West Broadway in Lower Manhattan on a fine day with a bright blue sky last April.
About to step off the curb, I glanced down and she smiled up at me from the sidewalk, glossy brown hair, perfect teeth, wide optimistic eyes.
I jumped back. How had they overlooked her? Had her photo peeled off the wooden fence and floated down to this square of concrete, overlooked and stepped over for years?
As I picked up the photo it unfolded: It was a page torn from a magazine. It was new, not a missing-person flyer from Sept 12, 2001.
I tossed the damp page into a nearby trash can and kept walking toward the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. It was only a few blocks south.
It feels so yesterday, doesn’t it? Like the Challenger disaster, like the day JFK was assassinated. I stayed home from kindergarten and watched his funeral on TV where I saw Caroline and her little brother stand so still by their thin mother and wondered why my own mother, sitting beside me on the sofa, was sobbing. When the Challenger disaster happened, I was taking my preschooler to a play program and a friend stopped me on the staircase of the Evanston YMCA and told me. Then she disappeared into the locker room to dry off kids after their swim lessons and I stood on the stairs thinking of Christa McAuliffe, the first “everyday” woman astronaut and a mom, on that shuttle.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was typing away in my then-home office in Wilmette when another writer called. “We’re under attack,” she said breathlessly.
“What?” I asked, stupidly.
“Turn on your TV,” she said.
I turned instead to CNN.com, which clutched and staggered under its sudden popularity. I gave up on the internet and went into the family room and turned on the television and was still sitting there when the kids came home from school.
But then just two months later I was in New York with my then-high school senior, visiting colleges. We went down to the steaming pile that was once the twin towers and watched the workers in hard hats in their finest moments and picked our way past St. Paul’s Chapel and its construction-zone lawn.
“How can you think of letting her go to school in New York?” asked several women in my circle of friends.
How could I not? That was where the best school for her was, and so she went.
Sixteen years later, I went back.
How do you memorialize an event that is both past and present? It happened that one day but replays endlessly on television, in news references, and in our shared awareness. The posthumous 9/11 babies are now in high school. It will be another 85 or so years before they, the final ones directly linked to the 2,977 people who died, are themselves gone and the past is completely in the past.
At the museum’s plaza, the two square footprints of the towers are now black holes with water endlessly flowing down out of sight. The museum places a cut rose on each victim’s name on his or her birthday, which means that something is always dying there.
You’d think that with the endless loop of coverage on every anniversary there would be nothing left to experience in the dark geometry of the museum’s lower levels, down beneath the falling water.
But there is.
The totem-pole steel beam painted with the numbers gone from the NYPD, the NYFD and the other Ds. The upside-down mushroom clouds of the towers’ collapse loom overhead on huge photo murals as they cannot on our home screens. Witnesses said office papers rained down like confetti and piled up like snow: Here framed on the wall are a handful of tattered, partly burned memo pages. Witnesses said the glass rained down like glitter: Here in a glass case are broken shards the size of paperweights. The photocopied missing persons flyers are preserved in panels, black and white, urgently written, not slick and produced like the page that I nearly stepped on a few blocks north.
The museum is as much about American resilience as it is about those erased on that day. Exhibits of collective determination abound: a quilted cityscape is made up of patches, one for each victim, including official insignias for police and firefighters, the stitched skyline fading to ever-lighter blue and white squares and victims’ names threaded in the cotton atmosphere.
A museum is only as good as its gift shop. The 9/11 museum is stocked to the ceiling with NYPD and NYFD swag; the official report of the 9/11 Commission in thick hardcover; stuffed dogs wearing “first responder” vests; The museum has made a pretty logo of a Callery pear tree, now called the Survivor Tree, because it was transplanted from the rubble and blooms every spring. It makes for pretty dishes and magnets. They sell briskly.
I rode the escalators back up to the light and strolled out of the black memorial under the blue sky and found myself walking again by St. Paul’s Chapel, by arching flowering trees. The breeze was light and pink petals sifted down like confetti and banked the walls like memos, like snow.
Joanne Cleaver is a communication consultant who lives near Traverse City, Mich.
New 9/11 memorial to include names of sickened responders
by Associated Press
POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. — A Long Island beach where people gathered and watched in horror as the distant World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001 is the site of the latest memorial to victims of the terror attacks and among a growing number that honor people who died of illnesses years after participating in the rescue and recovery effort.
The monument, built by the town of Hempstead near the Atlantic Ocean on Long Island’s south shore, features a twisted, 30-foot-tall beam of Trade Center steel, an elevated walkway and granite plaques engraved with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks.
A separate plaque will have the names of 582 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and, years later, died of a variety of causes that they, their families or their doctors suspected were linked to toxic ash and smoke at the site. There will be room to add more names.
“I think what the town of Hempstead is doing is nothing short of honorable,” said John Feal, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders with health problems. “People who lost a loved one to illness suffer just like someone lost on that day. Hopefully this will offer some ease and comfort to them.”
Hempstead will officially dedicate its $1.3 million memorial at a service Monday, the 16th anniversary of the attacks.
It joins a short but growing list of similar memorials recognizing people who fell ill after participating in the rescue and recovery operation.
In May, officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced plans to set aside a commemorative space at the World Trade Center to honor rescue and recovery workers.
New York’s police and fire departments also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since Sept. 11. A 9/11 memorial in Staten Island recently added a plaque with the names of residents there who have died of illnesses.
Feal’s charitable organization also maintains a memorial wall to 9/11 responders in Nesconset, New York.
“I truly believe that everyone there that day was a hero,” said Robert Gies, who was 13 when his father, New York City Fire Department Lt. Ronnie Gies, died in the south tower. “Whether they died on 9/11 or four years later, every person is a hero. Those people who worked there in the aftermath in those hazardous conditions, those people touch my heart. They rushed there to save and find my father. They found him and he was able to be laid to rest. That’s huge closure.”
Researchers continue to study the long-term health impact on people exposed to sooty air at the Trade Center site.
Determining how many people had serious illnesses directly linked to that exposure is a challenge, especially because many of the people involved are now of an age where health problems, like cancer, are quite common.
Roughly 30,000 people have applied to the government compensation fund for people with illnesses they think might be related to 9/11. Officials overseeing the fund still are reviewing those claims but have so far awarded $3 billion. About 2,700 of the 17,400 people whose claims have been approved have cancer.
Through the end of August, 144 of the approved claims involved someone who died of an illness that made them eligible for compensation.
That doesn’t mean the government has concluded that their illness was definitely caused by toxins unleashed on 9/11. The program was designed to cover anyone who could show they were exposed to World Trade Center smoke, dust and ash and was subsequently diagnosed with an illness that, at least theoretically, might be caused by some of the chemicals present at the site.
Hempstead officials said their criteria for inclusion on their memorial mirrored rules set by Feal for a similar list of dead that he maintains.
In addition to the steel beam, planted like a flag, and the plaques with names, the memorial park includes a table inscribed with the Walt Whitman poem “On the Beach at Night.”
The east side of the park features a pear tree grown from a seedling from the so-called “Survivor Tree” that lived through the destruction at ground zero.
Another plaque will point in the direction of the rebuilt World Trade Center, visible 24 miles in the distance.
“Having it on the beach at Point Lookout, the same place where hundreds of people assembled in the wake of the terrorist attacks, makes it uniquely compelling,” town supervisor Anthony Santino said.
9/11 first responders face illness, uncertain future
Thousands of first responders are battling diseases that doctors have associated with exposure to toxic fumes and dust at Ground Zero
by Chau Lam,
NEW YORK — The day after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, then-New York City police officer Tom Wilson joined thousands of first responders and rescue workers at the Lower Manhattan site searching for survivors.
He spent weeks digging through the ruins at Ground Zero and sorting debris at the Fresh Kill landfill on Staten Island. Now he’s sick, diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
“I had half my tongue cut out,” Wilson said in a recent interview.
The 48-year-old from Bellport is one of thousands of first responders and rescue workers who, a decade and half after the Twin Towers fell, are battling diseases that doctors with the World Trade Center Health Program have associated with exposure to toxic fumes and dust at Ground Zero.
Many are living lives of disability and facing an uncertain future. Others know their fate all too well. Soon, they will join a burgeoning roll call of those whose dedicated service in the days after the nation’s worst terror attacks will likely cost them their lives.
This week, 156 names will be added to the memorial walls in a Nesconset park, bringing the total number of first responders who died from illnesses linked to their work at Ground Zero to more than 850, according to John Feal, a 9/11 first responder and president of the FealGood Foundation.
The three walls inside the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park were erected to honor their service.
“I find solace that those names are etched and they’ll be there forever,” Wilson said. “But at the same time, I find it disturbing that it’s just growing and growing.”
Here are the stories of three first responders from Long Island whose lives and the lives of their loved ones have been forever altered by their work in the days after 9/11.
These days, Tina Tilearcio rarely leaves her husband’s bedside. She times her errands and breaks to coincide with his naps.
“I ran to the beach twice when I knew he was sleeping and he wasn’t going to get up,” said Tilearcio, of Massapequa Park.
In the finite amount of time she has remaining with her husband Robert Tilearcio — be it a day, a week, or a month — Tina Tilearcio wants to spend every minute of it with the man she fell in love with more than three decades ago.
Robert Tilearcio, 58, a New York City firefighter, is dying of brain cancer, a disease connected to his work turning over debris searching for survivors and remains in the days and weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Rounds of radiation and chemotherapy after surgery to remove the tumor kept the disease at bay for more than two years. But on July 11, doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in Manhattan told Robert Tilearcio there was nothing else they could do to treat his cancer — glioblastoma, a fast-spreading malignancy.
“We started crying,” said Tina Tilearcio, 53.
On the Tuesday when terrorists crashed two commercial planes into the Twin Towers, Robert Tilearcio and fellow firefighters at Engine 266 in Far Rockaway drove toward the Lower Manhattan site. He spent two days looking for survivors and searching for remains of fellow firefighters and the men and women who perished when the buildings collapsed.
“He didn’t have any masks, nothing,” said Tina Tilearcio.
For at least a month after that, Tina Tilearcio said her husband worked 24-hour shifts, came home for about eight hours, and returned to Ground Zero.
“Just enough time to sleep, shower, and go back,” she said.
For more than a decade, Robert Tilearcio continued to work, switching to light duty whenever symptoms of his growing list of ailments, including gastroesophageal acid reflux, or GERD, and difficulty breathing, prevented him from fighting fires.
Then, on April 29, 2015, Robert Tilearcio came home from work, mowed the lawn and showered. He and his wife, a real-estate agent, were about to leave to show houses to prospective buyers.
“And, all of a sudden he screamed from the top of his lungs, and threw his hands up in the air, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God’, as loud as he could,” Tina Tilearcio recalled. “He did like a ballerina turn. I managed to grab him by his pants and eased him down so his head wouldn’t hit the ceramic tiles.”
