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"  

June, 2018 - Week 3
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

New Jersey

Trenton arts festival shooting: What we know

by Joseph A. Gambardello

Just as police were shutting down an all-night arts festival in an historic former factory building in Trenton's Chambersburg section due to escalating tensions early Sunday, gunfire erupted, leaving one man dead, 17 people wounded by gunfire and five others with injuries suffered in the stampede to escape. Here's the latest of what we know.

Officials said the shooting apparently stemmed from a dispute involving neighborhood gangs.

The dead man has been identified as Tahaij Wells. 33. Officials said he was one of the gunman and was killed by police. Wells has been identified as a gang member who had been on parole since February, after having served time in prison for a fatal 2002 shooting he committed when he was 17.

Two other men who were critically wounded in the shooting have been identified as suspects and are under police guard in hospital. Only one has been identified: Amir Armstrong, 23.

At least seven victims remained hospitalized Monday. Capital Health says it still had six patients from the shooting, two of them in critical condition. It gave no breakdown on how many of them were gunshot victims. St. Francis Hospital said it received a dozen patients, all but one of whom had been released following treatment. The remaining patient, who suffered gunshot wounds, was transferred to Cooper University Hospital in Camden in critical condition.

Officials say a Facebook post had warned of a shooting at the festival. “Please. Please. Please. Do Not Go to the Art All Night. They will be shooting it up,” the post said, according to officials.

About 1,000 people were in attendance at the 12th annual Art All Night Festival when gunfire erupted in and around the Roebling Wire Works Building. Police remained at the scene Monday with a large area wound the building roped off by crime scene tape.


New Jersey

The Trenton, New Jersey, mass shooting isn't getting much national attention. It should.

The shooting was a particularly bad example of everyday gun violence in America.

by German Lopez

Twenty-two people were injured and one person was killed during a mass shooting at an art fair in Trenton, New Jersey, over the weekend.

The incident wasn't what many Americans imagine as a typical mass shooting, in which a lone gunman fires indiscriminately into a crowd. Instead, it seems to have been a gang-related shootout between multiple gunmen.

According to Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Mihir Zaveri at the New York Times, the shooters fired at each other at the 24-hour Art All Night festival shortly before 3 am — wounding 17 with gunfire and causing a stampede that injured five more.

The person killed, 32-year-old Tahaij Wells, was reportedly one of the gunmen and was killed by police. Another shooter was hospitalized, and yet another was arrested.

There were multiple physical altercations at and around the fair prior to the shooting, leading police to try to disperse the area. But some people remained until late in the night.

Under some definitions of a mass shooting, this incident actually wouldn't count as one. In some cases, analysts, like Mother Jones, exclude gang-related events from their counts of mass shootings because they're trying to capture what Americans traditionally think of as a mass shooting. Other definitions do count gang-related events but still wouldn't include the Trenton shooting because not enough people were killed to meet the definition.

Under the definition Vox uses (also used by the Gun Violence Archive), the event would qualify as a mass shooting — since four or more people were shot, even if they weren't killed.

Regardless of how one defines it, this kind of shooting deserves public attention. While the Trenton shooting was particularly bad, it's representative of the kind of everyday gun violence that occurs in the US — and helps make America far and away the developed world's leader in gun deaths. That's perhaps why the Trenton shooting hasn't gotten as much attention or media coverage as other mass shootings; it seems too typical in some ways. But it's also exactly why Trenton should get more attention.

The typical gun violence we often ignore

In 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), there were nearly 39,000 gun deaths in the US. More than 14,000 of those were homicides, and almost 23,000 were suicides. Using Mother Jones's definition of a mass shooting, 71 deaths in 2016 were due to mass shootings. That represents less than 1 percent of all gun deaths that year.

Based on what we know so far, the Trenton shooting is representative of much of the remaining 99-plus percent.

Several of the victims in Trenton, including the gunman who was killed, were black. This, too, is common: In 2016, for example, more than 52 percent of murder victims (73 percent of whom were killed by guns) were black, even though black people only make up about 13 percent of the general population.

The racial breakdown may help explain the lack of national attention to more typical gun violence. We know that racial biases make white Americans more likely to perceive black people as less innocent and even as criminals, which may, in some people's minds, make these victims more deserving of the gun violence in their communities.

Even though these more typical shootings rarely come up in the national debate about gun control, the evidence is actually strongest for stricter gun laws preventing the more common shootings, including suicides. In fact, the empirical evidence is weaker for the effect of gun control on the mass shootings that do draw national attention — largely because these tragedies are relatively rare and therefore more difficult to study.

A recent review of US-based studies by the RAND Corporation, for example, found no good evidence of gun-related policies affecting mass shootings, deeming the studies in this area “inconclusive.” But RAND did find evidence that some measures — background checks, child access prevention laws, minimum age requirements, and prohibitions associated with mental illness — are all together linked to reductions in injuries and deaths, including more typical gun homicides and suicides.

