Today's LACP news:
April 29, 2017
Community policing succeeds where others fail
by Zack Chambers
With a relatively recent perceived collapse in race relations, as measured by Pew, effective policing has become a hot topic again. While there are many possible solutions to the racial divide, Indianapolis shows a great, tangible option through its work with the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. This faith-based group acts as an intermediary between the black community and police.
In addition to volunteer patrols and reentry programs, ITPC responds, often at the request of police, to homicide scenes. There it works to calm crowds and maintain the integrity of the legal process. If ITPC suspects retaliatory crimes may soon take place, it works to stop the cycle of violence in its tracks.
ITPC works with police instead of against them. ITPC encourages a community-wide effort to stop violence and root out criminals.
While there were 144 murders in Indianapolis last year, ITPC says there were only three homicides in the neighborhoods it regularly patrols. WISH-TV interviewed Wallace Nash, a Butler Tarkington resident of 50 years and ITPC leader for the neighborhood.
“A year or so ago this was a very violent street,” he said. “This intersection here, this street period, but as you can see it is nice and quiet now.”
People are taking note of the group's success. This January the ITPC was awarded with the FBI's Community Leadership Award for its role in reducing violence. In March, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill accompanied the group on patrol. After cutting off funding in 2015, it appears the city of Indianapolis will invest in the group again this year.
It is not enough to recognize groups such as ITPC. The narrative vilifying police must be countered. We have seen Americans' views on the state of race relations collapse from a high net positive of 44 percent in April of 2009 to a net negative of four in May 2016, when their data ends, according to Pew polling.
A direct outgrowth of this polarization is movements such as Black Lives Matter, created to address the statistical discrepancy in killings of black people at the hands of police in the United States. However, Black Lives Matter is fundamentally wrong in tactics and messaging.
By defaming police and the justice system as racist, trust is destroyed between that system and the
communities it protects.
Instead, we need a solution that works with police to root out bad elements from both groups.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports in a comprehensive study that, between the years 1980 to 2008, black people committed more than half of all homicides in the United States despite accounting for only 13 percent of the population. Consider also a simulation from Washington State University that showed police officers were less likely to fire at unarmed black suspects than white ones during confrontations. Taken with FBI numbers saying 42 percent of felonious cop killers between 2005 and 2014 were black context is given to the seemingly disproportionate number of police shootings of blacks..
To save black lives, the focus must be on strengthening relations between cops and their communities. If Black Lives Matter supporters truly care, they must let go of this racist cop narrative and instead take the battle-tested methods of saving black lives that are right in front of them.
What An Attempted Rape On Chicago's West Side Says About Trust Between The Community And Police
by Linda Lutton
This is a parable, a story about a serious crime that is also a window into the state of the relationship between Chicago's police and the people who live in its highest crime neighborhoods.
It starts on February 3. A young woman named Tatierra got on the Homan Avenue bus on the West Side to go to work. She sat near the front, just like always.
“When it was time for me to get off the bus, I stood up, and this guy was behind me,” said Tatierra, who asked that her last name be withheld because of safety concerns. “And then he touched me.”
The man rubbed up against her in a sexual way. And then it got scarier, Tatierra said. He got off where she did, at the Central Park Pink Line station in North Lawndale.
Tatierra is 22 years old. She's a receptionist, studying to be a medical lab technician. She thinks the guy was in his 30s. His hoodie was pulled tight around his face.
Tatierra said she breathed a sigh of relief when he headed into the train station, and she started the short walk to work. The streets felt empty that day since Chicago schools were out.
“Something just told me – turn around,” Tatierra said. “He was standing there staring at me, like he knew me. It was creepy, so I called my mom. And then, at that moment, that's when he grabbed me.”
The guy pulled Tatierra across a vacant lot, toward homes and an alley. He pulled on the waist of her pants, Tatierra said, and she swung at him with her keys.
“There were cars coming, so I was just screaming. No one stopped,” Tatierra said, crying as she recounted the story. It was 9 a.m. on Ogden Avenue, one of Chicago's busiest streets.
Tatierra broke free and ran to work.
“I called the [police] commander immediately,” said Richard Townsell, Tatierra's boss and the executive director of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, one of the most influential community organizations on the West Side. The group has built affordable housing, clinics, a daycare center and community gardens.
If anyone on the West Side can get a swift police response, it's Townsell's group.
And police did send a detective to see Tatierra right away. The 10th District commander assured Townsell police were on it.
But a week went by, and then two. Around then, a detective called Tatierra and said he wanted to stop by her home to show her photos. The detective never showed up, she said.
And in the neighborhood, it was like the assault had never happened. Townsell called the sergeant in charge of community policing.
“I was like, ‘Are you guys gonna put out pictures of the guy around the bus stations so that other people won't also be victimized? In other neighborhoods, they have a description of the guy up, they have a community alert. Why aren't we doing that?'” Townsell said he asked police.
Townsell said the community policing sergeant told him they had to let detectives follow their protocol. Detectives, not community policing officers, are responsible for issuing community alerts.
