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.
Bodycam footage shows Utah police shoot man as he runs away
by Dakin Andone and Carolyn Sung
The Salt Lake City Police Department is the latest US police department to come under scrutiny after bodycam footage shows an officer shooting and killing a man, even as the man appeared to be running away.
An officer shot and killed Patrick Harmon, a 50-year-old black man, as he was being arrested on the evening of August 13.
On Wednesday, after a seven week investigation, the Salt Lake County district attorney concluded the officers' use of deadly force was justified because the officers said they feared Harmon was going to hurt them, according to a letter the district attorney sent to the Salt Lake County Sheriff and the city's police chief detailing his investigation into the incident.
Bodycam footage shows Harmon running away from police before he is shot by Salt Lake City police Officer Clinton Fox. The officers later said Harmon threatened them with a knife.
"That video is horrifying. It is just not right," Antionette Harmon, Patrick's older sister, told CNN. "I'm not understanding none of this, how it was justified or anything. It's not fair."
Harmon said her brother was bipolar, schizophrenic and possibly homeless.
Police claim Harmon had a knife
Harmon was stopped by a police officer on the evening of August 13 after he rode a bicycle across six lanes and a median, according to a narrative laid out by the district attorney, Sim Gill. Harmon was required to have a "red rear tail light on his bicycle," the officer told him.
The officer called for backup after Harmon provided "a couple different names" when he was asked for identification, according to Gill. The officers discovered felony warrants were open for Harmon's arrest -- one of which was for aggravated assault, Gill's report says. As they tried to put handcuffs on him, he ran. The officers chased after him.
In the bodycam footage, of which there are three angles for each of the officers, released by the Salt Lake City Police Department, Fox can be seen shooting Harmon three times as he runs in the opposite direction.
The officer who initially stopped Harmon, Kris Smith, fired his Taser, according to the district attorney's report.
Fox later told investigators that as Harmon was running away, he stopped and turned back toward the officers with a knife in his hand, yelling, "I'll f***ing stab you."
"Officer Fox said he feared if he didn't immediately use deadly force, Mr. Harmon was going to stab him and/or the other officers," Gill's report says.
In his investigation, Gill weighed the testimony of all three officers present -- Fox, Smith and Scott Robinson.
Smith and Robinson's accounts of what Harmon said before being shot vary slightly from Fox's. Smith told investigators he heard Harmon say, "I'm going to cut ..." the report says. Meanwhile, Robinson said he heard Harmon say, "'I stab' or something to that effect," according to the report, though he said he "couldn't remember Mr. Harmon's exact words."
Gill's report says Harmon can be seen in the bodycam video with a knife in his hand, and that investigators took photographs of the knife at the scene.
Ultimately, the district attorney's office found the shooting was a "'justified' use of deadly force," and chose not to pursue criminal charges against Fox.
NAACP investigating the shooting
Harmon's death is the latest to revive concerns into police officers' use of deadly force against black men throughout the United States, as other officer-involved shootings have done in recent years.
"Really, black people don't matter, homeless people don't matter," Antionette Harmon said.
Adriane Harmon, Antionette's daughter, described the video as "heartbreaking" and "horrifying," and vowed to seek justice on behalf of her uncle.
"I want to fight the decision," she said. "I don't believe that (DA decision) was justified. (We're) looking at attorneys now."
In a statement sent to CNN on Sunday, Jeanetta Williams, the president of the Salt Lake City chapter of the NAACP, said the organization was investigating Harmon's death.
"It seemed like more could have been done by the police officers to apprehend Mr. Patrick Harmon than shooting him in the back as he ran," Williams said, adding Harmon was simply afraid.
The statement points out the officers "were a lot younger" than Harmon, and they could have easily tackled him. "He was never given the time to heed the officers' command before they shot him," she said.
Lex Scott, founder of The United Front civil rights organization, called for police accountability.
"District Attorney Sim Gill has denied the people of Salt Lake City justice repeatedly. At this time he needs to hold police accountable or we need a new district attorney," she said.
Cops kill woman who plowed into officer on South Beach strip
by Joshua Rhett Miller
A woman was gunned down by police in Florida after she crashed into a car and then ran over a cop in her BMW along a busy stretch in South Beach, police and witnesses say.
Miami Beach Chief Daniel Oates told the Miami Herald that the woman — who was not identified but was believed to be in her 20s — was driving a black BMW westbound on 12 th Street in Miami Beach at about 6:15 p.m. Sunday when she struck a Mercedes with two passengers inside after blowing past a red light.
An officer on patrol for the Columbus Day holiday weekend ran over to get the woman to stop — but the driver plowed into him, knocking him off his feet, Oates said.
Another officer opened fire, squeezing off “one or more rounds” before the woman lost control of the luxury car and crashed into a parked SUV. Emergency workers rushed her to Jackson Memorial Hospital, but she could not be saved.
The officer who was struck was listed in stable condition late Sunday after losing consciousness “for a period of time,” Oates told NBC Miami .
Stunned witnesses were still trying to grasp what might have caused the violent ordeal.
“She started the car and ran away,” witness Miguel Garcia told CBS Miami . “She was, like, going over the policeman in front of her, the officer … At that point, the other cop started shooting. I heard like four or five shots, like, ‘Pow, pow, pow pow!' And then the car lost control.”
Two women visiting from Philadelphia told the Miami Herald they were eating at a restaurant on Ocean Drive when they saw a car smack into the back of a truck.
“I don't know what she was trying to do, but she just left the scene,” one of the tourists, Shay Davis, told the Herald.
Miami-Dade police detectives were investigating the incident.
St. Louis police would face limits on using pepper spray, tear gas under proposal
The bill requires officers "to the extent reasonably possible" arrest specific individuals who are responding with violence rather than issuing general orders to disperse
by Celeste Bott
ST. LOUIS — Putting limits on when police officers can use chemical agents or order crowds to disperse would help protect demonstrators' First Amendment rights, supporters of a bill filed this week argue.
The plan, filed by 15th Ward Alderman Megan Green, would repeal St. Louis' existing ordinance on unlawful assemblies, which she argues is too vague and gives officers a wide berth to declare a demonstration unlawful.
It has become an issue in recent weeks because of protests over the Jason Stockley verdict, and Green said the changes would help protect participants in future demonstrations.
“One of the issues right now is, how do you hold police accountable to an unlawful assembly ordinance where no one really understands what it means?” Green said in an interview Tuesday.
Green's bill says people and groups in the city have the right to participate in assemblies “on the streets, sidewalks, and other public ways, and in the parks in the city, and to engage in assemblies near the object of their protest so they may be seen and heard, subject to reasonable restrictions designed to protect public safety, persons, and property, and to accommodate the interest of persons not participating in the assemblies to use the streets, sidewalks, and other public ways.”
Green said she drafted the language with the ACLU of Missouri, which is suing the city over the police response during the first week of protests against the Stockley verdict.
“St. Louis needs to establish clear guidelines to protect people as they call for change in the region,” said Sara Baker, legislative and policy director at the ACLU of Missouri. “Without establishing clear guidelines for law enforcement, we risk creating a chilling atmosphere during a critical time where the voices of the people must be heard.”
The proposal reflects a number of grievances voiced by demonstrators protesting the acquittal of Stockley, a former police officer who is white, for the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black drug suspect. The verdict has spurred protests throughout the city and complaints of excessive force being used by law enforcement tasked with containing the unrest.
The bill requires officers “to the extent reasonably possible” arrest specific individuals who are responding with violence, rather than issuing general orders to disperse.
Under the measure, the St. Louis Police Department can issue orders to disperse only if “a significant number or percentage of the assembly participants” fail to adhere to certain restrictions, engage in violence or destroy property, or if the mayor declares a public safety emergency.
It also requires police to issue at least one order to disperse — and multiple orders if possible — using an amplification system reaching 40 feet away, giving participants “reasonable and adequate” time to disperse and a safe and clear route for dispersal. At least one order would also be required before deploying chemical agents.
Officers would not be able to use chemical agents on protesters or groups who fail to disperse, only on individuals who have “caused or attempted to cause serious physical injury to another person.” Pepper spray and other agents could not be used on individuals who are already restrained.
Additionally, the bill would require all officers to have their name tags visible at all times and mandate that the department promptly process and release anyone who was arrested during an event.
Green says her bill would make it easier for residents to hold police accountable if their constitutional rights are violated.
“Once we get these laws in place, it would make it easier for a lawsuit to be waged against the city if they're broken,” Green said.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Interim Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole recently called for an independent investigation into how city police have responded to demonstrations in the days following the verdict.
Particularly controversial is the officers' recent use of a technique called “kettling,” which was used to box in 100 people — including a Post-Dispatch reporter, an Air Force lieutenant who wasn't participating and an undercover cop — at a busy downtown intersection and arrest them for failing to disperse.
Police say they are reviewing that incident.
Even if the measure is passed, Green said, more criminal justice reforms will still be needed.
“This is just a starting point of getting an actual First Amendment policy in place for the city of St. Louis,” Green said, adding that she and the ACLU used a similar ordinance in Washington, D.C., as a guide. “But we can at least start to implement some of that, and make a commitment as a city to respect the rights of protester in the streets.”
Greenville police to issue citations for small crimes instead of arrests
by Edward Sheehy and Lindsay Oliver
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - People who commit some crimes in one city might not find themselves under arrest, but receiving a citation instead.
Greenville Mayor Kandie Smith declared this new Citations in lieu of Arrest policy a 21st century model of policing, and made it the item that kicked off Community Policing Week in the city of Greenville.
The policy passed unanimously Monday night at Greenville's City Council meeting, affirming support of the policy that allows officers to write citations for low level misdemeanors instead of arresting people.
"As long as you can identify the person, you have no reason to believe they're not going to appear for court, you can give them a citation for it and they're on their way," explains Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman.
The policy itself was written several months ago and has been in effect since then, but was presented and highlighted Monday night as part of the Community Policing Week with the hope that this policy is a step towards collaboration between the Greenville community and the police department.
"Our police department is trying to make that effort, to make sure we allow citizens who do, who are stopped for some of these minor offenses, the opportunity to be issued a citation with the understanding they would show up for court," Smith says.
Examples of misdemeanor offenses where a citation may be an option includes crimes like larceny, shoplifting, simple possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct as well as several other charges, but in the end, the decision to write a citation remains in the hands of the officer.
"Many times when officers are out working the street, there are times when it is more prudent to just write a citation and get people on their way," Holtzman explains. "It's over with by the time the officer gets there, yet we can hold people accountable and get people to court. But in other ways they can get back home, and get back to work the next day as well."
