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"  

March, 2018 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Community policing benefits officers and the public, sergeant says

by Madison Czopek

For Sgt. Robert Fox of the Columbia Police Department, community policing is "simply good policing."

Fox implemented aspects of that policing with his officers because he believes positive interactions with Columbians are important for not only for residents but also for officers, who often see "too much trauma and pain" on their shifts.

That's part of the reason City Manager Mike Matthes nominated Fox to lead the city's community policing project when the resolution was passed by the Columbia City Council.

Matthes said Fox's interview set him apart from the other five other officers who applied for the position. In the interview, Fox talked about the benefits of community policing.

"(Fox) focused a lot on how having a positive interaction with the public can really make a world of difference in the life of an officer," Matthes said. "He said, 'Cops need community policing just as much as the community does,' and I thought that was a pretty fantastic insight."

As project manager, Fox will create a plan to implement community policing throughout Columbia in collaboration with the Police Department, Columbia residents and other stakeholders. The council resolution requires Matthes to present the proposal no later than Aug. 31, which gives Fox about six months to create the plan before returning to his job at the Columbia Police Department.

Fox was selected from among five officers Matthes interviewed, and his appointment was supported by Police Chief Ken Burton and Columbia Police Officers' Association Executive Director Dale Roberts.

Background and policing

Fox, who was born in Massachusetts but grew up in England, has a diverse background. He attended the University of Bradford and graduated with honors and a bachelor's degree in community studies. He was in the reserves in England and served for 11 years, part-time, before being honorably discharged and moving to Missouri.

While in the reserves, Fox had jobs that focused on youth and communities, including work with charities and in England's local government agencies. He worked with a project called New Horizons, which engaged young people in discussions about employment and where they want to go in life.

He also worked with the Leicestershire County Council, where he was transferred to social services to join a team that worked with young offenders ages 14 to 21. Fox said the team's goal was "to reduce recidivism."

Now at age 47, Fox has been a Columbia police officer for almost 13 years. Medics have told him three times that he has saved people's lives with emergency medical care. The first time, he gave CPR to a man who stopped breathing until medics arrived — he received a meritorious service ribbon from the city for his actions.

The second time, Fox arrived on the scene of a home invasion robbery to find a Columbia resident on the ground, next to a tree, with a gunshot wound. He had been shot in the leg and was bleeding out, despite another officer's attempts to apply pressure to the wound.

"I was carrying a tourniquet with me, and I applied the tourniquet. That was before all officers were issued tourniquets, but I had a tourniquet that I carried, that I bought myself," Fox said.

That earned him another life-saving award.

In the final instance, Fox applied a chest seal to a gunshot victim. Although there have been other occasions where he has administered emergency medical care, Fox said these stand out the most.

"Those were the times when medics had said if it wasn't for what I did, then that person would have died," Fox said.

Fox served as acting sergeant for a year before he was permanently promoted in November 2015. He supervised the second shift, a squad of seven officers and three officers in training. In 2015 and 2016, Fox was nominated for supervisor of the year by his officers and peers.

Officer Derek Moore has worked with Fox for two years. He said the sergeant taught him how to apply what he learned in training, and offered valuable lessons about how to treat people.

"He helped shape and mold (me) into the person I am today," Moore said.

Commitment to community policing

As sergeant, Fox promoted community police work among his own officers by requiring them as much as possible to make a non-enforcement contact with someone in their beat.

He advised his officers to prioritize the elderly, single parents, families in high-crime areas and ethnic minorities.

"They've been instructed to introduce themselves, start a conversation, find out what are their issues, if any," Fox said. "We leave a business card to inform them that we work for them and to contact us if we can help them."

Fox believes it is unhealthy for officers to be exposed to trauma for prolonged periods of time each shift, and community policing was a way to combat that.

"That is one reason I insisted on it, so they would have at least one positive interaction with the public in their shift," Fox said. "It's truly been a win-win."

Fox said the overall reception has been positive, despite some initial resistance from officers.

"We very rarely go to the people that don't need help. We go to the people that call us," Moore said. "So that leaves a lot of the general population not really knowing who we are. Going out to those extra people and just saying hi and introducing ourselves and leaving a card, it's a good way to tie us in with the community, and I think that was (Fox's) goal."

Fox said that's the type of policing everyone wants to see in their neighborhoods.

"It's the policing that good beat cops have been doing ever since (it was started), which is getting to know people, issues and problems in their beat and working in partnership with other people in other agencies to solve those problems," Fox said.

Facing concerns

The goal of community policing comes with challenges. Traci Wilson-Kleekamp of Race Matters, Friends, expressed her concerns the night the Columbia City Council passed the resolution that launched Fox's work. She worried that too much of the conversation focused on distractions about staffing and money, according to previous Missourian reporting .

Fox, however, said moving past a hypothetical conversation about community policing requires discussions about things like "staffing, recruiting, pay, retention, morale and leadership within the Police Department."

He said it is important to remember the city has a hierarchy of needs.

"A high-priority 911 domestic assault call, for example, will trump activities that people would like to see the police doing based on their opinion," Fox said.

Some members of Race Matters, Friends, also have said on social media that Fox isn't the ideal person to lead an effort toward community policing. In a Facebook post , Carol Brown cited Fox's involvement in a February 2010 Columbia SWAT raid as a potential barrier.

When raiding the home of Jonathan Whitworth, SWAT officers — including Fox — fatally shot a pit bull and wounded a Welsh corgi. Whitworth's wife and child were in the home during the raid, according to reports .

Officers found only a marijuana pipe and enough marijuana to lead to a misdemeanor charge during their search of Whitworth's home. Video of the raid went viral online and the incident was heavily criticized.

