Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
Law Enforcement News
|Virginia Jury Sentences Soldier Convicted Of Killing Wife, Rookie Officer To Life In Prison
A jury in Virginia has spared the life of an Army staff sergeant convicted of fatally shooting his wife and a rookie police officer who responded to her call for help. The decision Thursday by the jury in Manassas means that 34-year-old Ronald Hamilton will serve life in prison without possibility of parole for the deaths of his wife, Crystal Hamilton, and Officer Ashley Guindon, who was working her first shift after being sworn in. In a note, jurors said six favored sparing him and six favored death. No jury in Virginia has imposed a death sentence since 2011. Hamilton shot and killed his wife in the family's Woodbridge home in 2016. He then shot three police officers who responded. Guindon died. The other officers suffered serious injuries but survived.
Suspicious Package Reported At West L.A. Building That Houses Sen. Feinstein's Office Is Not A Bomb: LAPD
Investigators were responding to a suspicious package reported in West Los Angeles Thursday evening and police later said the package did not contain a bomb. The package was reported at a building on the 11100 block of Santa Monica Boulevard around 4:15 p.m., and a bomb squad was on scene by 6:50 p.m., L.A. Police Officer Ray Brown said. However, Brown later said the package was determined to not be a bomb. He did not give any other information about what it contained. An unidentified law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the package appeared to be significantly different from the ones targeting high-profile political figures, particularly Democrats, in recent days.
Police Chase Ends With PIT Maneuver On 101 Fwy In North Hollywood, Suspect In Custody
Police in the San Fernando Valley on Thursday morning apprehended an allegedly armed driver after a high-speed chase on surface streets and freeways. The assault-with-a-deadly-weapon suspect led several LAPD vehicles from North Hollywood to Sherman Oaks, then onto the eastbound 101 Freeway at Coldwater Canyon Avenue. The maroon-colored sedan headed back onto the eastbound 134 Freeway, exited onto the street and then entered the southbound 170 Freeway. After the driver returned to the 101, a Los Angeles police officer performed a PIT maneuver that spun the suspect's car around.
Human Trafficking Task Force In SFV Reports 1,717 Arrests In 3 Years
The Los Angeles Police Department's Operations-Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force marked its third anniversary Friday, with officials saying it has resulted in 1,717 arrests related to human trafficking, pimping, lewd conduct and other acts. "Ever since I was a little girl, I have known there was a problem with sex trafficking along Sepulveda (Boulevard) and Lankershim (Boulevard). This is why I made it my mission since I came into office to address these issues," City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said. "Since launching the Operations-Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force three years ago, we have already referred 236 women to our wonderful partner Journey Out," she said.
L.A. Gang Member Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison In Federal Drug Case
A Los Angeles gang member with a long criminal history received a 35-year federal prison sentence Wednesday, federal officials said. A jury convicted Marquis “Tiny Looney” Shaw, 43, of South Los Angeles, last year of three counts of drug dealing, including distributing crack cocaine near schools, the U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. Prosecutors described him as a “prominent member” of the Five-Duece Broadway Gangster Crips, which claims territory in South Los Angeles and Downtown L.A., as well as a member of a “hit squad” within the gang.
Pimp Convicted Of Human Trafficking Of Minors
A Los Angeles man was convicted Thursday of trafficking teenage girls as young as 13 for commercial sex. A jury in downtown Los Angeles found Raylonzo Roberts, 43, guilty of two felony counts each of pandering by procuring a minor under age 16, human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act, human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act by force, fear, fraud or threat of injury and lewd act on a child, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Jurors also convicted Roberts of one count each of human trafficking to commit another crime, aggravated sexual assault of a child and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Design Suggests Suspicious Packages Intended To Spread Fear Rather Than Destruction
Because none of the 10 suspicious devices sent to prominent figures in recent days have ignited, investigators now suspect that either a would-be bomb maker is inept or the packages were intended to spread fear rather than inflict injury or death, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. Still, the same sources warned Thursday that additional devices resembling small pipe bombs, similar to those sent to people with whom President Trump has clashed, could be lethal and are believed to be within the postal system. Investigators are looking closely at Florida, the origin of at least some of the packages. New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill reinforced investigators' warnings at a news conference, saying, “We are treating it as suspected explosive devices.
Los Angeles Times
Connecting Command To The Frontline: How Critical Incident Insight Keeps Officers And Assets Safe
In today's public safety environment, the need for insight into critical incidents is essential. Just count the number of active shooter incidents in the past year that have required a coordinated response to a dynamic situation. Having a 360-degree view of where each of your officers and vehicles are can literally mean the difference between life and death. Active shooter incidents, pursuits and other responses that can be dangerous to police officers and citizens alike are not confined to big cities or well-resourced police departments. Although agency resources may be vastly different, the need for tools that enhance situational awareness are the same for police everywhere.
Public Safety News
|Firefighters Battle Blaze At Commercial Building In Downtown L.A.; Arson Investigators Dispatched
Firefighters were battling a blaze at a commercial building in downtown Los Angeles Thursday evening before arson investigators were sent to the scene, fire officials said. Heavy fire was visible at the building located along the 1400 block of South Long Beach Avenue just after 5:30 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. An hour and half later, firefighters were still struggling to put out some flames, officials said. More than 140 firefighters were dispatched to the scene and worked to make sure the fire didn't spread to other surrounding structures, the Fire Department said in an alert.
Local Government News
|L.A. Metro Will Offer Free Rides On Buses, Trains On Election Day Nov. 6
In an effort to boost Los Angeles County's historically poor voter turnout, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials agreed Thursday to offer free fares on the sprawling bus and rail system on election day. On Nov. 6, rides on Metro's six rail lines and 2,200 buses will be free from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Eliminating the $1.75 fare for a day will cost the agency an estimated $600,000, officials said. During the midterm election four years ago, Los Angeles County's voter turnout rate was 31%, the lowest in California. “We know there are so many impediments to folks voting,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, one of the authors of the motion, said at Metro's Thursday meeting. “We know how critical voting is, and what an important election we have that's coming up.”
FBI investigating possible wrongdoing by inspector on Bel-Air mansion, city investigator testifies
A Los Angeles city employee who inspected a colossal mansion under construction in Bel-Air received “items of value” in connection with that work, according to a city investigator. During a deposition earlier this month, special investigator Randolph Osborne said a city probe had turned up evidence of possible wrongdoing by a Department of Building and Safety inspector. Osborne, who works for the personnel department, said there was “not necessarily … proof of taking bribes, but receiving items of value.”
Los Angeles Times
Quiet Warrior: How a school cop stopped a would-be mass shooting
School Resource Officer Mark Dallas put a stop to a gunman's attack on his school before anyone was hurt, but he doesn't consider himself a hero
by Cole Zercoe
When school resource officer Mark Dallas returned to Dixon High School on the first day of the new academic year, it was just a few months after a shooting during graduation practice had put him and the Illinois high school in the national spotlight.
Things had changed. He locked more doors during school hours than he used to. He modified his patrol to be more unpredictable. He carried more equipment than he did before.
Dallas had always felt a deep sense of responsibility for the more than 700 kids who attended Dixon High, but that too, was different now – there was a gravity to it that hadn't been there previously. Even the school itself had changed, in the form of a multi-million dollar renovation. But the students hadn't changed. They were how you'd normally expect them to be on the first day of class: excited.
“I don't think the incident has been a distraction for them,” Dallas said. “The first week, we had extra counselors and no one utilized them. So the counselors think we're doing well.”
Although Dallas attributes the resilience on display during that critical first day back to the thrill of seeing the extensive improvements to the school's facilities, there was something else that undoubtedly factored in.
When the students and faculty returned to Dixon High in August, there were no memorials, no candlelight vigils, no moments of silence. Because of Dallas' rapid response to the sound of gunfire on May 16, 2018, those students and faculty were saved from tragedy.
A LONG HISTORY OF SERVICE
With over 20 years in law enforcement, Dallas has a long history of being both warrior and guardian. He's served in a wide range of law enforcement roles, including tactical rifle marksman, range instructor and juvenile officer. He's spent the majority of his career as a K-9 handler in Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago, where he grew up. He loved working with police dogs, but the nature of the job meant that he didn't get to spend a lot of time at home with his son and daughter.
“I was away quite a bit,” Dallas said. “I missed a lot of things, a lot of opportunities to spend with the kids.”
While he was working with his second dog with the Dixon PD, he was given the opportunity to become an SRO at Dixon High School – the same school he himself had graduated from in 1987. In addition to giving him more time with his kids – both at home and at the school, where Dallas' son was starting his freshman year – it was also the opportunity to work closely with other children. In fact, it wasn't the first time he'd considered a career in a school environment: He originally wanted to be a history teacher.
“I was getting older, and the dog was getting older, so I was glad I got offered the SRO position,” Dallas said. “I actually got to spend a lot more time with my own kids.”
FROM THE STREET TO THE CLASSROOM
Going in, he wasn't sure what to expect in the transition from street to classroom. Far from the “retired on duty” job that some cops unfairly perceive it to be, serving as an SRO is complex and requires playing numerous different roles with children and faculty. Dallas underestimated how challenging it would be.
“I was like, 'Wow, this is a harder job than I ever thought,'” he said. “It's more of the counseling side as opposed to the criminal law side.”
In addition to his responsibilities as a guardian to the school, Dallas puts on many hats during an average week – counselor, mentor, coach, teacher. In one day, he may handle a parent complaint, manage a criminal issue with a student, help teach a driver's ed or health class, run lockers with a K-9 and coach one of the sports teams.
“I like building relationships with my kids, the students. They get mad when I call them ‘my kids' because they think they're young adults, but they still act like kids,” Dallas said, laughing. “I like building that relationship so they know that not every cop is out to get them. In our town that's really helped. We've had an SRO in our school system since 2000, and it didn't take us long to learn that the program was working for the students.”
