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"  

December, 2017 - Week 2
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.

South Carolina

South Carolina serial killer Todd Kohlhepp claims he has more victims

by Fox News

A South Carolina man who admitted to killing seven people earlier this year has claimed to have more victims whose remains have not been discovered.

In an eight-page letter to the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg , Todd Kohlhepp wrote that he tried to tell investigators about the other killings and informed the FBI, but he said "it was blown off."

"At this point, I really don't see reason to give numbers or locations," Kohlhepp also wrote.

Kohlhepp, 46, was arrested last year after police rescued a woman chained at the neck in a storage container and investigators found a body buried in a shallow grave. The woman told investigators she saw Kohlhepp shoot and kill her boyfriend, 32-year-old Charles David Carter who went with her for a cleaning job on the suspect's property.

In addition to Carter, Kohlhepp also pleaded guilty this past May to killing husband-and-wife Johnny and Meagan Coxie in December 2015, as well as four people at local motorcycle shop in 2003. He is currently serving seven consecutive life terms plus 60 years on kidnapping, sexual assault and other charges. He is not eligible for parole.

At the time of Kohlhepp's sentencing, his attorney told the court there were no other victims. But in his letter to the Herald-Journal, Kohlhepp wrote that his murder trail, "leaves the state and leaves the country."

Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina in 2001 shortly after 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping in Arizona. Authorities there said the then 15-year-old forced a 14-year-old neighbor back to his home at gunpoint, tied her up and raped her.

Anderson Police Capt. Mike Walters told the paper he does not believe Kholhepp is tied to any more local cases, but suspects he may have victims out of state.

"I'm sure there are more. I'm just thinking they're more likely in Florida or elsewhere," Walters said. "People like him, they want the cops to get the notoriety. They're always going to throw bait out there often to keep their name out there."



5 years after tragedy, families of Sandy Hook victims work to prevent gun violence, make lost loved ones 'proud'

by Catherine Thorbecke

Five years after a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school horrified the nation, some family members of victims reflected on how their lives have changed since the tragedy, as they work together to prevent future acts of gun violence .

"We simply don't want other parents to be in our position. We know that these acts of violence are preventable," Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown five years ago, told ABC News' Amy Robach. "We feel responsible to teach people how to prevent them from happening."

Hockley recalled how her Dylan, who had autism , loved to pretend to he was a butterfly.

"He would flap his arms up and down whenever he got excited, which was pretty much all the time, and I asked him once, 'Why do you flap?' and he said, 'because I'm a beautiful butterfly,'" she said.

"At his funeral I talked about how the theory of a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can cause a hurricane on the other side," Hockley said. "I thought about Dylan as our butterfly to help create change in our country, positive, transformative change."

Hockley co-founded the Sandy Hook Promise , a nonprofit organization that uses educational programs to help prevent acts of gun violence before they occur.

The community of Newtown was thrust into the national spotlight five years ago this week when it was rocked by tragedy after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty students -- between the ages of 6 and 7 -- and six educators were killed.

The shooting drew many immediate calls for reform or action to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again. Just this October, however, the U.S. suffered the deadliest mass shooting in history when a gunman killed 59 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mark Barden, who also co-founded Sandy Hook Promise after his son, Daniel, was killed at the elementary school, told ABC News that he "made a very deliberate decision to invest every fiber of my being into trying to prevent that from happening again."

Barden recalled his son as "an exceptionally sweet, compassionate little soul."

"My one little Daniel has in his life affected so many people in a positive way, but in his murder I can't even tell you," Barden said.

"We're training people, students, parents, teachers, how to recognize the warning signs that people give off before they hurt themselves before they hurt someone else," Barden said.

Bill Sherlach told ABC News that the work he is doing now to prevent mass shootings is in honor of his wife, Mary Sherlach, who worked as a psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary school where she was murdered.

"I hope she would be very proud," Bill Sherlach said. "We're making a lot of lemonade ... we've been given a whole lot of lemons, and we're just making a whole lot of lemonade, and doing everything we can, to hopefully make her proud of us."

Sherlach added that they have been told that their work has prevented school shootings.

"We've already done it," he said. "There's been a number of school shootings that we know we've thwarted.

Sandy Hook Promise released a new video today, approximately five years after the tragedy. The public service announcement calls on viewers to learn the warning signs exhibited by those who may act violently towards themselves or others, and to take action to prevent acts of violence before they occur.

The PSA, called "Tomorrow's News," depicts mock news coverage of a school shooting from the day before it occurred, to illustrate how it possibly could have been prevented.

"It's easy to know the right thing to do after it's too late to do anything," Greg Hahn, the chief creative officer at BBDO New York, the advertising firm that helped create the video, said in a statement.

"In this PSA, we illustrate that when it comes to gun violence prevention, the stakes are too high to let that continue to be the case," Hahn added.

Hockley told ABC News that "it is not a comfortable piece to watch."

"But you know what? Gun violence isn't comfortable," she added.

Hockley said that the tireless work she is doing with Sandy Hook Promise is all in honor of Dylan, and to ensure that no other parent has to lose their child in the same way she did.

"For Dylan, I will always keep going," Hockley said. "And to ensure that more moms and dads out there can continue to hug their kids every single night for the rest of their lives, I will keep going."


The science of good policing

by Francie Diep

T he controversy over police use of force in the United States can often pit the conversation in overly simplistic terms: You must choose between a police force that works to prevent crime, or one that's respectful of, and respected by, its constituents — and less effective. But it turns out you don't have to sacrifice one for the other, according to a recent analysis .

"There are a number of proactive policing strategies that have impacts on crime and, for the most part, they don't cause those negative outcomes in the community," says David Weisburd , a criminologist at George Mason University and the lead author of the analysis.

Research showed strategies like problem-oriented policing and hot spots policing to be particularly effective. However, while stop-and-frisk — a method made infamous by the New York Police Department that has brought about numerous lawsuits charging that its practice infringes on people's civil rights — was found to be effective against crime in certain circumstances, it was also found to be harmful to individuals. Weisburd and his colleagues are hoping police chiefs around the country will use the new report to help them implement evidence-based programs for whatever challenges they face at home.

"Maybe a department is doing well, crime is going down, but the community seems unhappy. Then they can use these community policing ideas to develop better relations," Weisburd says. (Weisburd's team found that community policing improved people's perception of police.) "Maybe another chief is facing a situation where there's a sudden increase in violent crime. That person can read this report and say, 'There's an evidence base to use hot spots.'"

Jim Bueermann , a former police chief, current president of the Police Foundation, and one of Weisburd's co-authors, was optimistic that police departments are becoming "increasingly likely" to take reports like his and Weisburd's to heart. "There is a movement called evidence-based policing that is gaining a great deal of traction," he says.

Weisburg and Bueermann worked with a panel of 15 other experts, including criminologists, lawyers, statisticians, and another former police chief, although no police-reform activists were on the official panel. They analyzed existing studies of several popular, proactive policing strategies. Their results are publicly available in a report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering. We've got some highlights below.

Problem-oriented policing

Problem-oriented policing was one of the most promising strategies Weisburd and his team studied. There was evidence suggesting that the approach both reduces crime in the short term and improves community relations slightly. (There is little long-term data, which was true of everything the panel examined.) To count as problem-oriented policing, a program had to identify an issue in a community, sometimes with input from community members, and develop strategies to solve it. The issue might be specific, like juvenile crime in one park, or it might be broader, like "physical disorder."

Many studies of problem-oriented policing programs found they increased community members' satisfaction with the police. Some also found they improved people's perception of their quality of life, lowered their fear of crime, and bolstered their belief in the legitimacy of the police. But other studies found no effect. One study found backlash in one community.

Hot spots policing

Hot spots policing takes advantage of research that's shown that a large portion of a city's crime will often occur on just a few streets. Hot spots policing programs invest in these streets more intensely — and studies show that the strategy helps reduce crime there in the short term, without pushing off crime to surrounding areas. The researchers also found that hot spots policing rarely created backlash from the community.

Stop-and-frisk and traffic stops

Stop-and-frisk and aggressive traffic stops have become some of the most controversial police tactics in America, the former because of civil rights lawsuits and the latter because of police killings of unarmed black men pulled over for minor infractions.

Research shows that, when applied to specific areas, stop-and-frisk can reduce crime. But studies also document that people perceive stop-and-frisk and traffic stops for small problems — such as an unlit license-plate light, or driving too slowly — very negatively. And no wonder: Even before the now-infamous deaths of the past few years , police in many cities had been found to disproportionately stop black Americans , and to stop innocent people a large majority of the time.

Community policing

American police departments deploy so-called "community policing" in a lot of different ways, from having a police representative attend community meetings to publishing newsletters to bike patrols. The researchers found that, when they separated the "community engagement" strategies from other police tactics they studied — such as problem-oriented policing, which often solicits community input — community engagement alone didn't reduce crime. But big reviews of community policing did find it improved community members' satisfaction with police. Whether it improved people's perceived disorder in their neighborhoods, fear of crime, and belief in the police's legitimacy was less clear.

