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.
from the Polaris Project
National Human Trafficking Hotline
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. The Hotline's mission is to connect human trafficking victims and survivors to critical support and services to get help and stay safe, and to equip the anti-trafficking community with the tools to effectively combat all forms of human trafficking. The Hotline offers round-the-clock access to a safe space to report tips, seek services, and ask for help.
Learn more at www.humantraffickinghotline.org to:
The Hotline has been operated since December 7th, 2007, by Polaris, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors of human trafficking. We are not a government entity, law enforcement, or immigration authority. Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other private donors and supporters.
Text Help to 233733 (BeFree)
Hours of Operation: 3:00pm - 11:00pm EST
Polaris also independently operates the BeFree Textline. Victims and survivors may send a message to BeFree (233733) to get help or to connect with local services. Learn more about BeFree here.
Minnesota - from FBI
(Video on site)
Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking
Super Bowl Brings a Focus on Human Trafficking
In the summer of 2016, a group of Minnesota community leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sector joined with local and federal law enforcement agencies to form an anti-trafficking group to address the issue of sex trafficking at this year's Super Bowl in Minneapolis.
Although the group established practical goals of providing more outreach and emergency services to help victims, one of its primary objectives was to raise awareness about sex trafficking—and to educate the public that the problem exists not just at major sporting events but throughout the year in communities all around country.
“We don't want to blame the Super Bowl,” said Amanda Koonjbeharry, who works for Hennepin County, which encompasses Minneapolis, where Super Bowl LII will be played. “It's not the game that is causing the issue,” she said. “Sex trafficking is happening 365 days a year.”
Koonjbeharry manages a county initiative called No Wrong Door, which works to prevent the sexual exploitation of young people. She represents one of approximately 40 organizations involved in the Super Bowl anti-trafficking group. Other participants include hospitals, businesses, non-profits, local police departments, and the FBI.
In the Twin Cities region, said Beth Holger-Ambrose, executive director of The Link—a Minneapolis non-profit that serves young people who have been trafficked—“the Super Bowl has brought an incredible, unprecedented awareness to the issue of trafficking.”
To take advantage of that, The Link produced one of two public service announcements that have been publicized in the months leading up to the Super Bowl. “I Am Priceless” was created by young people who were victims of sex trafficking, Holger-Ambrose said, and is aimed at preventing young girls and boys from becoming sexually exploited.
A second public service announcement, “Don't Buy It,” aims to discourage men from buying sex and believing misconceptions about women involved in prostitution. “Women are not products,” it says. “Men are more than consumers.”
Holger-Ambrose and Koonjbeharry recently briefed members of the FBI Minneapolis Division's Citizens Academy Alumni Association about human trafficking as well as the efforts of the Super Bowl anti-trafficking group. Both women told the audience that they regularly work with the FBI to help young victims.
“Human trafficking victims are a large part of the case load that we carry,” said Lauren Schmitz, an FBI victim specialist in Minneapolis, explaining that she has worked with juvenile victims as young as 13 years old. “Trafficking happens every day of the year,” she said. “The Super Bowl has brought an awareness to the issue here in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota.”
Super Bowl Security
Behind-the-Scenes Look at Planning and Partnerships
On the wintry streets of downtown Minneapolis, ice crunches underfoot. The wind is whipping, and the temperature hovers in the teens. The weather will be one of the many topics under discussion inside the city's convention center, where officials from every local, state, and federal organization involved with security at this year's Super Bowl have gathered to put their planning and preparation to the test.
With the big game just around the corner, participants at this recent daylong exercise—the first time everyone has come together under one roof—will be asked to simulate their agency's responses to a variety of scenarios, from an active shooter event to reuniting a missing child with a parent to keeping fans and first responders warm in the frigid Minnesota winter.
Nearly two years of planning has taken place, largely behind the scenes, to make sure that Super Bowl LII—and the 10 days of events leading up to the kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4—is safe and secure. Nothing has been left to chance, not even the weather.
“An event like this is about planning, about preparation, and about partnerships,” said Rick Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Division. “Each organization brings its unique abilities to the table, but it requires tremendous teamwork and cooperation to pull everything together into a unified whole.”
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is the lead agency for security at this year's Super Bowl, and they are being supported by an impressive team that includes dozens of local police departments and public safety organizations, along with federal agencies including the FBI and multiple components of the Department of Homeland Security.
“I think we have done our best to think of just about every contingency, natural or manmade,” said MPD's Scott Gerlicher, overall public safety coordinator for Super Bowl LII. “The Super Bowl is just a massive operation, and very complicated,” he explained, “especially in our area.”
Few northern cities play host to the Super Bowl, and dealing with the likely extreme February cold is a necessity for police officers and first responders who will have to brave the elements out of doors (warming huts will be located near the venues). Fans attending the game will be pre-screened at indoor locations, such as the Mall of America, so they won't have to wait outside the stadium. Securing the stadium itself is challenging because, unlike in many cities, U.S. Bank Stadium is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, making the establishment of a secure perimeter difficult.
Today's exercise, a security dry run, of sorts, is a simulated opportunity for the entire team to come together to work through these and other issues as if it is game day.
“We make sure everybody understands what their roles and responsibilities are,” Gerlicher said, “and talk through some scenarios to make sure that between now and when we go live with our full, 10-day operational period in late January, we can identify any gaps and deal with them.”