When he's not at the school, he's helping his colleagues at Dixon PD on the street.
“I'll help the patrol shift – they can sometimes get busy right after school lets out,” Dallas said. “But they do not want me to leave the school unless I have to.”
‘DAD WAS PISSED'
When Dallas heard the popping sounds near the gymnasium on that fateful day in May, he knew exactly what they were.
“I was praying it was a senior prank, some fireworks,” he said, “but I've been around firearms my whole life. I knew.”
It was a typical day for three-quarters of the students. But the seniors, who'd already finished their classes five days prior, were back on campus in the gym to practice their graduation ceremony. It was the class that Dallas felt the most connected to – he had started the SRO job at the same time they were starting as freshmen, and he'd watched them grow up before his eyes. His son was part of the graduating class. So were three of his colleagues' children. His younger daughter and his wife had just left the school moments prior. This was personal.
Dallas immediately located the gunman, who was headed toward the gym the students were practicing in. As Dallas pursued him, the gunman turned around and fired multiple shots at him.
“Not one time did I ever think of taking cover or disengaging,” Dallas said. “I was in my plain clothes uniform. I wasn't wearing a vest or anything. I still pursued him. I didn't care. I was angry that it was happening in my school. I'm dad to 775 students, but the 182 students that were in that gymnasium, I'm really their dad. And dad was pissed.”
It was over quickly. Dallas returned fire and then took the wounded suspect into custody. No one else was hurt. He credits his training for his ability to prevail that day.
“It was training that popped in,” Dallas said. “I'm amazed by how fast the brain works with the things you're taught. I was running case law, everything through my head when I was chasing him. And then when he turned and shot, my brain switched from case law to marksmanship training.”
Many tears were shed in the hours and days following the shooting. Graduation day was particularly emotional.
“I went in there and – I got all my tears out before I went into the public arena – and gave each one of them a hug or a high five,” Dallas said. “And we all shared some tears, and then we enjoyed the rest of the day.”
Despite how prepared Dixon High School was for an active shooter, Dallas never thought it could happen there. It's a lesson he wants all LEOs to take to heart.
“As much we've trained with our kids, I honest to God never ever thought it would happen. Not one iota,” Dallas said. “If you think it could never happen at your school, you're wrong.”
‘JUST DOING MY JOB'
In the months since the incident, Dallas has received an avalanche of praise and awards. Over the summer, as he took on various law enforcement tasks, he became somewhat of a celebrity, with many residents approaching him for a hug or to shake his hand.
“My guys – law enforcement – obviously we all like to joke around,” Dallas said. “The guys I work with would give me a hard time and want to take selfies with me and ask for my autograph, stuff like that, because the general public would do some of that in front of them. So it was humbling, I guess, and nice. But it also gave more ammo to the guys I work with!”
Despite the attention, he doesn't consider himself a hero – he's just thankful he was there to protect the kids of Dixon High.
“I'm a cop, and I was doing my job that day,” Dallas said. “I've been asked if I consider myself a hero quite a bit, and I always respond with a line from Dick Winters from [TV series] ‘Band of Brothers.' When his grandson asked him if he was a hero in the war, he said, 'No, I served with a company of them.' And I serve with a bunch of heroes – every day these cops do their jobs, and they're all heroes.”
Roundtable: How the Las Vegas shooting changed special event response
Immediately following the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, former and current LE and other experts predicted the attack would alter the training at many agencies to include more of a focus on threats posed by high-rise snipers or others who kill from long distances.
We asked PoliceOne editorial advisory board members and columnists how this incident has changed special event response and active shooter training and what departments should be doing to train and prepare to respond to special events at public venues in their jurisdiction.
INCREASE TRAINING FOR PUBLIC VENUE PROTECTION
The attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival helped to confirm that we're on the right track with our tactical emergency casualty care and active shooter training. The patrol officers who responded to the incident made excellent use of their skills in these vital areas, and we need to continue our efforts to expand and improve this training.
However, the attack also highlighted some training and manning shortfalls. The attack caused a huge spike in the demand for additional police coverage at public venues, which has stretched police resources thin. There simply aren't enough trained assets to handle normal business and still fulfill the demand for special missions like sniper overwatch, immediate reaction teams, explosive ordnance disposal, K-9 and other tactical assignments. The demand from event hosts for these special capabilities will only increase with time, so agencies must expand their training efforts in these areas. The roster of officers with the desired specialist skills must grow to meet the ever-increasing demands of public venue protection.
— Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Mike Wood, author of “Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis”
EXPAND ROUTINE PLANNING WITH A PACE PLAN
The October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas may be the harbinger of critical incidents to come, whether by foreign or domestic terrorists, or even by the disgruntled gambler with a grudge. The fact that we haven't seen similar events probably is not due to the diligence given to similar events and large gatherings, but by sheer luck. Debriefings of the event have occurred at law enforcement gatherings and conferences, yet the motive of the lone gunman remains a mystery.
The burden to plan for large events should be shared by event organizers, venue operators and law enforcement on the local, state and federal levels. A critical infrastructure evaluation of the venue on par with the national standard must be done before event approval is given. Local government must have the fortitude to deny a request for an event to be held if adequate resources are unavailable for the event. Multiple smaller events may be an alternative to one large event that may be difficult to manage. Buildings with a threat potential shall have a security plan to identify guests and large shipping containers or multiple items beyond luggage shipped to rooms.
With thousands of large events occurring each year across the United States, planning should be in accordance within the Incident Command System (ICS) and include a PACE plan: Primary Plan, Alternate Plan, Contingency Plan and Emergency Plan. Event planning has always included the motto, “plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Hope will not prevent disasters nor save lives. Large-scale events should include input and resources from the event promoter, venue operator, police, fire, public health, EMS, city or county representatives and state and federal agencies. The Department Operations Center (DOC) should request when a PACE plan should be escalated to the next level or even the emergency plan as an incident develops.
Plans should include:
An Emergency Operations Center Activation (EOC) offsite with representatives from each discipline above staffing the ICS positions;
An onsite Department Operations Center (DOC) with a law and fire branch joint Incident Command to have direct communications and management of the event;
State and federal resources should assist with security screening, including EOD K-9 unit for use before and during the event;
Mutual aid agreements with identified staffing for event dates from nearby jurisdictions;
Air and or water support where appropriate;
On-site or rapid deployment of critical incident response (CIRT), SWAT or mobile field force response teams from nearby locations;
Plans for evacuation or shelter in place (with multiple routes identified);
Medical staff on hand with transportation resources to pre-identified emergency rooms and trauma centers;
De-mobilization and debriefing plans.
Of course, all of this is cost prohibitive, so local jurisdictions need to assess the event and all of the possible variables to decide if the event should go on. Otherwise, hope may be all we have to avert another similar disaster.
— James Dudley, deputy chief (ret.), San Francisco Police Department
DEPLOY AERIAL TECHNOLOGY FOR SPECIAL EVENT RESPONSE
I believe that since these tragic events active shooter training has remained virtually unchanged, which I agree it should. Unfortunately, I believe the same may be the case for special event response. The fact that special event response was forever changed by these tragic events has gone overlooked by most agencies I believe because a lack of resources. Most agencies don't have access to drones and other aerial thermal equipment that could aid in securing and responding to active assailants at special events. Local law enforcement agencies should begin to seek out partnerships with federal agencies that have these resources. In addition, local law enforcement agencies should begin to lay the ground work with their funding authorities to secure these resources locally. Most agencies don't have the people power to provide adequate overwatch protection for special events so that's why it's imperative we begin to make full use of available aerial technology.
— Booker Hodges, undersheriff, Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, Saint Paul, Minnesota
CONTROL THE HIGH GROUND, WALK THE AREA
When this happened, it brought to mind what we did for our riots and when we guarded presidents and other VIPs beyond normal security. That is we always controlled the high ground. We always had a sniper observer on the controlling highest point overlooking the vulnerable area. That person could spot and call in potential trouble for officers to address.
We also conducted regular window scans. It is very easy to scan a line of tall buildings and determine if one is open or broken out, night (check for reflected moon or street lights) or day. If one was open, we would monitor or actually go up and investigate.
If the event was near the water, we had a boat out controlling access and ready to respond.
One other piece of advice is to walk the area to check out potential hides, checking even sewers. Ask yourself: “If someone wanted to do some real harm here, how would they do it and where would the attack come from?” Then check that area in advance and watch or secure that area during the event.
— Lt. Dan Marcou, police trainer with 33 years of law enforcement experience
ADAPT TRAINING AS THREATS EVOLVE
Significant change in firearms training as a result of the Route 91 assault is unlikely. The best hope for responding to an attack from high ground is prevention. Using the Secret Service event planning model of using intelligence sources, reconnoitering of the venue, and engaging inclusive cooperation of public and private entities ahead of an event, gives an agency and their partners a better idea of how to respond from likely points of attack without having to develop an unplanned response.
When we look at the legal environment around firearms training then add factors like leadership, culture and funding, we must recognize the inevitable gradualness of change where training is concerned. Adaptation occurs first in training for special tactical units who, unless strategically deployed prior to and during an event, will not be the first response. Options for the patrol officer will be limited, and the press for training for a host of other issues overshadows the demand for proficiency in the anomalous high ground sniper attack. In short, unless sniper attacks become as ubiquitous in the news as school shootings, the incentive and resources for new doctrine and practice won't exist.
— Joel Shults, chief of police (ret.), Colorado
CONDUCT INTEGRATED ACTIVE SHOOTER, MCI EXERCISES
In the aftermath of October 1, 2017, agencies nationwide reviewed their special event response and recovery protocols. Several of the October 1 first responders have publicly addressed the need for officers to run active shooter exercises with shots fired from above and the importance of having immediate and on-going access to peer support and other mental health programs to support them in the aftermath.
