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

October, 2017 - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.



K-9 detective will put a tail on child porn

by Alex Rose

MEDIA -- Who’s a good girl?

Charlie’s a good girl. And she’s good at her job as the newest K-9 member of the Delaware County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, where she helps ferret out hidden electronics suspected of containing child pornography.

“Charlie is the first and only ICAC electronic-detection canine in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Homeland Security Special Agent-in-Charge Marlon Miller during an unveiling of the 2-year-old Labrador retriever to the press.

“She has game-changing capabilities,” Miller continued. “Charlie can find a variety of small electronics including hard drives, micro-SD cards, smart phones, tablets and laptops. As technology advances, devices become smaller and smaller, and criminals are better able to hide the elements of their crimes.”

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said that is where Charlie and her handler, ICAC forensic analyst Nat Evans, come into play.

“When our investigators go to the scene of a search warrant, somebody’s house, it is very difficult to find these items under floor boards, under carpets, in closets, actually in the top pocket of somebody’s coat jacket that is in the closet, and searching these particular areas, as you may imagine, (is) particularly tedious,” said Whelan.

Evans explained that everything on Earth has a particular scent, including certain chemicals used in the manufacture of electronic equipment. Charlie is one of only about a dozen dogs in the country trained to identify those specific odors, said Whelan.

Evans said Charlie has gone out on five searches to date, but is capable of multiple searches a day with rest in between. She is usually brought in after investigators have already completed a search to ensure nothing hidden was missed. Charlie doesn’t always hit on a specific item when she is on to a scent, but might concentrate in an area that Evans will then direct detectives to go over again.

In one case, Charlie hit on a computer tower hidden inside a closet under a pile of clothes that otherwise would not have been found, said Evans. In another, she hit on a computer bag that had already been found and had the computer removed, but still had a scent attached.

“In training, she located a micro-SD card that was under a carpet,” said Evans.

Charlie displayed her unique talent at the press gathering by locating a thumb drive hidden in one of three satchels on the stage of the Delaware County Council meeting room to a round of applause from those in attendance. She is also capable of detecting chemicals used in the production of physical media, such as DVDs.

Charlie underwent four weeks of training with her initial trainer, Gerald Azzi of Delaware County, Ohio, and an additional two weeks with Evans, primarily so he could “read” what she is relaying when she’s on a search.

Evans said the handler tries to select dogs with a very high play drive. In Charlie’s case, she will sit when she hits on something and receives a tennis ball to play with as a reward.

“Each year, countless children around the word fall prey to sexual predators,” said Miller. “These young victims are left with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars. When a recording of that sexual abuse is made and released to the Internet, it lives on forever.”

Whelan said child pornography is a “plague” that only appears to be getting worse. While his office received slightly more than 3,000 tips on suspected child pornography from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2016, there were 2,700 such tips in the first six months of 2017 alone.

“So this unit, needless to say, is extremely busy and we are constantly investigating those predators trying to victimize our children, not only here in Delaware County, but in Pennsylvania,” Whelan said.

As one of only a handful of dogs trained in her particular area of expertise, Whelan said Charlie might be called upon to go to other parts of Pennsylvania or even other states to assist those law enforcement agencies from time to time.

The largest cost of the newest ICAC member was Charlie herself, at $9,500, said Whelan. Training cost another $1,100. The federal Department of Homeland Security picked up the entire tab, Whelan said.

When she isn’t actively working, Charlie is with Evans at the Criminal Investigation Division headquarters in Media or at home with his family. Evans said the dog is a family pet at home, like any other, and only works when he gives her a specific command. His daughter is also in love with Charlie and requires a kiss from her each night before going to bed, he said.

Evans, who has been with ICAC for eight years, said his new partner has been a welcome change of pace from his usual duties.

“I have a pet at home, I have a buddy that goes with me to and from work, for anybody that loves animals, it’s great,” he said. “My wife is a big animal lover, so it worked out great. Plus, I’ve been looking at child pornography since 2009 and it’s a nice break to not have to do that all day. It’s therapeutic, I guess you could say, having a dog. Everybody loves dogs. Dogs are great.”


Washington D.C.

Sessions: MS-13 street gang a 'priority' for law enforcement

by Michael Balsamo

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday promised an even stricter crackdown on the brutal MS-13 street gang, whose members are suspected in a series of killings in New York City's suburbs.

The attorney general designated the gang with Central American ties as a "priority" for the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, which has historically focused on drug trafficking and money laundering. MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, is generally known for extortion and violence rather than distributing and selling narcotics.

The new designation directs prosecutors to pursue all legal avenues, including racketeering, gun and tax laws, to target the gang, said Sessions, a Republican former U.S. senator from Alabama.

"MS-13 members brutally rape, rob, extort and murder," Sessions told hundreds of police executives at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia. "With more than 40,000 members worldwide, including 10,000 in the United States, MS-13 threatens the lives and well-being of each and every family everywhere they infest."

The gang has become a prime target of President Donald Trump's administration amid its broader crackdown on immigration.

Members of the gang are suspected of committing several high-profile killings in New York, Maryland and Virginia. The gang's violence drew the Republican president's attention after two teenage girls was beaten and hacked to death in a suspected gang attack on Long Island.

The girls were among 22 people believed to have been killed by the gang on Long Island since the start of 2016. Most of the people arrested in those killings were in the U.S. illegally, law enforcement officials have said.

After Trump took office, he directed federal law enforcement officials to focus resources on combating transnational gangs, including MS-13. But the new designation will allow officials to target MS-13 with a "renewed vigor and a sharpened focus," said Sessions, who flew to El Salvador in July, in part to learn more about how the gang's activities there affect crime in the U.S.

MS-13 originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s, then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported.

Making a street gang like MS-13 a priority marks a shift for the drug enforcement task force, said James Trusty, who headed the Department of Justice's organized crime and gang section before he left in January.

Some MS-13 cases have drug connections, but "you'd be hard-pressed to come up with evidence that MS-13 is part of a cartel," he said. "The most common aspect of MS-13 prosecutions has been murder and witness intimidation or retaliation, not drug trafficking."

The designation lets local police departments tap into federal money to help pay for things like wiretaps, interpreters and overtime related to cases involving the gang, but it does not mean all local MS-13 cases will qualify for extra funding, he said.



NOPD consent decree 101: Learn about reform effort at community meetings

by Emily Lane

Residents who want to learn more about sweeping changes the New Orleans Police Department has made in the last five years - and about reforms still on the horizon - can attend a community meetings aimed at schooling the public on NOPD's federal consent decree.

The series of meetings have already begun, and three more meetings across the city are set to happen over the next few weeks. The consent decree, which has been in place since 2012, is the result of a federal court settlement with plaintiffs who sued NOPD related to Katrina-area shootings of unarmed people, claiming their civil rights were violated. The intent of the document is to correct what a U.S. Department of Justice investigation found to be problematic patterns related to use of force, biased policing and other civil rights violations. The 124-page consent decree document lists 492 mandates, including directives to rewrite most of NOPD's policies.

Then Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in 2011 described the problems at NOPD as "serious, wide-ranging, systemic and deeply-rooted within the culture of the department."

