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"  

November, 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.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Border Patrol Agent from Big Bend Sector Killed in Line of Duty

A U.S. Border Patrol agent died this morning as a result of injuries sustained while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector.

Agent Rogelio Martinez and his Big Bend Sector partner were responding to activity while on patrol near Interstate 10, in the Van Horn Station area. Agent Martinez's partner reported that they were both injured and in need of assistance. Responding agents provided immediate medical care, and transported both agents to a local hospital.

Big Bend Sector was later told that Agent Martinez expired from his injuries. His partner remains in the local hospital in serious condition.

Border Patrol agents from Big Bend Sector and the Culberson County Sheriff's Department secured the scene. The Border Patrol's Special Operations Group and agents from CBP's Air and Marine Operations are searching the area for potential suspects or witnesses.

The Culberson County Sheriff's Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Inspector General, and CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility are investigating.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Agent Martinez and his family, and with the agent who was injured.



Border Patrol Agent May Have Fallen To Death: AP Sources

Reports that border agent Rogelio Martinez was attacked are "speculation", officials say; sources tell the AP he may have fallen.

by the Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Investigators believe a border patrol agent who died in West Texas after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body may have fallen down a 14-foot (4-meter) culvert, and his partner, who radioed for help, has no memory of what happened, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation.

FBI spokeswoman Jeanette Harper said in a statement Monday that both agents were found late Saturday night in a culvert near Van Horn and that both had traumatic head injuries. Harper said Rogelio Martinez died early Sunday. The FBI is leading the investigation and results of his autopsy are pending.

Another U.S. official, who was briefed on the investigation but is not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Monday that Martinez was found at the bottom of the culvert and that investigators believe he may have fallen. The official said it happened after dark in an area that's known for drug activity and where agents often look for drugs in culverts.

Authorities haven't offered an official explanation of what happened to Martinez and his partner, and a border patrol supervisor said reports that the agents were attacked are "speculation."

Several elected officials, including President Donald Trump, have called Martinez's death an attack. Rush Carter, a supervisor for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol region that includes the area where Martinez died, said all the agency can confirm is that the two "were injured while performing their regular duties."
"We are waiting for the investigation to fully determine how those injuries happened," Carter said Monday night.

Harper told the San Antonio Express-News on Sunday that Martinez and his partner were "not fired upon," but she didn't elaborate.

CBP issued a statement Sunday that was thin on details, saying the two agents "were responding to activity" near Interstate 10 and close to Van Horn, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the border with Mexico and 110 miles (175 kilometers) southeast of El Paso. A CBP spokesman said Martinez and his partner were taken to a hospital, where Martinez died. Martinez's partner, whose name hasn't been released, was in serious condition.

Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of CBP, said in a letter sent to border agents on Sunday that Martinez was unconscious when agents found him with "multiple injuries" to his head and body.

Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for a border patrol agents union, the National Border Patrol Council, told The Associated Press that the two agents appeared to have been struck in the head with a rock or rocks. Cabrera said agents who responded to the scene described it as "grisly" and said Martinez and his partner had "extensive injuries."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $20,000 reward Monday for information that leads to an arrest or conviction in the case. The Republican also tweeted that "resources must be increased to prevent these attacks in the future."

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took a similar approach in a news release: "We are grateful for the courage and sacrifice of our border agents who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe."

Trump offered his condolences to Martinez's family and said the wall he has promised to build along the border between the U.S. and Mexico remains on the agenda. Trump said the injured agent was "brutally beaten and badly, badly hurt" but "looks like he'll make it."

Authorities haven't said whether they have any suspects or whether they think smugglers or people who were in the country illegally were involved.

Border Patrol records show that the agency's Big Bend sector, which includes the area where the incident occurred, accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions its agents made along the Southwest border between October 2016 and May 2017. The region's mountains make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Border Patrol website lists 38 agents, not including Martinez, who have died since late 2003. Some were attacked while working along the border and others were killed in traffic accidents.
Martinez is the second agent to have died this year.



Community Policing To 16-Yr-Old Girl's Rescue

Stepfather, who sexually abused her for over a year, was arrested

by Kushala Satyanarayana

Meena (name changed), barely 16, had been enduring something that no girl should. For one-and-a-half years, Meena was being sexually abused by her stepfather. Her mother looked the other way and her younger sister was a helpless confidante.

