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.
Fla. schools plan for permanent police presence
Under a new law, the state will provide $162 million for school officers at public schools across the state
by Joey Flechas
MIAMI — Miami-Dade political leaders want to develop a plan for putting police officers on all school campuses in the county.
Having sworn officers at all schools is a requirement under a gun bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday, but Miami-Dade officials had already begun discussing how to make that happen. Besides increasing up police presence in all schools, elected officials want to bolster training and create a data-sharing partnership to identify potential threats.
Under the new law, the state will provide $162 million for school officers at public schools across the state. But Miami-Dade's cut of the newly allocated funds dedicated to enhancing school safety might not be enough to pay for at least one officer at every primary and secondary public school, and the interagency training envisioned by local leaders. And several officials want to make sure that private schools are covered as well.
“We're all advocating for the same thing,” said Alberto Carvalho, the Miami-Dade school superintendent. “I think everyone recognizes that this very sad incident was a game-changer for everybody.”
Carvalho and many local politicians disapprove of the Legislature's decision to fund the arming of school personnel — $67 million statewide that critics say dedicates too much money to arming people who are not sworn police officers. Officials in Miami-Dade are talking about reassigning municipal police officers to bolster school patrols. The school system has its own sworn police force and places armed officers at secondary schools, but not primary schools.
To patrol them all, several local governments seem willing to get their own police trained and placed at schools.
“We're going to have to sit with all municipalities and discuss how to best accomplish this task,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
The mayors of Miami, Hialeah, Miami Gardens and Miami Beach spoke with Carvalho the night of the Parkland shooting, all agreeing that more police were needed at schools the following day. The superintendent said it soon became clear that parents wanted the comfort of having additional officers all the time — a complicated proposition in a county like Miami-Dade that has so many local governments with different police forces, budgets and community needs.
“There are a lot of moving parts to it,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. At a meeting Wednesday, the city commission was eager to finalize an agreement with the school board that would put local police at the city's six schools.
On Thursday, Miami commissioners learned that in the first year, it would cost the city about $25.2 million to put one new full-time officer in each of the 94 public and private schools in the city. Police Chief Jorge Colina cautioned commissioners that on top of the cost, the officers would need special training — particularly not to be heavy-handed while handling behavioral issues.
“I would not want the added responsibility of having policemen inside schools,” he said. “Unless you have very specialized training, policemen are going to be policemen.”
Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon expressed reservations about putting more officers on campuses for fear of disproportionately affecting minority communities. He said more police could mean more arrests for minor offenses at less-privileged schools, while the same behavior would likely be handled between principals and parents at wealthier schools.
“Every fight becomes an arrestable offense,” he said.
Carvalho said the additional officers would provide security for teachers and students; they won't be a new disciplinary arm to put kids in handcuffs over schoolyard scuffles. He was echoed by Edwin Lopez, the deputy chief of Miami-Dade Schools' police department, who said part of the increased collaboration has to include training for municipal officers on how to handle situations in ways that don't end with students' arrests.
“Our officers are trained on a daily basis to deal with what is in the best interest of the student,” he said. “Arresting a juvenile for a simple misdemeanor might prevent that juvenile from becoming an attorney, or from becoming a police officer.”
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, a retired police officer, suggested having street officers do monthlong tours of duty at schools interspersed with regular patrol duty. Having a rotation that frequently put officers back on the streets would prevent them from getting too comfortable and letting their guard down, he said.
“We don't want to make the mistake of having the officers just assigned to schools,” he said. “Complacency happens.”
Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates raised another concern that some larger cities will encounter — quick and clear communications across different radio frequencies. Miami Beach police officers and dispatchers are on a different frequency than the one used by school police, and he fears that the difference will slow down response times.
On Wednesday, Oates said he asked Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett if he would allow each officer at city schools to carry an additional radio to be on the same frequency as the local police force. Oates said Moffett declined.
On Friday, Carvalho said the radio frequency issue isn't a “game-stopper” and could be resolved if the few cities with their own communications channels started using the more widely used county frequency, which is what the school board uses.
Fast communication lines should also be extended to private schools, some of which don't have their own police, said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
“Private schools should be given police radios and trained to use them,” he said.
National Geographic is finally reckoning with its "racist" coverage of people of color
by Abdi Latif Dahir
After 130 years of publication, National Geographic magazine is reckoning with its past, saying its coverage of people of color both and in and outside the United States was for generations “racist.”
In an article published by editor Susan Goldberg, the magazine said its examination of its past reporting of black people revealed a collection of “appalling stories” that “did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture.” The archival investigation was conducted by John Edwin Mason, who teaches African history and the history of photography at the University of Virginia.
Goldberg, the first female editor of the magazine, said Aboriginal Australians were called “savages” in a 1916 story; California cotton workers were dubbed offensive slurs like “pickaninny”; and admitted that Haile Selassie's coronation as Ethiopia's king in 1930 wouldn't have been covered if he was a black man in America.
The acknowledgment comes ahead of Nat Geo's April “ Race Issue ,” which was the product of collaboration among historians, journalists, and photographers. Goldberg said that ahead of the issue's publication, they decided to scrutinize their own past before reporting on others:
“What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.”
Defined by its yellow-bordered covers and stunning photography, the magazine has been a window to the world for many Americans, featuring culture, travel, science, and geography. Toussaint Nothias, a lecturer in the Center for African Studies at Stanford University, says the periodical's recognition of perpetuating these tropes both domestically and globally is “a powerful and significant move.”
Yet academic criticism of the publication— and others —has existed for decades Nothias says, key among them a 1993 book titled Reading National Geographic , which scrutinized its depictions of Third World cultures. In Africa, this selective framing and wrongful representation continue to date with western outlets, who use Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness as a guide to the Congo , or Karen Blixen's Out of Africa as the arbiter of pre-colonial Kenya . It is a narrative best captured by the satirical American newspaper The Onion , which wrote “Tens Of Thousands Dead In Ongoing Africa.” These racist generalizations are also rearing their head in Chinese television too.
Nothias says Nat Geo 's admission is part of a broader social momentum regarding questions of diversity and representation in cultural production and the media. Audiences adroit at utilizing social media like in Kenya have also been pushing against reductive narratives, questioning false narratives and forcing outlets like CNN to apologize for slanted coverage. “And this is why not only do we need monitoring and critical appraisal of past coverage, but also ongoing monitoring of media content and frank discussions about the current state of the industry.”
