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.
Antifa, far-right protesters clash again in Portland, disrupting peaceful rallies
by Derek Hawkins
Political rallies in Portland, Ore., and a neighboring town gave way to violence Sunday afternoon when black-clad antifa activists attacked police officers and far-right demonstrators, while other protesters from rival groups scuffled in the streets.
Two officers were treated for minor injuries after protesters fired slingshots and threw rocks, bottles and other projectiles at them, according to the Portland Police Bureau. At least nine people were arrested throughout the day on charges that included interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.
An alarming moment came toward the end of the day when a man driving a black Chevrolet truck adorned with American flags and a Confederate flag decal accelerated at a group of protesters, causing people to scream and jump out of the way. No one was hurt, and the driver, who was not identified, was detained and released without charges shortly after, Willamette Week reported .
The incident drew comparisons to last month's deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing one woman. James Alex Fields Jr., a Nazi sympathizer , was charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding.
The conservative group Patriot Prayer had scheduled a “Peaceful Portland Freedom March” in downtown Portland starting Sunday afternoon, but at the last minute moved the demonstration to Vancouver, Wash., about 15 minutes away, over concerns about a large counterprotest.
Hundreds of counterprotesters still showed up around 1 p.m. in Portland's plaza and waterfront park, carrying signs that read “fascists not welcome” and “fight the right.” The Oregonian reported that they were mostly from Portland Stands United Against Hate, a coalition of some 80 activist groups, and Rose City Antifa, a local anti-fascist organization. They were met by a handful of Patriot Prayer supporters, according to local media.
“Fascists, far right racists and bigots are organizing across this country,” organizer Wael Elasady told KATU . “We knew that we needed to come together and stand up against that racism and against fascists.”
Department to focus on outreach
by Thomas Schreiber
LE MARS — For new Le Mars Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte, getting his officers out into the community is a vital goal.
“I want to improve our community policing tactics. These goals will actually help us as a department solve crimes more efficiently and in more of a timely manner,” Vande Vegte said. “Once we enter into more of a partnership with the community, people are going to be less reluctant to assist us and help us do our daily job.”
“We need the community to help us solve crimes. If something happens at 2 in the morning, and we don't get called till 9 o' clock that morning, the chances of us solving that crime are probably pretty slim,” Vande Vegte continued.
Events like National Night Out are exactly the kind of events Vande Vegte wants to expand upon to foster a better relationship with the community.
“I've talked to our local fire chief, and the two of us are going to look into doing some type of community outreach,” Vande Vegte said. “It might be as simple as police and fire pick a day and we go to one side of town and bring a fire truck and police car and let the community come to us and talk to us. Or maybe kids just want to look at the police car or fire truck.”
Vande Vegte noted he is also thinking about hosting town hall meetings.
“This would be a public safety town hall meeting. I might have it at either the convention center or the Ice Cream Parlor,” he said. “We'd let the community know that there are going to be police officers there for two to three hours and invite them to come in and talk to us and express their needs and concerns they have.”
One way to be more visible in the community and be more available — the re-implementation of bike patrol.
“We're going to purchase two brand new bicycles. In the near future I'm going to be approaching individuals or businesses in the community to maybe help us get that program off the ground,” Vande Vegte said. “It's great for officers getting into neighborhoods and for businesses because we can check alleys and doors a lot more efficiently.”
Vande Vegte is also emphasizing a close relationship with local schools.
“Another thing we've already started is our officers are periodically walking the halls of each school in Le Mars. We're just being ready and observable to school officials and the public,” Vande Vegte said. “We want people to know our schools are definitely a safe zone. The other intent is just positive interaction with the teachers, the students, and the parents.”
As he sets out on accomplishing his immediate vision, Vande Vegte is also keeping a close eye on what the future holds in terms of department manpower.
“Even in the next couple of years, we're going to have some openings, and I want to attract the cream of the crop to come work in this city,” Vande Vegte said. “I'm going to go out and recruit. We're going to go to our community colleges and talk to instructors and find out who stood out and who would be a good police officer.”
Vande Vegte was quick to say bringing in more good officers would bolster an already solid foundation.
“This has been a very easy transition because I've got good police officers working for me, and we're not making drastic changes,” he concluded. “We're just moving forward and getting officers more involved in the community.”
Berkeley police chief asks to use pepper spray on protesters
The City Council will vote on whether to approve Chief Andrew Greenwood's request-and overturn a 20-year ban on using pepper spray during protests
by Rachel Swan
BERKELEY, Calif. — As Berkeley officials brace for protests that could easily turn violent when conservative writer Ben Shapiro appears at UC Berkeley next week, the city's police chief is advocating for a controversial form of crowd control: pepper spray to subdue agitators.
The City Council will vote on whether to approve Chief Andrew Greenwood's request — and overturn a 20-year ban on using pepper spray during protests — at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Greenwood made his case in a 26-page memo to the City Council, pointing out that Berkeley's university campus and Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park have become stages for right- and left-wing extremists who are raring for a fight.
He cited four recent events — on Feb. 1, March 4, April 15 and Aug. 27 — when large, coordinated groups of masked attackers assaulted police officers and “people who were engaging in free speech activities.”
During the Aug. 27 event, a right-wing “No to Marxism in Berkeley” rally at Civic Center Park, scores of masked extremists arrived with a flatbed truck full of weapons and shields, Greenwood wrote. The group set off smoke bombs around the park, then charged in and attacked individuals, then left “under the cover of peaceful demonstrators,” Greenwood wrote.
He said that if officers had been allowed to use pepper spray, they might have deterred the extremists — who often identify as “antifascists” or “antifa.”
“The Berkeley Police Department is currently limited to using batons, less lethal projectiles, smoke and tear gas to confront coordinated groups of extremists who have launched brutal and determined attacks against officers and people whom they have determined should not be allowed to speak or publicly assemble,” Greenwood wrote.
The right to protest is a core credo in Berkeley, which is known as the home of the Free Speech movement, and as a harbor for just about every social movement that followed.
But many politicians appear to be fed up with seeing their city used as a gladiatorial arena for instigators on the right and the left, and support is building for Greenwood's pepper spray measure.
“I support it,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who recently told reporters at KPIX-TV that antifa should be classified as a gang.
“We need to differentiate between peaceful protesters and violent agitators,” Arreguin told The Chronicle. “Our police need to prevent violence in order to allow free speech.”
Berkeley Police officers are allowed to use pepper spray during individual arrests, but they seem to treat it as a last resort — since 2012, officers have used the chemical irritant an average of three times a year, despite handling hundreds of thousands of calls, and making tens of thousands of arrests and citations, Greenwood said.
He pointed out, however, that large hand-held aerosol spray cans are “an industry standard tool” for situations when angry mobs attack a police line. Such dispensers are used in San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and San Jose, he said.
Pittsburgh's new multicultural unit will help communication-in Arabic, Chinese, Nepali, Spanish and Swahili
by Adam Smeltz
Pittsburgh's Public Safety department is angling to strengthen ties — and trust — with refugee and immigrant communities through a multicultural program.
The new Multicultural Liaison Unit will translate police, fire and medic materials into several foreign languages, hold events for the immigrant community and supply multicultural training for Public Safety recruits, the city said in an announcement Monday.
Legislation to support the plans is due Tuesday before City Council. An agreement with the Heinz Foundation should deliver a $50,000 grant for the measure.
"We all are boots-on-the-ground ambassadors for the city. [We] all have those personal, one-on-one connections through our work," police Cmdr. Eric Holmes said.
Efforts under the unit should emerge in the coming months, although some work has begun, Cmdr. Holmes said. The push follows a community policing recommendation in the Welcoming Pittsburgh plan that Mayor Bill Peduto released in 2014 — an initiative to make the city more attractive to immigrants.
Among its duties, the unit will focus on:
• Translating and distributing "Watch and Learn" videos that explain basic laws. The material, featuring police, fire and emergency medical workers, will be available in the five most common foreign languages in Pittsburgh: Arabic, Chinese, Nepali, Spanish and Swahili.
• Hosting events such as "Know Your Rights" sessions and the "Immigrant and Refugee Public Safety Academy" for immigrant and refugee populations. Community discussions also are expected.
• Incorporating multicultural training into new recruit training for police, firefighters and emergency medical workers. The education will help first responders "effectively address and support the public safety needs of residents with various cultural backgrounds and limited English language skills," the city said in a statement. [Cmdr. Holmes said longer-serving police officers have undergone procedural-justice training that includes multicultural elements.]
Council is expected to hear a presentation on the plans this month.
Calif. governor agrees to immigrant protections
The new changes would preserve the ability of LEOs to cooperate on federal task forces as long as the task force doesn't specifically work on immigration enforcement
by Don Thompson and Jonathan J. Cooper
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Senate leader said Monday they've agreed to changes in proposed legislation that would further restrict interactions between law enforcement officers and federal immigration agents.
The agreement came on the same day the state sued the Trump administration over its decision to end a program that shields young immigrants from deportation.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, agreed to changes demanded by Brown following fierce opposition from sheriffs and other law-enforcement officials.
The bill would still prohibit state and local police from asking about people's immigration status or enforcing federal immigration laws.
However, following Monday's changes, it would preserve the ability of law officers to cooperate on federal task forces as long as the task force doesn't specifically work on immigration enforcement.
Police and jail officials would be able to notify U.S. immigration agents if they detain people with convictions for some 800 crimes, including serious felonies, battery, assault and sexual crimes.
Immigration agents would still be allowed to interview immigrants in jail, and immigration agents would not be barred from accessing state databases.
"This bill protects public safety and people who come to California to work hard and make this state a better place," Brown said in a statement.
Brown and de Leon reached their agreement in the last week of the legislative year. The Assembly and Senate must approve the measure by Friday or delay action until next year.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had no immediate comment.
California already has some of the most protective laws in the country for immigrants detained by law enforcement. The state has limited the ability of police to detain immigrants for federal deportation agents since 2014, and requires jailers to inform inmates if agents are trying to detain immigrants.
Illinois recently passed even more protective legislation that bars law enforcement from detaining immigrants solely for deportation, said Shiu Ming Cheer, senior staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.
A handful of cities including Chicago and San Francisco, meanwhile, are refusing to cooperate with new federal requirements for tougher immigration enforcement, prompting the Trump administration to threaten to withhold funding.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, a critic of the initial state bill, said sheriffs would be discussing the latest version on a call Tuesday and declined to discuss the details. He noted that ICE generally seeks cooperation on people convicted of major crimes.
Immigrant rights groups held a noisy rally in the Capitol last week urging Brown and de Leon not to back off from the strict immigrant protections de Leon originally proposed in the wake of Donald Trump's election as president.
But the activists generally praised the compromise with Brown.
"We hope that it will serve as a model for other states and encourage them to adopt similar protections," said Jenny Pasquarella, immigrant rights director for the American Civil Liberties Union of California. "This is where the dragnet is."
The legislative deal was announced the same day that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he's filing a lawsuit over the Trump administration's decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.
The lawsuit's legal arguments largely mirror those already filed in a lawsuit last week by 15 other states and the District of Columbia. Attorney generals for the states of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota joined California's lawsuit.
More than 200,000 of the 800,000 participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program live in California.
The University of California has also filed a legal challenge to ending the program.
Also on Monday, Mexico Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said he and other Mexican diplomats are urging members of Congress to make the DACA program permanent and that he is not expecting an immediate influx of hundreds of thousands of young people back to Mexico.
From the Department of Homeland Security
FEMA Hiring Texas Residents for Hurricane Harvey Recovery Jobs
AUSTIN, Texas – In partnership with the State of Texas, FEMA is hiring workers across the state for administrative, logistical and technical jobs related to hurricane recovery.
Those hired will join the recovery team – local, state and federal workers, voluntary agencies and community organizations – already in place. Through temporary local employees, FEMA gains valuable community insights, provides jobs and puts Texans to work helping Texans.
Jobs posted recently pay between $14 and $34 per hour. Some of the jobs include: administrative support assistant, civil engineer, communications specialist, construction cost estimator, courier, crisis counselor, customer service specialist, environmental specialist, floodplain management specialist, graphics specialist, hazard mitigation outreach specialist, historic preservation specialist, registered nurse and voluntary agency liaison, among others.
The first step is to register at WorkinTexas.com , the Texas Workforce Commission's website, where application instructions are posted. FEMA will announce more jobs soon.