She saw a glimmer of hope when members of community policing — an initiative of Bengaluru city police in partnership with the NGO Janaagraha — visited her educational institution in Bengaluru South and tried to create awareness about good touch, bad touch and sexual abuse. The members' sensitivity and warmth assured Meena and the teenager mustered courage to speak up against her stepfather. A WhatsApp message sent to one of the members evoked a quick response; a police team was sent to her house and she narrated the ordeal to the woman police. Her younger sister supported her and following a complaint, the Tilaknagar police registered a case under the Protection of Children under Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and arrested the stepfather, R Manjunath, on Wednesday.

Community policing, which is slowly picking up in Bengaluru, is emboldening people to come out and speak. As a part of the initiative, members visit school and address students on a host of sensitive issues including sexual abuse. The members/volunteers give out their phone numbers. The team also visits slums to talk about crime prevention/detection and other community issues.

It was one such programme held by community policing team that caught Meena's attention. Last week, Kiran Kumar, a field associate from Janaagraha, who coordinates the initiative along with the local police, got a WhatsApp message from a girl, who said she is facing problems with her stepfather and that she is scared. “I called the number and spoke to the girl, who said she had collected my number during a community policing initiative conducted earlier. She was embarrassed to talk in detail about what she was going through. I realised it could be a case of sexual abuse at home. I called the Tilaknagar police inspector and gave him the information. He acted swiftly and the case turned out to be genuine,” Kiran Kumar said.

Tilaknagar police inspector Nanjegowda sent his team including a woman constable, in mufti, to the girl's house. According to what Meena confided to the woman police, her mother had married their neighbour Manjunath. Since one-and-a-half years, Manjunath started making advances towards Meena in her mother's absence. When it turned worse, she complained to her mother, who did not pay much heed. Meena quietly endured the abuse.

“Our community policing initiative gave Meena the confidence and she approached our volunteer. Her younger sister supported her and gave her evidence. It was a clear case under POCSO. We have arrested Manjunath and sent the two girls to their grandmother's house in Byrasandra,” Nanjegowda told Bangalore Mirror.



Special report: social policing

by Ty Batemon

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- The power of social media is making a true difference. While you're tapping into those sites, so are police.

"Social media is good and bad. I see more good out of it than I do the bad," says Tilton Police Captain, Ryan Schull.

From wanted posters to old fashioned police work, their efforts are going digital to catch criminals; but, it's the wisdom of the crowd that could make or break a case.

Police departments like Mattoon and Tilton are using the matrix to help fight crimes.

"Actually we just started at the beginning of this year, says Schull.

"I got it up and running in 2013. While both departments are fairly new to social media," says Mattoon Police Lieutenant of Investigations, Sam Gaines.

The reason behind the pages aren't. the goal is to connect with the community.

"We do everything from handing out candy to the kids during Halloween, handing out ice cream certificates to them. We like to post that stuff too. It's an amazing thing to have that connection with your community," says Schull.

"It's sharing with the community and reaching out to help the community and asking for help from the community. It's just another platform to do it on," says Gaines.

Tilton Police has four full-time officers who work around the clock for a village of more than 2,500 people. Almost 2,000 people follow their Facebook page.

"Facebook is free. We like to save as much money as possible, that way we can put more officers on the street, if possible," says Schull.

Almost 80 miles southwest is Mattoon. 30 police officers serve a population of 18,000. 11,000 people follow their Facebok page.

The size of the two departments may seem like it would make a difference to catch a suspect.

"However many followers you do get, they're going to share it and those people are going to share it and those people are going to share it," states Gaines.

The tool has been proven be positive for both cities.

Earlier this month, a man stole a generator from Big R in Tilton. Police shared an image of the surveillance video to their Facebook page.

"We get a tip from our Facebook posting from someone in Springfield that said hey this is so- and-so that lives out in the country out in Springfield so it reaches out," says Gaines.

Just last month, Mattoon Police shared information about fake money being used in the city.

"It's got 150,000 views. So, you compare that with our 11,000 followers you can see how it multiplies because those people share it with their friends who aren't necessarily our followers and they share it with their friends and their friends and so on. It's amazing how it just multiplies," states Gaines.

With those results, both departments have been pleased with social media.

"This subject here was the suspect here in an armed robbery at Casey's general store. Facebook leads plus the next day there was a call to his residence which the officer recognized the picture and it went from there. Most of our messages online are confidential. We're not going to let anyone know who they were because of retaliation. We don't want that," says Schull.

While police have seen success with social media, there are some concerns that comes with a click of a button.

"I think where the danger comes in is when you and your neighbors start dealing with it when police are the people who deal with these crimes and they can separate out pretty quickly whether it's legitimate concern or illegitimate concern," says Eric Meyer.

