Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
Wash. police get in snowball fight with kids during snowstorm
Officers grabbed a tactical shield and had fun with local kids during a winter storm
DUVALL, Wash. — Police grabbed a tactical shield and engaged in some fun as a major winter storm blanketed parts of Washington state.
Members of the Duvall Police Department posted a Facebook video Monday of officers responding to a report of suspicious characters in a park. Police said a group of "local hostiles" were armed with "improvised projectiles made out of fluffy snow."
Officers proclaimed there would be "no mercy" as they advanced behind the shield, but they were no match for a group of youngsters who hurled snowballs at them.
The officers retreated, but one got left behind to feel the full barrage.
Community policing on an international scale
Torrington police officer visits Iraq, Romania
by Crystal R. Albers
TORRINGTON – There's no denying Torrington resident Larry Curtis has a sense of adventure. It's what drew him to Wyoming in the first place, and eventually led the Torrington Police Department patrol officer to Canada, Iraq, and most recently, Romania, to share knowledge and experience about community policing with people from around the world.
Curtis grew up about 20 miles west of Chicago in Lombard, Ill.
“I wanted to come out west,” he said. “I knew some folks out here, and they said, ‘Come on out.' I thought it would be interesting.”
In 1980, Curtis made the trek to Wyoming, and soon after met his wife, Mary. A few years later, he was embarking on a career he'd never considered.
“In 1983, I joined the police department,” he said. “It was kind of funny to join the police department – I grew up across the street from the police station … I knew all the police officers, I had no fascination with it … then I moved out to Torrington and met a fellow who had a background in law enforcement and would go on to teach criminal justice at Eastern Wyoming College – Glenn Schleve – and he encouraged me to join.”
The encounter would result in a successful livelihood spanning several decades – and still continuing to this day. Curtis obtained a bachelor's degree in justice studies from Chadron State College, along with completing some graduate hours in counseling. He also graduated from the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in 1984 and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in 1999.
After retiring from the police department in 2004 as a detective lieutenant, Curtis went to Iraq for two years as a police advisor. He returned and began teaching criminal justice at EWC, in addition to rejoining the police force part-time.
“During that time, I met Dr. David Banville (at EWC),” Curtis said. “Part of his education was spent teaching in Romania, and he and I swapped stories about teaching in other cultures … he wondered if I would be interested in going to Romania to visit schools and police departments and said he had contacts in Romania that would help me do that … I just thought it was an outstanding idea.”
Some of Curtis' enthusiasm for travel stemmed from a class he took at Chadron State.
“There was a class (called) Comparative Criminal Justice Systems,” he said. “This particular instructor, Dr. George Watson, taught that and just made it a really interesting class. It made me want to visit other countries and cultures to see how their policing systems operate.”
Way up north
Before Iraq and Romania, Curtis headed north to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1991 to tour the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy, visit the Provincial Prison, meet with judges and attorneys in the court system and ride with city police officers.
“The experience opened my eyes to a different perspective on policing,” he said. “In particular, police officers in Canada are known as working for the Police Service. Which I thought was an important distinction from American police who work in departments or agencies. These experiences motivated me to want to, at some point in my career, immerse myself in another country and culture for an extended period of time – a year or more.”
A war zone
The opportunity to travel came following 9/11 during the war in Iraq.
“The State Department was looking for American police officers to mentor and train Iraqi police officers,” Curtis said. “I thought, now is my chance to not only spend an extensive amount of time in another country and culture, but it involved my skills as a police officer along with the added element that I would be operating in a war zone. What's not to like? So I resigned my position with the TPD and arrived in Baghdad in March of 2004. I spent two years there. I asked to be assigned in the Basra region because it was in the Southeast Multinational Military District.”
In the book, “Roadside Bombs and Democracy: An American Police Officer in Iraq” author Ron Little details the time he spent with Curtis in the war zone.
“We were told to train and mentor but were given no specific goals or guidelines. Realistically, we were to ‘wing it.' We were promised we would get everything needed to function: our own office trailer, living quarters, internet, toilet, and shower facilities. We were promised more officers, but nothing ever materialized … Larry and I ended up depending on the Brits out of necessity; we had one vehicle and only two of us, so we couldn't go anywhere on our own and could only travel with military.”
Ten years later, Curtis headed to Romania to discuss community policing at a conference, returning again in October of last year to offer his thoughts on community interventions for school safety. Each visit, he spent a week interacting with residents, answering questions about American policing, and discovering how the Romanian criminal justice system is organized.
“I thought the ideas were well received,” Curtis said of his first trip to Romania. “These ideas included:
1. Identifying problems that impact the quality of life in a community;
2. Understanding that not all community problems can be solved through enforcement;
3. Developing partnerships within the community to mitigate or solve the problems;
4. Focusing police efforts on crime prevention and enforcement strategies will improve and maintain a healthy and positive relationship between the police and the public they serve.
Along with speaking at the conference I visited area schools and met with groups of students and teachers. This included grade school through high school. It was a great experience. The children had many questions about American life, which were fun to answer and talk about. They also had the chance to practice their English language skills.”
Curtis added he also found the experience helpful because he was starting a position with the TPD and the Goshen County School District as a fulltime school resource officer in the fall of 2016.
“My second visit to Pitesti, Romania in October 2018 also lasted a week and again included a conference presentation, visits to schools and meeting with police officers/ gendarmerie (military officers with civil jurisdiction) at the Arges County Inspectorate Office,” he said. “Participants at the conference included educators, administrators, gendarmerie and a commander from the local National Police office. As I listened to questions and comments during the meeting, I realized that the problems of school safety, violence and social problems brought into schools from the community were not issues limited just to the USA.
It was very interesting to see how another culture proactively was trying to manage these problems in their schools. My meeting with local gendarmerie was just as eye opening. The topics they wanted to discuss included ‘hate-speech' and radicalization and polarization as it relates to terrorism problems. One bit of common ground we laughed about was media treatment of police – that is one day the story is how officers are great heroes rescuing someone, while the next day police are viewed as the villains for arresting the wrong person.”
The core of these trips is engaging with the public to understand what issues are important to them, what problems there are, and to help solve those problems with community members, Curtis explained.
“I believe the visits were well received,” he said. “The folks that invited me were very gracious, and the conference participants were quite engaged. The school children were very enthusiastic during our meetings. The police officers I met with were very professional and as curious about American policing as I was about Romanian criminal justice and its development since their independence after the break up of the Soviet Union.
“One difference between my first visit there and my second was, on some of the school visits, two officers of the gendarmerie joined me … and their participation made all the difference,” he continued. “They brought with them some of their police equipment and the children loved it. It was fun having two local police and an American police officer working together to engage with the school children.”
While no longer teaching at EWC, Curtis is back to full-time at the TPD. He has also served as a DARE instructor for approximately 25 years. He said his experience in other countries enriches his career and interactions here.
“It's quite interesting, and I enjoy it. When I go into classrooms … I can give students and folks a new perspective they might not otherwise get,” he said. “For me personally, I was interested in immersion in another culture, but it also allowed me to talk to others about policing and engage in education in the schools. Engaging with children at our local schools and college is a first-rate experience, and it helps me as much as it helps them.”
Ever the adventurer, Curtis said discussions are already underway regarding another trip to Romania.
“I use my vacation time to do this, I pay for it myself – I really enjoy (this) sort of thing,” he said. “I can't thank Loredana Sima (Trainor/Educational Projects Organizer for ‘Save the Children' NGO, Arges County, Romania) enough for inviting me and organizing these trips, conferences and school visits. Seeing how other people and cultures and communities solve problems and work together with the police and each other, it just – it helps me. I think being a police officer is about more than just writing tickets, if you want a career you need to be able to (engage with the public) … experiencing other policing and other cultures has made me a better police officer and a better person, as well.
Community policing or goofing around?
One of the two Toronto police officers caught on videotape doing what looks to us like goofing around with women in a bar in the Entertainment District, told CTV News it was actually an example of positive community policing.
If so, we clearly need to brush up on the definition of community policing.
Because it strikes us that what the videos show has little to do with improving police-community relations in a police service that prides itself as “a world leader … when it comes to consultation with its communities.”
Instead, it looks like the uniformed officers involved, Const. Jian Liang and Const. Aaron Isaac of 52 division — the latter of whom described what the videos depict as community policing — are partying with female patrons at the Queen Street Warehouse bar.
We doubt the activities the videos appear to show — the officers playfully handcuffing two women, women riding around in the back of a marked police cruiser jokingly referring to it as their “Uber,” and the officers playing music via YouTube on their in-car computer workstation — are recommended in any community policing manual.