At St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bethpage, doctors found a tumor the size of a chestnut on his brain. The official diagnosis came on May 8, 2015.
“They said he had 18 months,” Tina Tilearcio said.
Several weeks ago, Robert Tilearcio, who had been receiving end-of-life care at a hospital, returned home.
“The first day he woke up, he looked at the time, he went ‘8:30’,” Tina Tilearcio said. “He couldn’t believe he slept until 8:30.”
When his daughter came home from work, they sometimes told jokes or watched recordings of Robert Tilearcio performing on stage when he was a student at Stand-Up University, a comedy school in Bellmore.
“She plays her music and we dance around,” Tina Tilearcio said.
Friends and family stopped by, including Robert Tilearcio’s parents, who usually brought him newspapers. Visitors left rosary beads.
“I wish that somebody out there could find a cure, and a miracle could happen,” Tina Tilearcio said.
When Tom Wilson learned he had cancer in 2008, the father of four young boys had just welcomed a newborn daughter into the world.
He was only 39.
“I said I could die from this,” said Wilson, a former New York City Police officer who is now working for the Suffolk County Police Department.
Although currently cancer-free, Wilson continues to struggle with the side effects of the radiation used to treat his cancer and the occasional scare that the disease might return.
“One year, my tongue blew up to the size of a lemon. I couldn’t breathe,” Wilson said. “Over the years, I get these flare-ups. I can’t swallow.”
One such episode in December 2016 was so bad he couldn’t open his mouth or move his jaw, Wilson said.
Less than six months later, doctors at the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program diagnosed Wilson with osteoradionecrosis or dead bone.
“Radiation not only kills the cancer cells, but it kills the good stuff around it,” said Wilson. “Basically, certain areas of my jaw [are] turning into sawdust.”
Wilson is taking medication that helps change the viscosity of his blood.
“Hopefully that slows it down,” Wilson said. “But I got to be careful with the jaw. It’s very fragile.”
So, wrestling with his four rambunctious sons and daughter, which he used to love to do, is out of the question.
“I got to limit my physical activity. That takes a toll,” said Wilson. “I try to put up a front because you don’t want to bring your kids down.”
Wilson’s teeth are beginning to fall out, but implants are not possible because he said the blood vessels in the jawbone don’t regenerate.
His fear, Wilson said, is the day when the jawbone cracks.
“So, when my jaw does fracture, I’d have to take a piece of (bone from) my leg area and rebuild it,” he said.
For right now, Wilson is thankful to be alive and around to watch his children, ages 9 to 16, grow up.
He knows that one day his name will be added to one of the memorial walls at the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park.
“Yeah, I guess I can be on that wall someday, but I am not going to dwell on it,” Wilson said. “If you dwell on it, the terrorists win.”
Ken George gets angry when he hears people say the 9/11 terror attacks happened 16 years ago, get over it.
“How can I get over it when I have to take 32 different medications a day,” said George, of North Babylon.
The medications George takes daily for myriad ailments include those for his heart, lungs, cough, and PTSD.
His bones, he said, are deteriorating, causing him pain.
“To live with pain, like I do, 24/7, I think that’s enough suffering,” said George, now 53, who worked for the New York City Department of Transportation.
On the first night of the terror attacks, George was sent to Ground Zero to sort and remove debris, including human remains.
George remembered that when he and other workers at the site removed a large steel beam, a plume of green smoke floated out of the ground.
“We all fell to our knees,” he said. “We couldn’t breathe.”
Soon after, George developed a cough, which he said lasted a month. At the time, his doctor said he had bronchitis and asthma.
“But the cough wouldn’t go away. I went back to the doctor but none of the cough meds worked,” said George, adding that the doctor finally found one that controlled his cough. “And, I’ve been on that cough medicine now for 16 years.”
One illness led to another and soon they put a strain on his heart, which he said led to a heart attack in 2005.
When George was working, he said he was required to submit to a physical examination every two years. His health and his weight, George said, were “perfect.”
Now he depends on an oxygen tank and walks with a cane.
Activities that once brought him joy are now off limits, such as swimming in a pool or attending a baseball game.
“I can’t go out to a ballgame because when there are too many people around, I have a panic attack,” he said.
If his daughter wears too much perfume, it triggers an attack.
“I can’t breathe,” he said.
At night, when the crickets chirp, George closes his bedroom windows. The sound of the insects reminds George of what he heard during those days at Ground Zero: the ringing of personal alert safety systems worn by firefighters to let others know they are in distress.
On Sept. 11, 2001, George heard many of these alerts coming from the rubble pile. It meant the firefighters wearing the devices hadn’t moved.
At times, he can’t escape the echo of that sound in his head.
“It’s like a circus, a carnival, it keeps in your head and you can’t control it. It won’t shut off,” George said. “It keeps going and going and going.”
A new community symbol for Peabody police
Department using BMW electric cars for community policing
by John Castelluccio
PEABODY — They average 80 miles per gallon, are made of biodegradable materials and have a sleek look. They're the Peabody Police Department's new BMW i3s.
"It's a good conversation starter," Chief Tom Griffin said. "We're pretty excited about this."
As if to prove his point, a woman came out of Furtado's Hardware on Main Street, where the two electric cars were parked during a recent interview with a Salem News reporter, and started asking about them; she wanted to take a picture.
Griffin explained that the i3 is not a patrol car — it won't be used in any high speed chases down Main Street and it's not even outfitted with a police radio. Rather, it's part of the department's community policing efforts downtown.
And a very visible part. The vehicles' exterior sports the city's "Pride in Peabody" slogan, the centennial logo, the Tanner bull and logos for Alx Creative Marketing Agency (which contributed all the decals for free) as well as that of Lyon Waugh.
The department received the keys to the cars a couple of weeks ago and just put them into service. Lyon Waugh BMW of Peabody is picking up the tab on one-year leases for each one while the department pays to insure and register the cars. The sticker price on one car was $51,000.
One i3 is stationed at the Torigian Center with Patrolman Rick Cameron — the department's liaison to the Council on Aging — while the other is on Main Street with Patrolman Rick Heath.
Ever since the vehicles were put into service, many curious seniors and passerby have stopped to ask about the vehicle or to take a picture of it, Cameron said with a smile.
He'll even give seniors a ride to the courthouse at times if they need to appear for a case or other legal proceeding. Griffin said the small electric car is a lot more inviting than a cruiser.
The chief plans to use the vehicles at community and school events and city parades. The department may even sometimes park one down at the Pierpont Street Park and allow the neighborhood to get access to free Wi-Fi for the day. With the proper converter, the i3 can become an internet hotspot for up to 150 smart devices.
He said that, in addition to the environmental benefits, it helps officers become more visible and less intimidating to the public. It's also some brand marketing for BMW and Lyon Waugh, he acknowledged with a chuckle.
"This is going to be (a) symbol for downtown Peabody," said Sgt. David Bonfanti, who works on community policing initiatives for the department.
He was the one to approach Lyon Waugh about the possibility of obtaining a vehicle.
During a spin around the block to demonstrate some of the features of the i3, Bonfanti noted it's very user-friendly. Lyon Waugh did provide two charging ports, but the cars can just be plugged overnight into a regular wall outlet back at the station.
The engine turns over without a sound and the dash displays closely monitor the number of miles the vehicle has driven. The car has a small 2-1/2 gallon fuel tank in case of emergency.
"Let's call it the one-year test drive," said Warren Waugh with a laugh.
Waugh, the president of the Lyon Waugh Auto Group, said this was just an opportunity for him to give back to the community where he works.
A Gloucester resident, he also recently gave two of these vehicles to the Gloucester Police Department.
"What a fun way for us, in some ways, to market," he said. "(But) this is for the Police Department to market themselves." The cars, he added, offer a "softer look" at community events or high school athletics.
At the end of the lease, he said, they'll review how it went and determine how to go forward. His group, however, is contemplating one more lease with another North Shore community in the meantime.
He said they may look to involve the schools and have an essay contest to determine which department gets a pair of i3s.
"We're going to use them gently," Griffin, the Peabody chief, said. "I think they want to see how this works out."
Equipment not a replacement for good policing
Police departments around the country will again have access to surplus military equipment that has been off-limits for several years.
President Donald Trump signed an order reviving a Pentagon program giving police access to gear such as grenade launchers and high-caliber weapons. These had been unavailable to police since 2015, when former President Barack Obama scaled back the program amid complaints and concerns about heavily armed police response to protesters after the killings of several black men around the country.
It's difficult to imagine a police department needing grenade launchers and high-caliber weapons, even in a tense situation. Many departments have SWAT teams that are specially trained to handle armed standoffs with a minimum of risk to the general public. These units use some specialized weapons, but few of them would be found on a battlefield.
Some departments now have armored vehicles, and many have ballistic helmets and body armor.
That might seem excessive, but in this day and time, police can find themselves in very violent situations that require extra personal protection.
Some police departments are doing a better job of making personal contact with the people they are sworn to protect.
It's a community policing tactic that, according to the departments that use it, has opened important lines of communication between officers and ordinary people. That has led, in many cases, to crimes being solved more quickly.
Police presence in the community does not have to be a negative experience. Community policing eases tensions by personalizing officers and community members through casual interaction. It has proven to be effective.
Adding battlefield weapons and equipment to police forces carries the risk that, if the equipment is used too often or improperly, all the goodwill created through community policing can be undone. Large-caliber weapons, machine guns, grenade launchers and armored vehicles on city streets would be unsettling in any community.
Ohio sheriff's new bomb-sniffing dog has day job as DARE sidekick
by Holly Zachariah
COMMERCIAL POINT, Ohio — The Pickaway County deputy sheriff stood at the front of the fifth-grade classroom to teach a most-important lesson about what happens when you drink too much alcohol, so he adopted his serious, I-mean-business, law-enforcement face.
Until, that is, someone basically Army-crawled to his feet and licked his boots.
Well, not a someone. A dog. And not just any dog, but Deputy Mike, a Belgian Malinois who will turn 2 in November.
Mike stretched his long and lean body as far as he could — he was temporarily tethered to a desk because the kids would be throwing a ball while wearing "drunken-driving" goggles — to try to wrap himself around the legs of Deputy Dale Thomas. As Mike did so, the 25 students in Classroom 318 at Scioto Elementary School dissolved into a chorus of "awwwwwwws" and giggles.
Thomas broke character and laughed. "This guy," he said about Mike. "Geez."
For just a moment, the class became a lesson in Cuteness 101.
Although Mike has become quite an ambassador for Thomas, and has turned out to be a great companion and tool in the classroom, this is not his job or primary objective. He is a bomb dog, specifically trained to sniff out explosives. He is the first such dog in Pickaway County, and each of the four school districts in the county, plus Ohio Christian University in Circleville, pitched in $2,000 apiece to help the Pickaway County sheriff's office obtain Mike and outfit and train him this summer.