Meyer is an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois. He teaches students about the power of social media. While he sees the good, he also sees the bad.

"Individual comments from the people in the crowd are notoriously inaccurate. They'll see a plane crash. They'll say the plane was flaming and it turned over and it wasn't flaming. It wasn't doing any of those things," states Meyer.

That's exactly why police have to investigate information from their tips. Officers say they won't go after people without cause.

"We're here to protect the people. We're here to give the information to the public and we'd just like the information back," says Schull. "We're going to follow up with that. We're going to stop and identify them, if they're not from this area and we'll let them go about their business if there's no issues."

Officers say leave the social policing to them.

"Just let us do our job . We're going to be there to protect you 100%. If you need us, call us no matter what it is," states Schull.

Pew Internet Research says Facebook is the most widely used social media platform by Americans who are online. 79% of users utilize Facebook, 32% are on Instagram. LinkedIn and Twitter have 29% and 24% respectively.



A matter of trust

by Shajia Donecker

On a warm day in October 2016, Mursal Naleye was getting ready to attend Friday afternoon prayers at a mosque inside his Garden City apartment complex. It was around noon when he received an unexpected call from Garden City Chief of Police Michael Utz.

“Mursal, some things have come up regarding the safety of folks in your neighborhood,” Utz told him. “I need you and the other tribal leaders down here at the police station — by 1 p.m.”

“OK, chief, no problem,” Naleye quickly replied.

This wasn't the first time the chief had reached out to the 27-year-old Tyson Fresh Meats trainer for help.

But the request made him nervous. His initial thought? There was a problem within his Somali community. Perhaps someone had committed a serious crime. Were they all in trouble? Why would the police want them together? And on such short notice?

There wasn't much time. He started making calls. As president of the local African Community Center, Naleye was connected to leaders in the Somali society, composed primarily of refugee families who have migrated to Garden City over the past decade. Some were his friends on West Mary Street. Others were his co-workers at the local Tyson beef-packing plant near Holcomb, where most work the evening shift starting at 3 p.m.

They met at the African Shop just down the street, a local business that then served as an informal gathering place. And they were brimming with the very same questions.

“I told them, there's no ‘why?', and no time for questions,” Naleye recounted. “The chief told us he needs you and me out there now.”

It's telling that despite some wariness, Naleye's initial reaction was trust, especially since he hails from a country that has struggled with government instability for decades. It isn't simply a matter of luck, either. The trust that Naleye and others in Garden City's immigrant community have in the police is built upon more than a year's worth of work. To some extent, you could say the buildup of trust with immigrant populations has taken place over three decades, years before there was a substantial Somali community in Garden City.

Through community policing, police develop a familiarity with civilian populations to aid in crime prevention. Garden City officials have worked hard to engage unusual voices by establishing strong relationships with liaisons and volunteers from immigrant communities, such as Naleye. They've also undergone cultural training and have tried to connect with these new residents directly rather than waiting for them to reach out.

But such strategies face challenges as both legal and illegal immigration become more polarizing in the aftermath of President Donald Trump's inauguration. It's resulting in pressure to put state and local governments closer to the front lines of immigration enforcement, a shift that some fear could endanger the relationships that police have built over time to stop other crimes and bolster public safety.

Utz says his force already cooperates fully with federal authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, when individuals have illegally re-entered the country, committed felonies or crimes against persons.

However, if the local department was directed to enforce civil immigration violations — overstaying a visa or otherwise having unlawful presence in the United States — it would prove difficult for a variety of reasons, according to the chief.

“We don't have the resources available to us to take that on,” Utz says. “If we were directed to, would it impact our trust in the community? Absolutely. We have a great relationship with our community, and the community has a great relationship with the police department. My concern would be that it would potentially erode that trust but also make these individuals more vulnerable to being victims of crimes.”

A community policing ‘grand slam'

Trust with the public is important to law enforcement, because even when there's a climate of trust, interactions with police can be fraught with tension for all immigrants, regardless of legal status.

Naleye and his fellow Somalis took two vehicles downtown on that October day to meet with police. When they arrived, there were others waiting: members of the sheriff's office, captains of the police force and a few FBI agents. The police chief thanked the men for their timely arrival to help ease the tension in the room.

“You could see the fear and concern that they had as they walked into the building,” Utz says.

The chief, too, had reason to be worried. There were limited details he could share. He explained that three men had been planning an attack at their apartment complex, home to about 120 people, including families and children. For several months, the FBI had been investigating the men, who lived in neighboring southwest Kansas towns and who were then in police custody.