It's certainly legitimate for officers to patrol the Entertainment District and to stop in at bars and chat with the patrons, both to make their presence known and interact with the customers in a non-confrontational way.
Policing in this city is a difficult, challenging and thankless job and our city's finest are constantly under fire for doing their job.
To be fair, neither officer is drinking in the video but regardless of any good intentions they had, these videos appear to show the officers interacting with the public in way that hardly seems helpful.
Police spokesman Meaghan Gray said the police service learned of the videos on Monday and forwarded them to its professional standards unit for review.
We'll leave it to the police to decide what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken here, but the real value of this incident may be as a warning to other officers.
First, always assume anything they do may be caught on videotape.
And second, whatever police manuals say or don't say about community policing and about how officers should behave in public, there is never a substitute for good judgment and common sense.
Police Scotland sets up Brexit emergency planning centre
Emergency services to work with government agencies and councils to test readiness
by Severin Carrell
Scottish police are setting up a special emergency planning centre near Edinburgh to cope with protests, crowd control at airports and haulage delays at ports in case the UK crashes out of the EU next month.
Scotland's chief constable, Iain Livingstone, has said there will be “dynamic and fast moving challenges from Brexit” which could involve police officers being sent to ports and airports if flights and ferry services are disrupted.
He has cancelled plans to reduce frontline police numbers by 300 this year, previously agreed as a cost saving measure, and launched a new recruitment campaign to hire another 100 officers to bolster the force by around 400 constables to help cope with potential Brexit pressures.
Police Scotland announced on Wednesday that it had put 360 officers on standby for Brexit-related emergencies as part of UK-wide police planning for “reasonable worst-case scenarios”. It is thought they will be on standby for at least six months.
Brexit crisis command centre starts hiring civilians
Livingstone has also offered to send Scottish officers to help police the Irish border or deal with civil unrest and ferry disruption in ports and cities in Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Scotland has close cultural and historical ties with Northern Ireland, and is the closest UK jurisdiction geographically.
Police also fear there could be significant disruption to intelligence and data sharing with EU criminal justice agencies and police forces if there were a disorderly Brexit, potentially their investigations into cross-border crime.
Some officers are being deployed to the Brexit emergency centre in Bilston Glen in Midlothian, where the force will stage planning exercises with other emergency services, councils and government agencies to test their readiness for any disruption or disturbances.
Livingstone told the Scottish Police Authority, the civilian body that oversees the force, in late January that it had also drafted a Scottish impact assessment for a no-deal Brexit as part of a UK-wide police strategy.
“The type of planning being undertaken relates to a great variety of potential scenarios, ranging from disruption in law enforcement data, which may threaten the administration of justice, potential disruption around Scottish sea and airports, potentially leading to the delay in the movement of people and goods, to wider challenges across the United Kingdom including the potential for public disorder which would inevitably result in mutual aid requests,” he said.
Scottish government ministers wrote to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, on Friday to demand the Treasury fund these additional costs, citing Whitehall's earlier agreement to provide an extra £17m to cover Brexit-related policing in Northern Ireland.
Derek Mackay, the Scottish finance secretary, and Humzah Yousaf, the country's justice secretary, told Hammond the extra Brexit-related policing costs were likely to cost about £17m a year, excluding capital costs for uniforms, equipment and vehicles of around £800,000 a year.
Those costs could continue until 2021, depending on how quickly Police Scotland was able to reduce its numbers after Brexit.
Far right may exploit Brexit tensions, says UK counter-terror chief
“Scotland has exceptional requirements in relation to its distinct culture and geography, and separate constitutional and legal arrangements. Moreover, Police Scotland is preparing to provide mutual aid to other forces across the UK, should this be required,” they said.
“The Brexit funds that the Scottish government have so far been allocated fail to recognise these needs.”
A Whitehall source said Scottish ministers had already been allocated £92m to help with Brexit contingency costs, in part to help pay for extra policing. Whitehall officials suspect that money, which is not ring-fenced, is being used to fund day-to-day Scottish government spending.
The source said the Scottish government's arguments were nonsense. “If the Scottish government is failing to allocate cash for Brexit preparation, it is not because they don't have the money. It is because they would rather pick a constitutional fight with the UK government,” they said.
Deputy chief constable Will Kerr told the Scottish Police Authority On Wednesday that the deployment of officers for Brexit preparations was a contingency measure. Many would remain on normal duties at present.
“We have taken this decision so that we have enhanced capacity to respond to greater policing demands during this period. Our principle focus is, and will remain, the safety of the citizens of Scotland,” he said.
Fifty-four new recruits were welcomed into the police during a dedicated ‘passing out' parade at our HQ in Chelmsford.
Twenty-four of the new recruits were our first cohort of Investigate First detectives.
They were welcomed into the force by Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington. Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex Roger Hirst, Vicky Ford MP for Chelmsford and Sergeant Major William Biggar.
The officers, split into Intake I1, Intake I2 and Intake I3, have been put through their paces over the last 18 weeks as they trained to become Police Constables. After pledging their commitment to serve the residents of Essex, they were welcomed to the force in front of their loved ones.
Our new recruits will continue their training on the beat with different teams in the force until they achieve independent patrol status. Our budding detectives will then work towards their detective accreditation after attaining independent patrol status.
Mr Harrington read out messages of congratulations from the families of some of the officers and congratulated the team on behalf of the wider force.
He said: “I say with pride but also experience that British policing is the best in the world and you are joining the best police force in Britain.
“Policing in Essex as we know it dates from 1840 and people like you have been passing out on this ground since the early part of the 20th Century.
“Policing has got busier since then. But at its heart their job then is our job now: to help people, to keep them safe and to catch baddies.
“The opportunities for you in policing have never been greater. Whether on the beat in the heart of communities, in specialist operations, as a uniformed officer or as a detective, policing has a place for you to grow and develop and lead and succeed.
“None of it will be easy because nothing worthwhile ever is. But I can promise it will challenge you to achieve more than you thought possible. .
“New police officers, you walk in the steps of nearly 140 years of history but the path you tread from now on is yours to forge.”
During their training course to become Police Constables, the students collectively raised almost £5,500 for charity.
Students in Intake I1 raised £2,615 for The Haven Project, a charity based in Colchester that supports people with a personality disorder diagnosis who live in North East Essex.
Students in Intake I2 raised £1,371 for the Essex Retired Police Dogs Fund, a charity that helps with welfare and medical support for Essex retired police dogs.
Students in Intake I3 raised £1,362 for St Helena Hospice to help support people in North Essex who are facing incurable illnesses and bereavement.
Cheques were presented by each intake to representatives from the charities during the ceremony. Retired Police Dog Baloo and her new owner Mandy attended the passing out parade to talk to new recruits and their families about how the fund helps retired police dogs.
The event saw PC Bethany Dickenson awarded the Essex Police College Shield. PC Tracey Sloan scooped the Class Trophy for Intake I1, PC Shannon Munn was awarded the Class Trophy for Intake I2 and PC Isabelle Landa-Arresse was awarded the Class Trophy for Intake I3.
The event also saw the Kirste Snellgrove student officer award being presented to PC Thomas Deacon for demonstrating the core values expected of a Police Constable.
The award was created in 2012 in honour of training Sergeant Snellgrove, who sadly died following a long fight against cancer.
During her 22 years' service with Essex Police, she had displayed the key values expected of every Essex Police officer and loved her role of serving the public.
UK police use of computer programs to predict crime sparks discrimination warning
Human rights group claims the algorithms threaten a ‘tech veneer to biased practices'
by Sarah Marsh
The rapid growth in the use of computer programs to predict crime hotspots and people who are likely to reoffend risks locking discrimination into the criminal justice system, a report has warned.
Amid mounting financial pressure, at least a dozen police forces are using or considering the predictive analytics. Leading police officers have said they want to make sure any data they use has “ethics at its heart”.
But a report by the human rights group Liberty raises concern that the programs encourage racial profiling and discrimination, and threaten privacy and freedom of expression.
Racial bias in police stop and search getting worse, report reveals
Hannah Couchman, a policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said that when decisions were made on the basis of arrest data it was “already imbued with discrimination and bias from way people policed in the past” and that was “entrenched by algorithms”.
She added: “One of the key risks with that is that it adds a technological veneer to biased policing practices. People think computer programs are neutral but they are just entrenching the pre-existing biases that the police have always shown.”
Using freedom of information data, the report finds that at least 14 forces in the UK are using algorithm programs for policing, have previously done so or conducted research and trials into them.