Pairing him with Thomas, who has been the county's DARE officer for 21 years, just made sense, Sheriff Robert Radcliff said.
Bomb threats are (thankfully) rare, Radcliff said. He recalls only four since he became sheriff in 2013. One of those was at the Circleville Wal-Mart; the other three were in the Teays Valley school district, home to Scioto Elementary.
"In these times, especially, you take nothing for granted. It is expected when you have a threat — any threat — you take it seriously and investigate it quickly," Radcliff said. "A dog can sweep a school or a building or an event quickly and efficiently, and everyone can get back to normal."
When the sheriff asked Thomas if he would like to have a canine partner, the deputy jumped at the chance.
"No hesitation," Thomas said. "I try to make the DARE program the funnest part of the kids' day, and Mike certainly now steals that thunder." Deputy Mike's whine when no one pays attention to him is evidence of that.
But on a more serious note, Thomas is in the county schools every day. He knows the layouts, the students, the staffs. If a threat arises, it made sense that he and Mike would be able to find it or discount immediately.
Teays Valley Superintendent Robin Halley said the district's nonprofit education foundation happily ponied up the district's $2,000 share.
"The landscape of schools has changed, and security is our first priority," Halley said. "We already get a high degree of support from our village police departments, but when the sheriff said this dog would help us — in an emergency — not have the kids on lockdown so long and more quickly get back to the business of the school day, we were all for it."
Before Deputy Mike, Pickaway County had called on the sheriff's office in neighboring Ross County to bring in a bomb-sniffing dog. Now, Ross County is calling on Pickaway County. Just two weeks ago, after regularly training with the Columbus Bomb Squad, Mike had his first real test: The Ross County sheriff was investigating a bomb threat at a halfway house in the middle of the night and needed a hand. Deputies Thomas and Mike responded. Nothing was found, but you can't put a price on security, Thomas said.
Each district has welcomed Mike as an addition. Some of the schools where Thomas teaches DARE have made sure that Deputy Mike has a special and comfortable bed in his room. Between classes, Thomas takes Mike outside to run off his energy, fetch a ball, get a drink and, ummmmm, you know.
"He is high energy," Thomas said. "That's what makes him so good, his drive."
Mike is a passively trained dog. Although he can do some passive tracking (such as when a child is lost), he isn't trained in drug detection or bite-aggression of suspects.
In the summer, when Thomas isn't in school, Deputy Mike will sweep festivals and special events; he'll also be at the iconic Circleville Pumpkin Show in October.
"When it's time for him to work and sniff out trouble, he does great," Thomas said. "But here in the classroom? Here, he's just a big help in teaching the kids that officers are their friends."
Cleveland police union refuse to hold flag at Browns opening game
"I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem"
by the Associated Press
CLEVELAND — Members of unions representing Cleveland police officers and paramedics have said they won't hold a large U.S. flag during pregame ceremonies prior to next Sunday's Cleveland Browns season opener after a group of Browns players knelt during the national anthem before a preseason game last month.
Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, cited his service in the U.S. Navy when he told WKYC-TV he was astounded that Browns management knew of the protests but allowed it to occur.
"I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem," Loomis said.
Nearly a dozen Browns players knelt in a circle and prayed in silent protest during the anthem before a preseason home game Aug. 21 against the New York Giants. A smaller group of players placed hands on the shoulders of their kneeling teammates.
A team spokesman issued a statement at halftime that said the organization has a "profound respect" for the national anthem, the U.S. flag and those who serve in the military.
"We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression," the statement said.
Dan Nemeth, president of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 1975, said he had a similar reaction to Loomis'. He told Cleveland.com he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and finds it "hypocritical" for Browns management to say they support the military while allowing players to kneel during the anthem.
"When I was growing up, we were taught to stand every morning, put our hands over our hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance," Nemeth said. "And when we did that, we typically had someone holding the flag in front of the class. For them to disrespect the flag by taking a knee did not sit well with me."
About 30 Browns players stood arm-to-arm in a line behind the rest of the team during the national anthem before an Aug. 26 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A veterans group outside Strongsville said last week that it would not show Browns games because of the player protests.
The Browns' protests are part of a social-consciousness movement started last season by then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure for kneeling during the anthem.
How North Korea's Nuclear Tests Could Get Even More Terrifying
by Geoff Brumfiel
At 2:17 p.m. on May 6, 1962, a nuclear-tipped missile shot out of the waters of the Pacific Ocean and quickly disappeared into the sky. Roughly 12 minutes later and over 1,000 miles to the southwest, it detonated in a blinding flash — creating a mushroom cloud over an empty stretch of water near Kiribati.
The test was of a submarine-launched Polaris A-2 missile . It was code-named " Frigate Bird ," and it was America's first, and only, end-to-end test of a nuclear missile.
Thus far, North Korea has tested its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles separately. The nukes have detonated in deep underground chambers, while the missiles have flown on "fly-ball" trajectories that take them high into space while limiting their range.
But in the wake of the North's most recent underground test , and with rumors of another ballistic missile test coming soon, some experts now fear that a Frigate Bird-type test may be coming.
"That would be the ultimate way for North Korea to prove its capabilities," says James Acton , a physicist and co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "I very, very much hope we don't go there."
There are good reasons why nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles are usually tested separately. Nuclear weapons are the most powerful devices ever developed by human beings. Missiles are giant tubes filled with explosive fuel. Bringing the two together is risky enough. Firing the missile increases the risk considerably.
"Missile tests fail," says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. "An errant nuclear-armed missile is a terrifying thing."
Only a handful of these Frigate Bird-type tests have ever been conducted.
The Soviet Union tested an early ballistic missile in 1956, but with an ultra-low-yield warhead, says Pavel Podvig , director of the Geneva-based Russian Nuclear Forces Project. A second series of tests took place in the early 1960s in the remote northern test range of Novaya Zemlya .
In 1966, the Chinese fired a Dongfeng-2, a intermediate-range ballistic missile, from a launch site in the north of the country to testing grounds in the western desert.
The story behind the Chinese test has many parallels to the current North Korean crisis, Lewis says.
After China conducted its first nuclear test in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson played down the Chinese capabilities.
"Many years and great efforts separate the testing of a first nuclear device from having a stockpile of reliable weapons with effective delivery systems," Johnson said .
"The U.S. said, 'It's not really a nuclear weapon because you can't put it on a missile,'" Lewis says. "And the Chinese were like, 'Oh, OK. How about we readjust our testing schedule, take the weapon we were going to test underground, put it on a missile and fire it?'
And it worked."
The U.S. took China far more seriously after that test and a subsequent thermonuclear test, Lewis says.
Today, the stakes for North Korea would be even higher. For one thing, above-ground nuclear tests just aren't done anymore. The U.S. and more than 100 countries, including the then-Soviet Union, signed a 1963 treaty banning atmospheric nuclear testing , a treaty that is still in effect. The last atmospheric test anywhere in the world was conducted by China in 1980.
A North Korean test would also release fallout into the environment. That radioactive material could travel in unexpected directions, including toward the U.S.
Moreover, to reach a remote part of the Pacific, a nuclear-tipped North Korean missile would have to fly over Japan — as have past North Korean missile tests. "I think that would be really upsetting to the Japanese," Lewis says.
Because of the dangers, experts remain divided over whether the North would conduct such a provocative test.
"My money is on them not doing it," says Alex Wellerstein , a nuclear historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology. "There are other ways to demonstrate their capabilities that do not involve so much risk."
But Lewis isn't so sure. He sees too many parallels between the current standoff and the situation with the Chinese 50 years ago.
"If we keep saying, '[The nuclear missile] doesn't work,'" he warns, "then I think the odds they are going to do it are pretty good."
City police seeking community involvement in crime prevention
by Amanda Christman
Hazleton's police chief is calling on all city crime watches, community groups, religious groups and businesses to make the city safer — a job already in the works by the officers serving the city each day.
Chief Jerry Speziale says he wants to hear from them as part of a community policing initiative the department is using as a tool to prevent and solve crimes.
He's asking them to step forward to solve problems together and plans to arrange meetings with them to discuss their concerns and hear their ideas. Anyone interested can call Speziale at 570-459-4933.
In a letter to the editor of the Standard-Speaker, Speziale explained that he plans to use those ties to the community to mediate and resolve neighborhood problems. He also is looking for community leaders to engage in meaningful dialogue to identify problems and find solutions for making Hazleton a better place.
The problems, he said, could be quality of life concerns or criminal activity, and they may be specific to one side of town, street or block.
Hazleton police have been reaching out to the community in other more visible ways in the past, he said, through foot patrols and with its website, www.hazletonpolice.com , and its Text for Tips program where anonymous information can be texted using the word “mytips” to 274637.
City officers also have made significant arrests, Speziale said, though cautioning that communities can't arrest their way out of crime.
Community policing is the next step in his plan for a safer city and is part of an about $600,000 federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant the city received. The grant allowed the city to pay the salaries of new hires that brought the department up to 41 officers.
Grant money allowed for a bigger police presence in Hazleton by way of foot and saturation patrols as more police are working shifts.
Speziale is applying for a second COPS grant, asking for $989,000 to pay for additional salaries and/or replacements for officers leaving the department. In the application, he says the grant the city received and began using this year has helped the city curb crime by providing more manpower to patrol the streets.
With law enforcement heading in the right direction now, he said, the department is focusing on community policing to strengthen Hazleton and create another line of defense against crime.
Collaboration between police and the community, he said, will make Hazleton better and stronger and will allow the police department to find out what matters to people while rebuilding and engaging the community.
“There's nothing better than having the community take part in making the Hazleton a better city,” he said.
There are too many times to mention where community collaboration helped solve crimes, Speziale said. He recalled one instance, however, in which community intervention on a Pennsylvania murder helped New Jersey police apprehend a suspect hours after the deaths when he served Passaic County, New Jersey, as a sheriff.
“Community collaboration and problem solving is crucial to crime solving,” Speziale said.
That happens when police officers build a relationship with the community they serve, he said, and it reflects in the number of crimes a police department solves and those which never occur.
After violence, Calif. debates classifying 'antifa' as a street gang
Such a designation could give law enforcement new tools to combat the groups
by James Queally, Benjamin Oreskes and Richard Winton
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Not long after dozens of black-hooded protesters were filmed pummeling people on his city's streets, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin made clear his disgust for the self-stylized vigilantes.
“Antifa,” he said, is no different than a street gang, and police should start treating protesters in the anti-fascist movement accordingly.
Later that day, legislators in Sacramento advanced resolutions that would treat violent acts committed by antifa movement's enemies — white nationalists and neo-Nazis — as terrorist acts under state law.
As forces on the extremes of the nation's ever-widening political divide continue to battle with fists and weapons on the streets of California, law enforcement officials and politicians have started debating whether these extremist groups should be classified as street gangs.