After Irma, Florida prepares for days-and maybe weeks-without power
by Patricia Sullivan, Mark Berman and Katie Zezima
CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Millions of Floridians grappled with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Wednesday, confronting a sweltering reality: More than 40 percent of Florida still lacked electricity , and for some of them, the lights might not come back on for days or even weeks.
“We understand what it means to be in the dark,” said Robert Gould, vice president and chief communications officer for Florida Power and Light (FPL), the state's largest utility. “We understand what it means to be hot and without air conditioning. We will be restoring power day and night.”
But, he acknowledged: “This is going to be a very uncomfortable time.”
Across the nation's third most-populous state, that discomfort played out in homes that were silent without the usual thrum of perpetual air-conditioning. It meant refrigerators were unable to cool milk, laundry machines were unable to clean clothes and, for the particularly young and old, potential danger in a state where the temperatures can range from warm to stifling.
Even for those who had power, some also were struggling to maintain cellphone service or Internet access, sending Floridians into tree-riddled streets in an effort to spot a few precious bars of signal to contact loved ones.
“It's a mess, a real mess. The biggest issue is power,” said Bill Barnett, mayor of Naples, on Florida's Gulf Coast. “We just need power. It's 92 degrees and the sun is out and it's smoking out there.”
Utility companies made progress as they undertook a massive recovery effort, restoring power to some. At its peak, the Department of Homeland Security said about 15 million Floridians — an astonishing three out of four state residents — lacked power.
By early Wednesday, state officials gradually lowered the number of customers without power, dropping it to about 4.4 million from 6.5 million on Monday. Because each power company account can represent multiple people, the sheer number of residents without electricity was massive: Going by the Homeland Security estimates, at one point Irma had knocked out power to one out of every 22 Americans.
It would take some time before all of them had electricity again. Duke Energy Florida said it would restore power to most customers by Sunday, a week after Irma made its first landfall in Florida. Some harder-hit areas could take longer due to the rebuilding effort.
Gould said that FPL, which powers about half of the state, expected customers on Florida's East Coast to have power back by the end of the weekend. People in western Florida, closer to Irma's path, should have it back by Sept. 22. That estimate does not include places with severe flooding or tornado damage, he said, and those areas could also face a longer wait to be able to switch on the lights.
Floridians reacted to the outages eclectically. Some welcomed the absence of perpetual air-conditioners. Others flocked to their local malls for a respite from the heat.
“There's no power at home, so we might as well just stay here and stay cool,” Amanda Brack, who was with her son, Gavin, said while walking through a Brookstone at the Galleria shopping mall in Fort Lauderdale.
Blake Deerhog had walked to the mall from his powerless and steamy apartment in nearby Victoria Park, trekking some 20 minutes in the stifling heat and humidity after he Googled and learned it would be open.
“This is definitely better than being back at my apartment,” he said, adding that he planned to spend the afternoon there.
The outages also caused rising alarm in some places. Here in Cape Coral, an assisted care facility for patients with dementia and memory impairment that sheltered in place during the storm went without power for three days, as elderly patients suffered in the rising heat.
The southwest Florida facility, Cape Coral Shores, had 20 patients stay during the storm as part of an agreement with state and local officials because the emergency shelters it would normally use were both evacuated as Irma approached. Power at the facility went out, and it stayed out, even as homes and businesses all around it saw their lights come back on.
As the indoor temperature climbed to the mid-80s Wednesday morning, humidity made the hard-surfaced floors slick with condensation. Patients gathered in a small day room to catch a slight breeze from screened windows. A handful of small fans powered by a borrowed generator were all that kept the situation from devolving into a medical emergency, said Dan Nelson, Cape Coral Shores' chief operating officer.
“People here are fragile,” Nelson said, adding that air-conditioning in such facilities is a medical necessity. “This is not just about comfort, it's about safety. We have magnet door locks that don't work, fire suppression equipment whose batteries have run out, assisted bed lifts that don't work. And the temperatures today and tomorrow are headed back to the mid-90s.”
A state emergency official said Wednesday afternoon he had found a large generator and 50 gallons of gas for the facility, but there was no need: The power came back on.
While the Sunshine State was the hardest hit by the outages, they extended to the other states Irma raked as it headed north. Hundreds of thousands lost power in the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia, where at one point 800,000 were experiencing outages on Tuesday, though that number declined during the day.
The deteriorating storm once known as Hurricane Irma — classified Tuesday as a post-tropical cyclone — grazed onward through the Mississippi Valley, losing essentially all of its prior strength but still drenching some areas with rainfall.
Across the southeast, even as people acknowledged that they had dodged the worst possible hit from Irma, they were still left to contend with destroyed homes, flooded cities, swollen rivers, canceled flights and debris in the streets.
The city of Jacksonville, Fla., remained flooded after the St. Johns River overflowed so severely the day before that it forced residents from their homes. Charleston, S.C., city officials said the intense flooding there on Monday closed more than 111 roads, most of which had reopened Tuesday.
Authorities said they were investigating several fatalities that came since the storm made landfall, though it was not clear how many were directly due to the storm.
Among them were a 51-year-old man in Winter Park, Fla., outside Orlando, who police said was apparently electrocuted by a downed power line in a roadway. In Georgia, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said a 67-year-old woman was killed when a tree fell on her car; the mayor of Sandy Springs said a 55-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on the bedroom where he was sleeping.
In other cases, fatal car crashes claimed lives as the storm loomed. And other dangers also lurked: Officials warned of the risks posed by the generators people have used since the storm knocked out power. The Daytona Beach Fire Department said Wednesday morning that one person was dead and three others taken to a hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside a home, and the department urged people to keep their generators outside.
In Key West, it remained unclear when power, cellphone service or supplies would be available again.
“What you have on hand is rationed to make sure you can get through,” said Todd Palenchar, 48, noting that his supplies of food and water are designed to last for a week. “You don't know how long it's going to be.”
Palenchar said he is used to camping and roughing it, but his main concern right now is his property.
“I've already posted signs where I'm at, ‘Looters will be shot, no questions asked,'” he said as he pulled up his shirt to reveal a .380 caliber pistol.
Monroe County said in a statement that no assessments had been done yet determining the percentage of damage or the cost in the Keys, with Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers saying in a statement: “Things look real damaged from the air, but when you clear the trees and all the debris, it's not much damage to the houses.”
As Irma tore through the Caribbean and approached the Keys last week, authorities had ordered millions in Florida to evacuate and, in some cases, ordered them to hit the road again as the storm's path wobbled. On Tuesday, officials slowly began letting those people return home.
In Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, and other places that let residents back, officials warned that many areas are still without power, cellphone reception is questionable and most gas stations remain shut.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said about half of the county's traffic signals were out. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said the number was closer to 45 percent of traffic signals there. Across the state, the explanations for the outages were visible alongside the road.
“It's a lot of trees and power lines and snapped poles,” said Kate Albers, a spokeswoman for Collier County, which stretches across southwestern Florida and includes Marco Island, where Irma made her second landfall.
“I can tell you from driving around you see lines down all over the place,” Albers said. “You see trees thrown through power lines and you'll see an occasional pole.”
The high number of outages across Florida were due largely to the storm's massive size, said Ted Kury, director of energy studies for the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida.
“For a significant period of time, the entire state was under a hurricane warning,” Kury said. “Normally it comes through, sometimes it comes through fast and sometimes it comes through slowly. But this one hit pretty much everybody.”
Kury was among those who did not lose power but did lose Internet, cable and cellphone service, so he and his wife had to walk to the next development before his wife got enough signal to text their oldest son and her parents.
Storms that rip down power lines are frequently followed by questions about why more power lines are not buried underground, away from punishing winds.
Cost is one factor. A 2012 report for the Edison Electric Institute, a trade association representing investor-owned electrical utilities, found that it can be five to 10 times more expensive to put lines underground — otherwise known as “undergrounding” — than to hang them overhead.
The utilities also weigh issues such as how much cost they can pass on to their customers and the aesthetics of overhead wires, Kury said, noting that there is no uniform policy for power companies because diverse regions have different needs.
“It's kind of a misstatement when folks say undergrounding power lines protects them from damage,” Kury said. “What it really does is insulates them from damage from wind events and flying debris. But it makes them more susceptible to things like flooding and things like storm surge.”
He added: “If you're in an area where your biggest risk to the infrastructure is storm surge and flooding, putting the lines underground can actually make them more susceptible to damage and not less.”
Florida utility companies embarked upon a massive response effort to get the lights back on. Gould, the spokesman for FPL, said the company had dispatched 20,000 workers to work day and night restoring power, first to critical care infrastructure — like hospitals and 911 systems — and then to feeders that send juice to the most customers. Finally, they get to individual neighborhoods.
In St. Petersburg, where gas-powered generators had growled through the night, residents lit their way with battery-powered lanterns, flashlights and tea lights.
“We've run out of power before,” said Jeanne Isacco, 71, reaching for her walker to stand and punctuate her point. “Why do you think we live here? Excuse me! We know it's hot.”
8-year-old biracial boy was hung from rope by N.H. teenagers because of his race, family says
by Rachel Siegel
It was around 5 p.m. on a Monday in late August, and an 8-year-old boy, like so many others that summer evening, was playing in a back yard. The others he was with had a few years on him — some were as old as 14 — and he had no reason to suspect that the picnic table or tire swing nearby would become tools for what his family alleges was a racially motivated near-hanging.
That night in Claremont, N.H., took a dark turn, the boy's family claims, when the teens started taunting the boy with racial epithets and throwing sticks and rocks at his legs. Family accounts of the incident reported by the Valley News allege the teens stood on top of the picnic table and grabbed a rope attached to a tire swing.
“The (teenagers) said, ‘Look at this,' supposedly putting the rope around their necks,” Slattery told the Valley News. “One boy said to (her grandson), ‘Let's do this,' and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.”
The boy swung back and forth three times before freeing himself, the newspaper reported.
No adults were in the back yard during the incident, according to the Valley News, so what happened on the evening of Aug. 28 has largely been drawn from the grandmother's account provided to her by the boy and his 11-year-old sister, who was also in the back yard and went and found their mother, Cassandra Merlin, soon after.
The Claremont Police Department, in a statement, confirmed that the boy was treated and released from a hospital for injuries received during “this incident.”
A Facebook post from Aug. 28 by the boy's uncle included a widely circulated photo of the boy's neck, swollen and scarred.
The Valley News reported that Merlin drove her son to a nearby hospital and that he was later airlifted to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with rope burns and cuts to his neck. He did not suffer internal injuries.
“I think he had a guardian angel,” the boy's grandmother Lorrie Slattery told the newspaper.
The incident has ignited local and national outcry over what has been cast by many, particularly on social media, as a hate crime against a biracial child. In recent weeks, family members and activists have expressed outrage over the lack of information given out by Claremont police, which has consistently cited confidentiality laws protecting juveniles.
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase again cited the limitations of what could be revealed about the case in a statement released Tuesday and published by the Valley News. The news release was the first time police specified that the investigation revolved around people who were all ages 14 and younger.
Also on Tuesday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a statement calling for state police to assist officials in Claremont.
“Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire,” Sununu's statement read .
Slattery told the Valley News that Aug. 28 wasn't the first time the teenagers in the neighborhood used racial slurs against her grandson.
“When my sister calls me when something is wrong I feel it in my bones before ever picking up the phone,” the caption read. “Tonight I was spot on,” the uncle wrote in his Facebook post.
Comments on the post included calls to contact the NAACP and to charge the teens with committing a hate crime.
More than 100 people gathered at a Claremont park on Tuesday to show support for the boy's family, the Boston Globe reported. Attendees prayed and joined in a chorus of “We Shall Overcome,” and many said they hoped the gathering would spark conversations about race relations in Claremont. The city of roughly 13,000 is nearly 96 percent white, according to the 2010 census, and .6 percent black or African American.
“We're gathering to recognize that we have … a mountain of work to do to deal with racism in our community and virtually every community in America,” Rebecca MacKenzie, one of the organizer's of the Claremont gathering, told the Globe.
Tulsa Police's first community liaison to promote community policing initiatives
Ex-TV producer to help implement community policing recommendations
by Corey Jones and Jarrel Wade
Leah Mueller wants you to know that if you have a question or concern, the Tulsa Police Department hears you and wants to help.
Mueller, a former television news producer in Tulsa, is the department's first community liaison, according to a news release issued Tuesday. She will earn an annual salary of $45,000 to work with the community, bolstering awareness and education of the department's community policing initiatives.