The campaign group StopWatch said it had “grave concerns around the effectiveness, fairness and accountability of these programs”. Its chief executive, Katrina Ffrench, said: “We cannot be sure that these programs have been developed free of bias and that they will not disproportionately adversely impact on certain communities or demographics. For proper accountability there needs to be full transparency.”
These programs are often referred to as “black boxes” because the role each piece of data plays in the program's decision-making process is not made public.
“This means the public can't hold the programs to account – or properly challenge the predictions they make about us or our communities. This is exacerbated by the fact that the police are not open and transparent about their use,” the Liberty report concludes.
The programs used by police work in two main ways. Firstly, predictive mapping looks at police data about past crimes and identify “hotspots” or areas that are likely to experience more crime on a map. Police officers are then directed to patrol these parts of the country.
Secondly, “individual risk assessment” tries to predict the likelihood of a person committing, or even be the victim of, certain crimes.
Durham is among forces using such programs and has a system called Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart), says the report. Hart uses machine learning to decide how likely a person is to commit a violent or non-violent offence over the next two years. It gives an individual a risk score of low, medium or high, and is designed to over-estimate the risk. The program bases its prediction on 34 pieces of data, 29 of which relate to someone's past criminal history.
West Midlands police are also leading on a £48m project funded by the Home Office called National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS). The long-term aim of the project is to analyse vast quantities of data from force databases, social services, the NHS and schools to calculate where officers can be most effectively used. An initial trial combined data on crimes, custody, gangs and criminal records to identify 200 offenders “who were getting others into a life on the wrong side of the law”.
Supt Iain Donnelly, who is the project manager for NDAS, said: “[The project] seeks to use advanced analytics, otherwise known as data science techniques, to generate new insights from existing data already in the possession of police.”
He said the datasets being used were crime recording, incident logs, custody records, crime intelligence and conviction history from the police national computer (PNC) system. “We are not using data from non-police agencies,” he said.
Tom McNeil, strategic adviser to the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said: “We are determined to ensure that any data science work carried out by West Midlands police has ethics at its heart … These projects must be about supporting communities with a compassionate public health approach.” He said they have adopted a “transparent approach” working with human rights charities.
Until last March, Kent police used PredPol, a mapping program widely deployed in the US. The force is looking to invest in a similar predictive policing program available at a lower cost, or may develop its own. Kent said the £100,000 a year system was part of its focus on “finding innovative ways of working resourcefully” and that it was under ongoing analysis.
Avon and Somerset police use both mapping programs and a broad range of controversial risk assessment programs. They use the latter to explore, among other things, a person's likelihood of reoffending, of being a victim of a crime and of being reported missing.
“With so many predictive analytics programs or algorithms now in use it's even more important than ever to be asking questions about how an individual's risk is calculated, which factors are included and what is the margin of error when using these factors, [and] is someone asking whether the ‘risk factors' are as accurate for black or BME people as they are for white people?” said Zubaida Haque, the deputy director at the Runnymede trust.
Pasadena police chief talks police brutality, neighborhood policing at forum
by Chris Lindahl
A Thursday forum featuring newly minted Pasadena police Chief John Perez and City Manager Steve Mermell, the man who appointed him, was meant to “move the needle forward” on community-police relations.
For the residents in attendance, that meant not being shy about asking tough questions.
“We often see incidents where white suspects are apprehended after killing multiple people, but then our African-American suspects, typically are gunned down,” said James Farr, host of the Conversation.Live web show, who led the opening portion of the forum. “You're the chief, you're the man in charge — how are you going to impact the culture of this department?”
Perez, named permanently to the top cop job in December, returned to familiar themes at the event and discussed the changes he's made since being named interim chief in March. He said he wants to hear from critics, such as those on his Community Advisory Committee, increase the connection between his officers residents, ramp up neighborhood policing and address what he describes as national topics of conversation, including use of force and police oversight — ones alluded to by Farr.
“I hope that I don't talk about what we're going to do, I hope … that I talk about what we are doing,” he said. “I'm not a person who walked into this job a month ago. I'm not a person who walked into this town a month ago. I've been here for over three decades.”
The forum was the fourth in a series regarding the Pasadena Police Department hosted by Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, NAACP Pasadena Branch, Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police and Pasadenans Organizing for Progress. It was held in Northwest Pasadena at the Alkebu-Lan Cultural Center.
The discussion got tense at times during the 90-minute event, as some aired their frustrations with the Pasadena Police Department and the often-fraught relationship between police institutions and people of color.
Farr said one Pasadena sergeant reported that patrol officers feel scared at events such as Thursday's, in which many attendees were black. He asked what could be done about that.
“We all have a conscious and unconscious feeling of safety. Officers are no different,” Perez said. “Things are happening in the media, things are happening across the country. Officers are not feeling safe. The closer they feel to the community, the safer the community is. … If the officers watch the news or they're reading newspapers, the officers will be in that vehicle scared.”
Mermell said Perez brings a change in tone at the top of the department and his attitude of community engagement should help effect positive change at the patrol-officer level.
As an example of that positive change, Mermell pointed to the department's police cars. A recent decision to replace the older, softer decals designed in conjunction with ArtCenter College of Design was a mistake, and the department is going back to the older style, he said.
“It seems like a small thing — but it's not,” Mermell said. “It's part of the image we project. We don't want to project this militaristic, some people would say occupying, type of attitude.”
Residents also asked about the status of investigations into two officers' beating of Christopher Ballew, a black Altadena man, during a 2017 traffic stop. Mermell said the internal investigation is being stalled because of civil litigation. “If there wasn't civil litigation, it would probably be done by now,” he said.
They also addressed Senate Bill 1421. The law that took affect in January allows the public to obtain the personnel and investigatory records of officers using deadly force, involved in sustained acts of on-duty sexual assault or engaging in dishonesty.
Some departments, such as Long Beach's, destroyed decades of records ahead of the New Year.
“Right now we have our records — we haven't destroyed anything,” Perez said.
However, the chief said records can't be kept forever out of fairness for officers who may have been disciplined many years ago. But officials will need to have a “broader discussion” about how to handle records to stay in compliance with the law.
Pasadena police last week released edited footage of an incident where officers fired at an armed suspect who was wanted on a drug charge — a move that was met with controversy from critics who suggested the department was attempting to unfairly control the narrative.
“I put out the facts of that case,” Perez said.
The department later released unedited footage. Mermell said the produced video was released to provide context.
Multiple Warnings, No Action
by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
University of Utah student told campus police officers multiple times she was worried about repeated, harassing text messages from ex-boyfriend. They did little to help her, and he murdered her, on campus. Experts say the tragedy points to the need for colleges to do more about domestic violence.
Jill McCluskey was on the phone with her daughter when she heard the screams. On the phone call on an October night, Jill heard her 21-year-old daughter, Lauren, a University of Utah student, yell out, “No, no, no!"
Lauren McCluskey was a track athlete who planned to graduate in 2019 and get a job in public relations or academic advising. Her obituary said she entered her first track meet at 8 years old. She volunteered at the YMCA, the Special Olympics and her local branch of the Humane Society, socializing cats so they could be more adoptable. Friends said she never had an unkind word to say about anyone.
Lauren was found dead in the back of a car in a campus parking lot.
She was shot by Melvin Shawn Rowland, a man she had dated for about a month, a relationship she ended and reported on multiple occasions to campus police, who missed signs that Rowland (who fatally shot himself after killing her) was abusive and controlling, according to a university-commissioned report on McCluskey's case. Investigations by the institution and state found that the campus officers hadn't been trained in domestic violence and to check whether Rowland was on active parole, which he was -- knowledge that many say could have saved McCluskey's life.
Being on active parole (temporary release for good behavior) means Rowland's threatening conduct could have led to his being jailed. His parole agreement dictated he wasn't allowed to possess a firearm (as the reports insinuated he did) or have active social media accounts.
The tragedy of a young woman murdered by a man whom she told law enforcement she feared was enough to inspire national drama, but experts in dating violence say Lauren McCluskey's death serves as an important lesson for institutions -- that they should invest financially in both their police forces and counselors, as well as coaching on how to prevent such incidents.
University officials have acknowledged they need to improve campus security, but have maintained it's not clear whether McCluskey's death was preventable.
The following comes from the twin reports that the university and state ordered after her death.
McCluskey met Rowland at a bar in early September and began a relationship with him for most of the month. Rowland, 37, lied to her about his age, claiming he was nearly a decade younger, and never told her about the original offense that put him in jail in 2004 -- he pled guilty to attempted sexual assault of a teenage girl. The university report states that McCluskey spoke to two friends in September and appeared sad because Rowland hadn't let her see her friends.