For law enforcement agencies to be ready to respond to a similar incident in their jurisdiction, they need to implement and practice integrated response active shooter and MCI exercises. Agencies need to include fire, EMS (public and private), 911 telecommunicators and hospitals (at a minimum) in these exercises. During these exercises, it is critical to practice rapid deployment of unified command especially since they know other first responders (e.g., fire, EMS) will arrive and provide aid. Vehicle staging procedures also need to be practiced. Finally, officers need to receive basic training techniques in bleeding control to improve everyone's survivability. The life the officer is saving could be his or her own.
The rapid deployment of an effective multi-agency integrated response plan requires planning, training, and continued education and training as active shooter threats and tactics evolve. Numerous organizations from FEMA, the NFPA and the International Public Safety Association (MCI Symposium this November and Rescue Task Force Best Practices Guide) offer additional research, guidance and training opportunities for officers about integrated response to mass casualty and active shooter events. All officers need to review these items and discuss ways to leverage these educational and training resources available to them.
The Challenge Of Countering Islamist Terrorism In Mainland Europe
by Michelle Sushikala Brooks
The emergence of widespread Islamist terrorism in key European countries over the last few years has revealed some significant fault-lines across all areas of counter-terrorism from policy to practice, from prevention to response.
Reluctance to discuss weaknesses and concern over revealing them to our enemies has in fact created our greatest weakness, and it is being exploited by international terrorist organisations everyday. Lack of discussion has, as is often the case in the public sector, led to lack of investment in CT infrastructure, equipment, research and training, and unequal strengths among EU member states hence leaving pockets of very vulnerable and ‘at risk' communities.
These mainly Muslim communities often suffer lower if not no police patrols, no public investment into community support projects and hence the resulting growth in crime amidst a wealthier and hostile host community. It's not rocket science that if there are no police patrols criminals flourish and become the moral authority. Yes criminals, sometimes terrorists, become the moral authority in parts of our European cities.
Families faced with rising crime and increasing unemployment in their neighbourhood with young people left jobless and sometimes homeless are becoming more and more isolated from the state. Communities with high migration and diverse demographies begin to be ‘wiped off' the media landscape unless a major crime is revealed and then brings often unhelpful media attention, inflaming already existing tensions. This isolation from the state, lack of positive interaction between frontline public sector organisations such as the Police and the community leave the door wide open for organised criminals and extremists to advance their dubious morals and legitimacy in a community under pressure surrounded by a hostile and suspicious society. France, which has suffered the most among EU member states in the last two years is a textbook example.
Speaking recently at Europol in the Hague, I outlined potential ways forward for Policing and Security and Intelligence Agencies in France, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Germany. Chief among my recommendations were increased Community (friendly) Police patrols in high risk areas in order to both deter criminal ‘start-ups' from growing but also to give the community confidence to themselves deter crime.
Community policing is ‘neighbourhood back-up' it's the absolute pre-requisite for successful prevention and response to terrorism. Building relationships between law enforcement and the people takes time and boots on the ground, it means knowing the first names of your local neighbourhood police. In the case of the UK community policing has provided the lifeblood to terrorism investigations the length and breadth of the country, providing intelligence and timely warnings from Muslim community members who want to bring an end to the terrorism that has blighted now a generation of its youth.
Those weekly police surgeries, nightly patrols, quick response to burglaries, talks in high schools do the work required to claim back the moral authority from criminals and violent extremists, and importantly, relaxes the relationship between host societies and communities with migrant histories.
And this is where the problem of terrorism in mainland Europe begins to reveal itself. Most European countries simply DON'T DO THIS. Speaking with Police leaders who often have sat with their head in their hands and hearing them say that they had no mechanism to make these changes, there was no likelihood of change and that it would take a government decision to implement force-wide community-led policing in ‘at risk' communities was nothing short of heartbreaking as much as it was scary.
The immediate future for France and its closest neighbours is this; less community policing means growth of crime in small communities. Reduced or no relationship actually quickly becomes hostility, means less trust between state and the people, means less intelligence flow, means more terrorism.
Ultimately the objectives of counter-terrorism cannot be achieved without the people, so a strategy that maintains hostility if not growing it, between communities under pressure and the police is only playing into the hands of terrorists who quickly foster a sense of belonging with the isolated and disenfranchised.
A well known African Proverb warns that when a village fails to fully initiate a member of their youth, that youth will one day burn the whole village down just to feel it's warmth. However this proverb is not about youth, it's about belonging and the truth we all share; the hunger for belonging.
Why I Left The Police Department
Frivolous calls and interactions were not the only problem with being an officer.
I recently celebrated a birthday. It was not necessarily a significant one, but my birthday also serves as the anniversary of my first day patrolling the streets of St. Louis as a police officer. If I was still employed in that field, I would be in my 19th year of service.
Although I'm dedicated to holding police accountable for actions committed against citizens, I do want to shed light on what they typically go through and how they feel as they do their jobs on a daily basis. Life for many officers is not good.
When I first became an officer, I thought I would be in a position to positively impact people. However, I quickly learned that my job was not about community service. It was about trying to get people to learn how to manage their own lives. Although some of my daily duties revolved around helping people who had been victims of legitimate crimes, I learned that police were the “catch-all” and citizens called 911 for almost everything that occurred in their lives and neighborhoods.
From responding to parents who wanted officers to intimidate their children into behaving, to mediating between neighbors who were arguing because a dog barked after 8pm, to husbands and wives who drank too much every other weekend and ended up in the middle of the street screaming at the top of their lungs, I responded to frivolous calls every hour. If I was not being called to intervene in frivolous things, I was being asked to manage high-stress situations that could possibly end with someone experiencing serious bodily harm.
Because I was experiencing so many stressful situations on a daily basis, and saw so much crime and hurt occurring regularly, I became hyper-sensitive to everyone and everything around me. I was suspicious of everyone that I interacted with. I stayed angry because people couldn't take care of their own problems. All of this led to me not liking the job and not liking the people I came in contact with.
Frivolous calls and interactions were not the only problem with being an officer. The political nature of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department made the job unnecessarily difficult, as well.
I was taught early in my career that good policing was not about doing what was right or lawful. Good policing was about doing what was necessary in order to be promoted to a higher rank or transferred to a desirable detective position. Generally, there are two ways to be promoted or transferred. The first is to build your arrest statistics. The second is to have political steam.
The failsafe way to get promoted or transferred is to arrest as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, or to seize as much cash and drugs at one time as possible. This is done in order to impress a supervisor who will in turn help you get promoted or transferred.
The obvious problem with this philosophy is that an officer's first priority becomes making as many arrests as possible regardless of the circumstances. Officers are tempted to view any interaction with a citizen as an opportunity to make an arrest. They can begin to view citizens as a means to an end. Equitable application of the law becomes an afterthought.
The second way to get promoted or transferred is to have a political connection that benefits you. Officers call it having “steam.” Steam is when an officer has a friend or relative who has a personal connection or a certain amount of influence over a high ranking commander in the department.
The current chief of police in St. Louis is an example of having steam. Very early in his career he became politically connected and these connections allowed him to begin the process of being groomed to become chief by working more hours within the Mayor's cabinet than working the streets like other officers. He is now trying to use those political connections to be elected mayor of St. Louis.
As much as I want to hold officers and systems of policing accountable, I also want to recognize the humanity of most officers and acknowledge that many of them are caught in a system that does not value them or the sacrifices that they make. They are caught between citizens who see them as villains simply because they wear a particular uniform and commanders who care first and foremost about their political careers and pensions.
As I interact with former coworkers and regularly hear stories about the department's problems, such as vendors cutting the department off from credit due to the department not paying its bills regularly, the department being woefully understaffed due to mismanagement of funds, and officers being strongly “encouraged” to work 16-hour days due to the current manpower shortage, I am reminded that I made the right career choice in leaving.
Focused Community Policing Building Public Trust
by Gene Ellis,
Police Chief/Assistant City Manager, Belton, Texas
Twenty-first century policing is colliding with 19th century policing. Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles of Policing called out prevention as the foundation of law enforcement in 1829. Since then, policing has moved through various models, including the current community-oriented policing model adopted in the mid-1980s. However, many agencies have said they were employing community policing, but, in reality, they do not understand what true community policing is. It is not a program or a dedicated person or division called the community policing officer or community policing division—community policing is an organizational philosophy that must be embraced from the top-down and the bottom-up. It is a true understanding that the police cannot do it alone and must build partnerships with the community to solve community problems.
Crime is a community problem, not just a police problem. The solution to crime is rooted in crime prevention and the prevention of problems conducive to criminal behavior. Many of the law enforcement agencies who practice community policing miss the key foundation of prevention. The end goal of prevention and community policing is an improved quality of life for the community. This means the end goal for all law enforcement agencies should be improving the quality of life for those who live in, visit, or own a business in their communities. Public trust can be improved or restored and crime reduced through this collaborative approach to policing. The following are seven steps to building public trust in policing using a prevention-focused policing model:
1. Make prevention the focus of police operations.
2. Foster a servant-guardian mentality in officers.
3. Make quality of life the end game.
4. Embrace smart policing initiatives.
5. Develop law enforcement staff.
6. Adopt “best practices” in policing.
7. Promote an officer safety mind-set.
Policing by consent is a basic premise of U.S. law enforcement. Those in the law enforcement profession sometimes forget that their powers come from the public, but, ass Peel stated, “the police are the public and the public is the police.”
Police officers in some countries are branches of the federal government and function as military units; however, U.S. law enforcement are members of the community who freely pursue a profession vested in the protect and serve motto. Consent comes from the community as a whole, not from a single citizen. An individual cannot turn away from the law or determine that the police no longer have consent to provide service. However, the community can determine what the laws are (within the confines of state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution) and how they want to be policed. If the police treat community members unfairly, are overbearing, or enforce laws outside of their charge, the community can make changes. Oftentimes, this is done at the local ballot box, but, recently, it has come in the form of public protests.