Fox said SWAT enforcement is sometimes "the safest way to deal with specific situations." He also said he was looking forward to working on community policing.

"I haven't met Race Matters, Friends," Fox said. "Their opinion is equally important as everyone else the department serves, and I look forward to meeting them," Fox said.

Matthes believes Fox's experience as a SWAT officer will help him educate the public on the importance of SWAT and why it uses certain techniques.

"It's important to remember that while, my understanding is, that was a somewhat controversial thing back then, the team didn't do anything illegal," Matthes said. "It was a by-the-book sort of SWAT exercise."

In the summer following the SWAT raid, Fox was briefly suspended for comments he posted on a Columbia Daily Tribune article about Columbians protesting the raid outside the Police Department. The Tribune quoted protester Gregg Williams, who said: "I just want this to stop. It's wrong for cops to do that stuff."

Fox posted a comment on the Tribune's website, criticizing another commenter's support of the protest.

"Hahahahahah!!!!!! The guy with the ‘stop the brutality' sign has multiple convictions for assaulting people with guns!!! I'd like him to stop the brutality of humans!” Fox wrote, according to the Tribune .

Fox was suspended for 120 hours without pay for violating his duty to safeguard information pertaining to Williams' juvenile record.

"I was suspended in 2010," Fox acknowledged. "In 2018, I am looking forward to working on community-oriented policing in Columbia."

When selecting Fox for the position, Matthes said he was aware of these incidents but that they were not representative of his entire record with the Police Department.

"I knew about those two things," Matthes said. "That happened before my time here with the city, so what I relied on was the whole record. I looked at his whole HR record, and when you do that, those things aren't particularly troubling."

Moving forward

Fox hopes his knowledge of the Police Department and experience as a sergeant will guide him as the community policing project manager.

"I think knowing our officers and knowing how our department works will hopefully help to make this transition to community-oriented policing more efficient by keeping it focused and realistic," Fox said.

He also emphasized that this plan will be more than a hypothetical one.

"This is about a plan for implementation," Fox said. "It's about a service that's provided to people in the city every hour, and because of that the plan has to be realistic and sound."

Fox's officers were sad to see him go, even for the time being, but they hope he'll achieve good results.

"I'm sad that he's not my sergeant anymore, but other than that he's a great choice," Moore said. He added, however, that some officers are hesitant about community policing because they see the community-outreach unit attending barbecues, for example, but not engaging in "any actual police action."

Although some officers see negative aspects of community policing, Moore believes Fox will be able to balance the needs of the community with the duties of police officers.

"I think Fox will be able to show the department that it's two sides of the same coin," Moore said. "I think he's going to show us the benefits."

Fox believes his experience will help him facilitate cooperation between multiple stakeholders and agencies. This will be no small task, considering Fox believes all residents and visitors to the city of Columbia are stakeholders with valuable opinions.

Matthes said one thing that has been striking about Fox's approach is his willingness to be open to different viewpoints.

"I've been really struck by his openness, his real intent to facilitate without leading discussion but drawing it out," Matthes said. "He's not got an outcome he's got in mind that he's trying to shoot for. It's a real honest, honorable conversation he's trying to create with everyone in the community."

Fox also hopes to get the opinions of residents who don't regularly attend community meetings.

"I will have failed in my job if the plan I produce is what a vocal few want and not what the city as a whole wants and needs."



Inclusive policing: Differently abled to be included in community policing

by APP

ISLAMABAD -- With the capital police trying an inclusive strategy towards policing, one segment they are keen on including are the differently-abled people.

This concept was discussed during the inauguration of a Model Police Station in the capital last week.

The new initiative is called ‘Persons With Disabilities' (PWDs) and aims to create a strong connection between people from the differently-abled community and the police, in order to minimise their vulnerability to criminal activity.

People with disabilities could easily be exploited by criminals due to the fewer job opportunities available to them and they could turn to anti-social activities such as begging.

Furthermore, it was suggested that a ‘panic button' should be introduced in the homes of PWDs, so that in the event of any kind of threat, they could call for help.

The proposal has also won the favour of Inspector General Police Islamabad Sultan Azam Temuri.



Fla. county didn't require active-shooter drills for students

Broward County schools have training for teachers to cover active-shooter situations, but there is no requirement that schools hold active-shooter drills for students

by Larry Barszewski

PARKLAND, Fla. — When a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School , the students had never been through a schoolwide drill teaching them how to protect themselves.

Broward County, Fla., schools have enhanced training for teachers to cover active-shooter situations, but — 19 years after Columbine and five years after Sandy Hook — there is no requirement that schools hold active-shooter drills for students.

Students at Stoneman Douglas have been drilled about what to do if there is a fire or tornado, but not for when someone shows up with an AR-15 rifle.

Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 staff and students at Stoneman Douglas Feb. 14 and wounding 16 more.

“I know that my school, we go through fire drills every month and we have not had our lockdown drill yet this year,” junior Carson Abt told President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House after the shooting.

She said she supported “a change that will increase all the trainings and protocols so if, God forbid, another shooting does happen, at least all the teachers will be prepared and can hopefully keep their students calm.”

Stoneman Douglas teachers received “Code Red” training in January, designed for threats inside the school and classrooms that require the school to be locked down. Included in the Code Red training are scenarios that include active shooters, Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Friday.

After receiving the training, teachers are supposed to outline different scenarios to students and explain what they should do. A Code Red drill was scheduled for this month, March, district officials said.

That doesn't comfort some students.