In early October, McCluskey unearthed Rowland's criminal record, confronted him about it and, shortly thereafter, broke off their relationship. She allowed him to use her car, however, to apparently run errands.
The same day McCluskey ended the relationship, Oct. 9, she received a text, which she believed to be a from a friend of Rowland's, accusing her of breaking his heart. Investigators reported later that they believed Rowland was sending these messages. Other messages urged her to end her life.
McCluskey's mother, worried about her daughter's safety, talked with a university dispatcher the next day, and arranged for a security worker (not a police officer) to escort her to pick up her car from Rowland, which they did without incident.
But the text messages kept coming.
The day after McCluskey retrieved her car, she received a text that Rowland was in the hospital, allegedly because of an accident. Then on Oct. 12, she got a message that he had died.
McCluskey filed a report with campus police the same day she was told about Rowland's purported death, characterizing the texts as nonthreatening. An officer informed her then that “not much can be done.”
On Oct. 13, McCluskey contacted police again, this time because she received a message blackmailing her. She was warned that “compromising pictures” of her would be made public if she did not send $1,000 to a bank account. Police interviewed McCluskey at the campus police headquarters that day, but ultimately, a formal investigation didn't begin until six days later, in part because the detective on the case was working on other assignments. The university report criticizes the department for not recognizing “possible dangers” of domestic violence that were present in the text messages.
The same day that McCluskey was killed, Oct. 22, she received fake texts, allegedly from the university deputy police chief, asking her to come to the police building. She called an officer instead, who directed her not to respond to the messages, though the officer did not report the impersonation. McCluskey was murdered later that night.
The reports document a rash of other errors. The detective assigned to McCluskey's case wasn't versed in interpersonal violence. The initial report of McCluskey taking back her car wasn't documented with university police because they did not handle the interaction. Officers who worked with McCluskey -- who are spread thin at the institution, with the police department understaffed, according to the university report -- never interviewed her in her dormitory because they were unable to leave their assigned posts. This meant they didn't pick up on more subtle hints that the case was so serious -- like the fact that McCluskey covered her window with a blanket because she thought Rowland had peered into her room.
“There's no substitute for face-to-face interaction with a police officer and a crime victim to ascertain the whole story of what is happening or what has happened,” said Sue Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Riseling was also one of the three-member team to prepare the report for the university.
McCluskey's friends also had expressed concerns to university housing officials as early as September. They reported to a resident assistant that McCluskey was in an “unhealthy” and “controlling” relationship and that Rowland had been “practically living with her” and that he had floated giving McCluskey a gun. When the report went up the chain of command in university housing, the administrators concluded that they should not “overstep” unless McCluskey sought out help, because she was “in an apparently consensual relationship,” though officials did intend to raise whether Rowland's frequent stays in her room violated policies around long-term guests.
Campus police officers also weren't properly trained to identify whether Rowland was on active parole. An agent from Utah's Adult Probation and Parole contacted Rowland in mid-October but was unaware of McCluskey's concerns because campus police had not communicated with the state. Campus law enforcement checked Rowland's criminal history, which did reveal his conviction but not his parole status. He was out on parole for the third time.
Utah's criminal records, however, do not note whether an offender is on probation or parole -- they used to, but a Federal Bureau of Investigation audit determined in 2015 this was a violation of the federal agency's rules.
But the state's report documents flaws with their systems for tracking parolees' status, too. The Department of Corrections maintains a system called O-Track, which mistakenly only had a record of Rowland's parole identification number, but not his driver's license.
Despite the university's findings, administrators have never clearly stated that McCluskey's death was avoidable if police had not erred, which her family and have friends have said is the case. At a press conference in December, President Ruth Watkins said the report “does not offer us reason to believe this tragedy could have prevented.”
Earlier this month, when Jill McCluskey wrote to The Salt Lake Tribune outlining her complaints with the university's process, officials acknowledged “identified mistakes and weaknesses in university procedures” but said in a statement “there is no way to know for certain whether this tragic murder could have been prevented.”
“If our daughter's death could have been prevented after she reached out to campus police so many times, we have to ask, is anyone's daughter safe?” Jill McCluskey wrote in a letter to the Tribune. “She did everything she could to obtain help from an organization that claims to have an overriding objective of protecting the safety of students. This organization fatally failed her. What will it take for them to treat women's concerns seriously and with urgency when they complain about harassment, peeking through their windows, extortion and impersonating a police officer?”
The university announced in December it will add staffers to both its Public Safety Department and its Behavioral Intervention Team, a group in its counseling center designed to handle students who are a threat to themselves or others who are worried about being harmed. It also will train its campus officers in the Lethality Assessment Program, developed to identify the signs of domestic violence.
Riseling, of the police association, said that this is a good investment, given that campus police forces have suffered financially since the Great Recession in 2008. While the association does not maintain any data on police budgets, Riseling said anecdotally the top reason that campus police agencies did not renew their membership with the association was because they could not afford it. The dues range between $400 and $500 annually, Riseling said -- there was about an 11 percent drop in the association's 4,000 members, which are a mixture of colleges and universities, individuals and businesses.
“It's just gotten so much tighter over the last seven to 10 years,” Riseling said.
But since 2013, when Congress approved the Violence Against Women Act, an expansion to the federal law that requires colleges to individually report certain crimes (sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking), these issues have gotten more attention on campuses, said Abigail Boyer, interim director of the Clery Center.
The Clery Center is named for that federal law, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
While Boyer said she has heard budget complaints, she said that she has encouraged campus law enforcement to reach out to local and state coalitions on domestic violence. These organizations often receive federal grants for such training. But she said all parts of the university, and officials outside of law enforcement -- in student affairs, in residence life -- should be learning about these problems, too.
“Reports can come in anywhere,” Boyer said.
Universities should also then educate their professors and students on domestic violence, said Kerri Raissian, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut and a specialist in child and family and interpersonal violence.
Women ages 16 to 24, the demographic traditionally entering college, are at the highest risk of dating violence, Raissian said. But she stressed that men, and people in same-sex partnerships, can also be victims. College students are often dismissed when they bring up troubles in relationships because the turbulence is just considered “part of the college experience, something you experience as a young adult.”
“While some of that is true, there are some clear warning signs that are not normal,” Raissian said, noting in McCluskey's case the repeated text messages and preceding controlling behavior.
Universities should financially bolster not only their police, but also their counseling centers, and employ more people who can handle the “emotional” side of domestic violence incidents, which police may not be equipped to do, Raissian said. Students, without these resources at hand, can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), which is staffed all the time, she said.
At Raissian's institution, the Dean of Students Office offers victim advocacy services, which employs people who will help survivors of domestic violence as police work through their cases. Nationwide, most victim services are placed within campus police departments.
The University of Florida's police department, for instance, employs three full-time advocates, who assist in reviewing cases and conduct campuswide seminars on domestic violence and other crimes in addition to their traditional duties.
Some institutions also maintain “special victims' units” within their campus law enforcement. Michigan State University's investigates sex crimes, relationship violence, stalking and harassment, and child abuse, and officers in the unit receive special “trauma-informed” training.
Yale University, meanwhile, employs a “sensitive crimes coordinator” who doesn't investigate cases but can sit in on interviews and make sure students are connected to resources and may work with students on a safety plan, including finding them appropriate alternative housing if they are in danger.
Massive Shakeup in Police, IG Redeploys over 50 Officers
by Mohammed Adamu
A wave of redeployments Wednesday hit the police hierarchy as the acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, approved the transfer of over 50 senior officers less than 10 days to the presidential election scheduled for February 16.
Although a statement by the spokesperson of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, said the postings were approved by the commission following recent promotions in the force, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) raised serious doubts about the motive of the exercise, contending that it was aimed at using the police to manipulate the impending general election.
However, a statement by Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, said the deployments were made following the decoration of newly promoted officers within the ranks of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and Commissioner of Police (CP).
One of the postings that became immediately controversial yesterday was the promotion and posting of Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, former chief security officer (CSO) to Senator Bola Tinubu while he was governor of Lagos State.
Egbetokun had earlier been redeployed to take over from Mr. Imohimi Edgal as Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command last year by the former police boss, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. But the retirement of Idris put paid to that as the new boss, Adamu halted the handover process that had begun.
Now, Egbetokun has been moved to Kwara State Command as CP, sparking a wave of protest from the PDP, which alleged Wednesday that it was a ploy to oust Senate President Bukola Saraki, from his dominance of the state's politics.