Prevention-focused community policing is a modern organizational philosophy with the primary goal of working cooperatively with citizens to identify and resolve issues that can affect the quality of life in their neighborhoods through a prevention-based approach. The primary management of police resources is geographical. Officers that are assigned to defined smaller geographical areas often feel a sense of ownership for that area. Officers commonly know many of the people who live and work in the area and are intimately familiar with the area's geography, businesses, schools, and churches. Officers will often seek out detailed information about police incidents that have occurred in their area of responsibility during their off-duty time, and they become resources to community members for other city services.
Language app allows NY police to speak to residents in more than 350 languages
“This is community policing on steroids"
by Stefanie Dazio
NASSAU COUNTY, NY — The Nassau County Police Department began Wednesday its rollout of “LanguageLine” translation services in patrol vehicles and plans an “imminent” expansion of the program to other officers and units, officials said.
The language service is already available in police precincts, headquarters and other buildings. The addition to the department's patrol force allows officers out in the community to speak with residents in their native tongue, officials said.
“This is community policing on steroids,” Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said in a news conference Wednesday at Mineola headquarters. “When a cop is on the street, he doesn't have the availability of a translator.”
The LanguageLine is an app on department iPhones where officers can make audio or video calls for translation services in more than 350 languages, including American Sign Language. The program costs roughly $350,000 over three years and was paid for by asset forfeiture funds at no cost to taxpayers, Ryder said.
There will ultimately be more than 650 cellphones throughout the department with the language line app, said spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun.
The force's 177 patrol vehicles will get the cellphones first, followed immediately by officers in specialty units and the administration staff — including Ryder himself.
County Executive Laura Curran touted the expansion of the program at the news conference, which featured video demonstrations of the app in Spanish and sign language as well as sign language interpreters from the Mill Neck Interpreter Service.
“It's one other way that we're proving that every single person in Nassau County, in our growingly diverse county, will be respected and will be protected,” Curran said.
Ryder said officers most often need to communicate with residents who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole. Patrol officers in three of the department's precincts will get the app in the next two days, he said Wednesday.
“We're interacting with the public well over a million times a year,” he said. “It puts them at a comfort level.”
The commissioner said the language line app is especially important as police fight gangs on Long Island, particularly MS-13, where the victims often feel more comfortable speaking in Spanish.
“You can imagine the frustration of the police officer and the victim” when they can't communicate, he said.
The translation audio and video clips will be saved for future use, he added.
The Suffolk County Police Department has a pilot program in which officers have tablets to access a language translator , according to a Department of Justice report issued earlier this month as part of an agreement following the hate-crime killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant nearly 10 years ago.
Suffolk police have since been evaluated on their interactions with the Latino community and in the latest federal report were deemed to have made substantial progress in certain areas. It is unclear, however, when the tablets will be distributed departmentwide.
New York City
Police reforms have NYC officers handing out business cards
About 9 million of the business cards are personalized with officers' names, shield numbers and other required information
NEW YORK — Looking to improve how its police department interacts with the public, New York City on Friday started requiring officers to give their business cards to people they stop and to explain, in most instances, why law enforcement activity is taking place.
The measures, born out of concern that controversy over stop-and-frisk practices had eroded trust in the department, also require officers be trained to obtain voluntary, knowing and intelligent consent before conducting searches without a warrant or probable cause.
"Trust is perhaps the most critical component in the relationship between the police and the communities they are charged with protecting," said city council member Antonio Reynoso, who sponsored the legislation behind some of the new requirements.
The reforms, known collectively as the Right to Know Act, were passed into law last December.
The NYPD printed about 10 million business cards, developed new training on the Right to Know requirements, updated its patrol guide and created a quick-reference sheet for its 35,000 officers.
About 9 million of the business cards are personalized with officers' names, shield numbers and other required information, the department said. The other 1 million cards are blank templates that officers can fill out on the fly when they run out of their own.
The head of the police officers' union issued a statement blasting the reforms as "unnecessary distractions."
"As we've said from the beginning, the 'Right to Know' laws will discourage police officers from proactively addressing crime and disorder and will lead to more frivolous complaints," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
The NYPD has said it's showing a commitment to building community trust by sharply reducing stop-and-frisks, embracing a neighborhood policing strategy and implementing the bulk of a separate set of reforms recommended by a court-appointed facilitator.
The NYPD reported less than 10,000 stop-and-frisks last year, down from about 684,000 in 2011. Those numbers have been falling since a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the practice of stopping and frisking people without justification violated the civil rights of minorities.
Police watchdogs are wary and say they'll be monitoring compliance with the new measures, such as by videotaping officer interactions. They said any violations will be raised with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
"The question remains whether the NYPD will commit to implementing this new law in good faith, especially in communities of color that still experience heavy police presence in their neighborhoods," said Michael Sisitzky, of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Hotspots Need Investments,
Not Just Policing
should try to fix what makes
hotspots prone to violence.
by MAURICE JONES AND JULIA RYAN
ON THE LAST DAY OF 2016, a solemn procession made its way across Chicago. Hundreds of mourners and their supporters marched together, carrying 762 wooden crosses — one for each victim of the year's terrible homicide toll.
Had the marchers ended the demonstration by planting those crosses at the site of each murder, they would have clustered in a few areas of the sprawling city, creating a haphazard array of miniature cemeteries. This is because many of those homicides, 90 percent of them shootings, occurred on a handful of blocks, in a handful of neighborhoods.
The hyper-local nature of crime, violent crime in particular, is a revelation to very few in the law enforcement community. Indeed, any cop worthy of the badge keeps track of the usual suspects and trouble areas in the neighborhoods he or she serves. Only recently, however, are we beginning to seriously question how that knowledge informs our response to crime. And, while many in the “law and order” crowd use place-based data to support raids, sweeps and other targeted policing, new research suggest it's community development efforts — layered onto smart policing — that actually bring about lasting reductions in crime.
New research is establishing how most shootings and other violent crimes occur at “hotspots,” or on certain city blocks. In Boston, for instance, Yale University sociologists documented that 50 percent of gun crimes were carried out on less than three percent of blocks in particular neighborhoods. An analysis by our organization, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, found a similar trend in Chicago: half of the most serious crimes occurred on just seven percent of blocks.
There are powerful, well-tested strategies that focus on how violence clusters. They include group violence intervention approaches based on the Operation Ceasefire work done in Boston in the 1990s, as well as the Cure Violence model that emphasizes street level intervention. Hotspot policing is another familiar strategy applied by police departments across the United States. These strategies are an essential part of putting a stop to bloodshed, but they fall short of addressing exactly what makes certain locations fertile ground for violent crime in the first place.
Since violent crime tends to bunch in discrete locales, interventions need to zero in on those places, partnering with the people who live and work nearby to understand the root causes of chronic crime. Additionally, flooding particular areas with services and investments that align with local needs and priorities provides the preventive medicine to stanch the flow of violence.
21st Century Policing: Leadership, Vigilance, Collaboration
“NYPD Neighborhood Policing is a Shared Responsibility”
by Vincent J. Bove
It has been an honor to address issues during the course of five years of published works for the Epoch Times, which in my opinion are critical to America.
Along with the many topics that have been covered, policing, built on iron-clad partnerships with the community has been underscored.
These partnerships must be built on the pillars of leadership, vigilance, and collaboration, and are only productive when trust is the foundation.
American Policing: Reviewing Issues and Responses
Based on the extensive amount of material covered over these five years, a review to summarize the articles is now in order.
Here follows highlights from a select group of ten articles. Hopefully, this summary will ensure that police-community partnerships have the encouragement needed to continue building bridges of trust.
“A unity of effort between the police and community is the foundation for protecting America and critical for securing our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
“Protecting our communities and the morale of the nation demands unwavering shared responsibility, the lifeline of public safety.
“America must be fully committed, without reserve or excuse, to building bridges between the police and community as our way of life demands this collaboration.
“Failure to share responsibility is not an option as without cohesiveness the results will only be distrust, discord, and disorder.”
As a follow up to this article, just this past weekend, New York City experienced the first weekend without a murder in 25 years.
Based on this statistic, and the importance of Neighborhood Policing, I communicated information to the New Jersey Attorney General on Oct. 16, 2018 which included the following:
“Neighborhood Policing, an outstanding step-up from community policing, deserves implementation in agencies and communities throughout New Jersey. We should enhance collaboration with the NYPD, fine-tune this model for New Jersey, and provide the necessary leadership.”
America's law enforcement professionals are in critical roles of protecting and serving our communities.
“We must recognize, appreciate, and support them in their challenging work. We must also realize our shared responsibility and do everything in our power to forge iron-clad police-community partnerships.
“These partnerships must be built on an ethical code, essential not only to law enforcement professionals, but on every community member privileged to call America home.”
Policing is critical to American society and must perpetually stand on the pillars of ethics, trust, collaboration, and moral courage.
“When these principles are honored, police-community unity is forged, and America's way of life is protected from discord, lawlessness, and turmoil.
“Yet, one would be oblivious, irresponsible, and naïve to miss the challenges policing in America is experiencing.
“The spotlight on policing illuminates the critical need for trust. Society will thrive when trust is the catalyst for police-community partnerships.”
America's police and communities are being challenged to unify to remedy our drug crisis.
“An entire generation of America is suffering from the drug pandemic and we must unify to prevent continual heartbreak to families.
“As we rise to the occasion with moral courage, we must remember that the police and the people are one.
“We must forge iron-clad police-community partnerships to take back our communities from the drug pestilence.
“The reality of the drug crisis is a matter of family tragedies, heartbreak, and death. Our drug crisis also inflicts suffering on the morale of our nation.