The RAND review's conclusions are backed by other research. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to firearms can save lives. But those findings were for gun deaths broadly, with mass shootings rarely being the focus of the analyzed studies.

One could still infer from this evidence that stricter gun laws will reduce mass shooting deaths, but it's an inference from the data, not a strong empirical finding. Meanwhile, the research indicates that stricter gun laws really could help prevent more shootings like that in Trenton over the weekend — even though gun control is rarely brought up nationally after such events.

There are also some evidence-based policies that could help reduce everyday gun violence outside the realm of gun control, including more stringent regulations and taxes on alcohol, changes in policing, and behavioral intervention programs. These, too, rarely get national attention after a shooting like Trenton's.

But perhaps they should. Despite a drop in crime and violence overall since the 1990s, the US still leads the developed world in terms of gun deaths.

America's unique gun violence problem

The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. (These gun deaths are a big reason America has a much higher overall homicide rate, which includes non-gun deaths, than other developed nations.)

So why is the US such an outlier? Researchers widely believe it's due to America's tremendous abundance of and access to guns. According to estimates, in 2007 the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world's second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people.

The research, compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health's Injury Control Research Center, is clear: After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not just with homicides but also with suicides (which in recent years accounted for around 60 percent of US gun deaths), domestic violence, and even violence against police.

As a breakthrough analysis by UC Berkeley's Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins in the 1990s found, it's not even that the US has more crime than other developed countries. This chart, based on data from Jeffrey Swanson at Duke University, shows that the US is not an outlier when it comes to overall crime.

Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence — and that's driven in large part by the prevalence of guns.

”A series of specific comparisons of the death rates from property crime and assault in New York City and London show how enormous differences in death risk can be explained even while general patterns are similar,” Zimring and Hawkins wrote. “A preference for crimes of personal force and the willingness and ability to use guns in robbery make similar levels of property crime 54 times as deadly in New York City as in London.”

This is in many ways intuitive: People of every country get into arguments and fights with friends, family, and peers. But in the US, it's much more likely that someone will get angry at an argument and be able to pull out a gun and kill someone.

That's why, based on the research, gun control measures could help — by making it harder for someone to have and pull out a gun in the first place.

But the US maintains some of the weakest gun laws in the developed world. Until America confronts that issue, it will continue seeing more shootings than its developed peers.



A hot, violent weekend in Chicago: 9 killed, 46 wounded by gunfire

by Madeline Buckley and Elyssa Cherney

Two children stood outside a home in Little Village on Sunday night and watched as police shined flashlights across the sidewalk and placed evidence markers near shell casings.

The children caught Annette Hernandez's eye as she walked by the scene in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue. “You see, there are kids running around,” she said. “Every night, it's the same stuff.”

Police say four people were standing on the street around 9:30 p.m. when a gunman approached on foot and began firing. A 21-year-old man was hit in the chest and rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, police said.

Two other people were treated at Mount Sinai: A 34-year-old woman shot in the leg and a 30-year-old man with wounds to the left arm and hip. A 20-year-old man shot in the leg was taken to St. Anthony Hospital.

The scene, just south of Cermak Road, was busy with passing pedestrians. The night was still hot, temperatures remaining in the 90s after the sun went down. A woman with two kids grabbed their hands and hurried off to a car.

The four were among at least 20 people shot in Chicago Sunday through early Monday. At least two of them were killed. Since Friday evening, at least 55 people were shot, nine of them fatally, in one of the most violent weekends of the year in Chicago.

At least 1,238 people have been shot in the city this year and there have been at least 230 homicides. That's below the numbers for the last two years, when gun violence reached levels not seen in two decades, but it's substantially higher than other recent years.

Seven hours after the four were shot in Little Village, six people were shot around 4:50 a.m. Monday in the 1300 block of South Loomis Street in the Little Italy neighborhood on the Near West Side.

A woman in her 20s was pronounced dead at University of Chicago Medical Center and another person, a 17-year-old boy, was taken in "very critical" condition to Stroger Hospital with gunshot wounds. Two other people were taken to Stroger, one with a wound to the arm and a 21-year-old man with a wound to the leg. A fifth person suffered several shots to the abdomen and was driven by his girlfriend to Mount Sinai Medical Center. A sixth person, a 21-year-old man, walked into Rush Hospital with a gunshot wound to the left leg. He was treated and released, police said.

Sunday night, 26-year-old man was shot in the head and killed around 9:15 p.m. in the Southwest Side's Marquette Park neighborhood, police said. He was standing on the sidewalk in the 6500 block of South Maplewood Avenue when someone approached him and fired shots. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Other shootings from Sunday and Monday:

•  A 44-year-old man was shot in the stomach during a carjacking around 5:10 a.m. Monday in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in serious condition.