Gerlicher's counterpart at the FBI is Joe Rivers, an assistant special agent in charge in the Minneapolis Division who for the past two years has led a dedicated team of agents and professional staff to make sure the Bureau's piece of the Super Bowl security puzzle is complete—and fits seamlessly into MPD's overall plan.
The FBI's main responsibilities include taking the lead in any kind of terrorist, cyber, or major crime incident, and providing intelligence, from both a national and international perspective, about bad actors who might seek to disrupt Super Bowl activities.
“We have planned for this to ensure that nothing happens,” Rivers said. “But if something does happen, some kind of mass casualty incident or terrorism event, then there is a huge shift built into the program to continue to support the event but to transition to crisis response and investigation.”
The FBI has also offered other expertise and resources, including taking responsibility for credentialing thousands of public safety officers and volunteers who will need varying levels of access to Super Bowl venues.
“We are facilitating the name checks and records checks for all the folks who are going to get credentialed,” Rivers said. “That means volunteers, food vendors, private security people—the number of individuals could exceed 30,000. That's a huge commitment from our office.”
For the FBI as a whole, however, preparing for major events is nothing new. The Bureau's Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) maintains teams of agents and experts who specialize in helping to secure major events such as political conventions and the Olympics.
CIRG personnel operate out of the spotlight but stand ready to respond to emergency situations. On hand for the Super Bowl, said Special Agent Mike Hartnett, who heads a crisis management team at CIRG, “will be tactical teams, bomb techs, people that can respond to a hazardous device incident—we'll bring the whole wealth of response that the FBI can bring.”
“Most agencies deal with events like a Super Bowl maybe once in a career or once in a lifetime,” Special Agent in Charge Thornton said, “where collectively the FBI deals with these things on an ongoing basis. The fact that we have the ability to reach back to the entire FBI with its specialty components, as well as all the other offices, to augment our resources is what makes the FBI unique.”
Alex Khu, a special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is the federal coordinator for Super Bowl security. Working closely with MPD and the FBI, it's Khu's job to identify and procure needed assets from all federal agencies—everything from technology and equipment to bomb-sniffing dogs—and put them in place for the Super Bowl. This year's effort represents the largest deployment of federal assets to any Super Bowl ever. “Coordination at all levels is key,” Khu said. “There are so many moving pieces. No one agency can do this alone.”
At the convention center, the day is drawing to a close, and the exercise has gone well. The dry run has shown that the close partnerships and meticulous planning is paying off. “This validates our planning,” Rivers said. “The goal is to have a safe event,” he added. “We want all the fans in town to see the game and enjoy the events and festivities without ever having to know about all the time and effort and energy that went into getting us to this stage.”
from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
ICE heading to Super Bowl 52
Why is ICE at the Super Bowl?
As the teams prepare to battle for the right to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl LII champions, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be playing its best defense to protect the millions of fans who will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the biggest sporting event of the year.
ICE has been a constant presence at the Super Bowl for many years. The agency and National Football League may seem like an odd pairing, but the two have formed an effective partnership to combat many of the threats the league and host city face leading up to and during the big game.
What does ICE do at the Super Bowl?
At an event of the Super Bowl's magnitude, public safety is the No. 1 concern. ICE works with its law enforcement partners to provide safety and security to those in attendance and target criminal enterprises that use the Super Bowl to promote human trafficking and the illegal manufacturing and sale of counterfeit goods. ICE also assists with surveillance capabilities for various Super Bowl events and provides tactical support on game day, among many other critical tasks.
Why is ICE involved in combatting counterfeit products?
The illegal manufacturing and sale of counterfeit goods has been one of the primary concerns of ICE and its partners during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The practice endangers public health, the economy and restricts the competitiveness of U.S. products in the global market.
As part of those efforts, Operation Team Player, an ongoing effort developed by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) to crackdown on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and merchandise, has worked through the year to identify warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit and game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country. The IPR Center leads coordinated efforts with major sporting leagues to target contraband that impacts the economy, enables additional criminality and poses health and safety hazards to the public.
Teamwork will be the key to success on and off the field during Super Bowl LII. For ICE, the enormity of the task will be met with personnel who will be prepared to successfully execute the agency's game plan.
Stay connected to ICE at the Super Bowl:
- Visit www.ice.gov/superbowl on Monday, January 29th for our continuous coverage
- Follow ICE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr
- To follow the conversation on Twitter: #ICEatSB52
Dept of Justice
Bureau of Prisons Tests Micro-Jamming Technology in Federal Prison to Prevent Contraband Cell Phones
On January 17, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission, conducted a test of micro-jamming technology at the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland, Maryland. The test was conducted to determine if micro-jamming could prevent wireless communication by an inmate using a contraband device at the individual cell housing unit level.
Prior to this test, the BOP had conducted a limited cellphone jamming demonstration with NTIA in 2010, at the same field site in Cumberland supporting NTIA's congressionally-mandated study of cellphone interdiction technologies.
As part of the Jan. 17 test, NTIA conducted an independent evaluation of micro-jamming technology to determine its efficacy and interference potential with Radio Frequency communications. The BOP and NTIA will review the data and analysis results from both BOP's and NTIA's testing and develop recommendations for strategic planning and possible acquisition.
“Contraband cell phones in prisons pose a major and growing security threat to correctional officers, law enforcement officials, and the general public,” said Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy. “As criminals increase their technological capacity to further criminal activity from within prisons, we must also explore technologies to prevent this from happening. This test is part of our ongoing efforts to find a solution.”