FBI: More than 100 school threats in L.A. in past month
Authorities said the arrests show that "school threats are being taken seriously, and a zero tolerance policy is in place"
by the Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — Authorities have investigated at least 106 threats of violence in or near schools in Louisiana since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school, state police and the FBI said Monday. The news came as the University of New Orleans was reopening its campus following the arrest of a suspect in one such threat.
Nicholas Heard, 20, was arrested without incident at his home, said New Orleans police spokesman Beau Tidwell.
Police on Monday said Heard told fellow students he would shoot several people on campus.
The university told employees not to report to work Monday and students in on-campus housing were told to remain in their rooms. Once the arrest was made, authorities made preparations to re-open the campus late Monday afternoon and re-start campus dining services.
Heard was being held at the New Orleans jail and bond had not been set as of Monday night. Online jail records did not indicate whether he has an attorney.
A joint news release from the FBI and Louisiana State Police said that in the other cases, the ages of those arrested ranged from 11 to 28. Most were juveniles.
"As shown by the number of arrests already effected by Louisiana law enforcement agencies, school threats are being taken seriously, and a zero tolerance policy is in place," the statement said.
After the threat was lifted at UNO, its president, John Nicklow, said campus and city police, U.S. Marshals, and police from other nearby campuses had assisted the school. "I am also grateful to our students for their patience, cooperation and even words of encouragement that some offered during this ordeal," Nicklow wrote.
Also Monday, authorities said a 14-year-old was arrested in connection with an unrelated threat at a New Orleans public school. Officials said the unidentified teen was arrested Saturday, adding it came a day after threats of a shooting at Dolores T. Aaron School came to light. The unidentified teen is accused of terrorizing and disruption of the operation of a school. Police said officers were in constant communication with officials at that pre-K through 8th grade charter school to ensure student safety.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Working To Enhance School Safety, Increase Preparedness
WASHINGTON—In the wake of the recent attack in Parkland, Florida, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is stepping up actions to better protect our nation's schools against gun violence, as well as other potential threats. DHS conducts training, exercises, and preparedness activities year-round to increase the security of schools across the country and the communities in which they are located.
“No child should have to worry about their safety when in school,” said Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “The Department's top priority is to keep the American people safe, and we are closely examining ways to better protect our nation's students and schools from gun violence.
“While state and local partners have primary responsibility for the physical security at schools, through trainings, best practices guides, workshops, and tabletop exercises, we hope to improve awareness and foster a culture of preparedness. We are working with partners around the country to harden these vulnerable targets. By ensuring administrators and stakeholders in the K-12 and higher education communities, teachers, parents, law enforcement, and first responders are part of this effort, we can better educate the entire community on threats to school safety.
“The public is often our greatest partner in identifying suspicious activity, and we are strengthening public awareness campaigns to encourage everyone—students, teachers, and their communities—to report suspicious school-related activity to local law enforcement.”
To help coordinate the Department's wide range of activities, DHS has established a Department-wide Executive Steering Committee that will drive DHS school security efforts, in support of state and local efforts, and ensure the resources and expertise of the Department are best leveraged to protect our nation's schools against attack.
Learn more about the Department's actions on school security.
Education and Community Awareness: The Department is engaging school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders across the K-12 and college university communities, as well as law enforcement and other first responders who serve those communities, to raise awareness, communicate best practices, and promote no cost/low cost security measures.
Through the Hometown Security Program , the Department works with schools and community leaders to proactively think about security and implement security measures.
The Department's Youth Preparedness Council conducts ongoing disaster preparedness-based engagement with K-12 representatives and campus leaders.
School Transportation Security Outreach efforts provide guidelines and other materials to school districts and transportation providers on school bus security.
The Department's Protective Security Advisors perform security-focused community level outreach at educator's conferences/school board meetings and, within the scope of existing resources, help schools conduct security vulnerability assessments.
In partnership with the Department of Education, the Department leads the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council , and is looking to expand current council membership to include state/local public school administrators, private/parochial school leadership, and associations that represent the K-12 community.
The Department is actively exploring expansion of the Campus Resilience Program to encompass the K-12 community, building upon the existing successful model of coordinated outreach to reduce barriers to access for available federal support for school security efforts.
The Department previously released a K-12 School Security Practices Guide and is planning to update it to reflect new mitigation strategies and lessons-learned from recent attacks.
Capacity Building, Training, and Exercises: DHS directly helps schools enhance their security through capacity-building activities, such as the provision of training, exercises, workshops, and grant funding for schools to participate in those capacity building activities.
The Department offers numerous training courses , including those on how to conduct emergency planning, active shooter awareness, mass casualty incident response, and suspicious behavior/activity. Training is available online, in-residence at the Emergency Management Institute, and through local delivery by trained professionals.
The Department conducts tabletop exercises and workshops around the country to discuss security protocols, notifications and alerts, response, and recovery capabilities with schools and first responders. For example, the Campus Resilience Program includes a Tabletop Exercise Series with exercise events tailored specifically for the academic community.
The Department provides preparedness grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions that can be used for training, exercises, planning, personnel, and equipment to prepare for many threats and hazards, including active shooter incidents, as well as for enhancing school safety.
The Department delivers the Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) program that provides high-threat medical training, including for community stakeholders that respond to incidents at schools in our communities. Past attendees have included teachers and administrators, law enforcement officials, and hospital personnel.
Early Warning : The Department is working with the academic and law enforcement communities to establish and implement processes that increase the likelihood of individuals identifying and reporting concerning behavior or other signs of pre-attack planning, as well as providing schools and local law enforcement with the means to address potential threats before they are realized.
The Department is developing a nationwide public awareness campaign modeled on “See Something, Say Something®” to encourage students, school staff, and communities to report suspicious activity.
The Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation work together to facilitate the gathering, documenting, processing, analysis, and sharing of suspicious activity reporting (SAR) through the Nationwide SAR Initiative .
The Department provides intelligence products, analysis, and alerts to stakeholders nationwide regarding violent activity, incidents, and trends which can be leveraged to help identify concerning behavior or other signs of pre-attack planning.
The Department is drafting for release an operational guide that will provide to school personnel, law enforcement, and other public safety and school professionals, direction on the creation of Targeted Violence Prevention Plans . These plans outline procedures for schools on how to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams, establish central reporting mechanisms, identify student behaviors of concern, define the threshold for law enforcement intervention, and identify intervention and management strategies for decreasing the risk of a targeted attack.