Additional details surrounding their alleged plans would be made public that afternoon: The men had been stockpiling guns and explosives and were planning to detonate bombs at two addresses the day after the November 2016 general election. A court affidavit would also reveal that the location had been chosen specifically because of those who lived there — immigrants and refugees, many of them Muslims and Somalis.

Naleye, who immigrated in 2010 to seek refuge from decades of civil strife in Somalia, had never before felt unsafe in America. The news about the thwarted attack was shocking.

“I was crying inside my heart,” he says, recounting how he simultaneously had to process the details he was hearing and also translate for the parties at the police station.

Utz had called the meeting because he wanted the residents of the neighborhood to hear the information firsthand. He and his department needed these men — ordinary townspeople — to help organize a public meeting at the apartment complex the next day and to help minimize fallout from news reports in the weeks ahead.

“There is a lack of trust in their culture of law enforcement and government,” Utz says. “But the trust that Mursal and I and the tribal leaders were building with the department was strong enough to overcome that.”

The young Somali-American acknowledged the task at hand and immediately took steps to engage the others. His past experiences as an interpreter in courtrooms, health clinics and places of employment for both neighbors and strangers had taught him how to handle important conversations with care.

“They told us to take this message and spread it to the community – that you can go to work, you can go to school, that you are safe,” Naleye recounted. “I told the elders, ‘Don't tell them the wrong way — you must make them feel safe.'”

The plan worked. Despite the menacing nature of the alleged attack, there was no widespread panic. Hundreds of residents, some from outside the neighborhood and others from local church groups, came to show their support the day after the news broke and listen to law enforcement officials speak and answer questions. People continued to go to work and to school. Few if any families left town because of safety concerns, and reports of community support for the families flooded the national media in the following weeks.

It's what Utz, in his second year as chief of police, describes as a “grand slam” case of how community policing works.

“There's never enough police officers to meet the needs of the community,” he says. “We have to embrace the community, partnerships and (build) trust so we can work together to solve problems.”

If we don't know about it, we can't fix it

Utz's approach is one that most law enforcement agencies have adopted to varying degrees over the past few decades, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. While strategies and implementation can vary widely across the nation, the objective in every agency is the same: “solving problems through collaborative partnerships built on mutual support, trust and respect,” according to the Justice Department.

“I believe the men and women of (my department) are truly engaged in objective community policing strategies that is a model for law enforcement,” Utz says. “Every day we strive to do better, and every day we learn what works and what doesn't.”

Keeping a community safe can become especially challenging in diverse places such as Garden City, a regional center within a rural geography, where less than half the population — about 43 percent — identifies as white alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The town is often characterized as a community in flux because of its changing demographics, largely the result of low-skilled jobs in the meat-packing and production industry that are the economic mainstay of the region. Most recently, the Tyson plant has been a magnet for Somali, Burmese and other African and Asian refugees resettling in the United States who are looking for steady employment.

For sure, there are some who feel a sense of loss — or even threat — by such significant demographic changes to the community. Local officials often bring attention to the positive contributions of immigrants to the city's economic and demographic growth since its founding in 1878. In 2011, as a show of agreement, thousands of residents voted to adopt a new tagline — “The World Grows Here” — a reflection of the city's cultural and linguistic diversity against its agricultural backbone. But changes in federal policy, especially toward immigrants, stand to threaten decades of trust-building and rapport in communities like Garden City.

In his first week in office, Trump signed an executive order — Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States — aimed at broadening immigration enforcement priorities and encouraging states and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws where possible. The order also established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, a support agency for victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

Supporters see these directives as a way to protect public safety, but in the view of former Garden City Police Chief James Hawkins, they are simply misguided. Hawkins, who served three decades with the department — the last two decades at its helm — says immigration and law enforcement proposals like Trump's are “set out to destroy community policing.”

The retired chief, who left the force in 2015, belongs to the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, a group composed of law enforcement supervisors from across the country — from San Antonio to St. Paul, Minn. — who have voiced their opposition to such policies.

“We've worked at community policing for over 20 years in Garden City,” Hawkins says. “I think that's why the Garden City Police Department is fairly successful in communicating with everyone who arrives, because they understand it's not a headache — it's a challenge to help these folks, and it also helps the department.”

Since at least the early 1990s, the department has attempted to engage unusual voices by making use of a police-citizens advisory board, composed of volunteers from various community factions — Hispanics, African Americans, schools, churches and businesses, to name a few — who serve as liaisons to their representative groups and as a sounding board for the police.