Contraband cellphones have been an ongoing correctional security and public safety concern for the BOP as well as for state and local correctional agencies across the country. Contraband phones are used to further ongoing criminal activity, including threats to public officials, intimidation of witnesses, and continuance of criminal enterprises.
The BOP will continue to evaluate cell phone detection technologies and work with its federal partners and Congress to achieve cost-effective options to combat this threat to corrections and public safety. The agency does not endorse any specific vendor or product.
DOJ, DHS Report: Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign-Born
Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data for the First Time on Terrorism-Related Activity
Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report, revealing that three out of every four, or 402, individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born. Over the same period, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed approximately 1,716 aliens with national security concerns. Further, in 2017 alone DHS had 2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watch list (also known as the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States.
This report was required by Section 11 of President Trump's Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, which declared that “it is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals,” directed a series of actions to enhance the security and safety of the American people. The actions directed by Executive Order have raised the baseline for the vetting and screening of foreign nationals, prevented the entry of malicious actors, and enhanced the safety and security of the American people.
“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” said Attorney General Sessions. “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees. Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds. The pillars of President Trump's immigration policy—securing our porous borders, moving to a merit-based immigration system that ends the use of diversity visas and chain migration, and enforcing our nation's laws—will make their jobs easier and make the United States a safer place.”
“My top priority as Secretary of Homeland Security is to ensure the safety and security of the American people,” said Secretary Nielsen. “This report is a clear reminder of why we cannot continue to rely on immigration policy based on pre-9/11 thinking that leaves us woefully vulnerable to foreign-born terrorists, and why we must examine our visa laws and continue to intensify screening and vetting of individuals traveling to the United States to prevent terrorists, criminals, and other dangerous individuals from reaching our country. Without legislative change, DHS will continue to see thousands of terrorists a year attempt to enter the United States, and while we must be right every time, the terrorists only need to be lucky once. Therefore, DHS has personnel deployed around the world and along our borders working with our global and domestic law enforcement partners to stop terrorists before they enter the homeland.”
The report reveals that at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016. An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born. Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:
- 254 were not U.S. citizens;
- 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,
- 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
According to information available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since September 11, 2001, there were approximately 1,716 removals of aliens with national security concerns.
As mentioned above, in FY 2017, DHS encountered 2,554 individuals on the terrorist watchlist (also known as the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States. Of those individuals, 335 were attempting to enter by land, 2,170 were attempting to enter by air, and 49 were attempting to enter by sea. Where consistent with the law, such individuals are denied entry into the United States, while in some cases law enforcement authorities are notified and can take appropriate action.
From October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2017, a total of 355,345 non-U.S. citizen offenders, were administratively arrested after previously being convicted of an aggravated felony, as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43), or two or more crimes each punishable by more than one year (felony offenses). During that same period, a total of 372,098 non-U.S. citizen offenders were removed from the United States after conviction of an aggravated felony or two or more felonies.
Data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate shows that between 2007 and 2017, USCIS referred 45,858 foreign nationals who applied for immigration benefits to ICE for criminal or civil enforcement action, based on information indicating that such foreign nationals had committed egregious public safety-related offenses within the United States.
Between FY 2010 and FY 2016, CBP identified and prevented the boarding of 73,261 foreign travelers on flights destined for the United States, who may have presented an immigration or security risk.
In October, the Trump Administration sent to Congress a list of legislative priorities that would enhance our national security—such as eliminating the diversity visa lottery and extended family chain migration, funding the wall, closing loopholes in our asylum system, combatting visa overstays, and closing other loopholes in existing law that potentially benefit aliens who pose threats to our national security.
Background on the Executive Order
Section 11 of Executive Order requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to collect and make publicly available the following information:
- Information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation with or provision of material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national-security-related reasons;
- Information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and who have engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States;
- Information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called “honor killings,” in the United States by foreign nationals; and,
- Any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.
Northwest Arkansas Judges Cite Alternative Programs As Key in Reducing Youth Lockups
by Benjamin Hardy
(This is two of four parts.)
Over the past decade, two counties in Northwest Arkansas have drastically reduced their juvenile incarceration rate.
In 2007, Benton County committed 29 delinquent youths to the state Department of Human Services' Division of Youth Services. In 2017, the number was five.
“It saves money, it saves resources, but more importantly, the data shows that once you start locking up a kid, the propensity to get locked up [again] increases tenfold,” Benton County Circuit Judge Tom Smith said. “[Our] philosophy is lock up last, not lock up first.”
In Washington County, Circuit Judge Stacey Zimmerman has presided over a similarly steep decline in state commitments — from 20 in 2007 to seven in 2017. Both counties have also reduced the number of youth locked up in their local juvenile detention centers, or JDCs, over the past decade.
The reductions in confinement follow national trends. Youth incarceration has declined in most Southern states by double digits since the 1990s. Arkansas, however, is an outlier: It continues to lock up children at a high rate. But some juvenile courts are trying to change that from the ground up.
In one sense, the reforms i n Benton and Washington counties are as simple as two judges concluding that they must incarcerate fewer young people. In another sense, though, the changes are anything but simple. It's not that Zimmerman and Smith are ignoring delinquent behavior; it's that they're using different, finer tools than the blunt instrument of punitive confinement.
Electronic monitoring, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, shelters and group homes, family counseling, mentorships, job training — all are alternatives the judges may deploy in lieu of detention or commitment to the DYS.
Zimmerman cited an expansion of diversion efforts as one key to reducing confinement in Washington County. Those include an “adventure club” that provides outdoor activities such as kayaking or hiking; Girls Circle, a peer-to-peer support group; and, a family therapy program, Creating Lasting Family Connections. With the assistance from the Washington County quorum court, several of Zimmerman's staff have become certified instructors in the program.