The Department is conducting a School Attack Research study that examines select incidents in which a current or former student carried out a targeted attack against a school. The study will identify information regarding the attacker's motives, prior behaviors, communications, situational factors, and other variables that will enhance prevention efforts and early warning.
Students injured when Monterey County teacher accidentally fires handgun in class
by Jason Green
SEASIDE — A teacher injured three students Tuesday when he accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside High School classroom, according to reports.
The teacher was identified as Dennis Alexander, a reserve police officer for the Sand City Police Department and a Seaside councilman. Alexander was teaching a gun safety course as part of his administration of justice class when he fired a single shot from a semi-automatic handgun into the ceiling, the Monterey County Herald and KSBW reported.
Three students were injured, including a 17-year-old boy who was hit in the neck by debris or a fragment after the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling, said Seaside police Chief Abdul D. Pridgen. The boy was not seriously injured and classes resumed, the Herald reported.
The shooting occurs amid intense debate over whether to arm teachers in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. shooting that left 17 dead and another 17 injured. On Wednesday, students across the country are set to walk out of their classrooms to raise awareness about gun violence and safety.
Alexander has taught the course in the past, but Pridgen said he did not know if the reserve officer had ever brought a loaded firearm to the school before, the Herald reported.
“We're looking into any violation of city ordinance or the penal code and we'll determine whether or not there are any applicable charges,” Pridgen told the Herald.
According to KSBW, the father of the 17-year-old boy who was injured said Alexander had just told the class he wanted to make sure the firearm was not loaded when it went off. Alexander was planning to use the gun for a demonstration for how to disarm someone.
“It's the craziest thing. It could have been very bad,” Gonzales said.
Sand City police Chief Brian Ferrante told KSBW, “I have concerns about why he (Alexander) was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom. We will be looking into that.”
Ferrante said Alexander has been a reserve Sand City police officer for the past 11 years, and described his track record as “positive and professional,” according to KSBW. He was named reserve officer of the year in 2013.
In an email to parents, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District said, “Upon learning of the incident, our Human Resources department, school site administration and the Seaside Police Department immediately began investigating the incident, including interviewing students in the class.”
The letter also stated that the district is unable to share any other details other than Alexander has been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the on-going investigation.
Curry School professor delivers talk on improving community-police relations
Asst. Prof. Rachel Wahl argues for a new approach to policing in communities
by Isabel Dixon
Rachel Wahl — an assistant professor in the Curry School of Education — delivered a public lecture Tuesday in Bavaro Hall on combining public education and open dialogue into public forums to improve the relationship between law enforcement personnel and community members. The event was hosted by The Center for Race and Public Education in the South as a part of the Race and Education Lecture Series.
Wahl is an affiliated faculty member of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South and serves as a member of The Council Trust for the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Wahl's research focuses on whether and how law enforcement personnel learn in response to different policing efforts, such as police-community forums in the United States, and human rights in India.
Throughout her lecture, Wahl analyzed two different methods for fostering better community relations with law enforcement which she described as the learning and pressured approaches. Wahl defined the learning approach as the attempt to seek better understanding between police personnel and the community through education and training, while she said the pressured approach is based on the attempt to compel law enforcement officers to resist the use of violence.
Wahl said recent social movements and campaigns in the United States, such as Black Lives Matter, have propelled the issue of policing reform to the forefront of national discussion. Wahl's research explores the use of the learning and pressured approaches and whether they allow civilians and police personnel to learn from each other, or if they only force each other to change.
Upon returning from research in India, Wahl said she recognized that the national attention to police violence in the United States had exploded. Since then, she has been working towards developing a third approach to community policing that balances educational approaches such as training programs, public dialogue and social events with compelling approaches such as lawsuits, protests and different forms of public shaming.
“I became interested in public forums as a way that might challenge the officers' ability to respond to these changes that would be less alienating — a space that learning might occur without the alienating and shaming,” Wahl said.
She mentioned that as a community, we cannot rely on voluntary police learning. According to Wahl, we must figure out how to work in an environment that is going to involve both learning based and pressured based approaches — not just one or the other.
“My work has convinced me that public conversation needs to be a political engagement that humanizes, that is going to require skillful inner and relational work, otherwise we're just going to be fighting in forums,” Wahl said. “In so many of these issues the mistrust is mutual.”
Wahl also described the importance of not only having conversations in response to altercations and other interactions between police and the community but encouraging ongoing dialogue within communities to prevent future miscommunication. However, in reference to the events of Aug. 11 and 12 at the University and in Charlottesville , Wahl said the kind of conversation that needs to take place may not be immediately realistic after an incident between law enforcement and the community.
“Right after an event takes place, little is going to happen,” Wahl said. “You can imagine a dialogue happening on Aug. 14 in Charlottesville. I mean — you can't … [but] I really think that the kind of work that communities are doing to put this kind of dialogue into place is so important.”
According to Wahl, balancing police education with community dialouge through means such as public forums is the solution to strained community-police relations. The aim of such forums is to change the way police personnel relate to communities, particularly in regards to limiting the use of force and decreasing violence.
“No learning, or at least limited learning, is going to happen unless people are going to be able to learn under pressure because all of these approaches are going to coexist,” Wahl said. “I suggest that when possible, if we can focus on the what, and work with the who, we'll be more productive.”
Following the event, fourth-year College student Joumana Altallal said she appreciated Wahl's lecture and the open discussion she facilitated with the audience afterwards.
“It's definitely a very timely and relevant subject,” Altallal said. “I think it really applies in all cases and for all students especially at U.Va. in this moment, so it's important to talk about … It definitely opens the platform for people to learn from the professors they're around and also people who are studying the political and social aspects of these events.”
This event was the second lecture in the Race and Education Lecture Series.
Ky. officer fatally shot after responding to call
One person is in custody and Kentucky State Police are searching for a second person involved in the shooting
Duty Death: Scotty Hamilton - [Pikeville, Kentucky]
End of Service: 03/13/2018
by Mike Stunson
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — A Pikeville police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty Tuesday night, according to the city of Pikeville.
Scotty Hamilton had been a member of the police department since 2006 and was killed after responding to a call with Kentucky State Police in the Hurricane community around 11:30 p.m., the city said.
Hamilton leaves behind a wife and a child.
Pikeville Mayor Jimmy Carter said KSP is in charge of what they are calling an ongoing murder investigation. No other details have been announced.
