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"  

January, 2018 - Week 3
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.





Miami's next police chief is a veteran with a goal to reduce gun violence


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.