At the first community meeting, on Oct. 4 at NOPD's 3 rd District Station on Paris Avenue, residents who filled a small classroom listened as NOPD's Chief of Compliance Danny Murphy presented a PowerPoint. NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison gave a short introduction, explaining how the department came to embrace the federally mandated reforms.

"A long time ago," Harrison said, the department's relationship with federal monitors and attitude toward the consent decree, "was very adversarial." In recent years, he said, the command staff has embraced the mandates and have made swift progress in implementing reforms.

The changes implemented so far "we made because need to make them," said Harrison, adding, "The department is becoming what it should be."

The upcoming meetings, all starting at 6 p.m., are schedule for the following dates and locations:

•  Oct. 24, at 8th District station, 334 Royal Street, in French Quarter

•  Nov. 8, at 4th District station, 2405 Sanctuary Drive, in Algiers

•  TBD, at 7th District station, 10101 Dwyer Road, in New Orleans East

The following initiatives were included in Murphy's presentation:

Ethical Policing is Courageous, called EPIC for short: NOPD's peer intervention program encourages officers to confront their colleagues if they witness breaches in ethical policing or simply to check on a fellow officer who appears to be struggling at work with a personal problem.

Crisis Intervention Team: More than 20 percent of officers received crisis intervention training, Murphy said. The training teaches officers how best to handle residents with metal health problems or those otherwise experiencing a crisis.

Officer Assistance Program: The program, which includes license professionals on NOPD's staff, is aimed at providing resources to officers who might need counseling or other mental health support.

INSIGHT: NOPD launched a $4 million early warning system, called INSIGHT that uses technology to raise red flags about officers if they miss too much work, have too many complaints filed against them, for example, so supervisors can turn their attention toward potential problems before they get worse. Other supervisory practices NOPD has implemented include monthly reviews of body-worn camera footage to assure officers are policing without bias.

Recruitment: Murphy noted NOPD has implemented changes to its recruitment process after federal monitors flagged problems, finding the force may have been accepting unacceptable candidates. He said the department has seen an encouraging uptick in the number of applicants, and monitors' recent review of the recruitment process was "favorable."

Murphy noted that some police departments have taken "over a decade" to get into full compliance, but NOPD has set what Harrison described as an "ambitious goal" to be in full compliance by this coming May and exit the consent decree by 2020.


Washington D.C.

Justice Department Funds Active Shooter Training Program

by Masood Farivar

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced nearly $9 million in funding for community policing and for training to help improve law enforcement officers' response to active shooting situations.

The funding, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the annual conference of International Association of Chiefs of Police in Philadelphia, comes less than a month after a gunman shot and killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.

The Oct. 1 shooting, the deadliest in modern American history, raised questions about law enforcement agencies' preparedness to neutralize active shooters in open-air spaces.

DHS conducts training

The Department of Homeland Security conducts active shooter training workshops for first responders around the country.

The Justice Department said its Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program will award $5.4 million to the University of Texas Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training center, a premiere outfit for active shooter response training.

"This funding is intended to increase law enforcement and public safety through scenario-based training that prepares officers and other first responders to safely and effectively handle active-shooter and other violent threats," the Justice Department said in a statement.

In addition, the COPS Office will provide $3.6 million in funding to local police departments, research centers and other outfits in 10 states for training, technical assistance and other community policing activities.

"Community policing builds trust and mutual respect between communities and law enforcement, and that helps us reduce crime," Sessions said.

Investment in community policing

The Justice Department has invested more than $14 billion in community policing over the last 13 years, Sessions said.

"This investment will be put to good use: providing better training and safety for law enforcement officers and better relations with communities," he added.

On Saturday, Sessions announced that the Justice Department would provide more than $100 million in grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire more police officers.


South Carolina

North Charleston is again set to see its deadliest year on record

by Gregory Yee

A 21-year-old man is killed outside of a convenience store after an argument. A 17-year-old is found shot to death almost 12 hours after initial reports of gunfire. An 18-year-old is shot in the chest outside of an apartment building.

From 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 through mid-afternoon on Oct. 10, North Charleston saw 32 such killings, matching the record set in 2016 for the city's deadliest year on record.

If the pace continues, the city would be on a course for about 40 homicides by the end of 2017.

Despite the record statistics, officials say they are taking action to quell the violence and address issues they believe are causing the spike in crime.

Councilwoman Dot Williams, whose district includes some of the neighborhoods that have been most-heavily impacted, praised the police department's work.

"The amount of cars that they have stopped and (inside) every car there's weapons, drugs; I am very proud because of their professionalism," Williams said. "They're doing an excellent job."

A large part of the problem lies in a "no snitching" culture that keeps residents from bringing information to authorities and in what some see as a revolving door where suspects are released from custody only to commit crimes shortly after, she said. It's up to the community to step up.

"All the parents and grandparents of these young adults, they need to come forward," Williams said. "(Most) of those who get killed, someone knows who did it. All I can do is beg."

While no one wants to see a friend or family member arrested, turning them in would help break the cycle of retaliation, she said.

An analysis of homicide statistics from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database for cities with a population between 100,000 to 249,999 residents, shows North Charleston has seen more killings than other cities its size.

In 2016, the average number of homicides per 100,000 residents for cities in that population range was 6.5; North Charleston's rate was 28.96.

In 2015, the average rate was 6.2, while North Charleston's rate was 17.42. In 2014, the average was 5.7 versus 21.78 for North Charleston. In 2013, the average was 5.6 versus 12.58 for North Charleston; and in 2012 the average was 5.8 versus 12.91 for North Charleston.

The city's population as of 2016 was 110,490.

At the current rate, North Charleston would see a homicide rate of 35.83 per 100,000 residents in 2017, its highest rate among years for which FBI data is available.

After multiple requests for interviews with Mayor Keith Summey and with Police Chief Eddie Driggers were not granted, The Post and Courier received a statement on behalf the city of North Charleston and the police department.

"One death is one to many," Summey said in the statement. "The men and women of the North Charleston Police Department work daily to keep the citizens of North Charleston safe. The police department and city leaders will continue to work with and rely on our citizens to report crime and work collaboratively with the city to eradicate the criminal elements from our neighborhoods."

For Williams and other council members, the solution to the city's crime problem lies in community policing and in youth outreach.

"All of us have a great concern," said Councilman Bob King. "We need more community involvement."

Both King and Williams pointed to some positive developments on the horizon, such as efforts to bring a vocational school for high school-aged students to the city.

Such a program could help steer youth away from crime and the narcotics trade by giving them the skills they need to find manufacturing jobs with Boeing, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and other firms that have flocked to the area.

"We have to clean our own house," Williams said. "I'm willing to work with anyone willing to help."


From the Department of Homeland Security

DHS: Challenge yourself to Do More to Stay Safe Online

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

We are connected to the internet for almost every part of our daily lives. Whether it's the electric grid, our healthcare records, or our social media presence, we are extraordinarily reliant on this global network. But this connection is not without risks.

We've seen the damage that cyber incidents can do, from compromising your personal data to wreaking havoc on international markets. Recent ransomware incidents have caused widespread disruption and significant economic loss.

It's not just international businesses or government networks that are under attack. If your computer, smart phone, or tablet connects to the internet, you are also at risk. If you have a smart appliance, like a home thermostat, baby monitor, or television, it's also vulnerable to cyber threats.