Once he became chief in 1996, Hawkins decided that if the force was going to preach community policing, it had to practice it fully by engaging more voices. That meant starting annual cultural awareness training to learn more about the newcomers and help them assimilate as they learned more about Garden City's rules and regulations. As a fluent Spanish-speaker, the retired chief also participated in call-in programs on a local Spanish-language radio station as a way to connect with the Mexican and Central American populace.

“Community policing is nothing more than getting to know your community and your community getting to know you. Which means you have to get to know everybody — Somalis, African-Americans, Asians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans, Cubans,” Hawkins says. “They're all here, and they all contribute to Garden City.”

The former chief, who still lives and works in Garden City, says there's no subculture or society within the community that is immune to crime. However, he says, most immigrants, even those in the country illegally, are otherwise law-abiding residents, often with families and children.

“Are most visitors criminals? No,” Hawkins says. “Their main crime is driving without a license because they can't get one. I think the problem lies there. If we could issue them licenses, we could identify who they really are. And if they got arrested, there would be better documentation of whether or not they had a criminal record.”

The idea that police should prioritize enforcing local and state laws over directing their attention to ensuring that immigrants are in the country legally is a divisive topic. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state and a candidate for Kansas governor, crafted a pair of bills this year that would have affected state and local officials.

One proposal would have required the Kansas Highway Patrol to partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ICE's parent agency, on immigration enforcement. Another would have prevented cities from adopting policies that prevent law enforcement officers from inquiring about a person's immigration status or cooperating with federal authorities. Neither bill advanced in the 2017 session but could be reconsidered next year.

Supporters of such measures contend that tighter immigration enforcement would help discourage illegal immigration. But Hawkins says there's a downside to making state and local police the front line for policing the nation's borders.

When immigrants — especially undocumented immigrants — are afraid to report crimes, call an ambulance or assist with ongoing investigations, it can serve to undermine, rather than improve, public safety, Hawkins says.

“As a police department, you want them to report it if it happens,” he says. “Because if they don't, then we don't know about it, and we can't fix it.”

Where does it go from here?

In the meantime, the work of building trust through community policing is continuing in Garden City.

In the aftermath of the events that brought Garden City into the national spotlight last fall, local law enforcement officers began monthly visits to the apartment buildings on West Mary Street, according to Utz. Police officers still call on the families and kids living in these neighborhoods to talk, connect and sometimes even play soccer. The informal gatherings now take place about every three months.

“Some of these kids, when they got to the United States, they did not even know how to cross the street safely,” Utz says. “We taught them how to go to the corner and look both ways — there's a lot of education. What we do up there, we do constantly.”

It's just the latest effort to build community bridges with the newest residents of Garden City. Utz and his force began meeting periodically at the African Community Center in early 2016. At these meetings, officers and members of the Somali community discussed a range of topics, from the police department's role and accountability to residents' concerns about driving, traffic regulations and burying deceased loved ones, Utz says.

During that fateful Friday meeting before news of the domestic terror bomb plot emerged in public media, Utz hoped the relationship he, his officers and Somali community leaders had forged was enough to get law enforcement's message across and avoid community panic.

“I knew from experience in the mid-1980s dealing with Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian cultures that building that trust was going to be important,” Utz says, referring to the first waves of immigrants that had come to work at the then new meat-packing plants in southwest Kansas. “They had that similar lack of trust of government and law enforcement.”

So far, news out of the nation's capital and presidential executive orders have not impacted crime reporting across the community, according to Utz. In fact, crime rates in Garden City have dropped steadily and significantly overall since the early 2000s — almost in half — according to the chief.

For a diverse community where cultural and linguistic barriers are common, Utz thinks that is significant. It's why his organization continues to urge all residents to be vigilant of their surroundings and always call law enforcement for assistance when necessary.

“It really comes down to: If you see something, then say something,” he says. “We've heightened that message after the thwarted attack.”

Lower crime rates and safe neighborhoods are two of the reasons Garden City continues to attract immigrants and refugees who want to build better lives. Even after the news of last October, the Somali community has not dwindled. If anything, more families have moved to the area, Naleye says.

Naleye's role as a liaison between the police and the Somali community demonstrates the power of community policing to give the work of enhancing public safety to the residents themselves.

For instance, just a few hours after he had been told of the alleged plot, the young Somali-American ventured into work at the packing plant, where he had started on the production floor in 2013. A televised news conference was to begin any minute, and so Naleye quickly walked through the facility visiting with shift supervisors and managers to explain why some of his co-workers might be missing from work or distracted.

“I told them: ‘If people are not at work today, do not let it be a problem,'” he says. “I was walking and talking all day.”