Such a designation could give law enforcement new tools to combat the groups. Numerous laws on the books give authorities the power to restrict the movements of gang members and enhance criminal charges against them.
But such a move raises legal issues because unlike with traditional street gangs, the underlying motive of these extremist groups is political expression rather than criminal enterprise.
Law enforcement experts say the groups that have been warring in the Bay Area for months — which include anti-fascists and those using “black bloc” militant tactics, far-right organizations such as the Proud Boys and the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, and white nationalist groups such as Identity Evropa — certainly share similarities with a street gang.
“It is gang behavior with some ideology. But it is also a social entity as well as a political one,” said Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Arreguin, the mayor, said he believes that groups on both the left and the right meet this definition. But “it's something I would want to discuss with our enforcement partners before I make that announcement,” he said.
“There are violent extremists on both sides, and we need to look at a variety of legal and law enforcement strategies to deal with these groups,” he said. “There are organized groups — violent extremists groups — on the left and right that have encouraged people to come to Berkeley and physically confront the antifa or to confront the alt-right.”
But some gang experts also expressed concern about linking the far left to street gang activity. While the groups may share commonalities with gangs, the idea of labeling them as such could be seen as a punishing a political viewpoint, no matter how extreme.
“There's an argument for it, but there's also a very grave concern because they are exercising their constitutional rights,” said San Bernardino County Deputy Dist. Atty. Britt Imes, a nationally renowned expert on gang activity. “Their criminal actions, not their free speech actions, their criminal actions, will determine whether they qualify as a criminal street gang.”
Labeling either far-left or far-right groups as street gangs could have serious consequences for those arrested during the inevitable next clash at a counter-protest in California. Under the state's Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act — a piece of legislation passed at the height of the nation's gang boom — gang enhancements can add two to 15 years to a criminal sentence for people convicted of committing a crime in concert with gang activity.
Identified gang members can also be subject to injunctions, or civil restraining orders, that would prevent them from being in certain areas or congregating with friends and even family. Such tactics have been hailed as successes, and decried as draconian by civil liberties groups, in Los Angeles.
A spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department said she did not know whether antifa would qualify as a gang under California law.
Any law enforcement agency trying to label antifa protesters as gang members might also run into another problem: Technically, they don't exist.
Joanna Mendelson, a senior investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, said “antifa” generally describes a way of thinking, rather than a group.
“The antifa is a loose network of individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far-right movements,” she said. “There's not a clear organizational structure. It's a movement.”
Antifa does not have a membership, nor does anyone have to claim to be part of the group to embrace its tactics or approach to protests, she added. But some far-left groups that espouse violence have taken on this banner.
Some law enforcement officials believe those groups fit the description of a street gang, even if identifying their followers would be next to impossible.
“I think under state law they could easily be declared a gang,” said Wes McBride, president of the California Gang Investigators' Assn. “They behave like a gang. They have defined commitment to violence. They have their own gang dress.”
Imes, who said that he was speaking as an expert and that his comments did not reflect the opinions of the San Bernardino County district attorney's office, added that many black and Hispanic factions defined as gangs under the law also lack structure or formal membership.
Antifa's stated goal may be to defeat white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but if the means by which its followers achieve that mission are violent, they could still be defined as a gang, he said.
“The question is going to become have they engaged in a pattern of criminal activity … and is that part of their primary purpose for existing? When you talk about a group engaging in civil disobedience, I am very hesitant to label them a street gang,” Imes said. “However, if their purpose is to come together to cause havoc, or engage in violence, and this is antifa or the white supremacist side … they're going to engage in conduct that will eventually fit the definition of what a criminal street gang is.”
Those standing across Bay Area battle lines from anti-fascists, including the Proud Boys and the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, seem to have more in common with what the average citizen associates with gang lore. The Proud Boys, a national collective of “western chauvinists” founded by former Vice media executive Gavin McInnes, has a formalized initiation process that includes being beaten by members.
Members have to declare themselves as Proud Boys, follow a dress code that includes polo shirts and engage in violent brawls with anti-fascists as part of their initiation, the SPLC has said. The group has regional chapters, including in the Bay Area and Orange County, and some members refer to themselves as “commanders” of specific sets. After an April rally, the Bay Area Proud Boys claimed Berkeley as its “territory,” according to a tweet pinned atop its social media page.
“When they do things like that, and they put things in writing like bylaws … it makes our job a lot easier,” Imes said. “It makes proving the associational organization much easier. When you talk about whether something is a criminal street gang or not, you look to what evidence you have.”
Factions on both sides of the political divide also commit a pattern of crimes that are described in the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, experts say. The repeat brawls in the Bay Area and elsewhere could constitute a pattern of assault. Arson is also listed under the law, Imes said, pointing to fires believed to have been set by anti-fascists during protests in Berkeley earlier this year.
Still, most experts agree that it's easier to label a group a gang when its criminal acts are divorced from political speech. The Golden State Skinheads are a white supremacy group, for example, but its members have also been known to engage in robberies and drug trafficking.
McBride said he's less concerned with labels than he is with stopping the endless series of brawls in the Bay Area before they escalate into something worse.
“These young men see it as an adventure with the excitement of a fight,” he said, warning that sooner or later “someone is going to pull a gun.”
From the Department of Homeland Security
Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated the orderly wind down of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“This Administration's decision to terminate DACA was not taken lightly. The Department of Justice has carefully evaluated the program's Constitutionality and determined it conflicts with our existing immigration laws,” said Acting Secretary Elaine Duke. “As a result of recent litigation, we were faced with two options: wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation; or allow the judiciary to potentially shut the program down completely and immediately. We chose the least disruptive option.”
On June 29, the attorneys general of Texas and several other states sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserting that the DACA program is unlawful for the same reasons stated in the Fifth Circuit and district court opinions regarding an expansion of the DACA program and the now-rescinded program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The letter noted that if DHS did not rescind the June 2012 DACA memo by September 5, 2017, the states would seek to amend the DAPA lawsuit to include a challenge to DACA.
Yesterday, Attorney General Sessions sent a letter to Acting Secretary Duke articulating his legal determination that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress' repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.” The letter further stated that because DACA “has the same legal and constitutional defects that the courts recognized as to DAPA, it is likely that potentially imminent litigation would yield similar results with respect to DACA.” Nevertheless, in light of the administrative complexities associated with ending the program, he recommended that the Department wind down the program in an efficient and orderly fashion, and his office has reviewed the terms on which the Department will do so.
Based on guidance from Attorney General Sessions, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke today issued a memo formally rescinding the June 15, 2012 memorandum that created DACA, and initiating an orderly wind down of the program. This process will limit disruption to current DACA beneficiaries while providing time for Congress to seek a legislative solution. The details are contained in Acting Secretary Duke's September 5 memorandum , and in our Frequently Asked Questions .
Youngstown Police recognized for community policing efforts
by Natalie Hoelzel
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The Youngstown Police Department is being recognized by the Ohio Collaborative Community Police advisory board for the department's efforts to strengthen the community and police relations.
This includes deadly force, agency recruitment and agency hiring.
21 News reported at the beginning of July that the department was implementing a new program that involved more community policing.
The new program assigned one officer exclusively to each of the seven wards in the city. The goal was to have an officer always available who will connect with the community and get to know its individual needs.
More than 520 departments are either certified or in the process of becoming certified, by meeting standards for the use of force. The standards were developed by the board in August of 2015.
The state has partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, to help certify the 960 law enforcement agencies in Ohio, on a process to ensure that they are in compliance with Ohio's new standards.
Police say public's help needed via citizens patrols to keep communities safe
by Brigette Namata
Honolulu police call them the eyes and ears of the department, and they help make officers better.
Citizens patrol groups are trained members of the community. This type of law enforcement volunteer walks through the neighborhood and reports back to police about things officers might otherwise miss.
The Honolulu Police Department says it is always recruiting.
Different from a neighborhood watch, citizens patrols are trained through the department and are distinguished by their brightly colored shirts.
Mildred Chieko Toyama is 92 years old. Years ago, someone convinced her to join a citizens patrol.
“I see this group come in every, once a week walking around, so one of the guys said, ‘Mildred why don't you join us?' Okay, for exercise,” she admitted.
Toyama says it became more than exercise. She enjoyed helping the community.
“Do you think it keeps the community safe, doing what you do?” KHON2 asked.
“Yes, and we're supposed to. Isn't that right, officer?” replied Toyama as she looked at Sgt. Deric Valoroso with the Honolulu Police Department.
Valoroso supervises District 1's Community Policing Team, which covers the downtown Honolulu area from Liliha Street to Punahou Street, and from Round Top Drive to Ala Moana beach. There are 51 citizens patrols in this district.
“They help us to deter simple things that seem to be growing lately, like any problem we have that we don't have time to look at,” said Valoroso. “Not enough parking in the area, because people are parking illegally. They can report it to us. We research it and see what we can do about that.”
Valoroso says citizens patrols helped shed light on things like uneven sidewalks, broken lights, and abandoned vehicles in the neighborhood.
“Every district has a community policing team. Those are the people to contact to try and start one in your community,” explained Valoroso.
He says in District 1, most of the citizens patrols are made up of kupuna.
“It would be nice to have a younger view of what's going on in the community. That generation views things differently than I do. They're the ones living in the community. They are our future. They need to make changes and adjustments to their future by helping us out,” said Valoroso.
But he's quick to point out that doesn't make kupuna, like Mildred, any less helpful to the department.
“Join and have fun and see around what's going around the place,” he said.
Click here for more information on starting or joining a citizens patrol.
Program for black teens called 'one of the best examples of community policing'
by Mark Rice
The Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy, a nonprofit group led by executive director Willie Mae Callaway, helps high school students improve their scores on college entrance exams.
Approximately 100 students from LaGrange, Troup County and Callaway high schools participated in the program's inaugural year during 2016-17, including 92 black teens.
Out of the 47 students in the program who took the SAT this past year, 37 scored better than 1000, program coordinator Glenn Dowell told the Ledger-Enquirer. And those students were accepted into institutions such as the United States Military Academy, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Alabama and Tuskegee University, he said.
Dowell's idea for the program came from a gathering with family and friends. He shared it with LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar, who fostered it to fruition.
“Here is a Southern lawman who is making sure our voices are heard,” Dowell said in a news release. “We needed high-level cooperation, and he pulled it together.”
That's not surprising to those familiar with the connections Dekmar has made during his 23 years as the department's chief. Under his leadership, the department and community partners created:
? A community outreach unit.
? A committee of 40-50 community members, comprising faith leaders, governmental leaders, nonprofit organization leaders and neighborhood leaders.
? A mental health court.
? A homeless warming shelter.
? A domestic violence shelter.
? Then in January, in what is believed to be an unprecedented act among Southern police chiefs, Dekmar publicly apologized for the department's 77-year-old failure to protect a black teenager, Austin Callaway, who was abducted from the city's jail and lynched by a white mob.