This is why cybersecurity is one of DHS's core missions. Each day our men and women work so hard to keep our country safe from the growing frequency, scale, and sophistication of cyber threats.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Challenge yourself to do more to protect yourself online. It's not complicated but it does take discipline – not just in October, but year-round.

•  Use strong passwords, and change them often. Strong passwords consist of letters, numbers, and special characters. Whenever possible, use multi-factor authentication – sometimes called two-step verification – as an extra layer of security beyond just a user name and password. Many online services including email, social media, and online banking offer this extra protection for free. To learn more visit .

•  Update your software. It's important to use the latest version of software, and install patches and updates to prevent older and vulnerable versions of software from being compromised. This includes software for your home computer, your mobile devices, and anything else that is connected to the internet.

•  Avoid phishing schemes. Look out for suspicious or unsolicited emails, and don't open their links or attachments. If an email sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

•  Treat your personal data like money . Be careful how much you share, and with whom you share it. Control and limit who can see your personal information online by checking the privacy and security settings on your accounts and apps.

•  Help other people improve their cybersecurity. Visit to learn more about how to stay safe online and get involved at home, work, school and in the community. If you're interested in a career in this growing and exciting field, there are numerous resources available at the Department of Homeland Security's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies.

•  Get involved. Companies, researchers, and others can get more involved in cybersecurity by reporting incidents, indicators, malware, and vulnerabilities to DHS and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center ( ).

These are only a few ways you can help make cyberspace more secure. Throughout the month, the Department of Homeland Security will promote cybersecurity in the workplace, discuss cybersecurity and smart devices, encourage people to consider a career in cybersecurity, and talk about how we protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats. You can get involved by visiting

By practicing strong cybersecurity habits every day, and encouraging others to do the same, you can help us all be safer online, and help keep our country secure.



Calling pepper spray 'the new fire hose,' ACLU asks judge to limit response to protests

by Chelsea Hoye

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

Derek Laney, a protester from St. Louis, testified that after walking toward a MetroBus that held police on Sept. 15, officers pushed him backward using their bikes. He said officers then used pepper spray on him without warning. A video taken by a bystander was shown in the courtroom to corroborate this account.

“To assault me with a bike is not a warning,” Laney said.

The Rev. Karen Yang said she “was standing in solidarity with my community” the day the verdict was announced and had linked arms with other protesters. She said police gave her no warning before using pepper spray on her.

The protesters' statements contradicted testimony last week from Sgt. Matthew Karnowski, who said he told protesters at the front of the bus that police would use chemical agents if they did not remove themselves from the area.

Rothert told the judge that police officers are allowed too much discretion in response to protesters. He said St. Louis' police should adopt community policing models and de-escalation techniques.

“I hope we've educated the police a little bit on what they could be doing differently to help reduce the tensions and address the questions that give rise to the protests other than exacerbate them,” he said after the hearing.

Anthony Relys, an attorney for the city of St. Louis, said the ACLU's motion to limit police action in response to protesters would hinder the police's ability to protect public safety.

Relys said in his closing argument Monday that the ACLU's evidence from the first weekend of protests reflect isolated events and do not represent a pattern of practice by police.

Perry said she will issue a ruling after reviewing all evidence.


Unsealed FBI docs paint disturbing portrait of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza

by Ray Sanchez

A woman who befriended Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza online said he was "singularly focused and obsessed with mass murders and spree killings" and looked upon school shooters "with respect and understanding," according to heavily redacted FBI documents released Tuesday.

The unidentified woman began online contact with the 20-year-old about two years before his December 2012, rampage at the Newtown, Connecticut, school left 20 first-grade students and six adults dead.

"The weirdest person online" she said of Lanza, who "devoted almost all of his Internet activity to researching and discussing" mass killings he meticulously documented and viewed as "a symptom caused by a broken society," according to the roughly 1,500 investigative documents.

The woman told investigators that Lanza was "extremely intelligent" but depressed and cynical, with a negative view of the world.

Lanza's online posts included screen names that referred to German and Canadian school shooters Tim Kretschmer and Kimveer Gill, according to the woman.

Lanza used a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S rifle during the shooting spree, which ended when he shot himself.

The rifle and two handguns -- found next to his body -- as well as an Izhmash Saiga-12 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun recovered in his car were legally purchased by his mother, Nancy Lanza. He killed her in their Newtown home before the school shootings.

The woman said Lanza "seemed to wallow" in his depression, riding out low moments in his room and sleeping for 12 hours or more, according to the documents.

The documents paint a portrait of a young man who appeared to have no friends or people to rely on for support. He found food unappealing and complained about being unable to find clothing that fit him comfortably. Saying that natural light hurt his eyes, Lanza avoided daylight and spent a lot of time at home, the documents said.

One document described an interview in which neighbors told the FBI that agents had once visited the Lanza home after he hacked an unidentified government computer when he was in the ninth grade.

Lanza successfully made it past two levels of security before the computer screen went black and agents appeared at his door, the document said.

"Nancy had to convince the authorities that her son was just very intelligent and was challenging himself to see if he could hack into a government system," the document said.

"The authorities told Nancy that if her son was that smart he could have a job with them one day."

Lanza's online friend told investigators that he revealed little about his family and personal life. He liked to portray himself as someone who lived an isolated existence "in which he was always in discomfort," the documents said.

Lanza told the woman he believed he could be "asexual" and that he was sexually attracted to one or two people during his life. The documents said he viewed successful people as "selfish, cruel and controlling," according to the documents. He chose to be a vegan because people were "needlessly cruel" to animals.



Organization says more community treatment, policing will lower Missouri prison population

by Alisa Nelson

The Council of State Governments says Missouri's rising prison population could be reduced by investing in things that help to keep people out of prison to begin with. It suggests the creation of more community treatment programs and community policing. The council is working with the state to find ways to improve the use of criminal justice system funding.

It says creating additional community treatment programs is a better alternative because prison-based ones don't work. Nearly 90% of Missouri's 34,000 prisoners require substance abuse treatment. During the work group's Tuesday meeting in Jefferson City, State Corrections Department Director Anne Precythe tells Missourinet locking up criminals and throwing away the key does not solve the underlying problems.

“I think where we've emerged today is that we really understand it's a much larger community issue and that it involves so many different players,” says Precythe. “If you can find the root of why the behavior is occurring, you can have a greater impact on changing that behavior.”

Precythe says people with substance abuse and mental health issues are not a lost cause and should be helped so they don't end up in prison.

“People who suffer from mental illness oftentimes are stable and can function day to day but then they fall into crisis,” says Precythe. “When they fall into crisis, their needs and their reason become very different than what people who don't experience mental illness understand or can even explain. The fact that we know we're dealing with someone who's in mental health crisis or has a mental health illness better prepares us to be able to focus on what's important for that person – not so much conditions of supervision imposed by a controlling authority.”

She says the focus then shifts to learning whether they are taking their medications, going to treatment, their transportation needs and how their support system is helping or not helping.

According to Precythe, avoiding the construction of additional prisons would save Missouri taxpayers about $175 million per prison and $27 million annually to operate per institution.

“We should be asking for dollars to reduce beds in prison and enhance services available in the community because that's where we'll have a bigger bang for the buck,” says Precythe.