At the beginning of this year, with the encouragement of Utz, Naleye joined the city's Cultural Relations Board, an all-volunteer group that serves to promote cultural diversity through community-wide events and dialogue.

His motivation to work as a community liaison, to volunteer and to lead the Somali community in Garden City is strong and has spiritual roots.

“If you have the knowledge, you should help others,” he says. “I see my community needs help, and I am encouraged because of Allah to help them.”

However, his efforts are not without challenges. Members of the African Community Center no longer have a physical space to meet, after being unable to renew their last lease. Money is a major problem. Naleye, along with seven other board members, volunteer their time to assist other residents with the logistics of paying bills, resolving traffic tickets and translating during health care appointments.

However, the group has not figured out a fair or proper way to generate revenue for the organization so these activities can be sustained.

And there is still a lot of work to do. Many neighbors lack basic English-language skills and lack the confidence and knowledge to navigate what for them are complex and new legal systems in southwest Kansas.

But Naleye, who has made Garden City his home, is up for the challenge.

“I don't have family here with me, so who is my family?” he asks. “It is my Somali community.”

To learn about the Kansas Leadership Center, visit Additional stories examining the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement can be found at


More than $98 million in community policing grants awarded

by the Associated Press

Several cities, including Chicago, have been awarded more than $3.1 million each in federal grants to hire extra police officers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Monday announced COPS Hiring Program grants, saying 80 percent of the 179 agencies sharing $98 million in grants agreed to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in their detention facilities.

It's not clear which cities agreed to cooperate.

Metropolitan Dade County Florida, Houston and San Antonio police departments and the Orange County sheriff's office in California also received grants.

The grants are separate from one that pays for public safety equipment. The Trump administration threatened to withhold those grants from cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

Chicago is suing the federal government for withholding that funding, and dozens of jurisdictions have supported it.



Calling for solutions: The gang war in Iberia Parish

by Justice Henderson

Iberia Parish Sheriff, Louis Ackal, has hit a roadblock trying to combat gun and gang violence on the streets of New Iberia.

"What's been going on for the last year is a gang war. The West end versus the East end of New Iberia," Ackal said.

Ackal said the violence comes down to gang retaliation, and our future leaders are the ones suffering at the hands of the violence.

"The older gang members, use the juveniles because they know that the consequences against the juveniles are going to be far less than that of an adult," Ackal said.

Former gang leader, Charles Banks, said he has been apart of the gang life and nothing will be resolved until the officials and the community bridge the gap.

"They are afraid because there is no relationship here. The relationship has failed between the community and the Sheriff's department," Banks said.

Ackal says he agrees; working together is the only solution.

"We are not asking them to come and testify in court. We just want to know if it is going to happen, where it is going to happen, and who is involved," Ackal said.

New Iberia mayor, Freddie Decourt, said with the police department coming back after 13 years, he has plans in place to bring the violence to an end.

"Policies of community policing are going to be really important, I feel comfortable that the chief we are bringing in has done that and will continue to do that. I can tell you that every officer will sign a statement, that they believe in community policing and we are putting those policies together now. And revamping those policies to for New Iberia and fit our current situation," DeCourt said.



Chicago passes 600 homicides for only third time since 2003

The city has recorded at least 609 homicides, which trails the 711 homicides this time last year but far exceeds previous years

by Madeline Buckley

CHICAGO — Chicago has surpassed 600 homicides for the second year in a row and for only the third time since 2003, according to data kept by the Tribune.

As of early Monday, the city has recorded at least 609 homicides. That trails the 711 homicides this time last year but far exceeds previous years. In 2015, the city had recorded 443 homicides by the weekend of Nov. 22. In 2014, it was 400.

Like homicides, shootings are also markedly down from last year but up by hundreds compared to previous years. At least 3,267 people have been shot in Chicago this year, compared to 3,937 this time last year. In 2015, the number so far was 2,288 and in 2014, 1,999.

This weekend saw 13 people shot in the city, including a 14-year-old boy who was seriously injured.

The boy was walking on Sunday morning in the 2500 block of North Lotus Avenue in the Cragin neighborhood on the Northwest Side when someone shot at him from a vehicle, hitting him in the chest.

He was one of four teens shot over the weekend.

From Friday afternoon to early Monday, one man was fatally shot in what police said was an accident. Anthony Collins, 30, accidentally shot himself Sunday in the 1600 block of North Mango Avenue in the the North Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

The weekend's latest gun attack was a double shooting in the West Side's South Austin neighborhood around 3:10 a.m. Monday. Two men were shot in a residence in the 5000 block of West Fulton Street when the assailants entered the home and fired at them, police said.