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, Dekmar declared, “Police are most effective when they develop partnerships.”
Dekmar spoke via phone more than 4,000 miles away in the Netherlands while attending a conference representing the International Association of Chiefs of Police as the incoming president. In that role, he will lead approximately 30,000 of his colleagues from 141 countries.
Dowell noted Dekmar considers this tutoring program “one of the best examples of community policing.”
“The chief is emphatic in saying that collaboration and dialogue are key to a healthy and productive community,” Dowell told the Ledger-Enquirer.
Dekmar convened a meeting of local school officials to gain their cooperation with the program. “Without his continued support and advice,” Dowell said, “the program probably would not have gotten off the ground.”
The LaGrange police also provided office and meeting space for the academy's staff, contributed computers for students to use in the program, and helped secure funding for the program from local businesses.
“The cost was under $5,000 for the entire operation, including the purchase of insurance and copies of the Princeton Review Study Guide,” Dowell said. “The average cost per student enrolled in a commercial SAT/ACT program, however, would be not less than $650. This is on the low end of the spectrum. Costs can run up to $3,500 or more per student.”
The academy, starting its second year, conducts the free program on six Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Turner Hall at LaGrange College, where college students provide tutoring and mentoring for the high school students.
“We intentionally requested students who were not honor students,” Dowell said, “rather those who were on grade level, to emphasize the point of hard and dedicated work being key to success.”
LaGrange High School graduate Chris Ridgeway, 18, improved his SAT score by 30 points while in the program and was accepted into Georgia State University.
“The people really cared about us and really wanted us to succeed,” Ridgeway said in the news release. “I really appreciated how they helped us.”
Dowell appreciates the positive attitudes the students displayed.
“Students were getting there before we were,” he said. “We were very excited.”
Dekmar described the program's impact this way: “These young men and women are coming from primarily economically disadvantaged families or may have other challenges that would interfere with them being able to get the kind of support this program offers. Each one is an important story for us.”
LaGrange City Council member Willie Edmondson praised the program during a recent meeting.
“If we just give our kids some attention, this is what happens,” Edmondson said, according to the news release. “I'm just so ecstatic with these results.”
LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton told Dowell, “We are very appreciative to what you are doing in our community.”
Dekmar gave the Ledger-Enquirer a set of statistics to put this program in perspective: Each year on average, American police make more than 100 million contacts with citizens, arrest 11-12 million and less than 1,000 of those result in deadly force encounters.
All of which has prompted the chief to conclude, “Police work is social work.”
AMC dept. heads encourage Civilian Police Academy
by Tara Vocino
PAXTON — For the first time, Anna Maria College students will receive credit for participating in the Civilian Police Academy, which kicks off later this month. Civilian Police Academy programs are designed to acquaint individuals who are not sworn police officers with the activities of their local police department
“In its third year, our previous class participants were mostly the older generation,” Organizer and Police Sgt. Guy Bibeau said. “But this year, we incorporated an Anna Maria College credit program, where college students can earn credit after writing papers on what they learned in the academy.”
The academy also appeals to civilians who are new to law enforcement. Participants will be part of hands-on mock trials where they can arrest a “criminal,” learn about interviewing and interrogation through fingerprinting, and experience the use of force through a domestic disturbance. Those in the academy will learn about a new topic each week, ranging from criminal/constitutional law, canine tactics, role of the medical examiner, domestic violence, community policing, and social media.
The academy is free and funded by the police department. Thirteen people are currently enrolled, and there is space for 25 people, Bibeau said. However, participants must be more than 18-years-old. About seven Anna Maria students are enrolled so far. Classes are held on Tuesdays for nine weeks from 6 to 9 p.m.
Anna Maria College Criminal Justice Programs for Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Director Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney said the civilian academy can break stereotypes.
“The Civilian Academy is an amazing opportunity to connect the police with members of the community (including Anna Maria College students),” Pinckney said. “At a time when there are misperceptions, misunderstandings, and miscommunication between law enforcement and the community, this partnership is designed to educate the community and provide the police an opportunity to positively interact with those they serve and protect.”
Community misperceptions of law enforcement can only be countered by education and communication, Pinckney continued. The AMC Criminal Justice programs have 12 specializations, including: law enforcement and corrections, criminal justice policy and reform, and mental illness crisis intervention. In order to better educate students, college courses are taught by expert practitioners, Pinckney said.
In keeping with that tradition, the Civilian Academy course includes: subject matter experts, such as: Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney (topics: on domestic violence, community policing and media, and identity theft), Dr. Ann Marie Mires (topic: role of the medical examiner), Dt. Sgt. Mailman (Worcester Police – topic: gangs), and Sgt. Guy Bibeau (topics: Use of force/ tasers and criminal law).
Other topics include: motor vehicle law, operating under the influence (alcohol and drugs), court procedure, firearms safety course with a certification included, and sexual assaults, Bibeau added. CEMELC Canine and Webster Police Officer Aaron Suss will conduct a canine demonstration.
However, the academy can be more than just learning the jest of what goes on in police work.
“In the past, some came in with tunnel vision, or a onesided view of what we do, and they graduated with a totally different outlook,” Bibeau said. “Hopefully, all students will leave with a little more knowledge and understanding about policing than when they came in.”
Molly Bish Center and Forensic Criminology Program Director, Dr. Ann Marie Mires, teaches a lecture on medical-legal death investigation in the academy. Mires commented on the benefit of the partnership.
“Having the subject matter experts come from the college creates that bridge between the community, the college, and policing,” Mires said. “We want our students to enroll in the course so that they can really see first-hand that interconnection between the college, citizenry, and the police. Instead of just reading about it, they get hands-on experience.”
Bibeau said he will take the time to explain different aspects of the curriculum since some students need attention than others. For instance, he will teach how an arrest is more than speaking to someone and then handcuffing the suspect.
“We can't change anyone, but I hope they leave with a better understanding and appreciation for what we do day-in and day-out,” Bibeau said. “For the citizens, it's a way to see the insides of what goes on around here, and for the Anna Maria students, it's a way to see if they're interested in police work — or not.”
The Anna Maria College Criminal Justice programs consist of criminal justice, law, politics and society, and forensic criminology. She said the school creates strong leaders, as well as educated and socially conscious citizens. Pinckney said the academy is all about community policing.
“The Civilian Academy will give the opportunity for citizens to not only appreciate the perspectives of law enforcement but a deeper understanding of how they navigate their role within the communities,” Pinckney said. “So having a better-informed citizenry creates a safer community – now we have buy-in from the community. Creates a partnership with the citizens – true community policing.”
Bibeau went onto say it's a way to bring the community closer to the police department so that it's not so surface level on both ends.
Pinckney explained that the Paxton Police ran the Civilian Academy successfully, but this partnership has allowed the college to expand upon the topics.
“The course is an experiential learning course designed to expose students to the laws, procedures, and processes of policing from the perspective of local law enforcement, facilitate a connectedness and collaboration between the community, AMC students, and Paxton Police, and provide an opportunity for positive discussions regarding misperceptions of policing and misunderstandings about roles of police in the community,” Pinckney said.
Bibeau said that participants can also go on night ride-alongs with a signed liability form after the program.
Anna Maria College Chief Information Officer Michael Miers said students enrolled in the academy were not able to comment to protect their privacy.
The first class, which includes a station tour, will be on Sept. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The program will run for approximately 13 weeks.
Applications are available at the station, 576 Pleasant St. Participants must sign a covenant not to sue and undergo a background and criminal record check. For information, email email@example.com, or call 508-793-3100, ext. 3155.
Quiet Warrior: Why it matters that we honor our best
The Quiet Warrior is motivated by the desire to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons
by Doug Wyllie
A colleague recently asked me, “What does the term ‘Quiet Warrior' mean to you?”
My reply was, “The quiet warrior shuns the spotlight and shrugs off public praise, but is willing and able to do things that most ordinary humans either cannot or will not do in service of their communities. The Quiet Warriors are the best of us — they are guardians whose bravery and heroism may go unappreciated by a small but vocal fraction of the population, but who are respected and admired by a an equally quiet majority of Americans.”
My colleague asked me for some examples of quiet warriors. I was simultaneously filled with memories of officers I've personally met or read about that fit the description like poster children and also at a loss for words. There were just too many to list.
Some have made headlines, but the overwhelming majority have not. Seeking only the feeling of satisfaction a person feels after having done something to help someone, countless cops have served the public in truly compelling ways that fit the Quiet Warrior mentality.
The acts of a Quiet Warrior can be mundane. Cops change tires for stranded motorists , help a kid learn how to tie a necktie , help a homeless man who was “down on his luck” or help rescue a boy trapped underneath a pontoon dock .
The acts of a Quiet Warrior can also be extraordinary. Cops save people from jumping to almost certain death , rescue people from burning cars (even felons after pursuit) , and pull a colleague from the path of an oncoming car.
You can see some of Quiet Warriors we already profiled, such as Officer Jonny Castro , who has created inspiring portraits of fallen officers; Chet Parker , who has organized a program to help connect the homeless in his area with services they desperately need; and Officer Jennifer Maddox , who has worked to connect with the children of one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods and bridge the gap between police and neighborhood residents.
Why a program like Quiet Warrior matters
For the past several years, it's been tough sledding for coppers in America. It seems that now more than in my memory, citizens are more prone to see cops negatively. This is partly due to how media works now and partly due to how often police are portrayed negatively in pop culture. Despite the fact that every day literally thousands of police-citizen interactions are entirely uneventful — are positive even — that's not what leads the six o'clock news. And a good cop's story certainly is not going to be as titillating as a Training Day or a Bad Lieutenant. Of course not all portrayals are bad, but the lately, the majority have been.
This is why I am so thrilled that PoliceOne and 5.11 Tactical have teamed up on this program. I won't delve deeply into detail on the program itself — click here to get a full description — but suffice it to say that I feel like we're filling an important need to shed light on just a small fraction of the thousands of positive stories which happen every day in this country. My hope is that these stories are not only seen by those within the profession, but by the citizens as well.
Doing a tough job with honor and valor
For the Quiet Warrior, the words kindness and service are synonymous. The Quiet Warrior is motivated by their unending desire to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. They don't seek fame or fortune. They simply do an incredibly difficult job with a deeply held sense of honor, duty, and valor.
Quiet Warriors are faced with astonishing challenges every day, and are increasingly asked to do things for which they have not been trained. They are marriage counselors at DV calls. They are social workers at nuisance calls. They are counselors at calls at schools. They are psychologists at suicide-watch calls.
Despite the fact that the near-constant chorus of criticism continues unabated, the Quiet Warrior dons the ballistic vest and the uniform, straps on the duty belt and polishes the badge for another shift, every day, all day, in every city and town in this great country.