One person is in custody and Kentucky State Police is using drones in its search for a second person involved in the shooting, WYMT reported.
The flag outside the Pikeville Police Department was placed at half-staff in honor of Hamilton, according to WYMT.
If you have any information regarding the incident on Tuesday night, contact the Pikeville Police Department at (606) 437-5111 or the Kentucky State Police Post 9 at (606) 433-7711.
Several law enforcement agencies, including the Frankfort Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff's Office and Carrollton Police Department took to Facebook to send their condolences.
US appeals court upholds Texas' ban on 'santuary cities'
In Texas, the fight over a new law known as Senate Bill 4 has raged for more than a year
by Paul J. Weber
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas immigration crackdown on "sanctuary cities" took effect Tuesday after a federal appeals court upheld a divisive law backed by the Trump administration that threatens elected officials with jail time and allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they're in the U.S. illegally.
The ruling was a blow to Texas' biggest cities —including Houston, Dallas and San Antonio — that sued last year to prevent enforcement of what opponents said is now the toughest state-level immigration measure on the books in the U.S.
But for the Trump administration, the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is a victory against measures seen as protecting immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued California over its so-called sanctuary state law.
In Texas, the fight over a new law known as Senate Bill 4 has raged for more than a year, roiling the Republican-controlled Legislature and once provoking a near-fistfight between lawmakers in the state capitol. It set off racially-charged debates, backlash from big-city police chiefs and rebuke from the government in Mexico, which is Texas' largest trading partner and shares close ties to the state.
Since 2010, the Hispanic population in Texas has grown at a pace three times that of white residents.
"Allegations of discrimination were rejected. Law is in effect," Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted after the ruling was published.
A major focal point of the Texas law is the requirement for local authorities to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, or risk jail time if they don't. Police chiefs, sheriffs and constables could also face removal from office for failing to comply with such federal "detainer" requests.
One sheriff Abbott had in his sights was Travis County's Sally Hernandez, an elected Democratic who runs Austin's jails. Last year, Hernandez announced on the day Donald Trump was sworn-in that her department would no longer comply with all detainer requests, a decision Republicans repeatedly pointed to in their defense of the measure.
"Words just can't express how disappointed I am with this ruling," Hernandez said. But she said her department would follow the law as directed by the courts.
The Texas law is often slammed by opponents as a near-copycat of Arizona's "Show Me Your Papers" law in 2010, but the two measures are not identical. Whereas the Arizona law originally required police to try to determine the immigration status of people during routine stops, the Texas bill doesn't instruct officers to ask.
U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones wrote in the court's opinion that the Arizona law — which was partially blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court — was more "problematic" because it mandated the questions during traffic stops. She added that no suspicion, reasonable or not, is required to ask questions off lawfully-detained individuals.
"It would be wrong to assume that SB4 authorizes unreasonable conduct where the statute's text does not require it," she said.
But the Texas law remains worse in "a lot of respects," said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped lead the lawsuit against SB4. He said they were still deciding their next steps following the ruling, which could include asking the full appeals court to reconsider. Until then, Gelernt said they will closely watch how Texas implements the law.
Police chiefs across Texas said the law will create a chilling effect that will cause immigrant families to not report crimes or come forward as witnesses over fears that talking to local police could lead to deportation. Critics also fear it will lead to the racial profiling of Hispanics and put officers in an untenable position.
Last year, Mexico's foreign ministry expressed concern that the law could trample on the rights of Mexican citizens who choose to live just across the border.
But the law was enthusiastically backed by the Trump administration, which had joined Texas in court to defend the measure. Sessions has blamed sanctuary city policies for crime and gang violence, and announced in July that cities and states could only receive certain grants if they cooperate with immigration agents.
Sessions is now targeting California, which passed sanctuary laws in response to the president's promises to ramp up the deportation of people in the U.S. illegally.
A Path to Community Policing
Teaching children and officers works
by August March
In a progressive society, in a progressive municipal microcosm of that ideal global village, police are in integral part of the community. Their jobs are woven into the fabric of a peaceable and forward-looking citizenry.
Establishing that sort of balanced civic environment is a job for the local police department, for the county sheriff's and state police department too; but it will also take the work of an active, engaged and knowledgeable bunch of humans to accomplish this goal.
That's why starting with school children makes sense as an educational strategy designed to improve relations with the local authorities. Positive results can be achieved by creating trust, affirming the social contract and rehumanizing both parties, people and policemen (sic), so that there're no lingering questions about the identity and the purpose of law enforcement.
Those were the ideas I had in mind as I headed to breakfast with Weekly Alibi political correspondent Carolyn Carlson. Carlson had arranged to have two Public Information Officers from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office meet us at a charter high school our star reporter often works at. The school is called the Media Arts Collaborative Charter High School and the television production students there, under the direction of Anthony Conforti—a brilliant teacher, role model and longtime behind the scenes Burque media presence—were taking the first steps in creating a documentary about the role law enforcement plays in citizens' lives.
As I sat stuffing myself with carne adovada and refritos at Loyola's, Carolyn and I talked about the perception police have in the nation, state—and of course—here at home in the fertile flood-plane of the middle Rio Grande.
I recalled the time I was in high school up at the golden city and threw the finger at a cop driving through the high school's parking lot. The resulting confrontation was a delicate negotiation, to say the least. The policeman threatened and put on macho airs, the long-haired high school student sporting a TSOL t-shirt and a golden earring—left ear, buccaneer!—was petulant and insouciant. If not for the intercession of another kindly film and teevee teacher it would have certainly ended badly.
Carolyn reminded me about encounters that police officers from the Albuquerque Police Department had with a variety of citizens, encounters that did indeed cross the line. Such actions by the local police eventually intercede as an attempt to stamp out the culture of violence and citizen abuse that had grown into the status quo at APD.
“That sort of stuff might not happen,” I intoned gravely as we finished and took our leave of the restaurant, “if everyone involved realized that flesh and blood human beings are all that's really involved.”
Driving over to the school from Loyola's is no mean feat; heck it's practically right across the street and Carolyn had just enough time to further remind me of some important details. While the BernCo Sheriff's Department the fella in charge, Bernalillo County Sheriff, Manuel Gonzalez III, recently came out as a chief endorser of the type of policing we all hoped was coming around the corner after electing a progressive mayor, council and county commission to boot.