“We didn't have a drill where there were actors, where there was like fake blood and there was stuff like that. We had a talk, and a talk is not a drill,” student David Hogg said during a meeting Wednesday at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Still, Runcie said law enforcement on the scene credited the actions of teachers with saving lives.

“It was something that was top of mind for the faculty and the students,” he said of the training.

In Palm Beach County, Code Red drills are conducted twice a year, before Oct. 31 and in January, officials said.

The drills involve students, teachers and staff. During the drills, “everyone holds in place, no phones (are) used, no one comes to or leaves campus, etc., as would be the case in an active shooter situation,” school district spokeswoman Julie Houston Trieste said.

Broward County requires only that schools hold one “critical incident” drill each year, which could be based on an active shooter, a bomb threat or some other emergency. Runcie said many schools will have drills that cover every scenario.

The school district also has been developing a more-comprehensive active shooter training program for middle and high school faculty. The training has been done at the elementary school level over the past several years.



Mo. officer killed, 2 others wounded while responding to 911 call

Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was fatally shot while trying to apprehend the suspect

Duty Death: Christopher Ryan Morton - [Clinton, Missouri]

End of Service: 03/06/2018

by Heather Hollingsworth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man with an extensive criminal history shot and killed a police officer and wounded two others who were checking on a disturbance at a Missouri home, authorities said Wednesday.

Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Collin Stosberg said the officers went to the home in Clinton on Tuesday night in response to a 911 call in which no one was on the line but a disturbance could be heard in the background.

The patrol said shots were fired at the Clinton officers soon after they arrived at the home around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. Clinton, with about 8,800 residents, is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Kansas City.

Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, a 30-year-old who had served in the Army, was fatally shot while trying to apprehend the suspect. The other two officers were treated at a hospital. One of the wounded officers remained hospitalized Wednesday with moderate injuries. The other officer's injuries were minor, the patrol said.

A SWAT team entered the home at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday and found the suspect, 37-year-old James Waters, of Clinton, dead. Stosberg said the cause of the suspect's death is under investigation. A woman who was at the home was taken into custody.

Court records show Waters had a history of convictions for drugs and resisting arrest. He served stints in prison from October 2000 through November 2002, May 2003 through April 2008, July 2008 through October 2012 and May 2014 through last July, according to Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Garry Brix.

Waters was charged in November in Missouri's Cass County with unlawful possession of a firearm and drug possession, court records show. He pleaded not guilty, and the case was pending when he died.

Stosberg declined to say whether police had responded to the home in the past or what precipitated the 911 call.

Morton is the second Clinton police officer in the past year to be killed in the line of duty. In August, Officer Gary Michael was killed during a traffic stop. Ian McCarthy was arrested after a two day manhunt and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting. Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty.

Morton, who joined the Army in November 2005 and was twice deployed, returned in May 2014 from Afghanistan, where he served as a bridge crew member and radio communications manager, The Kansas City Star reported.

The patrol said Morton was a full-time Clinton officer from February 2015 through January 2017, when he temporarily became a reserve officer. He returned to full-time duty one month after Michael's death. The patrol described Morton in a tweet as having served with "distinction."



Wash. lawmakers move ahead with deal to change police shooting law

At issue is the legal standard necessary for convicting an officer of a criminal offense tied to his or her use of deadly force

by Walker Orenstein

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A controversial law that shields officers who kill in the line of duty could be changed at the state Capitol after key law enforcement groups and backers of a police-reform ballot measure reached a compromise deal this week.

The agreement, announced at a public hearing Tuesday, is a surprise in Olympia.

Many expected Initiative 940 to get a statewide vote in November following years of failed negotiations between police and advocacy groups dedicated to changing Washington's uniquely high bar for prosecuting a police officer for using deadly force.

The two sides said they hammered out a deal that would take I-940 off the ballot and change the state law, but some said the process they used might be unconstitutional.

At issue is the legal standard necessary for convicting an officer of a criminal offense tied to his or her use of deadly force. Currently, state law requires prosecutors to prove officers acted with “malice” and without “good faith” in order to win a conviction.

No other state has the “malice” standard, which prosecutors say effectively blocks them from charging officers for reckless and negligent shootings unless they acted with evil intent and are guilty of murder.

Not every police group in the state is on board with the agreement announced Tuesday, but the Fraternal Order of Police, an influential union of front-line law enforcement officers, and other powerful police organizations are supporting House Bill 3003.

State Rep. Roger Goodman, a Democrat from Kirkland and a key negotiator, said that buy-in is enough to move the legislation to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee before the 60-day legislative session ends Thursday.

“Even though it isn't perfect, it is a great outcome,” said Steve Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

HB 3003 was advanced unanimously by the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday and a floor vote in the chamber is expected later Tuesday. The measure is scheduled for a committee vote in the Senate Wednesday.

It's still unclear whether HB 3003 can make it through the Senate. Some Republicans criticized how the bill skirts the usual process for initiatives to the Legislature.

Rules on altering initiatives require HB 3003 to get a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature, meaning some Republican opposition in the Senate could scuttle the measure. Democrats have a 25-24 voting majority in the state Senate.

Initiative 940 sprang from the movement protesting police killings across the country and in Washington state, such as the highly scrutinized fatal shooting of Puyallup tribal member Jacqueline Salyers by police in Tacoma.

The killing of Salyers was ruled justified by Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Key negotiators would not speculate Tuesday if the result of that investigation or any others would have been different under the proposed legal standard.

Only one officer in Washington has been criminally charged for using deadly force in the last decade, according to a Seattle Times analysis. The officer was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the Snohomish County case.