Chief Holtzman also said that by implementing this policy, officers will be better equipped to focus on and respond to greater issues in the community, while at the same time holding people accountable for offenses.
Mayor Smith also proclaimed this week to be Community Policing Week in the city, which aims to highlight collaboration between the community and the police through a number of scheduled event's throughout the week.
1,000 leads later, authorities still stumped by Vegas gunman
Police have sorted through more than a thousand leads and examined Stephen Paddock's politics, finances, any possible terrorist radicalization and his social behavior
by Ken Ritter and Michael Balsamo
LAS VEGAS — More than a week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history investigators are stumped about the key question: What led a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others at a country music concert?
It's an answer they may never find.
The FBI and Las Vegas police have sorted through more than a thousand leads and examined Stephen Paddock's politics, finances, any possible terrorist radicalization and his social behavior. By Monday they had repeatedly searched his homes and interviewed his brother, girlfriend and others he's done business with.
But the typical investigative avenues that have helped uncover the motive in past shootings have yielded few clues about Paddock, a professional gambler who spent nearly every waking hour playing video poker at casinos. That closeted existence has covered the trail for investigators.
"This individual purposely hid his actions leading up to this event and it is difficult for us to find the answers to those actions," Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Monday, conceding he's frustrated.
The FBI has brought in behavioral profilers as they continue questioning Paddock's live-in girlfriend, Marilou Danley, about his gun purchases and what she may have noticed about his behavior, Lombardo said.
Paddock had stockpiled 23 guns, a dozen of them modified to fire continuously like an automatic weapon inside his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room, where he busted out two windows before opening fire on the crowd.
The sheriff changed the timeline of the shooting Monday, explaining that a security guard in the hotel's hallway responding to a report of an open door heard drilling from Paddock's room. Paddock, who had installed three cameras to monitor the approach to his suite, opened fire through the door, spraying 200 shots down the hall and wounding the guard, who alerted other security officials.
A few minutes later, Paddock began the 10-minute attack on those on the ground.
Previously the sheriff had said the guard's arrival in the hallway may have caused Paddock to stop firing. He said Monday he didn't know what prompted Paddock to end his deadly gunfire.
The gunman had shot at aviation fuel tanks, stocked his car with explosives and had personal protection gear as part of an escape plan, authorities said Monday.
Paddock's life has remained somewhat of a mystery and most people who have interacted with him said nothing really stood out about him.
"It's his actual normalcy that makes him a fascinating study," said David Gomez, a former FBI profiler.
The small group people who knew Paddock well has said the one-time IRS agent and the son of a notorious bank robber did essentially nothing except gamble, sleep and travel between casinos. Investigators are sifting through every piece of Paddock's life from birth to death, Lombardo has said.
"Every piece of information we get is one more piece of the puzzle," the sheriff said Monday.
Experts say it is extremely unusual to have so few clues more than a week after a mass shooting. In past mass killings or terrorist attacks, killers left notes, social media postings and information on a computer, or even phoned police.
In this case, there was no suicide note, no manifesto, no evidence the gunman was motivated by any ideology and Paddock has no clear presence on social media, police said.
The FBI is working around-the-clock and a "comprehensive picture is being drawn as to the suspect's mental state," the sheriff said. Though at this point, they haven't found any one particular event in Paddock's life that triggered the shooting, he said.
Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday an autopsy was done but could not discuss results of whether it yielded any clues to Paddocks actions.
But even as investigators work to try to figure out what might've led Paddock to commit the shooting, there may never be a clear answer.
"Sometimes there isn't an understandable explanation for why someone commits a horrific crime," Gomez said.
What has become very clear to investigators is that Paddock meticulously planned the attack. He requested an upper-floor room overlooking the country music festival and set up cameras inside and outside his room to watch for approaching officers.
After the shooting, police found a piece of paper on a nightstand in Paddock's hotel room that contained a series of numbers that helped him calculate a more precise aim, accounting for the trajectory of shots being fired from that height and the distance between his room and the concert, a federal official said. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the details of the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
In not leaving behind an easily accessible manifesto, Paddock defied societal expectations that mass murderers will want their disturbed motives known to the world, said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler and hostage negotiator.
"The reason you want to engage in an attack is you want to be promoting your extremist ideology — you want publicity," said Erroll Southers, director of homegrown violent extremism studies at the University of Southern California. "You want people to be afraid of what you believe and what you do."
But although most killers may want to take credit for their act, Paddock might have reveled in the riddle he's presented for investigators, Van Zandt said.
"He may even find some solace knowing that, 'I've left so few footprints, they're going to have a helluva time figuring out who I am.' And that, in his challenged mind, might bring him a terrible level of satisfaction," he said.
Despite the absence of easy answers, investigators may still be able to fill out a portrait of Paddock's mindset in the coming weeks, Van Zandt said.
"Instead of a eureka moment, I think what investigators are doing is they're putting an ounce of information at a time on the scale," he said.
Dallas chief ready to demote some on force to get more cops on streets
The Dallas Police Department is about to undergo a shake-up--including possible demotions--to put more officers on patrol
by Tasha Tsiaperas
DALLAS — The Dallas Police Department is about to undergo a shake-up — including possible demotions — to put more officers on patrol.
Hundreds of officers have left the department in the last year, leaving fewer officers working the streets. In that time, officers have been slower to respond to emergency calls.
Chief U. Renee Hall said Monday she plans to significantly reduce the number of assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs who oversee the department. She is also considering reducing the number of detectives in investigative units and officers serving on task forces.
Her plan may mean that some officers serving as assistant chief could be demoted to lieutenant and that some detectives could be put in patrol, which Hall called the "backbone" of the department.
"We've lost nearly 500 officers, so we need to reflect that at the top," she said. "I'm assessing the Police Department as a whole."
Hall shared her plans to combat spikes in crime and reduce response times Monday at a meeting of the City Council's public safety committee.
Between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 458 officers resigned or retired, primarily because of worries about the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System fund. During that time, the department hired 190 officers.
The department is down to 3,072 officers — well below the budgeted 3,600.
Hall said she is working on plans to reduce crime in long-blighted neighborhoods, increase staffing and bring down response times. Hall, who has been on the job for only a month, asked council members for "a little bit of grace" as she develops way to improve the department.
So far this year, it has taken the department an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds to respond to the highest priority calls, such as shootings, compared with a little more than 7 minutes and 30 seconds last year.
Lowest-priority calls, such as property crimes, have taken as long as an hour and 15 minutes, compared with about an hour last year.
Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who represents parts of North Dallas, told the chief lowering response times needs to be a priority. She said a resident in her district waited 22 minutes for officers to arrive after a home invasion.
Gates wants the department's resources to be put toward patrol staffing.
"I need to be telling citizens we've got the right numbers out there to keep them safe," Gates said.
Dallas Police Association president Michael Mata called the lengthy response times "ridiculous."
It's unclear exactly how Hall will restructure the department to streamline police response. She said she will be interviewing command staff for the deputy chief and assistant chief positions.
Mata said change is necessary, even if it's uncomfortable for many officers.
"She needs to get more police on the street," he said.
Hall has said she is talking to as many officers as she can to get to know how the department works. Mata said the chief is "respectful of the street officers and their families."
"She's doing a good job of talking to as many rank-and-file as she can," he said. "That was missing in our last administration."
But Hall said it's not enough to just get officers to the scene quickly. There needs to be enough detectives to investigate crimes.
Dallas police are battling a spike in business robberies and burglaries. Overall, crime is down this year compared with last year, when violent crime rates rose.
But certain types of businesses — cellphone stores, dollar stores, convenience stores — have been targeted in robberies. And many of the perpetrators have been juveniles.
Four people were linked to 11 robberies in northern Dallas and six people were linked to 17 robberies in the southern sector.
Hall said she is sending officers to do random check-ins at the types of businesses that have been targeted.
"When police are there, we see a reduction in crime," she said.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Cyber Security Awareness Month Is Here
You do not have to be a computer expert to understand the basics of cybersecurity. Even small actions can make a huge difference in keeping you safe online. As cybercrimes like scams, frauds, identity theft, and network breaches continue to increase, it is more important than ever to know how to protect yourself in the cyber world.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and DHS's Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign and its partners across the country are highlighting the importance of cybersecurity and online safety.
It is easier than you think to practice good cybersecurity every day. DHS encourages you to take these simple steps towards greater cybersecurity:
Secure PIN and Set Strong Passwords. Stow away and secure all PIN numbers, being mindful to not leave them on desks or unlocked drawers. No one should be able to guess your password–especially on your most sensitive accounts, like your email or bank account. Your passwords should be at least eight characters and include a mix of numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. You should also use different passwords for all your online accounts. Follow Departmental password policies for work accounts, and do not share your passwords with colleagues or anyone else.
Update Your Software and Operating Systems. Cyber criminals often target vulnerabilities in outdated software and operating systems. Protect your devices from the threat of malware by installing the latest updates.
Protect Your Privacy. How much information about you exists online? Take a look at all of your social media platforms to be sure they are not revealing too much information. Your birthday, address, phone number, and email address should all be kept private, and your photos and posts should only be visible to friends. Make sure your privacy options are set to the strictest level.
DHS is doing its part to make the internet safer for everyone by participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Learn more about how you can be cyber safe at https://www.dhs.gov/ncsam . It is your responsibility to report potential attack attempts.
To receive cybersecurity tips year round, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect, and become a Friend of the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign.
U.S. flies bombers over Korea as Trump discusses options
by Christine Kim and Eric Beech
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force late on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump met top defense officials to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea.
Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it fast advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
The two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers were joined by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Wednesday.
After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, the release said.
The U.S. military said in a separate statement it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time U.S. bombers have conducted training with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night.
The U.S. bombers had taken off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In August, Pyongyang threatened to fire intermediate-range missiles toward the vicinity of Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory that is frequently subjected to sabre-rattling from the North.
South Korean and U.S. government officials have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling party, which fell on Tuesday.
Trump hosted a discussion on Tuesday on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
Trump was briefed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford at a national security team meeting, the statement said.
U.S. and South Korean wartime operational plans, including a plan to wipe out the North Korean leadership, were stolen by North Korean hackers last year, a South Korean ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Some 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken from South Korea's Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year, Democratic Party representative Rhee Cheol-hee said in radio appearances on Wednesday, citing information from unidentified South Korean defense officials.
In May, an investigative team inside the defense ministry announced the hack had been carried out by North Korea, but did not disclose what kind of information had been taken.
