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 5
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.

How Taking Legal Action Helps Sexual Abuse Survivors Heal

by Tyler Aliperto and Patrick Noaker

When asked whether legal action can help abuse survivors heal, one survivor recalled:

“Walking into the room where my press conference was held, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders and I literally stopped walking with hunched shoulders for the first time since I was a happy-go-lucky kid, pre-abuse.” – (Participant 530)

For that survivor, the biggest turning point in his survival was not only something that he could feel, but something others could see. This physical and emotional transformation, resulting from the beginning stages of a lawsuit, is what Dr. Scott D. Easton, Danielle M. Leone-Sheehan, and Dr. Danny G. Willis termed the “turning point” in a survivor's recovery from child sexual abuse in their March 2015 scientific article titled “From that Moment on My Life Changed”: Turning Points in the Healing Process for Men Recovering From Child Sexual Abuse” published in the Journal of Child Abuse . (1)

According to their study, “Men who report a history of childhood sexual abuse are at increased risk for a variety of long-term health problems in domains such as physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, psychosocial functioning and quality of life… The negative effects can, in fact, last across the life span.” These issues in multiple areas can manifest in a self-identity crisis for some survivors, as is further discussed here.

When discussing their recovery from these effects, many survivors point to specific turning points that caused them to view themselves and the world differently and changed the outcome of their lives. These turning points were not simply a temporary detour, but rather moments that provided lasting change that truly altered their life trajectory.

A Story of Healing

For one of our clients here at Noaker Law Firm, Jimmy Halpin, this lasting change and turning point came when he received compensation from the Archdiocese of New York through their Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program (IRCP).

It validated what I thought I made up,” said Halpin after reading others reports of abuse by his perpetrator.

Following being sexually abused by a priest, Fr. Joseph Theisen, then 15-year-old Halpin went on a drug and alcohol-fueled “tailspin” that lasted as long as his life had up to that point: 15 years.

Now 52-years-old — Halpin is 23 years sober, a father of two, and a third grade teacher in Harlem.

Research Behind Taking Legal Action

While an inspiring story of recovery that anyone can look up to, Halpin is not the only survivor who received closure and found a turning point in his life through settlements or legal action. According to Dr. Easton, Leone-Sheehan, and Dr. Willis' research, “pursuit of justice” can serve as one major turning point for survivors.

Within their pursuit of justice, researchers included: the official filing and reporting of abuse, advocating for or helping others, and facing an abuser. Researchers stated that these actions “empower participants to take control over their experience of child sexual abuse.” For many, all three of these things can be considered as part of the legal process — as a lawsuit can be a form of protecting others from abuse as well as being seen as one way to confront an abuser.

I think pursuing justice also helped me a lot, I became unrelenting. [Even] when I was denied justice over and over, I would not rest until justice was served.” – (Participant 190)

Although male survivors of child sexual abuse face many barriers to disclosure, the authors of this study conclude that: “Our findings clarify the importance of survivors' communication of child sexual abuse through acts of disclosure and seeking justice.”

For anyone who has suffered from child sexual abuse, the first step to recovery is always disclosure. In other words: please, tell someone.

Every survivor deserves to have their story heard and to find their turning point in the recovery process. Legal action can help abuse survivors heal.  Here at Noaker Law Firm, we are ready to listen to you and to take legal action on your behalf, whenever you are ready, to help you in your process of healing.


About the Authors:

Tyler Aliperto, a recent graduate of the HECUA: Inequality in America program, is a Research and Social Media Advocate with the Noaker Law Firm LLC and a Digital Communications and Journalism major at St. Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota.

For 27 years, Patrick Noaker has represented clients in courtrooms across the country, including hundreds of sexual abuse survivors. He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for winning multiple jury trial verdicts exceeding $1M and for winning millions more in settlements. Patrick has also been selected by his peers as a Minnesota SuperLawyer.

(1) Scott D. Easton, Danielle M. Leone-Sheehan, Ellen J. Sophis & Danny G. Willis (2015) “From that Moment on My Life Changed”: Turning Points in the Healing Process for Men Recovering from Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse , 24:2, 152-173, DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2015.997413.



Nine wounded in stabbing at child's birthday party in Idaho

by Reuters

A man went on a stabbing spree at a 3-year-old's birthday party at an apartment complex housing refugee families in Boise on Saturday, injuring nine people, including six children, police said on Sunday.

Timmy Kinner, a 30-year-old from Los Angeles who had been staying at the complex, has been arrested, Boise police said. He is not an immigrant and went on the rampage a day after being asked to leave by one of the residents, police said.

Kinner was being held without bail at the Ada County jail on 15 charges, including six of injury to a child and nine of aggravated battery, jail records showed. There was no lawyer listed for Kinner in the records.

Kinner may have wanted to “extract vengeance” for being kicked out by a tenant who took him in, Police Chief Bill Bones said at a press conference on Sunday.


New York

'Disgusted' by Video of Boy's Killing, Callers Flood Police Tip Line

by Ashley Southall and Luis Ferre-Sadurni

Sunday marked two days since the police first asked for help finding the men shown on video last week dragging a 15-year-old boy out of a Bronx bodega and stabbing him to death in a gruesome attack that may have been a case of mistaken identity.

Since then, police investigators have been overwhelmed by a “torrent of tips” aimed at identifying Lesandro Guzman–Feliz's attackers, the chief of detectives, Dermot F. Shea, said on Sunday.

“There's just a tremendous outpouring and I think that people are disgusted by what they saw,” Chief Shea said. Hours later, the police announced the arrest of a suspect, Kevin J. Alvarez, 19, of the Bronx, on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, gang assault and assault. Officials did not specify his role in the attack and said they had mistakenly reported more arrests.

The Police Department said in a statement that it was “vigorously investigating” Lesandro's killing, and expected to make additional arrests.

Social media users speculated that Lesandro had been mistaken for another teenager who shared video of himself having sex with one of the suspects' female relatives. Chief Shea, in an interview, would not discuss potential motives for the killing, but he said there was no information to indicate that Lesandro, who wanted to be a police detective, was “anything but an innocent kid.”

News of the arrests drew cheers from social media users, who praised the police and asked for stiff penalties for the suspects.

“This shook us to our core,” @rifkalove13 wrote in a Twitter post responding to a story about the arrests posted by Ruben Diaz Jr ., the Bronx borough president. “No mother has slept peacefully since this happened.” She added, “The #NYPD did their thing and we want to thank them.”

After video of the attack began circulating on social media, there were so many calls to the Police Department's 1-800-577-TIPS hotline that supervisors assigned extra staff members to answer the phones. Many more tips flowed in from social media, where police officials' posts have been viewed and shared more than 100,000 times on Twitter and Instagram, according to police metrics.

The tips identified several suspects by name and included their addresses, photos, hangout locations and gang affiliation.

The response highlighted the combined power of social media and video to help the police solve crimes, especially in places where many people are afraid to be seen talking to detectives for fear of reprisals by violent street crews and gangs.

Too often after crimes occur, the police discover that it is difficult to get much help in solving them. Tips trickle instead of pour, if they come at all, and detectives find their door-to-door efforts bear little fruit because people sometimes fear being seen talking to law enforcement.

But where detectives might have encountered a closed door before, social media has given them nearly unbridled access to discreet tipsters and outraged sleuths. Lesandro's case showed officials were just beginning to harness its potential, Chief Shea said.

“Beyond this case, I think we're scratching the surface of what we can achieve and how we can interact,” he said. “You're never going to, nor do I want to, replace the face-to-face. But in terms of getting tips, this is going to be a game-changer.”

As his attackers fled in a light-colored sedan, Lesandro, who was known as “Junior,” ran in the direction of St. Barnabas Hospital a block away but collapsed on the pavement as blood ran from his neck. Soon, video of the incident began circulating on social media under the hashtag #JusticeforJunior, and the police appealed for help identifying six men believed to be Lesandro's attackers.