Mba had in a statement reeled out a long list of deployments involving the newly decorated senior officers Thursday.
In all, 18 AIGs got new postings while 35 CPs were deployed in the state commands.
Two deputy commissioners were appointed acting commissioners and deployed in two state commands.
With the development, Lagos now has a new police boss, Mr. Mu'azu Zubairu, who will now take over from Edgal
The other commissioners are: “Buba Sanusi, Katsina State; Mohammed Wakili, Kano State; Rabiu Ladodo, Jigawa State; Ahmed Iliyasu, Ogun State; Mu'azu Zubairu, Lagos State; Ibrahim Sabo, Niger State; Alkassam Sanusi, Taraba State; Garba M. Mukaddas, Adamawa State; Omololu Bishi, Benue State; Bola Longe, Nassarawa State; Isaac Akinmoyede, Plateau State; Odumosu Hakeem, Edo State; Olushola David, Bayelsa State; Adeleke Yinka, Delta State; Austin Iwero Agbonlahor, Cross Rivers State; Bashir Makama, Akwa Ibom State; Awosola Awotunde, Ebonyi State; Belel Usman, Rivers State; Bello Makwashi, Gombe State and Abdulrahman Ahmed, Kaduna State.”
Others are: “Bala Ciroma, FCT; Egbetokun Kayode, Kwara State; Hakeem Busari, Kogi State; Asuquo Amba, Ekiti state; Galadanchi Dasuki, Imo State; Suleiman Balarabe, Enugu State; Dandaura Mustapha, Anambra State; Etim Ene Okon, Abia State; Ibrahim Kaoje, Sokoto State; Celestine Okoye, Zamfara State; Garba Danjuma, Kebbi State; Abiodun Ige, Osun State; Undie Adie, Ondo State; Olukolu Shina, Oyo State; Ali Janga, Bauchi State; Damian Chukwu, Bornu State and Sumonu Abdulmalik, Yobe State.”
According to the Commission, the CPs are expected to proceed immediately to their new commands ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, according to Ani's statement, charged them to quickly settle at their new posts and ensure that the forthcoming general elections in their various commands are peaceful, free, fair and transparent.
PDP Protests, Says APC Wants to Oust Saraki at All Cost
Meanwhile, the PDP and the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) Thursday threatened to pull out of the peace accord over alleged plot by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate the general election, using different unholy and undemocratic means.
Cairo police try to improve public relations with lottery tickets
For those obeying traffic laws in Cairo, they could win big with the traffic tickets they're giving people
by Taylor Clark
CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - If you're headed through Cairo this week, you'll want to be sure that you're obeying all the traffic laws. They're giving out a lot of tickets, but probably not the kind you're thinking of.
They're giving people lottery tickets when they see them following traffic laws, according to Chief of Police Len Harris.
He acknowledges that the city has a bit of a bad reputation for traffic enforcement. He said the idea behind doing this is to improve the department's relationship with the people who they serve.
“When you develop those kind of relationships, then the trust is definitely increased,” he said, “because the citizens feel as though they know the officers or we have a personal relationship. Which is what we want.”
So far, he said they've given out about 60 tickets, and will continue until they're all gone. Harris said all the money for the lottery tickets came from donations from the officers in the department and other city employees.
Harris said even though this idea has a sense of humor to it, they aren't messing with the people they stop. He said they don't want to violate any rights or stress anyone out while they do this. He said some people have gotten a little nervous about it.
“And that's a normal reaction,” he said, “most people feel you know, ‘police stopped me. What have I done wrong?' you automatically get nervous, but that's what we're trying to stop.”
Clay County Public Schools To Establish A Police Force
by Stephanie Brown
To comply with a Florida law that requires security in all schools, the Clay County School District is looking to establish their own police force- and in only a few months.
Through the last school year, the District relied on the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Green Cove Springs Police Department, and the Orange Park Police Department to get the job done, as well as “Guardians” who were certified through CCSO. The plan that was approved Thursday night by the School Board would continue the partnership with GCSPD and OPPD, but move away from CCSO, in favor of their own employees.
The District has now committed to creating their own law enforcement agency by hiring 47 staff members in the next few months, including a Chief, two Lieutenants, four Sergeants, 36 School Resource Officers, three Relief SRO's, and one Detective. GCSPD would work Charles E. Bennett Elementary and Green Cove Springs Junior High, OPPD would work Grove Park Elementary, Orange Park Elementary, and Orange Park Junior High, and the remaining 36 schools would fall under the new SROs.
In the first year, this program is expected to cost just over $6.1 million. Year 2 is projected around $4.2 million. The District says revenue from a recent voter-approved school security tax will be put toward those bills.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels says he doesn't think this plan was though through. He says he would have wanted to see then District partner with CCSO through this planning process, and he doesn't believe they're thinking about the non-stop coverage needed to fully serve the jurisdiction and cover the investigative side of the job.
“That said, the Clay County Sheriff's Office won't let the school board fail, because allowing them to fail will be all of us failing our children,” Daniels says.
Charleston Police Department joins App to Connect with Public
by Paola Tristan Arruda
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department just recently partnered with an app called Nextdoor, which is a social networking website for neighborhoods.
Officials say it is part of a new initiative, put forth by Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds, to foster “open dialogue, transparency, and improve communications between the Charleston Police Department and the communities” they serve.
The app allows neighborhood residents to talk to each other about events or warn each other about crime trends.
Police hope to use this app and connect with residents about issues and crime trends going on specifically within their neighborhoods.
In a press release, CPD stated, “ The initiative is an example of what the department calls “micro-community policing”: an attempt to use hyper-local data to customize its approach to law enforcement. Officers can alert residents to crime trends, ask for feedback on policing initiatives, or simply introduce themselves.
Philip Wolfersberger, the owner of Pelican's Snoballs in West Ashley, says this is something the community needs. He said his business was broken into three weeks after they first opened up, and he couldn't have caught the person who did it without the help of police and the community.
“The more involved people can be in the community and the more they know what's going on you know especially if hey this happened in my neighborhood”, said Wolfersberger.
Officials say if you have an emergency, you should still call 911. If you need to report a crime in progress, they ask people to dial 843-743-7200.
How police and the hospitality industry can work together to promote public safety
Reach out to hotels and event venues in your jurisdiction to help them develop screening protocols to catch weapons and thwart mass casualty incidents
The October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas – in which 59 attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Festival were killed by shots fired from a 32nd floor Mandalay Bay hotel room – is the worst massacre of its kind in American history.
The shooter was able to walk 24 firearms – including 14 semi-automatic rifles – ammunition and high capacity magazines directly through the hotel doors, without anyone being the wiser. Had the hotel implemented a layered approach to security, that outcome may have been different.
This tragedy sadly underscores the need for public spaces like hotels and event venues to review and implement changes to enhance their security procedures. Local law enforcement can play an important role in helping hospitality establishments make their premises harder targets for bad actors.
“Compared to other countries, the American hospitality industry is a super-soft target,” said Sean Crain, president/CEO of Orion Security Solutions. “In the U.S., we have completely uncontrolled access into the properties, such as hotels, restaurants, casinos or stadiums. This makes them very vulnerable to anyone walking in with anything.”
HOW POLICE CAN HELP
Currently, the relationship between the hospitality industry and police generally consists of the first party calling the second when something goes wrong. This strategy doesn't leverage the expertise and strategies that police departments (and qualified private security consultants) can provide to help keep communities safe. By working closely with the hospitality industry, police can help substantially improve security to better prevent these sites from being exploited by would-be mass shooters and other terrorists.
“You'd be looking for weaknesses in the perimeter, in the number of unprotected entrances and exits to the property and other ways to tighten that funnel,” said Keith Mulcahy of MSA Security. “You'd also be looking for ways to manage access safely – such as card access passes, metal scanners and X-ray machines – without unduly hampering the flow of guests, staff and materials.”
Police can also advise the hospitality industry about security solutions and training, help site managers develop response plans to deal with active shooters and other threats, and help hospitality companies establish communications links, protocols and relationships with police before such events take place.
THE NEED FOR SCREENING
One effective way to minimize terrorist access to hospitality sites and event venues is setting up secure access points. Similar to the security screening points that provide safety at the nation's airports, these combinations of security personnel, walk-through metal detectors and X-ray machines to screen personal bags, luggage and packages can keep bad actors like the Las Vegas shooter from getting into the property.
“X-ray systems are the No. 1 way to screen luggage for dangerous contraband, such as bombs, guns or big knives,” said Crain. “Hotels and other hospitality companies can also employ video cameras and facial recognition software to spot known offenders and alert security and their police partners. There is even technology that uses artificial intelligence linked to camera systems to spot and address abnormal behavior by visitors.”