So I say, thank God for the Quiet Warriors. We are more than merely fortunate to have them — without them the world would be a miserable place.
If you have a Quiet Warrior story , please share it with us here .
How Equifax hackers might use your Social Security number to pretend they're you
by Craig Timberg
Amid the numbing drumbeat of high-profile hacks in recent years, the one reported Thursday by Equifax stands out for its seriousness and its power to spark widespread consumer rage.
The key is that the Social Security numbers of up to 143 million people may have been compromised. Social Security numbers have been exposed in some cybersecurity incidents — such as the Office of Personnel Management and Sony Pictures hacks — but not in many others, such as the massive breaches at Target, JP Morgan Chase and Yahoo.
Social Security numbers, especially when combined with other exposed data such as driver's license numbers, birth dates and home addresses, can allow identity thieves to impersonate you. They can apply for loans, housing, utilities and even government benefits in your name. Or, more likely, they can sell this data on the open market to those who will use it for those purposes and perhaps for other crimes we can't imagine.
“Once your personally identifiable information has been stolen, people can use that information to basically impersonate you. They can create fake loans and fake bank accounts. And the names will be posted on lists that become available to future hackers,” said Fleming Shi , a senior vice president for Barracuda cybersecurity company.
Equally troubling to many consumer advocates was the six-week-long delay between the day Equifax said it discovered the hack — July 29 — and Thursday's public disclosure. The company has not responded to repeated requests from The Washington Post to explain this gap, a time frame when affected consumers might have taken measures to protect themselves by closely monitoring their credit card and bank statements and other financial records.
But the reality is that there are few meaningful rules on how and when companies must report hacks and other cybersecurity incidents, despite calls in Congress to legislate regulations.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the head of the Senate's Cybersecurity Caucus and a longtime advocate for such rules, issued a statement Thursday night calling the hack “profoundly troubling” and demanding congressional action. Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, also called for reforms and accountability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement the Senate should "thoroughly investigate" the Equifax hack. And Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate as well.
"Only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will make sure companies are taking precautions to guard consumer data with the strongest available technology," Blumenthal said in a statement Friday.
The most forceful voices so far have been from Democrats. Successful political action would require the Republican majority in Congress and the Trump administration to act more aggressively on the matter than they have so far at a time when Washington is consumed — and sharply divided — by many other pressing issues.
As the criminal investigation proceeds, the public anxiety is being fueled by the sensitivity of the information collected by Equifax and the other big credit rating agencies — one of which, Experian, was hacked in 2015. Equifax, based in Atlanta, says that it operates in 24 countries, analyzing data from 820 million people and 91 million businesses.
Based on this data, little of which consumers turn over by their own choice, Equifax issues credit ratings that can affect access to jobs, credit, housing and more. Equifax also acts as a data broker, slicing and dicing millions of consumers into blunt and sometimes unflattering categories such as “X-tra Needy,” “Fragile Families” and “Ethnic Second-City Strugglers.”
“What's most ironic and frightening about this breach is that many victims don't even know the extent to which their personal information is affected,” said Craig A. Newman, head of the privacy and data security group for Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York. “Credit reporting agencies collect information from the credit card companies, banks and public records and not just from the consumers themselves.”
Equifax said in its news release Thursday that it had “found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.” But it also said the investigation was ongoing, and it released little information on the nature of the intrusion itself or what the hackers did once inside. In hacks of other companies, the initial reports often turned out to be too limited in scope, with more troubling information coming out months or even years later. It's too soon to say that is going to happen with Equifax, but it's also too soon to say that it won't.
The clumsy handling of the incident by Equifax seems to exacerbated consumer frustration. The company issued a contrite statement from its chief executive, Richard F. Smith, saying: “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”
The company also offered a year of credit monitoring and identify theft protection to all U.S. consumers. But many have complained on Twitter (and in emails to reporters) that the site set up to check to see who was affected by the hack required that people submit their last names and six digits of their Social Security numbers to a company that had just suffered a massive security breach.
Several news reports also outlined security glitches with the site . Consumers have complained about the response they received when they called Equifax by phone. Others have argued that Equifax should offer to “freeze” the issuing of credit reports of affected consumers, a step favored by some consumer advocates because it would make it harder for identity thieves to use personal data.
In the past, the Federal Trade Commission has taken companies to task when they did not live up to their own policies on data protection, but critics have lamented for years that consumers have few legal rights in this area. Some observers think Congress is moving closer to imposing new standards on how companies must report hacks, but consumer advocates say the deeper issues regarding how data is collected, analyzed and protected are unlikely to be addressed.
“It's just another Category 4 or 5 hurricane that no one's paying attention to,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a critic of data-collection businesses. “There's going to be absolutely nothing.”
Orlando man gives last generator to crying Lowe's customer
Orlando, Fla. — Hurricane Irma could barrel towards Florida as early as this weekend and anxious residents preparing for the storm in Orlando are leaning on each other at local stores to grab what's left of important supplies. 3
Pam Brekke was next in line at a Lowe's hardware store when she was turned away in tears after the last generator was sold to the person ahead of her in line.
“My father is on oxygen and I'm worried about this storm,” she said.
Workers didn't know whether more supplies and generators would be coming, but after a couple of minutes, one man decided he didn't want Brekke to wait any longer.
“He's an angel from God is what he is,” Brekke said.
Ramon Santiago saw Brekke in tears and handed over his generator. 2
“She needed the generator. It's okay. No worry for them,” Santiago said.
Santiago couldn't say much to Brekke because of a language barrier, but that didn't stop him from helping someone in need. The simple act brought Brekke to tears again, but for a different reason.
“I'm very overwhelmed by that man. He's helping our family,” Brekke said.
People open their doors to Hurricane Irma evacuees
by CNN Wire
In the face of one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the Atlantic region, people across the United States started opening their homes to help evacuees.
From Georgia to North Carolina to Colorado, people offered up accommodation to the hundreds of thousands forced to abandon their homes as Hurricane Irma approaches.
The category 5 storm is currently ploughing through the Caribbean. Based on Irma's projected path, which includes Florida's heavily populated eastern coast, the enormous storm could create one of the largest mass evacuations in US history, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
In response, one Facebook Group, named ‘Hurricane Irma Lodging For Evacuees,' listed people and organizations offering shelter.
“I am in northern North Carolina, away from the coast. If ANYONE needs a place to stay, please do not hesitate to message me!” Lawren Durham wrote. “A few of us up here have room and are willing to take in families/people that have nowhere to go! I am a Katrina survivor… please take the evacuations seriously we are praying for each and every one!”
Durham told CNN she advertised her home on the group after a trip to Walmart hours earlier. “The traffic was heavier than normal and I thought these people may not have anywhere to go,” she said.
Originally from Louisiana but now based in Hamptonville, North Carolina, she said she knows what it feels like to have to evacuate. “Some of my family didn't have money and stayed for Katrina, and I would hate for people who need to get out stay because they feel they can't afford it.”
“There's been so much negativity recently, it just needs to stop” she added.
Brian Adkins, from Pueblo West, Colorado, also offered his home. “I'm a disabled veteran who's been through the Gulf War, I know what it's like to be out there with nothing,” he said. “It's Important to me to open my home to those who need shelter. I've got more room than I can use. A full basement of 2400 square feet we can put cots in and an acre of land to park RVs.”
Danielle Fairbank in East Tennessee is already housing two families in her home. “My heart broke for those having to leave everything they know behind,” she said. “I saw a need, had the means to help by letting one family stay in our camper and letting another family stay in my dad's RV in our yard.”
“Some may pray, some may volunteer to deliver meals, some may donate items or money, clean up the devastation,” she said. “But what I was blessed to be able to do was take in two precious families and love them like my own.”
Fairbank is currently housing one family of four and another family of three, plus their dog. She was connected with them through the work of Jennifer Stella, director of United Hope of East TN, a community charity group.
Stella said she'd been inundated with requests for shelter since Tuesday.
“We are busy screening, matching, and placing evacuee families and their pets with nowhere to go with host families in Tennessee and Georgia,” Stella said. “We are doing our part as the Volunteer State to help these families be safe during this horrible event.”
Other organizations mobilized to help as well.
Airbnb updated its disaster relief page to include both hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in late August, and Hurricane Irma. But within minutes, the free accommodation on offer had been booked.
“We are hopeful that our host community will be able to help make the evacuation process easier for residents and their families,” said Kim Rubey, Airbnb's global director of social good. “Our thoughts are with everyone who might be impacted by the storm, and we thank the dedicated government and emergency response personnel who are keeping our communities safe.”
Romina Ruiz, who evacuated from Miami for Atlanta Thursday morning, praised the people offering their homes. “People on Airbnb have been incredible,” she said. “So kind, so flexible and understanding, opening up their homes, letting you bring pets and canceling plans as well.”
Georgia's state government set up a webpage to help people escaping Irma find lodging within the state.
And as hotels as far as Atlanta booked up, camping grounds and stadiums started opening their doors.
The Talladega Superspeedway, part of NASCAR's track, opened its camping facilities free of charge Thursday. The grounds include a hot shower and restroom facilities, as well as water hookups on gravel and grassy areas.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned citizens not to take a chance and to expect additional evacuations.
Warning: The deadliest time is after the hurricane leaves
by David Halstead
David Halstead, a CNN contributor, is the former director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
(CNN)As Hurricane Irma rapidly approaches the southern coast of Florida, it is important to focus some time on how our citizens will handle the survival of what, is now believed, will be a Category 4 storm.
First, the euphoria of surviving the storm will come. Knowing that your pets are safe, finding out that family members also survived and perhaps seeing that your property was only slightly damaged will bring much gratitude. This post-survival period will mean different things to different people, but first let's make sure those who will make it through this storm continue to survive afterward.
In the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season, I took a look at the more than 100 deaths associated with either Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan or Jeanne, four storms that hit Florida that year. I read and reread the statistics and was amazed to understand how each person died. So many of them were initial survivors of the disaster but perished in the recovery phase.
There were some who did not follow the evacuation orders and decided to ride out the storm at home and ultimately drowned due to the storm surge. We have heard the stories of survivors who drove through roads in flooded conditions and their vehicles left the roadway with the occupants of the car drowning in deep ditches. Too many people still think their vehicle is capable of traveling across flooded roads.
It takes very little water -- in terms of depth-- for a car to be lifted and float with the current of the water. Hurricane Irma presents an even harsher reality as the storm surge may be higher and longer than we have ever dealt with here in Florida.
If memory serves me, less than 25% of those who perished actually did so as a direct result of any one of those four storms. In an excerpt from an analysis completed by the National Hurricane Center, John L. Beven II notes, "Casualty and Damage Statistics: Frances is directly responsible for seven deaths: five in Florida, one in the Bahamas, and one in Ohio. Three deaths were caused by wind, two by storm surge, one by freshwater flooding, and one by lightning. The hurricane is indirectly responsible for 43 deaths: 32 in Florida, 8 in Georgia, 1 in Alabama, 1 in the Bahamas, and 1 in Ohio." So, why did the others die?