The United Nations Security Council, which has imposed a series of ever tighter sanctions on North Korea, has banned four ships from ports globally for carrying coal from North Korea, including one vessel that also had ammunition.
The vessels are the first to be designated under stepped-up sanctions imposed on North Korea by the 15-member council in August and September over two long-range ballistic missile launches and Pyongyang's sixth and largest nuclear test.
Tackling history of race and policing starts with well-informed officers
by Eric Holmes and Jeff Upson
In order for police to build trust with marginalized communities, we must first understand the origins of distrust.
When our veteran police officers first learn that they're going to get a lecture on the history of race and policing, we tend to get responses along these lines: “I've been a good cop for 20 years, what does this have to do with me?”
By this point, we're used to the skepticism — and, on one level, it makes sense. The average American cop is 39 years old, which means that the vast majority of officers serving today weren't alive during Jim Crow or the Civil Rights Movement. Plus, because policing is a complex and challenging profession that requires quick actions and reactions — it's our job to respond to emergencies — it can be hard to leave the present moment to pause and really reflect about our place in history.
So, when Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) officers first attend our department's new procedural justice training, we have to convince them that policing doesn't happen in a vacuum. We have to demonstrate that there is a historical context in which our present actions are situated.
The National Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture demonstrate that if we don't understand the evolution of American policing — history could become the present.
Through our participation in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice — a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and several academic partners — Pittsburgh and five other American pilot cities are implementing police-community trust-building interventions based on the principles of procedural justice, implicit bias and racial reconciliation. The initiative works toward policy changes and practices, data collection within the department, and much more — including many hours of training for all 850 of our sworn officers.
The history of policing in America is one key component of procedural justice training, which introduces the idea that community perception of the local police rests on perceived fairness of the entire justice process.
Accordingly, procedural justice training urges law enforcement to treat all community members with respect and dignity (regardless of the type of encounter); remain neutral and unbiased; convey trustworthy motives; and give community members a chance to explain their side of the story.
Without a solid grasp of the history that influences community perceptions of police, however, we would lack a complete understanding of why building trust with marginalized communities through applied procedural justice is so important. For that reason, our new training addresses painful moments in American history — and, in particular, law enforcement's role in enforcing laws that perpetuated racial inequity. Police in all six National Initiative cities are now learning about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, convict leasing and Jim Crow laws in their procedural justice training.
This national history is important, but it's even more critical to tailor national history to Pittsburgh-specific events. For instance, Commander Holmes can personally remember a police department just outside of Pittsburgh that used different 10 codes for traffic stops depending on whether the vehicle's occupants were white or black. Policies like these are one of many reasons why he decided to become a police officer in the first place — to make positive changes from within the institution.
By addressing concrete aspects of local and national history, procedural justice training places each officer's identity and perceptions into the context of a broader historical perspective. Dave Mather, Ph. D., a police training consultant who has been working with PBP, recalls that “as a line cop, I didn't know any of the history and I didn't care to know any of it. I was naive enough to believe that how I treated people on an individual basis was more important than what had happened in the past.”
For those of us behind the shield, our uniform is a point of pride and a badge of honor; but because many community members have felt the burden of over-policing, our uniform carries a very different meaning.
As a result, communities may be particularly sensitive to certain police behaviors that seem to reinforce negative stereotypes about law enforcement. “As police officers, we perceive our own actions through the lens of our best intentions in the current moment,” Mather explains. “But communities may be interpreting our behavior through a historical lens — horrible experiences with law enforcement can be passed down from generation to generation.”
In that context, a single interaction may be interpreted very differently by police and community members and both parties can leave with disparate impressions of the same event. Even during a routine traffic stop, we have to remember that the driver's perception of police is informed by every traffic stop they've ever experienced (and every officer they've ever met). “Procedural justice training plants the seeds of understanding with young officers so that it doesn't take them 25 years to comprehend these concepts like it did for me,” Mather adds.
Perhaps most importantly, this training will make our officers more effective in the field because all of our officers have a greater appreciation and understanding of how we got here and what need to do to begin building trust. Procedural justice is closely linked to the establishment of police legitimacy — and, according to recent research , when communities view police authority as legitimate, they are more likely to trust and cooperate with us.
Ultimately, procedural justice training tries to identify ways in which legitimacy can be impacted by police-community interactions, and how various factors — the history of racist laws, specific instances of abuse, over-policing and even ordinary rudeness — can combine to create today's racial confidence gap in perception of police performance. Police who have been trained in procedural justice understand how establishing police legitimacy makes their job easier.
Our officers understand why the history of policing is so important: without that crucial context, police cannot truly protect and serve.
Commander Eric Holmes is the Pittsburgh site liaison for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Officer Jeff Upson is a full-time instructor in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's police academy.
Officers' lives at risk because of false media narrative
by Kevin Lawrence
The 24-hour news cycle and social media are abuzz with controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. We wonder if most Americans remember what the initial protest was about. Police officers haven't forgotten.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year, he was protesting what he incorrectly viewed as an increase in police brutality. We haven't forgotten that fact because, while we support the First Amendment rights of every American, including the right to protest, we believe the conversation about race and policing has been distorted by the national media and anti-cop activists looking to score cheap political points.
An accusation of bias against police officers is a deeply personal subject to the men and women in blue. We are not dismissive of the notion that there are officers who allow racial bias to impact their duties. But popular national media have distorted what is happening at police departments across America, and this matters greatly, because officers' lives are put at risk by the false media narrative.
Celebrity cases, where protests catch the eye of national networks in response to police shootings, have been grossly mishandled by the press. In fact, the entire “Hands Up, Don't Shoot” protest was based on a lie. Michael Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot in Ferguson, Mo.; he was reaching for the officer's gun, a fact that was confirmed by African-American witnesses at the scene. The Obama administration's Justice Department looked at the evidence and came to the same conclusion.
In Milwaukee, Sylville Smith refused to put down his gun. He was shot by a black officer. But when riots broke out in Smith's neighborhood, the mainstream media selectively reported the facts, downplaying the race of the officer and the threat posed by Smith. That's because it didn't fit into the narrative of a white officer shooting an unarmed black man.
Data collected on police violence, including from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, shows black men are not disproportionately targeted when the crime rates of men across all races are examined. Again, every crime steeped in bias is a tragedy. But the situation is made much worse when the exception is perceived as the rule in the public eye. That's when cops start to become targets.
How soon we forget that the same Cowboys organization that knelt before the anthem in Arizona last month was denied the right by the NFL to wear a helmet sticker to honor the five officers who were shot and killed in the streets of Dallas in July 2016. That, of course, was the night an armed black assailant fired indiscriminately into a crowd, shooting every officer he could get in his sights. Ten days later, three police officers were murdered in Baton Rouge.
We cannot ignore the role of national media distortions of celebrity cases in these shootings. Complex situations in which an officer shoots a black man are often boiled down to simplistic slogans that distort the facts. The false narrative gets played for days, if not weeks, on end. The public reacts with outrage. And then a deranged individual takes matters into his own hands, shooting cops. A sniper took aim in Dallas, a sick individual killed officers at point-blank range in New York City. Communities impacted by crime, and the officers who police them, are left on edge. The bigger issue here is media bias, not police bias.
Popular media myth is making the difficult job of policing even harder, and it would not be hyperbole to say some in the national media have the blood of officers on their hands. Furthermore, football players who kneel in protest of police brutality are not advancing a thoughtful conversation about community policing tactics, but merely a simplistic and largely false narrative.
If we are going to have a conversation about race and policing in America, let's include the difficult challenges faced by officers who must make life-and-death decisions in an instant. And let's not ignore data to advance a political agenda.
Doing so only endangers officers, who took a vow to “serve and protect.”
8 essential truths about MCI response plans in the wake of the Vegas attack
The Las Vegas attack and response are reminders that public safety needs to stick with and execute our plan, not create a new one
by Mike Wood
There is nothing about the Las Vegas active shooter attack that calls for a new approach. The highly professional and well-executed response of public safety agencies in Las Vegas demonstrates that we're on track, and already working on the things we need to in order to deal with events like these. The Las Vegas attack and response are reminders that we need to stick with and execute our plan, not create a new one.
With this in mind, let's remind ourselves about the elements of our mass casualty incident (MCI) response plans, along with some essential truths we must not forget while emotions run high:
1. Evil exists
This is no surprise to any police officer. You see evil every day, but the public doesn't, and they certainly don't see it writ large like they did in Las Vegas. The majority of people are still reeling in shock and confusion, and struggling to answer unanswerable questions, yet one thing is crystal clear in the midst of all this fog: Evil exists . You can't wish it away or ignore it. The only thing you can do is be ready to crush it without mercy when it shows up. As a protector of your fellow man, you must accept this truth and prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for that duty. Let it fuel you.
2. Active shooter training pays off
It's vital that you are ready to counter this threat, as a solo officer and as a team member.
If you don't know what you're supposed to do as the first responding officer to an active shooter scene , you need to fix that.
If you don't have rifle-rated armor ; a rifle you know how to shoot effectively ; a bail-out bag with loaded magazines, first-aid supplies and basic breaching tools immediately available to you when you're on patrol, you need to fix that.
If you don't know how to rapidly clear a building as a member of a hasty contact team that's hunting the shooter, you need to fix that.
If you're not sure if you're supposed to stop and provide medical aid to someone before the shooter is stopped, you need to fix that.
We will only see an increase in these kinds of attacks in the future, so make sure you are trained, equipped, and mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with them effectively.
3. Tactical combat casualty care training is a must
You must understand the basics of how to stop bleeding and open/preserve airways in a tactical environment .
You must have a suitable individual first aid kit (IFAK) on your person , not in your car, and the knowledge and skill to use it.
You must understand how to self-apply a tourniquet or dressing to save your own life.
You must have ready access to a mass casualty kit, with enough supplies to treat multiple casualties and IFAK supplies for yourself.
You must understand how and when to evacuate a casualty.
You must understand that security is a prerequisite to providing medical care.
4. Public safety integration is key to a successful response
The days of public safety stovepipes are over. Police, fire and EMS must be organized, trained and equipped to operate in an integrated and coordinated manner .
There are no red teams or blue teams any longer – you must move your agency toward a “purple” operational capability in which all public safety specialties understand how they will combine forces and work together during an emergency .
Establish protocols now for casualty collection points, insertion of fire/EMS assets into “warm” or “hot” zones , and dealing with attackers and fire simultaneously. Train together so that personnel from each agency are ready to work together in an emergency.