•  Earlier, two teenagers were injured in a shooting in the South Side's Chatham neighborhood Sunday afternoon, authorities said. The teens, 17 and 18, were walking toward the train in the 8700 block of South State Street about 4:20 p.m. when they were hit, police said. The 17-year-old was shot in the abdomen and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in serious condition, police said. The 18-year-old was shot in the leg and taken to the same hospital, where his condition was stabilized, police said.

•  Around 4:30 a.m. Monday, a 37-year-old man was shot in the back in the South Side's Englewood neighborhood. He was taken to U. of C. Medical Center in serious condition.

•  In another Englewood shooting around 2:40 a.m., a 30-year-old man was shot in the face and went to St. Bernard Hospital in serious condition. He was in a vehicle in the 6000 block of South Racine Avenue when he was shot by someone in another vehicle.

•  A 20-year-old woman was shot in the head, leg and arm around 2:35 a.m. in the Avalon Park neighborhood on the South Side. She was found lying in the street in the 1100 block of East 83rd Street and taken to U. of C. Medical Center where she was stabilized.

•  Around the same time, also on the South Side, a 33-year-old man was shot in the chest in the 7400 block of South Perry Avenue in the Park Manor neighborhood during an argument over money, police said. He was taken to U. of C. Medical Center in critical condition.

•  A 22-year-old man was shot in the leg around 1:10 a.m. while he was taking out the garbage in the 2600 block of South Homan Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood on the West Side. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in fair condition.

•  A 41-year-old man was shot in the shoulder around 11 p.m. Sunday in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the West Side, police said. He was on the sidewalk with a group of people in the 1000 block of North Drake Avenue when someone approached and fired shots. He was taken to Stroger Hospital.

•  A 16-year-old boy was standing in a vacant lot in the 800 block of South California Avenue in the West Side's Lawndale neighborhood when someone fired at him, grazing him in the leg around 11:50 p.m. He was stabilized at Stroger Hospital.



Man kills 4 kids he held hostage and himself, ending standoff: Police

by CBS News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A man who police say shot an officer before barricading himself in a Florida apartment killed the four children he had been holding hostage before killing himself, police said late Monday. Orlando police Chief John Mina told a news conference just before midnight that the suspect, who was identified as 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., was found dead in a closet when officers entered the apartment nearly 24 hours after the standoff began.

Mina said officers tried to offer one of their phones to Lindsey, whose phone had spotty service, and saw that one of the children had been killed. Authorities entered the apartment around 9 p.m. hoping to rescue the others, but all were found dead.

The children with Lindsey were 1, 6, 10 and 11, Mina said. CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG-TV reports two of them were Lindsey's children and two were his girlfriend's. She called police Sunday, authorities said.

Mina said the children died of apparent gunshot wounds, WKMG added. It wasn't clear when the children were shot.

The standoff lasted some 23 hours, the station noted.

Officers responding to a domestic violence report were fired upon, police said. Officer Kevin Valencia was shot and was in critical condition but is expected to survive, Mina said Monday. One officer was able to return fire, the police chief said.

Valencia is in his late 20s and has been with the police department since 2016, Mina said.

Court record shows Lindsey, 35, had an extensive criminal history involving arson, battery and theft. He was on probation for several charges, including arson.

Lindsey was a convicted felon, Mina said.

Criminal records showed Lindsey was on supervised probation for an arson conviction in Volusia County, WKMG reports.

Lindsey had been arrested four times for violating his probation in the Volusia arson charge, records show.

Judy Pepper, who lives in the apartment complex, told the Orlando Sentinel she had fallen asleep on the couch after watching a Sunday night baseball game on television when she heard four loud gunshots.

"It just went, 'Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,'" Pepper said.

She looked out the window and saw three people carrying a police officer onto the grass. She said other officers arrived, cut open his shirt and appeared to be putting bandages on his neck. Then, they put him in a patrol car and sped away.

"Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified," she said.

Officers evacuated other residents of the complex in the middle of the night. Some were milling around nearby restaurant parking lots Monday morning, still wearing pajamas. They were later taken to a hotel.

The standoff also disrupted the routines of residents who lived in neighboring apartment communities. About five blocks from the apartment, two police squad cars blocked the entrance to the street. Residents of the neighboring apartment complexes had to show identification and be escorted by the police. Several firetrucks lined the road.


New York

Neighborhood Policing Giving Cops 'Whole Picture' On Crime, Community

by Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York Police Department says it is revolutionizing how it does business with neighborhood policing, a plan to put the same officers on the same streets at the same times every day.

The practice is brand new, and CBS2's Ali Bauman found officers at one precinct are still learning the ups and downs.

Officer Lonell Patrick is not new to the 105th Precinct in eastern Queens.