Several social media users blamed the killing on the Trinitarios, a violent Dominican gang based in New York. Chief Shea said that was a “strong possibility.”

The Trinitarios have been linked to several shootings and stabbings in recent weeks, including a stabbing on Monday in Bronx River Park that left a 14-year-old boy in critical condition , Chief Shea said.

Ramon Paulino, 21, was arrested in connection with the earlier stabbing and charged with attempted murder and gang assault.

Video has proved pivotal in helping the police solve a number of cases. But as in the police chokehold death of an unarmed Staten Island man named Eric Garner in 2014, it has also raised questions about their practices.

Tips from the public helped the police to solve a home invasion and attempted sexual assault that occurred on Thursday in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Chief Shea said. The suspect, Darryl Williams, 25, was arrested on Saturday on charges including attempted rape and strangulation after officials posted images of him on social media, according to the police.

The police in New York have long used social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to track criminal activity and gangs. But Chief Shea said Lesandro's case highlighted for officials the potential reward of engaging with communities on social media beyond collecting tips.

“I think the world is going to get very small for some of these gangs in the near future,” he said, “and I think social media is going to be a big part of it.”

Lesandro lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the Belmont neighborhood with his mother, Leandra Feliz, 48, and sister, Genesis, 17. In the living room on Sunday, his mother showed photos of him celebrating his 15th birthday and graduating from kindergarten. In one widely circulated image, he is wearing a jacket for the police Explorers, a program he participated in that caters to youth who are interested in law enforcement.

“His dream was to be a detective,” Ms. Feliz said. “Since he was 5 years old, he used to love to play with the police toy cars and always said he wanted to be a detective.”

Ms. Feliz said she was pleased that people were trying to help the police solve her son's killing.

The last time she saw him alive, he had been playing a game of Fortnite on his PlayStation before telling her that he was going downstairs to lend $5 to a friend. When he took too long to come back, she called and told him, “Mijo”— Spanish for “my son” — “you're taking too long. Come back.”

He never did.

“I feel destroyed,” she said. “They took away my life.”

A block away from the family apartment, near the Cruz and Chiky bodega on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue where Lesandro was mortally wounded, hundreds of candles lined the ground, heating an already warm afternoon. Dozens of neighbors showed up to pay their respects, light candles and console each other. Mourners wrote messages on several pieces of cardboard hung on the store's brick wall.

“A beautiful soul is never forgotten,” read one message. Another, written in Spanish, translated to: “How could they take away your smile, your happiness? You were a respectful, caring boy. We'll miss you forever.”


New York

NY teen stabbed to death over sex tape in apparent case of mistaken identity, police say

by Bopha Phorn and Aaron Katersky

New York police are searching for additional suspects after one man was charged with murder and six others were arrested in connection to the Bronx stabbing death of a 15-year-old boy in what authorities say was an apparent case of mistaken identity.

The other six are in custody in Paterson, New Jersey, and will be extradited to New York to determine any role in the slaying, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Kevin Alvarez, 19, is facing four charges in connection with the death of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who was dragged from a Bronx store and stabbed multiple times during an attack by a group of people, police said.

Alvarez, who was scheduled to be arraigned today, turned himself in to New York police this weekend and has been charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter, gang assault and assault, according to the NYPD.

Prosecutors said the New Jersey house where authorities arrested the other six suspects is known as a hangout for a street gang called the Trinitarios. One of the suspects jumped out the window and had to be chased down, prosecutors said.

All six will appear in an extradition hearing Tuesday afternoon in Paterson, the Passaic County prosecutor's office said, adding the suspects will then be extradited to the Bronx, where some of them are likely to face charges in connection with the slaying of the teen.

Guzman-Feliz resembled another youth who was in a sex video with a rival gang member's relative, which lead to the mistaken identity, a police source told ABC News.

“Upon arrival, officers were informed that a 15-year-old male was involved in a dispute with a group of males in front of the location, prior to being stabbed in the neck,” police said. “The suspects fled the location and the victim ran to Saint Barnabas Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

“The NYPD is seeking the public's assistance in identifying the following individuals in connection to the above incident.”

An eighth person was picked up in the Dominican Republic and is cooperating with the investigation with no charges filed, a police source told ABC News.

NYPD said that the investigation continues with more arrests possible.

The death of Guzman-Feliz has shocked New York City.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence A. Monahan tweeted that the killing of a teen who had dreamed of becoming a detective is one of the most brutal slayings he has witnessed in his career as a law enforcement.

“Stabbing murder of this young man is among the most brutal crimes I've seen in my 36-year career,” he said while appealing for help from the public to identify the suspects.

New NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted that Guzman-Feliz always wanted to become a detective, and the NYPD vowed to find him justice.

“He was never going to give up on his dream of being an NYPD detective,” Shea said, “and we'll never give up on him.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday said he had spoken to Guzman-Feliz's mother and told her he wanted to figure out a way to honor the teen through the Explorers program, of which he was a member.

De Blasio called the killing a “disgusting horrible incident” and said “everyone responsible will be brought to justice.”

In a photo tweeted by the NYPD, Guzman-Feliz is seen wearing a jacket from the NYPD Law Enforcement Explorers program -- which introduces young people to the profession – and proudly smiling for the camera.



No charges for 5 teens who mocked drowning man, didn't help

by the Associated Press

(Video on site)

COCOA, Fla. (AP) — Five Florida teenagers will not be prosecuted after they videotaped and mocked a disabled man as he drowned and didn't help .

Prosecutors told Florida Today the teens could not be prosecuted because there is no state law that requires a bystander to help or get assistance for someone who is in danger.

The teens spotted 31-year-old Jamel Dunn struggling in a pond last July, but instead of helping they videotaped him and then posted it online .

In the video, the teens are heard laughing and yelling at Dunn, telling him that he is going to drown and that they are not going to help him. They call him "dumb."

State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement Friday called the teens "callous" but under the law they couldn't be prosecuted.



Police: Firefighters Ambushed in Intentional Retirement Home Blaze

by the Daily Beast

A veteran California firefighter was killed Monday after a 77-year-old man allegedly set a fire in his retirement home to lure firefighters to his apartment, police say. A second firefighter and another resident at the home were wounded in the incident. Police Chief Robert Luna said late Monday that investigators believe the suspect, Thomas Kim, deliberately set the fire at the retirement home in Long Beach and then opened fire on the first responders. Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the department, died of his injuries. The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, is expected to make a full recovery. Kim has been arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, and arson. Police have reportedly not yet determined the motive. “There's still is a large puzzle we're trying to put together. There's still a lot of information we don't know,” Luna said.



How Data Analysis Is Driving Policing

by Martin Kaste

Police have always relied on data — whether push pins tracking crimes on a map, mug shot cards, or intelligence files on repeat offenders. The problem with all that information is that it has traditionally been slow and hard to use.

"I would have to log into 19 different databases," says Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Dennis Kato. "I'd log in, print out all the tickets that were written to you, and lay them on my desk. Then I'd go and run your criminal history on another database, and print that out. And then another database to see how many times your name was associated with crime reports."

Now he can see all that information on one screen. Kato has been instrumental in LAPD's rollout of a data search program sold by a company called Palantir. While Palantir is somewhat controversial because of its secrecy and reliance on national security contracts, its product for police isn't that mysterious.

Like Palantir, other companies make similar "relational database" tools, which combine data from different sources to get a bigger picture quickly.

One of Kato's analysts, a civilian named Andrea Costa, demonstrates how it works. She says it's a bit like doing a Google search.

"So we have the name," she says, typing it into a search bar. "And it's linking to a residence, 'user of this phone number,' 'associated with this vehicle,' 'works in that address.'"