5. Complex, coordinated attacks (CCAs) are a threat
A single shooter caused all the chaos in Las Vegas. Imagine if there had been another, working in a location across town. If your agency isn't working on ways to address CCAs , then it's time to get serious, because the enemy has been successful with this strategy overseas and we should expect them to employ it on our shores soon. A CCA will significantly strain communications, resources, leadership and logistics, and make it extremely difficult to respond in a coordinated manner. They're coming. Get ready for them now.
6. Civilians can be a force multiplier
You cannot protect the public by yourself. You need the public to be your ally and an active participant in their own rescue. Educate the public on active shooter protocols and combat casualty care essentials . Help to organize and train them in initial response to fires, natural disasters, and criminal or terror attacks. Teach them the ethical and lawful use of force in self-defense, and support their ability to do so.
There are too many citizens out there for even the largest of police departments to serve in a crisis, so use your skill, experience and resources to turn them into a force multiplier.
7. Law enforcement must take an all-hazards approach
The attacker holds the initiative, and gets to choose the battlefield. You cannot predict what the next attack will look like, nor defend against all possibilities. The enemy is constantly changing his tactics to stay a step ahead of your defenses.
When it becomes too difficult to plan a bomb attack, they use a gun. If a gun won't work, they use a truck, or a knife, or a can of gasoline and a match. If a hardened target is too difficult to hit, they will switch to a soft one.
So, how can you possibly prepare for all these possibilities? Focus on the basics:
Ensure your communications are clear and disciplined, and your networks are protected and redundant;
Ensure you are highly skilled in the use of your issued equipment – guns, medical, rescue, communications, vehicle, etc.;
Wear your vest, and have ready access to a helmet, gloves, plates, a mask, and other essential protective equipment;
Ensure you are ready to fulfill the responsibilities of being an on-scene leader until you are relieved;
Know and understand your tactics. If you are prepared to execute all the duties of your job with the highest level of skill, then you have done everything necessary to be ready for the unexpected and unpredictable.
8. Police officers are role models
Frightened people will agree to surrender their liberty in exchange for promises of security. It's our job to protect and preserve that liberty, not to play a role in its destruction.
There is no amount of regulation or prohibition that will prevent evil from accessing something that can be used as a weapon. There is no amount of surveillance or control that will provide absolute security. There are no laws that will prevent evil from attacking innocents.
In times of crisis, the public looks to law enforcement for leadership, and you must be ready to show them that the way forward is through promoting freedom, not restricting it; that the way forward is through strength and courage, not weakness and fear; that the way forward is to enjoy and live our lives in the full confidence that we are ready to confront and defeat evil when it rises, not to live our lives in the shadows, hoping that it won't notice us. A fearful public needs a strong and courageous role model in a time of darkness. Let that be you!
I salute the public safety professionals that resolved the Las Vegas attack so quickly, and all of you who stand ready to do the same in your communities. There is no place beyond the reach of evil – it can show its face anywhere, anytime. So be ready, be safe, and may God bless all of you.
American hostage mom and family freed 5 years after being kidnapped by Taliban
by James Gordon Meek and Brian Ross
An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children -- all of whom were born in captivity -- were rescued on Wednesday, five years to the day since the couple was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, ABC News has learned.
Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her husband Joshua Boyle, 34, who were abducted while hiking in Afghanistan's Ghazni province in 2012, were secured in an exchange between Pakistani military and U.S. commandos late Wednesday in a secret operation to bring them home after one of the longest -- and strangest -- American hostage ordeals in recent history, counterterrorism officials revealed.
The captor network was believed by intelligence and counterterrorism officials to have been part of the al-Qaeda-aligned Afghan Haqqani Network — which also held Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prisoner for five years until May 2014 — but no one ever asked the families to pay ransom. The Haqqanis also have close ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.
Only days ago, the family was shown in a video filmed by their captors and sent to their families last January. The Boyle family provided it to the Toronto Star and to ABC News.
It shows the couple's four-year old son is shown sitting on his father's lap, dressed in the same filthy clothing as in a video posted on YouTube last December. Caitlan is shown cradling their second child, still an infant. A third child has since been born as well, sources told ABC News.
In the video, Joshua Boyle light-heartedly cracked jokes about letters received in reply from their parents in record time and said the conditions of their captivity had improved around the beginning of the year.
The young mother, who grew up in Stewartsttown, Pa., tells her father, Jim Coleman, that her personality in captivity has changed from being like one Disney heroine to another.
"I would also like to say to my father specifically, that I think you would like to know that my time in—married, and my time as a mother, and my time in prison that I've become more of a Belle than an Ariel," Caitlan Coleman, known as "Caity" to her parents, explains.
Her father told ABC News earlier this week that his daughter was trying to contrast one animated Disney character, Ariel of "The Little Mermaid," who was rebellious and defied her father, with Belle of "Beauty and The Beast," who tried to protect her father from evil.
"She is telling me, 'Dad, I wish had listened to you more and not been Ariel and more a Belle," the elder Coleman said. "It's a lot of humility and self-analysis of why she is in this situation."
A senior official involved in hostage recovery told an ABC News reporter in January 2016 that the hostage family was to be freed in a deal following the successful recovery of Colin Rutherford, another Canadian in Haqqani hands. He was soon freed but Coleman was not.
It soon emerged that the Taliban were upset over reports that Anas Haqqani, brother of the No. 2 Afghan Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, had been prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death in secret proceedings in Kabul.
In August 2016, the Haqqani Taliban snatched two professors from American University of Kabul, one American and one Australian, in retaliation for Anas Haqqani's death sentence. A few months later, in December, the Colemans appeared in a new video -- seen for the first time with their children, who were born as hostages -- warning that their survival depended on a reprieve for Taliban prisoners.
The families were soon told privately by Afghan officials that Anas Haqqani had been spared execution but that his release was politically impossible, U.S. and Afghan officials told ABC News earlier this year.
In the waning days -- and even the last hours -- of the Obama administration, diplomats tried hard to broker a deal for Coleman's release, to no avail, according to several Obama aides who discussed the previously unreported hostage recovery efforts.
It was unclear Thursday morning whether the Boyle-Coleman family's freedom came as the result of a new deal.
Caitlan's husband seemed more optimistic than in the ominous videos the Taliban released in December, which appeared to have been made at the same time as the private January video addressed to their families.
"Things here are going about as can be expected," Boyle says in the January video. "But we were buoyed to receive your letter, and for the first time we have hope that things might wrap up soon, God willing.”
In a private letter to his family, who provided it to ABC News, Boyle made it clear that the years of captivity in the most austere of conditions had taken a toll on their sense of hope.
President Trump in a tax speech he made in Pennsylvania on Wednesday made a cryptic reference to a country he did not name where "something happened," and that Americans would "probably be hearing about it over the next few days."
One counterterrorism official said they believed it was a reference to Pakistan's assistance in freeing Coleman and her family.
"America is being respected again. Something happened today, where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news,” Trump told the crowd. “And one of my generals came in, they said, 'You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would've never done that.' It was a great sign of respect. You'll probably be hearing about it over the next few days. But this is a country that did not respect us. This is a country that respects us now. The world is starting to respect us again, believe me.”
Greenville implements community policing unit to build trust with residents
by Lynnette Taylor and Lindsay Oliver
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - When you see an officer, your first thought might be that there could be some trouble around.
One police department wants to change that and create new perceptions that are more positive.
Dorothy Daniels lives in an area of Greenville where crime was a common occurrence.
"Shooting at night, young ladies walking the streets," she says.
She says within the past eight months, she's seen "a big change" that is mainly due to a new police unit that's community driven.
"My officers, my boys, my sons come, they're over here all the time," Daniels says.
It's a closeness Daniels feels towards the two officers assigned to her area, a trust built between them thanks to a newly implemented community policing unit designed to fulfill one purpose.
"It's about relationship building, because if you build those relationships, you'll get those phone calls to help know when things are happening," explains Greenville Mayor Kandie Smith.
Officer Alison Blackmon is one of six officers placed in three jurisdictional zones in the city to answer a different calling.
"We're community service, we're here to serve the people, so if you see something suspicious or you see something that isn't right, call us," she says.
Officer Brian Gillian says it's about telling officers about criminal concerns, gang activity and other community concerns that patrol officers wouldn't have the time to dedicate themselves to.
"Once you get to know people, they start to trust you and once they trust you they want to talk to you," Gillian tells WITN.
"This unit, what we're about, them coming to us, that we have that relationship with them," Blackmon goes on to say.
Going above and beyond to create a safer city for everyone.
The officers say they will go door to door and talk to residents so they can have their number to directly contact them about community concerns.
What is Restorative Policing
by David Greenwald
On Monday, Lisa Rea of Restorative Justice International participated in a discussion in Davis on Police Oversight and Restorative Justice. There she talked about a webinar she hosted in 2016 on restorative policing. In addition to the 90 minute audio webinar ( that you can listen to here ) with Paul McCold and Terry O'Connell , Ms. Rea gave us permission to republish portions of their White Paper on Restorative Policing. You can read the full White Paper here .
Restorative Policing Definition and Description
A new policing paradigm is called for as an integral part of policing, and not just an interjection of restorative justice processes into current policing practice. Restorative practices should underpin all policing and be guided by restorative justice values of respect, dialogue and relationships, and not focused on crime, but broadly on harmful wrongdoing and conflict and support for victims and affected communities.
Restorative policing is a relational paradigm of policing that focuses on creating safer, more connected communities through restorative justice practices underpinned by restorative principles of safety, accountability, sustainability, relationship building and constructive engagement. The policing function is understood to be a whole community responsibility with police as part of a broader social maintenance effort. Restorative policing actively support victims, offenders, their families and communities to respond creatively and positively to conflict through restorative justice processes. The goal of restorative policing is reducing harmful wrongdoing and conflict through the positive engagement of community and governmental resources.
Restorative policing is described by the following:
Police as peacemakers and master facilitators, largely of informal processes focused on engagement [as opposed to involvement] and collaboration [rather than cooperation].
Police recognize that offender accountability, responsibility and obligation are primarily to those directly affected and then to the community, where the first priority is the needs of victims and the relationships harmed. In talking with the victims, the initial conversation needs to be about the impact of the incident rather than a preoccupation with the details.
Police create conditions for reflection and learning for all involved — where crime becomes an opportunity to make sense and meaning of what has happened and what is needed to strengthen relationships and keep people safe.
Policing by community [as opposed to community policing], engaging and empowering families and community organizations in responding to and managing conflict with officers acting as community leaders and resource brokers.
