Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
What makes a real hero in law enforcement?
Every day, police officers commit “upstream” heroic acts – here's why that matters
Sociologists and behaviorists are frequently interested in how we psychologically attribute character traits to one another. One such area of empirical study is the attribution of heroism.
The status of hero is achieved not only through action, but also through the perspective of others. In other words, if one accomplishes the most heroic act, yet nobody knows about it, he or she is not yet a hero (well, perhaps to oneself). It is through the marriage of heroic action, plus the witnessing of it, plus the hero attribution by another, that one "becomes" a hero. So, being a hero is really a very dependent condition.
That's one version, at least. It gets a bit more unwieldy because as far as some are concerned, heroism can be imputed to individuals simply because they belong to a certain sector of society. For people who think this way, they don't need to see a heroic act in order to bestow the title. For example, law enforcement is a career that is frequently linked with the word "hero." Some think that all cops, for the selfless acts they are willing to do, are de facto heroes. The fact that cops are willing to lay down their lives is a selfless condition, and this condition obviates the need for a heroic act.
It's good that a part of society is willing to revere its selfless servants this way. Even so, law enforcement is not lacking for daily heroic acts. Rather, what's lacking is the observation of these acts.
MOST HEROIC ACTS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT GO UNNOTICED
Most day-to-day heroic acts in law enforcement occur without the benefit of observation. While putting a sudden end to a high-profile, sensationalized violent act gets noticed (and attributed), our day-to-day work, when done well, is full of unnoticed heroics that have equal, if not greater, consequence.
This is true not only because of the unheralded crime stopping that you do, but also (and probably more significantly) because of the crime preventing you do.
The cop who focuses on the career criminals on his beat is a life changer. For example, by making "lesser" parole violation busts, you forever change the life histories of many certain-to-be-next victims. A detective who doesn't let a child molester's defenses wear him out and stays in the interview room for those extra hours to get a confession has no doubt prevented more molestations. Like a fig tree naturally bears figs, career criminals, pedophiles and other habitual crooks naturally bear their own fruits. Victims are what they make. It's their nature, and they don't stop by themselves. Putting career criminals, pedophiles and other habitual crooks away means stopping worse crimes before they start, and thereby changing untold lives forever.
GOOD POLICE WORK CHANGES HISTORY
This type of police work is some of the most valuable we can do. For what it does for individuals who would have otherwise been victims, and for society as a whole, preventing the next sensational armed robbery or horrific sex crime is even more valuable than ending one in progress. This type of work literally changes history, and it's one of the reasons this job is so great. By doing our daily jobs well, we are unwittingly committing “upstream” heroic acts. Just because they are never noticed or attributed, that doesn't lessen their effect or value. Indeed, the fact that such acts are unattributed makes them even more noble.
Dealing with crisis day after day and year after year can numb us to the value of our role. It can be better appreciated if you personalize it: If somebody's good upstream work, though you never knew about it, directly prevented a life-changing tragedy within your family, what benefit ("value") would that act have to you and your family for the rest of your lives? When you do your job well, you are directly having that effect on untold others. Not knowing the specific “who's" or "what's" has nothing to do with the actual value of these acts. They truly are heroic accomplishments, sans the attribution.
As our careers advance, we tend to downplay the nobility, honor, value and selflessness of our day-to-day work. Or, because of discouragement, becoming comfortable, or because of a loss of purpose, we can even recede from this good and noble fight. But in doing so, we're yielding to the steady decline in cultural values, where there are fewer and fewer moral heroes of any type. By giving in, we're actually adding to that decline.
Hero status may never come your way. Yet you add to your stature and reveal your character when you remain willing to anonymously strive selflessly for the sake of those you'll never know. In doing your best, you are giving real people their best hope for a better destiny. So resolve to do your best and press on.
Believe in your role in society, and work that way.
As a hero.
How an app is bridging the communications gap between first responders and people with disabilities
The Vitals app and Bluetooth beacon share critical, user-specific information to guide first responders in interactions with vulnerable persons
by Laura Neitzel
Most police officers go into law enforcement out of a sincere desire to help people. Having to use force against any suspect is an unfortunate part of the job that can be traumatic for both the suspect and the officer involved. When a police encounter involves a vulnerable person with a communication disorder or an intellectual disability, the complexity of the situation is compounded.