Diversion cases are those that do not progress to a formal hearing before Zimmerman, the judge explained. “A diversion officer meets with a kid who receives a ticket for some nonviolent, non-felony crime, like shoplifting … before the kid is even filed on with a [delinquency] petition, before the kid even comes in the courtroom to see me.
“Each kid is different. Maybe it's just going to be a meeting with the kid, and they're already scared to death, and they're like ‘OK, I'll never do this again,' and the [officer] just warns and dismisses it. Maybe the kid needs some counseling, so the officer calls the counselor and gets an appointment set up. Or maybe the parent needs some parenting classes. So that diversion officer is kind of a triage person to get what the kid needs and what the family needs.”
When Zimmerman first took the bench in 1999, there were no diversion officers in Washington County. She now has two staff devoted to the role full-time.
Crucially, Smith said, alternative programs are not necessarily interchangeable from case to case, even when the offense is the same. One youth arrested for theft may be feeding a drug problem; another may have never touched drugs but could have serious problems at home. Calibrating the right response requires a careful examination of what is happening in a child's life to contribute to his or her delinquent behavior — in the jargon, a “risk assessment.”
“We do testing to find out what the kid needs that might have caused the behavior,” Smith said. “We don't just go, ‘You did this, so we're going to do X to you.' We need to know what caused it. That's why testing is such a big part of the rehabilitation process for juveniles. It dictates what to do.”
Drew Shover, the chief juvenile probation officer in Benton County, said his staff has been trained to depend on risk assessments to determine how to handle each youth. In March, the county began using a specialized tool called the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth, or SAVRY, which was designed by researchers to identify criminogenic risk factors in different categories: substance abuse, family stability, education and so on. Youth, and sometimes their families, undergo an exhaustive battery of questions, the answers to which guide the youth's eventual disposition by the court.
“When we started getting trained on risk assessments in 2014, that really helped out,” Shover said. “Staff were looking at cases differently. You can put only so much of your professionalism into a case and you can be dead wrong … A [juvenile] officer says, ‘Oh, I really know my kids' — then they can read a SAVRY and quickly realize how much they don't know about their kids. … It basically gives you facts. Takes all the subjectivity out of it.”
Above Shover's desk is posted a document titled “Benton County Service Matrix: Risk/Need/Responsivity,” which categorizes the many dispositional options available to Shover and Judge Smith, from drug court to after-school programming to inpatient mental health. The matrix is intended to pair each kid with the right program.
“We don't just put them in this program here because it's available,” Shover said, pointing to one column. “Because what's the point of using a tool involving a risk rating if you're not going to follow the model?”
Shover has been in the juvenile justice field for 23 years. During that time, he has filled many roles at the Benton County probation office — intake officer, probation officer, supervisor — but he said the use of risk assessments to guide the disposition of juvenile cases has fundamentally changed the way he approaches his job.
“I've learned more in the past four or five years than the first 13 working here,” he said. “People will ask me, ‘So you were wrong before?' And yeah, I was wrong.”
Since 2013, Jason Szanyi, a deputy director at the D.C.-based Center for Children's Law and Policy, has worked with the juvenile courts in Benton and Washington counties to implement the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.
A project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, JDAI has now been deployed in some 300 communities throughout the U.S. (In 2018, Pulaski County will become Arkansas' third JDAI site.) Though many of the changes in Northwest Arkansas were underway before JDAI arrived, Szanyi's role is to help the counties continue pushing forward with reform.
“The best way to think of it is that we're kind of like coaches,” he said. “We're really trying to educate folks in the system about what the best practices are and how to use their data strategically. … The JDAI model involves bringing together those who have a stake in the juvenile justice system — public schools, law enforcement, community-based service providers and others — to think and collaborate and try to come up with better, more effective interventions for kids.”
Szanyi said the focus of JDAI is to reduce unnecessary detentions before adjudication (the equivalent of a trial). “So, I'm not talking about placement and commitment to DYS. I'm talking about: If a kid gets arrested, are they brought to detention? Are they released? Are they released to an alternative program?”
Research shows that even short-term detentions can have a harmful effect, he said. “Two or three days may not sound like a lot, but it's enough time for a kid to fall behind in school, for a kid to associate with [other] kids who have been in the system for awhile — and we don't want kids learning negative behaviors from kids who are in detention for more serious offenses.”
Although JDAI is focused on what happens to youths between arrest and adjudication, Szanyi said cutting back on short-term lockups tends to also reduce long-term commitments to the DYS.
“By reducing the detention population, what we find is that we get fewer kids who move into the ‘deep end' of the system, where they may be placed with DYS or end up in the adult criminal justice system,” he said. A recent Casey Foundation study of JDAI sites across the nation found a 57 percent reduction in state commitments over the time that the initiative was operational in each location. “Benton and Washington county have had that experience too, but they were already committing far, far fewer kids to DYS than many other counties in Arkansas [before JDAI].”
Shover said JDAI has helped Benton County in two key areas: community partnerships and data. “We collaborate a lot more with our community stakeholders now … And also, we collect data so much better than we used to. It used to be [only] simple stuff — detentions, commitments. But now we're looking at how effective our programming is: The things that we do, do they have an impact?”
This reporting is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans. Find out more at arknews.org.