It's possible community policing does reduce crime, but researchers couldn't tell because studies of it don't tend to last longer than a year, Weisburd says. The theory behind community policing suggests it should take a while to work against crime because police need to build up trust among their constituents, first. But major crime-study funders, such as the Department of Justice, often give out grants that last only a year, Weisburd says.

Unanswered questions

Indeed, there's a lot left to learn, as Weisburd's and his colleagues' analysis makes clear. Best studied is whether different police tactics reduce crime rates. Less studied, but emerging, is evidence about how those tactics affect the attitudes of the people the police are supposed to serve. And scarcely studied at all are important questions that make up the second half of "What works in policing?" Although the team members looked for them, they found no studies about whether certain police strategies are more likely to violate civil rights. They also didn't find convincing evidence about why some programs lead police officers to target racial minorities disproportionately. Is it implicit or explicit bias? Something else? What can police departments do about it?

"There's been a long history of racial injustice in the United States, in particular in criminal justice and policing," Weisburd says. "The police are often the agents of society that carried out rules that were unjust involving discrimination in the United States and with that in mind, this, in our view, is an extremely important area for us to look at more carefully in the future."



Emanuel announces that every CPD officer now has a body camera

by Dakarai Turner

The Chicago Police Department had completed the process of rolling out body cameras to every officer in the city, the superintendent and mayor announced Sunday.

Police have said the program will improve community trust by equipping 7,000 officers with the devices, making the department the largest in the nation to do so. The department began the process in 2015 and finishes one year ahead of schedule, originally hoping to complete it by the end of 2018.

Using a short video, Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said using the devices adds momentum to efforts aimed at improving community trust.


Sandy Hook shooting anniversary: How schools have changed security

by Elizabeth Chuck

Buzzers for the front door. Security cameras. Bulletproof glass.

These are among the physical reinforcements that have become more common in schools across the country in the five years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, as more and more schools try to address security concerns.

Experts say the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown, Connecticut — which left 20 children and six staff members dead — prompted the wave of alterations to school buildings.

"After Sandy Hook, you saw a tremendous increase in the number of buzzer systems," said Dr. Amy Klinger, director of programs and co-founder of the Educator's School Safety Network, a nonprofit that supports safer schools. By requiring that visitors be buzzed in by a receptionist or other staff member, schools say they're adding a layer of control about who can gain access.

Adding security features comes with challenges, though: They can be costly for cash-strapped schools — Klinger said the buzzer system alone can run about $5,000 — and they can make school feel less than inviting.

"We want to always be looking at that balance between helping kids feel safe at school, and be safe at school, but not feeling like they're going to school in a prison environment," said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, a nonprofit for school-based law enforcement officers.

That was the goal in Newtown, where the school district demolished the original Sandy Hook Elementary out of respect for the victims. Last year, a new school opened elsewhere on the same property; Consigli Construction Co., which built the $50 million school, has billed it as a national model for the "school of the future."

The new Sandy Hook school has a nature theme, with two "treehouse spaces" — glass-enclosed wings that jut out over the school's expansive courtyard. Inconspicuous security features, such as doors that can be easily locked from the outside or inside, bullet-resistant windows, and bioswales outside the building that absorb water for plants while also keeping visitors at a distance, are sprinkled throughout the property.

"The new building was very thoughtful and very sensitive," Matthew Consigli, president of Consigli Construction, said. "We wanted to make sure that we introduced and implemented security features that aren't readily apparent to the children."

Experts point out that structural reinforcements are only part of the solution, and in some cases, may even detract from other crucial safety measures. They urge schools to combine security equipment with other tools, like regular lockdown drills, having a school crisis team that holds meetings throughout the year, and keeping open lines of communication with local first responders.

"Many people have just pursued security equipment and hardware as a quick fix, something that's visible and tangible that they can point to to parents and local media," said Kenneth S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting firm that helps schools prevent and prepare for crises. "Oftentimes, the best security is invisible."

Lockdowns, in particular, can be effective, as a shooting last month in California showed. When a gunman in the Rancho Tehama Reserve killed four people and targeted an elementary school, he was thwarted from getting into the school after staff initiated a lockdown, authorities said.

"It appears that because he couldn't make access to any of the rooms — they were locked — that he gave it up and re-entered the vehicle and then went on his killing spree and took it to the streets," Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. "So I really want to say that the quick action of those school officials, there is no doubt in my mind based on the video that I saw, saved countless lives and children."

But facility upgrades don't always stop tragedy altogether. A shooting last week in a New Mexico high school killed two children despite teachers going on lockdown and pushing a panic button as the gunman was shooting, according to local reports.

And even Sandy Hook had some physical barriers in place: The gunman, Adam Lanza, however, was able to easily breach the buzzer system there.

School safety consultants all stress that mass shootings in schools are exceedingly rare. Still, they urged administrators to focus as much on preventing an attack as to what their response would be.

"The only way you're going to reduce this is training, and that training has to incorporate not only faculty, but parents," said Heidi Wysocki, co-founder of First Defense Solutions, which offers training on how to minimize casualties in active shooter situations. She cites the "Know the Signs" programs from Sandy Hook Promise, the nonprofit led by several families of victims in the school shooting, as a good guide.

While training staff members and drilling students on how to handle an attack is important, they said it shouldn't be at the expense of preparing for a more likely emergency: what to do if a noncustodial parent tries to pick up a child, for example, or if a student has a serious health emergency.

"We are doing active shooter training to the exclusion of everything else," Klinger said. "Statistically, you're probably not going to have an active shooter."



Repercussions: How does lack of diversity affect policing?

by Kara Carlson, Fraser Allan Best and Andrea Jaramillo Valencia

PHOENIX – Arizona police departments don't always reflect the racial diversity of the communities they serve, but experts disagree on the degree to which that makes a difference.

More than 70 percent of Americans believe police departments should have a similar racial composition to the communities they serve, according to a poll conducted for “Race and Policing in America: Conflict and Reform.”

However, some research shows that adding more minority officers to a police force isn't a panacea to improving community relations and stopping behavior such as racial profiling because there isn't a strong correlation between officer race and how they treat people. Other studies dispute those findings.

But most experts agree on one thing: Large disparities between a department's diversity and that of the community can have “symbolic effects” – such as diminishing trust and confidence in police. Experts also say diversity could help overcome language barriers and perception problems.

Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, a Phoenix-based immigration and civil rights lawyer, said police departments need to recruit more people of color because personal experiences and deeper cultural understanding could help improve relationships with the community.

[Click/tap here to see the infographic]

“It's not gonna solve the problem,” he said. “It is not the solution to the problem, but there are a lot of benefits that a person of color can bring in any workforce environment.”

While 44 percent of Arizonans are non-white, non-whites are underrepresented among officers in nearly every Arizona police department represented in a 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, according to a Cronkite News analysis of the data, the latest available.

That imbalance may be one reason tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve have increased in recent years.

“We have a terrible relationship in Arizona between the police, law enforcement and communities of color,” Ybarra Maldonado said. “People are very leery of the police. They're actually afraid of the police, and it's something that we definitely need to work on here in Arizona.”

But some experts say it's not necessarily the officer's race that makes a difference during interactions.

John Shjarback, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at El Paso, has researched the link between officer diversity and community relations. He found that simply increasing diversity in a police force did not solve a lot of policing-related problems.

He said research has shown no relationship between an officer's race and how they treat members of the public.

Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University professor and sociologist specializing in criminology, wrote in an journal article that socialization has more influence on how officers behave.

“It's really not the race of the officer that makes a difference, but it's their occupational identity,” he told Cronkite News. He said all police graduates tend to adopt a uniform identity, and all police must enforce the same laws.

[Click/tap here to see the infographic.]

However, another recent study that examined uses of force in seven police departments across the country found that white officers used greater force on black suspects than they did on white suspects.

The study, co-authored by Arizona State University Professor William Terrill, suggests possible bias on the part of white officers. However, it “by no means proves it,” according to the university.

“This is not, in any way, to say that police officers are ‘racist,' but it is to say that race cannot be dismissed,” Terrill said in an ASU news article.

The study acknowledges that increasing diversity is not an end-all solution: “In all, though, hiring more black officers is not a panacea for the ills plaguing police departments serving minority communities.”

Even when a police department does more closely reflect the community, it does not necessarily ease community tension and reduce racial profiling.

In Baltimore, black officers make up 42 percent of the force, well above the national average. Still, a 2016 report by the U.S. Justice Department found the city had widespread problems resulting in people of color disproportionately being stopped, searched and arrested.

The city's black residents comprise 63 percent of the city, but account for 86 percent of all criminal offenses. The report also found that 44 percent of unjust stops were made in two primarily black neighborhoods, which only housed about 11 percent of Baltimore's population.