Mueller, 35, was on hand Tuesday evening in a Cherry Street parking lot for a meet-and-greet during Tulsa Night Out, when city police and fire department personnel attend neighborhood gatherings to touch base with the community.
Mueller said the police department needs to better leverage social media to openly communicate with citizens — a key focus for her.
“It has become such a major everyday communication tool,” Mueller said. “I really want to be the voice of Tulsa Police, that if people send a message they know they're going to get an answer.”
Mueller said one of her best assets is being a “people person.” She said she has never met someone she couldn't talk to for at least a few minutes on any topic — whether positive or contentious. Mueller said she has a talent for being able to relate to people and understand what they may be going through.
Mueller was a television news producer for nearly a decade at KTUL and KJRH. Most recently she was a marketing coordinator for Flintco LLC, a Tulsa-based construction company.
“I got out of TV and that world for almost two years, and I really miss being an active part of the community,” Mueller said. “Knowing what's going on, being able to feel like I go to bed at night making a difference in the place that I live.”
Mueller's position comes at an opportune time for the police department.
About two-thirds of the recommendations from Mayor G.T. Bynum's Tulsa Commission on Community Policing have yet to be fully implemented.
“Leah will work hand-in-hand with community groups and citizens to bring awareness and education of the many programs, plans and research projects implemented by the department,” Police Chief Chuck Jordan said in a statement. “Leah has over 10 years experience in the Tulsa media market and will develop an avenue for citizens to directly interact with TPD regarding the issues important to the community.”
The mayor's commission produced 77 recommendations for the department to improve community policing. About one-third already have been implemented, and two-thirds are in some stage of becoming part of police operations.
Overall, the recommendations address several categories: building trust and legitimacy; policy and oversight; technology and social media; community policing and crime reduction; training and education; and officer wellness and safety.
What the post-9/11 evolution of Islamic terror means for police
If we don't keep pace with the current threat, we'll be no better off than we were on September 10, 2001
by Mike Wood
It was 16 years ago today that Islamic terrorists commandeered four commercial aircraft and used them as weapons in the most deadly terror attack on U. S. soil. A battered and shocked America soon dusted itself off and struck back against the enemy's strongholds in Afghanistan in the opening blows of a campaign against Islamic terrorism that remains unfinished.
America has changed significantly in the intervening years. Our enemies have changed as well, and the threat of Islamic terrorism has evolved in ways that Americans couldn't have comprehended as they stood in the rubble of the World Trade Center or Pentagon, or in the charred soil of a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 16 years ago.
In order to fulfill our public safety mission, the law enforcement community must understand the changes in the Islamic terror threat so that we're prepared to defend against it. If we don't keep pace with the current threat, we'll be no better off than we were on September 10, 2001, the day before the “unthinkable” happened.
Some of the notable changes in the Islamic terror threat since 9/11 include:
1. Decentralized control
In the 9/11 era, terrorists established small cells that operated with a lot of autonomy but still interfaced with the organization and its leaders to coordinate critical items like funding, logistics and date/time of mission execution. Since these communication links allowed us to locate and terminate many key figures, the organizations have taken steps to further decentralize control.
Nowadays terrorists may run through the planning and execution cycle without interacting with a handler or the organization's leadership. Terror leaders may simply identify a target (or even a broad goal) in a secure announcement, and expect that dedicated followers will organize and execute their own fully independent efforts to comply with the direction. This makes it increasingly difficult for law enforcement and intelligence services to identify and locate potential terrorists before they attack.
2. Recruiting sources
In the 9/11 era, terrorists were largely sourced from foreign locations and trained overseas before they were sent to the target country to conduct operations.
Since then, Islamic terror organizations have emphasized the radicalization and recruiting of “homegrown” terrorists most often through social media. This provides cost and logistical advantages, and also makes it more difficult to identify and locate potential terrorists before they attack, particularly if they already have “insider access” to potential targets.
3. Target location
In the 9/11 era, the logistics of getting trained foreign personnel into America helped prevent terrorists from being able to strike targets here. This was especially true during the period when the U.S. military was actively engaged in combat operations overseas. As a result, many terror attacks were launched against U.S. interests in foreign countries at locations such as embassies and deployed U.S. military assets.
Since that time, the recruiting of home-grown terrorists, the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the easing of military pressure on the enemy made it more practical to target locations on American soil.
4. Target selection
In the 9/11 era, there was an emphasis on hitting “hard” targets such as government buildings, military assets or critical infrastructure like transportation systems.
Since then, Islamic terror groups have switched focus to “soft” targets with less rigorous security measures and greater vulnerabilities such as shopping malls, schools, churches, nightclubs, businesses and cultural attractions. “Soft” areas of “hard” targets (such as security queues) are also more likely to be hit.
In the 9/11 era, there was an emphasis on using weapons that required a relatively high degree of sophistication (hijacked aircraft, explosives, chemical or biological weapons). Since these weapons required advanced training to employ, made logistics more complicated and increased the risk of detection (during acquisition, transportation, and employment), they were unsuitable for the next generation of homegrown, unsophisticated attackers that were being recruited. It was easier for radicalized, self-trained, homegrown terrorists to acquire and successfully use fire , a vehicle , a knife or a gun without being detected beforehand.
6. Complex, Coordinated Attack (CCA)
Prior to 9/11, most terror attacks were executed against a single target, but the success of the 9/11 attack showed that even the mightiest of nations could be temporarily paralyzed by a series of closely-spaced, coordinated attacks that were executed by multiple teams across many target locations. The trend toward complex, coordinated attack methodology has increased rapidly over the last several years, and we should expect it to continue.
LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
In order to guarantee our ability to defeat these attackers, law enforcement should focus on the following areas:
1. Study the threat
Law enforcement has an obligation to keep abreast of changes and trends in terrorist activity , and to share this information with the larger public safety community (EMS, fire and private security). We cannot allow our understanding of the threat to grow stale – we need to constantly seek intelligence, analyze it and synthesize it into a continuously evolving action plan.
2. Education and training
We must push for continuous education and training for public safety professionals, and be careful not to overlook the critical needs of agency and civic leaders.
Training efforts frequently focus on “the troops” while neglecting civic leaders and agency command staffs, creating a weak link that will doom any emergency response.
Rigorous training and practice in Incident Command System (ICS) skills – to include frequent tabletop exercises for key civic and department leaders – are an essential part of the training and education effort.
3. Focus on skills, not equipment
Enhanced equipment such as night vision, armored rescue vehicles and patrol rifles are important force multipliers, but no amount of technology can make up for deficiencies in training and education. A highly trained and tactically proficient officer equipped with standard patrol gear is a greater asset in a terror attack than a kitted-out officer with no training in tactical movement and team operations.
4. Enhance flexibility
We must remain flexible in our tactics, techniques and procedures for dealing with an ever-evolving terror threat. If we practice the same things and plan for the same set of fixed scenarios, we will be unprepared to deal with new and unanticipated developments.
No two terror attacks are identical, and we must be flexible enough to adapt to the unique circumstances of any attack. Agencies should focus on building the core capabilities that are necessary in any emergency response (independent thinking, communications, command and control, individual skill with weapons and equipment, transportation, logistics, interagency coordination and casualty care) and avoid investing too much effort on the development of specific contingency plans and tactics that could easily be overcome by events.
5. Stay light
It's easy for specialized teams such as SWAT to become so big and heavy that they lose their mobility and responsiveness. Armored rescue vehicles are an important asset, but may not allow a SWAT team to keep up with highly mobile attackers using hit-and-run tactics in a CCA. Ensure that tactical teams retain their agility and the ability to quickly deploy where they are needed.
6. Have a reserve
In an environment where CCA tactics are likely to be used, it's important to have a force in reserve. Committing all of an agency's assets to a single location may leave that agency unprepared to respond to an attack elsewhere. Additionally, it makes us vulnerable to a secondary attack at the original scene, which could decimate our capabilities.
It requires a substantial commitment in resources and training to have enough trained personnel and equipment to maintain reserves, and it also requires special training and education for leaders to understand how to deploy available forces wisely. Agencies should consider adopting a training program like the National Tactical Officers Association Advanced Response Patrol Officer program to enhance the training of selected patrol officers so that they can provide an intermediate level of capability between patrol and SWAT.
7. Protect assets
Ensure that critical assets such as police stations and communications towers are hardened and secured against attack. Disperse critical assets so that an attack on a single location cannot eliminate them en toto or prevent them from being accessible if key transportation arteries are blocked. Similarly, ensure redundancy for critical assets by having more than one of anything that's important (teams, equipment, communication systems and leadership).
8. Focus on cyberspace
The online environment is where recruiting, resource acquisition and the planning cycle are conducted in the modern era of terrorism. Every agency needs trained personnel who can operate in this arena, extract the best intelligence from it, use it to communicate with the public and make the greatest use of this vital tool. Most agencies are deficient in the amount of resources they have committed to this critical area.
9. Improve interagency capabilities
The day of public safety “stovepipes” is over – it's no longer possible for police to focus on “police stuff” and fire to focus on “fire stuff.” All public safety agencies need to be able to work together and combine assets in the tactical environment. They need to cultivate common language and common tactics, and be able to integrate command and control structures so that “blue” and “red” forces can migrate toward a “purple” operational capability.
In a similar vein, law enforcement agencies must work closely with allied law enforcement agencies from surrounding areas so that they can seamlessly integrate when the situation demands cooperation. In the era of CCA tactics, no one agency can supply enough manpower to deal with a terror attack – outside help will be required.
10. Work with the community
The communities we serve are the eyes and ears of our operations. We need to encourage heightened public awareness and foster relationships that enable a two-way transfer of information.
Community members are the real “first responders” and need to have the training , mindset and equipment necessary to defend themselves and save lives while they wait for public safety professionals to respond. We need to partner with the community and share our expertise to help them improve their self-sufficiency, because there simply aren't enough of us to help all of them, particularly in the wake of a major incident.
We have a responsibility to train the public in disaster preparedness and response, first aid, active shooter response and the lawful use of force in self-defense so that they can reduce their vulnerabilities to attack and aid in recovery efforts. If we want to fulfill our mandate to protect and serve the public, then we need to ensure that the public, civic leaders and agency leaders understand the role they play in their own safety, and cannot rely solely on government to protect them. We need to support them in that effort.
THE WAY FORWARD
The threat of Islamic terrorism has evolved since the 9/11 attack 16 years ago, and so must our response to defending the public from it.
This is a process, not a destination. There will never be a time or place where we will be able to declare total readiness and retire our efforts because the threat is constantly changing and our training and preparations require continuous effort and updates to keep them viable.
It's been said that the military is always preparing to fight the last war, and it's likely that the public safety community is in jeopardy of doing the same. On this sixteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, let's agree to prevent that mindset from taking hold, and commit ourselves to keeping pace with the changing threat.
Never forget. God bless you all and be safe out there.
3 Customs officers charged in 'rape table' incidents at Newark airport
by Ellie Kaufman and Rene Marsh
Three Customs and Border Protection agents were arrested after allegedly assaulting two of their fellow colleagues in hazing-type incidents that involved what was referred to as a "rape table" at their office in Newark Liberty International Airport, according to a press release from the US Attorney's Office.
In both incidents, the two alleged victims were locked in a conference room and forced onto a table, which was referred to as a "rape table" by the men charged with assaulting the victims. The victims were held down by colleagues while one officer got on top of them and "moved his genitals up and down" in "simulation of a sex act," according to the press release.
CBP officers Tito Catota, 38, Parmenio I. Perez, 40, and Michael Papagni, 32, were charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating and interfering with two men identified as victims in the criminal complaint. Both the victims were working as CBP officers when the incidents occurred, according to the press release.
The three officers charged with the assaults worked in the Passenger Enforcement Rover Team, or PERT, of CBP at Newark Airport. PERT is a specialized unit within CBP tasked with preventing passengers from bringing illegal items into the United States. One of the victims worked in PERT as well. The other victim was assigned to the Port Director staff of CBP at the time he was allegedly assaulted.
"The defendants, who were members of a unit responsible for identifying dangerous contraband and threats to national security, allegedly subjected their own colleagues to senseless physical abuse, all while on duty at Newark Liberty International Airport," acting US Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a press release. "This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function."