Several scenarios are to blame. There were those who ran their generator in an enclosed garage and perished due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The gentleman who died when he fell off his roof while clearing debris and patching his roof. Heart attacks due to stress, electrocutions due to downed power lines, limbs that fell from trees and struck and killed what were hurricane survivors.
The sad reality was that many perished thinking that once they survived the storm, the danger was gone, but it wasn't.
The high number of deaths that occur after a hurricane means that survivors need to use extreme caution in handling their own cleanup, especially while on wet roofs and bending over the edges of the roofline.
Cutting high branches in trees takes skill and, more often than not, should be done by a professional. Review all of the safety features of running a generator while powering items in your home and be sure the device has ample ventilation space.
Driving, walking or generally being in floodwaters can be dangerous due to downed and electrified power lines and deep water ditches that can too easily be traps for vehicles, leading to tragic results.
Safety doesn't end when the winds die down and the rain bands dissipate -- quite the opposite, even more caution should be taken in an area already hit by a hurricane.
Community policing offers cops creative ways to fight crime
by Ashiah Scharaga
Chico >> For some neighborhoods, it might be a string of shoplifting incidents. In others, it could be unsafe practices that leave residents open to break-ins. Some may just need to know how to respond to animals trapped in hot cars.
Community-oriented policing has been part of the Chico Police Department's focus since 2015. But another program was adapted alongside it: problem-oriented policing.
Officers are encouraged to develop a project based upon a problem that arises in the neighborhoods they patrol, also called their beats.
Police Chief Mike O'Brien, who implemented the program, said he's never denied any project requests. He highlighted some of the department's officer successes at a Friday press conference.
Officer Cedric Schwyzer noticed a clear need to educate businesses in the East and Mangrove avenue corridors about the differences between shoplifting, burglaries and robberies. Problem-oriented policing allows officers to apply their strengths and interests creatively to address quality of life issues in the community, Schwyzer said.
People aren't always receptive when officers try to reach out, and even though that comes with the job, it can be disappointing, he said. Schwyzer has also made it a point to reach out to troubled teens he sees on the streets of Chico.
“Out of 100, if it's just one kid and it changes their life, it's worth it,” he said.
Steven Huerta ended up being one of those kids.
As a boy, Huerta already had a future in mind that could have easily turned violent. He was in elementary school in Chico, and asked where he saw himself in the future.
“I remember putting on paper: drug dealing, dead or making money,” he said. “I had a lot of bad influences growing up.”
Schwyzer met Huerta when he was a runaway teen and reached out to him, suspecting he had family troubles and could be involved in gang activity. Huerta said the officer actually believed in him, and trusted that he could turn his life around.
“I used to have problems with law enforcement. I'd be like, ‘Oh cops, I hate ‘em,'” he said.
Now, his perspective has shifted, because of his positive interactions with Chico police.
“They're not there to hunt us down, put you behind bars, just to get you in trouble,” he said. “They're there actually to help us, talk to us, basically help us out as much as they can.”
Schwyzer and Lt. Scott Zuschin referred Huerta to the YouthBuild program , where he received his high school diploma, learned job skills and participated in community service.
The people there treated him like he was family, Huerta said. Now he's part of an Alliance for Workforce Development program, working in Chico's parks and providing maintenance. He is saving up money to go to a state parks ranger academy in Santa Rosa.
Huerta said his old friends talk smack about him. They're the same ones who are probably on the same corner, Huerta mused, sipping a 40-ounce can of cheap beer and smoking weed. Some have asked him if he thinks he's better than them now.
“I say, ‘No, I know I'm better than you guys, ‘cause I did something with my life.'”
Shane Romain, Chico Park Services coordinator, said Huerta just needed the right person in his life to help steer him onto a good path. He's a hard worker who follows directions really well.
“For me, he's been a dream,” he said. “Steven is a genuinely kind-hearted young man who potentially could have been a victim of his circumstances.”
Schwyzer called Huerta “exceptional,” and added that he's very happy to see that he's doing well. Friday, they reconnected at the Chico Police press conference. Huerta told Schwyzer that when he came up and tapped him on the shoulder, it changed his life.
The officer responded “my part was very small.” It was Huerta who was receptive to the opportunity presented, Schwyzer said.
Schwyzer said community policing can make a difference, especially in cases like Huerta's.
“What I wish for our community is not just officers reaching out to the community, but community members trying to learn more about our jobs,” he said. “...When we take this job, we accept the responsibility that there may be a negative feeling toward us, but we also want to step up to the plate and be a guardian.”
For Miami's homeless, a choice: Take shelter or be held
Officers are giving Miami's estimated 1,100 homeless people a choice: Come willingly to a storm shelter, or be held
by Adriana Gomez Licon
MIAMI — On what is likely the last clear day in Florida before Hurricane Irma's monster wind and rain, social workers and police officers are giving Miami's estimated 1,100 homeless people a stark choice: Come willingly to a storm shelter, or be held against their will for a mental health evaluation.
With the outer edge of the storm approaching Friday, these officials — backed by a psychiatrist and observed by an Associated Press team — rolled through chillingly empty downtown streets as dawn broke over Biscayne Bay, searching for reluctant stragglers sleeping in waterfront parks.
"We're going out and every single homeless person who is unwilling to come off the street, we are likely going to involuntarily Baker Act them," said Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust.
Invoking the "Baker Act" — a law that enables authorities to institutionalize patients who present a danger to themselves or others — is not something law enforcement does lightly, but officers detained at least six people by Friday afternoon. Under the law, they can be held up to 72 hours before the state would have to go to court to prolong their detention.
By then, Irma's howling winds and terrifying storm surge should be somewhere north of the city.
"I am not going to sign suicide notes for people who are homeless in my community. I am just not going to do it," Book added. "That's why you have a Baker Act. It's there to protect those who can't otherwise protect themselves."
Book's group was working closely with police, who acknowledged that the effort is unusual: Officials said it is the first time Miami has invoked the law for hurricane preparedness.
About 70 people willingly climbed into white vans and police squad cars Friday, joining others who already arrived at shelters. About 600 others were thought to remain outside somewhere, exposed to the storm, despite mandatory evacuation orders for more than 660,000 people in areas that include downtown Miami and coastal areas throughout the county.
One older man pushing his belongings in an empty wheelchair in Bayfront Park tried to wave them off.
"I don't want nothing," he said, insulting a social worker.
"So you are cool with dying in the streets?" he asked.
"Get out of my goddamn face," he responded.
"What's your name?" asked Dr. Mohammad Nisar, a psychiatrist who was looking for evidence of mental illness, a necessary factor for a Baker Act detention.
"None of your damn business!"
Police officer James Bernat intervened.
"We are here to help you. Listen to me. You are being very aggressive. We are trying to help you," Bernat said. "It's very dangerous out here."
"You are trying to make me go somewhere I don't want to go," he insisted.
Finally, the man was handcuffed without a struggle and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital for a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation.
"A person who has a history of mental illness and who is staying in harm's way, and doesn't have a logical cohesion of what is right or what is wrong at that point, is a harm to himself, and at that point we can Baker Act them for his own protection," Nisar explained later.
Friday's encounters alone weren't enough to justify their involuntary detention — Nisar said social workers and officers on the team already know these men and can testify to prior signs of mental illness to support each case.
Also, the law requires a court order to keep them detained against their will after 72 hours, and public defenders have pushed back against such requests, citing court rulings that the Baker Act can lead to unconstitutional curtailments of individual liberty.
But those hearings won't happen until Monday at least — and by then, Irma's wrath will have moved on from Miami.
Ron Honberg, a senior policy adviser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said there is always potential for a slippery slope that would violate people's civil rights, but this storm seems extraordinarily dangerous.
"I think sometimes situations arise that are so dire that safety consideration supersedes everything else," he said. "But you don't want this to be used on people who don't have a mental illness."
The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said people need to be encouraged to take shelter during a disaster, but there are limits.
"But this is a democracy, and you can't force people to seek shelter if they don't want to," Howard Simon said. "I don't think you can manipulate the mental health laws by assuming that anyone who is homeless and doesn't seek shelter is mentally ill."
After driving more than 400 people to shelters, the Homeless Trust said it would continue searching for stragglers until winds reach 45 mph (72 kph), sometime Saturday afternoon.
"I am not happy to have to do it," said Steven Nolan, whose face has weathered many days of Florida sunshine. "But I'd rather be in there than out here when the storm hits."
Utah nurse arrest: Why cops need to know the law before they act
The recent incident involving the unlawful arrest of a Utah nurse underscores the importance of legal updates and in-service training
by Terrence P. Dwyer, Esq.
By now it is likely that many police officers have viewed the video footage of Utah detective Jeff Payne grabbing and arresting an emergency room nurse who did not acquiesce to the detective's demand that she draw blood from an unconscious motorist in a burn unit.
Nurse Alex Wubbels had explained to the detective that hospital policy forbids her from acting upon the detective's request unless she was presented with a search warrant or there was consent from the victim. She even notified the detective about the policy for blood testing entered into between the hospital and the Salt Lake City Police Department . The response from the detective was, “We're done, we're done here…you're under arrest,” as he moved in to physically restrain her and push her outside the emergency room doors where he handcuffed her.
To be fair, a news report on the incident indicated that the video may have been edited, and the version many have viewed may not be the entire video. Still the video clip available for public viewing does not offer any possible explanation for the detective's actions. Instead it supports the department's placement of the detective on administrative leave and the ensuing internal investigation aided by the FBI.
Video suggests officer misunderstood the law
The unfortunate image resonating from this incident is that police officers – who are sworn guardians of the law – do not have an adequate grasp of the laws they are empowered to uphold. The incident is compounded by the fact that the detective seemed to rely on an order from his lieutenant to place the nurse under arrest if she did not comply.
Such ignorance from a trained professional is inexcusable, particularly from a ranking officer who should have been the voice of reasoned judgment, not the catalyst for unconstitutional behavior. A professional agency like the Salt Lake City Police Department has surely trained its officers well, and the detective and his lieutenant are merely two outliers in an isolated incident that sadly created another negative public impression of law enforcement.
Whatever we may learn as the investigation progresses, it is important for police officers to remain current on the law and developments in certain areas such as DWI enforcement, otherwise there may be more damning video on the evening news and your name as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
Court rulings on blood alcohol testing
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in Missouri v. McNeely said that police have to obtain a search warrant prior to subjecting a DWI suspect to a blood test. The Supreme Court held that the dissipation of alcohol in the blood was not an exigent circumstance for the purpose of seeking a warrantless blood draw without consent.