Some Arizona residents agree with studies indicating officer race makes little difference and say adding more diversity in law enforcement won't change much – but for different reasons.

Frankie Tso, a Navajo who lives in Flagstaff, was 17 when he had his first encounter with police. He said a Flagstaff officer stopped him as he walked home from a friend's house and told him he fit the description of someone who stole a 30-pack of beers from Safeway.

“I was scared because I've seen videos of people just getting brutalized for like, little stupid things,” Tso said. “I don't feel safe around the police. Nobody here feels safe around the police.”

White officers make up nearly 88 percent of the Flagstaff Police Department, according to the department's latest annual report. But for Tso, it doesn't matter what the officer looks like: He doesn't trust police.

“A cop is a cop,” Tso said. “It really doesn't matter if it's like a black cop, a white cop, a Native cop.”

Experts: ‘Blue' culture, training, laws need to change

For some officers, stepping into a uniform shifts their loyalties.

Ronald L. Davis, former director of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice, said minority officers sometimes fall into the “blue culture.” He said this can negate the improvements hiring more diverse officers may bring.

“You'll hear the phrase: You're not black now, you're a cop that happens to be black,” Davis said.

Ybarra Maldonado said it's that “blue culture” that could even lead to additional problems. For example, he said police often have the perception that “brown is bad” and illegal.

“When (officers) are part of the law enforcement culture, racial profiling is ingrained. It's in the locker room, on the lunch talks, in the cars when they're on patrol,” Ybarra Maldonado said. “Simply being black or brown doesn't take racial profiling out of the equation.”

Data does show a connection between race and police searches and arrests in Arizona.

When it comes to searches, Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans are two times more likely than whites to be searched when they're stopped while driving a car, according a Cronkite News analysis of 2011-2015 data from The Stanford Open Policing Project.

The data also indicated that Native Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested. African-Americans are two times more likely, and Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to face arrest compared to white counterparts.

Ybarra Maldanado's wife, Angeles Maldonado, is a scholar and activist with the Institute for Border Crit Theory, a nonprofit that promotes new education theories on borderlands and race. She sat on the community advisory board that stemmed from the racial profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio. She said racial profiling will continue – even with changes in training and policies – unless cultures change.

“Even if you hire new officers, and they're going there with the best intentions, if the policing culture is one where racial profiling is happening, (it) is likely that they will do the same thing,” Maldonado said.

She said officers of color may even racially profile people of their own race more often.

“You are likely to discriminate or oppress people of your own race simply because you associate those practices with being closer to power,” she said.

Grace Gamez, program coordinator of American Friends Service Committee, a nonprofit in Tucson, said officer training plays an important role in changing the culture. “Whether it's a white cop or a cop of color, if they're trained within the same logics, chances are the results will be pretty similar,” Gamez said.

Other community activists argued that if people want to see real change, they need to start looking at the laws themselves. After all, officers must enforce the laws, even if they disproportionately impact a minority community.

For example, Senate Bill 1070, the controversial immigration law that allows officers to inquire about a person's immigration status during a lawful stop, targets mainly Latinos.

Kenneth Muhammad, chairman of a conflict resolution organization in Phoenix called 10,000 Fearless Men & Women, said police often contribute to a “continuous cycle” of arrests.

“These laws are not designed to aid us, help us. They're designed to make sure that we stay in our place by the lawmakers,” Muhammad said.

Shjarback agreed that increasing diversity among lawmakers may make more of a difference than than the “statistical matching of an organization to the community.”

Adding diversity can help build trust, reach communities

Although some studies show adding more diversity to a department may not have a tangible effect on police behavior, advocates say it does make a difference in how communities feel about police.

“If a police officer is going to be effective, they have to have the trust and the presentation of integrity,” said Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for policy and advocacy for the NAACP.

Professors at Florida State University published a study in 2012 that found diversity helps build community trust.

Even Weitzer, whose study found that an officer's race “doesn't really have much effect on the ground,” said that it “does have an effect on the reputation of a department, its image and how people interpret police behavior.”

Arizona Rep. Tom O'Halleran, a former Chicago police officer, also said diversity helps build trust.

“You're not going to get the same percentages, but you have to make sure that you attempt to bring on other groups to overcome the objection that you don't care about those communities,” the Sedona Democrat said.

Adding more diverse officers – or at least officers with different cultural backgrounds – also may help in practical ways.

“You'd want to have police officers who speak Spanish,” Shelton said. “If you're not understanding … you don't know when they come running and screaming whether they're going to attack you or whether the baby stopped breathing.”

Nikolas Rasheta, a detective with the Mesa Police Department, said officers can miss out when there's a language barrier. “In many cases, as soon as they realize I speak Spanish, you can just see relief in their face,” he said.

Jarvis Johnson, an African-American Phoenix resident, said seeing diverse officers can bring comfort to a community.

He pointed to Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, who is African-American.

“When they made Chief Williams the chief of police, I really liked that. … it speaks volumes.”

Johnson said he had an encounter with police a few weeks back, and he appreciated talking with a black officer.

“I felt comfortable talking to her,” he said. “And that's how people want to feel. They want to feel comfortable talking to the police.”


South Carolina

SC Highway Patrol seeking to equip troopers with patrol rifles

Recent shooting in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, Col. Chris Williamson said

by Nefeteria Brewster

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — A South Carolina law enforcement agency is seeking to purchase and arm personnel with semi-automatic weapons in the upcoming year.

Recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, said Col. Chris Williamson of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The need for an upgrade in weaponry has been overlooked in past years, he said. But as state legislators are expected to review its annual budget in January, Williamson said, he hopes they consider approving more than a half-million dollars to buy more than 600 semi-automatic rifles.

“From the highway patrol standpoint, we've already decided that this is a necessity,” he said. “We're just hoping that the budget request is honored.”

Currently, 600 of 800 troopers are armed with shotguns. Williamson said the budget approval will allow remaining personnel to upgrade to semi-automatic rifles, which provide longer range as well as coverage of a larger area, should an active shooting situation arise.

“With recent active shooting situations, all suspects were armed with long rifles that took out people from a larger area and distance, so in the modern age now, we're looking to equip all of our law enforcement with these patrol rifles as we transition from a shotgun,” Williamson said.

The budget request has been submitted for the upcoming legislative session. Williamson said troopers are already trained to use semi-automatic rifles, but if the request is approved, the agency will enhance the training.

“We've been training all of our individuals with the rifle and the rifles will do a whole lot better than the shotguns,” he said. “This is a requirement to protect our citizens. It won't do us any good to have faster response and when we get there we don't have the possible tools to react to a threat.”


From ICE

ICE arrests 101 in New Jersey operation targeting criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration violators

NEWARK, N.J. — A Mexican national in the country illegally, who has a prior conviction for sexual assault on a minor, is among 101 foreign nationals taken into custody during a five-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week in New Jersey, targeting at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and other immigration violators. The operation was supported by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) New Jersey Field Office.

Of those arrested during the operation, which was spearheaded by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), 88 percent were convicted criminals and 80 percent of them had prior felony convictions.

The New Jersey enforcement effort comes days after the agency announced a 40 percent spike in administrative arrests nationwide over last year – 92 percent of which had a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive, or were an illegal re-entrant.

“The continued results of our Fugitive Operations officers and their law enforcement partners underscore ICE's ongoing and steady commitment to public safety,” said John Tsoukaris, field office director of ERO Newark. “As part of this operation, we continue focus on the arrest of individuals who are criminal and are a threat to public safety and national security. Because of the tireless efforts of these professional officers, there are 101 fewer criminals in our communities.”

“HSI is committed to leveraging its broad jurisdiction to further public safety in New Jersey,” said Michael McCarthy, acting special agent in charge for HSI Newark.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is extremely proud to have assisted in this operation,” said Leon Hayward, acting director for the New York Field Office. “It is through collaborative efforts, such as the one leading to these arrests, that law enforcement agencies can combat illegal acts and apprehend criminals who pose a threat to the Homeland.”

The individuals arrested throughout New Jersey were nationals of Brazil (3), Colombia (4), Congo (1), Costa Rica (3), Cuba (4), Dominican Republic (18), Ecuador (2), Egypt (2), El Salvador (7), Ethiopia (1), Georgia (1), Guatemala (6), Guyana (3), Haiti (3), Honduras (8), Jamaica (1), Korea (2), Liberia (1), Mexico (15), Nicaragua (1), Nigeria (1), Pakistan (1), Philippines (2), Peru (2), Portugal (1), Spain (2), Turkey (2), United Kingdom (1), Ukraine (1), Venezuela (1) and Vietnam (1).