Townsell said he kept thinking that the response to an attempted rape in broad daylight should feel more urgent. The guy was certainly on CTA cameras — why wasn't his picture plastered everywhere in Lawndale? Were police even looking for witnesses? Townsell said he could barely watch the news at night.
“I saw somebody that broke into someone's car in Skokie, and they're showing it on the nightly news,” Townsell said. “This is the night that this happened to [Tatierra]. And every night, different things. Somebody got hit in the eye on the North Side and so they're putting up flyers; there's a community meeting about it, the alderman is called in. And it's just like, for her — nothing. It's like we're invisible. We don't matter.”
One day, a few weeks after the assault, Townsell got a call from police. Here's the news about Tatierra's attacker, he thought. Instead, police wanted help with a homicide, a high-profile case getting a lot of media attention.
“They wanted me to come and stand at a press conference, behind them — like they're on the job,” he said. “I'm kind of like, ‘I thought you were calling to tell me that you got the guy who tried to sexually assault Tatierra.'”
Townsell skipped the press conference.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the relationship between police and residents in neighborhoods like North Lawndale is troubled, by recent events like police shootings, but also by what residents frequently say is a lack of basic services from police. Both residents and police complain about a lack of trust from the other side, and city officials have said they want to repair the relationship.
“There's a lot of attention to homicides, but we've also got … everyday folks who get nothing ... in terms of regular police service. Homicides are a terrible thing for our city, but they've got to do regular policing, too. That doesn't seem to get the same kind of attention here as it gets in other neighborhoods,” Townsell said.
Whether it's homicides or attempted sexual assault, criminal justice experts say trust between the community and police is not just a luxury, something that makes life more pleasant. It's essential to fighting crime.
Fast forward to February 27. Tatierra said a detective showed her a lineup, and she was positive she saw her attacker, even though police told her it was an older photo.
Then, in mid-March, more than six weeks after the crime, a detective called Tatierra to share good news — police had the guy. In fact, the detective told Tatierra, he'd been in jail since February, just days after Tatierra's incident, she said. He was being held on a different charge.
Police told WBEZ that they didn't tell Tatierra sooner because it would have compromised their detective work.
But now — nearly three months after the crime, and a month after police told Tatierra they had the guy — no charges have been filed in her case. Police said the investigation is ongoing.
“I'm so confused,” Tatierra said, who has never been shown a picture of the man in custody. “I don't know what to believe.”
It seems like police may have done a lot of things right in this case — they pulled images from the CTA bus camera, for instance. They showed Tatierra the lineup. They tracked down the guy.
So why does Townsell — who should be a natural ally for police — still feel disgruntled about the whole thing?
“There's a lot of attention to homicides, but we've also got … everyday folks who get nothing ... in terms of regular police service,” Townsell said. “Homicides are a terrible thing for our city, but they've got to do regular policing, too. That doesn't seem to get the same kind of attention here as it gets in other neighborhoods.”
Townsell said he asked the Lawndale police on multiple occasions for a community alert — to make sure no one else was assaulted. He was never told the danger was over — that they thought they had the guy.
And he still wonders, if police have the right guy, why don't they charge him?
WBEZ talked with the community policing sergeant in Lawndale, the guy Townsell has been in contact with. He's in charge of building bridges between police and the community.
Sgt. Alfonso Lara said local police are limited in what they can do. Officers patrol the streets and generate reports. They don't investigate crimes, he said. They also are not in charge of community alerts — those come from the detectives. And detectives aren't based in the police districts. The detectives for Lawndale, on the West Side, are located at 51st and Wentworth, on the South Side.
Even during a lengthy interview last week, Lara never mentioned that police have someone in custody in Tatierra's case. But he said if Townsell is upset about how police are handling the crime, he should get the church affiliated with his organization to put a call out and help find witnesses to Tatierra's attempted sexual assault.
In response to a question about how police can respond to community pressure to take action, Lara said that back in February he sent teenagers in a police program out to flyer the community near where Tatierra was grabbed. But their handouts only included general information, urging residents to be aware of their surroundings. They didn't mention a sexual assault.
People like people like Richard Townsell should be natural allies with police and can help build safety in communities, said Art Lurigio, a Loyola University professor of psychology and criminology. In this case, he said that even if police did everything right, Townsell's perception is that they did not. That has consequences.
“That is so detrimental,” Lurigio said. “It can undermine further the precarious relationships the police have with African-Americans in Chicago.”
Tatierra said she still rides the bus to work, which has been scary for her.
“If they have him, it's a blessing. But if they don't have him, and they have the wrong person … I want them to continue to look for him. Especially in this neighborhood. There's a lot of little girls walking around by themselves.”
For Townsell, there's that. And there's also the bigger issue of community-police relations. To him, this story helps explain why those relations don't seem to be getting any better.