From 2013 to 2016, Missouri's number of violent crimes reported climbed 20%. The council says it's clear that law enforcement is overwhelmed with handling substance abuse and mental health issues and is not able to fight enough violent crimes. It says “Missouri cannot continue to arrest its way out of violence.”

The council also says the number of violent crimes reported in Missouri outweighs violent crime arrests by about 30% – leading people to think they won't get caught. This is where things like law enforcement deterrence of criminal activity and probation and parole community supervision enhancements can come into play.

Missouri has the fastest growing female prison population in the country. Data gathering shows that women are not given as many chances as their male counterparts when deciding whether to send them to prison. The issue does not appear to be in certain cities. Rather, the phenomenon seems to exist statewide.

Gender-specific community treatment is a way this can be addressed, according to the council. It also says there are federal resources available that the state could tap into to help make many of these suggestions a reality.


South Carolina

Justice Department isn't helping North Charleston-or its police

by Brian Hicks

Jeff Sessions probably thinks he's doing North Charleston a favor.

Actually, he's only making things worse.

By hiding a 600-page Department of Justice report on the city's police department, he's raised suspicions among residents to new heights — if that's possible. Simultaneously, he has made it much harder for good police officers to do their jobs.

Way to go.

For years, black residents have accused the police department of racial profiling. When former officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in the back after a traffic stop — an incident caught on video — it gave all that criticism more credibility.

It also made it harder to police a city with a troublesome crime rate.

The city rightly asked the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to look into its practices. Only an outside, independent review has any chance of satisfying the community.

But the Trump Justice Department says nothing to see here, move along. That's not going to cut it.

“If there is something wrong, show us so we can fix it,” City Councilwoman Virginia Jamison says. “If there is nothing wrong, we need to know that, too. I think for healing to happen in North Charleston — not for the criminal elements — but the citizens wrongly accosted, we need that report.”

She's right. North Charleston should demand the report.

Complex issues

Ten years ago, North Charleston was one of the most violent cities in the nation.

The police department responded by increasing traffic stops and community policing. Over the course of a few years, the murder rate dropped from a high of 32 per 100,000 residents to a low of 5 in 2011.

That reduction in crime seemingly came with a price. The department got complaints from motorists who said they were often stopped for no reason. Many suspected skin color played a role. Although 49 percent of the city's population is black, those folks accounted for about two-thirds of all traffic stops.

Scott, perhaps not coincidentally, was pulled over for having a faulty brake light ... as he was turning into an auto parts store parking lot.

Critics of these increased traffic stops said they appreciated the drop in crime, but didn't want it to come at the expense of their civil rights. That is a completely reasonable position.

As Jamison says, “We have a problem with crime, but not everybody is a criminal.”

In the year after Scott's death, North Charleston cut down on its traffic stops by about half. In that same time, the murder rate quickly rose from 17.4 per 100,000 residents to 29 last year.

The question here is whether there is any correlation between those statistics. Some officials will say numbers don't lie, while critics point out that traffic stops do little to lower crime.

It is a complex problem, one that could use some perspective. The sort of perspective you would expect in a Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services report.

Keep asking

Sessions has said the Justice Department is no longer going to do assessments of local police departments.


Well, perhaps because the base doesn't want to hear that it's wrong when an innocent black man is shot in Minnesota after telling an officer he has a concealed weapons permit, or when police use a Taser to keep a man with dementia out of those busy Kingstree streets.

Outlining mistakes wouldn't fit the preferred narrative that the police do no wrong. But nobody's perfect.

Truth is, the vast majority of police officers are good men and women doing a difficult and stressful job for meager pay. They put their lives at risk every day to keep people safe, and their jobs become infinitely more dangerous when one officer makes a mistake or the public doesn't trust them.

And that's what is happening in North Charleston. It's not fair for good officers to be tainted by the few bad ones, nor is it right to continue practices that add to those image problems.

Right now, the North Charleston Citizens' Advisory Commission on Community-Police Relations is working on recommendations for the department. That Justice Department report would help them do a better job, and perhaps provide some statistics that would confirm or dispel unfortunate perceptions.

“We need that report,” Jamison says. “It would strengthen our city, our police department and our executive department. I really believe that.”

Again, she's right. So North Charleston should demand the results of that review they requested more than a year ago. And Sessions should turn it over.

If he's really interested in justice.



When can a person legally resist arrest?

Never, says public defender at ALPACT forum

by Louise Wrege

BENTON HARBOR — Resisting arrest is always a felony, no matter how small, Berrien County Public Defender Carl Macpherson said Tuesday.

He was one of eight local law enforcement and court officials who spoke during “Connect and Engage: Criminal Justice Panel and Roundtable Discussion,” sponsored by Southwest Michigan ALPACT.

“It's important to understand how general the law is in the state of Michigan,” he said. “The law is, if an officer is performing legal duties and they're in uniform or you know they're an officer, you cannot resist or assault or oppose or endanger or obstruct what they're doing. It's never a good idea. It's a felony if you do those things.”

He said people can sue later if they feel their civil rights were violated. The problem, he said, is that all kinds of resistance are treated the same.

“If the officer asks you to step out of your car and you just don't come out of your car ... you're opposing,” he said. “That's treated the same as if you walked up to the officer and punched him in the face.”

Niles Police Chief James Millin, ALPACT co-chair, said it's important to comply with the officer.

“And if you feel that it was incorrect for the officer to ask you to do those things, or handled you inappropriately, we want you to come see us the next day or when you're done with court,” he said. “... We want you to come and see us.”

Questions the panelists answered ranged from how judges decide the sentence to impose to how the Berrien County court system can improve to how can police build trust with the community.

During the first half of the forum, the panelists answered questions they received from the community ahead of time. For the second half, panelists met with citizens in small groups, where more discussions took place.

But, more importantly, the officials made connections with those in attendance, said ALPACT co-chair Sekenah Tennison.

“We hear frustrations from the community all the time,” she said after the forum. “We need closer contact between citizens and the decision makers. They're the ones deciding how a crime is going to be handled. I believe now more than ever it's important for people to have connections and critical conversations.”

Millin agreed.

“I would like to see more people in attendance at the regular meetings,” he said after the forum. “Let's talk about the issues. We realized a lot of people in the community have a lot of questions and are not willing to seek out an individual for an answer. We decided we needed one place, one time, for people to come and talk to several different law enforcement representatives to get their questions answered.”

More information can found on Facebook at Southwest Michigan ALPACT (Advocates and Leaders for Police And Community Trust).

St. Joseph Director of Public Safety Brian Uridge was asked how law enforcement agencies in Berrien County can improve trust.

First, he said police departments need to change the way they incentivize officers.

“When I started in police work, everything was based on how many arrests did you make, how many tickets did you write, and that was how you were promoted. That was how you moved forward. We have to change that whole culture,” he said.

In addition, he said community policing should be the basis of all police work, not just one part of it.

He said police officers should get out of their cars at least 20 minutes each shift when they're not on a call for service to just talk to people.

“When you do that, it builds a relationship and it builds trust,” he said.

He said officers can further build relationships by following up on any significant incident.

“A week later or two days later, that same officer should knock on your door and go, ‘Hey, this is Brian. I want to check on you and see how you're doing,'” he said.