These individuals were arrested in the following counties in New Jersey: Atlantic (2), Bergen (6), Burlington (7), Camden (11), Cumberland (3), Essex (14), Hudson (15), Mercer (6), Middlesex (11), Monmouth (3), Morris (1), Passaic (9), Somerset (4), and Union (6) and the following counties in New York: Kings(1), New York (1), and Suffolk (1). They range from age 20 to 71 years old and all were previously convicted of a variety of offenses. Some of the convictions included sexual assault on a minor, child abuse, possession of narcotics, distribution of narcotics, robbery, trespassing, DUI, fraud, possession of child pornography, domestic violence, battery, receiving stolen property, theft, possession of a weapon, burglary, larceny, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on law enforcement, assault by auto, shoplifting, invasion of privacy-recording sexual act without consent, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, and illegal reentry.

Among those arrested during this operation include:

•  A Mexican citizen convicted of sexual assault of a minor

•  A Turkish citizen convicted of possession of child pornography

•  A Peruvian citizen convicted of invasion of privacy-recording a sexual act w/o consent

•  A Colombian citizen convicted of aggravated battery and domestic violence assault

•  A Spanish citizen convicted of storing/maintaining child pornography

•  A Philippines citizen convicted of possession of methamphetamine

•  A Dominican citizen convicted of cocaine distribution and possession

•  A Guyanese citizen convicted of aggravated assault with a weapon

•  An Egyptian citizen convicted of possession of heroin

•  An El Salvadorian citizen convicted of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury

•  A Korean citizen convicted of distribution of cocaine

ICE deportation officers conduct targeted enforcement operations every day in locations around the country as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls.

During targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. Those persons will be evaluated on a case by case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE.

ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, as ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.


From the FBI

2016 NIBRS Crime Data Released

Report Contains New Data Including Animal Cruelty

Today, the FBI released information on more than 6 million criminal offenses that were submitted to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2016—and for the first time last year, the annual NIBRS report included data on animal cruelty. Additionally, hacking and identity theft were added to the overall fraud offense category.

While NIBRS data is not yet nationally representative, 6,849 law enforcement agencies (about 37 percent of the country's law enforcement agencies that participate in the UCR Program) contributed their data to the NIBRS, 2016 report, a 201-agency increase from 2015. By 2021, NIBRS is scheduled to become the national standard for crime reporting, replacing the Summary Reporting System. NIBRS provides additional information and context for criminal offenses, and when fully implemented, it will assist law enforcement in using their resources efficiently and effectively. Read more on the benefits of NIBRS participation .

“Information that is accurate, accessible, and complete enhances and informs conversations about policing,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in his message in the report . “It helps us learn how and why crimes occur and what we can do to prevent them from happening in the first place. It helps law enforcement to be more proactive, helps communities use resources more strategically, and it improves the safety of our nation's citizens and law enforcement officers.”

In the new categories, there were 1,126 animal cruelty cases reported to NIBRS. In recent years, law enforcement and other groups have advocated for adding animal cruelty to FBI crime statistics as a way to better understand it as a crime against society and also because animal cruelty is sometimes linked to domestic violence and other violent crimes.

Of the more than 250,000 fraud offenses reported by law enforcement to NIBRS in 2016, 22,894 were identity theft offenses and 581 were hacking/computer invasion offenses.

Some additional highlights from NIBRS, 2016 :

•  Based on aggregate data, NIBRS agencies reported 5,237,106 incidents involving 6,101,034 offenses with 6,437,018 victims.

•  There were 4,963,644 offenses with known offenders (in which at least one characteristic of the offender was known.) Of those offenders whose age was known, 43.5 percent were between the ages of 16 and 30. Sixty-three percent of known offenders were men, and 25.6 percent were women. In other cases, sex of the offender was unknown.

•  Of the reported offenses, 62.5 percent were crimes against property, 22.7 were crimes against persons, and 14.8 percent were crimes against society (such as gambling or animal cruelty).

•  More than half of the victims (52.4 percent) knew their offenders (or at least one of the offenders if the incident included more than one offender). Additionally, 24.3 percent of the victims were related to their offender (or at least one offender if more than one was present.)

•  The NIBRS report contains data on 3,261,521 arrestees. Of those who were arrested, 34.1 percent were 21 to 30 years old. More than 71 percent of arrestees were men, and 28.3 percent were women.

More NIBRS data can be found in the NIBRS interactive map or in the Crime Data Explorer tool .

FBI Launches Crime Data Explorer Tool

The FBI recently released its Crime Data Explorer (CDE) , an interactive tool that enables law enforcement and the public to more easily use and understand the massive amount of published UCR data. CDE users can easily search, sort, and compare crime statistics; create charts and graphs; download tailored reports; and use application programming interface (API) to build their own web applications. For mobile users, CDE offers a streamlined, mobile-responsive web design that works on cell phones and tablets as well as computers.

CDE currently includes on data on hate crime, assaults on law enforcement, police employees, agency participation, cargo theft, and human trafficking. Additional datasets and tools will continue to be added to the tool.


4 things to know about the FBI's latest homicide statistics

Because crime is politicized and reported in its extremes, it is hard to convince the general public that Americans are in one of the safest eras in human history

by Chief Joel F. Shults

There is no more reliable FBI crime statistic than the murder count. The numbers are in, and murders are up. A recently released report from the National Institute of Justice considers two possible causes: more drugs and less policing.

The report, Assessing and Responding to the Recent Homicide Rise in the United States , readily admits the challenges and potentially misleading methods of measuring causes of crime, something that researchers and law enforcement alike have debated since Cain killed Abel.

“The recent homicide increase in the United States was not only large, it was also relatively sudden and unforeseen. The sheer abruptness of the increase makes it especially difficult to explain,” the report states.

A quick look at the numbers

Headlines about the report can mistakenly lead readers to believe that there is an alarming nationwide increase in murders.

Unless you're in one of the 14 U.S. cities with murder rates up over 25 percent, violent crime increases are relatively low. This is also in the context of a 25-year pattern of violent crimes declining over 50 percent since 1993.

Because crime is politicized and reported in its extremes, it is hard to convince the general public that Americans are in one of the safest eras in human history. Still, when we hear that the homicide rate increased by over 11 percent from 2014-2015, alarm bells go off. That was the biggest single year increase since 1968. Hopes that the jump was a statistical anomaly were dampened when homicide rates increased again from 2015-2016 by over 8 percent.

Location, location, location

Trends are not uniform nationwide. Murder rate increases occurred in large cities. The numbers from just Baltimore and Chicago accounted for about one-quarter of the total increase in big-city homicides in 2015.

The report further states that “Ten cities accounted for two thirds of the 2015 big-city homicide rise that year. Chicago contributed just under half of the big-city homicide increase in 2016, and 10 cities accounted for nearly all of the increase in 2015.”

Of the 46 cities with 30 or more homicides per year in 2015, 32 showed an increase in murders over 2014, and 14 had the same or fewer in 2015 over the previous year. What that averages out to is a significant 17.2 percent increase: the math is owned by the 14 cities with a 25 percent increase or more, and the 9 cities with a 50 percent increase or more. The ratios for 2016 are similarly proportioned.

The urban areas with the most dramatic increases are also those with high rates of opiate-related deaths, and where police relations with the African-American community are strained due to highly publicized allegations of police misconduct reported to be disproportionately directed toward minority citizens.

No black and white conclusions

The simple formula that observers are likely to conclude is that murders and other violent crime have increased, along with an increase in opiate drug deaths , because police officers are less likely to engage with suspected criminal activity for fear of escalation, lawsuits and complaints.

Conversely, minority community members will be less likely to summon police or cooperate with them when lingering mistrust from publicized cases exists.

The result has been called “de-policing” or the “ Ferguson effect ,” and has been given credibility by FBI reports, along with an apparent increase in ambush attacks on police officers.

Although the report hints at this a plausible theory, there are cautions to that conclusion:

•  Increases in homicides of whites and Hispanics, as well as perpetration of murders by those demographic groups, were a significant portion of the increases in murder rates. This is inconsistent with a theory that scripts higher rates of killings just within the black community.

•  As with all sociological studies, finding a baseline that pinpoints a single cause or cluster of causes associated with a particular crime increase (known as criminogenic factors) is a challenge. To determine any relationship between crime increases, there must be an accurate measure of police activity (staffing, specialized enforcement efforts and arrest statistics) and any number of community factors to compare before and after any unusual jumps or reductions in crime. Or cities without changes in crime rates must be very similar in many ways to cities with changes in crime rates in order to compare for criminogenic factors.

•  Community mistrust following a negative incident is not permanent, according to studies cited in this report. While long-standing divides may exist in a region or city, the levels of reported trust, police activity and calls for service may change after an incident, but return to the pre-event level within one to three years. The timing of these events and the rise in homicides in affected communities is not an exact correlation.

•  The 2016 FBI annual crime report curiously leaves out the traditional tables showing relationships between victims and their killers, thus reducing a reader's ability to draw conclusions on any change in the nature of murders. In 2015, 40 percent of those relationships in murders remains a mystery, and clearance rates remain at around 60 percent. These gaps in our knowledge make conclusions about causes much less accurate than the ideal.