X-RAY SCREENING OPTIONS
The availability of X-ray screening systems in various sizes and configurations from companies like Smiths Detection makes it both easy and affordable for hotels, casinos, theme parks and stadiums to add a new level of screening to their security strategy.
For example, stadiums and other venues that have to secure massive outdoor crowds can benefit from a solution like the new ScanVan mobile X-ray inspection system. Built on a Dodge ProMaster Cargo Van, and equipped with a Smiths Detection HI-SCAN X-ray unit, the ScanVan is literally an X-ray machine on wheels.
Department of Homeland Security agencies are already using the ScanVan because it is as simple as parking at a temporary checkpoint and immediately screening belongings with the motorized conveyor belt that moves items through the X-ray quickly.
To enhance security processes indoors, consider an X-ray system that uses dual-view scanning technology, such as the Smiths Detection HI-SCAN 6040-2is, to provide both a profile and top-to-bottom view of scanned items, eliminating the need for to flip items over for a better look.
Many convention centers and other rapidly reconfigured venues use smaller tools like the HI-SCAN 5030si, a tabletop X-ray system that can be quickly set up or removed as needed. These compact X-ray systems are often paired with walk-through metal detectors, which are used to scan individuals and their belongings for metallic objects.
Police can help promote public safety by recommending strategies and technologies for the hospitality industry, such as those described above. Screening visitors and controlling access are critical components of enhanced security. Many venues have already added X-ray and metal detectors to their security and screening protocols, whether behind the scenes for deliveries or in public checkpoints.
Springfield police set to start camera program with public
by Crystal Thomas
Springfield will soon join several Illinois cities that have a voluntary program in which residents can register their private cameras to help out police.
Police Chief Kenny Winslow told the City Council recently that the registration will be available through the Springfield Police Department's website in February.
Residents who own private exterior cameras would enter information, like their address and a way to contact them, into a portal on the website. That information would be uploaded into a spreadsheet, which would plot all of the registered private security cameras on a map. Police officers would have access to this information and would be able to contact camera owners afterward if a crime occurred nearby.
"We can send an alert via email or have detectives just call," Winslow said.
Winslow said the camera owners would be able to send in the footage through evidence.com, which is an encrypted hosting site that the city already uses. Or, a police officer could review the footage with the homeowner.
Winslow said police are more likely to apprehend a suspect if they get information quickly after a crime. Plus, Winslow said the camera network could act as a deterrent to crime happening in the first place.
"It will hopefully lead to more investigatory leads on crimes, or hopefully a better apprehension rate or maybe even a reduction (in crime)," Winslow said. "We just have to figure it out how to better market it to have good participation."
Unlike some cities, Winslow said the department decided that going through a third-party vendor to host the registration was not cost-effective. The portal was made in-house by the city's information systems division.
The Chillicothe Police Department in October announced their Community Partnership Camera Program.The program, according to the department's web site allows "residents and businesses of Chillicothe to register locations and capabilities of their outdoor security camera systems with the Chillicothe Police Department." That way, the department says, officers will know the locations of nearby cameras and be able to collect video evidence and follow up on leads.
Several other Illinois cities like Chicago, Belleville, O'Fallon, Bloomington and Edwardsville have registrations.
Bloomington has had the program since 2016. It takes two to five minutes to fill out the form on its website, according to its police department's spokesman, Officer John Fermon.
Fermon said he couldn't say exactly how many cameras are registered, but he said it was a small percentage of Bloomington's 80,000 residents.
The registration is used as a "supplementary" tool to ongoing investigations.
In more serious crimes, police will have already committed to a door-to-door neighborhood canvass, Fermon said. Participation from the public when they hear about homicides can already be high, he added.
"Usually if a crime occurs, especially in Bloomington, a lot of people will call and say, 'Hey, do you guys need video?'" Fermon said.
The registration comes in handy in crimes like burglary and battery, where not as many resources may be available.
A registration was rolled out through the Edwardsville Police Department in June. So far, 35 people with cameras have signed up, according to Lt. Mike Lybarger. Every time the department posts about the program on social media like Facebook, a few more people sign up, he said.
"We stress it's a voluntary program," Lybarger said. "We don't want to log into your system. We just want to know you have a system."
The registration was part of a presentation to city council about the police department's proposed budget. Aldermen seemed receptive to the idea.
"This is something that's being widely asked for by our neighborhood associations and will be a positive for the city," said Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin.
In an interview, McMenamin said a few neighborhood associations in his ward have already created lists of home security cameras and shared them with their neighborhood police officer. A citywide effort would be more helpful, McMenamin said.
He, too, has noticed more exterior cameras. He said he has encountered cameras that doubled as doorbells while dropping off meals on Meals on Wheels.
McMenamin cited a December shooting, in which a man got out of his car and opened fire on a car near Leland and Wiggins avenues, wounding a 26-year-old man. A camera capturing a license plate of the shooter's car in that instance would have helped, McMenamin said.
Winslow said no one incident prompted the need for a registration. Rather, it is a reaction to the higher number of private security cameras in the city.
"We've seen a proliferation of private security cameras throughout our city," Winslow said. "We know that more and more, as the price comes down, people are installing them.
LGBT police officers say they've faced horrible discrimination, and now they're suing
by Kristin Lam
LOS ANGELES — It didn't matter whether Jay Brome called for backup during high-speed stolen car pursuits, intense vehicle impoundments or hit-and-run investigations. His fellow officers at the California Highway Patrol would not respond even when situations required him to hold his gun out, putting his life at risk.
They made him feel unsafe at work in other ways, too, Brome recalls. Some officers tied hangers in the shape of penises around his locker. They routinely flung homophobic slurs and once carved his name off an award plaque.
Brome says the dangerous workplace environment began years ago, when he was attending highway patrol academy and a fellow cadet held a gun to his head.
“I know you are gay," the cadet said, according to Brome. "Tell me you are gay and I will pull the trigger.”
Brome filed numerous internal complaints, but nothing happened. Supervisors allowed the hostile treatment to continue, Brome surmised, because he was a gay man. In 2016, Brome sued the California Highway Patrol for 20 years of alleged discrimination and harassment.
“They refuse to acknowledge there's a problem and they refuse to do anything about it,” said Brome, of Vallejo, California.
Brome's story is part of a wave of lawsuits alleging anti-gay workplace discrimination filed by gay officers against law enforcement departments across the U.S. in recent years. The lawsuits describe abusive work environments, where being gay or lesbian often meant cruel taunts, hostile work conditions and limited career opportunities. Some officers said they faced different work standards, while others claimed administrators passed them over for promotion or denied them protection — all because of their sexual orientation.
In all, there were at least 11 such lawsuits filed since 2016, according to a review conducted by USA TODAY of public records and media reports. Experts on law enforcement and civil rights activists noted that the problem of LGBT officers feeling unsafe at work isn't new, but some officers are now heading to the courts to demand accountability after years of internal complaints that were often ignored.
"Usually when there's a lawsuit, a lot of things have been exhausted to get to that point," said Roddrick Colvin, a public affairs associate professor at San Diego State University. "So we get a very, very narrow band of cases that actually make it to the courts."
Many departments refused to comment on the pending litigation and it's unclear what really happened on the job. But the lawsuits all paint the same picture of an intolerant law enforcement system that can treat its own people with little regard.
‘The command staff has a problem with your sexuality'
In New Jersey, Andrew Kara sued the Bergen County Sheriff's Office for sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination and wrongful termination in 2017. Officers and supervisors allegedly mocked Kara in person and in work texting groups because he is gay. He endured slurs and questions about whether he had any "AIDS medicine." Once, the lawsuit states, a sergeant mocked Kara's sexual preference by insinuating that Kara had “choked on a thing or two in his lifetime,” as he simulated oral sex.
Kara did not comment on the pending case, nor did the sheriff's office. The office requires all employees take annual training on its anti-harassment and discrimination policy, spokesperson Derek Sands said. He added the agency complies with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
In Missouri, Sgt. Keith Wildhaber of the St. Louis County Police has a trial scheduled this April two years after filing his lawsuit. He alleged the agency denied him multiple promotions despite his qualifications.
“The command staff has a problem with your sexuality," a police commissioners board member allegedly told him. "If you ever want to see a white shirt [get a promotion], you should turn down your gayness.”
Wildhaber said he has participated in two promotional processes since filing, but still has not been promoted. The St. Louis County Police and County Counselor's Office declined to comment on the pending case or its policies.