He's seeing the city's fifth largest precinct in a new light, with his new role as a neighborhood coordinating officer as an added layer to the normal beat cops.

“Once upon a time it was just dealing with the job itself,” said Patrick about the NCO role.

His precinct began the neighborhood policing strategy last month, shrinking his patrol route down to just one neighborhood.

“With this, you're dealing with the community, so you address their concerns and you try to fix them before they turn into something bigger,” said Patrick.

The goal is to get officers thinking more like locals.

“You'll know the conditions the chronic locations for 311, for 911, any open patterns,” said Inspector J.D. Schiff, commanding officer.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan wants his officers to come up with their own solutions for helping their communities.

“If there's someone local to an area and he's there all the time, our cops will know who he his and we'll try to get him services before he acts out,” said Monahan.

Problems can range from big to small, down to simply flagging a delivery man working in an area.

“We're having issues with people stealing packages off lawns after they're delivered,” said NCO Lisa Boystak, who noted local video surveillance caught a man following up local deliveries by hitting a whole block and taking everything that was delivered.

The autonomy means greater responsibility.

“I'm allowing them to go in that neighborhood and they decide what they're going to do,” said Monahan.

The policy is a big adjustment, especially for supervisors who were the toughest sell.

“We ran the philosophy of a very top down organization for many years, and now we're saying we want the cops to tell us what they need and how they handle situations,” said Monahan.

This program isn't the NYPD's first attempt at community-based practices. A similar plan was introduced 30 years ago, but had little success reducing crime and eventually fizzled out.

“It never had a function of crime fighting,” said Monahan. “We never gave that responsibility to the cops teaching them. They have to be involved with crime fighting, and we became almost two separate agencies in the 1980s. We had community officers over here and sector cops over here and they never joined. There was animosity between the two.””

A key aspect of the modern strategy is making officers more accessible, by handing out business cards and encouraging people to email or text their local officer directly about non urgent issues.

“I'm getting text message daily,” said Patrick. “It may take a little time, but my thing is to try to get back to the person who texted me.”

The chief hopes it puts a face to every 911 call.

“You have a cop, someone you can reach out to, your cop in your neighborhood,” said Monahan.

Even though it's just getting started here, Patrick says he already feels a difference.

“Typically we see the worst part of the job,” he said. “We see the people who are victims of crime or the criminal themselves, so you paint a picture of the community but that's not the whole picture.

“That's what this position allows you to do, see the whole community,” said Patrick.



New Wilmington crime mapping tool aims at improving transparency

by Zoe Read

The city of Wilmington has launched an online crime mapping program aimed at improving transparency, and the police department's interaction with the public.

Residents will no longer have to request crime information. Instead, they can go to to see what kind of crimes are occurring in their neighborhoods.

Those viewing the site can retrieve information on crime over the past six months, or up to 1,000 records broken down by date range, crime type or distance from a specific address.

Police Chief Robert Tracy said the site, which costs the police department about $1,200 per year to maintain, will complement the Compstat online reports, which became available to residents in February to measure crime in the city.

He said the tool will not replace community policing, but be an additional tool for residents and police to work together.

“This city has 47 civic associations—and that's really good,” Tracy said. “For a city this size it means people care. They want to know what's happening in the neighborhood and they want to know how they can help. If they start seeing patterns developing it will be more actively reported. No crime is so small you don't call 911.”

“In that reporting process is how we take a look at where we're going to deploy, how we're going to do intelligence-led policing, we look at patterns that are happening that we can start getting in front of things happening in these neighborhoods. We can't do this alone, so if we're giving more information out I know the public gets more involved when they have information in their hands.

“If they can identify individuals, if they see the time it's happening, they see where it's happening, they're more apt to keep their eyes open in the neighborhood.”

Last month, Tracy and Mayor Mike Purzycki touted statistics that showed crime in Wilmington was on the decline, particularly robberies, shootings and homicides. As of May 9, 27 people had been shot on Wilmington streets compared to 74 shooting victims in 2017. That's a decrease of 64 percent, and the lowest number through May 9 in at least a decade, statistics show.


From the Department of Homeland Security

DHS Announces the Launch of the "Countering Terrorists Exploitation of Social Media and the Internet" Training

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security's administratively housed U.S. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force and the United Kingdom's Home Office provided a demonstration of a new online educational training course, “Countering Terrorists Exploitation of Social Media and the Internet,” to members of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). This training was first announced by DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen in February 2018 at the 2018 Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention.

With 300 hours of content uploaded every minute to content service platforms, identifying and removing or blocking terrorist content has been a challenge for companies, especially smaller startups with limited resources to manage.

This online 90-minute training is designed to educate startup companies and social media companies about how terrorists may seek to exploit their platforms. This narrated course includes videos and images of official and unofficial terrorist media products, quizzes to test knowledge, as well as supplementary notes pages to explore select topics in greater detail.