Less policing, more crime

Even without a statistical certainty, researchers, police leaders and community members cannot ignore the fact that fewer interventions of suspected criminal activity by law enforcement invite more offenders to engage in crime. More drugs, more death and more street justice or no justice occurs when the police are unable to be effective.

The good news is that most communities remain relatively safe and connected with their police services. The bad news is that where that isn't true, it seems that more people die violently.



11-year-old held at gunpoint, cuffed by GRPD

Police decline comment until internal investigation is complete

by Heather Walker

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department has opened an internal investigation after an 11-year-old girl was held at gunpoint by officers, handcuffed and then thrown in the back of a cruiser.

“It made me feel scared and it made me feel like I did something wrong,” 11-year-old Honestie Hodges told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.

The incident happened Wednesday. Honestie, a student at Stocking Elementary, was leaving though the back door of her home on Turner Avenue near Richmond Street NW to go to the store when she was confronted by officers.

“They had police cars over on this street, they had police cars all along the ally,” Honestie said.

Honestie and her mother said officers ordered the girl to walk backwards with her hands up, then put her in cuffs, patted her down and put her in the back of a cop car.

“The whole time they are telling her to come down, I'm telling them, ‘She's 11 years old. That's my daughter. Don't cuff her,'” Honestie's mom Whitney Hodges said.

GRPD admits officers cuffed Honestie anyway, along with detaining two women who had exited the house with her.

“When my mom was walking past, I was putting my hands through the little bars, banging on the windows, screaming, ‘Please don't let them take me,'” Honestie remembered.

GRPD was at the home looking for the girl's aunt, Carrie Manning, who was wanted for allegedly stabbing her little sister at a home a few blocks away and was believed to be armed with a knife. Manning is a 40-year-old white woman.

In a Monday night release, GRPD said officers detained the women and Honestie because it had not yet been determined that none of them were the suspect and that they weren't armed.

Officers got permission to search the house. GRPD said the suspect wasn't there, but she was later found at another home and arrested on charges of assault with intent to murder and resisting and obstructing arrest, as well as an outstanding warrant. The person she was accused of stabbing was treated at the hospital and released.

But Honestie is still scared.

“I'm afraid to open or go near my back door,” Honestie said. “Because of what happened.”

When asked what she would want to tell police, she replied, “I'm just wondering why they did that to me.”

GRPD says an internal investigation was launched the day after the incident, sparked by a complaint from Honestie's family. The agency said it would not comment further until that investigation is complete.

“I wanted to be a detective or police officer, but now I don't want anything to do with those kind of things,” Honestie said.



Ferguson reviewing nearly 8,000 old court cases

by Jim Salter

ST. LOUIS — The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is reviewing nearly 8,000 municipal court cases from before 2014 to determine which should be thrown out, a process expected to take about six months, the attorney for the St. Louis suburb told a federal judge Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry heard a status update on the consent agreement between Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement requires Ferguson to remedy mistreatment of African-American residents by its police and court system — problems uncovered in a Justice Department investigation launched after the August 2014 police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department both declined to charge Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson officer who fatally shot the black and unarmed Brown. Wilson resigned in November 2014, but the shooting was a catalyst for the national Black Lives Matter movement and prompted a Justice Department investigation that led to a civil rights lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which accused Ferguson's court system and law enforcement of racial bias, ended when the city of about 20,000 residents agreed to the consent decree in 2016. The wide-ranging agreement calls for community policing, hiring more minority officers and many other changes in policing. It also pushes for court reforms.

The Justice Department probe found that the court system in Ferguson was generating revenue largely on the backs of poor and minority residents through fines, court costs and other fees. A key effort under the consent agreement is an amnesty program for old court cases. City Attorney Apollo Carey said 7,933 unresolved cases filed before Jan. 1, 2014, are being reviewed by Ferguson's prosecutor.

The process should be concluded by June, said Carey, who urged residents to be patient.

“This is hard,” he said. “Being under federal oversight is just a difficult thing to do. A cultural change takes a long period of time.”

In general, only pre-2014 charges for more serious crimes such as assault, reckless endangerment or drunken driving will be pursued. But other cases that might be included are ones involving allegations of driving with a suspended or revoked license if the person cited has additional charges since 2014. Carey said another clause in the agreement allows the prosecutor discretion to pursue an old case if it is in the interest of public safety.

Ferguson leaders began municipal court reform efforts within weeks of Brown's death. A new judge, who is black, took over in 2015. Thousands of warrants have been dismissed, and Ferguson no longer jails people initially arrested for minor offenses such as traffic violations if they miss a court date.

But some people who spoke at Tuesday's hearing questioned whether the targeting of African-Americans has stopped. Resident Keith Rose said that at a recent municipal court session, all but a handful of the 150 or so people facing municipal charges were black.

“It appears to me that Ferguson might be inching back to its old ways,” Rose said.

Blacks make up about two-thirds of Ferguson's population.

Carey, citing ongoing litigation, declined to respond directly to Rose's comments, but said the court system has been audited this year and Justice Department observers have attended hearings.

Justice Department attorney Jude Volek said he was “encouraged” by progress the city is making on the amnesty program. He said transparency in the reform process remains an “ongoing challenge” and that city officials need to do a better job of informing the public about meetings and hearings.

Judge Perry said that overall, Ferguson appears to be making improvements.



Ind. trooper shot in the head during traffic stop

Trooper Morgenn Evans was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries

by Elizabeth DePompei

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — An Indiana State Police trooper shot during a traffic stop Tuesday night has been identified, along with the suspect now accused of attempted murder.

ISP Trooper Morgenn Evans made a traffic stop near the intersection of Park and Jefferson streets in Jeffersonville around 7:05 p.m., according to a news release. The stop, which was reportedly based on a traffic infraction, involved a gray 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck driven by 79-year-old Oscar Kays of Jeffersonville.

"During the traffic stop Oscar Kays became combative and pulled a handgun and shot at Trooper Morgenn Evans. Trooper Morgenn Evans was struck in the head but was able to return shots at Oscar Kays while he was fleeing the scene," the release states.

Evans got back to his police car and pursued Kays, but Kays was able to escape and returned to his home on Huston Drive where he was later taken into custody by the Jeffersonville Police Department and the Clark County Sheriffs Office.

Evans, who has been a trooper since October 2016, was transported to the University of Louisville Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Kays was transported to the same hospital with unknown injuries. It is unknown if the shots fired by the trooper wounded Kays or if Kays was wounded by his own gun or debris from the shots fired.

After his release from the hospital, Kays was arrested for attempted murder of a police officer and incarcerated at the Clark County jail.

A press conference is planned for 10 a.m. at the ISP post in Sellersburg.

This story will be updated.



Va. officer stabbed by 17-year-old robbery suspect

The officer, who has not been identified, was released and is recovering at her home

by PoliceOne Staff

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Virginia officer responding to a domestic situation was allegedly stabbed by a teenage robbery suspect during a struggle.

The Daily Press reports Virginia Beach police were called about a domestic disturbance when they approached the teen. When the suspect became uncooperative, the officers attempted to detain him and a struggle ensued.

During the struggle, the teen allegedly stabbed one of the officers with a knife. Other officers on scene administered aid to the wounded officer before she was transported to a hospital. The teen was arrested without further incident.

The officer, who has not been identified, was released and is recovering at her home, according to WAVY .

The suspect was charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer.


New York

New deal would restrict NYPD's dealing with public

Under the deal, a cop in some non-emergency encounters would need to give a name, rank and command, the reason for the stop and hand out business cards

by Matthew Chayes

NEW YORK — A deal between the NYPD and New York City Council would impose the council's first day-to-day restrictions on how cops deal with the public.

Under legislation to be voted upon on Tuesday, an officer in certain nonemergency encounters would need to provide name, rank and command, explain the reason for the stop and hand out business cards when no one is arrested or issued a summons. Cops also would need to record explicit consent, either on audio or in writing, before searching a person absent a legal basis.

The deal to pass the Right to Know Act comes after the legislation languished for nearly four years in the council despite veto-proof support in the 51-member chamber.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, an ally of fellow Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, had refused to allow the legislation to come up for a vote. That opposition went away yesterday, when both came out in support. No bill has ever been rejected under Mark-Viverito once coming to a vote.

To the dismay of police-accountability activists who lobbied for the legislation for years, officers still won't need to identify themselves or distribute business cards during certain less-contentious encounters and during traffic stops.

While praising the search bill advanced by Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), Monifa Bandele of Communities United for Police Reform urged a vote against the identity bill by Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx). She said that deal included “massive loopholes that gut protections for the majority of policing encounters.”

Torres, who had long promised to force the old bill through via a parliamentary maneuver, said the deal averted a legal challenge by the NYPD that could forestall its implementation for years if not doom it.