After years of trying to lower the bar for prosecuting police in the Legislature and being halted by law enforcement opposition, reform advocates and minority groups launched their initiative drive offering sweeping changes to the standard for when police can legally use lethal force.

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians backed I-940 and donated $350,000 to its campaign, according to the latest filings of the Public Disclosure Commission .

Front-line police unions, including the Fraternal Order, previously resisted a change, saying the current law protects officers who make honest mistakes in stressful, dangerous situations.

But faced with I-940 — and a potentially divisive, negative and expensive campaign — many law enforcement groups signed on to the amendments in the Legislature.

Representatives from two police groups who marked themselves opposed to HB 3003 at Tuesday's hearing did not testify and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Heather Villanueva, a leader for the I-940 campagin De-Escalate Washington, celebrated the deal as strengthening the initiative's language and implementing it months sooner than had it been approved by voters later this fall.

“We want to save lives. We want to make sure everybody is safer,” Villanueva told reporters Tuesday. “We want to get this done.”

The initiative would have deleted the “malice” requirement from the law, while setting up a two-part test to determine if an officer met a new “good faith” standard when using deadly force.

The first part required proof an officer acted within the bounds of training and that a reasonable officer would have used deadly force in the same circumstances. The second asked if the officer “sincerely and in good faith believed that the use of deadly force was warranted in the circumstance.”

If the officer failed either category, the killing would be deemed unjustified.

HB 3003 also would delete the malice standard and only ask prosecutors to examine whether a reasonable officer would have deemed deadly force necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to police or others if placed in the same situation.

Tom McBride, executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, testified Tuesday an officer's subjective intent could still be considered in the trial process.

Goodman said HB 3003 will allow for officers to be charged with manslaughter for shootings deemed reckless or negligent that do not rise to the level of murder.

The legal standard in HB 3003 is similar to a proposal written by county attorneys last year that garnered some bipartisan support at the Capitol.

That measure likely would not have resulted in criminal charges for police in some of the state's most controversial shootings, including the Salyers incident, prosecutors told The News Tribune and The Olympian.

Salyers was fatally shot in January 2016 as she drove toward a police officer, according to Tacoma police.

Some in the I-940 camp saw that as evidence the prosecutors' plan did not go far enough. McBride's organization said it was necessary to allow manslaughter charges in certain situations while protecting police from being prosecuted for mistakes after split-second decisions in potentially dangerous encounters.

In addition to changing the good-faith standard, I-940 comes with new requirements and training for police in first-aid, de-escalation tactics and mental health awareness. The initiative mandates independent investigations into incidents where police use deadly force. Those requirements would be only slightly tweaked by HB 3003.

One new provision of the initiative added by HB 3003 would require the state to reimburse an officer for legal fees if they are found not guilty of criminal charges or if the charges are dismissed.

In order to change the initiative and bypass the normal ballot-measure process, lawmakers need some unusual maneuvering.

Typically, they would have three options with an initiative to the Legislature.

They could approve I-940 as is. They could pass an alternative to compete with the initiative on the fall 2018 ballot. Or they could have done nothing, sending the measure to the ballot by itself.

Rather than taking one of those routes, Goodman said lawmakers instead will approve I-940 unchanged and then quickly pass a follow-up measure to amend the law with the changes in HB 3003.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he believes the “end-run” around the initiative laws is unconstitutional and pointed to a 1971 opinion from Attorney General's office on referendum laws.

“I would be leery of enacting (I-940) only for the purpose of enacting something else that really amends it,” Padden said.

It appears there is bipartisan support, at least in the House, to do so.

State Rep. Dave Hayes, a Camano Island Republican and a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, said at Tuesday's public hearing he would support the bill after the lengthy negotiations he helped broker.

Hayes said people should recognize law enforcement must make “the hardest decisions under the worst possible circumstances in dynamic situations” and often “do it right.”

But Hayes said he wanted to “empathize” with people who have “suffered loss” on both sides of the issue.

“I believe that this is the best way to move our state forward and to move our communities forward considering the fact that it is a very emotional issue,” he said.



2 Parkland survivors to file lawsuits against school, authorities

Anthony Borges and Kyle Laman were among the 16 wounded in the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead

by Lisa J. Hurish, Paula McMahon, Megan O'Matz and Tonya Alanez

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—The number of people taking their first steps to sue over the Parkland school shootin g is growing.

The law firm representing Kyle Laman, a wounded student, on Monday sent a letter of its intent to file a claim against the Broward Sheriff's Office, the FBI, the Broward School Board and other defendants.

Kyle, 15, is the second student to file notice.

Separately, student survivor Anthony Borges, 15, and his parents notified Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry of their intent to sue. The notice claims negligence on the parts of Broward County Public Schools, Marjory Stoneman Douglas' principal and its school resource officer.

Kyle and Anthony were among the 16 wounded in the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead.

“Kyle is still dealing with memories of the terror he felt when his classroom was locked and he was stuck in the hallway during the shooting,” a spokesman for The Berman Law Group, which is representing him, wrote in a statement. “The teacher couldn't get the door open fast enough. Everyone was running scared. Kyle looked at the gunman staring right back at him, and instinctively jumped for cover.

“The bullets were flying, and doctors told his mom one tore though his ankle and foot.”

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return to their classrooms Wednesday, two weeks after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 staff and students and wounded 16 in one of the nation's worst school shootings.

Kyle has undergone two surgeries to reconstruct the ligaments damaged as one of the bullets from Cruz's AR-15 tore through his right ankle and foot.

Kyle told his family that Cruz looked him in the eye and started shooting. He was hospitalized until March 1.