The majority of the training examines the online activities of ISIS, al-Qa'ida, and these two groups' supporters, as well as White Supremacist Extremists. The final section of the training course highlights select initiatives where governments and industry have worked either together or independently to counter this threat. This section is designed to highlight the significant progress made to date in countering terrorist exploitation of social media and the internet and to encourage additional thinking about how to continue collaboration on this issue.

Companies interested in gaining access to the training can request it on Tech Against Terrorism's Knowledge Sharing Platform or reach out to with the subject line “Training”.



Pre-Crime Policing Is Closer Than You Think and It's Freaking People Out

Hartford is embracing a sophisticated surveillance apparatus that some civil liberties advocates and residents fear marks an ominous trend

by Eoin Higgins

The city of Hartford, Connecticut , isn't all that large—it boasts a population of around 124,000—and is comprised mostly of people of color. If you ask Camille Giraldo Kritzman, a community organizer with the immigration advocacy group CT Students for a Dream, that's why it's already well on its way to becoming a sort of dystopian surveillance cybercity.

"Hartford is one of the most densely populated cities of color and one of the poorest cities in New England," Kritzman told me. "In my opinion, it's not a coincidence that this is where they're unveiling this project."

The project in question amounts to a series of spiffy technological additions to the city's policing infrastructure. Of course, Hartford is not the first North American city to deploy sophisticated surveillance tools under the auspices of cutting crime. From Toronto to New York , urban centers across the continent (and the world) have, for many years now, been watching and recording citizens in the name of public safety. But in some cases, critics ranging from local residents to the state-level ACLU say, that surveillance seems to be inching toward "predictive policing" or perhaps even "pre-crime," a term that calls to mind the science-fiction premise of the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report (and the Philip K. Dick story upon which it was based).

Even if dire warnings of Orwellian police tactics are an old game , there's little question that facial recognition and tracking software are increasingly available to help cops locate and pursue suspects. And the trend towards more total urban surveillance has raised fresh concerns over privacy—concerns that, while not unique to Hartford, are all the more noteworthy given the federal government no longer seems to be showing any interest in holding local cops accountable.

In Hartford, the city has bundled a bevy of new technologies into what was already a camera-heavy approach to keeping tabs on crime, most recently by earmarking $2.5 million from the state to purchase at least two surveillance drones and other equipment. Local officials portrayed the changes as necessary in a place where homicides were up last year —and public safety remains a paramount concern.

"Like cities across the country, we've been grappling with ways to use this technology to make our residents safer and our communities stronger," Mayor Luke Bronin told me in a wide-ranging interview about surveillance in Hartford. "At the same time we're being very sensitive to concerns about civil liberties."

Not everyone in city government has been sold on that promise. When the city decided to accept the grant, Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez explained in an interview, she supported the move, but only as long as the city adopted strict regulations around the use of the drones. So Bermudez crafted a policy , which has been working its way through the legislative affairs and public safety committees, to introduce democratic control over the powerful surveillance technology.

"We wanted to make sure the police have true accountability when they're using the drones," she told me.

Cops in town have insisted they are on board with putting rules of the road in place and respecting privacy. "We have legitimate concerns," Sergeant Johnmichael O'Hare told VICE, referring to himself and other officers. "We don't want our rights to be violated either."

In fact, in Mayor Bronin's view, the city has already been more open about its use of the technology than many other municipalities—and, he suggested, a strong surveillance regime could mean avoiding police tactics like dragnets that have proven harmful in the past for poor and marginalized communities in the city.

"Our discussions have been open and honest ones, and in almost all cases the community has urged us to explore these technologies," he told me.

In a proposal reviewed by VICE for the near $200,000 purchase of a Aero Surveillance 30-470 drone, local cops listed the technological capabilities of the machines and explained the considerable power of the mounted camera in play. In an accompanying email to Councilwoman Bermudez's aide Jason Ortiz, Hartford Police Captain James Thody noted that the company's track record suggested drones would "have a reasonably long lifespan before becoming obsolete."

One thing the drones would not have, Thody assured Ortiz, was facial recognition technology.

That's an important clarification to civil liberties advocates in part because facial recognition is the bread and butter of another company helping with the department's video analysis: BriefCam. An Israeli-American cyber shop, BriefCam provides video search technology that is being used by the department in the Capital City Command Center (previously named the Real Time Crime and Data Intelligence Center, or RTCC), an information aggregation base where analysts direct police officers with the advantage of mass data.

BriefCam uses its video analysis software to compress hours of video into digestible minutes long "events." In a city like Hartford, with at least 700 cameras accessible to police , that's a helpful automation of a process that can take days, according to BriefCam's Vice President of Sales in the Americas Amit Gavish.