“It's better to have a substantive compromise, with the buy-in of the agency that is charged with implementing the law,” Torres said in an interview.

In a written statement, the main police labor union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, also criticized the legislation, saying it “would discourage police officers from proactively addressing the threats of crime and terrorism.”

De Blasio, who had for years opposed past versions, said Tuesday that he would sign the legislation into law.

De Blasio called the package “a good piece of reform legislation. It clarifies how people will have more information when an officer addresses them. It clarifies how searches are undertaken.”



Police vow to hire more black cops, but boosting diversity not easy in Brevard

by Rick Neale

Randy Mitchell grew up in a lower-income neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis, where "police officer" is an unpopular career choice for young black men.

But after leaving the neighborhood and serving as a U.S. Marine Corps field radio operator in Japan, Australia, South Korea and the Philippines, Mitchell felt obligated to continue serving others. Now, the 24-year-old Palm Bay resident is the lone black cadet — and class leader — at Eastern Florida State College's Law Enforcement Academy.

"Where I grew up, when I saw some of the things that were happening around me, I didn't want to be involved in that kind of thing. I'm about to have a daughter here in a few months. I'm married now. And I want my daughter to be able to look back on her father and be like, ‘He did something that took courage, that took honor, that took just a lot to do — that people just don't want to do,'" Mitchell said.

“I want my family to be proud of me,” he said.

When Mitchell graduates in March, he'll add diversity to the ranks of the Melbourne Police Department. Of the 169 sworn officers, only five are black. That's only 3 percent of the police force in the Space Coast's dominant economic city, where 10 percent of the population is African-American.

Space Coast police chiefs and EFSC officials say police departments nationwide are struggling to recruit minority hires. They cite significant headwinds: a strong economy and low unemployment rate; the "Ferguson effect" of increased criticism of police following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and fierce competition for police cadets from larger Florida metropolitan areas like Orlando.

“There's not people breaking down the doors to get into this profession right now," said Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe, who noted that it's difficult to find qualified candidates — period.

Facing a dwindling recruitment pool, Brevard County law enforcement agencies are adopting aggressive recruiting strategies. Case in point: Since Rockledge Police Chief Joseph LaSata was hired in June 2013, the ratio of black officers on his city's 56-member sworn force has leaped from 6 percent to 21 percent. And Hispanic officers have jumped from 4 percent to 13 percent.

Rockledge Police Sgt. Christopher Crawford is the department's recruiting coordinator. He credited a partnership with Faith Temple Christian Center, a predominantly African-American congregation, for referrals leading to three recent hires from the same black family.

“Instead of being reactive and trying to get people to come to us, we went out and we were proactive and planted these seeds. And they have grown to fruition. It's almost like a feeder system now," Crawford said.

“Police recruiting right now is difficult. It's kind of a tough job. It's hard to find people that want to do it. Our potential candidate pool is diminishing, and that includes across the board: white, black, Hispanic, Asian," he said.

During an October question-and-answer forum with police administrators and south Melbourne residents, Rev. Lorenzo Laws, senior pastor at Greater Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, asked what his predominantly African-American congregation could do to help combat crime.

Melbourne City Manager Mike McNees stood up from the audience and responded: Help us recruit black police officers.

"The most desperate need that we have — and I think we all agree on this — is to bring our minority numbers in our department up. They are horrible," McNees told the crowd.

Fierce competition for police recruits

The Brevard Police Testing and Selection Center at EFSCscreens applicants for law enforcement training and employment consideration by the Space Coast's 14 law enforcement agencies. From 2012-17, 561 students enrolled. Forty-three (7.7 percent) were black, comprising a small average pool of seven black recruits per year.

EFSC's new $14 million, 66,500-square-foot Public Safety Institute opened in 2015. However, police academy enrollment has tumbled from 117 cadets in 2015 to 71 last year to 59 this year.

“We have departments from all the way down to Dade County come up here to talk to our recruits. I mean, it is very, very competitive right now," said Steve Salvo, dean of the Public Safety Institute.

In the current class of 11, Mitchell is the lone black cadet. Space Coast police and EFSC officials hope to reach more minority recruits using targeted social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in tandem with appearances at community events.

But the challenges are significant.

About five months ago, Palm Bay Police Chief Jim Rogers said one of his officers did a presentation for about 70 black males ranging from elementary through high school at Greater Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church.

The officer asked, "How many of you want to become a police officer?" Only one hand started to rise — then quickly shot back down because of peer pressure, Rogers said.

On Cocoa's 67-member sworn force, seven are black (10 percent) and 13 are Hispanic (19 percent). At the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, 13 percent of the 852 sworn deputies are black and 8 percent are Hispanic.

"There are many benefits to having a diverse agency that are inclusive of community policing, recruiting and even addressing issues and trends in the various sub-communities that exist within each jurisdiction," Sheriff Wayne Ivey stated via email, adding that diversity also builds community trust.

Jim Gibbens, director of the EFSC Brevard Police Testing and Selection Center, served on the Melbourne Police Department from 1994-2010. Diversity, he said, boosts the department's ability to fight crime.

“If you get somebody from the actual community that they're policing, they have historical knowledge. They have knowledge of people, cultural things, that can be a tremendous asset to us when it comes to solving crimes, following on leads, people talking to them: a trust factor," Gibbens said.

"So those things are hard to measure on paper. But they're invaluable to us," he said.

A history of distrust of law enforcement

Randy Foster, a Palm Bay retired deputy U.S. marshal, described Melbourne's 3 percent black-officer ratio like McNees did: "The numbers are horrible." Being a police officer is tough enough, Foster said, but if you're patrolling an African-American community where you're unfamiliar with the culture — and residents have historically distrusted law enforcement — the job is more difficult.

"When you have diverse police officers, you tend to get more accomplished. You might get more witnesses in a case. They might feel more comfortable coming up to a black officer versus a white officer. And vice versa: A white person may be more comfortable coming up to a white officer, versus a Hispanic officer. So it works both ways," Foster said.

"It's not being racist, but it's being sensitive to a culture or group of people," he said.

Melbourne Police Chief Mike Gillespie said he studied staffing numbers during his first day on the job in June — that's when blacks comprised fewer than 3 percent of his sworn force. Gillespie's goal: Double Melbourne's black-officer ratio during his first year.

The department has 11 job openings for patrol officers. Melbourne Police Cmdr. Daniel Lynch listed his agency's minority-recruiting strategies, including:

• Traveling outside the local area to try to hit a more diverse population.

• Reaching out to the military.

• Seeking partnerships in the community to find qualified candidates.

• Partnering with the Florida Institute of Technology to improve methods to test and recruit candidates.

“When you look at the long-term strategy for Melbourne PD, it's going to be to be able to recruit in our own backyard and try to get minorities from in and around Melbourne to be a part of our agency,” Gillespie said.

Randy Mitchell's EFSC education is sponsored by the Melbourne Police Department, which extended him a conditional job offer back in May. The city is covering his tuition, uniforms, books, boots and other costs.

Advice: 'You've got to start when they're young'

Like Melbourne, neighboring Palm Bay is on a mission to increase diversity in its ranks. Black police officers comprise 10 percent of Palm Bay's 155-officer sworn force.

“I know that 17 percent of the Palm Bay community is African-American. So we would like our numbers to be close to that, if not right on point with that 17 percent. So we do have a gap there," Rogers said.

“As well with the Hispanic community. We have 11 percent within the police department, but a 14 percent demographic within the community at large. So we want to increase our numbers there as well,” he said.

Out of Palm Bay's 18 Hispanic sworn police officers, 15 speak Spanish, Deputy Police Chief Nelson Moya said.

“That is a growing need, as we see our Puerto Rican community grow as a result of the hurricane," Rogers said. "And, just the natural movement of that demographic into our community brings about an importance on being bilingual."

Melbourne City Councilwoman Yvonne Minus is president of her city's Police Community Relations Council. She said she questioned Gillespie about the dearth of diversity during his job interview process last spring, and she has faith that he will usher in change.

Minus pointed to Cmdr. Ron Bell and Sgt. Kevin Fain, both of whom retired in recent years, as examples of black police officers who garnered respect from Melbourne's African-American community.

"If we could find more officers like them, it would definitely help curtail a lot of the problems in south Melbourne. And Melbourne as a whole," Minus said.

"They'd laugh and talk with you. And when it came to business, they were strictly business. And everyone knew that," she said.

"I really miss them. It's just heartbreaking that we can't find anyone to replace them right now. But I feel confident we will. We just need to keep beating the bushes," she said.

Ralphalette Bartell is president of the Powell Subdivision Neighborhood Watch. Located near the Driskell Heights subdivision, her group is dedicated to reducing crime in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of northeast Palm Bay and south Melbourne.

Bartell offered a piece of advice to Melbourne officials during the October community forum.