One of the alleged victims joined PERT's Newark office in October 2016. On January 10, 2017, the victim was asked to forward a document. While the victim tried to scan the document with a co-worker, Papagni, Catota and another CBP officer grabbed him and threw him on top of the table. Perez then got on top of the victim and "grinded his body up and down" against the victim's genitals through his clothing, according to the press release.
The second alleged victim was assigned to the Port Director staff at the time of his alleged assault. The victim went to the PERT office to speak to one of the CBP officers on November 30, 2016. A few minutes after getting there, the victim noticed another CBP officer lock one of the doors to the office. When the victim tried to walk to the other door to leave, Catota, Papagni and Perez grabbed him and threw him on top of the table on his side. While two people held him down, the other person got on top of the victim and "moved his genitals up and down" the victim's leg, according to the press release.
CBP headquarters first learned about the incidents at the end of January. They then informed the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General, which opened an investigation.
"US Customs and Border Protection welcomes these indictments and fully supported the Office of the Inspector General-led investigation with Special Agents from our Office of Professional Responsibility," a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told CNN. "We do not tolerate misconduct in our ranks and are committed to a safe workplace environment free of harassment or intimidation."
After CBP headquarters learned about the incidents, they placed 11 Newark employees, including three supervisors, on administrative duty and suspended their access to their firearms, badges, and sensitive databases pending the results of the investigation, according to a CBP spokesperson. Three supervisors have been relieved of their supervising duties, according to Customs and Border Protection.
In May, the PERT team in Newark was disbanded. CBP brought managers and PERT team trainers from the John F. Kennedy International Airport office to Newark's office to help reorganize the team. JFK's PERT staff will review and assess operations and provide training to the Newark team, according to CBP.
Both counts in the criminal complaint carry a maximum potential penalty of up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the news release.
When the three officers charged appeared in front of US Magistrate Judge Michael Hammer on Wednesday, they did not enter a plea. Catota and Perez were released on $100,000 unsecured bond. Papagni was released on $100,000 bond secured by $75,000.
CNN has reached out to the attorneys representing Catota, Perez and Papagni and has not heard back at this time.
Man, 83, ends police standoff by shoving suspect off his roof
by Minyvonne Burke
An elderly man helped officers in California end a five-hour-long police standoff by shoving a suspected burglar off his roof after the guy refused to come down.
Wilford Burgess, of La Puente, said he got "tired of" of the suspect's games and decided it was time for him to come down.
Authorities had been called to the neighborhood on Tuesday after reports of a man accused of burglary was seen jumping from roof to roof trying to avoid being captured.
ABC 7 reports that the man spent five hours on the roof of a home belonging to Burgess.
After officers failed to convince the suspect to come down, Burgess told the outlet that he borrowed his neighbor's ladder and climbed up on his roof.
In video taken by Burgess' granddaughter Ashley Wrenn, he's seen chasing the suspect on the roof before grabbing the man.
Burgess said he exchanged some words with the guy and then shoved him off the roof. The suspect fell on Burgess' car, shattering the windshield, the Los Angeles Times reports .
"I said ... 'I'm going up on the roof, that sucker's coming off,'" he told ABC.
"I tell everybody, 'Just because you're old, that don't mean you got to sit down,'" he added. "As long as you're able to move, move."
Police captain Tim Murakami thanked Burgess for his help.
"Stand off w/man jumping on roof tops ended by 83 yr old man who got tired of his games and pushed him off The grandpa did what we couldn't," he tweeted.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has not released the suspects name but said he was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation. It's not clear what, if any, injuries the suspect sustained in the fall.
Miami police ramp up patrols to combat looting
by Fox News
Miami police ramped up its patrols in city streets to crack down on looting after Hurricane Irma , working overtime to nab the thieves impeding on recovery efforts as residents attempt to return to normalcy after the deadly storm.
More than 50 suspected looters were arrested during Hurricane Irma, with 26 of them accused of breaking into the same Walmart store in the north side of Miami, Reuters reported. Miami Deputy Chief Luis Cabrera issued a stern warning to would-be looters as officers begin their 12-hour shifts.
“I said we would not tolerate criminal activity or looting or anybody who takes advantage of our residents,” Cabrera said at a news conference Tuesday. “I was not joking.”
The police department started warning residents on Sunday, posting on its Twitter a photo of about 10 men sitting in a jail cell.
“Thinking about looting? Ask these guys how that tuned out,” the department wrote.
But by Monday, another six men were arrested, accused of breaking into a midtown Miami shopping complex. They allegedly stole shoes, bags and laptops. In another instance, robbers destroyed at least 14 stores using sledgehammers, the Miami Herald reported.
The looting has been citywide, said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. The city lifted its 7 p.m. hurricane curfew on Tuesday, but assured people there will be 24-hour patrol to minimize criminal activity.
Along with combating looting, Miami officers have been bringing food to residents, guiding traffic and keeping people away from live powerlines. The police department tweeted photos of officers handing out individual meals to elderly residents and to the homeless.
Cabrera said burglars used the deadly hurricane to take advantage of businesses.
“This all occurred during the midst of the hurricane,” Cabrera said. “These criminals took advantage of the situation and they basically terrorized our businesses during the most vulnerable stage and this is not acceptable.”
Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Robin Pinkard said more residents have been reporting possible looting in the area.
“We want to let the community know looting will not be tolerated,” Pinkard told the Miami Herald. “It's a crime that hurts not only the business but it hurts the community as well.”
Tattooed, shirtless looters arrested for stealing power pole as police turn up the heat
by Travis Fedschun
Two men were arrested Wednesday after an officer found a utility pole strapped to the top of a vehicle in Jacksonville, days after Hurricane Irma spawned severe flooding in the city, as cops across the Sunshine State work overtime to nab thieves impeding recovery efforts.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office tweeted a picture of the shirtless men sitting handcuffed on the sidewalk.
"These two were caught stealing a JEA pole just this morning! Citizens watching out and officers cleaning up = partnership! #Irma #JSO," the sheriff's office wrote.
Police said 42-year-old Blake Lee Waller and 46-year-old Victor Walter Apeler were arrested on grand theft charges after someone reported seeing them load the pole onto a sports utility vehicle.
A police report obtained by the Associated Press said an officer noticed a light pole missing from an area on top of a bridge. He later spotted a vehicle driving with the pole on top, stopped the vehicle and arrested the men.
Apeler told investigators he was moving the pole because it was on the ground close to traffic lanes, according to the report.
A database search found Apeler had 72 scrap metal-related transactions for recycling since January.
The arrests in Jacksonville came as Miami police ramped up patrols in city streets to crack down on looting after Irma.
More than 50 suspected looters were arrested during Hurricane Irma, with 26 of them accused of breaking into the same Walmart store on the north side of Miami, Reuters reported. Miami Deputy Chief Luis Cabrera issued a stern warning to would-be looters as officers began their 12-hour shifts.
“I said we would not tolerate criminal activity or looting or anybody who takes advantage of our residents,” Cabrera said at a news conference Tuesday. “I was not joking.”
Other police departments across the state have also taken to Twitter to warn against criminal activity.
CMPD's new plan for neighborhood gets mixed reaction from residents
by Jane Wester
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police announced Wednesday a new program that will connect local organizations and agencies with families in one Charlotte neighborhood, and eventually with families around the city.
What wasn't immediately clear were details of what the Community Empowerment Initiative will do. Chief Kerr Putney said leaders in the initiative's first neighborhood, Hidden Valley, will decide the goals for themselves, starting with a kick-off meeting where local organizations will explain the services available and community members can describe their needs.
The kick-off meeting hasn't been scheduled yet, and some Hidden Valley residents at the announcement said they hadn't heard anything about the initiative before Wednesday.
Putney insisted the criminal justice process won't be the focus of the program.
“Community policing, very little of it is about policing. Almost all of it is about the community,” Putney said. CMPD plans to hold monthly check-ins on the program's progress.
Hidden Valley residents said they're concerned about the neighborhood's reputation, which they said has also been hurt by local journalists identifying the location of any crime along the North Tryon and Sugar Creek corridors as Hidden Valley.
The neighborhood struggled with a gang problem for about 20 years. In 2003, the Observer reported that the Hidden Valley Kings had hundreds of members – but a CMPD crackdown in the past decade significantly limited the gang's reach, and in 2016 police said the gang had nearly disappeared.
Hidden Valley Community Association President Ella Williams said she sees the program as an honor for the neighborhood's 16,000 residents. She said police and neighborhood leaders in Hidden Valley have long worked closely together, and she first heard about the new initiative from CMPD in May or June.
“I think (police) saw from the crime stats that if we could make any component of the community stronger, then there's going to be less police involvement, so I think that's why they're on board,” she said.
Williams said community leaders already offer some of what CMPD said the initiative will provide, such as mediation. But she hopes the initiative will produce a central, convenient location for community services to help residents who can't afford to travel across the city.
Longtime Hidden Valley resident John Wall had questions about the community's ability to determine the initiative's work.
“This meeting, to me, is like the CATS light rail project that we were involved in. We were called to the table after the train had left the station,” he said.
Putney urged Wall to get involved, starting with the kick-off meeting. Wall said his first concern is gentrification, and Putney replied that the initiative will be holistic enough to help with issues like housing.
Maj. Freda Lester led CMPD's plans for the initiative, and she named some of the organizations that will be involved, including Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center, Goodwill, Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center, and a variety of city and county programs, from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office to the city's Housing and Neighborhood Services office.
Police have long said that the way to reduce crime is to work with young people. For this program, they're broadening that focus to families, which makes sense to community member Ida Dunston, who has lived in Hidden Valley for more than 40 years.
“You can't do anything with the children until you get the parents,” she said. “So that seems to be the problem.”
Dunston said she goes to community meetings and hadn't heard about the Community Empowerment Initiative before Wednesday, which concerned her. But she's willing to see whether the program can help empower people in the neighborhood, especially young families.
SF community members push back on Tasers
by Julian Mark
More than 100 people turned out for a community meeting on Tasers Tuesday night, first breaking into small groups of roughly 25 each, and then convening in a fiery public comment session that at one point erupted into activists chanting, “No Tasers!” and drowning out Police Commissioner Sonia E. Melara's calls for order.
The police commission has voted against the use of Tasers three times in recent years – in 2004 and twice in 2010 – and has taken up the issue again because a 2016 Department of Justice report on the San Francisco Police Department recommended the city “strongly consider deploying” Tasers.
At Tuesday's meeting, Police Chief Bill Scott made clear he believes Tasers are a necessary addition to the department's existing set of non-lethal-force options while a majority of the public in attendance cried foul on adding them to an officer's arsenal.
“Until SFPD shows that you're prioritizing the way you're going to transform from a warrior to a guardian culture,” Tasers should be opposed, said Adriana Camarena, a Mission District activist and an advocate for the families of police shootings including Luis Gongora Pat, a man who police shot and killed in the Mission in April 2016.
“Then down the line we can talk about Tasers,” she added, provoking cheers and applause from the crowd.
While the pubic spoke, first in the small groups and later in the large session, Police Chief Scott and two of the seven commissioners — Robert Hirsch and Sonia E. Melara — listened and sometimes struggled to maintain order.
“You're not in charge – the people are in charge,” one activist known as Equipto shouted at Commissioner Melara after she told a community member to wait until public comment to speak.
“Yes I am,” she shouted back
The crowd then erupted in a chant. “No tasers!” they repeated.
The commissioners — four who are appointed by Mayor Ed Lee, who supports Tasers, and three appointed by the Board of Supervisors — will take a vote sometime this fall.
Melara threatened to end the meeting if people failed to calm down. Once they did, Scott and the commissioners sat quiet for the most part, listening to community concerns.
“We really have to get out of the gizmo mentality and into better training,” said Ethan Davidson, 54, of the Tenderloin, who explained that an electronic device shock could be potentially lethal to him because liver disease and medication have made him physically frail.
Others were concerned about the disproportionate use of the weapons on minorities – a fact that Chief Scott has acknowledged in earlier testimony with the Commission.
“I don't feel confident that the department has eliminated bias, and I know if they get tasers the people who will be disproportionately affected are people of color,” said Karen Fleshman, who has participated in SFPD working groups on bias. “They are not non-lethal, they are particularly lethal when used on people in mental health crisis … and they often fail.”
One person, Stephen Jaffe – who has launched a campaign to unseat Nancy Pelosi in the 2018 congressional election – said he came with an open mind, but it was quickly changed.