He said he did this in Kalamazoo and other places he worked.

“It really, really works,” he said. “It's a fantastic way to build trust, to build relationships.”

Thirdly, he said officers need to be trained differently.

“It's important to train on tactics and street survival,” he said. “... But conflict resolution, de-escalation, diversity, all of those things play a huge part in what we do every single day, and that's what we need to focus on.”

Besides Macpherson and Uridge, the other panelists were Berrien County Trial Court Chief Judge Gary Bruce; Elvin Gonzalez, Berrien County juvenile justice administrator; defense attorney Elizabeth McCree of Benton Harbor; Benton Harbor Director of Public Safety Daniel McGinnis; Gwen Moffitt, Michigan Department of Civil Rights; and Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic.



Powerful drugs require new procedures to protect police

Synthetic drugs have been so powerful that scientists at the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have been told not to handle samples without an agent

by Stephen Montemayor

MINNEAPOLIS — Seizures of deadly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil have soared in Minnesota this year, forcing law enforcement agencies to adopt new procedures for collecting evidence, making drug arrests and testing samples at forensic laboratories.

The synthetics are so powerful that, in some cases, scientists at the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) have been told not to handle drug samples without an agent nearby to administer naloxone, an antidote, in case of accidental contact.

Prosecutors are also starting to pursue the first federal case in Minnesota involving distribution of carfentanil, a substance that killed at least a dozen people in the Twin Cities area earlier this year. That investigation has confirmed that several deaths earlier this year did not result from one “bad batch” of opiates and that carfentanil, 100 times stronger than fentanyl, was still in circulation months after the last of 12 confirmed area deaths.

The drugs are so pervasive that authorities have noted, with some surprise, examples of other drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine being tainted with synthetic opioids in recent months.

“It's gotten to the point where we just feel like we've been hit with a tidal wave of cases,” said Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker, whose lab first sounded the alarm about the emergence of carfentanil in the spate of area deaths this spring.

By midyear, investigations involving fentanyl samples at the BCA had already blown past last year's total, said Superintendent Drew Evans. Cases involving carfentanil also hit a record by June -- 25 cases, up from just four last year, Evans said.

This new reality has prompted dramatic efforts by agencies at all levels to protect first responders from substances that can kill even in trace amounts. Some state and local law enforcement agencies have decided to stop testing suspected drug samples at crime scenes, opting to send evidence straight to the BCA for analysis.

Law enforcement agencies like the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office are wearing extra equipment at certain crime scenes and making sure lab technicians don't work alone, following new guidance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

A Ramsey County Sheriff's Office spokesman said the agency stopped field testing narcotics within the past year, has instructed investigators to double-bag any powdered substances taken as evidence and to otherwise leave such drugs undisturbed if found at the scene of an overdose or a crime.

Police in Roseville are among the local agencies that now send drugs to the BCA for testing instead of trying to make a presumptive identification on the spot, said Lt. Lorne Rosand. In many cases, Rosand said, police can't arrest a suspect on charges until they get test results back from the BCA lab.

“Gone are the days of [TV actor] Don Johnson licking his middle finger, touching it and going ‘cocaine,'?” Rosand said. “We never of course did that. ... But now we have to be even more careful. Everyone has to be gloved up and wearing masks if we can.”

Over the weekend, Rosand said, Roseville police opted to tow a stolen vehicle they stopped instead of searching it at the scene because syringes were found inside.

“The risk-reward is too much risk,” he said.

First federal charges

This spring, Baker's office alerted the DEA that overdose deaths first believed to be from too much heroin were actually linked to carfentanil -- a painkiller originally used to treat large animals that can be fatal to humans in minuscule doses.

But if authorities thought the deaths resulted from one rogue batch that temporarily hit the Twin Cities, a new federal case has underlined a stubborn presence of carfentanil in the metro area.

A federal grand jury recently returned an indictment charging John Henry Edmonds with distributing drugs including heroin, carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl and methamphetamine after DEA agents conducted a series of controlled purchases from Edmonds between July 6 and Aug. 22.

The charges mark the first federal case in Minnesota involving distribution of carfentanil. Law enforcement officials expect more charges.

Now authorities at all levels are racing to keep pace with overseas traffickers capable of altering synthetic opioids' chemical structures to stay within the law. Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker in Minneapolis described keeping up with the rapidly changing drugs a “top priority” of his office.

“We as prosecutors have to be nimble to be able to respond quickly to what is a national public health emergency,” Brooker said.

‘We have to become involved'

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department also announced the first indictments -- including one case in North Dakota -- against Chinese nationals that alleged a massive international conspiracy to traffic fentanyl to North America. The lead defendant in the North Dakota case, Jian Zhang, 38, allegedly oversaw the production of synthetic fentanyl in at least four labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl and supplies used to press the opioid into pills to U.S. customers online.

“It's like a capsule of the whole opioid problem right there,” said Kenneth Solek, assistant special agent in charge at the DEA's Twin Cities office.

Assistant Hennepin County Medical Examiner Rebecca Wilcoxon recently won recognition from a national medical examiners' association for her work in helping identify carfentanil as a source of this spring's series of deaths.

Baker said forensic scientists nationally are updating testing procedures almost weekly to better screen for synthetic opioids that can kill at almost untraceable blood concentration levels. He said medical examiners in Hennepin County no longer collect evidence at death scenes, instead asking law enforcement to take materials that may be needed to prosecute.

Minnesota overdose deaths from synthetics are now so numerous -- they doubled last year -- that it would be impossible for federal authorities to assist in all investigations, Solek said. But, he added, the DEA hopes to introduce more guidance for area law enforcement agencies responding to overdose deaths.

“When it affects the public to a certain extent like carfentanil, we have to become involved,” Solek said.


Washington D.C.

Trump Administration To Declare Opiod Crisis A Public Health Emergency

by Greg Allen

The Trump administration will declare a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Trump is also expected to direct agency and department heads to use all appropriate emergency authorities to reduce number of deaths caused by the opioid crisis, according to senior administration officials.

The move stops short of declaring the crisis a national emergency, which Trump first said he'd declare in August. He repeated that pledge this week. The White House said it determined that declaring a public health emergency was more appropriate than a national emergency.

Some in the field, like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, say it's been frustrating to wait for the administration to respond to a crisis Trump first acknowledged on the campaign trail when he was running for president.

Kolodny, who is co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaboration at Brandeis University's Heller School, says he expected immediate action after the president's August statement. "If you're calling something an emergency, you expect people to act urgently and respond as if it's an emergency."

After taking office, President Trump appointed a commission to study the opioid crisis, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In an interim report, the commission called on the president to declare a national emergency. Doing so would free up funds for treatment, ensure wider access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone and improve monitoring of opioid prescriptions to prevent abuse.

In August, days before the president promised to declare a national emergency, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said he didn't think one was necessary. Flash forward two months, though, and Tom Price is gone.

Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a former adviser in the Obama administration says that Price was not a friend to addiction treatment programs. "When he was a congressman, he opposed the parity law which required insurers to cover addiction treatment," Humphreys says. "He was very skeptical of methadone maintenance which is a very good treatment for heroin addiction. So having him out of the way is a potential plus."