New York City
Man who hit NYPD cop was reenacting scene from 'The Fast and the Furious'
Arfhy Santos was arrested for trying to mow down an NYPD cop in Times Square last weekend
by Andy Mai and John Annese
NEW YORK — The alleged drug dealer was trying to act out a scene from “The Fast and the Furious,” when he was caught on camera trying to mow down an NYPD officer in Times Square, his lawyer said early Friday.
Arfhy Santos, 20, was behind the wheel of his buddy's Mercedes-Benz when he dragged NYPD Officer Ian Wallace as the cop tried to stop him Saturday.
“It's easy to get caught up in the sensationalism of the video that had gone viral at this point,” Santos' lawyer, Paul Presti said. “My client's behavior that day was stupid, to reenact a scene out of ‘The Fast and the Furious.'”
Wallace, who stepped in front of the car to stop it, didn't approach the vehicle in "the typical way," and Santos thought the officer was going for his holster and got scared, Presti said.
Santos is charged with assault and was held on $100,000 bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. He has open drug dealing charges from an October arrest in the Bronx. Car owner William Lopez, 24, was also in the vehicle and was held on $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash bail.
Lopez faces reckless endangerment and reckless driving charges for an earlier incident in Manhattan where he‘s accused of driving on a sidewalk for two blocks to escape police.
"The police got it wrong because it was not Mr. Lopez that was driving," Lopez's lawyer, Luis Diaz said.
Lopez has a pending case in the Bronx for a similar incident.
'Pushed down our throats': Hundreds oppose city public safety fee; police say it's needed
by Joe Douglass
AUMSVILLE, Ore. — More than 400 people have signed an online petition demanding that a new public safety fee in Aumsville go before the city's voters.
Opponents of the fee say it could hurt residents and that Aumsville's City Council approved it last month without enough input from the public.
The city administrator, however, said authorities gave residents plenty of notice and opportunities to let their voices be heard.
Dianne Lohse and five other voters in Aumsville told KATU on Friday that they're not happy about the city's new $12 per month public safety fee.
"This fee has been pushed down our throats and not taken properly," Lohse said. "We vote to have our taxes raised accordingly when they ask for money. It is the job of the City Council to take that money and budget it correctly."
Derek Clevenger, another Aumsville resident, is concerned about the way the ordinance was written, attaching the fee to monthly sewer and water bills.
"For people in the community that are on fixed incomes, and there's a lot of them that can't afford this fee, there's a potential of them having their water shut off and/or having a lien put on their property or their home," Clevenger said.
Last year, the home security consulting company Safewise listed Aumsville as the fourth safest city in Oregon. In 2016, the city came in at No. 13 on that list and 21st the year before.
Richard Schmitz, Aumsville's police chief, said the city's ranking improved in large part because the police department added a sixth officer about two years ago. But he also said in November that the cost for the service was outpacing the city's revenue.
"This is a budget issue that was identified in May," Clevenger said. "The public wasn't asked for comment until November."
The chief has also said the new $12 fee would allow him to hire a seventh officer, which would give the police department the ability to provide service 24-hours a day seven days a week. After the sixth officer was hired, the chief said it allowed officers to provide 24-hour coverage 80 to 90 percent of the time.
Clevenger said the city hasn't demonstrated a need for another officer, saying crime is down and call volume has not increased over the last four years.
He and Lohse also said the city held just two public input meetings about the fee in November and December. And they said many people didn't know about them.
"At the meetings that they held the community was very vocal that they were not in support of this fee," Clevenger said, "and yet the City Council chose to move forward with it anyway."
The city administrator, Ron Harding, told KATU notices about the meetings were put up in multiple locations including the city newsletter, which is posted monthly online with hard copies distributed throughout the city.
"The newsletter circulates to every home," Harding said by email. "We also post extra copies at the bank and restaurants so it actually has a high circulation, over 1,400 copies each month."
Judge: collapse of sex crime trials could lead to rapists going free
Series of blunders by police and CPS may see juries doubting evidence, says Lord Judge
The notable collapse of a series of rape trials could endanger future convictions of genuine rapists because of reduced public trust in the justice system, the former head of the judiciary has warned.
Lord Judge, who was lord chief justice in England and Wales from 2008 to 2013, said juries may start doubting the quality of evidence presented to them in court after several high-profile rape cases collapsed owing to blunders by police and the CPS.
The comments to the Times were made after a rape case against Oliver Mears, a 19-year-old student at Oxford University, was dropped on Friday after police accepted making errors during the investigation.
“The recent examples in cases involving alleged sexual crime are alarming, both for all the individuals concerned and for public confidence in the administration of criminal justice generally,” Judge told the newspaper.
“It is at least possible that from time to time juries, alarmed as everyone else by these cases, may wonder, even in an apparently strong case, whether they have been provided with all the admissible evidence.
“These events may reduce the prospects of conviction even when the allegation is genuine.”
On Friday, Surrey police announced a full review of all ongoing rape cases, admitting that errors had been made in the Mears case.
“We accept that there were flaws in the initial investigation. It was not expedient and the investigator did not examine the victim's digital media during the initial stages of the investigation or follow what we would consider to be a reasonable line of enquiry,” the force said in a statement.
A review of the case produced evidence that supported the Oxford student's account, causing prosecutors to drop the case.
Mears spent two years on bail before the CPS decided to charge him in June 2017, prompting criticism from the judge, Jonathan Black.
The case is one of many that has collapsed in recent weeks due to errors from the CPS and the police.
On Monday a rape trial against Samson Makele was halted after his defence found mobile phone images showing him apparently cuddling in bed with his accuser.