Teachers in Harrisburg resign over student violence

by the Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Teachers in Pennsylvania's capital city are asking for support after a series of violent altercations with students has led to multiple resignations.

The Harrisburg Education Association says at least 45 teachers have resigned since July and October. Association President Jody Barksdale says more have resigned since then.

Speaking at a school board meeting Monday evening, first-grade teacher Amanda Sheaffer says she has been hit and kicked by her students.

Barksdale says the association wants a task force comprised of teachers, administrators and parents to help students who display violent behaviors.

The district claims not all of the teacher resignations were due to student violence. Still, Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney says the district understands that there is a “different type of support that is needed.”



Egypt mosque attack leaves at least 305 dead in Sinai Peninsula

by Charlene Gubash and F. Brinley Bruton

CAIRO — At least 305 people were killed when gunmen opened fire and bombed a mosque in Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula on Friday. Government officials said 128 more had been injured in the attack — among the deadliest in Egypt's history.

The rising death toll included 27 children, officials said.

Images from inside the building showed dozens of bodies wrapped in blood-soaked cloth lined up on the carpeted floor.

Police sources told The Associated Press that men in four off-road vehicles opened fire on worshippers in the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Al Rawdah. NBC News could not immediately independently verify that account.

Two eyewitnesses and a security source told Reuters that the suspected militants targeted supporters of the security forces attending prayers. Citing official sources, the state-run MENA news agency reported that the mosque is largely attended by Sufi Muslims — a form of Islam considered heretical by some conservatives and extremists like the Islamic State group.

Around 50 ambulances were transferring victims to hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health. A statement issued by Egypt's General Prosecutor Nabil Sadiq put the death toll at 305, with at least 128 others wounded.

A Health Ministry official told Al Jazeera TV that “there were many people inside the mosque — it's only a small mosque."

Gunmen shot worshippers fleeing the initial attack, he added.

There has been a wave of attacks on the country's Coptic Christian minority, but strikes on mosques are rare and Friday's onslaught shocked many throughout Egypt.

While Egypt's security forces have been battling Islamist militants in northern Sinai for years, violence picked up after the 2013 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. A new group called Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for a bloody October attack on Egyptian police.

The conflict has killed hundreds of soldiers and militants over the years, although journalists are banned from the area and exact numbers are unclear.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi declared three days of mourning and called a meeting of security officials after the attack.

"I reiterate my condolences to the families of the martyrs, and my wishes for a recovery of the wounded people," el-Sissi said on state television. "Once again I tell all Egyptians that this situation, what happened will increase our determination to face terrorism with all our strength."

El-Sissi's office said U.S. President Donald Trump offered the United States' condolences.

In a tweet, Trump called the attack "horrible and cowardly."

"The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!" Trump tweeted. He followed up with another tweet saying he planned to call el-Sissi later on Friday, and renewed his call for a border wall and travel ban.

The U.S. State Department called the attack "an unconscionable act of evil," and the United Nations Security Council issued a statement of condemnation.



Couple raises thousands for homeless veteran to thank him for selfless act

by Dave Alsup and Darren Simon

When Kate McClure first met Johnny Bobbitt Jr., he was homeless.

He spent this Thanksgiving resting in a hotel, his feet up on the bed, drawing up a grand plan for his new life -- thanks to several thousand dollars she raised to repay him for a good deed.

Bobbitt used to spend most of his time sitting with a sign on a roadside in Philadelphia.

In October, McClure was driving down Interstate 95 there when she ran out of gas. Scared and nervous, she got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station and met Bobbitt. He told her to get back in the vehicle and lock the door. Minutes later, he emerged with a red gas can.

He had used his last $20 to buy her gas.

Bobbitt didn't ask for money; McClure didn't have any then. Over the next few weeks, she gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat and socks. She would give him a few dollars each time she saw him.

But McClure wanted to do more. About two weeks ago, she and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, who both live in New Jersey, started a GoFundMe page. They hoped to raise $10,000 -- enough money for first and last month's rent, a reliable vehicle and up to six months of expenses. Normalcy.

The story ran in a local paper and later went viral. By Friday, the fund exceeded $300,000.

"I don't have an explanation for it. I think it was the perfect storm," D'Amico told CNN Thursday.

More than 10,000 people have made donations, the Go Fund Me page said.

"We wanted to make sure he was safe, and go from there," McClure told CNN Thursday. "I remember when we got our first donation, we were like, 'holy crap.'"