“We will be on the path to reawakening the nation when, as ethical protectors, we dedicate ourselves to unity.
America is suffering, and we must all respond to take back the nation from the scourge of the drug crisis.
“During the last few years, there have been incidents, controversies, and protests throughout America that must serve as a clarion call to renew, restore, and rejuvenate police-community unity.
“A policing incident in any community can spark intense repercussions throughout the nation. Any breakdown of trust between community and police demands an urgent, unwavering, and complete dedication to remedy the problem.
“Police-community collaboration will only be possible when leadership builds bridges of trust.
These ideals will become reality when human contact, with respect as the foundation, is enhanced between police and the community.
“There has always been corruption in government, but this is no excuse for unethical behavior to continue.
“The dignity that represents America demands renewal, and our police, so vital to the integrity of government and security in our communities must rise to the occasion.
“Every law enforcement official who takes the sacred oath to protect and serve must be fully dedicated to society as an ethical guardian.
“There can be no compromise by law enforcement officials of ethical values. Law enforcement must be totally and wholeheartedly committed to their sacrosanct duty, never faltering with the responsibilities bestowed upon them.”
“Police-community collaboration is critical to renewing the values of America and the lifeline of public safety throughout the nation.
America must rise to the occasion with an unwavering commitment to facilitate police-community collaboration, the lifeline of public safety.
“When our teachers and police collaborate to enhance security, character, and the preventive system of education, we will inspire our youth to carry the torch of America's decency.
“The school resource officer (SRO) is a priceless component of violence prevention and character education for our schools. This initiative also promotes a positive image of law enforcement to our nation's youth.
“Our schools should do everything possible to have an SRO program and law enforcement should be fully committed with the most qualified, trained, certified, and dedicated professionals available.”
The principles of American policing include the following:
“Moral courage must be encouraged, as police must be empowered make decisions that are legal, ethical, and moral.
“Patriotism is mission-critical. Honoring America, our flag, and our military personnel must be part and parcel of the police officer's creed and take place at every police event.
“Police interventions must always be proportional, constitutional, and uphold quality of life issues deserved by all communities.
“Police require a discerning recruitment process, education credentials, and ongoing training/certifications, including constitutional policing,
diversity, civil rights, race-relations, violence prevention, community policing, crisis management, ethics, leadership, gangs, private security, and use of force.”
Community policing must be central to reawakening the nation. It deserves full dedication from every member of law enforcement (not just selected members assigned to a community policing unit) and from all members of every community.
“Endless rhetoric, political appointees, and self-serving commissions will only be a waste of time.
“America deserves action, leaders of character, and police–community cohesiveness so we may live the legacy of justice destined for our nation.'
As expressed through this selection of articles, a unity of effort, or “mutual responsibility” as emphasized by the NYPD, is critical to safeguarding America.
It is my hope that our nation will have the unwavering commitment to police community collaboration, as this unity is essential to the health of our nation.
Colo. PD's community-oriented policing project reduces shootings, assaults
We see the whole city is needing our services, but we want a focal area where we could put more officers in that area, do more patrols and more traffic enforcement
by Zachary Hillstrom
PUEBLO, Colo. — A determined group of Pueblo police officers and community volunteers braved the below-freezing temperatures Sunday morning and took to the streets in an effort to continue what the Pueblo Police Department's Watch IV has been doing since March of last year: cleaning up a portion of the East Side.
The clean-up on Sunday was of a literal nature, as volunteers walked the area surrounding El Centro del Quinto Sol recreation center, picking up trash, placing it into black bags and then transporting the bags to a large dumpster.
But the figurative clean up of the area began last year, when Watch IV identified it as an ideal location to conduct a Community Oriented Policing (C.O.P.) project, in which officers target a specific area with high crime rates to reduce the problems and empower the community to take an active role in the safety of their neighborhood.
“Obviously, we see the whole city is needing our services, but we wanted a focal area where we could put more officers in that area, do more patrols and more traffic enforcement,” said Watch IV Officer Bryan Gonzales.
“This gets us to work cooperatively with the community, which is what we want to do.”
Watch IV chose the area on the East Side surrounding El Centro del Quinto Sol, with a southern boundary of East Fourth Street, a northern boundary of East 12th Street, a western boundary of Erie Avenue and an eastern boundary of Hudson Avenue.
Through their efforts, and the buy-in from the surrounding community, the one-year results of the project have been significant.
According to statistics provided by the Pueblo Police Department, from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 of this year, crime in the target area has been reduced in a number of different categories, including burglaries, sexual assaults and shootings.
Their data shows that burglaries decreased by 28 percent, dropping from 44 last year to just 32 in 2018; sexual assaults dropped from two to one, for a 50 percent decrease; and shootings dropped from eight last year to just one so far in 2018, for a decrease of 88 percent.
Narcotics arrests in the area, however, have skyrocketed, not because illegal drugs have become more prevalent, but because increased police presence has resulted in more drugs being found and their users and sellers being taken off the street, police said.
“That's because of the fact that we're contacting people more,” Gonzales said. “We're finding more people that have drugs and we're arresting them.”
Members of the community have seen the results of the C.O.P project firsthand.
“(The crime) has definitely gone down,” said Toby Gonzales, who's lived on East Sixth Street for the past five years.
“When we first moved here, there was all these drugs and everything and I saw it a lot in the neighborhood, … but it's been cleaned up a lot since they came in.”
Toby Gonzales was one of the community volunteers to aid Watch IV in their community cleanup on Sunday, and he said the cleanup, as well as the ongoing C.O.P. project, are a major benefit to the children who live in the area.
“This is for the kids ... because all the kids come to the skate park and skate, and my kids like going to the center,' he said. 'It just makes it safer for them.”
Another local resident, 62-year-old Vickie Gatlin, echoed Toby Gonzales' sentiments.
“Every little bit of help is good for my community,” Gatlin said.
“I'm all about the kids. Let's get the kids back in their neighborhood. Riding their bicycles, on the sidewalks, and going to the skate park without them or their parents having to be worried.”
As a thank you to the community for buying into the project and taking ownership over the goings-on in their neighborhood, Watch IV hosted a community barbecue at El Centro del Quinto Sol following the cleanup, featuring free food, carnival games for kids, prizes and a youth clothing giveaway.
“We wanted to have a community barbecue to show our appreciation and show we've made a positive impact,” said Officer Gonzales.
“There's a lot of people in this area who want to stand up and say we're not going to tolerate this. … This is a great park and a great facility right here, and we want to show that these are for the children, these are for the kids and the people who want to access them for the right reasons.
'And we're not going to tolerate the drug dealing, the prostitution, none of that,' he said. 'We're not going to have it here.
When will community policing on drugs, human trafficking begin?
The increment in the number of crimes in those areas was associated with active participation of members of the communities
by ISAAC MUFUMBA
One of the major talking points in the manifesto of the ruling NRM in the run up to the 2011 General Election was a promise to make 10 interventions aimed at continuing to promote and uphold law and order.
Last on the list of the interventions was a promise to carry out community policing every first week of the month as a part of efforts to tackle terrorism, drug abuse and human trafficking.
“Government will emphasise community-based policing every first week of the month, where police managers in the district will visit villages to sensitise communities on combating of crimes such as human sacrifice, drug trafficking and abuse, human trafficking and terrorism,” the manifesto reads in part.
The promise was made against a backdrop of a rise in the number of crimes in that category.
Uganda was still reeling from the effects of the July 2010 suicide bombings that rocked the Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala and Kyadondo Club in Lugogo, which left 74 dead and 71 others injured. The Somalia-based Islamist militia, Al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Drug abuse was also said to be on the rise in the East African region. While the United Nations' office on drugs had no figures on users of cocaine and other drugs, it said that cannabis users in East Africa were 9,190,000 and those of opiate 1,730,000 as of 2010.
East Africa had emerged as a major transit route for drugs from the far East to Europe and the United States. In 2010, the UN put the volume of heroine making its way through the region at between 30 and 35 metric tonnes, and Entebbe International Airport had emerged as one of the drug traffickers' favourites. In 2010, the police intercepted 7.5kgs of heroin and 5kgs of cocaine at the airport.
At the time human trafficking was said to be on the rise across the world. A 2005 report released by the United States government indicated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people were being trafficked across international borders, of which 80 per cent were said to be women, girls and children.
Victims of what is believed to be a global trade in human beings, estimated to be worth $32 billion, many of them trying to extricate themselves from the fangs of poverty in their own countries the report said, are subjected to violations, including, rape, torture, forced abortion, starvation, and threats of punitive action against their family members back home.
While there were no actual figures to point at for Uganda, in June 2007, Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) had released a preliminary document, which indicated that the vice had grown quite significantly and that children were being trafficked for various reasons and many are involved in “hazardous forms of labour”, among others commercial sex, drug trafficking and armed conflicts.
In other cases, the institute revealed, some parents were found to be selling off their children due to widespread poverty and food insecurity.
The increment in the number of crimes in those areas was associated with active participation of members of the communities.
The Al-Shabaab were, for example, believed to have carried out the July 2010 bombings with the help of locals some of whom were to later confess to having worked with the terrorists. Drug traffickers too had recruited natives to help them smuggle drugs.
The same goes for human trafficking where MISR indicated that it was being promoted through what it termed as “unofficial networks of relatives, friend, neighbours, parents and village mates”.
Given the situation that was pertaining at the time, the promise to lay emphasis on community policing as a way of stemming the rise in those crimes was very timely. However, more than eight years since it was made, the public has seen very little in terms of community policing.
Whereas the country has not seen a repeat of the terrorist attacks such as that of July 2010, there has been a significant rise in gun violence and the number of drug abuse and drug trafficking cases, which can be partially blamed on the Police's failure to implement the community policing programme in the form it had been promised.