A letter on behalf of Kyle was sent to the Broward Sheriff's Office, which alleges the school resource deputy “failed to act at the moment of need.”

Kyle's attorneys sent a letter to the FBI, which had been warned about Cruz; Henderson Behavioral Health, which treated Cruz; and the Florida Department of Children and Families for negligence. Attorneys allege that the Department of Children and Families determined Cruz was not a risk “and apparently did nothing to assist in the prevention of the mass shooting” although there were “warning signs stretching back over a decade.”

The Sheriff's Office and the Department of Children and Families could not be reached for comment. The School Board and the FBI declined to comment.

In a statement to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Henderson Behavioral Health said it is legally unable to share or comment on a patient's treatment because of state and federal privacy rules that protect personal health information.

Kyle was saved that day by an off-duty Coral Springs police officer who had been watering the sports fields in gym clothes. Sgt. Jeff Heinrich, who didn't have his gun, grabbed Kyle and treated him with a first-aid kit, then called police.

When help arrived, Heinrich grabbed a vest and a spare rifle from the back of a captain's cruiser and got to work.

The other student, Anthony, was shot five times. He was struck twice in his right leg, once in his left leg and twice in his torso, Anthony's attorney, Alex Arreaza, said. He remains in the hospital.

“By the grace of God, he's not No. 18,” Arreaza said. “But it's going to be a tough recovery. … It's a miracle that we're even talking about recovery.”

Anthony is currently unable to walk, has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center. His medical bills are sure to top $1 million, Arreaza said.

“The failure of Broward County Public Schools, and of the principal and school resource officer to adequately protect students, and in particular our client, from life-threatening harm were unreasonable, callous and negligent,” Arreaza wrote.



14-year-old accused of posing as sheriff's deputy, conducting traffic stop and house calls

by Alene Tchekmedyian

Wearing a sheriff's uniform with what appeared to be a gun strapped to his belt, the 14-year-old boy walked up to a Victorville home and told the resident he was investigating a report of a domestic disturbance, police said.

After a brief exchange in which the homeowner told him there was no problem, the teen left.

Victorville police detectives said the boy initiated two other similar contacts Monday night, posing as a law enforcement officer. The boy, a probationer who was not named because of his age, was arrested Tuesday and booked at the High Desert Juvenile Detention Center.

During a search of his home, detectives found a law enforcement uniform, a "large amount" of counterfeit money, simulation firearms and ballistic vests.

The first incident occurred about 6 p.m. in the 13600 block of Mica Avenue. The teen, who was driving his great-grandparent's Ford Explorer, pulled into the driveway with red and blue emergency lights flashing, authorities said.

He wore a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department uniform when he spoke with the homeowner. The resident reported the encounter to police.

Later that night, the teen allegedly stopped a woman on the road, took her information and let her go with a warning, police said. Authorities said he also pulled into another driveway, where he told a resident that he was investigating a disturbance call.

Detectives are still trying to find the woman and the second resident. Anyone with information can call Victorville police at (760) 241-2911.




Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol program provides invaluable community policing support

by Philip Phillips

A s the acting captain for the San Diego Police Department's Northwestern Division, it is a significant challenge to effectively police the large and ever-growing area that is our jurisdiction. An often overlooked but critical aspect of crime fighting and quality of life concerns is that of “shared responsibility.” In a broad context, this means that we, in law enforcement, can't fight crime alone. We need help from our community. If you see something, hear something, or know something, please contact us.

The City of San Diego values and actively supports community policing programs. In addition to helping fight crime, these programs establish a rapport and build trust among the residents of the numerous diverse and vibrant neighborhoods that make up America's Finest City. Capitalizing on the idea of “shared responsibility,” the San Diego Police Department made a wise decision in 1992 to utilize groups of trained volunteers to augment community policing efforts. San Diego's Volunteers In Policing Program is one of the largest in the nation with 300-plus active members contributing over 9,000 service hours per month. One of the most visible groups in the community is known as the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol or R.S.V.P.

With minimum staffing of only four patrol officers per shift, SDPD's Northwestern Division is fortunate to be augmented by a strong group of R.S.V.P.'s that provide a wealth of volunteer hours, talent, and life-experiences. Their educational backgrounds span a variety of alma maters, including the Ivy League, and each has excelled in “Real Life.” Many R.S.V.P.'s have had successful careers in business, education, the military, as homemakers, and law enforcement … the list goes on. I'm constantly impressed by the acumen and excellent service these men and women bring to our command and their desire to “give back” to the community.

Northwestern's R.S.V.P.'s perform a variety of important duties for the San Diego Police Department. First and foremost, they help police our community in marked patrol vehicles, providing additional sets of “eyes and ears.” R.S.V.P.'s also conduct pre-arranged checks on vacation houses and those tented for fumigation; deliver important documents throughout the city; assist with traffic control at accident and road hazard scenes; scan for stolen vehicles using license-plate-reader technology; and enforce parking violations. In the past year, this means the following for residents of Carmel Valley:

· Logged 5,000-plus patrol hours covering neighborhoods, schools, banks, parks, churches, and homeland security targets.

· Assisted hundreds of motorists involved in vehicle collisions, some with life-threatening injuries.

· Performed 1,000-plus vacation/fumigation house checks. Many times R.S.V.P. has been the first to identify issues such as burglaries, water/gas leaks, and flooded yards due to blocked drains.

· Assisted detectives in locating stolen vehicles and with other special assignments.

· Issued 425-plus parking citations, focusing primarily on handicapped parking violations.