Earlier this month, Bobbitt flashed a wide smile when they told him about the first set of donations amounted to $769.

"God, that's amazing. Damn, y'all did all that. That is awesome," he said, stroking that beard in a video McClure took then.

D'Amico told him a lot of people wanted to help him.

In the video, Bobbitt talked about the kindness of people in Philadelphia.

"People talk about Philly ... I have honestly met more good people than bad. I really have," he said. "Like y'all."

Bobbitt, a North Carolina native, lived in Missoula, Montana, according to his Facebook page. He studied nursing and was a former paramedic and firefighter. He also served in Marine Corps, according to the page.

On Wednesday night, the couple checked Bobbitt into a hotel. They gave him money for contact lenses and took him to Walmart, where he got some socks.

Mostly, he wanted to just lay in the hotel bed and watch television, D'Amico said.

On Thursday, D'Amico bought Johnny a computer. "He can't wait to get on a computer," D'Amico said.

The couple asked Bobbitt what he wanted to do with all the money. Bobbitt was hesitant to say, but he plans to make a video and explain it all, D'Amico said.

"The whole game changed in the last 24 to 48 hours. His expectations changed, and what he wanted to do changed," D'Amico said. "He has a couple of places in Philadelphia that got him through and got him by. He wants to pay it forward."

"His dreams aren't champagne and caviar," D'Amico said.



Police surprise motorists with gift-card citations

by William Patrick

Some motorists pulled over by Palestine Police officers this Thanksgiving were given a holiday surprise; instead of a citation, officers issued a gift card.

The $25 Brookshire gift cards, donated by the Police Officers' Association, were given, along with warnings to random drivers guilty of minor traffic violations.

“We wanted to do something to surprise people,” Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey told the Herald-Press on Friday. “We wanted to show residents we're part of the community.”

Harvey said the initiative came from a brainstorming session with him and his officers.

“We'd heard of other departments doing similar things,” he said. “We thought we'd try it. It was very cool to see people's reactions.”

Community involvement has been a priority for Harvey since he took office in August. Community policing, he said, is a culture. The gift-card initiative is one of many programs that aim to build on that culture.

“The whole point is for the residents to see us as part of the community, not just enforcement,” Harvey said. “Twenty-five dollars isn't a lot, but it's a little something to show the people we're here for them.”



New Jersey

Cops hope sports megastars can make traffic stops safer

If you are motioned over for a traffic stop, stay calm, stay in your car and don't sound off to the police officers who pulled you over.

That's the message two sports megastars with ties to New Jersey want the state's residents to hear.

Former New York Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead and retired NBA standout Shaquille O'Neal make their appeal in a series of short videos designed to avert conflict during potentially fraught police-civilian interactions.

The public service announcements are part of a statewide campaign called Safe Stop, sponsored by the office of Attorney General Christopher Porrino, and bringing together public figures to help assure that every traffic stop ends safely for all the parties involved.

As recent history indicates, not every traffic stop has a happy ending.

In just 40 seconds, a routine traffic stop turned deadly in July 2016, when a police officer fired seven shots at Philandro Castile in a Minnesota suburb.

Twelve months earlier, Darrius Stewart was a passenger in a car stopped by a Memphis police officer who noticed a missing headlight. A half hour later, Stewart was dead - one of more than 100 people shot and killed nationwide by police in 2015 after a traffic stop.

Similar tragedies abound. The Washington Post found last year that black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

Porrino says physical conflict often can be traced to miscommunication, or lack of knowledge, during a routine traffic stop.

In an attempt to fill the knowledge gap, all police officers in New Jersey are now required to complete annual training in de-escalation techniques, cultural awareness and implicit bias.

"We have improved protocols for investigation of police-involved use of deadly force, and we have promoted innovative community policing through hundreds of dollars in grants and awards," Porrino says in a message on his office's website.

The series of PSAs, made in conjunction with community partners such as the Chiefs of Police Association, the New Jersey state police and the Trenton Capital Cities Community Coalition, stresses that the responsibility to keep encounters calm lies with all participants.

"Law enforcement needs to be courteous and respectful, and so does anyone who gets pulled over," Armstrong says in his 48-second spot.

The theme is repeated in videos starring the likes of Pastor John R. Taylor of Trenton's Friendship Baptist Church; Hudson County Prosecutor Ester Suarez; Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference; and Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU-NJ.

Are the PSAs the solution to the racial tensions that plague us? We're not naive enough to think so. But at the very least, the Safe Stop initiative may generate valuable conversation about police-civilian relations. In the best-case scenario, it might save lives.