In December last year, the Metropolitan police announced a review of all sexual assault investigations after two rape cases were dropped against Isaac Itiary and Liam Allen.
Can Software Predict Crime? Maybe So, but No Better Than a Human
by NIRAJ CHOKSHI
Can you predict a crime?
More than a half-century ago, the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick imagined a world in which a “precrime” agency made that possible. Today, a few tools promise to help nudge society in that direction.
But a new study out this week suggests that at least one such forecasting algorithm, used in some American courts, is no better than untrained humans.
In the study, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, two researchers found that small groups of randomly chosen people could predict whether a criminal defendant would be convicted of a future crime with about 67 percent accuracy, a rate virtually identical to Compas, software some American judges use to inform their decisions.
“An algorithm's accuracy can't be taken for granted, and we need to test these tools to ensure that they are performing as we expect them to,” said Julia Dressel, who conducted the study for her Dartmouth College undergraduate thesis with Hany Farid, a computer science professor there.
Ms. Dressel and Mr. Farid also found that they could make similarly accurate predictions with just two pieces of information: a defendant's age and past convictions. Meanwhile, Compas, which stands for Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions, relies on six variables for assessing risk, according to Equivant, which sells the software.
The authors are far from the first to raise questions about Compas's role in judicial decision making.
In one high-profile case, a Wisconsin man charged with evading the police said that his due process rights were violated when a judge used Compas in sentencing him to six years in prison. (He appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, but it declined to weigh in last year.)
And, in 2016, the investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica concluded that the software was unfair to black defendants.
While some academics disputed the certainty of that finding — arguing that it depends on how fairness is measured — the report inspired Ms. Dressel and Mr. Farid to conduct their own study.
In addition to their main finding, the authors also found evidence of racial bias from both Compas and the humans, even though neither considered race in the predictions. Compared with their white peers, a larger share of black defendants was falsely predicted to reoffend, while a smaller share was falsely predicted not to.
Equivant disputed the findings. In a statement on Wednesday, it said that the authors overstated the number of variables Compas uses to predict future crimes — it is six, the company said, not the 137 that the authors cited. Equivant also said that the conclusions were limited by the small data sample used, the same data behind the ProPublica report.
Ms. Dressel and Mr. Farid based their analysis on a database of more than 7,000 pretrial defendants in Broward County, Fla., from 2013 to 2014. For each, the database included demographic information, criminal history, Compas risk scores and arrest records for the two years following the scoring.
A subset of 1,000 defendants was then used to collect predictions from 400 people, recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a marketplace for online labor. Those participants were presented with paragraphs about each of 50 defendants and asked to rate the likelihood that each would commit a crime in the following two years.
The descriptions the individuals were presented with included the defendants' sex, age, crime they were charged with, the type of crime and their arrest history. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/us/computer-software-human-decisions.html
Crime Is Down In American Cities, And 'Uneasy Peace' Explains Why
Violent crime is down in America's big cities.
It may not seem so if you watch crime dramas like CSI , NCIS or Chicago P.D. , but homicide, assault and rapes have decreased in big cities since the 1970s. Even Chicago had a 16 percent decline in murders last year, to 650. (In 1974, the city had 970 homicides.)
Patrick Sharkey, chair of NYU's sociology department and scientific director of Crime Lab New York, attributes the change, in part, to something that happened in the 1990s. He says, "The entire country, really kind of for the first time in a while, saw violence as a national crisis and mobilized to deal with it."
Sharkey's new book is Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence .
On how the country mobilized to reduce crime in the 1990s
That took many forms. It took the form of more police on the street and more aggressive policing, more aggressive prosecution, shutting down open-air drug markets.
But another piece of this that I kind of draw attention to in the book is there was also a mobilization in the communities hit hardest. Residents organized and really started to fight against violence, started to fight to take back public parks, playgrounds, public streets. And I think all of these things together explain why violence started to fall.
On increased policing and tougher sentences
[Those] did have an effect. If we're having an honest conversation, then those factors are part of the conversation.
They also brought great costs as well. So we have millions of Americans who are under the surveillance of the criminal justice system. We've all seen the instances of aggressive or violent policing. So these are part of the reason why crime fell, but they've also brought some of the worst costs of the crime decline as well.
On the connection between reduced crime and gentrification
We've looked at how the crime drop has affected changes in the population of low-income neighborhoods, and what we've found is that as violence declines, new populations enter into very poor neighborhoods. It's a drop in the degree which the poor are kind of isolated, separated, from the rest of the city. Now, nationally we've found no evidence that this leads to displacement of the poor. What it means is that residents with more education [and] higher income are moving into neighborhoods where poverty was concentrated. ... [The poor] are not pushed out to a large extent. That's one of the findings that we have.
Now, in some cities — in New York and San Francisco — there are very visible examples where this happened, so I certainly don't want to dismiss it. ... So in those cities, it's crucial that we have policies in place that preserve affordable housing [and] make sure people are not displaced, not just physically, but also culturally, politically.
On the ripple effects of a lower crime rate
Beyond the lives that have been preserved, we have found gains in things like economic mobility. So in places that have become safer, we found a causal effect on the chance that children from low-income families will move upward out of poverty as they reach adulthood.
We've found impacts on academic performance; so in the places that have become safest, academic achievement has improved the most. And actually, racial achievement gaps have narrowed the most in the places that have become safest. And beyond all that, I think the most profound changes is just in the experience of urban poverty. So across the country, for several decades, living in poverty used to mean living with the constant threat of violence. That hasn't gone away. There are certain cities that are still intensively violent, but it's no longer true in most of the country.