"It's been a rough two years," Wildhaber said.
The Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, that focuses on public policy, tracked lawsuits involving LGBT officers from 2000 to 2013, the biggest study of its kind. It found lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender officers and applicants filed 48 court cases during that time period.
‘I was devastated'
Officers who filed lawsuits said they worried not just about their career, but also their mental and physical health.
The homophobic harassment Brome said he first faced in the academy continued at three different San Francisco Bay Area departments throughout his career until 2015, when his doctor advised him to take medical stress leave because of the discrimination's toll. Doctors diagnosed him with anxiety, depression and PTSD, Brome said, and the stress provoked constant headaches and stomach problems.
As he awaits California Highway Patrol's response to his 2018 brief, which is an appeal to a court dismissal of his 2016 lawsuit on the grounds he waited too long to file, Brome said he wants accountability and financial compensation for lost wages.
The agency has an internal process to resolve complaints, spokesperson Fran Clader said, and providing equal employment opportunity is department policy. Clader said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
In New Jersey, Sharon Papp left a job she loved at the Princeton Police Department in 2015, two years after filing for sexual orientation and gender discrimination, as well as sexual harassment. Papp, a lesbian, said the litigation barred her from possible promotions. By then, Papp had clocked in 22 years in that New Jersey agency, and nearly six years serving elsewhere.
"I hit a dead end and I was devastated," she said.
Papp said her police chief at the time, David Dudeck, grabbed and shook his genitals on multiple occasions in front of Papp and other officers, some of whom joined her lawsuit against the department. The former chief also called male officers "p---y" to degrade them, Papp said, disrespecting women, too.
Another time, when Papp was on vacation in Rhode Island with her wife, Dudeck asked a subordinate officer, "Do you think she's going up there and eating p----?" while making a "v" with his fingers and putting his tongue out, according to a deposition.
In another instance, Papp alleges Dudeck said he would assign an investigation into a sexual assault involving two men, to "the best d--- sucking detective."
"My biggest stressor was not the job itself, but it was from the chief of police," Papp told USA TODAY. "Really, in this situation, I felt powerless."
Her anxiety sometimes manifested as muscle tension, high blood pressure and diarrhea.
Along with her colleagues, Papp brought a complaint to their police union in February 2013. The complaint then went to the mayor, City Council and business administrator. But none of the officials spoke to them, Papp said, so they filed the lawsuit a couple months later to seek accountability. The trail was scheduled for Feb. 4, when Papp settled for $1.3 million.
Dudeck retired in 2013 and admitted to a list of discriminatory actions, according to a court document.
Current Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter said the department strives to maintain an inclusive environment and treat all with dignity and respect.
"The Princeton Police department has worked to move the department culture in a direction that concentrates on the wellness of our employees and the tenants of service oriented policing that benefits our residents," Sutter said. "Our recruitment and promotional processes have successfully identified officers that epitomize the backgrounds, professionalism, honor, knowledge, integrity and ideals of service that our community deserves and our department strives to represent."
'Tip of the iceberg'
The public is only now learning more about discrimination against LGBT police officers in part because of recent legal changes that allow them to come forward and demand justice, researchers and activists say.
Few gay and lesbian officers sued their departments in the 1980s and '90s, said Colvin, who has researched lesbian and gay police. But as more officers came out and local and state governments adopted public employment protections, lawsuits have increased, Colvin said.
Most state, county and local law enforcement departments require officers to submit discrimination claims at their respective level of government, Colvin said, sometimes through a union or human relations commissions. Claims may be resolved internally or through negotiation or arbitration.
Others facing employment discrimination may leave departments or policing in general, Colvin said. Officers can also miss deadlines for filing complaints or decide to put up with homophobic talk to get along with coworkers.
Law enforcement officers who do decide to sue for anti-LGBT discrimination have legal grounds, said Greg Nevins, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, which advocates for LGBT rights. Federal courts recognize protection for public LGBT employees under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment also protects public LGBT employees, especially in claims of irrational sexual orientation discrimination, Nevins said.
Police may also be able to cite state statutes, local ordinances and collective bargaining provisions prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Nevins said.
As the legal system continues to adopt more progressive stances on workplace discrimination, lawsuits by other minority groups such as women likewise have also trended upwards, Colvin said, as people are more willing to come forward.
A long history of abuse against LGBT people
Many law enforcement agencies have mistreated the LGBT community, so it's not entirely surprising that some officers harass their gay coworkers, said Chicago-based police misconduct attorney Andrea Ritchie, the author of an Amnesty International report called “Stonewalled: Police Abuse And Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender People In The U.S.”
Police departments in the U.S. have a long history of cracking down on same sex sexual activities, arresting gender nonconforming people in public spaces and raiding LGBT establishments. The police raid at New York City's Stonewall Inn in 1969 was a flash point, Ritchie said, but police targeted LGBT gathering places such as bars and bathhouses as early as the 1920s.
While researching police misconduct against LGBT people, Ritchie said officers often told her about homophobic and transphobic behavior they or their colleagues experienced within the department.
"There's very little nuance in terms of how they treat people who are sitting next to them in the car, who they perceive to be part of a particular community, versus how they treat people outside of the car," Ritchie said.
Julie Callahan witnessed police discrimination for most of her nearly 40 years in law enforcement. She says her police colleagues sometimes stopped transgender people just because they were trans. Then, in 1998, she became the first officer at the San Jose Police Department in California to come out as transgender and later in 2001 to transition on the job.
After she came out, she said supervisors gave her negative feedback about her "lifestyle." Callahan said coworkers broke into her desk, stole her Palm Pilot with all her contacts and left a note with the word "f----t."
One officer in the department was especially vocal about his anti-LGBT attitudes. When Callahan got off work at 3 a.m. one night and walked to her personal car in civilian clothes, she said that officer jumped out from behind a pillar and physically attacked her, using transphobic and homophobic slurs.
She told a commanding officer about the incident that can now be considered a hate crime, but Callahan said she did not submit a crime report. The San Jose Police Department did develop a transgender officer policy while she worked there, Callahan said, making it one of the first nation to do so.
"I know that transgender officers will have a very different experience in our department today than what Julie experienced," said James Gonzalez, the department LGBTQ community liaison officer. "Today, we are actively recruiting from the LGBTQ community and our chief regularly convenes an LGBTQ advisory board that is constantly working to make SJPD a more inclusive place to work and serve."
Callahan has since retired honorably from the agency, but she said former coworkers still intentionally misgender her online and at regional meetings in her capacity as a district attorney investigator.
Since founding and running the support group Transgender Community of Police and Sheriffs (TCOPS) International, Callahan said she has heard from dozens of officers across the country who lost their jobs after coming out as transgender to their administrators.
"You will have this employee who's an exemplary employee by all written accounts and personal accounts before their transition," Callahan said. "But after they transition they can do no right. And they get written up and written up and even though the accusations, and the behaviors described are contrived, the officer has been fired."
But while police previously may have previously lacked connections with gay people, Colvin said coworkers or patrol partners coming out can sometimes change dynamics for the better. Meanwhile, LGBT police associations, such as Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) chapters, can uplift LGBT officers by providing mentorship and community.
In recent years, some police departments have set out to hire LGBT police officers and provide LGBT training to their staffs, some to avoid messy public lawsuits or because they were required by the courts, and some to embrace inclusivity.
LGBT awareness training can improve how police treat members of the community inside and outside agencies, said Greg Miraglia, president of Out to Protect, an organization supporting LGBT law enforcement officers. With help from others, including San Jose's police chief, he wrote a California law — effective this year — that requires LGBT training for law enforcement and 911 operators.
"The law requiring training very much is in response to a fairly long history of discrimination and harassment in law enforcement," Miraglia said. "And the good news is we're going to start dealing with it, but it's not gonna change overnight."
Thriving after a lawsuit
In some cases, officers were able to survive the public scrutiny that comes with suing their police department — and even continue advocating for LGBT people.
Officer Davin Clemons filed suit in 2016 for the sexual orientation discrimination he says he endured at the Memphis Police Department in Tennessee.
When he got engaged, Clemons said his colleagues mocked him. No one ever showered in the police department's bathroom while he did, Clemons said, because he is gay.
Supervisors allegedly expressed displeasure about the attention Clemons brought to the unit as department LGBTQ liaison. They held him to a different standard, including assigning him mandatory overtime and unfairly disciplining him for a driving accident in inclement weather, his lawsuit alleges.
His close-knit, elite law enforcement unit prized hypermasculinity, A-type personalities and conformity, Clemons said. And as a black, gay man with groomed eyebrows and manicured fingernails, he was different.