In 2017 alone, Interpol Uganda recorded 26 cases of drug smuggling and arrested at least 23 people, including Ugandan nationals. The organisation also intercepted a wide range of drugs, including 34.5kgs of methamphetamine worth Shs3.7b and more than 40kgs of heroin and cocaine worth an estimated Shs1.78 billion at Entebbe International Airport.
In all these cases, Ugandans, who were nabbed trying to help the traffickers smuggle the drugs in or out of the country, could not resist the allure of making a quick buck.
The increase in the number of street children, especially from Karamoja sub-region, is also an indicator that there has been no letup in the human trafficking situation.
Some of these children are believed to have been hired out by their mothers to some Karamojong women, who are already established in Kampala, to be used for begging from the streets, a scenario that could have possibly been cured through the kind of policing that had been promised.
At the same time, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people addicted to various sorts of drugs, ranging from alcohol to marijuana.
In June 2015, the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Anthony Mbonye, said the ministry had recorded more than 85,000 cases of drug and alcohol addiction, of which 57,000 were for alcohol and 27,000 for drugs. This development could have perhaps been avoided were the public awareness levels about the dangers of the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs been higher.
The police spokesperson, Mr Emilian Kayima, says though community policing is not being implemented as promised in the manifesto, the Force has been doing lots of community policing over the years.
“I don't know whether the community feels that it (community policing) is not as vibrant as it was, but community policing programmes still run throughout the country. It is run by an entire directorate under AIGP Assan Kasingye and trickles down to the community liaison officers (CLOs). The CLOs not only give messages but also get feedback from the public,” Mr Kayima says.He adds that community policing takes different forms.
“Sometimes, we write articles for the newspapers or do television and radio programmes. Other times, we play football, as we did with the people in Kawempe, or visit schools as we did on Friday last week when we visited St Mary's College Kisubi. We have also visited Lubiri and Mengo secondary schools before in order to address those students about the challenges that they are likely to meet since they will one day cease to be students,” he says.
It is high time the police moved to take advantage of the free airtime that most FM stations offer to government agencies to embark on a more aggressive community policing programme.
It is right that changing times call for the adoption of different approaches to community policing. However, there is a need to stick to practical methods. Use of the mass media would enable the police disseminate more information and get much more in terms of feedback than it would possibly get by playing a football match in Bugembe Stadium. Use of the mass media for policing worked well in the 1990s. It can work well again.
It is, however, important that the country takes a stand against laxity in the implementation of laws. The rise in the number of youth addicted to alcohol has been attributed to the fact that the manufacturers has made it easy for one to carry it around even after government in September 2009 slapped a ban on the manufacture and sale of sachets following the death of 19 people. They were believed to have consumed sachets of waragi that contained unusually high volumes of methanol. That ban was never enforced.
Recently, MPs talked of passing another piece of legislation to regulate the manufacture and sale of the sachets. That is unnecessary. All that is required is for the police to enforce laws such as the Enguli Act, the Liquor Act and the Portable Spirits Act as we at the same time engage in community policing.
Starting From A New Place In Police-Community Relations
The necessary foundation of any effective relationship is seeing the humanity in the other.
by Elaine Davenport
This weekend's presidential debate took place mere miles from Ferguson, Missouri, yet there was no mention of the tension and division that characterizes police-community relations. No matter your opinion on shootings of and by police, it is clear that our society is mired in conflict about what policing should look like and the role that stereotyping of and implicit bias towards people of color plays. Proposed solutions vary: a Junior Citizens Police Academy started by a high school principal in Coney Island brings together police officers and high school students to build trust through open dialogue in and out of the classroom; the LAPD recently issued a new policy that calls for officers to treat the homeless with compassion and empathy; police departments across the country are adopting implicit bias training; Campaign Zero delivered a ten-point manifesto that proposes policy solutions such as using independent investigators in cases of police force and demilitarizing local departments; and Black Lives Matter members (among others) are investigating the idea of police-free communities.
At PACH, we always start by looking at the root of the problem. According to decades of research, biases, stereotypes, and distrust among groups are often caused by a lack of empathy between those who are different from each other. In the case of police officers and community members, each is not able to see themselves in the other and thus implicit bias, stereotyping, and distrust more easily evolve into violence. The long-term solution therefore must be rooted in the recognition of a common humanity, the first step toward building more caring and connected communities. In response to this empathy gap, PACH is engaged in efforts to spark conversation about policing, violence, bias, and stereotyping that includes cops and members of the communities they serve. Our initiatives seek to inform and foster emerging community policing 2.0 strategies that move beyond having police officers and community members interacting with each other. We start from a new place, helping each see themselves in the other. Engagement is critical but it is not enough; unlocking empathy is essential for decreasing the mistrust and violence and building the kind of relationship that is at the core of understanding and connected communities.
As part of this effort, we launched the We Are Human (WAH) video campaign in four communities in California, Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, and Stockton. This campaign captures video self-portraits of people, a mix of police officers and community members, answering five questions that underscore our common humanity. Each of the questions has been found to evoke responses that reveal remarkable similarities across diverse communities. These videos are only the beginning of PACH's efforts to contribute to solutions to the current tension. The necessary foundation of any effective relationship is seeing the humanity in the other, and the only way to solve our problems as a community and society is through collective action and collaboration. We need each other. That's what it means to be human.
Not All Police Officers Are Bad, But That Doesn't Mean They're Immune To Bias
The pressures of your environment can have even the slightest impact on you
by JC De la Cruz
To say that all police officers are bad people is an outlandish and inaccurate statement. But, even the good guys are not immune to the systemic biases that is bred in police departments across the country. Feelings of camaraderie, brotherhood, and institutional pressures from chain of command can affect even the noblest officer.
Obviously, police officers are people who come in different degrees of good and bad, just like the rest of us. Like all of us, they can be influenced by their surroundings, friends, coworkers, etc. Do racist and/or overall evil police officers exist? Yes, of course they do. You don't have to search online too hard to find a good number of examples.
But, good police officers also exist. There are those who became officers for all the right reasons and wish to serve their communities. In fact, my personal faith in humanity leads me to believe there are more good officers than bad.
That doesn't mean, however, that these good officers are not susceptible to acting on implicit biases or prejudices. They are part of an institution that has its roots in the slave patrols of the 1700s. The system in which they work is a system that breeds prejudices and fear based on race and ethnicity. Whether in training, quota pressures, or in the social environment among peers, these pressures can influence even the virtuous of officers.
I wouldn't argue that all officers are affected the same way. The systemic issues in police departments, themselves, differ among jurisdictions. In some cases, such as that of Redditt Hudson, an office may choose to leave after experiencing some of the institutional racism and biases in the police department.
But, the pressures of your environment can have even the slightest impact on you.
I have a friend who is a police officer, and I know him to be a good guy. He's a first generation Latino who, like many of us growing up New York City, did not have the most favorable opinions of police. Through personal experiences or by following the tradition of our peers, we grew up viewing police as the antagonizers of blacks and Latinos in urban communities.
Since then, my friend, who has been on the job for a handful of years, has started to change his outlook on not just the police, but also the dynamic of the relationship between minorities and the police. With the recent attention over the last few years of constant violence involving black men and the police, he has become more sympathetic to the officers involved. While that may be expected because of his career, he now often dismisses opposing arguments and frequently ignores facts. His overall attitude towards the relationship between the police and minorities has changed to almost a blind support in favor of police. I now wonder how much of that change is due to implicit biases fueled by working within an institution and culture that is based on racism.
I know not all police officers are bad people – or even bad officers, for that matter. Nevertheless, those good officers are still susceptible to acting on the biases that are plaguing our nation and harming our friends and families of color. I only hope that we can change this system, together, and with those whom we can still call our friends in uniform.
Why Is It So Hard To Improve American Policing?
The use of lethal force by police officers in Minnesota and Baton Rouge has once again sparked protests over the violent dynamic between citizens and the police.
The ideal today is “democratic policing,” a concept developed by scholars like Gary T. Marx at MIT. Broadly, this refers to a police force that is publicly accountable, subject to the rule of law, respectful of human dignity and that intrudes into citizens' lives only under certain limited circumstances.
Partly in response to this ideal, policing in America has evolved considerably over the past 50 years. There have been changes in hiring, how relations with civilians are managed and what technologies are used.
The 20th century has seen a slow but steady integration of minorities and women within police forces. Different managerial models aimed at improving relations with citizens have also influenced policing over the last 40 years. The most prominent among these are community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing and intelligence-led policing.
Policing has also been deeply transformed by the rapid integration of new technologies leading to computerization of police forces such as the profiling of crime hotspots, access to a broader range of weapons like tasers and the deployment of surveillance technologies like drones and closed circuit TV.
Some of these changes have been positive, but as recent events show, many problems remain. Why hasn't more progress been made?
Not all police forces are equal
One problem is the inequality inherent in the system. For example, Washington, D.C. has 61.2 police officers per 10,000 residents, while Baton Rouge has just 28.7.
Policing in America is not a standardized profession guided by an established set of procedures and policies. There are at least 12,000 local police agencies in the United States, making it one of the most decentralized police organizations in the world.
There are more than 600 state and local police academies across the country delivering training programs that vary tremendously in content, quality and intensity. This, inevitably, has an impact on the skills of their graduates.
Differences in policing also reflect the quality of leadership and the availability of resources.
Police chiefs and commanders represent a critical source of influence. They provide the doctrine by deciding whether to focus on prevention or repression of crime. They design strategies like police visibility or zero tolerance. And they identify the practice to be adopted - rounding up the usual suspects or systematic stop-and-frisk.
Often, however, these police practices are not aligned with public expectations. Citizen review boards - such as those in New York City or San Diego - are the exception rather than the norm.
And then there is the money issue. Police departments that are financially crippled are simply not able to provide regular training and therefore don't have the expertise to pursue certain kinds of crime. The policing of fraud, for example, requires financial expertise and specialized units.