“I've been persuaded by the speakers and their reasoning,” he said, calling the officers on the perimeter, “intimidating.”
Indeed, as the public comment session raged on – more than 30 people spoke for two minutes each – some 30 officers stood around the perimeter of the room.
Among them was Commander David Lazar, who was recently promoted to oversee the department's policy on community policing.
“What I like about this experience is that it gives everyone the a chance to voice their feelings, opinions and experience – and it's important as a police department that we hear from everyone,” he said. “Tonight was a good dialogue.”
Did he believe the community would feel more comfortable with Tasers on police officers?
“At the end of the day the community is more concerned with our relationships and building trust,” he said. “We're in favor of the Tasers because we need a less-lethal option, and we are going to have a comprehensive policy we're going to have officers accountable to.”
Commander Peter Walsh, who oversees the department's use-of-force policy, was also in the room. He elaborated on Lazar's point that if the department is permitted to use tasers, “robust” training and accountability would be top priorities.
“If our officers aren't using [Tasers] correctly, there would be consequences,” he said. “On a lower level, [consequences] can be anything from time off and retraining to termination, and on the high end, they can go to jail and go to prison.”
He cited the case of Bryce Masters, a 17-year-old male who was permanently injured after being tased by a police officer in Kansas City, Missouri. The officer was sentenced to four years in federal prison for violating Masters's civil rights.
One attendee named Harold Miller said he supported tasers, even though he had himself been tasered in the back during a bar fight in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2013. He said the tool saved his life during an incident in which he grabbed a chair to use on police.
“You wouldn't be talking to me now – I would have been dead,” he said, explaining that he believed officers would have shot and killed him had they not used the Taser. “It was amazing how this cop saved my life. I would thank him if I knew who he was.”
The Mission District's own lawmaker, Supervisor Hillary Ronen, remains skeptical of Tasers.
“I don't believe that Tasers are the answer,” she said in an interview earlier in the day. “The police have the a variety of weapons they can use if they need to to protect themselves and protect the neighborhood, and introducing a new weapon where we have yet to fully implement the police reform measures that require a new form and focus on de-escalation technique, is exactly the wrong way to go.”
A second public meeting will be held on September 19th at San Francisco City College's Ocean Campus. The Commission will vote on Taser use later this year.
Baltimore plans to offer $2,500 a year property tax discount for police, firefighters
Fewer than one in five Baltimore police officers live in Baltimore, according to police data
by Ivy Duncan
BALTIMORE — Baltimore's leaders plan to offer local police officers, firefighters and sheriff's deputies a property tax break of $2,500 a year if they own a home in the city.
Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman Eric T. Costello introduced the legislation that would allow the discount at a council meeting Monday. Young's office provided an advance copy of the measure to The Baltimore Sun.
“Having more of our city's public safety officials reside in Baltimore makes great sense from a fiscal standpoint, and will go a long way toward building better relationships between officers and the public they're sworn to serve,” Young said in a statement.
Officials have sought in recent years to draw more police officers in particular to live in the city. They hope that would improve the relationship between the department and the community, which has been strained by years of policing that a federal investigation concluded often involved people's rights being violated.
Fewer than one in five Baltimore Police officers live in Baltimore, according to police data.
The measure has the backing of Mayor Catherine Pugh, who as a state senator sponsored the 2016 legislation that authorized the city to offer the tax credit.
“I believe the passage of this legislation will encourage this important group to make our city their home,” Pugh said in a statement.
If the bill is to become law, it must advance from a City Council committee and then receive approval of the full 15-member council.
The property tax rate in Baltimore is more than twice that in some surrounding counties, making even similarly priced houses much more expensive to own.
Alyssia Essig, the president-elect of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said the credit could have a significant impact because it would allow officers and firefighters to borrow some $40,000 more to buy a home.
“I love the idea, it's a step in the right direction and I think it really helps those who are giving back to the community the most,” she said. “There are plenty of people who want to live in the city, but they're priced out.”
State legislative analysts estimated that had the tax break gone into effect for the fiscal year that began in July, the city would have lost $1.7 million in tax revenue. The cost would rise to $2.7 million by 2022 if the number of police officers, firefighters, EMTs and deputies residing in the city grows by 3 percent a year. The program also would cost $440,000 to administer for five years.
But Costello, chairman of the City Council's Budget Committee, said attracting officers to live in the city would provide an economic boost as they spend their paychecks at local businesses.
“In addition to having our public safety officers live in our city and making a positive impact on our local economy, this legislation should help grow our city,” he said in a statement.
Some cities have tried requiring officers to live locally, but it's common for only a minority of police officers in big departments to live in the jurisdictions they serve, according an analysis of Census data by the website FiveThirtyEight.
There are notable exceptions: Almost 90 percent of Chicago officers live in the city and in Philadelphia the figure is almost 85 percent.
In Baltimore, the number of officers who live in the city has fallen in recent years, to 19.5 percent at the end of 2016 from 21.4 percent the year before. The drop came despite renewed efforts by the Police Department to recruit more local residents.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the tax break would be one among several incentives the department offers, including educational benefits and referral bonuses, to rebuild its depleted ranks.
“This is yet another tool to help fulfill our goals of recruitment and retention, which have enormously expanded over the past two years,” Davis said in a statement.
After passing the property tax break legislation for Baltimore last year, the General Assembly extended the program across the state in its most recent session. It's not clear how many jurisdictions will offer the benefit.
Andy Barth, a spokesman for Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, said officials there are considering it. Owen McEvoy, a spokesman for Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, said officials are planning to offer a one-time $2,000 bonus to public safety workers who buy a home in the county.
The General Assembly also considered a measure to provide a similar benefit in Baltimore to officers who rent a home, but it did not pass.
Anti-gang troopers being sent to Long Island high schools
MS-13 has been tied to a wave of recent violence on Long Island
by the Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — A special unit of the state police is being assigned to 10 high schools on Long Island in an effort to stamp out gang violence, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The 10 state troopers will work to educate school administrators and teachers about ways to recognize if a student is a member of a gang or at risk of joining. The troopers will also create a curriculum that instructs students on the dangers of gangs such as MS-13, which has been tied to a wave of recent violence on Long Island.
"They are thugs that have to be stamped out," said Cuomo, a Democrat, who traveled to Long Island to make the announcement. "I consider them domestic terrorists. Either they win or we win ... and we are going to win."
The 10 schools are in Brentwood, Central Islip, Huntington, Longwood, South Country Central and Wyandanch. Each school was determined to have higher concentrations of gang violence and more students perceived to be at risk of recruitment.
State police have already beefed up patrols in affected areas and added investigators to a joint law enforcement task force on gang violence. The new troopers, and their educational mission, represent another front in the fight.
"It's a partnership," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini. "So we'll be doing educational seminars with educators. Educating the educators about gangs and also providing them information about what resources are available in the county and the state so that they can intervene in children's lives; children who are at risk of joining gangs."
The street gang MS-13 has been blamed for 21 deaths in the suburbs east of New York City in the past 21 months. The killings, many of which have involved teenagers, have caught the attention of both President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom have visited Long Island in recent months to promise federal action to stem the violence.
London Underground Is Struck by Crude Bomb at Parsons Green
by Sewell Chan and Ceylan Yeginsu
LONDON — Britain was hit by a terrorist attack on Friday morning, when a crude device exploded on a crowded London Underground train, injuring commuters, sowing panic, disrupting service and drawing a heavy response from armed police officers and emergency workers.
The device exploded at 8:20 a.m. on a District Line train leaving the Parsons Green station in Southwest London.
“This was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan Police, a top counterterrorism official, said at a news conference. He urged anyone who had seen what happened, or had taken photos or videos of the bombing, to come forward.
The authorities immediately beefed up security around the transit system, as hundreds of police officers and detectives combed the scene for clues.
At least 22 people were hospitalized, several of whom had apparently been injured as panicked commuters fled. None had life-threatening injuries, and hospital officials described the victims as “walking wounded.”
“The train was packed, and I was down the other side of the carriage standing up, looking at my phone and then I heard a big boom and felt this heat on my face,” said Natalie Belford, 42, a hairdresser and beautician who was on the train. “I ran for my life, but there was no way out. The doors were full of people and the carriage was too packed to move down.”
A photo widely circulated on social media showed a white bucket inside a bag, with wires and flames coming out of it.
Passengers described seeing a wall of fire. One woman with burns was taken away on a stretcher, and several others were cut or bruised as panicked commuters fled the train and the elevated station.
The National Health Service said that 18 people had been taken to hospitals and that another four had gone on their own, including eight at Chelsea and Westminster.
It was the fifth major terrorist attack in Britain this year, following a vehicular and knife attack near Parliament in March, a suicide bombing at a rock concert in Manchester in May, and a van and knife attack around London Bridge and a van attack outside a London mosque , both in June.
Taken together, the terrorist violence has been the deadliest on British soil since July 7, 2005, when suicide bombers set off explosions on three subway cars and a double-decker bus in London, killing 52 people and injuring scores of others.
The new attack immediately revived concerns that militants might be targeting the Underground, commonly known as the Tube — the world's oldest subway system and one of its busiest.
Prime Minister Theresa May returned to London from her constituency in Maidenhead, west of the capital, and summoned a meeting of the government's emergency committee, known as Cobra, for the afternoon. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, appealed for calm.
The city's mayor, Sadiq Khan, a face of resolve following deadly attacks in the capital this year, issued a defiant statement on Facebook.
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” Mr. Khan wrote. “As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”
From the United States, President Trump weighed in on Twitter, saying the bombing was the act of a “loser terrorist.” He said that “sick and demented people” had been “in the sights of Scotland Yard,” but he did not elaborate on what he meant.
Ms. Belford, the hairdresser, said she was knocked over twice, and showed a reporter her ripped tights and bloodied knee.
“I knew it was a bomb when I saw people with charred hair and burned faces,” Ms. Belford said. “This has got to be terrorism — a bag full of explosive materials don't just appear on a train by accident.”
Alex Ojeda-Sierra, 13, a pupil at the London Oratory School, was en route to school with a friend when he heard screaming from other carriages.
“I was on the train, about two carriages from the front, and I was talking with my friend and all of the sudden people started screaming and running,” he said in an interview at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. “I dropped my bag and we started running. My friend was ahead by a meter. I tripped and he carried on running. One man fell on me and I had my legs bent backwards and my right ankle got twisted and I started screaming that I had no air.”
He had several bruises on his face.
Adam Davis, a 23-year-old student, said he was in the train car where the device exploded.
“I had my headphones on, then I felt a kind of vibration, followed by a wave of heat, and I looked down and the whole carriage was in flames,” he said. “I just got up and ran, but the carriage door was jammed with people. Everyone was screaming and trying to get out, people had blood on them everyone was pushing. It was like a stampede.”
He added: “I didn't see any suspicious-looking people, or the bucket that's on the media. I just saw flames and you think the worst. You think bomb. Terrorism.”
Felicity and Tom Reid said they were on their way to a funeral when the explosion went off on their train.
“We had planned to get a cab, but the traffic was so bad at that time we were worried we would be late,” Mrs. Reid said. “We weren't in the carriage with the explosion, but we heard the bang and heard people screaming so we started running.”
She added: “You think of the worst: bombs, terrorists, shootings, stabbings. You think worse will follow and you just run for your life. We got lucky, but this is terrifying and a reminder it can happen anywhere. Nowhere is safe.”
Service on the District Line between Edgware Road and Wimbledon was suspended . Police said Londoners should expect to see more police officers in public spaces through the weekend.
The Parsons Green station, which opened in 1880, is in Hammersmith and Fulham, an inner London borough that is home to several corporate headquarters and soccer clubs.
“I didn't hear anything but I saw a big crowd of people running and screaming outside my window,” said one woman, Nita Alvi, who lives near the station. “I went to try and help, but everyone was running so fast. Some of them were holding their heads, some were limping. One older woman fell to the floor.”
She added: “My first thought was that it was a stabbing but people were shouting that it was a bomb.”
Roy Ramm , a former commander of specialist operations at Scotland Yard, said that police would be undertaking a comprehensive forensic examination of the train and the device and combing through evidence to determine quickly what happened, and to assess whether there was an ongoing threat.
He said that the London transport system was monitored by thousands of CCTV cameras and that police would be carefully examining footage for clues about who left the bag on the train, and when. “The police will also ask witnesses the age-old question: Did anyone see what happened?” he said. “They will be investigating what the detonation mechanism was and going through CCTV footage to see who might be behind it.”