The "linked information" pops up in bubbles around the suspect's name, with lines showing the degrees of connection. If the suspect's name was tangentially mentioned in someone else's arrest report, that pops up, too.

It's akin to when your smartphone finds a street address in one of your emails, and adds it to your address book.

"We've always had this data," Kato says. "Now I can start seeing these patterns build."

The faster data analytics extends to crime mapping, too. LAPD has been expanding "Operation LASER," which uses near-real-time crime data to adjust police patrols on a daily or even hourly basis. By contrast, older systems, such as the vaunted "Compstat" — pioneered in New York in the 1990s — mapped crime much more slowly.

In the divisions of LAPD now using LASER, officers are given "mission sheets" with instructions to focus on very specific areas, sometimes just a few blocks big. The missions are written by their local supervisors, but with heavy input from the real-time crime mapping, as well as another analytics tool called PredPol. It uses an algorithm to predict the location of future property crimes.

At the Olympic Division station, Officer Jennifer Ramirez reviews her daily mission sheet printout. She eyes the areas she'll target, "because these are the hot spots, these are where the crimes tend to happen, this day, this time, based on the crime mapping that we do."

Ramirez has faith in the analysis, because she's convinced crime is cyclical.

But her mission sheet doesn't point her just toward certain places. It's also pointing her toward certain people. Her mission sheet comes with mug shots and names.

"These are people that we are going to be looking out for, who are our chronic offenders," she says.

The "Chronic Offenders Bulletin" may be the most controversial element of LAPD's new data analytics strategy. It's a list of the people in a certain neighborhood who police think are most likely to commit crimes. Chronic offender status is based on a point score, which is calculated on the basis of his previous interactions with the justice system, or membership in a gang. The LAPD's new data search tools make calculating that score much simpler.

Small print across the top of the Chronic Offenders Bulletin warns that it's "Info only... not PC [probable cause] for arrest." But officers are encouraged to interact with the chronic offenders to the limit allowed by the law.

"It's just disruption of crime," says Deputy Chief Kato. "When you see Johnny Jones walking down the street and he's a chronic offender, you should pay attention to his activity. Now if you have a lawful reason, constitutionally, to stop him or detain him, then do that."

LAPD says it does not publish the Chronic Offenders Bulletin, for reasons of privacy and police operations. But Kato says if someone walked into a station and asked to find out if he's on it, Kato would tell him.

He believes strongly that the Bulletin is a smart way to focus police attention on the small percentage of people who commit most crime. But others in the community see it as data-driven stereotyping.

"They're just reinventing their surveillance techniques and machinery," says Anthony Robles. He's an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, an activist group run by young people who've been incarcerated.

Robles thinks the Chronic Offenders Bulletin is just a new version of the gang membership lists that used to drive a lot of LA policing. Those lists have been the subject of a recent lawsuit, and are falling out of favor. Critics accused the department of including the names of people with dubious ties to gangs.

Robles recalls what it was like to be on the gang list, when he was a teenager.

"Every time I drove out of that block, or drove anywhere, I'd get pulled over. A lot of times they'd search my car they wouldn't find anything and they'd give me a moving violation." Robles believes the increased scrutiny did little to keep him on the straight and narrow. "It led to a lot of anger — it made me want to do something bad!"

Jamie Garcia is with another activist group, the "Stop LAPD Spying Coalition." The group sued to get more details about the new analytics tools — including the chronic offenders list. She thinks the only thing that's new here is what she calls the scientific "veneer."

"These programs are nothing new, in the history of policing," Garcia says. "What they are trying to call science is pseudo-science."

For instance, the chronic offender formula is partly based on how often you have contacts with the police — "field interviews," she says. And those contacts are simply more likely in a place that already has more police patrols.

"The bias is still very much inherent in the data that is being used, and the same communities are being impacted," she says.

The LAPD's Kato thinks data-driven policing is having the opposite effect. He says the long-term crime trend in Los Angeles is downward — and crime is far lower than it was a generation ago.

"But you know what? So's our arrest numbers," Kato says. "So that's a good thing, right? Because that means we're arresting the right people. We're not out there saturating, we're not out there picking up people for everything."

At the same time, Kato is willing to consider that the system might have flaws.

"If you put in bad data, you're going to get bad data," he says, and he's always willing to revisit the system to make sure it isn't skewed against certain neighborhoods.

"We've got to figure out, 'What (are) the boundaries? How much is good data? What are the input mechanisms?' We question this stuff all the time."

Even inside policing, there are differing attitudes toward data-driven policing.

"Officers are not all necessarily gung-ho about it," says Sarah Brayne, a University of Texas sociologist who spent months with the LAPD for a long-term study on how the department uses data-integration technology.

"In general, people in managerial roles in the police department were more receptive," she says.

Front-line cops were less enthusiastic, she says, because "a lot of the new data collection mechanisms are means by which the police themselves come under surveillance."

She says initially, the police union resisted turning on automatic location devices that could help the system keep track of "dosage" — that is, the frequency with which a squad car drove through designated hot spots. Eventually, officers relented, and the system now tracks cars' minutes inside LASER zones.

"It's supposed to be an accountability mechanism, but when it creeps into being a performance metric, that's when officers get annoyed," Brayne says.

But she adds that even some managers have doubts, especially when it comes to systems such as the Chronic Offender Bulletin.

"When I asked captains in other divisions whether they were going to implement Operation LASER, [some of them] would say, 'No, I'm not going to touch that with a 10-foot pole! That's a civil liberties nightmare.'"

Still, there's steady pressure for them to accept the new systems. Kato says the department believes the use of Operation LASER in certain pilot divisions helped Los Angeles to control a recent spike in violent crime. He's helping to roll out it out to all the divisions of the LAPD by 2020.



Police warn about fentanyl-laced flyers after deputy hospitalized for touching paper

by Alex Lasker

(Picture of flyer on site)

The Harris County Sheriff's Office issued a warning on Tuesday after a flyer laced with the opioid fentanyl put one of its deputies in the hospital.

The deputy in question exited a sheriff's office facility in Houston, Texas, and found a flyer on her windshield, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a press briefing .

She removed the paper and began to drive away before starting to feel lightheaded. The employee was taken to the hospital following the incident and is reportedly alert and in stable condition.

The department launched a follow-up investigation and examined between 15 and 20 of the same flyers placed on nearby vehicles. It found that at least one of the papers tested positive for fentanyl, a powerful opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

According to CNN , a dose as small as a 0.25 milligrams can kill a person.

Gonzalez said that his deputies are on high alert as it remains unclear if the flyers were intended specifically to target law enforcement or if they were placed near the police department randomly.

A photo of the flyers shared on Twitter reveals that they contained anti-government and police messages.

"Fentanyl can be very toxic," said Gonzalez. "Even small amounts embedded in a flyer, in a paper, is something that could cause symptoms and many times, had this sergeant not acted quickly and gotten help, many times, it can end up deadly."



Public trust must always be paramount in community policing

by Graham Ashton

Trust. A vital ingredient in any meaningful and lasting relationship. In the context of community policing, it is the be all and end all – an absolute fundamental.

Without it, partnerships wither, confidence slumps and the vital goodwill and co-operation that police need in order to do their job – keeping people safe – is replaced by apathy and suspicion.

That's not the case in Victoria. I believe Victoria Police has a unique and enduring bond with the people of our great state. The support for police I see wherever I go in Victoria underlines the strength of the relationship. But this is not something Victoria Police should ever take for granted, and we don't.

Our connection to the community is an imperative. It's been that way since Victoria Police was established in 1853, but perhaps the importance of trust has never been greater than it is today. We know that, globally, trust in institutions is in gradual decline, perhaps inevitably as people are increasingly connected by technology and able to more easily inquire, access the information they want and mobilise behind the causes and passions dear to them.