Ian Stewart and Barrie Hardymon produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Sydnee Monday and Nicole Cohen adapted it for the Web. https://www.npr.org/2018/01/20/579116484/crime-is-down-in-american-cities-and-uneasy-peace-explains-why
Miami's next police chief is a veteran with a goal to reduce gun violence
by CHARLES RABIN
Jorge Colina, a 28-year veteran who has overseen every division in the more than 1,200-member Miami Police Department, will take over as the city's chief of police at the end of the month.
Colina, 50, met and interviewed with new City Manager Emilio González Wednesday morning and after sharing his policing philosophies, González made the quick decision to promote Colina.
Colina, who has spent the past few years as assistant police chief to Rodolfo Llanes, will take control of the department on Jan. 29. Llanes had been scheduled to resign in March.
“Man, I'm tripping out,” Colina said. “I met with the manager this morning and we had a long philosophical discussion.”
Colina's philosophy: Increase community policing. Forge better partnerships with federal agencies. Stop the gun violence on the streets that increased the last few months of the year in Miami.
“There's no reason why we can't be one of the safest cities in the country,” he said. “Reducing gun violence is the priority. I have no sympathy if you chose to use a firearm to commit a crime.”
González said he chose Colina because he's “imminently qualified” and because Llanes recommended him. There was no national search for his replacement or formal internal selection process.
“I realize that this is my first appointment. I wanted to make sure that, in my eyes, we have a guy who understands the community and has vast experience,” said the city manager. “I'm expecting great things for our city.”
Colina has overseen Internal Affairs, Criminal Investigations, Field Operations and Administation, the department's four divisions. He's also worked in narcotics and anti-corruption and was promoted to major under former Police Chief Miguel Exposito. He commanded the city's south district in Coconut Grove.
Francis Suarez, a two-term commissioner who was elected mayor in November, said he's known Colina since he served in the Grove.
“He's extremely ethical and has held very sensitive positions in the department,” said the mayor.
Colina, who has been married for 25 years and has two children and two grandchildren, will be the city's fifth chief in the past nine years, an unusual amount of turnover for a major police department. Since John Timoney's resignation in 2009, Miami has been overseen by a chief forced out after a series of police-involved shootings and two chiefs who delayed retirement for a few years to take over the department.
“I don't intend to have another five chiefs in my eight years,” said Suarez. “I can tell you that.”
CPD hosts conference on smart policing after 15-percent drop in Chicago murders
by Megan Hickey
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Top cops from across the country want to know how Chicago managed to reduce the murder rate in 2017.
They got a behind-the-scenes look at the Chicago Police Department's strategies, which include the use of new, smart-policing technology, community policing, violence intervention and collaborating with prosecutors.
"These cops know they can win this thing now. All they want to do it win," Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Sean Malinowski said.
Chicago had 900 fewer shooting victims and 15 percent fewer murders in 2017.
More than a dozen police department representatives - including Miami, Baltimore, St. Louis, New Orleans and Little Rock - attended the first day of the 2018 National Crime-Fighters Conference on Wednesday, to learn what went right for the CPD.
"That progress was made, basically, due to technology, the hard work of the police officers out there and the hard work of the community members clergy and business owners that partnered with us last year to help reduce the violence," CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said.
Predictive technology was the focus of Wednesday morning's presentation at the University of Chicago Crime Lab. That's what brought Nashville Deputy Police Chief Todd Henry to the city, all the way from Tennessee.
"What we can basically steal and take home to make Nashville a safer city," Henry said. "If Chicago's doing that, I think that's just a best practice that we can take home and learn."
The CPD is using technology through decentralized command centers, known as strategic nerve centers, across historically violent districts. On average, districts with the nerve centers saw a 25 percent drop in shootings in 2017.
"Technology and prediction capabilities that in other departments, if they exist at all, are generally in a centralized place," CPD Chief of Technical Services Jonathan Lewis said.
Chicago police said those nerve centers drove huge reductions in the Englewood and Harrison police districts. But the superintendent also put the drop into perspective.
"We're not spiking the ball by any means, but it is a better narrative for our city," Johnson said.
The two-day conference will include interactive demonstrations that show how the technology is being used in Chicago.
Community policing resolution sees City Council support
by Margaret Austin
The Columbia City Council on Tuesday night discussed a draft resolution that would direct City Manager Mike Matthes to design a program, timeline and budget by June 30 for the Columbia Police Department's transition to community-oriented policing. The council scheduled a vote for the resolution on Feb. 19 but plans to allot time for additional public commentary during the Feb. 5 meeting.
Community-oriented policing takes a proactive approach to reducing crime through shared values among the police force and the communities they serve, according to the resolution, which was largely drafted by Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas with help from First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin and Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp. The model is described in the resolution as “an approach to public safety” that includes long-term patrol assignments in designated neighborhoods, with time dedicated to building relationships in those communities.
According to the resolution, early efforts involving community policing in parts of Columbia have led to communities seeing reductions in emergency calls and all categories of crime. A focus of the program is the use of warnings in responding to minor crimes.
“This really has to be a collaborative process if it's going to be successful,” Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said of the importance of maintaining collaboration between the City Council, the city manager and the community throughout the planning process.
Speaking in support of the resolution, Thomas referenced Vision Zero, a city goal to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.