I thought that was a good thing as we entered the office at MACCS, signed in and walked over to Nob Hill Studios, the place where the production class also waited. The deputies were set to arrive at about 10am; Carolyn waited uptstairs for their arrival, I went downstairs to the soundstage.
Anthony hadn't arrived yet either and a flock of middle school and high school children crowded the digital switching console and monitor in his office/control room. There was a Yamaha electric piano in the corner, so I sat down.
I quietly went through some stuff in E-flat that I'd been tinkering with at home while trying to wrap my head around the fact that the group of children gathered around Conforti's computer set-up were the same age, more or less, as the 17 victims of the latest US mass shooting. My hands kept flatting the thirds and fifths as Anthony walked in, cheerfully displacing my growing angst.
It's a dang good thing Anthony Conforti is teaching television production methodologies to our city's children, by the way. His patience and manner with high school students is excellent; his knowledge and experience is invaluable. Many of those on set already seemed to be seasoned professionals, curious yet steadfastly scientific in their approach to the visual arts.
MACCS hosts the only high school chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers; the group of students working on this community policing project with Weekly Alibi and have also been working with the Southwest Women's Law Center for a couple years, doing a monthly show called "Raising Women's Voices" with the group's executive director Pamelya Herndon.
Then the deputies arrived. Deputy Johann Jareno, a member of the DWI Unit Field Services Division, is also a public information officer with the force. Deputy Felicia Maggard, a public information officer as well, previously worked as a crisis negotiator with the Sheriff's SWAT unit.
Both are at least 25 years younger than I am. Deputy Maggard is with child. Both were friendly and enthusiastic as we chat before the taping begins. After a member of the school's newspaper arrived, everyone was seated on stage, a space that is entirely painted green to support the wizardry that goes on in the control room.
The student television producers asked about gangs, guns and the death penalty. And when Deputy Maggard explained simply—but with an obvious commitment to democratic principles—that deputies only enforce laws that were passed by citizens and upheld and managed through the judicial process, it became clear that the office is developing a community policing approach that depends on education as a prime motivator. That's laudable.
On the other hand, when Deputy Jareno lamented the fact that his family worries daily if he will make it home from work, he emphasized that policing is a dangerous job but neglected to mention that working as a fisherman, logger and farmer are far Though law enforcement officers are exposed to situations wherein they might be murdered—unlike those other jobs mentioned where the threat of accidental death is inordinately high—overall risk to officers' lives can be reduced with proper training and community engagement.
Police men and women are humans whom citizens have entrusted to deal with societal and cultural situations for which the average citizen is unprepared and untrained. Those situations, which range from mildly transgressive to outright murderous, require the trustworthy to be exactly that.
By teaching our children that the police should be trusted, that they know their responsibilities as civil servants—and their boundaries—bodes well for the future. We should also be sending a message and instructing students that the use of force is an exceptional thing, that law enforcement officers are peacekeepers, not warriors whose exposure to violence and death is a necessary by-product of a violent culture.
If law enforcement follows the same path then we will all be okay. They're human beings after all, subject to the same strengths and frailties as anyone reading this editorial.
Fallen bridge: 'Stress test' preceded collapse that killed 6
by Adriana Gomez Licon
An innovative pedestrian bridge being built at Florida International University had been put to a "stress test" and its cables were being tightened when it collapsed over traffic, killing six people and sending 10 to a hospital, authorities said.
As state and federal investigators worked to determine how and why the five-day-old span failed on Thursday, one factor may have been the stress test that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said crews were conducting on the span.
Two workers were on the 950-ton bridge when it pancaked on top of vehicles waiting at a stoplight.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted late Thursday that the cables that suspend the bridge had loosened and the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. "They were being tightened when it collapsed," he said on Twitter.
First responders had been racing to find survivors in the rubble of the 175-foot span using high-tech listening devices, trained sniffing dogs and search cameras before turning the scene over to police.
"This has turned from a rescue to a recovery operation," Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said.
The $14.2 million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open in 2019 as a safe way to cross the busy six-lane road between the university campus and the community of Sweetwater, where many students live.
At the accident scene, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said investigators will get to the bottom of "why this happened and what happened," and if anyone did anything wrong, "we will hold them accountable."
National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt III said a team of specialists would begin its investigation Friday morning.
Rubio, who is an adjunct professor at the school, noted the pedestrian bridge was intended to be an innovative and "one-of-a-kind engineering design."
Renderings showed a tall, off-center tower with supporting cables attached to the walkway. When the bridge collapsed, the main tower had not yet been installed, and it was unclear what builders were using as temporary supports.
An accelerated construction method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption, the university said. The school has long been interested in this kind of bridge design; in 2010, it opened an Accelerated Bridge Construction Center to "provide the transportation industry with the tools needed to effectively and economically utilize the principles of ABC to enhance mobility and safety, and produce safe, environmentally friendly, long-lasting bridges."
The project was a collaboration between MCM Construction, a Miami-based contractor, and Figg Bridge Design, based in Tallahassee. Figg is responsible for the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay.
Figg's statement Thursday said the company was "stunned" by the collapse and would cooperate with investigations.
"In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before," the statement said. "Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved."
MCM Construction Management promised on its Facebook page to participate in "a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong."
Robert Bea, a professor of engineering and construction management at the University of California, Berkeley, said it was too early to know exactly what happened, but the decision to use what the bridge builders called an "innovative installation" over a heavily traveled thoroughfare was risky.
"Innovations take a design firm into an area where they don't have applicable experience, and then we have another unexpected failure on our hands," Bea said after reviewing the bridge's design and photos of the collapse.
The FIU community, along with Sweetwater and county officials, held a "bridge watch party" on March 10 when the span was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees and lowered into what was supposed to be its permanent position.
FIU President Mark Rosenberg in a video shared on Twitter Friday that the "tragic accident of the bridge collapse stuns us, saddens us."
"The bridge was about collaboration, about neighborliness, about doing the right thing," he said. "But today we are sad and all we can do is promise a very thorough investigation in getting to the bottom of this and mourn those who we have lost."
Surveillance video from Parkland shooting 'speaks for itself' about embattled deputy's actions: Sheriff
by Emily Shapiro
The Broward Sheriff's Office today released some surveillance video of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly after a gunman opened fire last month, and the sheriff's office says the video "speaks for itself" regarding the actions of the school's embattled former deputy.