That ups the need for all public sector organisations, including police, to redouble their efforts and focus on the people they serve. That is why it was disappointing when, last month, we confirmed we had been conducting an investigation into the falsification of preliminary breath tests . It is, however, important to remember that our analysis showed that 98.5 per cent of all police that were audited did do the right thing and conducted tests correctly.

Trust is hard earned, the product of dedication, commitment and sacrifice, developed through the passage of time. Matters like this can chip away at that trust.

When people are at their most vulnerable they need to be able to depend on us. They must know that we will be there for them. Whether it is assisting a victim of a life-changing crime, or directing people to safety during a natural disaster or terrorist attack, it is vital that there is trust in the uniform.

We have seen overseas examples of when police have lost the trust of the communities they serve – sometimes on racial grounds, at other times over excessive use of force. It is important that we reflect on these examples and learn from them.

We understand the critical importance of earning – and keeping - the confidence of the Victorian community, and are invested in wide-ranging modernisation of the way we train our police, the ways in which we operate, and how we hold ourselves to account.

Leadership training across the organisation is teaching our members how to role model the behaviours that align with our values.

Bad behaviour is increasingly being called out, and victims more than ever are at the absolute centre of our training and practice, so that we are looking after the vulnerable when they are in most need of help.

This important reforming work gives me great confidence for the future. But that is not to say we get it right every time. For the great majority of police, helping people in their hour of need is what motivates them to get out of bed every morning. But from time to time, and like anyone else, our officers will make mistakes, and when that happens we learn from them.

Very occasionally, police cross the line and when that happens they are held to account for their actions. In that regard, through government, community, media, IBAC, the Auditor-General and countless pieces of legislation, police are one of the most accountable professions in our community.

It is easy to dwell on the failings of the few in such a large organisation, but I would also hope people do not lose sight of the overwhelming amount of good police do. Day in, day out and across the state, they stand in harm's way, making decisions that put the safety of others ahead of their own. I am incredibly proud of the outstanding job my members do in difficult and testing situations. I reflect that the challenges they face grow ever greater.

Assaults, rammings and being spat on are now regular events our police endure, both on and off duty. We have an incredible volume of interactions with the public – about14,000 every day. These produce on average seven complaints daily. Seven too many, perhaps, but this is just 0.05 per cent of all interactions and an important point of context.

In recent weeks, Victoria Police has started the roll out of body-worn cameras for all its frontline officers – a fantastic innovation that will greatly enhance the capacity of our officers to capture evidence and statements from the field. But we are also conscious of the need to make sure these cameras don't create barriers between ourselves and members of the public.

People enjoy chatting with police – and police enjoy their interactions with the community. And so the challenge is for us to ensure we get our policy settings right, because we don't want this vital aspect of policing diminished.

Police and the communities they serve need to stand together, and in Victoria we do. It is visible every day: a strong connection that makes our state a safer place to be. It is my commitment to all Victorians that their police will keep working hard to keep that trust, to build it and to never take it for granted.


Them vs. Us: How Black Cops View Policing in America

by Michael Harriot

“You live in [redacted] don't you?” he said.

“What?” I responded, prompting him to repeat the name of the subdivision where I lived. I recognized his face. I could smell the alcohol on his breath.

“I know where you live,” he responded.

People passed by as we stood at the entrance to the fundraiser for a local organization I realized we are both members of. He went on to tell me that he had seen me at a Black Lives Matter protest . He called it “that black shit.” He warned me that he, and other officers, knew where I resided.

He leaned in close and informed me that I had no idea what police officers experience. He lectured me about protesting while living “around white folk.” I may or may not have responded with an insult that involved a crude synonym for the performance of fellatio. I was mad.

After I cooled off, we eventually shook hands. After all, we were both black men. We lived in the same city. We even belonged to the same organization. But we were in different fraternities.

He was a police officer. I was not.

“Policing is a very closed culture,” explained Police Officer Stan Mason. “It's almost like the Illuminati ... I'm not saying that it exists, but everyone argues about it. And you all don't know as much as you think you know.”

There was that word again: You.

In our attempt to find out what police officers think about patrolling black communities, The Root examined recent studies, polls and surveys of law enforcement agencies across the nation. We also spoke with two veteran police officers and activists who were willing to tell it like it is.

Stan Mason, a 25-year veteran of the Waco, Texas, police department, hosts a weekly radio show, Behind the Blue Curtain , on which he exposes the secrets behind the badge and informs the public about the intricacies of policing.

Officer Stevens, who asked that his first name be withheld, worked as a police officer in the St. Louis Metropolitan Department for more than a decade before leaving to pursue a divinity degree and become a full-time Baptist minister and activist.

Although both men are outspoken about revealing the truths behind the “blue wall of silence,” whenever they spoke about policing and the communities they patrolled, they often defaulted to the same pronouns. They referred to their fellow police officers as “us” and “we.” They described the public as “you” and “they.”

“It's like being in a fraternity,” said Stevens. “When you button up that blue shirt and put on that badge, you realize no one has your back except your brothers.”

I posed the same questions to both men to see if they, along with the available data (including Pew Research's nationwide survey of sworn police officers ), could offer a better perspective on how cops actually feel about policing black communities.

Why Do People Become Police Officers?

Surprisingly, for many officers, the answer is money. While most people are unlikely to get rich as a police officer, it is still one of the few occupations to offer reliable benefits, pension and decent pay without requiring a college education or extensive training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median income for people with a high school diploma is $ 36,344 per year, while the mean income of the average p olice or sheriff's officer is $64,490.

Aside from the ability to earn a decent living with relatively low training, both men The Root spoke with agreed that the job is held in high esteem in many communities.

“You take people who—maybe up to two years ago—worked at a Lowe's or a Home Depot, but today they got a badge and a gun and everybody's bending over and kissing their ass,” Mason said.

But Isn't Policing a Dangerous Job?

Not really.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't list law enforcement in its top 10 most dangerous jobs . In 2017, killings of police officers were at their second-lowest point in 50 years , partly because overall, violent crime is declining.

Of the 128 cops who were killed on duty in 2017, 47 died in traffic-related accidents, while 44 were killed with firearms, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's annual report (pdf) .

“There is always the potential for danger. You have to deal with a lot of assholes and see a lot of terrible things, which is the most stressful part of policing. But it's not like what you see on TV,” Stevens said.

Do Black Police Officers Think Differently From the White Ones?

Both men were critical of their fellow cops' tendency to turn their backs on their communities and “hide behind the badge,” a term Stevens repeatedly used to describe the silence of blacks in law enforcement.

Officer Stevens: The first thing you learn as a black cop is to shut up and don't say shit. No one cares how you feel inside as long as you keep it inside. That's what these scared black cops are taught to do.

Stan Mason: I called those officers “Stevies.” The best analogy I can give you is ... do you remember the movie Django Unchained ? Do you remember the Samuel L. Jackson character, Stevie?

He was coonish to the point that he knew he was coonish, but he had to be that because he knew what was happening to the least. So, he somehow convinced himself that his coonishness was an effort to elevate himself. And he didn't see that he played himself as a fool.

Where is the outrage? A lot of these black officers have contempt for Black Lives Matter and will tell you “Blue Lives Matter.” But what happens when they take the uniform off? Why is it that black people are 40 percent of the incarcerated and only 13 percent of the population, yet we have black officers who don't speak up? But when you go home and take that uniform off, you can be Tamir Rice. You can be Alton Sterling. You can be Philando Castile. They can't see your badge.

What happened to the black officer that detached himself so much from the very condition that many of us grew up in, that we're scared to say, “I understand,” or: “They may be right?” Because we're so worried about fitting into a culture that demonstrates—certainly not every department, but as a profession—it has demonstrated that it has no concern. They're not interested.