"Let kids know who you are. Start when they're young. That way, when they're older, they'll have more respect for police officers. And that way, they may want to be a police officer," Bartell said.

"But you've got to start when they're young," Bartell said.

Police recruitment events

Palm Bay police will host a recruiting open house from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the police station, 130 Malabar Road S.E.

Eastern Florida State College's Law Enforcement Academy will host a Commitment Day recruiting event Feb. 3 at the Public Safety Institute (Building 8) on the Melbourne campus. For information, visit

By the numbers

Brevard County Sheriff's Office

Sworn deputies: 852

Black deputies: 112 (13 percent)

Hispanic deputies: 72 (8 percent)

Cocoa Police Department

Sworn officers: 67

Black officers: 7 (10 percent)

Hispanic officers: 13 (19 percent)

Melbourne Police Department

Sworn officers: 169

Black officers: 5 (3 percent)

Hispanic officers: 12 (7 percent)

Palm Bay Police Department

Sworn officers: 155

Black officers: 15 (10 percent)

Hispanic officers: 18 (12 percent)

Rockledge Police Department

Sworn officers: 56

Black officers: 12 (21 percent)

Hispanic officers: 7 (13 percent)



Arizona police departments try to repair rifts with communities

by Kianna Gardner, Lysandra Marquez and Nkiruka Omeryone Cronkite News

When Jeri Williams took over as Phoenix police chief last year, she made it a point to address the tension between law enforcement and the community.

She noted the “conflicting relationship between some people of color and some members of law enforcement” and the high-profile incidents that had resulted in unrest and violence across the country.

Arizona had seen its share of backlash, including a series of street demonstrations and city council protests – although less violent compared to other parts of the country.

“The community and the police should be one cohesive group of people who want peace and safety,” Williams wrote in a column.

Like many departments across the state, Phoenix has made efforts to repair those rifts in a variety of ways, including trying to hire more diverse officers, reaching out to youth, establishing task forces, hosting community outreach events and providing more police training.

Arizona departments have grappled with hiring enough officers to fulfill the needs of their depleted forces. Many have emphasized the need to add more people of color and women to their ranks as they've tried to fill hundreds of vacant positions statewide.

While 44 percent of Arizonans are non-white, non-whites are underrepresented among officers in nearly every Arizona police department represented in a 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, according to a Cronkite News analysis of the data, the latest available.

But departments face an ongoing battle trying to overcome the “negativity around law enforcement,” Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said at a news conference in April.

“Now that we need people, everybody hates us,” Phoenix Officer Lisa Fisher said at a recent recruiting event. “And nobody wants to do a job where you're, you know, going to be spit at and kicked and hit and potentially stalked at your house and things like that. But that's all the more reason we need good people to come out and do this.”

Repairing relationships will take time and effort, officials said.

“Law enforcement agencies across the country have truly significant problems in their communities,” said Kevin Robinson, a retired assistant chief with the Phoenix department. “I think if you dig deep, you'll find out they didn't bother to establish a relationship with those communities. And a lack of doing that will spell nothing but problems for you when something bad happens.”

Recruitment and hiring

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who voters elected in November to replace former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, said he wants to repair the broken trust between his office and the Hispanic community.

Community leaders have long accused Arpaio of targeting immigrants and promoting discriminatory policing practices.

Penzone said part of changing the department's image involves hiring more diverse employees.

“It's not just deputies or detention officers,” he said. “There's a career for everyone … whether you want to work as a dispatcher or whether you want to work in some form of administration, there's plenty of opportunity. But this organization has to reflect the community we serve.”

“We have dedicated a team solely to outreach,” he added. “And it's not just the Latino community, it's to all communities that are, you know, minorities or unique in some capacity.”

He said his office recently hired a human resources director who develops “everyday” methods to recruit in different areas, including at community colleges where recruiters can reach more diverse communities. Minority students in Arizona schools became the majority more than a decade ago, and those numbers continue to grow, according to research by the Arizona Minority Student Progress Report.

In the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office alone, there were more than 300 job openings in October, Milstead said then. The Sheriff's Office has more than 700 sworn officers, a force that is about 77 percent white, 18 percent Latino, 3 percent black and less than 2 percent Native American and Asian combined, according to data provided to Cronkite News.

Recruiters for Phoenix police also have held numerous career fairs – some of them in predominantly minority areas – to attract diverse candidates.

For example, the department held an information session at a Baptist church in South Phoenix, according to an article on . That ZIP code has a population that's about 71 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black and 13 percent white, according to U.S. Census information.

At a recent career fair at the Phoenix Convention Center, Isiah Brown, an African-American man, said recruitment officers had encouraged him to consider a law enforcement career.

“If you have the right type of people behind the badge with the right type of personalities, showing people the right type of respect and then also upholding the law, I think that's really important,” he said.

The department also has put up recruitment billboards in minority neighborhoods, advertised for jobs in Spanish-language publications and spread the word on social media channels with diverse audiences.

Phoenix has nearly 3,000 sworn positions, and it's trying to fill 400 by the end of the year. Native American, black, Latino and Asian officers account for about 26 percent of Phoenix's sworn police force, according to data provided to Cronkite News.

Some departments even travel out-of-state to find more minority recruits. A Department of Public Safety recruiter said he had planned to travel to areas in South Carolina that have higher populations of African-Americans to seek potential recruits.

Other departments also employ more subtle ways to attract minorities. For example, the city of Maricopa made it part of its strategic recruiting plan to feature photos of women and minorities on its jobs page. The plan also includes conducting an annual review of its recruiting efforts and how it compares to the city's demographics.

However, some experts say increasing diversity is only the first step.

“Just bringing in new people who are a different gender, different race, different ethnicity, can have some effects on how policing is done, but it isn't going to wholesale change the nature of the business,” said Michael S. Scott, who runs the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing based out of Arizona State University.

Scott has worked at police departments in Wisconsin, Florida and New York.

“Diversity is the answer to one question. It's not the answer to all questions,” Scott said. “What contribution does diversity have to fairer, more effective policing, to reductions in crime, reductions in disorders? It's probably helpful, but it isn't sufficient in and of itself.”

Recruiters also said that sometimes the quality of an applicant is more important: They hire based on the strength of the applicant, regardless of ethnic or cultural background.

Youth efforts

Millennials are now the largest living generation in the U.S., according to the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center. And as baby boomers retire from the police force, departments have increased their efforts to attract younger officers.

Because millennials are much more diverse than previous generations, department officials hope they can help shrink the racial divide. They often recruit at community colleges and sometimes high schools.

•  Arizona officials also have cultivated new kinds of partnerships. For example, the Franklin Police and Fire High School near downtown Phoenix opened its doors in 2007.

•  The school provides a pathway for teens who want to pursue careers in law enforcement or EMT/firefighting. It partners with the city's police and fire departments for internships and training.

•  According to an American Community Survey estimate, from 2011 to 2015, roughly 40 percent of the youth in Arizona, ages 15 to 19, were Hispanic. At Franklin High School, the student body is composed of 90 percent Hispanic students, according to the school district.

Students can take courses such as forensics, law enforcement and firefighting and Spanish for public safety.

Nationwide, departments also have emphasized improving youth-police relations by hosting town halls put together by organizations such as Council for a Strong America.

That's important because national studies indicate younger residents tend to have lower opinions of law enforcement. A recent nationwide Gallup survey showed confidence in police was lowest among 18 to 34-year-olds compared to other age groups.

Police also offer the statewide police “Explorers” program to connect with young adults from 14 to 21 years old. The groups participate in community cleanups, first-aid training and crowd control.


Officer Daniel McCloud, an officer and recruiter for the Phoenix Police, said his department has reached out to minority groups by attending community events such as gay pride parades and church functions.

“We're just reaching out the communities,” McCloud said. “Instead of waiting for them to come to us, we go to where they are.”

Police also are trying to make themselves more approachable through small changes, such as riding bikes instead of driving cars.

“Let's face it, our uniform is sometimes unapproachable to some people,” Phoenix Lt. Wayne Dillon said. “The car can be a little bit intimidating. But if we're on a bicycle, and we're just riding around as a group, sometimes the community members feel like they can just go up to us, and even more so kids.”

Police departments also have utilized community liaison programs, where residents who feel uneasy around police can use a mediator to contact them.

In Winslow, Chief Dan Brown stepped into his new position shortly after an officer fatally shot a Native American woman in 2016. The event led to tensions between the police force and some members of the community.

Eventually, residents stopped bringing complaints and issues to the police.

Brown eventually looked to neighboring Flagstaff, where officials launched a community liaison committee to act as a buffer between the community and the police department.

Brown decided to create a similar program in Winslow.

“It's not an oversight committee, you know, telling us how to do our jobs. It's a transparency thing, if you will, so they work with us,” Brown told The Tribune News.

Representatives from the Navajo Nation and NAACP will help create the committee, which Brown hopes to finalize by June 2018.