Mr. Ramm said the police would also be looking for any communications of a bomb threat before the attack, not just in the last 24 hours, but in recent weeks, and waiting to see if anyone claimed responsibility. As part of the investigation, he said, police would be working with security services to see if any terrorist cells or police targets under surveillance had been observed in Parsons Green or the surrounding area.
Mr. Ramm noted that Parsons Green, a largely residential area, had little symbolic resonance in London, making it an odd place for a terrorist to plant a device, and raising questions about whether whoever planted it had intended for it to go off there.
“Parsons Green is not emblematic or symbolic, and I think that will be a puzzlement for investigating officers, who will ask: Was it intended to be detonated or did it go off there by accident?” he said. “If you look at a list of target areas in London, Parsons Green would not be in the top 100.”
Londoners turned to social media to offer tea , hugs, use of their toilets and even gin to people caught up in the attack.
Chelsea and Fulham Dentist , a practice close to the station, offered comfort food like cookies and the use of its power sockets. Hugh Coyne, a physician at a nearby medical practice, went to the scene to offer help to emergency workers.
British police arrest second man in connection with London subway attack
by William Booth and Rick Noack
LONDON — Following a fast-moving investigation and manhunt, British police on Saturday arrested a second man in connection with a detonation on the London subway during the Friday morning rush hour, in which at least 30 people were injured. Police labeled the attack terrorism.
The man, 21, was arrested just before midnight Saturday in West London. Police did not announce his detention until Sunday morning.
Earlier, an 18-year-old man had been arrested by Kent police in the port area of Dover on the English Channel. Police suspect he might have been seeking a boat out of England.
In addition, armed police raided and searched a house in Sunbury, west of London, on Saturday afternoon. Counterterrorism units were at the scene, and police told reporters the operation was connected to the subway explosion.
A homemade bomb exploded on a London subway train at Parsons Green station Friday morning, sending a scorching blast of flame and smoke through a London subway car.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC on Sunday that the second arrest suggested the attack was not the work of a “lone wolf” terrorist and implied some level of conspiracy.
On Saturday, Rudd said Saturday that it was “good fortune” the improvised explosive device “did so little damage,” but she said that the materials used to build the bomb were too readily available.
“We have to make certain we take all the steps we can to ensure that the sort of materials this man was able to collect become more and more difficult to combine together,” she said.
Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu called the arrest of the teen at the Dover port “significant” and said the investigation is ongoing.
Both men are being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act. “For strong investigative reasons, we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage,” Basu said, speaking of the teen.
In the town of Sunbury-on-Thames, located about 15 miles to the west of central London, residents waited outside a police cordon on Saturday evening, as forensics experts entered a rowhouse on Cavendish Road.
Anna Wilkins 43, lives next to the house being searched. “I saw a young man come out of there with his bike a couple of times in recent weeks,” Wilkins said. The young man, whom she described as “Asian,” arrived at the house just a couple of months ago and lived with an elderly couple. It is unknown whether the young man described by Wilkins is the suspect arrested in Dover.
“I never spoke to him and only saw him when he left the house with his bike, but I was always suspicious of him,” Wilkins said.
The BBC later reported that the couple who owns and lives in the house that was searched, Ronald and Penelope Jones, were respected members of the community who had worked as foster parents for “hundreds of children, including refugees.” They were awarded for their service with honors from Queen Elizabeth II in 2010.
One resident living near the house being searched said he had never seen anyone entering or leaving it. “This isn't an area where people really know each other,” said Chris Ross, 51. “This afternoon, there were suddenly armed police officers who told us to get out of our houses as soon as possible. They only gave us a couple of seconds.”
After the bombing, security measures were immediately tightened across London's vast mass-transit network, and the government described the threat level as critical, meaning another attack could be imminent.
The Islamic State terrorist group asserted responsibility for the explosion. Experts cautioned that the group often seeks credit for attacks it may have only inspired, as well as ones it had nothing to do with.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick traveled — escorted by journalists — by subway to Waterloo station and “patrolled” the South Bank of the Thames.
“Yesterday we saw a cowardly and indiscriminate attack, which could have resulted in many lives being lost,” Dick said. “Since then, we have had teams of detectives and specialists working through the night on the investigation, and officers throughout London mobilizing and providing an increased visible police presence — especially in crowded places.”
The explosion on London's Tube rekindled debate about whether countries such as Britain have been tough enough in fighting terrorism. Just hours after the blast, President Trump suggested that Britain needed to be “more proactive.” Prime Minister Theresa May retorted that such comments were not helpful.
North Korea's Threat Pushes Japan to Reassess Its Might and Rights
by Mokoto Rich
TOKYO — When North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan on Friday morning, prompting the authorities to broadcast an alert on cellphones and television, many people wondered: Why didn't the Japanese military shoot it down?
The government quickly judged that the missile was not targeting Japan, and it landed in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,370 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island.
But officials in Japan who may have considered intercepting the missile faced two immediate constraints — the country's missile defenses are limited, and the Constitution limits military action only to instances of self-defense.
Those same constraints have weighed heavily on the debate in recent weeks over how Japan should be responding to the North's rapidly advancing nuclear program, including what role it should play as an American ally and to what extent it should upgrade its armed forces.
Though Japan provided rear support for the United States during the Vietnam and Korean Wars, its alliance with America has never been tested as it would be in a conflict with North Korea.
Any military action by the Trump administration against the North risks a retaliatory missile attack on Japan, where 54,000 American troops are based. On Friday, North Korea threatened to “sink” Japanese islands with nuclear weapons, adding that “Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”
Japan's position east of North Korea also means that missiles fired by the North toward the United States, including Guam, almost certainly would have to fly over Japanese territory.
But the missile defense systems stationed across Japan on mobile launchers are designed only to intercept missiles as they are descending, not in midflight as they are headed to the United States. Other defense systems on four naval destroyers can target missiles midflight, but they have to be in the right place at the right time.
It is also unclear whether the pacifist Constitution allows Japan to shoot down a missile headed for the United States, much less initiate a pre-emptive attack on a missile on a launchpad in North Korea, as some in Japan believe it should be prepared to do.
In recent months, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has revived a long-simmering discussion over whether to acquire cruise missiles — which can be fired from land, air or sea — that would allow it to strike a launch site in North Korea if it detected signs of an imminent attack.
The Japanese government ruled in 1956 that such a pre - emptive strike fell under its right of self-defense, but some lawmakers say deploying cruise missiles could cross a line and break with longstanding policy established after World War II to eschew offensive weapons. While the Japanese public is anxious about North Korea, it is torn about developing the nation's military capabilities.
“The Japanese public is still not so sure about this,” said Richard Samuels , a Japan specialist and the director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
President Trump signaled this month that he wanted Japan, along with South Korea, to bolster arms spending. In a Twitter post two days after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test , Mr. Trump said he would allow the two countries to “buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.”
It is unclear whether Mr. Trump had specific equipment in mind, or whether that included cruise missiles.
In Japan, part of the political calculation is how China or South Korea might react to such a purchase. “It will be an excuse to China for further military buildup,” said Koji Murata, a professor of international relations at Doshisha University in Kyoto. “And even in South Korea, some kind of anti-Japanese sentiment will be further facilitated.”
Itsunori Onodera, Japan's defense minister, has avoided discussing a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. Instead, he speaks of counterstrikes, suggesting a more passive interpretation of the country's legal rights under the Constitution.
“In Japan's case, I don't think we can shoot before we are shot,” said Noboru Yamaguchi, a professor of international relations at the International University of Japan in Niigata and a retired lieutenant general in Japan's army, known as the Ground Self-Defense Force. “Most likely, once we are shot and the second or third missiles are coming and they are on the ground, we can shoot back.”
Some analysts say that officials in Mr. Abe's administration have been careful to use language that will not alarm the public. In polls, about half those surveyed say they would oppose Japan acquiring missiles to be used in pre-emptive strikes.
But as North Korea steps up missile launches and nuclear tests, Mr. Abe and his cabinet can make a stronger argument for such missiles. “They can say ‘Look at what North Korea is doing. Yes, we have to protect ourselves,'” said Jeffrey W. Hornung, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation.
An upgrade of the country's ballistic missile defenses would be a much easier sell politically.
To best protect itself from a missile attack, some experts say, Japan should buy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, which intercepts enemy rockets at higher altitudes than its current land-based systems.
The United States recently completed deploying Thaad in South Korea over vociferous protests from China, which has retaliated against the South by punishing it economically . That response has given some in Japan pause.
Instead, Japan has said it plans to equip and deploy more destroyers with the Aegis missile defense system. The Defense Ministry has also indicated it wants to acquire a land-based system, known as Aegis Ashore, which can intercept missiles above the atmosphere and above Thaad's range.
Still, most experts say that missile defense is hardly foolproof.
“Missile defense is still limited and very expensive, so you have to be somewhat lucky at this point,” said Patrick M. Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. “To have the political will to fire, you are taking a big gamble. Because if you miss, how does that look?”
North Korea has stated its clear intention to develop nuclear weapons capable of hitting the mainland United States and has threatened to strike the waters near Guam in the western Pacific with an “enveloping fire.”
Two years ago, Mr. Abe helped push through security legislation that authorized overseas combat missions by the Japanese military alongside allied troops in the name of “collective self-defense.”
For Japan to participate in such collective action, the new laws say, its own security must also be under threat. Some analysts question whether, under that definition, lawmakers would authorize an effort to shoot down missiles en route to the United States.
“Japan's security and legal restrictions are absurdly complex,” said Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Tokyo.
Others contend that an attack on Japan's most important ally surely should be interpreted as a threat to Japan itself, given that the United States is essentially Japan's protector.
“If Japan sees U.S. bases almost being hit, that may be regarded as a situation where, if we don't save them, Japan's existence is in danger,” said Professor Yamaguchi of the International University of Japan. “In such a case we could legally engage.”
Although the Defense Ministry recently increased its annual budget request to a record high of 5.26 trillion yen, or about $48 billion, its military spending relative to gross domestic product is minimal compared with that of other countries. And Japan may have other military equipment on its wish list, including amphibious vehicles or more fighter jets.
“If the resources are limited, we have to prioritize,” Professor Yamaguchi said. “North Korea is not the only problem. We have to deal with global terrorism, and we need to deal constructively with China,” he added, referring to Beijing's territorial incursions in the East and South China Seas.
Looming in the background is the question of whether Japan should develop nuclear weapons to counteract North Korea's threat.
During the presidential campaign last year, Mr. Trump suggested Japan might be “better off” with its own nuclear arsenal. But public opinion in Japan is firmly against it.
The White House now opposes Japan — and others in Asia — acquiring nuclear weapons, a senior administration official said, but it has also warned China and Russia that such proliferation may be inevitable if North Korea does not abandon its program.
Ken Jimbo, an associate professor of policy management at Keio University in Tokyo, noted Japan's status as the only country to have ever suffered nuclear attacks, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.
“So our own nuclear option will be our last resort, always,” he said.
US scrambles for response to North Korea's nuclear ambitions
by Rebecca Kheel
North Korea's increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear tests are leaving the United States and international community scrambling for a plan to stop leader Kim Jong Un's seeming unrelenting march to becoming a nuclear power.
Friday's test launch, the second to fly over Japan, clearly proves the U.S. territory of Guam is within North Korea's striking distance, experts said.
It followed this month's nuclear test, which U.S. officials have publicly all but confirmed was a hydrogen bomb far more powerful than the atomic bombs it previously tested.
“I‘m assuming it was a hydrogen bomb,” Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told reporters Thursday during Defense Secretary James Mattis visit to his base.
“I‘m not a nuclear scientist, so I can't tell you this is how it worked, this is what the bomb was ... But I can tell you the size that we observed and saw tends to me to indicate that it was a hydrogen bomb and I have to figure out what the right response is with our allies as to that kind of event.”
Early Friday morning local time, North Korea launched what U.S. Pacific Command said was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRMB).
The missile flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the Pacific Ocean. The missile is said to have flown about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers (480 miles).
That trajectory puts Guam, 3,400 kilometers from North Korea, squarely in the rouge state's range, physicist David Wright wrote in a blog for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known,” wrote Wright, director of the group's Global Security Program.
Still, the missile is likely unable to destroy Guam's Anderson Air Force Base as Kim has stated he wants to do, Wright continued.