The video, which starts at 2:22 p.m. -- one minute after authorities said the shooting started -- shows some students walking in an outdoor passage between buildings at the Parkland, Florida, campus.
An official is seen banging on the door of Building 1, located away from where the shooting was happening. An officer then approaches and talks into his radio, and the official and the officer start to run. They jump into a golf cart which then speeds away.
School resource deputy Scot Peterson's response to the shooting "speaks for itself," the Broward Sheriff's Office said in a press release today. It was not immediately clear if the officer seen in the video is Peterson.
"His actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation, as requested by Sheriff Scott Israel on Feb. 21," the sheriff's office said. "After being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination."
"In accordance with Florida law, we are prohibited from discussing any other details of the IA investigation until the case has concluded," the sheriff's office added.
Calls to Peterson's attorney for comment on the release of the new video haven't been returned. But in a Feb. 26 statement, he defended Peterson's actions on the day of the shooting.
"The allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue," his attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, said in a statement. "Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eye-witness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any sub-par performance."
Upon arriving at 1200 Building Mr. Peterson "heard gunshots but believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of any of the buildings on the school campus," he continued. "BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes to other law enforcement. Mr. Peterson took up a tactical position between the 700-800 buildings corridor/corner."
Federal court bars city of Los Angeles from enforcing gang injunctions
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A federal court has barred the city of Los Angeles from enforcing gang injunctions, which restrict people identified as being gang members from doing certain things, including carrying a cell phone or pen, or associating with friends or family members identified as being in gangs.
The district court issued a preliminary holding that the city likely violated the Constitution by enforcing the injunctions without giving those residents the chance to defend themselves.
According to a press release from ACLU SoCal, the enforcement of gang injunctions subjected thousands of L.A. residents -- mostly men of color -- to "probation-like conditions" without hearings or any opportunity to defend themselves or deny they were in a gang.
"This ruling sends the city a clear message: it cannot take away the basic liberties of Angelenos on a whim," said Melanie Ochoa, ACLU SoCal staff attorney. "The city's use of gang injunctions has violated due process for nearly two decades, with no record of making communities safer. That ends today."
The preliminary injunction issued Thursday lifts sanctions from the nearly 1,500 L.A. residents who were still on the gang injunction list created by the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. City Attorney's Office.
Some 7,500 people have already been removed from the enforcement list since the lawsuit was filed in 2016 by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Urban Peace Institute and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, the statement said.
They were removed because officials did not have evidence those individuals were actually active gang members, according to the statement.
Thursday's ruling "strongly indicates" the court would find the policy unconstitutional if the lawsuit went to trial, the statement said.
Bristol police take new proactive approach to neighborhood patrols
by Robert Sorrell
BRISTOL, Va. — With a business card in hand, Bristol Virginia Police Officer Mike Gross' feet hit the pavement Thursday as he knocked on the doors of as many residences as possible.
The Police Department recently began a policing strategy called the Neighborhood Resource Officer Program. The program assigns an officer to a particular neighborhood, and the officer is to initiate contact with every resident in that neighborhood. At each home, the officer talks to the resident about the program and leaves a business card.
“This gives them a little peace of mind,” said Gross, who has been assigned to the neighborhood in the west end of town. “They can call and talk to their officer that is assigned to the area.”
Gross said officers have been asked to contact at least five residents a day. By early afternoon Thursday, Gross had spoken with seven residents, including Lee Frazier, of Wagner Street.
Frazier, who thanked Gross for his efforts, was in his driveway when the officer visited. Frazier, who has police officers in his family, said he believes the program will be a success.
At each stop, residents can share their concerns. Frazier said he's concerned about speeding along Bradley Street, and drivers failing to stop at the stop sign near his home.
Gross wrote down notes in his pad and said he would take Frazier's concerns to other officers.
“The more eyes we have in the community is better for the community itself,” Gross said. “There's a lot of places in a lot of areas where we don't get to patrol a lot because of call volume. We can't get around to every street in the neighborhood. This way, we have another set of eyes out there helping us.”
Typically, Gross said residents talk about speeding, suspicious vehicles, scams and unusual foot traffic in the neighborhood. One man asked Gross how he could renew a dog license via mail. The officer checked and provided the man with the information.
“So far, it's been a great program,” Gross said. “It really lets the community know that we're out there for them, that we want them to feel safe, and they can contact us at any time.”
Police Chief John Austin said the program is another mechanism for officers to develop a relationship with citizens for information sharing and problem-solving.
“It's a mechanism to build trust so people have less fear of the police, and we can work together,” said Austin, who noted that Bristol police learned of a similar successful program in Martinsville, Virginia. “You really aren't doing community policing without the involvement of the community. Otherwise, we would be doing the basic traditional policing and being reactive.”
Some concerns have arisen, but Austin said police are making adjustments. At the beginning, Austin learned officers were interrupting residents during dinner, or the officers visited too late in the evening. Officers will now visit during daylight hours, likely from morning to about 5-6 p.m., he said.
One resident asked a police officer for his badge to determine whether he was an actual officer, Austin said.
“I have heard from citizens that have been pleased with having an officer and making contact,” said Austin, who described the program as a success and said the majority of the feedback has been positive.
Police officers, who have been assigned to one of 29 neighborhoods, only visit residents on their down time, not when officers are busy on emergency calls.
“It's another way of getting the officer out of the car,” Austin said.
Patricia Branson, who lives in Gross' assigned neighborhood, said she appreciated the visit and thanked him for his service.
The Neighborhood Resource Officer Program will be ongoing, and officers may visit on multiple occasions. Austin said he hopes the program has a positive effect on children, families and senior citizens.
SF Police Commission approves TASER policy for officers
The commission voted to adopt a policy regulating how officers can use TASERs, bringing a months-long debate to an end
by Evan Serfnoffsky
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Police Commission voted to adopt a policy Wednesday night regulating how officers can use Tasers, bringing a months-long debate over the electroshock weapons to an end and clearing the way for the rollout of the devices at the end of the year.
The Police Commission approved arming officers with Tasers in November, following years of debate, but waited to approve a policy on their use. The commission voted 6-1 Wednesday in favor of the policy developed by the Police Department and several community working groups.
The Police Commission ironed out 11 final items before the vote. Commissioner Bill Hing was the lone dissenter. Officers won't be equipped with the weapons until December at the earliest.
“I'm very happy,” Police Chief Bill Scott said after the hours-long meeting. “We can move now toward implementation. It was a well-vetted process.”