The software, Gavish added, does have facial recognition capabilities. But O'Hare disputed that the company's facial recognition technology is something Hartford "has." Rather, he said, facial recognition is part of a version of the technology that isn't, as yet, supported by his department's capabilities. He did not rule facial recognition out in the future, but insisted it would not store information and would only be used to match subjects spotted by city cameras—and not by outside entities. (How, exactly, such parameters might be enforced in the future was unclear.)

Part of the concern for skeptics of the city's surveillance-happy approach is that it already has a lot of the key private-sector players in the mix, even if it's not taking full advantage of their services. For instance, Vulcan Security, a security technology company in nearby South Windsor, helped the department arrange for Milestone Systems video management software to record and aggregate multiple video streams. The software is open platform, according to Tyler Cullen, the director of IT at Vulcan, allowing for other tools like BriefCam's analytical program to be run alongside it.

"Video surveillance can be used for a number of different applications," Cullen said. "That can include behavior prediction and analytics to detect complex behavior patterns—the technology is pushing boundaries every day."

To some civil liberties advocates and local activists, the endgame for this type of technology seems startlingly clear. In the review/audit of the command center's application of surveillance technologies, Milestone pointed to the use of surveillance tech to "[prevent] incidents before they happen," which sounds an awful lot like pre-crime. The search capabilities of Milestone and BriefCam allow users to scroll through hours of data to take "proactive responses" to incident prevention, the document said.

"Hartford is definitely pushing the envelope in terms of using this technology," BriefCam's Gavish told me.

When it comes to drones, at least, Mayor Bronin suggested the devices were preferable to leaning on the feds for helicopter surveillance—as the city did during a Puerto Rican Day parade on June 2—given the community's anxiety about the current administration's immigration crackdown.

"The only option for us that's affordable and independent, and not reliant on DHS, is the drones," said Bronin, who added that the federal agency can surveill the city at will anyway.

Whatever the case, another eye in the sky is sure to further frighten members of the city's Latino population, according to Kritzman, who said some were already nervous about police surveillance. "I work with students and families, and a lot of the people I've met with are afraid to go outside, leave their houses, because of the facial recognition technology," she told me.

When pressed for why Hartford was at the center of this trend toward predictive policing, Councilwoman Bermudez, too, pointed to demographics and the portrayal of local crime. "There is a general sentiment pushed by media that city is not safe," Bermudez said. "In cities like Hartford where majority pop are people of color, what gets covered in the news is violence."

"I don't think the premise is accurate," Mayor Bronin said when I posed the question of whether Hartford's use of technology was related to its racial makeup, noting community involvement in the decision to purchase the technology. Likewise, when asked about the idea that the city was veering toward predictive policing, O'Hare suggested the city was simply embracing modern solutions to age-old problems with tools like BriefCam. "It's not necessarily predictive, we're looking at what have already."

He added, "We look at it as an analytic tool that helps us run the city better. We're making things safer and faster for everybody by doing things in the background."

Even so, Bermudez argued, a surveillance regime in a city where much of the population is marginalized at least in part due to race or income speaks to misplaced priorities—and produces a feeling of being under siege for the benefit of the private sector.

"How much do we want to militarize our communities?" she asked me. “It's almost like we are the guinea pigs for new video equipment and surveillance."



At police urging, Minnesota paramedics injected suspects with powerful tranquilizer, report says

by Fox News

Police in Minneapolis have been ordered to “never suggest or demand” that paramedics sedate a suspect during a police call, following a recent report that such treatment of suspects had spiked in recent years.

The May 18 order from police Cmdr. Todd Sauvageau says that decisions on sedating suspects are to be made by Hennepin County paramedics, not city police officers, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported .

The police policy order coincided with the completion of a report by the city's Office of Police Conduct Review (OCPR), which showed that paramedics' injections of ketamine into suspects during police calls had increased from three in 2012 to 62 in 2017, the newspaper reported.

Ketamine is considered a powerful tranquilizer and is classified as a “date rape drug” in the Minneapolis police manual, according to the Star-Tribune. In some cases, it can stop a person's heart or breathing, the report said.

Police officers regularly ordered paramedics to administer ketamine, the OCPR report says. It then questions why suspects received the drug before being transported to a hospital, “given the immediate effects on breathing and heart function that the drug induces.”

The OCPR report drew conflicting reactions from local officials, the Star-Tribune story said.

Hennepin Healthcare EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jon Cole dismissed the findings as a “reckless use of anecdotes and partial snapshots of interactions with police, and incomplete information and statistics to draw uninformed and incorrect conclusions.”

Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo credited the report for helping to clarify the department's relationship with paramedics.

Mayor Jacob Frey said it was necessary to clarify that relationship.

“Our policy should be clear,” he said. “Cops shouldn't direct medical professionals on health-related issues, and medical professionals shouldn't listen to them.”