Police view rituals and processes for reconnection as vital elements in community reconciliation and restoration.
Police use their discretion in such a way that prioritises problem–-solving over crime control with emphasis on possibilities rather than problems.
Police ensure there are constructive community responses to potentially harmful situations rather than waiting [reacting] for an offence.
Police view law enforcement as a regrettable last resort; contributing to everyone living in safe and supportive relationships is the first resort for crime prevention.
For the 90 minute webinar click here: http://www.restorativejusticeinternational.com/2016/restorative-policing-webinar-recording-september-30-2016/
For the full white paper click here: http://www.restorativejusticeinternational.com/assets/RJI-White-Paper-on-Restorative-Policing-01-JUL-16pdf.pdf
2 Baltimore officers accept discipline in Freddie Gray case
The LEOs "believe they did not violate any of the policies, procedures or practices of the Baltimore PD, " but "accepted the disciplinary action to move on"
by Kevin Rector
BALTIMORE — Two Baltimore police officers have accepted “minor disciplinary action” for their involvement in the 2015 arrest of Freddie Gray rather than argue their cases before departmental trial boards, as they had been scheduled to do, a police union attorney confirmed Tuesday.
The discipline marks the first punishment against officers in the high-profile case, after local prosecutors failed to secure criminal convictions and federal prosecutors declined to bring charges.
It also clears the way for the officers, who were involved in the initial chase and arrest of Gray, to remain on the force.
Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero “believe they did not violate any of the policies, procedures or practices of the Baltimore Police Department,” but “accepted the disciplinary action to move on from this unfortunate incident and continue their careers,” said attorney Michael Davey, with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3.
“The most important factor in deciding to accept the disciplinary action was to ensure they continue their employment with the Baltimore Police Department so they can support themselves and their families,” Davey said.
Davey would not disclose what violations were alleged by the department, or the punishments the officers accepted. He said Miller, 28, is back to full-time duty working in the Police Department's marine unit, while Nero, 31, is back to full-time work in the aviation unit.
The Baltimore Sun has previously reported that Nero and Miller faced five days suspension without pay.
Three other officers — Officer Caesar Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White — still face trial boards, and all face possible termination. Goodson is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 30, followed by Rice on Nov. 13 and White on Dec. 5.
However, those dates are now in question, after the officers' attorneys filed a joint motion in Baltimore Circuit Court on Tuesday asking a court to delay their trial boards in light of an undisclosed meeting they allege Baltimore police officials had with police commanders from other agencies who have been identified as potential trial board chairs.
The officers' attorneys alleged city officials inappropriately met with the Prince George's County and Maryland State Police commanders in private and provided them with “some form of training despite their extensive experience in chairing administrative hearing boards” for their own agencies.
The outside commanders were identified as Capt. Cynthia Ruff and Majors Irene Burks and Robert Clark, from Prince George's County, and Capt. Peter Spaulding, of the Maryland State Police. Burks and Spaulding are the “permanent chairpersons” for trial boards in their own jurisdictions, the officers' attorneys said.
They said the Baltimore Police Department, by holding the undisclosed training, “has now brought into question the fairness of any administrative hearing board” involving the above commanders, and that those commanders should be excluded from the process.
T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, said only that police “hope to have the situation resolved quickly.”
Smith declined to comment on Nero and Miller accepting their punishment, citing laws protecting personnel information. Andre Davis, the city solicitor, also declined to comment.
The punishments faced by the officers are the result of outside reviews of their actions in relation to departmental policies, conducted by police departments in Montgomery and Howard counties.
Those agencies have refused to address their findings, and have rejected requests by The Sun for documentation from their investigations under the Maryland Public Information Act.
Miller was the officer who initially arrested Gray for carrying a knife after Gray allegedly ran from officers in a high-crime area of West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, 2015. Nero arrived at the scene shortly after, and assisted with the arrest and placing Gray in the back of a police transport van.
According to local prosecutors and medical officials, Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the back of the van — where he was handcuffed and had his legs shackled but was not restrained in a seat belt. He died a week later.
His death spurred widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson and a weeklong nightly curfew. The city sustained millions of dollars in damages.
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged Miller, Nero, Goodson, Rice, White and a sixth officer who was not charged administratively, William Porter, with various criminal counts in the case.
However, after Goodson — the van driver, who faced the most serious charge of second-degree depraved heart murder — was acquitted, and then Rice and Nero were also acquitted, all at bench trials, Mosby dropped all of the remaining charges against the other three officers.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigated and declined to file federal criminal civil rights charges in the case, saying the evidence did not support such charges.
The city paid Gray's family $6.4 million to avoid civil litigation in the case.
If the trial boards for Goodson, Rice and White proceed as scheduled, they will be open to the public — because of a recent change to state law — and will take place at the University of Baltimore's Learning Commons, university president Kurt Schmoke said Tuesday.
“Doing it is kind of a service to the department and to the community,” Schmoke said. “We believe that this is an appropriate setting so that the public has an opportunity to see those hearings.”
Trauma surgeon takes lead on campaign to train police, bystanders on bleeding control
The team is partnering with EMS providers to conduct the largest "Stop the Bleed" campaign in New Jersey
by PoliceOne Staff
NEWARK, N.J. — A team is directing a campaign to teach law enforcement and civilians how to control bleeding during emergency situations.
The team, led by Rutgers New Jersey Medical School trauma surgeon Adam Fox, is partnering with EMS providers from University Hospital to conduct the largest “Stop the Bleed” campaign in the state.
“A person can die from blood loss within minutes, so it is imperative to stop the bleeding quickly,” Fox said. “Although we don't know the data yet, the scenario in Las Vegas, where there were thousands of concertgoers, could potentially have had dramatically different outcomes if the public knew how to stop bleeding and were armed with the proper tools. People bleeding out from a leg or arm wound would have a greater chance of survival.”
“Stop the Bleed” is a national awareness program that empowers people to train and learn how to help with hemorrhage control before responders arrive. Fox's team has trained over 500 responders and civilians.
The campaign consists of a 45-minute course that shows people how to use a tourniquet, pack a wound and stop bleeding with direct pressure. Additionally, a legislation campaign is being planned in order to place bleeding kits in public areas that contain tourniquets, pressure dressings and gauze.
“Unfortunately, there is no legislation in the country that mandates bleeding control equipment in public spaces,” Fox said. “However, we are working with multiple agencies, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to eventually make these kits available to the public. A legislative campaign is planned for after the election.”
New Orleans officer killed aftr gunman opens fire on police
by Christopher Brennan and Jessica Schladebeck
A New Orleans officer was shot and killed after a gunman fired on a group of police.
The city's Mayor Mitch Landrieu confirmed the death on Twitter early Friday morning, saying that the unidentified officer was killed overnight.
"These are the worst kind of days for the city," he told reporters during a press conference. "We want to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. There were a lot of officers who knew this officer very well. The entire department is in trauma."
A group of four officers was on routine patrol just after midnight when they "saw something that aroused their suspicion" and exited their car to investigate. The gunman opened fire, striking one officer multiple times, The Times-Picayune reported.
"One possibly two officers returned fire," New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison told reporters, "and our officer collapsed right there on the scene."
The officer, who's name has not been released upon his family's request, later died from his gunshot wounds.
The alleged gunaman ran into an apartment building, where he hid until he peacefully surrendered himself to a SWAT team, WWL reported. Harrison said their was only one suspect and that it was unclear whether he had a prior record.
The 30-year-old suspect, who is under arrest, was taken to University Hospital, where he is still being treated.
Officers are still investigating the motive behind the early-morning shooting.
"This hurts," Harrison added, "I can't begin to tell you how much this hurts."
UI students teaming up with police to patrol downtown Iowa City on weekends
by Stephen Gruber-Miller
Iowa City police are enlisting University of Iowa students to help patrol downtown on busy nights.
The new program, called SHOUT, or Students Helping Out, has eight student participants who are trained in bystander intervention and equipped with a bright orange shirt, police radio and body camera, according to an Iowa City news release.
The release said four of the students are stationed downtown between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday — some of the busiest times for the downtown and pedestrian mall area. Two students will be on foot and two in a vehicle.
The program is part of a larger community policing strategy by Iowa City and UI police, the release said. The participants are paid student employees of the UI Department of Public Safety, UI spokesperson Hayley Bruce said.
The student "ambassadors" can help out in several types of situations, including finding someone a ride home or helping someone who is lost.
"It's been a win-win for everybody so far," Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly said in the release. "Our officers now have an additional tool to use to help folks who may be separated from their group, or who are becoming too intoxicated."
The program will help free up Iowa City and University of Iowa police officers to respond to more serious calls, the release said. Student ambassadors will not call police for minor infractions, although officers are available to assist with serious incidents, according to the release.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said in the release that the program could potentially help alleviate overcrowding at the Johnson County Jail by diverting more people from being arrested.
Scott Beckner, the UI public safety director, said participating students have enjoyed the program so far.
"They feel like they are making a difference and they are helping people make decisions so they can avoid becoming a victim of a crime or do something that may result in arrest," Beckner said in the release.
Aside from patrolling downtown, the students may also be seen at student-sponsored events.
UI also has an app aimed at making it easier for students to report crimes and call for help in an emergency.
California fires: Almost 6,000 buildings destroyed, 36 people killed
Reinforcements from other regions are helping firefighters contain more of the largest wildfires devastating Northern California, though strong winds expected over the weekend could challenge those gains, a fire chief said Friday.
Meanwhile, officials are making grim discoveries -- victims burnt beyond recognition -- as they search blackened ruins of some of the 5,700 homes and business that have been destroyed.
"Some of (the remains) are merely ashes and bones," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a Thursday news conference. "And we may never get truly confirmative identification on ashes. When you're cremated, you can't get an ID."
Thirty-six people have been killed since the wildfires began Sunday night, making this outbreak one of the deadliest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
Firefighters are making progress on some of the bigger fires, Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said Friday, thanks in large part to the gumption of those who've been on the lines for days and the reinforcements who are relieving them.
"It's like pulling teeth to get law enforcement and firefighters to disengage from what they're doing out there -- they're truly passionate about what they're doing to help the public. But the reinforcements are coming in, and that's why you're seeing the progress that we're making," Biermann said.
Since Sunday, the deadly fires have consumed thousands of homes and forced evacuations in Northern California's wine country and produced unhealthy air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Though progress has been made on the big fires, much more work is ahead.