“One of my models for this is the Vision Zero process, where we adopted a policy resolution, essentially, and we directed the city manager to develop a vision plan, a funding plan and bring that back six months later,” he said.
Although protocol doesn't call for public commentary on reports during City Council meetings, Mayor Brian Treece opened the floor to hear community feedback.
Members of the group Race Matters, Friends, attended the meeting to share their ideas and concerns.
Peggy Placier, a member of the group, said she is very encouraged that the council is moving forward with the resolution after tabling it in the past. She said she supported community-oriented policing in terms of endorsing the philosophy but said “the issue will be in the planning, execution and evaluation.”
Pat Fowler, a resident of north-central Columbia, addressed a concern about her experiences with police in her neighborhood.
“How you are treated by our Police Department depends on where you live,” Fowler said during public commentary. “Let's go forward with community policing with all intention of speed and goodwill, but let's not forget we have a deeper problem here.”
In February 2017, the council ordered a public review of community policing and passed a resolution calling for a public conversation about how to move forward. The council considered hiring the Heart of Missouri United Way and New Chapter Coaching to lead a public forum, but that idea was met with resistance from residents who said the forum would be too short and non-inclusive. Some council members also felt the original $69,000 price tag was too high, and they tabled the contract.
Others felt the forum as proposed would have failed to specifically address racial profiling in Columbia. In 2016, black drivers were being pulled over at “a rate that was 3.9 times higher than the rate at which white drivers were stopped,” according to previous Missourian reporting. The new resolution seeks a plan that addresses community concerns about disproportional traffic stops and searches.
The push for community-oriented policing began in 2014, when the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence recommended the model as part of a solution for violent crime. Two years earlier, two officers were assigned to do foot patrols in Douglass Park, which was once known as a hotspot for crime. The two-man patrol, whom many Douglass Park residents grew to know by name, was expanded following the task force recommendation and named the Community Outreach Unit.
The city has since expanded the outreach unit so that it has enough officers to span four areas of Columbia, “despite severe resource limitations,” according to the resolution.
Implementing community policing would be difficult without adding significant numbers of new officers to the Police Department. In 2014, however, voters rejected a proposed 30-cent property tax increase that would have paid for 40 new police officers and 15 new firefighters.
City Manager Mike Matthes and council members have considered putting another property tax increase before voters, perhaps as early as the April 3 municipal election. The deadline for having issues certified for that ballot is Jan. 23.
Police leaders, advocates worry about community policing initiative
Columbia Police Department leaders and an advocacy group say they support CPD adopting a community-oriented policing model, but are concerned about how well the department can make the transition.
Whether city leaders — particularly City Manager Mike Matthes — can effectively lead CPD through such a major transition remains to be seen, members of advocacy group Race Matters, Friends told the Columbia City Council on Tuesday. CPD leaders, on the other hand, said they hold reservations about whether the transition is possible at a time when the department is already going through other significant changes.
“I think you need to appoint a babysitter if” Matthes “is going to lead this process,” said Race Matters member Rachel Taylor.
The comments from Race Matters and two assistant police chiefs were made at the end of a city council meeting during which the council's seven members discussed adopting a resolution that would endorse community-oriented policing as the city's preferred model and direct the city manager to design a transition plan and budget for doing so. The council is seeking feedback on the resolution before late February, which is when members said they plan to approve it with any necessary amendments.
Skepticism from Race Matters, Friends as to whether Matthes should lead the transition plan was partially in response to a presentation he gave during the 2018 Columbia Values Diversity Celebration. Taylor said she was offended by what the city manager said about what he called his personal bias, which included examples of how his background may lead him to be uncomfortable with the way some black men and women dress.
Taylor called for the council to include in the resolution a component requiring city and CPD leaders be held accountable in implementing the plan. She also asked the council to clarify the goals of a community-oriented policing model.
“The goal is not just to increase appreciation for our police officers,” Taylor said. “The goal is to make our community safer.”
Assistant police chiefs John Gordon and Jill Schlude told the council they worry transitioning to a new style of policing will be stressful on a department that is already stretched thin.
Gordon said that as the community considers adopting a new policing model, people should remember that sacrifices were made and it was difficult to create the city's Community Outreach Unit, in which officers are assigned to neighborhoods with the intent of getting to know residents, developing connections with the community and preventing crime by solving problems before they escalate. The outreach unit was created only by dissolving the city's traffic unit because CPD is struggling with adequate staffing, he said. Gordon also noted that the department is rolling out a new records management system and seeking accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
“From the operations side of things, we support community policing — we want to do this,” Gordon said. With “the work that” officers “are carrying ... that's concerning.”
CPD is committed to the CALEA accreditation process, and is working hard to make sure every department policy meets the organization's standards, Schlude said. Some of the requirements CALEA makes of the departments it certifies are narrow, while others allow for more flexibility, she said.
“It's just something that will have to be in the background of” all the discussions, Schlude said.
After acknowledging the concerns of both Race Matters and CPD leaders, council members said they are optimistic the department can successfully change its policing philosophy.
CALEA certification and a community-oriented policing program plan can be “complementary,” Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said. Additionally, moving to the new model might “ease the way” for greater funding for CPD, which could address worries about staffing levels. City leaders are planning to ask voters to approve a property tax increase that would fund additional police officer positions, but have been hesitant to place a measure on the ballot before gathering public input and making department-wide changes.
Matthes said once a resolution is passed, he will likely look to CPD for an employee who already understands community policing and can guide planning. He estimated that it would take six months to complete a plan.