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court in Birchfield v. North Dakota ruled that implied consent statutes could not include a criminal sanction for refusal to submit to breath or blood testing. In its decision, the Supreme Court reiterated the fact that absent an exigent circumstance – other than the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood – a warrant was required for non-consensual blood draw.
Case law in Utah is no different. The Utah Supreme Court in State v. Tripp , 227 P.3d 1251 (2010) suppressed blood draw evidence that tested positive for alcohol and cocaine because it was obtained without a warrant. Despite the defendant having caused the death of another motorist, the Utah court stated that the grievous nature of the case did not foreclose its duty to maintain the constitutional balance between liberty and security. In the Tripp case, the police also lacked probable cause to justify a warrantless blood draw. Even though Utah Code section 41-6a-520 provides for implied consent, this alone does not create an exigency or any other type of legal exception to the warrant requirement of Missouri v. McNeely .
Unlawful arrest of Utah nurse
Aside from the detective's unlawful attempt to extract blood from the body of an unconscious motorist who was declared not to be a suspect, he also announced the nurse was under arrest for interference with an investigation. Even though she was not eventually charged, a review of the law raises a question as to the basis of the detective's probable cause.
Utah Code 76-8-301 describes the crime of Interference with a public servant, the presumable offense for which the nurse was handcuffed. Subsection (b) of the statute defines the culpable conduct as that which “knowingly or intentionally interferes with the lawful service of process by a public servant.” The prior subsection (a), which describes conduct “that uses force, violence, intimidation, or engages in any other unlawful act with a purpose to interfere with a public servant performing or purporting to perform an official function,” certainly could not be the basis of the detective's actions.
Similarly, Utah Code 76-8-306, Obstruction of justice in criminal investigations or proceedings did not apply since there was no discernible “intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense” by any of the 10 means listed in the statute.
What was the basis for the detective's probable cause when he announced to the nurse that she was under arrest? A plain reading of the relevant state statutes does not support any.
Why police officers must review penal codes and statutes
There is no substitute to reading legal bulletins and updates issued by your department and undertaking a semi-annual review of your state penal codes and vehicle and traffic statutes. No matter how much time a police officer has on the job, professional education should never cease, and part of being a professional is maintaining standards of ethical and lawful behavior. For some that time may be past, but that does not prevent the rest from upholding traditions of excellence.
Smaller US cities struggle with high teen gun violence rates
Of the 10 cities with the highest rates of teen shootings, most had populations of less than 250,000 people
by Juliet Linderman, Brittany Horn, Esteban Parra, and Larry Fenn
WILMINGTON, Delaware — When the shots rang out — "pop, pop, pop," and then a thunder roll of gunfire — Maria Williams hit the floor.
The bullets sprayed through her front door and window, leaving perfectly cylindrical holes in the glass. They blasted across the nursery, where her 2-year-old daughter's toys were strewn on the carpet. They burrowed into the kitchen cabinetry — and hit her teenage son and daughter.
Amid their screams, "All I could think of was, 'I'm not losing another child,'" Williams recalled, tears streaming down her cheek.
Her 18-year-old stepson — William Rollins VI, known as Lil Bill — had been gunned down two years before, another victim of Wilmington's plague of teens shooting teens. His shooter was 17.
Wilmington isn't Chicago or Los Angeles, Baltimore or Detroit. It is a city of less than 72,000 people known primarily as the birthplace of chemical giant DuPont and as a cozy home for big banks and Fortune 500 firms. But an Associated Press and USA TODAY Network analysis of Gun Violence Archive data — gathered from media reports and police press releases, and covering a 3½ year period through June of this year — reveals that Wilmington far and away leads the country in its rate of shootings among young people ages 12 to 17.
"It's nonstop, just nonstop," said William Rollins V, father of the teenagers. "Around every turn, they're taking our kids."
Of the 10 cities with the highest rates of teen shootings, most had populations of less than 250,000 people. Among them were Savannah, Georgia; Trenton, New Jersey; Syracuse, New York; Fort Myers, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia. Chicago was the lone large-population city high on the list.
Poverty and a sense of hopelessness in the most violent neighborhoods is a common thread. Syracuse, a university town that once cranked out air conditioners and televisions, now has a poverty rate of 35 percent.
Size also may play a role. In tightly packed neighborhoods, insults and perceived insults ricochet like shots in an echo chamber. One shooting inevitably leads to speculation about who will be targeted next.
"The streets remember," said Mark Denney, a state prosecutor who is trying to end Wilmington's retaliatory warfare.
In Wilmington, data from the Gun Violence Archive show that roughly 3 out of every 1,000 adolescents are injured or killed annually from gun violence. That is almost twice the rate reported from Chicago and just over 9 times the national average as reported for 2015 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The news organizations sought to measure teenage gun violence in America's cities because it is something the federal government does not track on a regular and comprehensive basis.
Nearly a quarter of Wilmington's residents live below the poverty line, and 86 percent of the city's youth receive some form of state assistance.
About 30 active street crews exist in Wilmington today, estimated David Kennedy, a national expert in criminology who has for years studied the city's crime problem. Prosecutors say these crews, made up of roughly 20 people per group, are responsible for most of Wilmington's crime.
A yearlong investigation by The News Journal, Gannett's Wilmington newspaper that is part of the USA TODAY Network, detailed a veritable war between two groups — Only My Brothers and Shoot to Kill. A News Journal analysis of court records, social media and the newspaper's internal database found that a third of the shooting victims under age 21 during the first seven months of 2016 had links to the rivalry.
Mayor Mike Purzycki said some of the blame can be laid on a "fractured education system" that sends children on buses to schools in rival neighborhoods. Many fathers are either in prison or have past convictions that make it difficult for them to find good jobs.
Wilmington officials have desperately cast about for solutions — without success, at least so far.
In December 2013, City Council President Hanifa Shabazz asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate. It would be the agency's first-ever inquiry into gun violence as a public health epidemic. The agency found that, between 2009 and 2014, 15 percent of the people arrested in Wilmington for a firearms crime were under the age of 18.
The CDC recommended that agencies share information such as school truancy records, child welfare reports and emergency room visits to identify minors who need help earlier in life to avoid violence later. But after closing a $400 million budget gap through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, Delaware Gov. John Carney said the state doesn't have the money to execute the CDC's plan.
The community, meanwhile, is pressing forward on its own.
Derrick Reed, who owns His Image Barber Lounge near Wilmington's Little Italy, began holding sessions for teens at his shop on Monday evenings.
Latisha Jackson organized 302 MAFIA (302 is Wilmington's area code; MAFIA stands for Mothers and Fathers In Action) to create a support system for those returning home from prison, and to wake parents up to the possibility that their children are becoming caught up in dangerous activity: her two boys were recently indicted on gun charges; the younger one also pleaded guilty to a gang charge as well. She said she had no idea.
"The craziest thing about it is, these kids are accepting it," William Rollins said. "Like, they're accepting going to jail for life. They're accepting getting put in the grave. But they don't realize the effect that they do to everybody else around them."
From the Department of Homeland Security
How to Help Disaster Survivors Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
WASHINGTON – The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a disaster. It is through individuals, non-profits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and governmental agencies working together that will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the cataclysmic impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Please follow a few important guidelines below to ensure your support can be the most helpful for Hurricane Irma disaster survivors.
DONATE TO RELIEF EFFORTS
The most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted and reputable organizations.
Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also gives these organizations flexibility in determining what is most needed once on-scene after a natural disaster.
Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time. While donators have loving intentions in providing these articles, when used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Donate through a trusted organization. At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. Individuals, corporations, and volunteers, can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website. This can be the first step if you want to support response and relief operations in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or the U.S. mainland.
TO PERSONALLY VOLUNTEER IN THE DISASTER AREAS
Hurricane Irma remains a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center said Irma is “a life-threatening situation,” urging people to follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials. It is not advisable for volunteers to self-deploy to damaged areas, as it could create an additional burden for first responders.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear, and valid identification.
At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in impacted areas supporting survivors on the ground.
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is registering volunteers to help survivors affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
In addition to the national members, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is coordinating with volunteer organizations across the state and partnering with the American Red Cross (ARC) to provide shelter operations training to volunteers and AmeriCorps grantees. To volunteer, visit the Volunteer Florida website or call 1-800-FL-Help-1.
Most importantly, please be patient. Although the need is great, and the desire to help is strong, it is important to avoid donating material goods or self-deploying to help until communities are safe and public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are.
Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery takes time. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.
Hurricane Irma is still considered extremely dangerous, with the potential to affect large areas of several southeastern states. As the situation changes, needs may also change in these areas. Continue monitoring traditional and social media channels to learn more.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.
From the FBI
Staying Ahead of the Threat
National Security Summit Focuses on the State of U.S. Intelligence
The FBI is working tirelessly to stay ahead of the evolving terrorist threats facing the United States—including small-scale attacks that are often difficult to disrupt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said today during a meeting of intelligence and national security leaders.
Speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Summit in Washington, D.C., Wray said that while large-scale terrorist strikes like the September 11 attacks remain a threat, violent radicals are increasingly engaging in smaller plots on vulnerable soft targets that are planned quickly, decreasing the amount of time the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have to intervene.
“If the lifespan is much shorter, which it is with a lot of the homegrown, violent extremist types of situations, the need for us as a community to be more agile…is much greater,” Wray said.
The summit is an annual conference for government, military, and private-sector personnel, sponsored by national security industry groups AFCEA International and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. This year's theme was “The State of U.S. Intelligence: A Time of Transition, Challenge, and Innovation.”
Wray was joined in a panel discussion by top leaders in the intelligence and national security communities, including National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo, Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Melissa Drisko, and National Reconnaissance Office Principal Deputy Director Frank Calvelli. FBI executives Paul Abbate, Joshua Skule, and Scott Smith also participated in breakout sessions during the two-day conference.
The leaders on Wray's directors' panel discussed a variety of intelligence topics, touched on national security investigations, and took questions from the audience.
When asked about his thoughts on assuming leadership of the FBI, Wray said the organization has grown since he initially worked with the Bureau during his earlier career as a Department of Justice prosecutor and administrator. He cited the organization's efforts to keep up with technology advancements, the growth in partnerships, and expansion of the intelligence program as positive changes he has noted since his term began last month.
“The things that were great about the Bureau still are great about the Bureau,” Wray said. “People are mission-focused. No matter what job they have, they're very passionate about it. They are determined to be the best at what they do.” He added that employees “bring the kind of integrity that I always found so attractive when I was working with them as a line prosecutor and later in main Justice after 9/11.”
Partnerships and intelligence are two key factors in staying ahead of the threats posed by terrorists, hackers, and criminals, Wray said. The FBI is “very focused on building ties with all of the communities it protects,” he explained, noting how much the organization's partnerships with state and local police and the private sector have expanded in recent years.
He also praised the evolution of the FBI's intelligence program, including the integration of intelligence into everything the organization does. “You can see how intelligence is driving everything,” he said.