“This missile very likely has low enough accuracy that it could be difficult for North Korea to use it to destroy this base, even if the missile was carrying a high-yield warhead,” he wrote. “I estimate the inaccuracy of the Hwasong-12 flown to this range to be likely 5 to 10 km, although possibly larger.”
Friday's test follows North Korea's Sept. 3 nuclear test, its sixth and most powerful to date.
This week, analysts at prominent North Korea monitor 38 North estimated the yield of the test was 250 kilotons, based on the strength of seismic activity. That's consistent with Pyongyang's claim of having tested a hydrogen bomb.
By comparison, the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 released about 15 kilotons of energy.
Despite the progress, Hyten said North Korea still has work to do before being able to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon.
“They haven't put everything together yet,” Hyten said. “It's just a matter of when, not if.”
But the rapid pace of North Korea's quest for a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB) has left officials racing to curb the program.
“We're out of time,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said at the White House press briefing Friday. “We've been kicking the can down the road, and we're out of road.”
This week, the United Nations Security Council passed its strongest sanctions yet against North Korea. The sanctions banned North Korean textile exports and capped its imports of crude oil.
But to get the support of Russia and China, which have veto power in the council, the sanctions were watered down from the Trump administration's original goal of banning all oil imports and freezing international assets of the North Korean government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
Whether the latest sanctions have an effect depends on whether Russia and China enforce them. At a House hearing this week, administration officials called out Beijing and Moscow for helping North Korea evade sanctions, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to the missile test by saying Russia and China “must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.”
Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, said the United States needs to “take the gloves off when it comes to China.” That means sanctioning Chinese banks and could also include stepping up so-called freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea and arming the Taiwanese.
Short of starting a trade war by sanctioning China, retired Col. Richard Klass said he doesn't think there's a way to pressure China to support the type of blockade that would have an effect on North Korea.
“He knows we're not going to launch a conventional attack, and unless we can do a blockade and get the Russians and Chinese to agree to it, I don't think he's going to stop doing what he's doing,” Klass, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation board member, said of Kim. “This is a conundrum, and if anybody had a solution, it'd be taken up already.”
Kazianis said North Korea's recent progress means the United States is likely to have to live with Pyongyang as a nuclear power.
“We are probably going to have to live with it,” he said. “What I think we can do is mitigate and shrink how big that program has to be. We can shrink it to 50 ICMBs, rather than 200 ICMBs. I'd rather live with a North Korea with 50 ICMBs than 200. It's the difference between millions of lives or hundreds of millions."
Violence Again Roils St. Louis After Ex-Officer Acquitted
by Phil Helsel, Kurt Chirbas and Associated Press
Violence again roiled St. Louis on Saturday night as protests over the acquittal of a white former police officer in the killing of a black man ended with a group of demonstrators breaking windows and throwing objects at police.
Officials said at least nine arrests were made and 11 officers were injured. Singer Ed Sheeran and rock band U2 cancelled concerts planned for the city this weekend.
On Friday, 11 officers were injured and 33 people were arrested after the first wave of protests turned violent following a judge's verdict finding former officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith following a car chase.
Saturday afternoon, demonstrators marched and held a demonstration in West County Center mall, holding signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Murder Is Illegal." Marchers moved on to the nearby Chesterfield mall and the Taste of St. Louis, NBC affiliate KSDK reported .
In the evening, a large and peaceful march took place in University City and later disbanded.
A smaller group then gathered in the Delmar Loop area, known for its concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars, according to the Associated Press. Officials declared it an unlawful assembly but the group refused to disperse, breaking windows at dozens of businesses and throwing what officials called "debris" at police.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said earlier Saturday that police are dedicated to protecting peaceful protesters, but "violence and vandalism is not protest, it is a crime."
David Kaslow, who owns the Meshuggah Café in the area, said he thought the protests had dispersed when he received a call from his landlord to say the cafe's windows had been broken.
"It's heartbreaking," he said. "My wife runs the cafe and she works hard to make this a place that feels like it's part of the community and so it hurts."
"People obviously should be able to protest, but this is not the productive side of that."
Others were more sympathetic to demonstrators.
Sam Thomas, who was helping his friend clean up the glass from the shattered windows of his clothing and accessories boutique, said he understood why people were angry. The U.S. justice system is broken and needs to be fixed, Thomas told the AP.
"I'm not saying this is the right way to fix it," he said of the violence. "The window isn't murdered. Nobody is going to have a funeral for the window. We can replace it."
The rock band U2 canceled its Saturday concert in the city, saying in a statement that police were not in a position to provide the usual protection for the audience.
"In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans' safety by proceeding with tonight's concert," the band said in a statement.
The St. Louis Symphony announced it was canceling "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — In Concert" to be held Saturday. And Ed Sheeran's concert at the Scottrade Center on Sunday was also called off, organizers said.
Lyda Krewson, the city's mayor, called the decisions to cancel the concerts "disappointing" but added "the issues being protested are real impediments to the success of our city."
"I encourage everyone to go about their lives," she said.
Saturday's unrest followed similar violence Friday when police said they were pelted with rocks and bricks. "Agitators" descended on mayor Krewson's home, throwing rocks and breaking windows, police said.
Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Acting St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole said Saturday that the "vast majority" of protesters Friday were peaceful.
"However, after dark, the agitators outnumbered the peaceful demonstrators," he said. "The unruly crowd became a mob." He said fires were set, windows of cars and businesses were smashed, and two police cars were damaged. Ten buildings, including the public library, had windows smashed or damaged, police said.
Stockley, the acquitted former officer, said he saw 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith holding a gun and felt he was in imminent danger when he opened fire. Prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith's car after the shooting.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said in his ruling that Stockley “ordered Smith to open the door and to show his hands” before firing, and that there was no evidence that Stockley planted the gun.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , Stockley said he understands how the video of him fatally shooting Smith looks bad to investigators and the public, but he said the optics have to be separated from the facts and he did nothing wrong.
Various groups, including Antifa and Black Lives Matter, march in Richmond
by Web Staff and Brennan Somers
RICHMOND, Va. -- Heading into Saturday, no one knew exactly what would unfold during the planned marches and rallies on Richmond's historic Monument Avenue .
While much of the focus was centered around the statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the epicenter of the day's events was just up the street at Stuart Circle
That is where hundreds gathered around the monument to Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart before marching throughout the city.
The crowd, which was made up of members from various groups, including Antifa, Black Lives Matter and others, made their way down Monument Avenue before turning onto Broad Street.
As the demonstrators marched, they expressed outrage over a number of issues.
"No hate, no fear, racists are not welcome here," protesters shouted.
As the scene unfolded, police made adjustments to shift patrols to get intersections blocked off and keep everyone safe.
The protesters made it all the way to VCU's main campus andMonroe Park before turning around.
They then made it back to Stuart Circle where two people on bikes were arrested for wearing masks in public.
As the arrests were being made, the debate over the city's Confederate statues waged on.
In fact, the remaining crowd circled around two people who took turns sharing their views on what should be done.
"Put them where people who want to see them can visit them," one woman yelled.
"All of this time and now it's a problem," one pro-monument supporter shouted. "It's been here for years and years and years."
And even though the pair got in each others' faces and the debate was heated at times, both parties said they were are at least willing to listen and have a conversation so that some day they may be able to reach a compromise or understanding.
7 people arrested in Richmond
Authorities said seven people were arrested in the wake of counter-protests following a pro-Confederate group's rally at the statue to Gen. Robert E. Lee..
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, Richmond police said seven arrests occurred:
Deante L. Watkins, 18, of the 1000 block of Althea Parkway in Richmond, VA, is charged with two counts each of possession of a stolen weapon and possession of a concealed weapon.
Brittany D. Bush, 29, of the 00 block of Jefferson Street in Petersburg, VA, is charged with disorderly conduct.
Jabari A. Robinson, 21, 4000 block of Old Mountain Road in Roanoke, VA, is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Caroline Hill, 24, the 6900 of McLean Park Manor Court, McLean, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
Thomas W. Rockett, 21, 2000 Highcourt Lane in Herndon, VA, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
Corissa C. Duffey, 25, 100 Springdale Road, Stockbridge, GA, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
Ian M. Gerson, 32, 00 block of Hart Street in Brooklyn, NY, is charged with wearing a mask in public.
While no injuries or accidents were reported, officials said officers would remain vigilant throughout the night.
Roads were reopened and parking restrictions were lifted Saturday evening.
Sign language interpreter used gibberish, warned of bears, monsters during Hurricane Irma update
by Leada Gore
(Video on site)
Officials in Manatee County, Florida are under fire after an interpreter for the deaf warned about pizza and monsters during an emergency briefing related to Hurricane Irma.
The interpreter, Marshall Greene, a lifeguard for the county, has a brother who is deaf, according to the DailyMoth, a video news site that provides information via American Sign Language. Greene was used as the interpreter for a Sept. 8 press conference regarding the incoming storm and possible evacuations.
Members of the deaf community said Greene mostly signed gibberish, referencing "pizza," "monsters," and using the phrase "help you at that time to use bear big," during the event. Other information signed to viewers was incomplete, experts said.
The county typically uses interpreters from VisCom, a professional sign language interpreting service. VisCom owner Charlene McCarthy told local media she was not contacted about providing services for the press conference and that Greene was apparently not fluent in American Sign Language.
Manatee County spokesperson Nick Azzara told the Brandenton Herald Greene was asked to interpret during the update rather than have no one signing. The county has requested an interpreter and public information assistance from the state, Azzara said.
Several videos online show the press conference with transcripts of Greene's signing.
Salinas Police re-commit to community policing after DOJ cancels program
by Pam Marino
The Trump administration may have given up on community policing, but the Salinas Police Department will not, Police Chief Adele Fresé said at a press conference on Friday, Sept. 15.
Earlier that day, Fresé learned through a phone call with a U.S. Department of Justice assistant director from the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) division that it was canceling its collaboration with Salinas Police, effective immediately.
The call came as a surprise, she said, but the department will not back down from progress on community policing that was made during the past year with the help of COPS consultants.
The reason for the cancellation, Fresé said she was told, stems back to an order made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in March to review all reform agreements with troubled police forces across the country.
Fresé said Friday she hadn't read that order nor knew what it said. At the time Sessions released it, national law enforcement watchdogs expressed concerns that the Trump administration was going to ignore agencies under scrutiny for issues like use of excessive force, racial bias and other problems.
In 2014 the Salinas Police Department was at the center of controversy after four men were killed in officer-related shootings that year; another was killed in a Taser-related incident. All five men who died were Latino, and a ll officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing.
F ormer chief Kelly McMillin called on the DOJ to review the Salinas Police Department and make recommendations.
In March 2016, the DOJ's COPS division issued a report listing 110 recommendations and an 18-month timeline for Salinas PD to tackle the list. COPS and Salinas PD signed a memorandum of understanding to work together through the process.
The two agencies met through regular conference phone calls that lasted an hour or more at a time, Fresé said.
While some progress was made last year, work on the recommendations stalled after McMillin retired and the city underwent a search for a new chief.
Fresé was hired at the end of November and started working on the list with COPS consultants in earnest in February or March, she said.
The department has completed 45 percent of the DOJ's recommendations, with most of the work having been completed since February, Fresé said.
She listed a major accomplishment: revitalization of the bilingual Community Police Academy, a 12-week program for citizens to learn more about how the police department operates and interacts with the community.
Another, she said, is the recent approval by the Santa Rita School District to include two school resource officers on campuses.
Grant monies for the resource officers comes from a different DOJ division, and Fresé said she does not believe those funds are in jeopardy. (The Santa Rita agreement came only after Salinas PD approached Salinas Union High School District, then Alisal Union School District, seeking an agreement to assign those federally-funded police to their schools; both school boards unanimously rejected the proposal , and some members of the public voiced strained trust with the police, dating back to 2014, as part of the reason.)
There might have been a clue this summer that something was up with the DOJ, Fresé said.
The SPD earlier received approval from COPS to fund a team of 10 police officers and local homeless service providers to travel out of town for training on how to interact effectively with homeless people.
But after the approval came, there was no movement from COPS toward making any arrangements.
Then late on Thursday afternoon Fresé received an urgent call. A COPS assistant director she had never heard of said she had to speak to her at 8:15 the next morning.