Additionally, one of the most unique and rewarding duties performed by R.S.V.P.'s is the YANA Program. YANA stands for You Are Not Alone. This is a free service that provides contact, and necessary referrals, for the elderly who live alone in our community. R.S.V.P.'s also assist Northwestern's Investigations Unit with locating video cameras in areas where a crime has been committed. Video footage and photos are invaluable tools for detectives and patrol officers in their efforts to identify and capture suspects.

R.S.V.P. volunteers generally patrol 3-5 days per month and attend a monthly in-service training meeting. Meeting topics cover crime statistics and procedural issues and there is always time for questions and open discussion. The monthly in-service meeting is always followed by a catered luncheon that further serves to bond the members of the R.S.V.P. Team together.

The San Diego Police Department's Northwestern Division is extremely fortunate to partner with the outstanding volunteers that make up our R.S.V.P. Team. It's impossible to say which I appreciate more, the exemplary and invaluable work the R.S.V.P.'s do for our community or the opportunities I've personally had to get to know some of the most gracious and giving people one could ever meet. Northwestern's R.S.V.P.'s truly understand and personify the idea of “shared responsibility”.

On behalf of the officers assigned to the San Diego Police Department's Northwestern Division, it is our honor to protect and serve the residents of Carmel Valley. Together we can fight crime and address quality of life concerns that impact our community. General questions or concerns may be directed to Northwestern's Community Relations Officer, Trevor Philips, at (858) 523-7031 or by email at:

For those interested in learning more about the San Diego Police Department Northwestern Division's R.S.V.P. Program, please contact the R.S.V.P. Office at: (858) 523-7021. You are also welcome to email R.S.V.P Captain Steve Eisold at: or R.S.V.P Lieutenant Armand Olvera at: R.S.V.P. is not all “work” and no play! Participation on this team is a great opportunity to talk one-on-one with officers, detectives and command staff; attend gatherings and holiday celebrations; make lasting friendships; and win awards such as the Presidential Award for 500-plus hours of service or R.S.V.P. of the Year! Join us today and help make a positive difference in our community!

Philip Phillips,

Acting Captain SDPD

Northwest Division



Residents voice ideas for task force on police bias in Grand Rapids

by Mark Tower

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- The community had a chance this week to contribute to the efforts of a city-appointed task force with the ambitious goal of reducing bias in policing outcomes.

The task force was formed in the wake of a traffic stop study that showed evidence of bias in the Grand Rapids Police Department. Among its findings, the analysis of traffic stops showed black drivers were twice as likely to be stopped by police, and were also much more likely to be searched during those stops.

Last August, the 14 members appointed to the new Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force began their work. The task force is made up of seven members of the police department -- one representing each rank -- and seven citizens -- two from each of the city's three wards and one appointed by Mayor Rosalyn Bliss. Consultants from Chicago-based firm 21st Century Policing were hired to help guide the task force through the process.

Task force co-chairs Eric Payne, deputy chief of the city's police department, and Raynard Ross, a Grand Rapids Community College dean and 3rd Ward representative, welcomed residents who gathered Wednesday, March 7, for the second of four community forums.

Raynard explained the group has identified the following topic areas for review:

•  Policing strategies

•  Accountability/Internal Affairs

•  Training

•  COP/Crime Reduction

•  Recruitment/Hiring

A timeline distributed at the meeting shows community input will be sought on those topic area during forums in December 2017, March 2018, June 2018 and September 2018.

It predicts recommendations in each area will be forwarded individually to the City Commission for review beginning in May and stretching through November -- though only after both the community has an opportunity to provide input and the police department itself has a chance to respond to the recommendations.

Citizen input

Facilitator Jim Coppel, part of the consultant team from 21st Century Policing, explained the forums are a crucial part of the process.

"Your voice influences the outcomes and helps shape them," Coppel said.

About 100 people -- including police officers, local officials, hired consultants and ordinary citizens -- packed tightly into the Ryerson Auditorium on the second floor of the main Grand Rapids Public Library building downtown.

Mayor Rosalyn Bliss remarked how attendance at Wednesday's forum easily doubled what the group saw at its first such event, held in December.

"This is what's going to strengthen our community," Bliss said. "This is exactly what we have to be doing a lot more of."

The large group was eventually divided into several smaller work groups. Each led by a member of the task force, those small groups were asked to answer three questions.

Coppel explained the intent was to solicit and collect a flurry of suggestions.

"We want to capture as many ideas as we possibly can in this process," he said.

Participants were asked which action steps already identified by the task force will be most effective, whether there were any other areas that should be examined by the group and what further advice they would like to give the task force.

Out of a chorus of responses, only a few were given voice Wednesday, though 21st Century Policing promised to collect and compile notes taken from each small group.

Racial bias

Many speaking for their groups suggested the department increase outreach to local youth and improve its communication about police policies and about the good things officers do in the community.

Others suggested there should be acknowledgement that the black community faces oppression the white community cannot imagine, and that there is a need for the minority community to be both consulted and heeded on the issue of police bias.

Referncing well-known events in 2016 and 2017, resident Frank Lynn pointed to the inequity on display when black youths are held at gunpoint while, at the same time, phone recordings came to light revealing that city officers discussed in depth how to avoid charging an assistant prosecutor with drunk driving.

"There has to be equal application of the law," Lynn said. "I don't know how you go about it, but we have a lot of work to be done."

He said he is hopeful the efforts of the task force will help, but admitted feeling a sense of deja vu when remembering similar efforts to lauch community policing programs under a previous police chief -- programs that were later dismantled.

"Understanding a little more of the history of race in our city would, I think, really help the police," resident Martha Cooper said.