The 48,000-plus acre Atlas fire in Napa and Solano counties was 27 percent contained Friday -- up from 3 percent the day earlier. The 44,000-acre Nuns fire in Sonoma County -- an amalgamation of three recently merged fires north and west of Glen Ellen -- was 5 percent contained.
The 34,000-acre Tubbs fire in Napa and Sonoma counties was 25 percent under control. The 34,000-acre Redwood and Potter fires in Mendocino County were 10% contained.
Of the 36 people who were killed by the fires since Sunday night, 19 died in Sonoma County, officials said. Nine people in Mendocino County, at least four in Yuba County and four in Napa County have died, officials said.
More than 2,800 residences in Santa Rosa have been destroyed by wildfires, Mayor Chris Coursey told reporters Thursday. The number of destroyed structures in the state went up Friday by 2,200 to 5,700, Cal Fire said.
Wildfires have burned more than 221,000 acres throughout California; 17 wildfires remained Friday, Cal Fire said.
Winds could be especially gusty Friday night through Saturday. Those conditions, joined with low humidity, could spread the flames drastically, the National Weather Service warns. "Very dangerous #fire conditions expected overnight (Friday) due to strong winds and ongoing fires. Please be prepared & aware!" the weather service tweeted.
The causes of the fires are under investigation. But officials said their spread was aided by strong winds Sunday night, with some gusts of more than 70 mph.
How to help the victims of the California wildfires
• Almost 8,000 firefighters are trying to contain the blazes, officials said Thursday. They're using 820 firetrucks -- at least 170 from out of state -- 73 helicopters and more than 30 planes.
• About 34,000 utility customers are without electricity service -- and natural gas service to 47,000 customers has been shut off -- mostly in Sonoma and Napa counties, the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said Friday.
Many of the fire victims are elderly
A total of 235 people are reported missing in Sonoma County alone, where a fire wiped out many homes in Santa Rosa, a city of about 175,000 people some 50 miles northwest of San Francisco.
Deputies are having to wait for houses to cool before they can enter to look for the missing, said Giordano, the sheriff.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office identified 10 victims Thursday, and most of them were over 70. The youngest was 57, and the oldest was 95.
Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties have been among the hardest hit by the fires. Nearly 20 percent of the population in those counties is over 65, according to US Census Bureau data.
In Sonoma, authorities had to turn to dental records, fingerprints, tattoos and serial numbers on hip implants to identify victims.
"We've been forced to work that direction because we may not have enough information to identify people because of the ... severity of the burn," Giordano said.
On Friday, cadaver dogs and searchers went through what was left of a mobile home park in Santa Rosa.
"We start with a bedroom because this fire occurred at night we think a lot of people were in their bedrooms," Sonoma County Sheriff's spokesman Spencer Crum told CNN affiliate KOVR of Sacramento.
There were about 300 mobile homes in the neighborhood.
Pregnant woman flees on bike
Evacuees who escaped oncoming flames described harrowing ordeals.
Charity Ruiz, who is pregnant, had been in a car with her family trying to evacuate from their Santa Rosa neighborhood but got stuck in a traffic jam.
"Honestly, I've never in my life felt like I was going to die like that moment," Ruiz told CNN affiliate KPIX. "Not just me, but my girls and unborn baby."
Unable to wait any longer, Ruiz walked back and got her bike from her house and rode out of the neighborhood with her two girls in the toddler trailer.
"I can ride a bike, but I'm pregnant so it was hard," she told the station. Ruiz had been scheduled to have her baby next week.
She and her kids made it out of harm's way, but their home burned to the ground.
'Peanuts' creator's home lost to wildfire
The fires have been fast and ruthless, shifting without much notice and destroying thousands of structures.
One of them is the Santa Rosa home of Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip "Peanuts." Schulz died in 2000.
His widow, Jean, 78, evacuated from the home Monday, shortly before the flames reduced it to rubble, his son Monte Schulz said. The fire destroyed precious reminders of the life his stepmother and his late father had built together, along with memorabilia, Schulz told CNN.
Victims ponder next moves
Many who lost homes are trying to figure out what to do next. In Yuba County, where a 10,000-acre blaze has killed at least four people, Mariano and Christa Domingo saw the fire approach their fence Sunday night, and they drove away with only one emergency oxygen tank for Christa, who has lung problems, CNN affiliate KOVR reported.
"She was thinking we had to pack up things, and I said, 'No, we don't have any time,' " her husband told the TV station.
Their house was destroyed, and the couple only have clothes they received from a shelter. They said they intend to rebuild their home.
"I'm lucky," Christa Domingo told KOVR. "And I've still got my family."
5 arrested in 1983 'racially motivated' murder of 23-year-old black man in Georgia
by Julia Jacobo
Five people in Georgia have been arrested in connection with a "racially motivated" murder that occurred more than 30 years ago, authorities said.
The victim, Timothy Coggins, was found dead in Sunnyside, Georgia, on Oct. 9, 1983, the Spalding County Sheriff's Office said in a press release Friday. Coggins' body was found near a power line in Sunnyside Georgia after he was "brutally murdered" and abandoned, officials said.
Coggins died as a result multiple forms of trauma, according to the sheriff's office.
After his death, investigators began conducting interviews and gathering evidence in their search for Coggins' killer, but the search "went cold" until March of this year, when the new evidence came to light, causing the sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to re-examine the case, authorities said.
In July, investigators met with Coggins' family to brief them on the new leads. Shortly after the meeting, authorities decided to release information on the reopened case to the public to generate new leads. Original witnesses were re-interviewed, which led to the finding of new information as well.
Many of the witnesses stated that they had been "living with this information since Coggins' death but had been afraid to come forward or had not spoken of it until now," police said.
On Friday, more than 34 years after Coggins was killed, authorities arrested five people in connection with his murder. Two of the five suspects face murder charges.
The Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office has charged Frankie Gebhardt, 59, and Bill Moore Sr., 58, with murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another.
Sandra Bunn, 58, Lamar Bunn, 32, and Gregory Huffman, 47 were charged with obstruction. Huffman, a detention officer with the sheriff's office, has also been charged with violation of oath of office, according to authorities.
Sandra Bunn and Lamar Bunn, who works for the Milner Police Department, are mother and son, Spalding County Capt. Dwayne Jones told ABC News.
Coggins' family thanked authorities for re-opening the investigation into his murder.
"We know that there's been tireless nights and we know that you guys have put in so many hours making sure that these people were brought to justice…'” said Coggins' niece, Heather Coggins, according to ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV. “The only unfortunate part in this is that our grandparents, Timothy Coggins' parents, are not able to see this today."
All of the suspects who were arrested in connection with Coggins' death are white, according to authorities.
"Based on the original evidence recovered in 1983 and new evidence and interviews there is no doubt in the minds of all investigators involved that the crime was racially motivated and that if the crime happened today it would be prosecuted as a hate crime," the sheriff's office said.
The suspects are currently being processed at the Spalding County Jail, Jones said. It is unclear when they will be arraigned.
FBI: Man left jar full of explosive chemicals, nails at NC airport
by the Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man planted a Mason jar filled with explosive chemicals and nails at a western North Carolina airport last week and vowed to "fight a war on US soil," according to court documents released Tuesday.
The criminal complaint written by an FBI agent said investigators found the improvised explosive device on Friday at the Asheville airport near a terminal entrance. Asheville police bomb technicians then rendered it safe.
The complaint accuses Michael Christopher Estes of attempted malicious use of explosive materials and unlawful possession of explosives at an airport.
Estes was arrested Saturday, and the complaint says he admitted leaving the explosive device at the airport. The complaint states that Estes "claimed he was getting ready to 'fight a war on US soil,'" but didn't elaborate on this alleged motive.
He was being held at the Buncombe County jail without bond after a brief court hearing Tuesday. Jail records list him as a 46-year-old Native American.
A federal public defender assigned to the case, Fredilyn Sison, didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.
Court documents say authorities found the improvised explosive device around 7 a.m. Friday at Asheville Regional Airport. The investigation revealed it contained ammonium nitrate, Sterno fuel, nails and a .410 gauge Winchester shotgun cartridge.
An alarm clock was taped to the outside of the jar with matches attached to the arm that strikes the bells, according to court documents. The alarm had been set for Friday.
Surveillance video showed Estes dressed in black pants, a jacket and black hat approaching the terminal entrance shortly after 12:30 a.m. Friday and appearing to leave behind a bag, the FBI agent wrote.
In nearby woods, investigators later found a backpack and tool kit containing similar items to what was used in the explosive device: tape, Sterno fuel and more shotgun shells. Investigators determined such items had been purchased at nearby stores earlier in the week, providing more surveillance video.
Authorities released a photograph made from the video, and tips from the public led them to Estes, who was arrested Saturday near one of the stores. The complaint said Estes waived his Miranda rights, answering questions and admitting to building and planting the device.
"Estes described how he created the device ... and then rigged the alarm clock to strike the matches and cause the flame necessary to trigger the device," the complaint states. "More specifically, the alarm clock would go off, the matches would strike, the Sterno would heat up, and then the Ammonium Nitrate would explode."
However, Estes also claimed that he hadn't actually set the device to go off, the complaint says. He told investigators that he had staged himself in the woods near the airport in the days before planting the device.
A man who answered the phone at a listing for Estes in Tazewell, Tennessee, said he didn't know the suspect.
Emanuel floats $24 M in new police training, community policing money in '18 budget
by John Byrne
M ayor Rahm Emanuel 's 2018 budget plan will include $24 million in new money for police training changes and community policing expansions, an amount the administration calls a “down payment” on making reforms at the Chicago Police Department called for in a scathing federal report .
The mayor's administration, though, did not say Friday where the new money will come from, except to say it will be included in the mayor's overall spending package.
His office revealed the tidbit less than a week before he will deliver his annual budget address to the City Council. In it, Emanuel will lay out his spending priorities for next year and how he wants to pay for them.
The police announcement mirrors past years, when the mayor has unveiled small parts of the multibillion-dollar budget plan to highlight them in the run-up to his speech. In this case, in a news release, the Emanuel administration explained the money is part of “the city's investment in public safety reform.”
The budget will feature hiring and promotions, including money to promote 100 new field training officers and to create an Office of Reform Management within the department, with 26 civilian employees to monitor reform efforts and try to ensure officers are complying with new policies, according to the release.
It also will fund the creation of new “officer well-being” standards to try to figure out “when and how to extend officers additional support if needed.”
And the community policing program will get to hire 30 more community relations coordinators, the release states. There are currently 47 people employed in those positions, according to the Emanuel administration. There also will be spending on technology, including online training systems and case management systems, according to the release.