Most of them don't even speak to me. That's why our communities mistrust police. Because I will ask them: “Are you blue or are you black?”

Pew Research: In a national survey of sworn law enforcement officers, Pew Research found that 91 percent of black officers and 95 percent of white cops believe that anti-police bias is a motive for protests.

When They Watch Videos Like Philando Castile or Alton Sterling, What Do Police Officers See Differently?

Pew Research: 72 percent of white officers believe fatal encounters between blacks and police were isolated incidents, while 57 percent of black cops believed they were symptoms of a larger problem.

Officer Stevens: They see the same thing you see. But that's what happens when you become a cop. It's almost like you're not human anymore. You're a different thing. If the killer is a cop, you actually sympathize with the murderer. Even when the person they murder looks like you. It's a weird kind of brainwashing.

Have you ever watched a basketball game and you know the person on your team fouled the man with the ball? You know he did it, but you don't want the refs to call the foul because it's your team. That's how it is. It's like a sport.

Stan Mason: You all get caught up in trying to prove a case instead of stating what you know. And in trying to prove it, the community stretches and reaches and loses the ability to be legitimate in any conversation on police reform. They never say “Well when you all do this, it makes us feel this way.” They just complain. That makes you look like a chronic crier.

Now the flip side of that is, when you see the videos, did something happen in the video that would make you afraid? If it wouldn't make you afraid then it wouldn't make him afraid?

Tamir Rice was executed less than three seconds after arriving on the scene because they said he was a threat. Why would you ride up 50 feet close to a threat? Why wouldn't you send your senior dispatch notice? Why wouldn't you use that big P.A. system taxpayers paid for? You have no problem using it with white folks.

Would More Training Help Curb Police Violence?

Stan Mason: We don't seem to need more training when it comes to keeping white folks alive. That training automatically kicks in. It's only with black folks and poor white folks that we need more training.

It's more “us” vs. “them.” and it's time to change that. Even an iPhone will tell you when it's time for an update. Cultural diversity is not even on the table. If you want to make them nervous, start talking about black issues; start talking about Black Lives Matter and watch them shudder.

Policing is a very brutal, one-size-fits-all concept. It is a “we know better than you” approach. We're the only profession in the world where we, the employee, [are] not accountable to you, the employer. If you question me as a police officer, I can tell you that you don't know what you're talking about. Imagine going to your job and telling your boss that. How long would you have your job? But we can do it because society gives us that trump card.

Officer Stevens: I didn't learn about subconscious bias until after I left the force. Most white people don't think they're racist and most police officers don't think they're biased.

In the academy, you spend so much time on shooting and tactical stuff, they rarely taught de-escalation training and how to diffuse a situation—at least they didn't when I was in the academy. But most police officers never pull their guns. They teach us to yell, but now I realize that it makes people nervous and can create more trouble.

We spend so much time learning how to kill that no one should be surprised when a police officer kills someone. We're literally trained to do it.

Pew Research: Only 27 percent of police officers report they have ever fired their weapon while on duty.

Mapping Police Violence: Police recruits across the country spend an average of 58 hours on weapons training versus 8 hours in de-escalation training.

How Can We Change the Police Culture to Make It More Conducive to Serving the Black Community?

Stan Mason: More accountability. Put that police chief's ass on the griddle. See, you guys always worry about sending one officer to jail. Do you think police will not sacrifice an officer? They absolutely will. Yet the police chiefs remain in place.

When black communities say our communities are over-policed, who do you think is sending them into those communities? Who do you think sets the tone for how that community will be policed? The chief does that. But they're never held accountable.

The chief should set a direction for the department, and the community should know that direction.

Officer Stevens: The first thing we are going to have to do is have a zero tolerance for police brutality. When you look at officers who shoot and kill, I can guarantee you that those officers almost always have other disciplinary files in their jackets. Look at the guy who killed Eric Garner. He was beating and choking people long before that. A one-strike policy. If you hit or kick somebody, we're gone. You wanna know why?

It's against the law!

Then, what we really need to do is up the standards for police officers. One of the things y'all don't realize is that most police officers are dumb as fuck. And we give them guns and ask them to solve complex situations. Then, we take the smart ones off the street and make them detectives and supervisors. Man, if you see a police officer in your neighborhood and he's not like, in his 20s, he's dumb as a rock. That's who we put in black neighborhoods.

A 40-year-old mediocre white man with a high school diploma, six weeks training and a gun in a black neighborhood. What do you think is going to happen?

Pew Research: While 69 percent of black cops say America needs to continue to make changes, 92 percent of white police officers say this country has made enough changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.



Officer charged with homicide in fatal OIS of Antwon Rose

An attorney for Officer Michael Rosfeld said the LEO turned himself in Wednesday morning

by Errin Haines and Claudia Lauer

PITTSBURGH — A white police officer was charged Wednesday with homicide in the death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop, a shooting that has fueled daily protests around Pittsburgh.

Prosecutors cited officer Michael Rosfeld's inconsistent statements about whether he saw a gun in the teen's hand.

The officer first told investigators that the teen turned his hand toward him when he ran from the car and the officer "saw something dark he perceived as a gun," according to the criminal complaint .

During a second recap of last week's shooting, Rosfeld told investigators he did not see a gun and he was not sure if the teen's arm was pointed at him when he fired at 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr.

The 30-year-old officer had been sworn in just hours before the June 19 shooting in East Pittsburgh, a small town near the city, after working at the police department for a couple weeks. He turned himself in and was released on $250,000 bond.

Criminal homicide is a broad category that includes manslaughter and murder. Pennsylvania prosecutors typically specify what subsection of homicide they will pursue later in the case.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said his office planned to ask a jury to consider the highest charge of first-degree murder. He argued against releasing Rosfeld on bail.

"You do not shoot someone in the back if they are not a threat to you," Zappala said.

The car Rose was in had been stopped on suspicion of involvement in a drive-by shooting. But investigators determined that Rose had done nothing "except be in the car," he said.

Zappala said witnesses described Rose as showing his hands before the shooting, stressing that he did not have a weapon.

Asked by reporters if he saw anything in Rosfeld's past employment records that raised concerns, Zappala said yes but declined to elaborate.

Rosfeld's attorney, Patrick Thomassey, said little as he left court but previously told CBS News that the officer was depressed.

He "feels bad about what happened, and it was his first time ever firing his weapon as a police officer," Thomassey had said.

At a news conference held by the family's legal team, attorney Fred Rabner questioned why the officer was released without any cash or collateral for his bond.

Another family attorney, Lee Merritt, said the biggest "moment of relief" for relatives was hearing investigators say they knew Rose was not involved in the drive-by shooting.

"If he had survived that incident, as he should have, he wouldn't have been charged. He had done nothing wrong," Merritt said.

During the news conference, Rose's mother, father, grandmother and sister huddled behind a podium wearing shirts calling for justice. Rose's mother struggled to contain tears as her daughter clasped her tightly.

Her son was shot three times — in the right side of his face, in the elbow and in the back by a bullet that stuck his lung and heart, which was the fatal wound.

Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who has been tracking police shootings and officer conduct for more than a decade, said he was not surprised that Rosfeld was charged so quickly.

Unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not require an indictment from a grand jury before the district attorney can charge someone, but Stinson said other factors likely played a role in quickly bringing charges, including corroborating witnesses and bystander video released on social media.

Stinson said Rosfeld is the 87th non-federal officer charged with manslaughter or murder for an on-duty fatal shooting in the U.S. since the beginning of 2005. Of those charged, 32 have been convicted, 41 have been acquitted and 14 cases are still pending.

Rosfeld pulled over the car in which Rose was a passenger about 15 minutes after reports of a drive-by shooting in nearby North Braddock. In that attack, a 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen and was treated and released from the hospital.