The 24-page addition to the Department General Order encompasses a multitude of regulations on Taser use and accountability measures, including the appointment of a review board that will oversee and investigate cases in which stun guns are used.
Once armed with Tasers, officers will only be allowed to use them when a person is “armed with a weapon other than a firearm, such as an edged weapon or blunt object” and is injuring or intending to injure another person.
Tasers may also be used if a person is violently resisting, and only officers with crisis intervention training are authorized to carry the weapons.
Officers are limited from using Tasers in special circumstances, including when a person is pregnant, elderly, frail, appears to be a child or when the officer has “credible information” the person is suffering from a serious medical or psychiatric condition.
“I know some people won't agree that we are going to have this weapon, this device, but the important part is that we invited the public to the process and they were an instrumental part of getting to this point,” Scott said.
The department will begin purchasing the weapons while officials develop a plan for rolling them out.
“There's still a lot of work to be done,” Scott said. “At the end of the day, our officers will have equipment and the community will be safer, and I think we have a very thoughtful, well-thought out, vetted policy.”
Still looming is a Taser measure on the June ballot put forth by the San Francisco Police Officers Association that would offer less-restrictive guidelines and overrule the Police Commission's authority on their use.
The commission was scheduled to vote on whether to oppose Proposition H, but declined to do so Wednesday.
If it passes, the proposition could be amended only at the ballot box or by an ordinance adopted by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors.
Opponents of the measure, including Scott, said the legislation would restrain the Police Commission's power. In a letter to the city's Department of Elections, he called the effort “the antithesis of the spirit” of reforms recommended in 2016 by the U.S. Justice Department.
Scott was hired in late 2016 as a reformer chief tasked with implementing the Justice Department's reforms after former Chief Greg Suhr was forced to resign, following several controversial police killings.
Mayor Mark Farrell, a longtime ally of the police union, came out in favor of Prop. H earlier this month, but this week said he would back off his support if the Police Commission “adopts a policy that works for both our officers and the community.”
In an email following Wednesday's vote, Farrell said he was glad the Police Commission approved the policy.
“I have always said that I would support a ... policy that works best for the community and for our officers, and the plan approved by the Police Commission does that,” he said.
Police union representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Supporters of the Police Commission and department's work on approving a Taser policy hope Wednesday's vote will sway voters to reject Prop. H.
Proposals to arm police officers with Tasers in San Francisco have been debated and rejected for more than a decade, leaving the city's police force as one of the last major department's in the country without them.
Critics of Tasers have questioned whether the weapons are effective, pointing out that in some cases, officers have shot people when they cannot subdue them with a Taser. In some cases, shocks from stun guns have led to deaths.
Boy with rare genetic disorder becomes a Texas cop
A Texas police department has made a 10-year-old boy's dream come true
by PoliceOne Staff
FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas police department made a 10-year-old boy's dream come true.
KXAS reports that Dakin Lovelace has a rare genetic disorder that affects his muscles, which is why he uses a wheelchair. Dakin and his family live in East Texas but travel to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for medical treatment.
Dakin also has a love for law enforcement. During one of their recent visits to DFW, they met a Fort Worth officer who promised that the young boy would join the PD as a junior officer.
On Monday, the department made good on that promise and hosted a swearing-in ceremony for Dakin, along with giving him a tour of the headquarters. Police Assistant Chief Ed Kraus said the boy has shown true courage, strength and heart beyond his years and has demonstrated that he is a true hero, according to Fox News .
Sgt. Chris Britt, a spokesperson for the Fort Worth PD, said it was a “huge honor” to swear-in Dakin. He added that “making a difference in the community” is what policing is all about.
"It's not about arresting people and things like that. It's about reaching out to somebody like that, you know, somebody who might not have normally had this opportunity," Britt said.
Quiet Warrior: One SRO's mission to put children on the path to success
Sgt. John Dodd II's work with kids is all about building the key character traits that enable them to become future leaders
by Cole Zercoe and Rachel Zoch
One of the most important roles police officers have in society is to lead by example. LEOs serve as role models for their communities through their dedication, integrity and bravery – and nowhere is that influence more vital than in children.
Sgt. John Dodd II takes this to heart. He loves working with children, and if he hadn't become a police officer like his father and grandfather, he might have been a teacher. But his drive to protect and serve led him to don the uniform and badge in his hometown of Cabot, Arkansas.
“Like most other folks who are police officers, I enjoy helping people,” Dodd said. “A little bit of it was in our blood, but I wanted to help make the place that I grew up in better, and law enforcement was a natural place for me to gravitate toward.”
When Dodd – who's been a cop for a little over 10 years – started his career in patrol, he often focused on reaching out to the young people in his community. That's where his heart was, so he became a school resource officer in August 2013 and quickly fell in love with the work.
“I've always enjoyed working with the young people in our community,” Dodd said. “Some would say – probably my supervisors would – that I'm a just big kid anyway, but kids can be shaped and molded into being good people, even if they have made mistakes.
“Part of the job I really enjoy doing is getting to talk to those kids who have made some bad choices – maybe it's just getting in trouble at school, maybe they've even been arrested – but being able to talk to them and talk them through their problems,” he said. “I tell them all the time, one day I want to be able to retire and hang up my gun belt and let them take care of things. And I can't do that if they're not good, productive citizens.”
Almost immediately after taking on the SRO role, Dodd wanted to find a way to build on his positive interactions with students outside of school hours. He came up with the idea of starting a junior police academy and took it to brass a few years later. Before his pitch was even finished, they approved the program and set up a steering committee to help get it off the ground.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
Staffed by Cabot PD personnel and supported by volunteers, the Cabot PD Junior Police Academy launched in summer 2017 with two week-long camps – one in June for grades 5-6, the other in July for grades 7-8. Both quickly reached capacity.
From 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day, the cadets participated with officers in a wide range of activities, including being sworn in by a judge, taking a tour of the police station and jail, learning the various duties of a police officer, working on defensive tactics and investigating a mock crime scene. The cadets broke for lunch, but there wasn't a lot of down time .
“They were on the go a lot, doing a lot of things,” Dodd said. “We tried to keep them engaged through the whole thing.”
Some of the cadets started out shy or uncertain, but Dodd says the different activities put them in situations where they would have to stretch and grow. He says it was fun to see which activities brought out the best in each kid.