Medical director dismisses report critical of police, EMS administration of ketamine

Editors Note - Hennepin County EMS ALS protocol 3420 (Behavioral Emergencies) authorizes personnel to administer ketamine if a patient “is profoundly agitated with active physical violence to himself/herself or others evident, and usual chemical or physical restraints may not be appropriate or safely used.”

by Andy Mannix

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police officers have repeatedly requested over the past three years that Hennepin County medical responders sedate people using the powerful tranquilizer ketamine, at times over the protests of those being drugged, and in some cases when no apparent crime was committed, a city report shows.

On multiple occasions, in the presence of police, Hennepin Healthcare EMS workers injected suspects of crimes and others who already appeared to be restrained, according to the report, and the ketamine caused heart or breathing failure, requiring them to be medically revived. Several people given ketamine had to be intubated.

These are among the findings of an investigation conducted by the Office of Police Conduct Review, a division of the city's Department of Civil Rights. The draft report has been circulated narrowly within City Hall, but not disseminated to the public. The Star Tribune has obtained a copy.

The number of documented ketamine injections during Minneapolis police calls increased from three in 2012 to 62 last year, the report found, including four uses on the same person. On May 18, around the time the draft report was completed, Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Todd Sauvageau issued a departmental order saying that officers “shall never suggest or demand EMS Personnel ‘sedated' a subject. This is a decision that needs to be clearly made by EMS Personnel, not MPD Officers.”

Minneapolis police previously had no policy addressing the drug, and the department manual classifies it as a “date rape drug” for its powerful sedative impact and ability to erase or alter memory.

Hennepin Healthcare staff are authorized to use ketamine when a patient is “profoundly agitated,” unable to be restrained and a danger to themselves or others, according to their policy. But the report found examples when EMS workers used the drug on people who did not appear to fit this description.

“In many cases, the individual being detained or arrested was not only handcuffed, but strapped down on a stretcher in an ambulance before receiving ketamine,” the report states. It raises a “concerning question” over why these people are given the drug before they are transported to the hospital, “given the immediate effects on breathing and heart function that the drug induces.”

The draft report prompted sharply different reactions among local officials. A statement included in the report from Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jon Cole dismissed the findings of the report as a “reckless use of anecdotes and partial snapshots of interactions with police, and incomplete information and statistics to draw uninformed and incorrect conclusions.”

“This draft report will prevent the saving of lives by promoting the concept of allowing people to exhaust themselves to death,” Cole and Ho wrote.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo would not comment on the specifics of the draft, but credited it for changing his department's approach to interacting with EMS workers.

“We have that in place now,” Arradondo said. “That policy really defines and clarifies that we do not want our officers providing recommendations or suggestions to EMS personnel.”

Mayor Jacob Frey said all medical decisions highlighted in the draft report were made by Hennepin County medical professionals. He said it was necessary for the city to clarify in policy that police are not to give input to EMS and hospital professionals beyond factual information.

“Our policy should be clear,” he said. “Cops shouldn't direct medical professionals on health-related issues, and medical professionals shouldn't listen to them.”


Ketamine is an anesthetic agent that some researchers believe can be effective in treating depression. Studies, including some conducted by researchers at Hennepin Healthcare (formerly Hennepin County Medical Center), show it can be useful for trained medical practitioners to sedate and transport patients to the hospital who are agitated or combative.

It is also a common club drug, known colloquially as “Special K.” Its side effects include delirium, quickened heart rate and respiratory problems, especially in high doses.

Hennepin Healthcare has been a leader in ketamine research, and its EMS personnel have been using it since 2008, according to its statement.

To evaluate how the sedative was being used, the Office of Police Conduct Review investigators looked for mentions of the word in police reports, and then reviewed body camera footage from those cases.

“Multiple videos showed individuals requiring intubation after being injected with ketamine, and [police] reports indicate that multiple individuals stopped breathing and/or their hearts stopped beating after being injected with ketamine,” the report said.

The police encounters that led to EMS using ketamine ranged from cases of obstruction of justice to jaywalking, according to the report. One man was dosed with ketamine while strapped to a stretcher and wearing a spit hood.

The report found that officers regularly instructed the medical staff to administer the ketamine.

“Between 2016 and 2017, MPD officers explicitly asked EMS to provide ketamine, either when calling for EMS services or upon arrival of the ambulance eight times,” states the report. “Also, MPD officers assisted EMTs while they injected individuals with ketamine” by physically holding them down while the EMS gave the shot. Many were in handcuffs, and some were in spit hoods.

In one case, Minneapolis police and EMS workers responded to a 911 call about a man who appeared to be in the throes of a mental health crisis.