Thinking bad news may be coming, she contacted one of the COPS consultants she's been working with over the last several months to ask him if he knew anything about the "mysterious" phone call. He knew nothing, she said.
The next morning, the mystery was solved. The assistant director told her the COPS office is "going in a different direction," and all COPS initiatives nationwide were hereby terminated.
No followup report about the Salinas PD by the COPS consultants will be published.
"As far as services go, nothing is going to change," Fresé said Friday. "We're going to continue to evaluate our practices and policies."
'Can we really get it right?' Dallas' top cop and other officials talk public trust and police accountability
by Naheed Rajwani
Dallas can't become a "city on a hill" unless its faith leaders, politicians and law enforcement officials work together to solve problems — even when those problems don't touch them specifically, city leaders said at a panel Saturday.
It was the first time that the three current top law enforcement officials — the district attorney, the police chief and the sheriff — came together, meeting at the Potter's House in Dallas to publicly address challenges that their organizations face.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson moderated the discussion, which featured Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter's House, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, new Dallas police Chief U. Renee Hall and defense attorney Toby Shook as panelists.
Johnson asked the panelists whether they believe it's realistic for law enforcement and the community to have a strong partnership.
"Can we really get it right?" she asked. "Can we in Dallas really show the world, not just this country, but show the world that we can do better?"
The leaders' messages about income disparity, public trust and community policing seemed to be a hit with the hundreds of people who responded to their comments with applause, cheers and standing ovations.
Here are some highlights from the discussion (quotes condensed for clarity):
Chief Hall: "Part of that [accountability] is bringing the community to the table, creating advisory boards, bringing everybody to the table and talking about where we are as a community, in law enforcement. If we're missing the mark, make the necessary adjustments to ensure we are actually going in the right direction. Talk is cheap until you put work behind it."
Sheriff Valdez: "The old saying has always been if you're not at the table you're on the menu. So of course, you need to be there. You need to be at that table. We have to recognize that when we come to the table, we're not going to get everything that we want. It has to be a give and take at that table."
Bishop Jakes: "Dallas could create that city on a hill ... but it's going to take us not saying they have a problem, or they have a problem. It has to be our problem and we have to solve it together."
Chief Hall: "We keep talking about whether these statues should stay up to stay down. If we don't change who we are and how we treat one another, the statue does not matter. We have to work together to build solid relationships so that our children grow up and have a safe place to live, work and play."
Fairness in the legal system
Defense attorney Shook: "The good news about Dallas is that you can get a fair shake. When I first started at the DA's office, it was a different world. There was one African-American county judge and there was one female judge. The rest — it was all white guys. Now we have the most diverse judicial bench probably in Texas, along with Harris County. We have an extremely diverse DA's office."
Bishop Jakes: "It is important to us to be a voice for those people who have no voice because in this country, a lot of times justice is determined by income. If you can hire enough lawyers, you can fight your way out of this. But as we seek to serve those with little resources, the church becomes extremely significant in being a voice for them."
Drug use in the Dallas area
Bishop Jakes: "The drug problem in the inner city is marketed to us in the media, but it is naive to think that the drug problem is limited to the inner city. America has a huge drug problem."
Chief Hall: "If I would truly be honest, the war on drugs is not about individuals, because we are arresting those individuals who are selling it, and I'm not minimizing that at all, but we need to stop the process of that coming into our country."
Sheriff Valdez: "We need to go back to saying, 'My fellow law enforcement: I need to hold you accountable. We need to hold you accountable.' And as the community sees that we're doing this, that the 5 percent or 2 percent is being held accountable, then we can start on the path to having the trust that we need between each other."
Chief Hall: "We need you to understand that we can't take care of anyone else if we can't take care of ourselves so our officers are trained to first protect themselves but not to the extent that it creates or causes life injury or death to anyone else in that we are in reckless disregard for human behavior."
Neighborhood Policing Illuminates NYPD Mission
by Vincent J. Bove
I have had the privilege throughout my career to be involved with policing initiatives that forge iron-clad partnerships with the community.
These partnerships, standing on the pillars of trust, respect, ethics, and character, are the heart of public safety in American communities.
These pillars ensure transparency, accountability, and legitimacy for both the police and community members. They must be adhered to by all who are privileged to call America home.
Building Police-Community Partnerships
In my article titled “Principles of American Policing” for the April 28, 2015 edition of the Epoch Times, the foundations of contemporary policing were memorialized.
The article highlighted that the first irrefutable principle of policing, inspired by Sir Robert Peel's timeless nine principles, is that “being pro-police and pro-community is inseparable, indefatigable, and pre-eminent.”
In my opinion, these Principles of American Policing deserve not only reflection, but unwavering commitment to implementing programs, action plans, and certification initiatives for police and community members.
A Police-Community Model
The forging of pro-police and pro-community partnerships must be on the framework of American values, as it is critical to safeguarding our communities.
A mutual respect for police and community must begin in the family, which is the foundation of society. Building respect must also be complemented by efforts in our schools (where a positive police presence is critical) and through all facets of community life.
When respect is the foundation, society benefits through dialogue, trust, and collaboration.
Associations dedicated to pro-police and pro-community ideals are critical to this collaboration. These associations serve as a catalyst that inspire active participation.
One such association in New York City deserves credit as an exemplary model for building police-community unity.
The First Precinct Financial Area Security Council is dedicated to forging law enforcement, private security, military, and community partnerships to safeguard New York City.
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, the council hosted an event that punctuated its dedication through an extraordinary NYPD presentation.
The guest speaker, Terence A. Monahan, NYPD's Chief of Patrol, crystalized the benefits of Neighborhood Policing.
First, it is important to understand Chief Monahan's responsibility as Chief of Patrol, and his bureau's importance to the Neighborhood Policing program.
The Patrol Services Bureau is the most visible in the NYPD. This bureau, commanded by Chief Monahan, involves 17,000 uniformed NYPD officers in 77 precincts. These officers have a critical role in Neighborhood Policing, which, according to Chief Monahan, “is the heartbeat of all of the work not only in the Patrol Bureau but with every member of the police department.”
Chief Monahan stressed that Neighborhood Policing increases police-community connectivity. The program helps city residents know their cops personally. It allows residents to experience the cop's humanity, compassion, and character. Yet, it never undermines the cop's ability to command respect in challenging incidents. The program insures that the officer's training, confidence, and investigative skills are joined with people skills, all of which are necessary for public safety.
Neighborhood policing empowers the cop with conflict resolution, problem-solving, and de-escalation skills. Yet, it also insures that the cop has moral courage, ethical principles, and an unwavering fortitude to protect and serve those entrusted to his care.
In graphic slides, Chief Monahan stressed that Neighborhood Policing is inseparable from the needs of the community. Officers are connected with community members, as supported by effective staff management. This management allows the officer's rapport with the community, empowers decision making, and makes the officer accountable for reducing crime.
As detailed on the NYPD website, “Neighborhood policing is sufficiently staffed to permit off-radio time for the sector officers, so they are not exclusively assigned to answering calls. The off-radio time is used to engage with neighborhood residents, identify problems, and work toward solutions. Sector officers have 33 percent of their eight-hour tours, or about two hours and 20 minutes each day, devoted to community-based, proactive, and problem-solving activities.”
Neighborhood Policing: Officer Training
The training for officers as presented by Chief Monahan included the following:
Criminal Investigative Course —this enables officers to identify dangers, build a case, and utilize precision policing. The uniformed officers are enabled to develop and foster a working partnership with detectives. This training differentiates Neighborhood Policing from Community Policing as it empowers officers with investigative skills and resources.
Mediation Course —a four day program that empowers officers with listening, social interaction, and conflict resolution skills.
Public Speaking —humanizes officers and gives them the confidence necessary for speaking engagements with the community.
Chief Monahan also stressed the importance of the NYPD Build the Block facet of Neighborhood Policing. Build the Block implements neighborhood safety meetings and strategies between officers and the people. The meetings identifies public safety issues and implements solutions.
NYPD Mission: Illuminating Success
According to the NYPD, their mission is “to enhance the quality of life in New York City by working in partnership with the community to enforce the law, preserve peace, reduce fear, and maintain order. The Department is committed to accomplishing its mission of protecting the lives and property of all citizens of New York City by treating every citizen with compassion, courtesy, professionalism, and respect, while efficiently rendering police services and enforcing the laws impartially, by fighting crime both through deterrence and the relentless pursuit of criminals.”
The success of this mission is illuminated by statistics from the 2017 Neighborhood Policing Commands. These are memorialized on the NYPD website and were cited by Chief Monahan as follows:
Communities with neighborhood policing commands experienced 30 percent fewer shooting incidents in the first quarter of 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016. It is likely that 48 fewer shooting incidents in the area contributed to the 8.5 percent reduction in homicides there.
For the first quarter of 2017, neighborhood policing commands experienced a reduction in the seven major felony offenses (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny of a motor vehicle) when compared to the first quarter of 2016. This means there were approximately 800 fewer major crimes committed in the neighborhood policing commands – and more people in these communities were protected from the pain and disruption caused by violent crime victimization.
The NYPD deserves praise for its Neighborhood Policing program, an expression of its ethical responsibility to build police-community partnerships.
In a personal chat with Chief Monahan after his presentation, I commended him for his service to the people of New York and his commitment to Neighborhood Policing.
During our chat, he stressed the difference between Neighborhood Policing and Community Policing. Chief Monahan emphasized that Neighborhood Policing empowers officers with comprehensive crime-fighting, criminal investigation, and people skills that strengthen their connection with the community, and makes them personally accountable for reducing crime.
The NYPD with its Neighborhood Policing program is contributing to the Reawakening of the Nation.
The program is reducing crime in New York City, and serves as a model for enhancing pro-police and pro-community partnerships nationwide.
Statement from ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan regarding California Sanctuary Legislation
Time and time again we've seen tragic consequences because local jurisdictions declined to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. By passing this bill, California politicians have chosen to prioritize politics over public safety. Disturbingly, the legislation serves to codify a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country's immigration laws and shelters serious criminal alien offenders.
ICE's goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being released back onto the streets to potentially victimize our communities. This bill severely undermines that effort and will make California communities less safe.
Statement by the DHS Press Secretary on Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act
WASHINGTON - Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke applauds the U.S. House of Representatives on its passage of the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. This bill promotes public safety by denying criminal alien gang members admission into the United States and allowing law enforcement officers to quickly remove them from the United States when they are encountered here.
This legislation will greatly help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) efforts to target and dismantle transnational gangs, like MS-13, who pose a direct threat to public safety.
MS-13 gang members are notorious for exploiting the communities in which they live and operate – victimizing community members through violence and intimidation, extorting local business owners, recruiting young children into the gang lifestyle, and creating a magnet for violence from rival gangs. Their members are involved in myriad criminal activities, including murder, extortion, narcotics and weapons trafficking, human smuggling and human trafficking, and other crimes with a nexus to the border.
This legislation will help DHS in its continued efforts to identify, arrest, imprison and/or remove transnational gang members and to suppress violence and prosecute criminal enterprises.
From the FBI
Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge
Free Cyber Safety Program Redesigned for New School Year
The FBI's Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge—a free, educational program for children that teaches cyber safety—has been redesigned for the 2017-2018 school year, with new graphics and updated content.
The new SOS program, created for students in third through eighth grades, covers age-appropriate topics, such as cyberbullying, passwords, malware, social media, and more. The program also provides teachers with a curriculum that meets state and federal Internet safety mandates.
While taking the course, participating students “surf” their way through a variety of Internet safety challenges at each grade level, with characters guiding them through the games. The latest version of SOS allows the program to work on more devices, including tablets. The content has also been refreshed to address current cyber safety challenges, and the island-theme graphics have been updated.
“Just as we teach our children to lock the front door for their physical safety, we have to teach them the online equivalents of those things in the digital age, like creating a strong password,” said Unit Chief Jonathan Cox of the FBI's Office of Public Affairs. “SOS helps to make students better digital citizens in a fun and educational way.”
Last school year, more than 700,000 students across the country completed the program and took the test, a 41 percent increase from the previous school year. More than 1.5 million students have participated and taken the exam since the original program was launched in 2012.
The SOS activities are open to anyone, though to participate in the testing and challenge, teachers must register their classes. Teachers manage their students' participation in the program; the FBI does not collect or store any student information. Each month from September through May, the classes with the top exam scores nationwide receive an FBI-SOS certificate and, when possible, they are visited by local FBI personnel to congratulate them.