A witness described a car from that shooting as matching the one Rose was in. A bystander from a nearby home captured video of a portion of the stop and the shooting.

As Rosfeld took the driver of the car into custody, the passenger doors can be seen opening and Rose and another teen are seen running from the car. The officer then fires three shots.

Two guns were found in the car, and an empty gun magazine was found in Rose's pocket, investigators said.

According to the complaint, the driver of the car, who was operating as an unlicensed cabbie, said he heard shots from the back of the vehicle, where the second teen was sitting. He said Rose was sitting in the front and did not fire any shots during the earlier shooting.

Rosfeld has been on administrative leave since the shooting. He is due back in court July 6.

The charge against the officer comes a day after authorities arrested the second teen. He was identified Wednesday as Zaijuan Hester, who was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a minor and other offenses in connection with the drive-by attack.

Rosfeld, of suburban Penn Hills, had worked at several other police departments, including the force at the University of Pittsburgh, during the last seven years.

The district attorney was critical of the East Pittsburgh Police Department's lack of written policies when it came to handling officer shootings and other aspects of police work. Phone calls to the department and to the mayor's office were not immediately returned Wednesday.



Judge cites substantial progress in Ferguson consent decree

The consent decree came following the fatal 2014 OIS of Michael Brown

by Jim Salter

ST. LOUIS — The federal judge overseeing a reform agreement between Ferguson, Missouri, and the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that she has seen substantial progress in efforts to eliminate bias in the St. Louis suburb's law enforcement system.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry heard a quarterly update on progress in Ferguson, where the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown was a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"All signs are pointing toward progress," Perry said. She said the effort so far "is how the court system is supposed to work and the process is supposed to work."

Brown, a black and unarmed 18-year-old, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, setting off months of often violent protests in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis area. Wilson was not charged and resigned in November 2014.

But the shooting prompted a Justice Department investigation that found troubling evidence that Ferguson police targeted poor and black residents, and that fines and court costs subsidized city operations.

A 2016 consent agreement requires significant changes.

Some residents complained that the reform process is often lacking in transparency, particularly in alerting residents to community meetings. One woman cited a meeting at an apartment complex that drew just one resident.

Another Ferguson resident, Justin Idleburg, wondered why nearly four years after Brown's death, police policies on body cameras, accountability and other matters are still only in the development stage.

"Four years?" he asked. "Can we speed this process up?"

Officials from both the Justice Department and the city, though, cited progress.

Ferguson City Attorney Apollo Carey said the city has completed a review of 7,900 unresolved municipal court cases that dated back prior to 2014. An amnesty program has dismissed about 6,200 of those cases, while 1,704 will be prosecuted, mostly for cases involving more serious crimes.

Justice Department attorney Jude Volek said the city is nearing completion on a new stop, search and arrest policy, and a new policy on the use of body-worn cameras. A mediation process is being established for residents who have complaints about mistreatment by police. A community policing plan is expected to be finalized next month.

Mildred Clines, a Ferguson resident and a member of the community group called the Ferguson Collaborative, said progress has been slower than many residents would like, largely because while new policies are nearing completion, they haven't yet been implemented.

"The majority of the citizens of Ferguson really don't feel any different," Clines said. "That's when you can say you've seen progress — when the citizens say they've seen it."



'Upskirter' exposed when his secret shoe camera explodes

by David Brennan

A Wisconsin man's plan to secretly film under women's clothes backfired Tuesday when the spy camera he had attached to his foot exploded.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval detailed the filming mishap in his blog on Wednesday.

Koval wrote that the 32-year-old man turned himself in to police to report a “sex offense.” The man explained “he had purchased a shoe camera that he intended to use to take ‘ upskirt ' videos of females, but the camera battery had exploded.”

Because the man's spy camera went up in flames before he could capture any footage, he was not charged with any crime, but Koval said the man was “counseled on his actions” by officers before he was released. The police chief said the investigation into the accidental shoe bomber was ongoing.

Upskirting—secretly taking photos or videos under a person's skirt—is a felony offense in Wisconsin and punishable by up to three-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Laws across the country are inconsistent, and in 2016 Georgia's Court of Appeals ruled the practice legal in certain circumstances. At the time, the state's law only prohibited such filming if done in a “private place and out of public view,” such as locker rooms and homes.

Such loopholes have led other states to tighten their upskirting rules. In Massachusetts, a man was caught taking voyeuristic photos and videos on public transportation. He argued that the photos were legal because the women were fully clothed, a defense that eventually got him off. Lawmakers passed new legislation to criminalize such photos and videos, even when the victims are fully clothed two days after the court's decision.

Similar arguments about legislative nuances have allowed defendants to avoid punishment in Texas and Virginia, though both states have now amended their laws to close the gaps. Georgia is following their lead, working on a new bill to criminalize upskirt photographs and video regardless of where they are taken.

Upskirting is considered a type of street harassment , which is estimated to affect around 65 percent of women and 25 percent of men in the United States. A report released by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked the U.S. as one of the top 10 most dangerous countries for women, largely because of the danger of sexual violence, the experts interviewed for the survey said.

Writing in Time , Holly Kearl—the founder of the Stop Street Harassment group—said upskirting “does not add anything productive or positive to society. Instead it can make women feel less safe and comfortable in public spaces just knowing that they could be the target of such actions.”



East Palo Alto: Drastic drop in homicide rate attributed to community policing


EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - It was once known as the murder capital of America, now, with the exception of one murder-suicide, the city of East Palo Alto is marking a two year span of no other homicides. The police chief called it a big accomplishment for the city.

Among the department's strategies include high visibility of their officers not to mention the community and police willing to work together.

“I remember hearing gunfire myself all the time and for me growing up it was just my home,” said Det. Lydia Cardoza of East Palo Alto Police.

Born and raised in East Palo Alto, Lydia Cardoza recalled the violence in the early '90s. It was so dangerous, citizen guards held watch over homes shot at after residents spoke up about drug dealers.

“At times it was definitely scary but when you grow up in a place where that is the norm you just learn to do what you have to do,” said Cardoza.

Inspired for change, fast forward 25 years, she's now a detective for East Palo Alto Police. Back in 1992, there were 42 killings in a city of 28,000 people. Now, murders have vanished.

“I couldn't be happier,” said East Palo Alto Police Chief Albert Pardini. “I see the community involved. When you walk down the street, people are stopping, waving, talking, asking how things are going.”

Chief Pardini said, violent crimes to date, have gone down six percent from last year. He credits a lot of it to resolving disputes early on so they don't escalate into a stabbing or shooting and community policing, which he said has made a big difference.

“It went from three and half years ago very few calls came in to the tip line,” said Chief Pardini. “Now people call in constantly, emails come in with information about things that are going on.”

“I'm not doing funerals regarding violence as much as I was doing four years ago,” said Pastor Paul Bains of Project WeHOPE .

Pastor Bains co-founded Project WeHOPE. While he understands the city's economic landscape is changing with an Ikea and Amazon, he said the main reason for the change is trust.

“What the police department has done...they have established a level of trust within the community that was not at the level it is today,” said Pastor Bains.

As for Cardoza, she can't help but be proud of her hometown and proud to keep her community safe.

“When they can see the change, to me I find it the most rewarding,” said Cardoza.

The chief is now looking at getting more funding for three more police officers. He wants to start a traffic division, to train motorcycle officers to help with the morning and evening commute.



Nashville police choose de-escalation over deadly force after man threatens kids with gun

by Alexandra Koehn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A group of girls at a summer camp say they were terrified to see a man pointed a gun at them on the playground on Tuesday.

According to an affidavit from Metro Nashville Police, Kyrin Phillip Gardner pointed a gun at several 9-year-olds who were “instantly in fear for their lives” and ran inside the building.