“We had one kid who was really shy, he wouldn't look at you a lot, he'd talk real low – but as soon as he went through baton training, he was the loudest kid in that room and was yelling the whole time he was doing it,” Dodd said, laughing. “It was really great to see.”
Other kids were initially disengaged and a little resistant, more interested in their phones than in the academy activities. But Dodd and his fellow officers' dedication got through to them before long.
“Breaking down any kind of barriers that were pre-existing that first day really helped out, and by the end of it, the kids weren't as worried about their phones or anything else,” Dodd said. “They were ready to have fun and do the next thing.”
Defensive tactics, handcuffing and fingerprinting were all a big hit, but he says the Nerf gun battle was far and away the most popular activity.
“That was the highlight for them,” he said. “I think they really enjoyed doing the mock crime scene, too, but they couldn't use any Nerf guns with it.”
SPECIAL NEEDS ACADEMY
Dodd, whose 11-year-old daughter has autism, knew that kids with special needs wouldn't be able to spend a full week at camp, but he wanted to reach out to them, too.
He recruited more than a dozen volunteers, including teachers, aides, off-duty officers and high school students, to help with the event, which featured 10-15 minute rotations through activity stations covering many of the same topics as the week-long camps.
“It's really easy to overlook kids who have some issues when you're doing these junior police academy programs,” Dodd said. “It would be very hard for someone who has a developmental disorder to be able to hang with us all week long with all the stuff that we do, but they also deserve to have that same experience.”
He was especially touched by the special needs parents who were over the moon that their kids were able to participate in the academy.
“To see those kids smiling and happy, at least for a day, getting to be a police officer, was what really made it worth it,” Dodd said.
Thanks to financial support from private citizens, local businesses, and the Walmart Foundation, all of the camps were provided free of charge, including lunch and T-shirts.
MAKING AN IMPACT
Since the police academy, Dodd has seen a change in the children who attended.
“It's fantastic. Every time I go back in one of the schools where one of these kids is currently enrolled, it's great to see them,” Dodd said. “They always come up and talk to their friends about what they did and ask me questions.”
He now asks the academy graduates to help him with student education initiatives on campus, like the drug and alcohol resistance program the school holds annually for fifth graders.
Outside of his work as an SRO, Dodd continues to make a positive impact with his involvement in the Smart 911 and Take Me Home programs, which help the Cabot PD assist people with disabilities like nonverbal autism or dementia. He's also on the board of directors for a special needs school and the Arkansas Autism Research and Outreach Center.
“We're a part of our community whether we're on the clock or not, so why not try to do as best you can when you have that chance?” he said.
But Dodd's biggest focus right now is rolling out the 2018 installment of the junior police academy.
“The next thing is to keep it going and keep it growing,” Dodd said. “We want to keep getting kids into the program, keep having those good, positive interactions with them. Our goal one day is to maybe expand it more to have an advanced junior police academy so our kids who have been through the first program can come to a next-level academy to do some other things.”
Most of the kids loved last year's program so much, they want to be involved again, so he's also creating an alumni program focused on special school events and community service projects. During spring break, the group is volunteering at a program called Lunch Box Connection, which serves meals and provides take-home food to families during breaks from school when kids may otherwise not have enough to eat.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Dodd's work with kids in the academy and as an SRO is all about building the key character traits that enable them to become future leaders – and perhaps spark an interest in getting involved with policing. Ultimately, children are looking for guidance, he says.
“They're going to find it from somebody – if they don't find it from their parents or teachers or from us at the police department, they'll find it from sources that they don't need,” Dodd said. “We try to build them up to where they're looking for the good things. And obviously we want the kids to see that police officers are approachable, and maybe have a little bit of fun, too.”
From the FBI
International Criminal Communication Service Dismantled
Phantom Secure Helped Drug Traffickers, Organized Crime Worldwide
International organized crime and drug trafficking groups were dealt a blow by the takedown of an encrypted communication service they used to plan and commit their crimes, the FBI and its international partners announced yesterday.
Canada-based Phantom Secure was a criminal enterprise that provided secure communications to high-level drug traffickers and other criminal organization leaders. The group purchased smartphones, removed all of the typical functionality—calling, texting, Internet, and GPS—and installed an encrypted e-mail system, so the phones could only communicate with each other. If a customer was arrested, Phantom Secure destroyed the data on that phone, which is obstruction of justice under U.S. law. In an attempt to thwart law enforcement efforts, the company required new customers to have a reference from an existing user.
Given the limited functionality of the phones and the fact that they only operate within a closed network of criminals, all of Phantom Secure's customers are believed to be involved in serious criminal activity. Most of Phantom Secure's 10,000 to 20,000 users are the top-level leaders of nefarious transnational criminal organizations in the U.S. and several other countries, and the products were marketed as impervious to decryption or wiretapping.
“Working with our international partners in Australia and Canada, we learned that these phones have been used to coordinate drug trafficking, murders, assaults, money laundering, and all sorts of other crimes,” said Special Agent Nicholas Cheviron of the FBI's San Diego Division, who investigated the case along with U.S. and international counterparts. “By shutting down Phantom Secure, criminals worldwide no longer have that platform to conduct their dangerous criminal activities.”
In collaboration with the Australian Federal Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and law enforcement agencies in Panama, Hong Kong, and Thailand, Phantom Secure's founder and chief executive Vincent Ramos was arrested in Bellingham, Washington, on March 7. Four of Ramos' associates are fugitives. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations.
This case is the first time the U.S. government has targeted a company and its leaders for assisting a criminal organization by providing them with technology to “ go dark ,” or evade law enforcement's detection of their crimes.
“The indictment of Vincent Ramos and his associates is a milestone against transnational crime,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Phantom Secure allegedly provided a service designed to allow criminals the world over to evade law enforcement to traffic drugs and commit acts of violent crime without detection. Ramos and his company made millions off this criminal activity, and our takedown sends a serious message to those who exploit encryption to go dark on law enforcement. I want to thank our partners at the Department of Justice, as well as our Australian and Canadian law enforcement partners, for their incredible work on this case.”
The FBI takes an enterprise approach to transnational organized crime , taking down criminal organizations from the top using the RICO Act. The sweeping investigation allowed the entire illicit operation—and its technological infrastructure—to be taken down at one time.
“We had to investigate the entire company and its leaders, both from a personnel and technology perspective,” Cheviron said. “Without arresting the principals and seizing the technology, including more than 150 domain names, you wouldn't be able to disrupt the communication.”