In a policy change this week, the director of the Food and Drug Administration told a congressional committee the agency will begin working to promote medication assisted treatment—using methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone to help addicts in recovery. That's significant because some states currently won't pay for some of those treatments. Advocates will be listening for what, if anything, the president says about that.

Humphreys says he's interested in what measures the president proposes as part of an emergency declaration. For example, he could announce he'll use his authority to negotiate cheaper prices for drugs. Humphreys says the president could say, "In an emergency, we're going to use our power as a big purchaser to say to naloxone manufacturers that ... we want 40 percent off or whatever, to use that leverage which currently we can't do legally."

But, when the president speaks on the opioid epidemic Thursday, advocates say the key issue will be what he says about funding. Congress is currently spending $500 million a year on addiction treatment programs. Dr. Kolodny says to help the more that 27 million Americans abusing opioids, much more is needed. He puts the price tag at $6 billion each year. "You want that opioid addicted individual to be able to access effective outpatient treatment more easily than they can get pills, heroin, or fentanyl," Dr. Kolody says.

Kolodny criticizes the Obama administration for being slow to acknowledge opioids, a crisis that he says that began in 1996 and which the CDC declared an epidemic in 2011. President Obama's health secretary Kathleen Sebelius agrees. "Did we do enough? Probably not," Sebelius says. "Recognizing how widespread this was, what factors were contributing to it, would have been helpful a number of years ago." And she says, it might have prevented many overdose deaths.

Sebelius notes that the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid greatly increased coverage for addiction treatment. If President Trump is serious about tackling opioids, she says his first step should be to stop fighting to repeal Obamacare.



JFK files: What will long-secret documents reveal about the Kennedy assassination?

by CBS News

BOSTON -- For decades, the existence of secret government files linked to President John F. Kennedy's assassination has helped fuel conspiracy theories that others besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in his murder. Now the public is going to get a deeper look at the collection.

The government is required by Thursday to release the final batch of files related to Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963. Experts say the publication of the last trove of evidence could help allay suspicions of a conspiracy -- at least for some.

"As long as the government is withholding documents like these, it's going to fuel suspicion that there is a smoking gun out there about the Kennedy assassination," said Patrick Maney, a presidential historian at Boston College.

Here's a look at what to expect from the files:

How many files are there and how can I see them?

The collection includes more than 3,100 documents -- comprising hundreds of thousands of pages -- that have never been seen by the public. About 30,000 documents were released previously with redactions. The National Archives is planning to post the files on its website .

Will all of them be released?

It's unclear exactly how many files will be released. President Trump is the only person who can stop any of the documents from becoming public. Mr. Trump pledged in a tweet on Saturday that -- "subject to the receipt of further information" -- he will allow the "long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."

The CIA and FBI, whose files make up the bulk of the final batch, have refused to say whether they're lobbying the president to keep any of the files under wraps. Experts expect certain IRS files to remain secret, like the tax return of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Oswald two days after Kennedy's assassination when the suspect was in police custody.

Why are they becoming public now?

President George H.W. Bush signed a law on Oct. 26, 1992, requiring that all documents related to the assassination be released within 25 years, unless the president says doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. The push for transparency was driven in part by the uproar in the wake of Oliver Stone's 1991 conspiracy-theory filled film "JFK."

Will there be any bombshells?

The chances are slim, according to the judge who led the independent board that reviewed and released thousands of the assassination documents in the 1990s. The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed "not believed relevant," Judge John Tunheim of Minnesota told The Associated Press. But Tunheim said it's possible the files contain information the board didn't realize was important two decades ago.

JFK experts believe the files will provide insight into the inner workings of the CIA and FBI. But they stress that it will take weeks to mine the documents for potentially new and interesting information.

What will the files show?

Some of the documents are related to Oswald's mysterious six-day trip to Mexico City right before the assassination, scholars say. Oswald said he was visiting the Cuban and Soviet Union embassies there to get visas, but much about his time there remains unknown.

The to-be-released documents contain details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, Tunheim said. Other files scholars hope will be released in full include an internal CIA document on its Mexico City station, and a report on Oswald's trip from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination.

CBS News' Bob Schieffer, who was then a 26-year-old Fort Worth newspaper reporter at the time, gave Oswald's mother a ride to the police station after the assassination.

"She expressed no remorse about the president being killed," Schieffer recalled.



Mayor Frank Jackson unveils long-term plan for tackling youth violence, expanding on successful summer programs

by Robert Higgs

(Plan can be read on site)

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Mayor Frank Jackson on Wednesday unveiled a model for tackling violence from youth and young adults that treats the problems like a health issue that the entire community must work to cure.

The approach, coordinated through the Office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults, links city programs - recreational, education, policing, economic development and others - with efforts that will partner with the private sector, philanthropic organizations and the community as a whole.

Addressing the problems, Jackson said, is a task too big for just city government.

"Everything we've done and been successful at we've done as a community," Jackson said in an interview Wednesday. "We have all of the component parts. They're out there operating in their own silos. We have to pull them together."

The plan hopes to capitalize on efforts this summer that the city credits with reducing homicides over the summer months by 25 percent, as compared with 2016. Those programs provide an example of what can be done, Duane Deskins, chief of the youth violence intervention office, said in an interview.

How does it work?

Jackson frequently has said crime and youth violence are symptoms of greater problems.

Law enforcement is the immediate answer, Jackson said. But while policing can address the symptoms, it cannot solve the underlying problems - poverty and joblessness, deficient education, deteriorating homes and a lack of wealth and business growth in neighborhoods, Jackson said.

The model seeks to draw together more than 90 partners from the community - private and philanthropic organizations - to develop intervention strategies. The target group is teens and young adults between ages 15 and 25.

Those strategies will be linked with city initiatives, such as the mayor's plan to target $65 million at neighborhood investment on the East Side and in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood, to lift up neighborhoods, improve quality of life and alleviate factors that promote violence.

Deskins compares the effort to those that lead to Cleveland hosting the Republican National Convention. People from across Cleveland worked together to make that event a success.

"What we learned from that experience we can apply here," Deskins said. "I think that's the vision ... what do we want our city to look like?"

Improving quality of life will help to address a condition known as toxic stress, a health condition created by constant exposure to violence in neighborhoods. That condition is a public health issue because it has an impact on youth behavior, their education, their individual health and how they interact in their neighborhoods, said Dr. Ellen Rome of the Cleveland Clinic. Rome spoke at a news conference Wednesday unveiling the model.

What happened this summer?

In May, the city launched dozens of programs for the summer, ranging from civics and chess lessons to photography and dance, expanded hours at recreation centers, deployed new neighborhood policing teams and provided thousands of jobs for youth.

Among the efforts:

•  50,000 people engaged in the programs.

•  4,900 youth engaged in mentoring opportunities that involve spending time adults who can offer guidance and career direction.

•  3,100 contacts with people from an expanded Peacemakers program that seeks to quell violence.

•  2,700 in summer youth jobs.

•  1,300 at job match activities for young adults at rec centers.

•  30,000 servings of fresh fruit at rec centers for children.

•  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications worth 78,000 meals

•  8 recreation centers with extended hours into the evening.

The programs were funded by increased revenues as a result of voters increasing the city's income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent last November.