Four Minneapolis police officers and two EMS personnel responded to the incident and decided to sedate the man, according to the report authors, who reviewed body camera footage of the incident. Upon seeing the needle, the man, who is not named but described as 5 feet 3 to 5 feet 5 with a light build, said he did not want the shot. “Whoa, whoa that's not cool!” he pleaded. “I don't need that!”

Regardless, the man was injected with the drug two times and secured to a chair, the report states. Shortly after, he became nonverbal and unintelligible, prompting one officer to remark, “He just hit the K-hole,” a slang term for the intense delirium brought on by ketamine.

When the man began to regain consciousness, the officer asked the EMS responder — all unnamed in the report — how much more ketamine he had with him, according to the report.

“I can draw more,” said the EMS staff.

“You're my favorite,” replied another EMS officer.

They injected him with another dose of ketamine.

“We'll have to end up putting a [breathing] tube in,” the officer stated.

On the way to the hospital, the man lost consciousness and stopped breathing, according to the report.

He regained his pulse and began breathing again sometime later at the hospital.

In a statement Thursday, Kelly Spratt, chief ambulatory officer for Hennepin Healthcare, said ketamine has “fewer side effects than other drugs and can ultimately save lives.”

Spratt said the incidents in the report account for only a small percentage of those involving ketamine each year. His office has recently reviewed the draft and believes it contains inaccuracies, he said, though he did not provide specifics.

“We believe the draft report contains data that is private and, as we assess that, we won't respond to questions about specific cases cited in the report,” he said. “We have reviewed the four cases mentioned in the draft report that involve use of ketamine by Hennepin EMS and have concluded that those met the protocol and were medically justified.”


In a separate case detailed in the report, police sprayed an intoxicated woman in downtown Minneapolis with mace, and she appeared to have an asthma attack. The woman, who was not actively resisting police, asked for an asthma pump. Instead they handcuffed her to a stretcher and gave her ketamine, the report said.

Shortly before the body camera video cut out, an EMS worker asked, “What does ketamine do to asthmatics?”

In this case, it stopped the woman's breathing, according to the report. She was resuscitated later at the hospital.

“It is also important to note that it appears no crime was committed, no threat to the safety of officer or paramedics was evident, and the individual was located less than six minutes from HCMC at the time she received a ketamine injection,” the report said.

Velma Korbel, director of the Department of Civil Rights, said her office will work on completing the draft. But she praised the quick response from the Police Department in implementing a new policy once the police oversight office of her department brought its findings to the department's command staff.

“It worked exactly the way it's supposed to work,” said Korbel. “I have nothing but kudos for the Police Department's response to this.”


New York

NYPD brass defend controversial gang database

by Rocco Parascandola, Larry Mcshane and Khadija Hussain

NEW YORK CITY — A top NYPD official defended the department's use of a controversial "gang database" Wednesday, asserting such lists remain a critical tool against organized criminal groups.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, appearing before the City Council Committee on Public Safety, said the NYPD was taking steps to make sure its list is current and to delete any wrongly included names from its "misunderstood" database.

"We work diligently to ensure that we do not accidentally ensnare innocent people into the database," said Shea. "The numbers back that up ... In fact, the average person in the database has been arrested 11 times, 5 of which are for felonies."

According to Shea, the current database contains 17,441 names -- down from 34,000 after a four-year NYPD winnowing that reviewed every person listed.

"Our goal is to make sure that everyone who is in the database is actually a gang member," said Shea. "We are in the era of precision policing. Saturating the database with non-gang members limits its usefulness."

Shea noted the same process was used in law enforcement's successful takedown of Italian-American organized crime family bosses in the 1980s and 1990s. The department continues to track Russian and Albanian organized crime, motorcycle gangs and terrorist organizations.

"The database is a vital tool in keeping the city safe," he said. "When violence erupts between two groups, it is vital for us to know who might retaliate and who is likely to be targeted.

"Plainly stated, it would be irresponsible for the department to not track members of gangs."

He noted during the appearance that 50% of last year's 789 city shootings involved a gang member as either the shooter or the victim.

The hearing began after demonstrators outside City Hall questioned the NYPD's handling of gang violence probes, complaining that the database stigmatizes people and evokes abandoned policing practices.

"We didn't ask for gang raids, we asked for help," said protester Vidal Guzman. "We didn't ask for stop and frisk 2.0."

Karen Taylor-Hughes of the Black Youth Project 100 complained that landing on the list could change the course of a young person's life.

"Just because someone is falsely accused of gang allegations they can lose their housing," she said. "Their families can lose their housing. These are permanent impacts on young black lives."

Shea acknowledged that 95% of the people on the gang list were black or Hispanic, but he noted that most gangs or organized crime groups "are not typically diverse organizations."

He added that the NYPD routinely reviews the list now, with each entry double-checked every three years, as well as on the 23rd birthday and once more on the 28th birthday.