"We had a couple girls who came running in, and they shared with our psych director that a man who walked by and had waved a pistol at them," Chan Sheppard with Preston Taylor Ministries said.

The center went on lockdown while police responded.

Police were called to the scene and found Gardner only a half block away.

When the officer arrived at the scene, he chose de-escalation instead of deadly force.

Officer Tyler Bryson asked Gardner if he was carrying anything of note.

Gardner reportedly admitted to having a small amount of marijuana and opened his pocket. The officer said he saw a small black pistol inside his pants pocket. He was then asked to put his hands behind his head, which he allegedly ignored.

Police said he began to run and reached into the pocket containing the gun.

Bryson was able to chase Gardner down, tackle him and stay on top of him until backup arrived. A gram of marijuana was found inside his pocket, along with the loaded pistol.

"I initially didn't pull my firearm because in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, I had control of his hand and I knew it wasn't going anywhere," Bryson said.

Bryson is familiar with Gardner. He's part of Metro's new community policing program and is assigned to the Preston Taylor homes.

"We're here to help people," Bryson said.

Officer Bryson said he's back on the streets, hoping that his encounters with Gardner will be a wake-up call.

"One bad decision shouldn't determine a life," Bryson said.

The director at Preston Taylor Ministries said the suspect was one of the children they tried to mentor in the neighborhood.

Police booked Gardner and charged him with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, having a weapon, and drug possession.

Residents are thankful nothing terrible happened.

"I think it's wonderful that we didn't have to use lethal violence as a lot of police officers tend to shoot, and I understand their lives are at stake," Scott Johnson said.



Maryland community reeling after mass shooting inside the Capital Gazette newsroom

by Mark Osborne and Emily Shapiro

A community is reeling hours after a gunman targeted the local Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, looking for victims before he gunned down five unsuspecting employees.

The suspect, Jarrod Ramos, allegedly walked into the newspaper office at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis with a shotgun and fatally shot four journalists and a sales assistant.

Keith Cyphers, who works in an office across the hall from the Capital Gazette, told "Good Morning America" he heard an "incredibly loud noise... I could feel it in my chest."

He peered out from his desk and saw the Capital Gazette's door "shattered."

"There was a man who was holding a shotgun," Cyphers said. "He had it braced against his chest and he was moving through the lobby of the Capital Gazette office, pointing the shotgun deeper into the office."

Cyphers said he heard yelling and then more gunshots.

Phil Davis, a crime and courts reporter with the Capital Gazette, tweeted., "There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload."

The alleged shooter tried to hide under a desk until police quickly responded and took him into custody, according to court documents.

The victims

All five victims in the Thursday afternoon shooting were employees of the Capital Gazette, authorities said.

Wendi Winters, 65, was a writer who worked for special publications.

Robert Hiaasen, 59, was the assistant editor for news and a columnist at the paper.

Gerald Fischman, 61, was an editorial page editor and regularly wrote opinion pieces for the paper.

John McNamara, 56, was a staff writer.

Rebecca Smith, 34, was the youngest victim and only non-journalist to be killed. She worked as a sales assistant for the paper.

Two people who were injured in the shooting, neither by gunfire, were released from the hospital overnight.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he is "praying for the victims, those who were injured, and their families, friends, and loved ones in this time of tragedy."

"The Capital Gazette is my hometown paper, and I have the greatest respect for the fine journalists, and all the men and women, who work there," Hogan said in a statement. "They serve each day to shine light on the world around us so that we might see with more clarity and greater understanding."

Hogan has ordered Maryland flags to be lowered to half-staff.

'We are putting out a damn paper'

Reporters and editors of the Capital Gazette vowed in the wake of the attack they would publish a paper even after the death of five of their colleagues. They worked alongside reporters from the Baltimore Sun, which owns the newspaper

"There will be a Capital Friday," tweeted Capital Gazette photojournalist Joshua McKerrow.

"We are putting out a damn paper," reporter Chase Cook added.

The paper arrived on doorsteps and at convenience stores as promised, with a headline of, "5 shot dead at The Capital."

The suspected gunman and his history with the paper

Ramos is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and has a bail hearing set for Friday morning, court records show.

The native of Laurel, Maryland, about 30 minutes inland from Annapolis, apparently had a long-standing grudge against the local newspaper.

Tom Marquardt, the former editor and publisher of the Capital Gazette, told ABC News that he first "crossed paths" with Ramos in 2012 when the Gazette wrote a story about the now alleged suspect in connection with a stalking case.

"Our court reporter had written about a case he had in which he was a defendant in a stalking case and he was, Jarrod was, quite upset with the story and he really created a webpage that allowed him to vent and express his frustration and his anger towards me, the reporter and the newspaper," Marquardt said. "Shortly after that he filed a defamation lawsuit against us."

The lawsuit was the beginning of an ongoing campaign of hatred directed toward the Capital Gazette, Marquardt said.

"He represented himself and took advantage of the legal system to keep the case alive for a long period of time during which he sued lawyers, judges, anybody who crossed his path and disagreed with him," he said.

"During that time he continued to rant on his Facebook page to a point that we were feeling threatened physically from what he was saying. So during that time we had consulted with our own lawyers in the best steps that we could take, as well as the police, and we had actually contacted the police to pursue one particular comment in which he wished I would be dead and the police looked into it."

Ramos' legal action against the newspaper was unsuccessful, Marquardt said, and the suspect exhausted all of his appeals by 2014.

Marquardt said he could only comment on threats made against himself, but knew Ramos had wished him dead in the past on social media.

"We contacted police ... and they went out to talk to him," he said. "They reviewed all the tweets so far and again came away with the feeling that there really wasn't enough substance there to pursue a case in court.

Police would not confirm any specific threats made by Ramos on social media, but said they were aware of them.


Washington D.C.

Justice Department charges 601 people, including doctors, in opioid abuse crackdown

by Reuters

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against 601 people including doctors for taking part in health-care frauds that resulted in over $2 billion in losses and contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic in some cases.

The arrests came in dozens of unrelated prosecutions the Justice Department announced together as part of an annual health-care fraud takedown.

The hundreds of suspects charged included 162 doctors and other suspects charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers.

Though many of the cases also involved a variety of schemes to fraudulently bill government health-care programs, officials sought in the latest crackdown to emphasize their efforts to combat the nation's opioid epidemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the epidemic caused more than 42,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2016.

While the Justice Department has been conducting investigations into some opioid manufacturers like OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, the cases stemming from the sweep did not focus on wrongdoing by major corporations.

Many of the criminal cases announced on Thursday involved charges against medical professionals who authorities said had contributed to the country's opioid epidemic by participating in the unlawful distribution of prescription painkillers.

Those charged included a Florida anesthesiologist accused of running a “pill mill;” a Pennsylvania doctor alleged to have billed an insurer for illegally prescribed opioids; and a Texas pharmacy chain owner and two other people accused of improperly filling orders for opioids that were sold to drug couriers.

The Justice Department also announced other cases unrelated to opioids, including schemes to bill the government health-care programs Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare as well as private insurers for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications.



LAPD officers polish their community policing skills at USC

The Law Enforcement Advanced Development program combines community policing with a better understanding of people

by Matthew Kredell

T aking the lead in community policing has paid off at USC.

Fourteen officers presented their capstone projects undertaken through the Law Enforcement Advanced Development (LEAD) program at a ceremony held earlier this month in Los Angeles. LEAD is a partnership among the Los Angeles Police Department, the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

The ceremony culminated the 12-month LEAD certificate program, which combines USC Price's expertise in community policing with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work's understanding of vulnerable populations.

Over the course of the program, officers learned evidence-based techniques to reduce the need for force and become better prepared to face today's complex policing issues such as homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence and human trafficking.