The $24 million in new money is separate from the tens of millions of dollars in Police Department costs that are set to go up because of Emanuel's 2016 pledge to add an additional 1,000 officers to the force by the end of 2018 , according to the administration.
In all, Emanuel wants to dedicate $27 million to the police reform efforts, a $24 million increase over 2017. About $17 million would go to personnel costs, including the hiring of the civilians and the promotion of the field training officers, according to the administration. The plan could change as aldermen review the budget and the City Council votes on Emanuel's full spending plan later this year.
But he is sure to push hard for the money and frame it as evidence of his commitment to the changes the U.S. Department of Justice called for in a scathing January report prompted by the police shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald.
At a news conference to make public the findings in that report, then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the department pattern of excessive force "is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems."
Emanuel pledged to enter into a court-enforced consent decree in response to the Justice Department report, but the situation has changed repeatedly in the months since. President Donald Trump 's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has not shown the same appetite for a consent decree as did the Obama White House.
By May, Emanuel was trying to reach an out-of-court agreement with the Trump administration and saying the reforms would move forward without court monitoring.
That did not sit well with police critics, who pressed for outside input. Then, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued the city in August , contending Emanuel's reforms are not sufficient to prevent the Police Department from continuing a pattern of deadly and excessive force that disproportionately hurts African-Americans and Latinos.
Faced with the lawsuit, Emanuel appeared with Madigan to announce he would join her in “a partnership” to seek a federal judge's oversight of the Police Department.
Signs of hope for community policing in Wilmington
by the News Journal Editorial Board
Antoine Hall, a resident of the Wilmington's West Center City, had high praise for Wilmington Police Lt. Dan Selekman.
"He's walking with other peace officers and they are literally committed to the peace in the neighborhood," Hall told The News Journal.
It's a powerful notion: Selekman and his four-officer team are committed to proactively keeping peace, not just arresting people after a crime is committed. It is especially noteworthy coming from someone who lives in one of the neighborhoods most afflicted with poverty and violence.
Over and over again, we have heard the complaint from city residents: All they know of police are the sirens screaming in the dark after a shooting, crime scene tape strung up and post-shooting interrogations.
Too few Wilmingtonians have seen police officers walking their streets, talking with people, building relationships. And community members repeatedly tell us that's a factor in Wilmington's inability to solve many murders and shootings — if folks don't trust the cops, why would they "snitch" and risk retribution?
City residents want officers like Selekman, who they know and trust.
When Mayor Mike Purzycki ran for mayor, the message from constituents couldn't be clearer: More community policing. Purzycki and new Police Chief Robert Tracy are all-in on that strategy.
Tracy tells community gatherings that he is pushing officers to be more visible between calls, to get out of their squad cars and walk the streets they serve.
Selekman and his team are doing more than just arresting and patrolling. He has helped residents find jobs and housing; he's learning names and families; he's building relationships.
That is community policing in action.
But WPD's new approach has yet to reduce shootings city-wide. Wilmington broke its previous record for shootings in September, with months still left on the calendar.
We're nowhere near claiming success.
Still, this is a huge step in the right direction.
Citizen praise for the work of Lt. Selekman's team in West Center City shows it can be done. We hope to hear about more Lt. Selekmans in other Wilmington communities soon.
SF neighborhood watch groups keep their eyes peeled for crime
by Luis Hernandez
As San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott puts more foot patrols on the city's streets, he's also looking to increase the eyeballs on crime.
To demonstrate how serious he is about the community's role in policing, he showed up at a recent meeting of neighborhood watch block captains — residents who organize some of the over 900 watch groups across the city. In Ingleside, there are about 19 neighborhood watch groups, which incorporates Merced heights and Oceanview, and a few in the Excelsior and Outer Mission, according to the Neighborhood Watch Map .
“Two thousand police officers is not a lot,” Scott told the captains, who seemed surprised to be up-close and personal with the chief. “There's only a fraction of officers on duty at any given time.”
While Scott said he's more than doubled officers walking through communities — “from 70 to over 100 to 150 foot beats” — getting help from residents remains key.
“We are developing a strategic plan. We have been soliciting people from the community,” Scott said as he spoke about engaging communities in neighborhood safety.
The police department's focus on community policing, he said, was somewhat disjointed in the past. Now it is run by the community engagement division, and neighborhood watch groups are a way for residents to participate.
Scott said he was concerned about property crime. The city had the fourth highest rate of property crime when compared to other cities in 2015, according to the Citywide Benchmark Report .
The neighborhood watch groups are formed with the help of the San Francisco SAFE Program, a nonprofit that has been working with the SFPD since 1976 and receives most of its funding from the police department.
The block captains set up meetings with their neighbors to discuss issues such as burglaries, car break-ins and other property crimes. They act as watchdogs for suspicious behavior using guidelines from SAFE.
Someone walking along lines of cars, for example, could possibly be searching for a way to break into those cars. SAFE advises that the person who notices this reach out to their neighbors, and report it to the police.
The block captains have ties to the police captain.
“When they have an issue, they will email me,” Ingleside police Capt. Joe McFadden said.“If it's a larger issue, I will go to their meeting.”
Generally, a neighborhood watch group starts with at least two people who experience or witness incidents in their community and want to build stronger ties with their neighbors, according to Adam Cuadra of SF SAFE. Once block captains have assembled a group of interested people they create a committee and schedule a meeting with a SAFE representative.
“We want to empower residents to take back their neighborhood,” Cuadra said.
Diana Yee recently started a neighborhood watch for her community on the 300 block of Raymond Avenue and Visitacion Valley after several burglaries occurred in her community.
Some 30 people showed up at her first meeting, bringing chairs, food and a PA system. A SAFE representative provided an introduction to how the organization works.
After the first meeting, the group problem solves issues in their community with police and other agencies. Another new block captain, Mark Welsh said, “Right out of the gate, we were able to get Capt. McFadden to our meeting,” referring to the Ingleside captain.
Welsh and members of his neighborhood watch were able to walk the police beat and learn how to protect their homes and garages.
“We focus more on prevention. Ask residents to be vigilant,” Cuadra said. “The demand for services has grown by 115 percent in the last two years.”
“The format of the program is really structured,” Yee said. She and other members completed a residential security survey with a member of SAFE, who walked with them around their neighborhood and gave them recommendations on how to observe different activities and eye suspicious behavior.
“Recommendations came with how to report crime,” Yee said, “such as what shoes they are wearing, and talking to neighbors.”
Yee agreed that McFadden takes the groups seriously, and he showed up at one of their meetings. “For McFadden to come felt like the queen was coming,” she said.
Yee said there's a 90 percent participation rate on her block. Applications such as Doodle and Nextdoor have been a way for people to disseminate information.
Catherine Meyers, chief of staff of the Board of Supervisors in District 11, said that “programs like SF SAFE and the community policing done by citizens has assisted in curtailing crime in the community.”
While the SFPD's involvement in community policing has its fans, some community members in the Excelsior said such issues should be left to the community members alone.
Melissa Reyes, program coordinator at the Filipino Community Center in the Excelsior, said the center was established because of the large concentration of Filipinos in the district.
“We need to build stronger communities. There are bigger things that are happening in the city,” she said, referring to the anger her community feels over topics like displacement. “Policing is not the solution or answer to issues.”
Reyes, who lives in the Excelsior with her 6-year-old daughter, said that she is concerned about safety. But, she added, “we believe our communities can address ourselves. We do not need more police presence as a whole.”
Reyes said education not only makes the community safer, but also assists in combating bias.
The anti-immigration fervor has also made some of her members fearful of the police.
“It is a scary time,” she said. “We want folks to be able to leave their houses.”
But Adam Cuadra mentions that this relationship between police and the public is important.
“It's a two-way street,” Cuadra said when speaking about the involvement of the public in making their voices heard.
“As much as SFPD and SAFE would like to engage the community,” he added, “it's important for the community to be responsive.”
At NAACP seminar, officials discuss police challenges
by Val Valdez
An overflowing crowd of 60 people attended an NAACP seminar on criminal justice Friday at Central Texas College's Mayborn Science Theater.
The panel discussion featured local, state and national speakers. It was one of many sessions during the NAACP's 80th annual Texas state convention, held in Killeen.
NAACP Criminal Justice Senior Director Ngozi Ndulue asked each panelist to describe their local area.
“On the city level, we have had a lot of support, and made some progress but our biggest battle is on the state level trying to amend the Texas penal code,” said Nelson Linder, Austin NAACP president and Texas NAACP Criminal Justice co-chairman.
“There are still a lot of challenges,” he said.
Representing the Killeen Police Department, Lt. Antonia McDaniel stressed two points from the new police chief, Charles Kimble: fighting crime and community involvement.
“As our population grows, so does the crime level, and we need our community involved, because we can't fight crime without you,” McDaniel said.
Richard Watkins, Texas NAACP Criminal Justice chairman from Huntsville, reinforced how critical community involvement is and especially regarding youth.
“It's important to get involved in the life of our kids, because the whole process starts there,” Watkins said. He spoke about establishing relationships with law enforcement agencies at every level and bringing people together.
“There can be no change unless there is a better understanding and appreciation of each other,” he said.
Then Ndulue addressed the NAACP's criminal justice agenda topics of accountability, transparency and recruiting and training.
“We want to make sure that law enforcement in our communities are accountable to our communities,” she said.
Linder added: “We want to see equality across the board, and for the police to treat everyone the same.”
McDaniel from KPD said the old blue ceiling and the glass ceiling has to go.
“We have to encourage our department to look like our city, and in Killeen we have a pretty diverse police department,” he said.
Watkins said accountability must start at the community level.
“Hold the people we elect to office accountable,” he said. Regarding transparency, Watkins said without good leadership and accountability, there is no transparency, so demand it.
A question was asked about finding current local crime data.
“Ask for a report on racial breakdown of shootings and profiling from your department,” Linder said. “Get the numbers to see a profile of where you live and how police are treating people.”
McDaniel concluded with some advise whenever one is stopped by the police. “The side of the road is not the time to fight your case with the police, and injustice does happen, so let's teach our children to put up a fight in the right manner and way,” he said.
San Antonio delegate Horace Brown Jr., took away several valuable action points he wants to implement in his community. “How to increase community and police involvement and asking for data will help us with our discussions with police associations,” Brown said.
NAACP Young Adult Committee members, Porschia Harris and Elisabeth Johnson from Houston, thought the session was informative.
“I enjoyed the moderator who did a great job of setting the stage with information, and I appreciated Lt. Daniels' honesty,” Harris said.