Deskins credits the efforts with having an impact on violence by providing youth with activities and structure that helped to keep them out of trouble.

How does the model tie in with city programs?

The community wide approach would link with several programs the mayor has launched to address crime, safety and development.

The idea is to raise up quality of life in neighborhoods and offer greater economic opportunity. That will help reduce the toxic effects of structural violence on youth, Deskins said.

Among those programs:

•  The neighborhood development plan along East 105th and East 93rd streets on the East Side and in Clark-Fulton on the West Side.

•  The Safe Paths to School initiative that is targeting for demolition abandoned homes within 1,000 feet of public schools. The empty houses often can become nuisances and havens for criminals.

•  Community policing through neighborhood impact teams that patrol on bicycles. Those teams, drawn from existing police units, are meant to provide visible police presence while engaging with residents in neighborhoods.

And it would seek to link vital youth and their families to vital social services that can help improve their lives.

Why now?

Jackson's opponent in the November election, Councilman Zack Reed, has been critical of the mayor, saying hasn't done enough to address violence in the city or the condition of the neighborhoods.

He suggested the timing of Jackson's announcement is election related. "It's an election year ploy," he said.

Jackson is seeking a fourth 4-year term this November.

"He's done more to deal with youth violence in an election year than he did in the previous 12 years," Reed said.

Jackson dismissed that notion.

"I can't stop doing what I do just because I've got an election," he said. "This is a continuation of my efforts. ... It's not a new conversation that I'm having."

If he didn't try to address the problem, Jackson said, he would also be criticized.

"For those who would run against me, I think it's a fair question: 'What have they done?' " Jackson said.

How long will it take?

It took decades for Cleveland's neighborhoods to fall in decline and resolving the problems associated with that decline cannot be resolved overnight, Deskins said.

A community wide approach, though, can whittle away at the issues, gradually lifting up neighborhoods with improved housing, business and wealth creation, jobs and greater safety.

The violence issues cannot be resolved simply by stepping up policing and arrests, Jackson said. He likened that to "the cold medicine that you take to deal with the symptoms so that you can be functional."

The real solution is to deal with the underlying causes, Jackson said.

"We need to invest in people so we can invest in the outcomes," he said. "It's not a mystery. It's something we recognize that not just needs to be done, but has to be done."



Philly to outfit all cops with body cameras through $12.5M contract

The new four-year, $12.5 million deal with Axon will provide body cameras to 4,000 Philadelphia officers

by PoliceOne Staff

PHILADELPHIA — All patrol officers in Philadelphia will be outfitted with body cameras after city officials signed a four-year, $12.5 million contract with Axon , making it one of the country's largest police departments to equip all officers with the devices.

500 officers will get cameras every six months until every single patrol officer in the city has one, Philly Today reports.

In late 2014, a pilot program in North Philadelphia gave body cameras to several officers in the city.



Woman gets knocked out cold, bystanders stop to take selfies

by Chris Perez

(Video on site)

Shocking surveillance video shows the moment a Pittsburgh woman was knocked out cold by a man on a busy sidewalk — but that's not the worst of it.

The footage also shows the woman being beaten and robbed by bystanders — who proceed to take pictures of her, including selfies — as she lies unconscious on the ground.

“They don't treat animals like that. They wouldn't treat a dog that way,” the victim's mother told KDKA on Thursday . “It's disgusting. My daughter needs help.”

The disturbing incident was caught on camera in Pittsburgh's Beechview neighborhood. The footage was captured more than a month ago, but wasn't released until this week.

“She's lying there like somebody just hit a deer,” said Dr. Neil Capretto, a local physician at the Gateway Rehab center who has agreed to treat the victim for an apparent drug addiction.

“It's like a sideshow in a circus,” he added. “This is a human being.”

In the clip, the woman appears to approach her attacker for a brief second right before he throws his haymaker. A group of men can then be seen walking over to her — cellphones in hand, snapping pictures and video — as she lies unconscious on the sidewalk.

“Nobody called 911 to help her,” a police source told KDKA. “They took what looks like her phone while she's out cold.”

Shortly after leaving, the men reportedly returned and began taking even more photos.

“They actually come back,” the source said. “A kid lays beside her and takes a selfie.”

According to KDKA, the victim is a known drug addict who has been arrested several times, mostly for illegal substances.

“They deserve to be helped,” Capretto said of residents with drug problems.

“This is my oath, to help people who are sick,” he added. “I, as a physician, this is my oath, to help people who are sick. She's sick and she needs help.”




A Primer for Citizens and The Police

Let's be straight up … one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs out there is to be a law enforcement officer. You never know what you're going to encounter when you pull someone for going 73 mph in a 55 mph zone or when you're on a team serving a warrant. But what about the person on the receiving end of a police officer's job? They can be just as uncertain and as worried as the officer. Now think how much better it would be if both police and the general public were educated about the other.

That's the point of a “Know Your Rights” event the Lynchburg Police Department held earlier this month at the Miller Center. According to Gerald Cheatham, the president of the Lynchburg Branch of the NAACP, the need for such an event became evident the more community members interacted with LPD officers and Chief Raul Diaz, who is three weeks away from marking his second anniversary as chief.

For Cheatham, the goal of the “Know Your Rights” could be summed up in three words: information, education and awareness. And on the parts of both civilians and law enforcement officers.

In larger cities such as Chicago, Atlanta or Los Angeles, the danger of civilian/officer encounters might be more overt than in a small city like Lynchburg, but it doesn't mean such encounters are without peril for either officer or citizen. That's where the concept of “community policing” comes into the picture. The idea is to get officers out of their cruisers and into the neighborhoods of the city they serve — it's easier for both an officer and a private citizen to get to know each other face to face, rather than just seeing a police car driving slowly down the street.

At this month's first “Know Your Rights” session, community members heard directly from Lynchburg police officers, learning how they do their jobs and the reasoning behind their actions. That tap on the trunk lid as an officer approaches your car? To make sure it's locked so no one can jump out and ambush him. The difference between a lights-on stop and one without the red-and-blue flashers? When the lights are on means that a person is officially “detained” and can't leave until the officer says so. If there are no lights flashing, department policy regards any police/civilian interaction as a “consensual encounter” that a citizen can leave whenever he pleases.

But private citizens have rights, too, in their interactions with police officers, as Sgt. J. Rater, the head of the LPD's Community Action Team, explained. If they ask for an officer's name, for example, or the reason they were pulled over — an officer is required to inform them. “The educational aspect is huge,” Rater said. “What our policies are and why we do certain things. A lot of it is for safety purposes — again, we want to go home at night — but a lot is department policy.”

The LPD and the local NAACP deserve recognition for staging this program, and we urge the department to consider taking the program citywide. Already plans are in the works for a future session on a weekend so school-aged kids can attend, according to the NAACP's Cheatham.

That's a great start, but how about taking this terrific program to community centers, churches and civic groups across the city? The more understanding there is between civilians and police officers, the safer we all will be.



49ers team up with LE groups in push for gun legislation, improved police-community relations

The parties agreed to sign a pledge to improve community-police relations and advocate for the ban of "bump stocks" and other "common sense" gun legislation

by PoliceOne Staff

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Police Officers' Association, Los Angeles Police Protective League and other LE unions are advocating for the ban of “bump stocks” and the improvement of community-police relations.