Many police departments statewide count on programs such as GAIN, Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods, to connect with communities.

Dillon said GAIN came to Arizona more than 20 years ago. It's an annual event that occurs at different times in different cities across the state, allowing communities to connect with their local law enforcement. The focus is on increasing community involvement in Neighborhood Watch programs.

For law enforcement, it means an opportunity to foster positive relationships.

“Over the last 23 years of my career, I've seen a huge increase in not just community involvement from a direct standpoint of calling the police and so forth, but also in our ‘community action,'” Dillon said.

Dillon said community action involves contacting local police on “quality of life” issues such as blight, graffiti and transient problems.

Another popular social engagement strategy is hosting “Coffee with a Cop” events, which allow community members to ask questions, raise concerns or clarify confusion. These events also aim to build a relationship between the officers patrolling the area and the residents they serve.

Coffee with a Cop keeps a map on its website that shows upcoming events.


Police training is one way to address issues such as excessive use of force or increasing awareness of other cultures.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a high-profile civil rights activist, has been at the heart of many grassroots movements across the Valley. He has organized marches against police brutality and advocates for racial justice.

“There are new concepts about how you talk to and engage minority communities, especially the youth and undocumented people,” Maupin said.

Maupin said Phoenix has made progress to address certain issues, following a 12-point plan shared by the Black Lives Matter movement during a 2016 protest, according to an article in The Phoenix New Times. The protest ended when former Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner signed the document.

“We have a mental health review board and increased resources for people who are in a mental health crisis,” Maupin said.

The mental health review board is one of 12 boards that constitute the Phoenix police chief's advisory board.

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher also formed an initiative in 2015 that makes recommendations to help the department build trust. Some of the recommendations include conducting a community survey, adding more body cameras and providing “cultural competency” training for officers.



Committee recommends ways to improve police, community relations

by Jon Collins

A Minnesota advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has released a draft report recommending a dozen ways to improve the relationship between communities and police departments in the state.

Each state has an advisory committee associated with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — Minnesota's is made up of 12 members and chaired by Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel.

The issue of police use of force has been a prominent one in Minnesota in the last two years. Jamar Clark was killed by Minneapolis police officers in November 2015 and Philando Castile was shot by a St. Anthony officer in Falcon Heights in July 2016.

In the wake of those and other high-profile killings of young black men by police, the state committee voted last October to put together a report about policing and civil rights in Minnesota.

The draft recommendations the committee included in their report cover everything from the role of law enforcement agencies in enforcing immigration policies to urging departments to bring in independent investigators when officers kill someone while on duty.

The draft report makes the following recommendations:

• State bodies that license and oversee policing policies should emphasize community policing.

• State authorities should improve access to officer training, including mental health, use of force and implicit bias training.

• The state should create better guidelines for how officers should use "tasers, chemical irritants, and other lethal and less-lethal weapons."

• The governor, Legislature and Minnesota League of Cities should urge Minnesota police departments to bring in experienced, independent investigators when officers use deadly force.

• Authorities should create "effective and legitimate" civilian oversight over police misconduct.

• State agencies should explore ways to promote more officers living in the communities where they work.

• State officials should "clearly and firmly delineate relationships between local police agencies and federal agencies" on issues of immigration enforcement.

The draft report also recommends that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights undertake a new national study of policing practices that's focused on use of force, body cameras and other technology, diversity and the impact that different policing practices might have on communities of color across the country.

The committee approved the draft report and recommendations on Friday. The report will be vetted by the commission and then published in its final form by early 2018. After that, the advisory recommendations will be made by the committee to each of the government bodies and police associations they identified.


From the TSA

Five Travel Tips To Get You Through the Holiday Travel Period

We're in the middle of the holiday season, and as many of us make final preparations to reunite with loved ones, we'd like to take time to remind you of some tips for packing and helpful pointers for your upcoming travel. If you still have last-minute shopping and to-do lists on your mind, make getting through the checkpoint one less thing to worry about.

1. Traveling with Gifts

Wrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged: We're not the Heat Miser ; however, we might have to unwrap gifts. If there's something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may have to open it. Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it's not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else.

Snow globes need to comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule if wish to take it in your carry-on bag. If it is a larger snow globe, please pack it in your checked bag. If you are unsure if the snow globe contains 3.4 ounces of liquid or more, the rule of thumb is that if it is smaller than a tennis ball, it is probably 3.4 ounces or less.

Toys are always fun to play with, but water guns, toy guns, toy swords and other items that resemble real firearms or other weapons can look just like the real thing in an X-ray. This can lead to evacuations and delays while explosives professionals try to resolve the alarm. Please pack these types of toys in your checked bag or ship them to their destination.

Fruitcake, cookies or other holiday treats are allowed, of course. If the food item is a solid (i.e.: ham, turkey, cake, pie, cookies), you can pack it in your carry-on bag. If the food item is spreadable or pourable, then it must also follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule to travel in a carry-on bag.

Batteries in gifts should be transported properly, so be sure to read about what types of batteries you can travel with .

2. Packing personal items

The rule of thumb for liquids, gels and aerosols: You're allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or smaller sized containers that will fit in one sealed, clear, quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person. Make life simple by packing liquids in your checked baggage. That way, you don't have to worry about the liquids rule .

Deodorant: Flying with deodorant isn't a sticky situation. Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is. Read more this blog about deodorant .

Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc., should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine. Read our blog post on traveling with beauty products.

Jewelry: Read about the best practices when going through security with your jewelry . There are a few different choices that you can make based on what kind of jewelry it is.

Medication: One of the more popular questions we get from travelers is: “ Can I travel with my medication? ” The answer is yes, with some qualifiers.

Shaving Razors: In brief, all razors are allowed in checked bags. Disposable razors are allowed in carry-on bags, and safety razors with removable blades are not. Check out the blog post for pictures of razor examples and more information.

3. Getting Expedited Screening

TSA Pre ? ® - TSA Pre ? ® allows eligible travelers to receive expedited screening. In layman's terms, it means you get through security quickly. The average wait time in TSA Pre ? ® lanes is under 5 minutes! Even if a TSA Pre ? ® line looks longer, they move much faster than a standard lane with more convenience. For TSA Pre ? ® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. If you haven't already, apply now !

TSA Pre ? ® travelers (including those enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI), have access to faster TSA Pre ? ® lanes at more than 200 airports when flying with participating airlines. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool .

You can now check out TSA Pre ? ® lane schedule s at the nation's largest airports . Enter the airport, day of week and time of day you're traveling, and the tool will return the availability of TSA Pre ? ® lanes. When no lane is available, travelers can show their boarding passes with the TSA Pre ? ® indicator to receive expedited screening in a standard lane.

TSA Pre ? ® Not Reflected on Boarding Pass: If you're looking at your boarding pass and you don't see the TSA Pre ? ® indicator even though you're an approved trusted traveler, we're here to help! Get live assistance by tweeting @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger . Our AskTSA team can help resolve any issues. If you prefer to call, you can reach out to our contact center .

4. Traveling companions:

Traveling with children: Screening is simpler for children 12 and under, so they can keep their shoes on. Read about how to best pack for your child and read how “Kids rule the airport” . Children 12 and under may also travel through the TSA Pre ? ® lane if one or both of their parents have it!

Taking Fido with you? Contact your airline first to ask about requirements, fees or restrictions they might have. Read about going through security screening with your pet and what every pet needs to know .

Flying with grandma and grandpa: Simpler screening is available for passengers 75 and older . This means they too can keep their shoes and light jacket on. Other screening procedures may apply should they travel with medical devices or aids .

5. Need Help?

TSA has several ways to get answers for travelers with questions, whether they are unsure whether an item can be carried through a checkpoint, or they are looking to find out what to expect if traveling with a medical condition or disability. Travelers can:

Ask TSA: Have questions? Reach out to our AskTSA team via Twitter at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger . We have a team standing by from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. If you prefer to call or submit an online form, you can reach out to our contact center weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

If you're not sure if you can pack an item, tweet us a picture at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger , or type the name of the item in the “What Can I bring” tool .

Lose something? Contact the airport lost and found . It's a good idea to tape your business card or contact info to your valuable electronics or other items. Not only does this help us contact you if you lose your items, it prevents travelers from grabbing the wrong item by mistake. You can also contact our AskTSA team via Twitter at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger .

TSA Cares helpline: Call TSA Cares toll free at 855-787-2227 if you or a family member with a disability or medical condition has questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling.

Find more helpful tips about lost or forgotten IDs, our updated MyTSA app , the new TSA Travel Tips webpage , and others in our Thanksgiving holiday blog post . We're committed to ensuring your security, and TSA is taking every measure, both seen and unseen , to protect millions of air travelers and our transportation systems. TSA works around the clock to make sure you get to your destination securely. Happy Holidays!