“We've been so excited to have this collaboration with USC to try something out of the box,” said Luann Pannell, director of police training and education at the LAPD, at the capstone event in Los Angeles. “We hope our officers know this is a welcoming environment. We're all here because we want to learn about your projects and what you've done, so we can springboard from the ideas you've generated and things you've already started, and look at where we can go next.”

Community policing: And the award goes to …

Cecilia Frausto, whose Southwest Division responds to an average of five domestic violence calls a day, received an award for best capstone for her idea to send Youth Service Officers out of the Community Relations Office, where she was formerly assigned, to take part in domestic violence calls in which children are present. She received the award and a $500 prize at USC during the first LEAD Certificate Ceremony, attended by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck days before his June 27 retirement.

“The LEAD program facilitated an opportunity for officers to critically examine the needs of their communities and customize interventions using a holistic approach,” said Rosemary Alamo, clinical associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, who served as a capstone project adviser. “Hearing the innovative ideas these officers developed using their unique perspectives and years of experience to make L.A. communities better for everyone was gratifying.”

Blending experience with innovation

Other capstone projects explored possible solutions to problems in four areas: building trust with the community, LAPD systematic enhancements, homelessness and youth development.

Joe Sanchez offered a solution for a problem at the core of LEAD's mission to train officers to be able to address the complex challenges they encounter in 21st-century policing. He developed an operational smartphone app to assist officers with day-to-day duties by providing them a guide consisting of up-to-date phone numbers for additional resources that might be required by a citizen or victim. The app also has a referral page from which officers can request services for citizens or victims they meet.

Sgt. Jesse Ojeda suggested the LAPD partner with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to create a program, similar to the Gang Reduction Youth Development program, using formerly homeless people as advocates to provide personal perspective and re-educate those who are currently displaced.

“I liked how the officers tried to address what are common problems they're seeing,” said USC Price Professor LaVonna Lewis , who attended the event in her position on the LAPD Professional Advisory Committee. “For some of the issues, it was hard to figure what exactly is the LAPD's role, so I wanted to hear more about what could be done with partnerships, but they were important topics to talk about and put on people's radar.”

A reason to be proud

USC Price Professor Erroll Southers , director of the Safe Communities Institute , encouraged the officers to be proud of the effort they made, dedicating time around their work schedule to take part in the inaugural offering of the LEAD program.

“I've been hearing from chiefs and commissioners from around the state who want to send their team to this program,” Southers said. “One day, we're going to look back at what is a national model that started here.”

The LEAD program is supported by the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California.


From the Department of Justice

Justice Department Update on Hate Crimes Prosecutions

Today, on the one year anniversary of the Justice Department's 2017 Hate Crimes Summit, the Department announced an update on hate crimes prosecutions under the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section. The Department is committed to enforcing federal hate crimes statutes, which allow the Department to prosecute certain crimes that are committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person. In recent years, the Department has ramped up its prosecutions of hate crimes and increased training of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

Over the past 10 years, the Department of Justice has charged more than 200 defendants with hate crimes offenses. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HCPA) provided a valuable new tool in this effort. The Department has used the HCPA to indict 88 defendants in 42 hate crimes cases with 64 convictions to date. In FY 2016, the Department charged 27 defendants in 18 cases, obtaining 16 convictions. Since January 2017, the Department has indicted 32 defendants involved in committing hate crimes and secured convictions of 32 defendants for hate crimes incidents.

“Individuals should be able to live their lives free from the threat of violence and discrimination, no matter who they are, what they believe, or how they worship,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “I am proud of the work that the Civil Rights Division has already accomplished, and we will continue to work diligently to bring to justice perpetrators of hate crimes across the country.”

Hate crimes prosecutions from January 2017 to present:

•  Racial Hate Crimes

•  Eight indictments and 14 convictions

•  Religious Hate Crimes

•  Eight indictments and seven convictions in cases involving arson or other physical attacks, or conspiracy or threats to commit such attacks against places of worship;

•  Seven indictments and five convictions in cases involving other hate crimes based on religion.

•  Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes

•  Six indictments and six convictions

•  Other (Gender Identity Hate Crimes)

•  One sentence;

•  One indictment, one conviction in state court with a federal prosecutor cross-designated as a state prosecutor.

Based on the FBI's latest Uniform Crime Statistics Report, issued in November 2017 for calendar year 2016, there were 6,063 single-bias incidents reported involving 7,227 offenses, 7,509 victims, and 5,727 known offenders, and 58 multiple-bias incidents reported involving 94 offenses, 106 victims, and 43 known offenders.

The Department has created and launched a number of training and outreach programs in order to work with the network of U.S. Attorney's Offices, local communities and organizations, and law enforcement to find, identify, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes cases all over the country. These programs include state and local law enforcement trainings, roundtable and panel discussions, stakeholder telephone conferences, and hate crime summits.

More information about the Justice Department's hate crimes enforcement efforts can be found at .


From the FBI

Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell Marks Third Anniversary

Unified Government Approach Key to Bringing Loved Ones Home to Their Families

This week marks the third anniversary of the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a multi-agency team based at FBI Headquarters that represents the government's unified approach to recovering American hostages abroad—and its commitment to support the families whose loved ones are being held captive.

Since the White House established the fusion cell on June 24, 2015—along with positions including a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs and a family engagement coordinator—the U.S. government has sought to “speak with one voice” regarding hostage matters, said FBI Special Agent Robert Saale, director of the fusion cell. “That effort has been extremely beneficial.”

In the past three years, more than 180 American citizens—kidnapped for ransom by criminal groups or held by foreign terrorist organizations—have been recovered. And family members, who often endure months and sometimes years of anguish and uncertainty regarding the fate of a loved one held captive, are now a central focus of the fusion cell.

“Not a week goes by without the kidnapping of an American citizen abroad,” Saale said. Most are carried out for ransom by criminal groups and are quickly resolved. But terrorist groups holding U.S. citizens can take years to resolve, and efforts to recover individuals who have been held captive for long periods continue around the clock.

The fusion cell consists of nearly 50 individuals from the FBI, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, and other agencies whose full-time job and single focus is bringing hostages home safely and sharing information with their families. A critical part of that effort is the Family Engagement Team, established at the same time as the fusion cell.

“What we heard from families prior to 2015 was that the government's response seemed uncoordinated and family support was inconsistent,” said Kathryn Turman, who leads the FBI's Victim Services Division and who was a member of the White House policy review team that advocated for new procedures.

“Families often had to navigate the process on their own and were dissatisfied with the amount of information that was shared by officials,” she said. “Sometimes they were only able to get information from third parties and not from their own government.”

“Today, we have transparent relationships with families in terms of sharing information and intelligence and engaging in a back-and-forth dialogue,” Saale said. “There has been a 180-degree change in how the families are treated, and we are seeing very positive feedback.”

“At the end of the day,” Turman added, “the families have to live with the consequences of our actions. So we need to give them a front-row seat to what the U.S. government is doing to bring their loved one home. It's really important for them to know that they have been part of the process and to see that there are people who come to work every day with the exclusive mission to get their loved one back.”

As the fusion cell evolves, it is expanding its efforts to be more proactive in hostage prevention. That includes doing outreach to groups that often travel overseas to dangerous regions, such as faith-based institutions, non-governmental organizations, and journalists. “We talk to them about how to avoid being taken hostage, areas to avoid, and, if something does happen, who to contact,” Saale said.

Another proactive effort is identifying and disrupting captor networks. Some terrorist groups “derive 100 percent of their revenue through ransom payments,” Saale explained. “It's in everyone's best interest to go after these terrorists and deny them a source of funding.”

When the fusion cell began operations three years ago, officials talked about a “whole-of-government approach,” Saale said. “Now we are even more inclusive. We are willing to talk and work with anyone, as long as it is ethical and legal, to help get our folks home. Today we talk about a whole-of-society approach.”