"Anybody who doesn't fit is an outsider," Clemons said.
Clemons filed internal complaints, charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and eventually his lawsuit citing Memphis's 2014 anti-discrimination ordinance. The city denied his claims and began settling in 2017, agreeing to increase LGBT sensitivity training. The Memphis Police Department declined to comment on Clemons' lawsuit.
The police department has actively participated since 2016 in the city's efforts to make Memphis a more inclusive workplace, said Alexandria Smith, the city's chief human resources officer. Today, Memphis has a LGBTQ employee resource group and also recruits officers at Pride fairs.
"We really want to open our doors to a variety of individuals to come and work for us," Smith said.
Clemons said that while the lawsuit put stress on everyone involved, he believes suing ended the homophobic harassment and improved his workplace environment. He did not take a leave of absence during the litigation. Months after settling, he transferred to the training academy. He kept his role as LGBTQ community liaison and is running for City Council.
There Will Be Two Police Use-Of-Force Bills In California This Year After Negotiations Experience Setback
California lawmakers, community activists and civil liberties groups have proposed a police use-of-force bill, one day after law enforcement groups put forth their own measure.
Asm. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), the bill's author, says African American and Latino parents fear for their kids' safety whenever they leave the house.
“They can be in the right place, they can say the right thing, they can have the right attitude when approached by an officer, and still find themselves in situations that take their lives,” she said.
Weber's bill is nearly identical to one she carried last year that stalled amid law enforcement opposition. It would only allow officers to use deadly force when absolutely necessary.
The rival law enforcement proposal would establish statewide reporting and training requirements, and update California's 1872 use-of-force law to reflect U.S. Supreme Court rulings. But that standard is based on what a typical officer might “reasonably” do — in contrast to the “necessary” standard in Weber's bill.
The two sides spent the last several months negotiating but agreed to each introduce their own bills this week.
“We're always looking for common ground if we can find it,” Weber said. “But we want to make sure that it is a bill that is effective, that it is a bill that works.”
“We worked all these months, and ultimately it came down to where we both decided to go our separate ways,” said Brian Marvel, the president of PORAC, a peace officer union federation.
Days before the California Legislature adjourned last year, Senate leader Toni Atkins held a bill that would have set stricter rules on when police officers could use deadly force. She then brought the two sides together to talk through their disagreements.
Those talks are now on hold. But, it appears, they're not dead.
Unlike last year, the two sides are holding their fire against each other — and might well return to the bargaining table.
“I think there are ample opportunities — even now, with us both presenting legislation — where we can have further conversations, trying to maybe reach a compromise,” Marvel said.
In a statement, Atkins said she'll continue to work with the two sides to “find common ground.”
“I have asked both sides to acknowledge two key principles: We must recognize that peace officers make incredibly difficult decisions in rapidly evolving situations? and deserve our protection. And, we must acknowledge that we have a problem with disproportionate police use of force here in California and nationally, and that bias is often involved,” the pro Tem said.
The law enforcement coalition is throwing its support behind a new bill by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas). It would update California's use-of-force law, which dates back to 1872, to reflect U.S. Supreme Court rulings and current case law. It would also mandate that law enforcement agencies adopt specific use-of-force policies, and establish statewide reporting and training requirements.
“It's groundbreaking in how far-reaching it is to create policies and training and strategies around use of deadly force,” said Morgan Hill police chief David Swing, who's currently president of the California Police Chiefs Association.
Separately, the law enforcement groups are requesting a $300 million grant program in the upcoming state budget to help agencies address homelessness, mental health and drug abuse in the communities they serve.
The author of last year's bill, Asm. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and a leading proponent, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, declined comment until they release their own proposal Wednesday morning.
The disagreement appears to be over updating the 1872 law. Law enforcement groups acknowledge the state's outdated use-of-force law should be modernized, but want to codify the Supreme Court rulings and leave their interpretations up to the courts. Civil liberties groups want to more specifically define in the law what is and is not legal.
Public invited to get to know their police officers
by Matt Smith
They're a pretty good group of guys and gals once you get to know them, Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association President Gary Israel said of the men and women making up the Cleburne Police Department.
Thanks to the Cleburne Citizens Police Academy program, which is offered about twice a year, getting to know officers, and learn about the police department, is easy, fun and free.
Israel discussed the class and his organization during Wednesday's weekly luncheon of the Cleburne Lions Club.
“One thing is that most people associate the alumni association with the Citizens on Patrol program,” Israel said. “You have to go through the Citizens Police Academy program before you can join either, so we're connected in that way. But we're actually two different groups. Although several who have gone through the academy belong to both groups.”
Members of Citizens on Patrol do as their title suggests. Volunteer residents patrol the city acting as an extra set of eyes for the police department.
The alumni association, a 501(c)(3) entity, both promotes awareness of CPD and raises funds.
“We can collect money,” Israel said. “But we're a separate organization from the police department and CPD can't tell us what to do with the money we raise. But our funds go solely to the police department. We help fund a banquet each year for the department. Mainly though we raise money to buy equipment and other needs the department has for items the city doesn't have in the budget. For example, the ballistic vests the officers had were fine for a handgun, but couldn't stop a rifle. About three years ago we bought eight vests that can meet those needs.
“Right now we're concentrating on scales for the patrol cars. Because now, if they stop someone and seize suspected drugs, they have to go to the jail to weigh it and that ties up two officers for several hours.”
Israel, in answer to one Lions' question, said the organization raises funds primarily through membership dues — $25 per year — and raffle fundraisers on July 4 and during Springfest.
Donations are always welcome, Israel said, but more is hoped for.
“We're really looking for people too,” Israel said.
Of the 140 or so who went through previous citizens academy classes, 26 are now active members of the alumni association.
“The citizens academy is a great opportunity to learn more about CPD, what they do, why they do it and the functions of each department,” Israel said. “So certainly if you haven't gone through the academy already it's worth your time to do so.”
Through the academy, participants learn about patrol, criminal investigations, department recruitment standards, SWAT, crime scene analysis and more.
“One thing is communications and the call center,” Israel said. “If you've never sat in a 911 call center I highly recommend it because that is an eye opener. Those people work under very hard, stressful situations. Something a lot of folks don't understand is that they handle everything, the situation, from the time it's called in until police get there.”
The class includes a ride a long with officers and a visit from Stop the Offender Special Crimes Unit officers. STOP officers investigate drug and other major crimes through undercover operations and other tactics.
“That too will get your eyes open,” Israel said. “Johnson County used to be a major drug county and you could buy that stuff pretty much anywhere. These [STOP] officers have made a difference in cutting that down.
“Now, in many cases, the people selling the drugs won't come to Johnson County because of that and the people who want to buy them have to go to Fort Worth or somewhere else.”
The association also promotes the department in other ways such an upcoming Copsicle event date to be determined at one of the city parks.
Israel in concluding mentioned the five Houston police officers shot Monday while raiding a suspected drug house.
“When you're asking for prayers I'd encourage all of you to always remember our officers,” Israel said. “They work stressful, hard jobs and need our support.”
Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance said the members of both the association and citizens on patrol are much appreciated.
“Those volunteers do so much for our department both through the alumni association and through the visible presence the citizens on patrol bring to the community,” Severance said. “They're a great benefit both to CPD and the community.
When CO Cops Police Themselves, Public Can Be Left In The Dark
Colo. Police Records Transparency: Denver lawmaker's bill would make internal investigations filed subject to open-records requests
COLORADO – By Alex Burness for The Colorado Independent. Imagine you're arrested by a Colorado police officer. During the arrest, the officer uses such physical force as to injure you. You file a complaint or hire an attorney, or perhaps the American Civil Liberties Union files a lawsuit on your behalf, or the police decide to investigate themselves.
This prompts an internal investigation within that officer's department.
Months or a year go by before the police determine whether the officer in your case indeed used excessive force. If the officer is found to have acted in accordance with protocol, the department moves on. If the investigation shows your claims of wrongdoing are legitimate, you may settle, out of court, for tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, maybe more.
When it's all over, you file a records request to read documents related to the investigation. You do this — and perhaps a journalist or lawyer does, too — because you're curious to see how the police policed themselves in your case.
Recent research shows that your records request is likely to be rejected or ignored. A University of Denver study that examined statewide internal investigations records from 2015 and 2016 found that about 60 percent of records requests resulted in denials or non-responses.
“After requesting 61 particular internal affairs files from seventeen agencies across the state,” that study's authors wrote, “nearly all agencies were unwilling to release a complete file, regardless of the situation or outcome.