In a statement released this morning, all parties have agreed to sign a “Pledge for a More Understanding and Safer America” advocating for the ban of bump stocks, armor-piercing rounds and suppressors. The pledge comes in wake of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas.

In addition, the groups pledged to lead an initiative to create a public awareness campaign that aims to improve the relationship between communities and police.

Police unions in Portland, Santa Clara County, Sacramento, Long Beach and Oakland agreed to sign the pledge. The Sergeants Benevolence Association of the NYPD has also signed.

The 49ers have pledged $500,00 toward the campaign and have called for other teams and police groups to join the initiative.



Ga. police thwart 'Columbine-type' school threat

Two 17-year-old juniors, who will be tried as adults on attempted murder and other charges, were denied bond during their first court appearances Thursday

by Ellen Eldridge

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — As the Cherokee County sheriff tried to imagine what motivated two high school students accused of attempted murder in his county, the infamous Columbine High School shooting came to mind.

“We prevented something from happening," Frank Reynolds said. “We saved potential lives.”

Etowah High School students Alfred Dupree and Victoria McCurley had access to firearms, but Reynolds said they more likely planned to use a flammable device not unlike a bottle-based petrol bomb commonly known as a Molotov cocktail against school staff.

“It was in a container and it had the potential for implementing like a Molotov cocktail,” Reynolds said Thursday during a news conference. “(There was) no ignition device or anything like that.”

The two 17-year-old juniors, who will be tried as adults on attempted murder and other charges, were denied bond during their first court appearances Thursday. Their case will be heard in Cherokee County Superior Court.

Reynolds said this would have been a “Columbine-type incident” if it had not been thwarted.

In 1999, two teenagers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, went on a shooting spree, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20 others before turning the guns on themselves. While authorities never determined with certainty the teens' motives, that they felt bullied may have been a factor.

Reynolds called the person who provided the tip about the Etowah students' threats “a hero.”

Dupree and McCurley had a “hit list” and the people on that list were contacted by the sheriff's office, but Reynolds wouldn't say more.

A man who said his name was Frank called WSB Radio on Wednesday night and said his daughter, who is on the homecoming court, was one of about five people on that list.

“After we sat down (with authorities) in our home, we eventually found out what was taking place,” Frank said.

His daughter said she never worried about Dupree or McCurley, but she recognized they were “somewhat different than the other kids.”

The man said to find out his daughter was one of the people on that list made him think about how precious life is and not to take it for granted. He said his daughter is busy preparing for homecoming and “not missing a step or a beat at all.”

Dupree, of Acworth, and McCurley, of Woodstock, each face three counts of criminal attempt to commit murder and four counts of making terroristic threats and acts. They also face charges of criminal attempt to commit arson and possession or transportation of a destructive device or explosive intending to kill, injure or destroy any public building.

What police know about the teenagers' intentions is largely gleaned from a diary Dupree kept, the sheriff's office said. As the investigation is ongoing, officials aren't releasing more information about statements Dupree made in that diary, sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley said.

In addition, the arrest warrants were sealed by Chief Magistrate Judge James Drane III. During Thursday's first appearance, Drane told both teens not to have any contact with students or staff at Etowah.

But social media posts made by McCurley appear to show her as a troubled individual who romanticizes events such as the Columbine massacre in pictures.

The profile picture on an Instagram profile with pictures of a teenage girl who resembles McCurley is an image of character Tyler Durden from the 1999 movie “Fight Club,” which is about a depressed man living with multiple personalities who is encouraged to destroy people, places and things through an underground club for fighting.

The image reads, “In him we trust. Tyler Durden.”

In addition to pictures of McCurley, the account includes an Oct. 11 post with an image of a student involved in the Columbine shooting above this caption and an Oct. 18 post showing a so-called bulletproof blanket shielding students in a hallway during a school shooting.

The previous month, a post featured what appears to be writing on a wall.

“Lost children with dirty faces today but no one really seems to care,” according to the post.

Authorities received the tip about the threats Monday and interviewed Dupree and his family that night. Police and the sheriff's office acted quickly, taking the threats seriously and informing parents Tuesday.

Reynolds said the tipster-turned-hero also underscores a neccesity on the part of parents to watch over their kids' use of social media. And though he said he understands the sometimes dark emotions teenagers can have, adults in their lives must take them seriously.

“We look at some of the incidents like Columbine and you have 17-year-olds committing horrendous crimes and murdering folks,” Reynolds said. “We can't let that emotion play into it; we have to look at facts and circumstances.”

Reynolds called himself a community leader with a vested interest, with family members who are teachers in the school system and children who are students. He insisted parents need to have access to their children's social media accounts.

“My children have that condition: at any time Mom and Dad can go in their room,” Reynolds said. “You have to be nosy; you never know what your children are going to get into.”

McCurley's home had an incendiary device that Kelley described as flammable.

“I am so thankful for the person who reported them,” Woodstock parent Paige Post told The AJC. “I can't begin to imagine what kind of destruction could have been done.”

While many students and parents were shocked, others were thankful someone reported the teens.

“The real hero in the whole thing is whoever reported it,” Andy Waldron, whose son is a senior at Etowah, said. “God bless them because they likely saved lives.”


From the Department of Homeland Security

Improved Security Procedures for Refugees Entering the United States

WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the implementation of improved security procedures for refugees entering the United States. These new measures are part of the administration's effort to raise national security standards for all persons traveling to the United States, and they are designed to intensify screening in order to keep nefarious and fraudulent actors from exploiting the refugee process to enter the United States. The measures come at the end of a 120-day “pause” on refugee resettlement, while the United States government conducted a thorough review of the existing program.

“The security of the American people is this administration's highest priority, and these improved vetting measures are essential for American security,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. “These new, standardized screening measures provide an opportunity for the United States to welcome those in need into our country, while ensuring a safer, more secure homeland.”

In accordance with section 6(a) of Executive Order 13780, the United States government, including the Departments of State (State) and Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), conducted a review of the United States Refugee Admissions Program application and adjudication process. The goal of this review was to determine what additional procedures should be used to ensure that individuals seeking admission as refugees do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.

As a result of this review, the United States government is implementing program enhancements to raise the bar for vetting and screening procedures, including but not limited to: increased data collection to more thoroughly investigate applicants, better information sharing between agencies to identify threat actors, and new training procedures to strengthen screener ability to detect fraud and deception.

These measures are an additional layer of security for the American people and are based in part on evaluated intelligence and identified gaps in screening and vetting operations. Following the implementation of these improved measures, the administration will recommence refugee resettlement processing.

While DHS, State, and ODNI have jointly determined that the new measures are adequate to resume refugee admissions, they have also concluded that additional in-depth review is needed with respect to refugees from 11 countries previously identified as posing a higher risk to the United States.

Consequently, admissions for applicants from those 11 high-risk countries will move forward on a case-by-case basis during an additional 90-day review period, consistent with our national security interests. As DHS, State and DNI complete individual country reviews, they may resume a standard admissions process for applicants from those countries.

The United States government will continue to work closely with law enforcement and the intelligence community, and these enhancements will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether any further measures are needed to safeguard our homeland.