UK police shoot 1, arrest 6 others in counterterror raids
Britain's official threat from international terrorism stands at the second-highest level, "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely
by Gregory Katz and Jill Lawless
LONDON — British police said Friday they had disrupted an active terror plot with raids in London and southeastern England. One woman was shot and seriously wounded as heavily armed counterterrorism officers stormed a house in a residential London street.
Six suspects were arrested on terrorism-related charges, police said. The injured woman, who is in her 20s, was in serious but stable condition in a hospital.
The woman, whose name hasn't been released, was under police guard but had not been arrested because of her condition, police said.
Armed officers fired CS gas into the house in the Willesden area of northwest London, which had been under observation as part of an anti-terrorism investigation, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said. He didn't give details of how the woman was shot.
In footage shot by a witness, what sounds like several shots ring out as police surround the house.
Neighbor Maxine McKenzie said she saw "a lot of frenetic police activity" and a woman being taken out of the house on a stretcher.
"She was sitting upright and had oxygen on — I couldn't tell if she was conscious or unconscious," McKenzie said.
Police said the raids weren't connected to an arrest by counterterrorism police near Parliament on Thursday afternoon. A man was detained near the Houses Parliament and the prime minister's office in Downing Street while allegedly carrying large knives in a backpack. The 27-year-old suspect, who hasn't been identified, had been under police surveillance.
He was arrested yards from where an attacker drove an SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on March 22, killing four, before fatally stabbing a police officer inside Parliament's gates.
Basu said the Willesden raid disrupted an ongoing plot, but did not elaborate.
In both the Willesden and Parliament incidents, "we have contained the threat that they posed," Basu said.
Britain's official threat from international terrorism stands at the second-highest level, "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely.
Counterterrorism police say 13 potential attacks have been foiled in the last four years. Police and security services say they face a challenge monitoring hundreds of people of interest, including Britons who went to join IS militants in Iraq and Syria and have returned.
Basu, Britain's senior coordinator for counterterrorism policing, said there had been "increased activity to combat terrorism over the last two years," with police "making arrests on a near-daily basis."
In 2016, British police arrested 260 people on suspicion of terrorism offenses, 96 of whom were charged
In Thursday's raids, a 20-year old woman and a 16-year-old boy were arrested at the address where the woman was shot, as was a 20-year-old man nearby. A man and a woman, both aged 28, were arrested when they returned to the house later.
A 43-year-old woman in Kent county, southeast of London, was also arrested.
Police said the suspects were being held on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts. They were being questioned but had not been charged.
Ryan O'Donnell, who saw the Willesden raid, said it was "a bit shocking" to see "police wearing big gas masks and holding guns and stuff."
"Things are pretty much always going on around northwest London, something criminal, so I didn't think it was terrorism at the time," he said. "I thought maybe it is guns or something, or drugs or something. But (it) makes sense why they needed such a force."
RI city pushes back vote on proposal to ban police profiling
The measure would limit the use of electronic surveillance and a gang database and would establish strict controls on how police conduct traffic and pedestrian stops
by Matt O'Brien
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Leaders of the state's largest city tabled a sweeping new proposal to ban discriminatory profiling by police on Thursday, prompting loud protests from the measure's supporters.
The Providence City Council was expected to pass the proposed anti-profiling ordinance but instead voted 9-5 to delay that until June 1 to allow more input on it.
Booing and chanting inside the City Hall chambers drowned out council members, while some police officers high-fived each other in the hallway. The delay came a day after the city's police union sent a scathing letter describing the measure as a "slap in the face" to officers in the 400-member force.
The measure also would limit the use of electronic surveillance and a gang database and would establish strict controls on how police conduct traffic and pedestrian stops in the city, which has nearly 180,000 residents. And it would strengthen existing sanctuary city policies preventing police from helping to enforce federal civil immigration law.
The all-Democrat council had already approved it on a 12-0 vote last week, but it required a second vote. One member was absent on Thursday.
Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza has said he would sign the measure into law if the council passed it.
Among the police union's concerns is a provision requiring that the names of people on a gang list be removed if, after two years, those listed haven't had any criminal convictions or other qualifying evidence that would justify their inclusion in the database.
Democratic City Council President Luis Aponte said before the meeting that the proposal has gone through three years of vetting and negotiation. He said some of the concerns from the Providence Fraternal Order of Police were based on factual errors.
But Thursday night he said tabling the proposal would give time for more stakeholders to weigh in.
The state's attorney general, Peter Kilmartin, also has expressed concerns about the ordinance, which he said could hamper police officers. But Kilmartin, a Democrat and a former police officer in neighboring Pawtucket, showed no signs of heeding a councilwoman's request for him to provide a formal opinion.
The proposal would provide protections based on race, gender identity, English-language ability, political affiliation, housing status and medical conditions. It would give more power to a civilian review board and bar the arrest of someone whose only crime is driving without a license.
People subjected to any violation of the ordinance would be allowed to sue for damages. The union said "anti-police" attorneys and "radical" activists were behind the effort.
Aponte, the council president, said he was disappointed that a "false dichotomy" had been created suggesting people are either pro-police or in favor of the proposed ordinance.