Cooper was also troubled by the March 24, 2017, incident, in which five young men ages 12 to 15 were stopped at gunpoint by police, handcuffed and questioned. Police said the youths fit the description of a group with a gun -- but the five youths stopped were innocent.

"There's got to be a way to do things safely that's not so over the top," Cooper said.

Others suggested ensuring police officers receive training in recognizing internal bias and discriminatory behavior and de-escalation techniques.

The department implemented cultural competence and implicit bias training for its officers in 2016.

During an introduction of the process, 21st Century Policing consultant Ronald Davis said rather than looking for individuals at the root of issues of inequity, communites should instead attack systemic issues that contribute to disparate outcomes like those shown in the city's traffic stop study.

"Too often, we blame individuals," said Davis, a former police chief and former director of the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

"That cop is a racist," Davis said. "The community members are suspects. And we don't look at the systems, the systems in which they operate in. If our systems are not correct, which is why we're here, then even good cops will have bad outcomes and even good people will be treated as suspects."

More officers

Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski was in attendence Wednesday and participated in one of the group discussions. The police chief talked of a need to hold police officers to a high standard, but also to understand they are human beings and should also be commended when serving admirably.

"They might do 100,000 things right, if they do one thing wrong it doesn't mean the whole organization is messed up," Yankowski said.

He said bias cuts both ways, saying officers can also face bias because of the uniform they wear.

Yankowski said he thinks very highly of the Grand Rapids Police Department and is impressed by the process the task force and city has begun.

"I think what you're doing here is really admirable," he said.

More than one small group suggested that more police officers are needed to achieve the task force's stated goals -- bolstering community policing efforts and allowing all officers to spend more time building bridges within the community they serve.

The need for more officers is something the police chief has longed stressed. Rahinsky said it was rewarding to hear community members echoing that refrain.

"Now they realize what it's going to take for us to reach those plateaus," he said. "And, in this instance, it is going to be more personnel."

None of the issues Grand Rapids is facing are unique, Davis said.

But taking the time to examine itself is the right choice for the community, he said.

"What is unique is how you're responding," he said.

Davis spoke optimistically about a future date when his team of consultants might hold up Grand Rapids as a model for the self-review process currently being undertaken.

Rahinsky said he was encouraged by the turnout and the ideas he heard Wednesday.

"What I heard really went to the core of what we're trying to accomplish, which is improving the legitimacy in the eyes of the community, working closer together, forging alliances and alignment and getting stronger as a department and a community," he said.

The members of the Grand Rapids Police and Procedure Review Task Force are:

•  Police Chief David Rahinsky

•  Deputy Chief Eric Payne (co-chairman)

•  Capt. Michael Maycroft, command officer union president

•  Lt. John Bylsma

•  Sgt. Jana Forner

•  Detective Dan Adams

•  Officer Andrew Bingel, police officer union president

•  Ed Kettle (1st Ward)

•  Maria Moreno-Reyes (1st Ward)

•  Sonja Forte (2nd Ward)

•  Janay Brower (2nd Ward)

•  Raynard Ross (3rd Ward, co-chairman)

•  Marques Beene (3rd Ward)

•  Huemartin Robinson (Mayor's appointment)

Though the group itself is expected to meet again next month to continue its work, the next community forum, focused on the topic of "accountability/internal affairs," is slated for June.



Official: Gunman, 3 hostages dead after shootout at state-run veterans home in California

by Eli Rosenberg

A tense standoff between the police and a gunman who had stormed into a California veterans home and taken three clinicians hostage came to a grim end Friday night when officers entered the room the gunman was in to find him and the hostages dead.

The man had shown up at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville in Napa County — the largest veterans home in the United States — in the morning with a rifle and exchanged gunfire with a sheriff's deputy before crashing a farewell party for employees and taking a number of hostages.

The confrontation stretched throughout the day and into the evening; officials said that some hostages had been released early on, but three remained trapped in a room with the gunman. Teams of federal, state and local law enforcement officials and hostage negotiators from three agencies had been unable to make contact with the gunman or the hostages throughout the day, officials said.

But about 6 p.m. local time, officers entered the room and discovered the bodies of the four people, including the suspect, officials said at a briefing Friday night. They said that no one else was injured in the attack.

“This is a tragic piece of news and one that we were really hoping we wouldn't have to come before the public to give,” Chris Childs, an assistant chief at the California Highway Patrol, told reporters at a somber news conference.

The three victims, all women, were connected to the Pathway Home , a nonprofit on site that works to reintegrate recent veterans back into civilian life, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It was not immediately clear when the hostages had been killed.

A statement from the nonprofit identified the victims Friday night as the center's executive director Christine Loeber, therapist Jen Golick and Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

“These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation's veterans, working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Pathway Home said in a statement.

The incident unfolded around 10:20 a.m., when the gunman showed up and exchanged fire with a sheriff's deputy who had been called to the scene, officials said.

At some point, the gunman appeared at the goodbye party for one of the employees of the Pathway Home, according to Larry Kamer, a former member of the nonprofit's board of directors.

“There was a going-away party for a couple of the staff who were leaving today. Today was their last day. They were having cake and toasting and apparently he just walked in with this rifle,” said Kamer, who told reporters that his wife, an employee for the Pathway Home, was at the event.

Kamer said his wife was one of the hostages who had been allowed to leave.

The standoff had lasted about eight hours, paralyzing the complex and nearby areas. Law enforcement officers from state and federal agencies had swarmed around the building as worried family members waited outside. Those inside were told to shelter in place.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office identified the gunman as Albert Wong, 36, of Sacramento. Childs from highway patrol said the suspect's car, a rental, had been found outside the veterans home with a cellphone inside of it.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents the area, said on NBC that the gunman had been dismissed from a veterans program at the facility this week.