From public relations policing to intensive policing
Policing styles in America vary according to the targeted audience.
Police work in an affluent neighborhoods is often characterized by “soft” policing strategies. In other words, policing in those areas is more a question of making people feel secure than actual crime fighting.
However, in disadvantaged, multi-ethnic neighborhoods, police presence and activity are often more intense. They are there to target crimes that have been identified as priorities by police leadership and elected officials.
In fact, one policing model, predictive policing, can exacerbate racial tension between law enforcement and African-American communities.
Predictive policing is based on crime analysis and computerization. This model helps law enforcement mobilize their resources in places where crime tends to concentrate. These crime clusters tend to be located in poor and disadvantaged communities. However, trying to prevent crime by focusing police forces on some addresses, street corners and blocks increases police-citizens encounters. Some of these encounters - even between police and law-abiding citizens caught up in the dragnet - can turn violent.
Another noticeable trend that is front and center in the media today is the “militarization” of police.
This blurring of the distinction between the police and military institutions, between law enforcement and war, began in the 1980s and has only intensified since. It was reinforced by public policy rhetoric calling for a “war on crime,” “war on drugs” and “war on terror.” Police forces began to acquire military equipment and implement militarized training with little or no accountability. For instance, in the wake of 9/11, several local police departments received funding from the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense with little or no guidance on how to spend the money. This led to the unnecessary purchase of military equipment including armored cars, bulletproof vests for dogs and advanced bomb-disarming robots.
As a result, we have seen a booming of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams: 80 percent of cities with 25,000 to 50,000 inhabitants now have a SWAT team. From the late 1990s, through the 1033 Program, the Department of Defense has authorized the transfer of military equipment to police departments across the country. Since 2006 the police have bought 93,763 machine guns and 435 armored cars from the Pentagon. All this has only heightened the real and perceived potential for deadly force by police officers.
Another significant change in modern policing is the increasing capacity to monitor criminal activity and the population in general.
Police agencies now have access to a vast network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitors, allowing the surveillance of public and private spaces. Just to give a few numbers, the Chicago Police Department has access to 17,000 cameras, including 4,000 in public schools and 1,000 at O'Hare Airport.
Drones, too, are increasingly in use. The U.S. Border Patrol deploys them to monitor smuggling activities. They have been purchased by a number of local police departments, including those in Los Angeles; Mesa County, Arizona; Montgomery County, Texas; Miami Dade; and Seattle.
A mirror of society
In many regards, police agencies are a mirror of our beliefs and values as a society.
When applying this assumption to the phenomenon of intensive policing, it is not surprising, I would argue, that a country that has the highest rate of gun ownership among Western countries, the highest murder rate by guns among advanced democracies and the largest military apparatus in the world would see a militarization of its police.
The same reflection can be made about the use of police surveillance technologies in a society where information technology increasingly defines our interactions.
Ultimately, policing is inseparable from politics. Police organizations are constantly influenced by political pressure, such as the nomination of a new chief of police or new laws that police must enforce. The state of our police system, in other words, for good or for ill, is an accurate proxy measure of the state of our democracy.
Don't Lose Sight of the Good Cops
Recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York or wherever an unarmed black man has died in police custody remind me of something I learned long ago when I was on the police beat: There is nobody better than a good cop. There is nobody worse than a bad cop.
At the beginning of this year's National Police Week, which honored the memory of officers who died in the line of duty, two policemen were killed in Mississippi, reminding us yet again just how dangerous the job can be.
The current national discussion about law enforcement is understandably focused on race, particularly the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. It's a topic that can't be ignored, even during a time when we honor slain officers.
Both blacks and whites are skeptical of police investigating their own. According to a recent Pew/USA Today poll, 70 percent of “blacks say police departments around the country do a poor job in holding officers accountable for misconduct.” While just 27 percent of whites agree with this assessment, only 37 percent of whites say police forces do an excellent or good job in self-investigations.
There is unmistakably heightened tension between cops and the public they serve.
I have a yellowing page I tore decades ago from a 1970s-era True Detective magazine when I was considering law enforcement as a career. A silhouette of a uniformed policeman is framed between two New York City Police badges.
At the top of the page are the words, “A Policeman...” Below are phrases such as, “must keep cool in a crisis like a surgeon,” and “must know the law, like an attorney.” The longest one reads, “does not flinch before the stares of the hostile, the bricks and bottles of the alienated, or the knives of the demented.”
After police, along with firefighters, ran into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001 as panicked workers ran out, cops were our heroes. When incidents of police abuse surface, they are justifiably condemned.
And in an era of ubiquitous cameras, police are often caught in the act of using excessive force. The New York Civil Liberties Union has developed an app called “Stop and Frisk Watch” that uploads video to the NYCLU in case police seize your phone and erase its content. The app is available in my home state of North Carolina, and is probably coming to your state soon.
Amateur photographers using phones can get their fuzzy images on the cover of Time magazine or in the newspaper, and the immediacy of video distributed via Twitter can inflame the public before internal investigations can even get off the ground.
Police body cameras are useful tools that can help determine what happened in an incident. These official videos should be released to the public as soon as possible.
A danger of immediate release of such videos, and especially of videos uploaded by bystanders, is that they are context-free. Police who use force to restrain a suspect may be abusive, or they may be saving a life, even that of the suspect.
Sadly, many incidents of police abuse are just that — abuse.
Recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York or wherever an unarmed black man has died in police custody remind me of something I learned long ago when I was on the police beat: There is nobody better than a good cop. There is nobody worse than a bad cop.
Mark Twain said it best in 1905: “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”
The police job description is to face pain, insults and bullets. In 2013, the FBI reported that nearly 50,000 officers were assaulted on the job, and 76 were killed.
At the same time, one police transgression is one too many. But as this year's commemorations fade, it's worth remembering that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are honest and brave.
Cops can represent the best of us when dealing with the worst of us.
This Is How Cops Should Treat Homeless People
Steve Wick doesn't just patrol people on the streets of Houston — he befriends them, too.
The sergeant helps run the city's Homeless Outreach Team, HOT, within the police department's mental health division. Along with four officers and three mental health case workers, Wick has helped move more than 400 people off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing since 2011, according to Nationswell.
HOT is partnered with dozens of local organizations that provide a host of services — from housing and healthcare to ID cards and job opportunities — to the homeless.
“All these folks in the street are not bad,” Wick said in a video by Nationswell, noting he met someone with an engineering degree and people who've attended The Juilliard School who were homeless. “These are people that need somebody to talk to, somebody that cares about them, become their advocate and help them get off the street.”
HOT's mission is to curb complaints associated with homeless people by finding them stable shelter — “Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?” Wick said.
The team's simple idea has contributed to Houston's mission fighting homelessness, which has made significant progress in recent years. On a given night, there are about 5,351 homeless people in the city — down 37 percent since 2011, according to a 2014 count by Coalition for the Homeless. The city has also housed more than 2,800 homeless veterans since January 2012, a press release from the coalition announced in September.
HOT's mission isn't just improving numbers on spreadsheets, though — it's changing the lives of Houston's most vulnerable.
“I see him just about every day, and he always stops and says, ‘Hi,'” one homeless man said in the video. “That doesn't happen very often with other cops. It means a great deal, because at least somebody out here cares, you know? Someone in a uniform cares.”
IGP launches community policing, seeks public cooperation
by Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, has called for stakeholders, security agencies' cooperation in ensuring the success of community policing in the country.
To this end, the IGP has equally setup a seven-man management committee that would work with his office and the police management team to monitor the programme.
Idris disclosed this yesterday at the launch of Community Policing Re-engagement Strategic Guidelines and Unveiling of Community Policing Logo in Abuja.
He said that the pilot phase of the programme was aimed at establishing a clear departure from traditional policing that was reactive and incident-based.
“It is on this premise that the Nigeria Police Force made the decision to review and develop a more inclusive strategic guidelines, “he said.
He noted that the launch of community policing would create a better interactive relationship that would lead to improved support and cooperation from the various stakeholders, adding that the programme would build sustainable partnerships with local communities, authorities and security agencies, among others.
He said that the programme would work with the various community police interactive platforms currently being employed by the police.
National President of Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) Dr. Faruk Maiyama said the launch of the programme would ease the work of policemen.
Maiyama called for a close working relationship between the committee and the office of the Force Public Relations Officer, while commending the IGP and his management team for refocusing community policing in the country.
National President, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Waheed Odusile said that there was the need to educate the public on community policing, adding that the inclusion of journalists in the community policing committee would help them to adequately educate the public on the programme.
Community policing in the pipeline
Bandar Rimbayu residents and IJM Land Bhd employees working hand in hand to recycle items during the company's Green Community Day
by Brenda Ch'ng
THERE has only been four crime cases recorded in Bandar Rimbayu in Teluk Panglima Garang since residents first moved into this new township some three years ago, and residents are hoping that safety and security will continue to prevail.
According to Kuala Langat district police chief Supt Azizan Tukiman, the four were commercial crime cases.
He said this during a dialogue session organised by IJM Land Bhd held simultaneously with its Green Community Day aimed at promoting green initiatives such as recycling.
“To keep the crime rate down, we would need the residents' help as we cannot work alone when it comes to tackling crime in the area,” he said.
“We also plan to do a large-scale community policing together with two other neighbouring townships which were developed by Tropicana Corp Bhd and Eco World Development Group Bhd,” he said.
Supt Azizan (centre, right), Bandar Rimbayu senior general manager Chai Kian Soon (centre, left) together with other police representatives during a dialogue session on crime prevention organised by IJM Land Bhd at the developer's Bandar Rimbayu sales gallery.
During the dialogue session, a few residents raised concerns and made suggestions on how they can work better with the police.