Criminal justice reform was a key point with Johnson.
“One of the things we're talking about is reinforcing community policing and family events to increase communication between the community and the police,” she said.
Saturday is the last day for the state convention, which started Thursday. Events are listed below. Several of the events are free. For those who wish to attend a luncheon, the cost is $45. The cost of the banquet is $60. Tickets can be purchased by contacting TaNeika Driver-Moultrie at 254-338-1562.
7 a.m: 8 mile Major Taylor bike ride (starts at Shilo Inn and Suites) - Need to reserve a bike free at biketexas.org/naacp
10 a.m.-2 p.m: Community Health Fair - Free
10:30 a.m: Wells Fargo home buying initiative - 100% loans available to vets - Free
12 p.m.: Juanita Craft Youth Luncheon ticketed event
1:30 p.m. NAACP Environmental Agenda - Free
3 p.m: Police Stops: Should it be integrated into middle and high school curriculum - Free
3 p.m: Religious obligations to address civil rights health care and Hurricane Harvey - Free
7:15 p.m: Texas Heroes Banquet (Killeen Conference and Civic Center) – Ticketed event
Police advice: Run, hide, fight an active shooter
by Beth Velliquette
A small group of people heard Friday night about what to do if a shooter came into their church, their office or their building.
Lt. Richard Tyndall, special operations commander for the Greenville Police Department, spoke at the Covenant Church about what to do if there is an active shooter.
Tyndall noted while once churches were considered sanctuaries, after nine people were killed by a gunman in the 2015 Charleston church massacre church folks are more worried about security and safety.
Julius Jones, who is head of security at York Memorial AME Zion Church attended the talk, which was part of Community Policing Week, and was interested in what he could do to make sure his church and its members stay safe.
“This is a conversation I've had with my pastor,” he said after the talk. “I plan on getting the officers to come in and do a little talk.”
Jones said he was in the military and a MP, and he feels like he's trained properly on how to use a gun. He carries one in church, but he didn't think it would be a good idea for 20 people to be carrying a gun in church.
“If you've got 20 people with a gun and everybody pulls out their gun, you've got 20 people shooting,” he said.
Tyndall said whether someone should carry a concealed weapon in church is a personal decision..
Tyndall discussed the difference between an active shooter situation and a hostage situation. Police use different strategies for dealing with the two different types of incidents, and if people find themselves in one of those situations, they should use different strategies to survive.
In a hostage situation, the person holding the hostages normally is in a restricted area and his goal is to escape. Police try to negotiate with the hostage taker to try to resolve the situation, Tyndall said.
When people are hostages, they should try so stay calm, follow the directions of the hostage-taker, try not to stand out but also try to personalize themselves.
Don't make any sudden movements, maintain eye contact but don't stare and don't argue with the hostage-taker, Tyndall advised. Officers will be working on freeing the hostages most likely through negotiations, he said.
An active shooter has a different goal, Tyndall said. The goal is violence, and an active shooting situation could involve a single or multiple shooters; the victims may be targeted or random; it could be inside or outside; at a single venue or at multiple venues.
“Some of the victims are just people who were in the wrong places at the wrong time,” he said.
“The shooters are not looking for anything. They're not looking to talk to police. They're not looking to get anything out of this, but just to perpetuate violence,” Tyndall said.
In an active shooting situation, the rule is Run, Hide, Fight. Tyndall showed a video created by the Houston Police Department, available on YouTube, that showed what people should do if a shooter comes into their office.
The video showed a man suddenly pulling a gun out and shooting the security guard and several other people inside an office. As other people in the office saw or heard what was going on, some scrambled toward stairwell and escaped the building that way. Others, who didn't have a way of escape. locked themselves in a room and hid, and put office equipment to block the door.
The video then showed the shooter coming to a break room where some were hiding, and as he approached, they picked up a chairs, a fire extinguisher and other objects to try to fight him.
The video ended as he opened the door to enter the room while the officer workers prepared to attack him.
Tyndall told the people that if they're involved in a situation, they need to know that the police officers who arrive will be trying to neutralize the threat. Officers may point their guns at you, they may walk past you and they may search and handcuff you, he said.
Don't point at officers or the shooter, Tyndall said. Don't make quick movements. Don't run and grab an officer. Don't scream or yell. Don't have anything in your hands.
“Once we see you have your empty hands we'll move right past you and move on to our objective,” he said.
Do try to provide accurate information about the suspect, what he or she looks like, how tall the shooter is, what color clothes the shooter is wearing and what kind of weapon the shooter has.
Follow directions,Tyndall said.
The police will get there as quickly as they can, but people must be responsible for their own safety, he said. Be prepared. If you work in an office, have a plan for where to go and what to do. Know where the doors and the closets are, he said.
What happens if a person comes face to face with a shooter? That's when the fighting part comes in, Tyndall said. Pick up a chair, a TV, a pair of scissors, a stapler, anything, and just try to fight for your life.
It can be a scary topic, but unfortunately that's the world we live in, Tyndall said.
Don't think it can't happen in Greenville, he said. It already did. In June 2013, a mentally ill young man carried a gun and shot people near and in the Walmart parking lot. No one died, but his victims were severely wounded.
Quiet Warrior: How one patrol officer goes beyond the traffic stop to make a lasting difference
Austin PD Officer Jason Borne's passion for public service drives him to help citizens find long-term solutions that improve their lives
by Rachel Zoch
Every cop knows there's no such thing as “a routine traffic stop.” But when Austin PD Officer Jason Borne responded to a call this summer about a pedestrian in a busy roadway, he had no idea it would become an opportunity to make a big difference for a struggling single mother of two.
Drivers had called to report a woman walking on a busy stretch of highway frontage road in Borne's patrol area. They were having to swerve around her, creating a traffic hazard in addition to endangering her life.
Borne pulled up as the woman – who was pushing her 2-year-old daughter in a stroller – turned into a parking lot. He says he got out of the car “in 100 percent in cop mode,” putting on a stern face and thinking of the potential for a pedestrian fatality.
“My first thought was, this is really stupid to be pushing a stroller with your back to traffic on a highway frontage road,” he said.
He got out of the cruiser and began a conversation with the woman, Lisa, who was dripping sweat in the 95-degree Texas heat. She told him she was on her way to the grocery store after taking her little girl to the dentist.
Borne started by warning her that it was extremely dangerous to walk in the road, especially with her back to traffic – even more so with a child – and he suggested that she get a bigger stroller with all-terrain tires to manage the grassy areas where there was no sidewalk.
And then it hit him: She wasn't walking along the highway in August by choice. She was exhausted and trying to do the best she could.
“After saying that, I wish I could've taken it back, because it's really easy for me to say when I can afford to go buy a stroller,” Borne said. “If she's in a position where she's required to walk, she's probably not in the best financial situation to have spare money to go buy a stroller.”
GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Borne gave Lisa and her daughter a ride to the grocery store and offered to buy her the all-terrain stroller, a short-term fix – but he was already thinking about how to help her find a long-term solution. The next day, he delivered the stroller to her apartment and asked her to tell him more about her situation.
She had recently earned a computer science degree and moved from Colorado to Austin with her two children because she thought it would be the best place to find a job with those skills. Her car had broken down shortly after arriving, she had been able to find only temporary work, and child support payments were spotty at best.
Borne then told Lisa the stroller was only a Band-Aid and that he wanted to help her achieve a more permanent solution. He had set up a GoFundMe page for her but wanted her blessing to launch it.
She agreed, and Borne went home, shot a video, posted it to Facebook with the link to the GoFundMe page and waited.
Within a month, the GoFundMe page he created for Lisa raised nearly $30,000.
“I can promise you I didn't expect this to raise $30,000,” Borne said. “That was kind of shocking, but really cool.”
Within a few weeks of receiving the money, Lisa was able to secure a vehicle, more temporary work and some job interviews, as well as options for subsidized child care. Borne also introduced her to a financial adviser to help her make plans for the future.
DRIVEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Borne could have simply responded to the call, chastised Lisa for being in the roadway, written her a ticket and gone on to the next call. That would be the easy thing to do, he says, but it would have solved nothing, and he takes his duty to protect and serve very seriously.
“Instead, I took 20 minutes of my life and was able to do something that could have an impact on a mother and two kids that had been treading water for years. Why wouldn't you do that?” he said. “I guarantee you if people knew that would be the result, they would put in 20 minutes, so why not put in the 20 minutes understanding that it could happen?”
Borne admits he might approach such situations a little differently because of his charity work. He even started a business to help him support causes he cares about. He believes that what he's learned about social media and marketing from running the business has helped him help others.
“I have an audience that allows me to have a bigger impact than the average patrol officer on the street, and I try to use that for good,” he said. “That was the whole reason for starting the business. Why would I not use it as much as I can?”
Helping Lisa was Borne's second GoFundMe effort in 2017. In January, he and his partner bought new tires for a teenage driver stranded with a blowout – and eventually, through a GoFundMe page, secured him a safer, more reliable car.
Borne says that effort taught him some valuable lessons that helped make the fundraiser for Lisa such a success.
“It's not like I'm out shopping for people that need stuff, but I guess what I learned from Cody helped me market it better for Lisa, doing video instead of text. People don't want to read,” he said, laughing, “but if a video catches their attention, they'll watch it.”
FOLLOWING HIS INSTINCTS
Service is in Borne's blood. He enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and served in Iraq and enrolled in the Austin Police Academy in 2007. He says he always wanted to be a police officer, like his father.
“I wrote down on a postcard when I was 8 that I was going to go into the Army – I didn't know what the Marines was when I was 8 – and I was going to become a police officer because I liked their handcuffs,” he said, laughing. “It's something I always wanted to do. I've always been really protective. Military and law enforcement was just the natural path for me.”
Borne is quick to say he's not entirely comfortable with the attention he's received for his good deeds, because he knows he's not the only Quiet Warrior out there – far from it.
“Cops do stuff all the time,” he said. “What gets the attention with Cody and Lisa is the scale of it, not because I'm doing anything better or more often than any other cop out on the street. I can promise you that the vast majority of cops out there have done similar things – buying strollers, buying car seats, buying meals, buying hotel rooms, doing stuff all the time out of their own pockets.”
Most of these small acts of kindness go unheralded because it's done personally between the officer and the person, and Borne is happy to help shine a light on that.
“There's no shortage of negative stories relating to law enforcement out there, so if I can try to balance it out a little bit, I'm more than happy to do that,” he said. “It's good for people to read about those examples and really see what their public servants are out there doing for their communities and the people they serve.”