The scene brought fear and terror to the small town of about 3,000 in the heart of California's wine country as armored vehicles descended on an area perhaps most famous for the upscale restaurant the French Laundry. The winery Domaine Chandon is less than a half mile away from the veterans home.

And it was another trauma for an area still recovering from a series of devastating wildfires in October. The veterans home had been evacuated during the fires.

Some 80 high school students visiting a theater on the property of the veterans home were put in a “lockdown situation” before being evacuated, Napa County Sheriff John R. Robertson told reporters. Nearby facilities, including a golf course, were also evacuated.

Officials said they were in the process of bringing residents back to their homes.

“I would ask as the evening progresses, as we repopulate the veterans' home, that you be mindful of our good veterans who have served our country who have just been through a very traumatic event here in their home,” Childs said.

Law enforcement agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI assisted in the response, joining deputies from the Napa County Sheriff's Office as well as a SWAT team from the highway patrol.

Photographs from local media outlets showed armored vehicles and officers in tactical gear at work outside the building.

The Yountville residence, home to 1,000 elderly or disabled veterans of wars dating back to World War II, dates to the 1880s, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Pathway Home occupies part of the massive campus. The organization opened in 2008 to work with male soldiers returning home from the wars in the Middle East, including a large number dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, the San Francisco Chronicle reported .

It is known for unconventional treatments such as swimming with dolphins and social events where veterans mix with children. Since it opened, about 450 people have been treated there for issues such as PTSD, mild traumatic brain injury and other mental health issues, the Chronicle reported.



Pomona officer fatally shot, another wounded while responding to barricaded suspect

by Victoria Kim and Richard Winton

One officer was fatally shot and another wounded Friday night on the scene of a barricaded suspect in Pomona, according to authorities.

Pomona Police Chief Mike Olivieri said in a tweet about 1:35 a.m. Saturday that one officer had died and the other was in stable condition.

No arrest had been made.

About 11:45 p.m. Friday, Olivieri had reported that two officers were wounded by the suspect's gunfire, at least one severely. SWAT personnel were still active at the scene.

The L.A. County Sheriff's homicide unit was also responding to assist in the investigation.

The incident occurred about 9:10 p.m. on the 1400 block of South Palomares Street. Dispatchers relayed reports of "officer down" near the intersection of Palomares and Fernleaf Avenue. A law enforcement source said about 75 officers from nearby police agencies responded to the scene but were unable to remove the officers to safety because of the gunman.

The officers, both with the Pomona Police Department, were eventually extracted and taken to a hospital, according to the source.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department was called out to the scene around 9:30 p.m. to assist, said dispatch supervisor Jeremy Stafford.

Footage on local news reports showed officers trying to perform CPR on a man lying on the pavement.



Baltimore police introduce new tactical approach after shootings

Baltimore officials saw a trend: Whenever a homicide or non-fatal shooting occurs in the city, there is a "high likelihood" that another will occur within hours

by Kevin Rector

BALTIMORE — In crunching data on homicides and non-fatal shootings in recent months, Baltimore police officials saw a trend: Whenever a homicide or non-fatal shooting occurs in the city, there is a “high likelihood” that another will occur within hours.

In response to those findings, police have introduced a new set of tactical responses aimed at interrupting such clustered violence before it can spread further, according to a two-page outline of the plan being distributed to officers and supervisors.

“We know historically that Baltimore has had a problem with retaliatory violence and contagious violence. So the question becomes, what are we doing to get in front of it? How do we stop it?” said Capt. Jarron Jackson, a police spokesman. “It's using statistical data to put our officers in the right place at the right time to prevent those additional acts of violence.”

The plan, which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun, is similar to other “tactical” responses the department has used in the past in that, during and immediately following spikes in violence, it prioritizes crime prevention efforts in troubled areas over responses to reports of minor, non-violent crimes.

But the new plan has added some specifics about when and how such prioritization occurs.

Whenever two homicides or shootings occur within a window of several hours, it's called a “Grouping 2,” or “G2” — which is broadcast citywide.

Officials and dispatchers will then advise patrols units “to check local hot spots & businesses,” “maintain high visibility along the major corridors,” and “conduct proactive enforcement & engagement,” according to the plan.

Whenever a third homicide or shooting occurs within the same window of time, a “Grouping 3” or “G3” designation will be broadcast.

Officials will then advise all districts to go into a “tactical alert” mode for the next 20 minutes, during which lower-priority calls — for non-violent and minor crimes — are held. That means they are monitored by dispatch and supervisors, but not necessarily responded to by officers.

The department asked The Baltimore Sun not disclose the exact length of time within which incidents are considered clustered, so shooters can't use that information to their advantage.

Police have long lamented the retaliatory cycles of violence that they say spiral out from individual acts into threads of shootings and killings, which involve violent rivals in the drug trade but also their friends and loved ones.

In announcing the new tactical approach to officers, police officials cited data from October and November that showed the prevalence of clustered violence.

In October, the document said, 73 of 98 homicide and non-fatal shooting incidents — or nearly 75 percent — fit into clusters. In November, 37 of 57 incidents — or about 64 percent — fit into clusters.

The police department and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice have said they are working to increase their use of data to conduct smart crime analysis, and the city also is working closely with Sean Malinowski, a deputy police chief in Los Angeles and an expert in predictive policing, to try to anticipate and prevent violence.

However, Jackson said the new tactical plan was “home grown” within the department under new Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, and not from Malinowski or the mayor's office.