“We hope there will be more patrols by the police as over the last three years, there was hardly any patrols by the police in the neighbourhood,” said Bandar Rimbayu Perennia residents association (RA) chairman Tommy Lee.
He also asked if residents were allowed to perform a citizen's arrest in the event of a crime, and they managed to catch the perpetrator.
Residents were advised to detain the perpetrator if they were caught red-handed and not if they were only a suspect for a crime.
When the police team arrives, residents will have to hand the perpetrator to the authorities.
Supt Azizan added that they already had a patrolling schedule and was also looking forward to working with IJM on setting up beat bases for the police around the neighbourhood.
With the beat bases set up, residents can seek help from them for emergency cases.
Bandar Rimbayu Scarlet residents association committee member Pauline Koo proposed that all respective RAs appoint a zone leader to form a WhatsApp group with the police for safety updates.
“I think this will be useful as there will be one main group where everyone is connected especially in times of emergency,” she said.
Supt Azizan agreed to the proposal and said he will appoint a special officer to be part of the group and as the liaison person for the district police.
Among other matters highlighted during the dialogue was illegal racing along the long stretches of roads in the neighbourhood.
To address this, a special operation will be carried out to ensure traffic safety in the area.
Also present at the dialogue was Bandar Rimbayu senior general manager Chai Kian Soon who emphasised the importance of team work between the police and residents.
“Safety is always a priority for us which is why we have the gated and guarded scheme, with only a single access for the houses here for security reasons,” he said.
New York / New Jersey
Giants learn first-hand how local police connects with community
by Dan Salomone
The final practice of minicamp around the NFL is like the last day of school. Afterwards, players hightail it out of the parking lot, jetting off to their home or favorite vacation spot for some much-needed rest and relaxation following a nine-week offseason workout program.
Three Giants stayed behind this year.
Less than 24 hours after wrapping up spring football, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Patrick Omameh spent an enlightening day in mid-June with the Camden County Police Department, located in southern New Jersey just across the river from Philadelphia. They were connected through the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit organization that works closely with the government to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. Vera views the Camden County police department as “really a model for the rest of the country, if not the world” in its community policing and de-escalation efforts.
Vernon, Harrison and Omameh got a first-hand look at this philosophy in action. They walked the beat, toured the state-of-the-art headquarters with Chief John Scott Thomson, heard from the local youth, visited a family service organization, and experienced the 360 Use of Force Simulator that is used to train officers.
“I speak to a lot of communities and kids, and when I do that, they're asking me what are the officers doing, the police forces, what are they doing to try to change some of the things that we're seeing or that they promised to change,” Harrison said. “So if I don't come here and don't sit down with these guys and understand exactly the programs that they're implementing, then how can I go into the communities and tell them to have faith that things are getting changed? So just to sit down with them and get a thorough understanding of what they're doing, I can convey their message back.”
And that message is one of partnership instead of enforcement.
“Back in the 90s, we led the nation in crime,” Assistant Chief Joseph Wysocki said. “We were the most violent [city] with Gary, Indiana, year after year. The violent crime was at a rate that was unheard of in America. It wouldn't be uncommon for you to be driving down the street and have the window down and hear gunshots throughout the night. Back then, we tried to have a community policing unit. It was a squad. It was like 10 guys, but you can't communally police a city with nine square miles with just 10 guys. It's just not realistic. We have to change the culture. It has to be everybody. So what we did is we changed the way we did things. We started policing Camden a different way. We knocked on doors and introduced ourselves. Where we are now, with partnering with the community and listening to the community, we're at a 50-year low in crime.”
Under Chief Thomson, Camden is seeing its lowest homicide total since 1985 and the lowest total crime numbers since 1968, according to the department.
“That's amazing what you're saying about changing the culture because we know how important that is with moving forward and the next generation of young cops will be learning from you guys,” Harrison said during a Q&A with a group of officers. “So it won't be the old ways as it was before. It'll be exactly the way that you guys are teaching them and passing that along. I know it won't happen overnight, but over time my hope is that the entire country would adapt to the way that you guys are doing it.”
Thomson, who was sworn in on May 1, 2013, came in at a time when the city department was disbanded and replaced by the county department. All officers had to reapply, and Chief Thompson's new philosophies were installed.
One of the ways Camden County PD implements his vision is through the 360 Use of Force Simulator, a total virtual reality experience designed to immerse a trainee in a real-life situation. In an octagon with screens on all sides, the trainee steps up and is presented with the sights and sounds of a scenario not uncommon to the ones police officers respond to on a daily basis. Through a controller off-screen, the training officer plays off what the trainee does and says, dictating where the video goes next. The goal is for trainees to hone crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques.
The Giants players all took a turn, with officers coaching them on creating distance when necessary and using communication rather than force to control the various scenarios.
“When it comes to approaching the situation with a mind for trying to not heighten the situation,” Omameh said, “I think it's an incredible way to actually approach these things and the way that the Camden County Police Department is trying to really change the mold in how things are done traditionally, I think it's incredible. It's a huge testament to their efforts.”
Omameh added: “I think that's the community policing that they're trying to do where you build the relationships with the people in the community, and when there is something that the people in the community want to call in about, they don't feel like they're calling the police department; they're calling Officer Zach, who I know, who is a person, who is a friend. And then also when the officers respond to situations, they're not just going to a situation and it's not just, ‘Here's the situation, here are the variables, here's the scenario.' It's, ‘Oh, this is Jake and Emily, who I know. I know their nature. I know their relationship, and I might know better how to approach them in order to de-escalate the situation or address the situation or understand the situation because it might not be what it appears. I know them personally. I know what might be going on. I think it's incredible.”
For Vernon, the simulator struck a personal chord. His father, Lascelles, was a police officer for 25 years in Miami.
“As a kid, I didn't really realize the position of where he was at and he could have stepped out the door and not come back,” Vernon said. “As a kid, you don't really think about that until you start getting older and you start realizing that every day walking out the door could be his last. So that's one of the things that you learn to appreciate, and my dad was on the streets for years, probably 25 years, and I'm most appreciative towards him for the things he's done. Now being able to see what other police officers do in a different region, coming up here, coming up north, and seeing the type of passion they have, it reminds me of my dad's passion of what he did. He loved being a cop. He loved being around people, communicating with people. Seeing this whole precinct, the Camden Police Department, and seeing what they're doing, it's amazing.”
After lunch with the department, which the players provided as a thank you to the officers for their work in the community and their willingness to host them for a day, Chief Thomson led a tour of the Real Time Tactical Operation Intelligence Center (RT-TOIC). Then the three Giants, dozens of officers and a handful of young people from the community sat around a long conference table for an open dialogue.
“This is a larger part of trying to build relationships,” Thomson said. “To have these three gentlemen [Vernon, Harrison and Omameh] spend their off-day with us is something we're deeply indebted to them – they have our deep gratitude. One of the things that we realized when we really started to listen to the community, and a lot of the things that we talked about with our community policing and the like, we realized that even with a lot of the strides that we were making, particularly with the adult community, there was a major disconnect between us and the youth within our community.”
It was neither the first nor last time this dialogue has happened between the Camden County PD and the local youth. They are partnering with the NYU School of Law's Policing Project and students from Woodrow Wilson High School in an effort to bridge the gap.
“We wanted [the Giants players] to get to know the police officers and what is so important and so special about the Camden County Police Department and what is really a model for the rest of the country, if not the world,” said Rebecca Neusteter, policing program director at the Vera Institute of Justice. “We know that [they] could be home right now or on a jet on the way home, sleeping in, not sitting on a bus … so we appreciate the time they took to be here. It's really inspirational to us that despite all the pressures that [they] have throughout the season, you're willing to stay an extra day away from your family, away from your recovery and recuperation, to learn about stuff that's hard. We're all here because we care about these issues, but it's not easy. People's lives are on the line.”
The Giants walked one of the department's beats, an area once known as “Heroin Highway” in North Camden. Now it is safe to walk again. Instead of counting how many tickets are issued, Chief Thomson measures success by how many kids are riding bikes in that officer's section of Camden.
Along the beat, the Giants also visited Guadalupe Family Services, which the FBI office in Philadelphia selected this year for its Director's Community Leadership Award, one of 56 around the country. Guadalupe Family Services is a social service agency committed to maintaining, strengthening and reconciling the relationships that form the foundation of the community.
“This community has changed so much in the past couple years because of the policing efforts,” said Sister Helen Cole, the director and founder. “The cops make themselves so accessible to us. It changed the whole neighborhood. It changed people's perception from the hostility that was here when I first came in the 90s. I think that the engagement, the approach that the police have taken, has really paid off in the last two and a half, three years.”
For citizens who don't live in Camden, though, it's one thing to talk about the work that is being done. It's another thing to witness it. But the real opportunity comes in how they use what they saw and witnessed in moving forward. That is how Camden became a model for police departments around the country to use as a case study.
“It's amazing seeing the dialogue that the law enforcement has with the people that live amongst this neighborhood,” Vernon said, “and how everybody is just basically working together and how it changed from what I heard a few years ago, how Camden used to be to what it is now. It's like night and day from what I've been told. That's amazing what just little things like that can have a ripple effect and make a big difference amongst everything that's going on. And you can change from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods to now you can walk down the street. You have people out, you have kids playing basketball and football out here, and it's very eye-opening.”
“The one thing that I would take away is the communication and the community policing,” Harrison said. “I've heard about it, I've read about it, but to actually come here and see that you have officers actually walking up and down the street talking to the people that are sitting outside on their porches, they're involved in their communities and it seems to me that at least in this community they trust the officers. So I think that's a step in the right direction.”
“I think the number one takeaway is relationships, in general, are huge as far as trying to create a common understanding,” Omameh said. “If both sides understand each other on a personal level, that's when you can really have a common ground. I think it makes all the difference, and the Camden PD is really the living testament to that.”