Conditions like mental illness, intellectual disabilities or an autism spectrum disorder are often invisible, giving no clue to the police officer that the situation may need to be handled in a different way.
Although it may appear that a suspect is refusing to comply with orders, he or she could be deaf and simply not hearing the commands. A teenager who appears to be impaired by illicit drugs may instead be exhibiting common behavior for a person with autism. Someone acting erratically, aggressively or inappropriately may have PTSD, dementia or a traumatic brain injury.
“As a police officer, you can get in a situation where you have to make a life-and-death decision in a split second, and sometimes you don't have all the information you need,” said Chief Janeé Harteau, a retired chief of police and president of Vitals Aware Services. “That decision may not end up being the right one, but it's based on the information you have at the time. It can be life-altering, not only to the individual involved, but to the first responder.”
Recent high-profile incidents of police using force against individuals with disabilities have brought a new level of awareness of this issue to police departments. But even with specialized training, it can be impossible for a police officer to know the best way to de-escalate a situation involving a vulnerable person.
The range and nature of disabilities and strategies for communicating with them are as varied as the individuals.
“If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism,” said Harteau, adding that this makes it extremely difficult for even a well-trained police officer to know how best to approach an encounter involving a person with an intellectual disability or communication disorder.
This is exactly the problem that the founders of Vitals Aware Services aimed to solve.
A BRIDGE ACROSS THE COMMUNICATIONS GAP
Steve Mase and G. L. Hoffman each knew they wanted to spend their retirement years doing something meaningful, so they put their executive experience to work helping nonprofits solve issues in their communities. In the course of working with the Autism Society of Minnesota, they learned that people with autism and other communication disorders and disabilities are at risk of getting harmed because they can't communicate effectively with first responders.
This was a problem Mase and Hoffman felt they could solve through technology. Mace and Hoffman worked closely with Rob Zink, a Saint Paul police officer and parent with two autistic children, to develop an app that would help bridge this communications gap. The Vitals mobile app promotes safer interactions by allowing individuals with visible and invisible conditions and disabilities to share a personalized digital profile with authorized first responders.
To get the broadest perspective on the issue, the development team held numerous focus groups and meetings with parents, caregivers, educators and other members of the community. When they met with Harteau, the potential of the app became real. Along with a 31-year career in law enforcement, Harteau brought a passion for fostering positive relationships between police and the communities they serve.
Harteau instantly recognized that the communication gap was not just a law enforcement problem, but a community problem that could best be addressed by bringing the whole community together to keep citizens with visible and invisible disabilities safe.
A SAFETY BUBBLE FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE
“The information on the app is very specific to that individual, and that's where the power comes from,” said Harteau. “It's often been referred to as an 80-foot safety bubble.”
The Vitals app pairs with a Bluetooth beacon worn by an individual that shares the person's customized profile with any officer in close proximity who has the mobile app. Families and caregivers create the digital profile that lists the vulnerable individual's name, contact information and condition, plus known triggers and de-escalation techniques. The app even allows a family member or caregiver to upload a video message directed to the individual letting them know that the first responder is there to help.
“One of the greatest benefits is that nobody has to search for the information – it automatically comes to them,” said Harteau. “Oftentimes, they can't speak for themselves, so it's important that we have a mechanism that provides the data and the information to the person who needs it, whether it's the first responders, the school teacher or whoever it may be.”
MISUNDERSTANDINGS CAN LEAD TO ESCALATION
When the team started piloting the Vitals app, a specific incident happened right in their own community that made them realize they were in the right place with the right solution, says Stan Alleyne, Vitals Aware Services' chief of communications.
In 2015, Marcus Abrams, a legally blind 17-year-old with Asperger's syndrome, was spotted with two friends on the tracks at a Metro Transit Station in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Transit police asked the young men to return to the platform. After Abrams did not respond appropriately to a request for identification, the transit officers attempted to restrain him.
Because Abrams's condition makes him extremely sensitive regarding his personal space, he struggled against the officers, pleading with the officers not to touch him. The situation escalated and Abrams was injured and hospitalized. Only hours later did the agency realize that Abrams was not acting out of defiance, but that he was autistic.
Realizing this was the exact type of misunderstanding the Vitals app was designed to avoid, after a second incident happened, the Vitals team reached out to Abrams' mother to include him in the test pilot group.
Abrams was involved in a third incident the following year, but because police were equipped with the Vitals app, they were able to de-escalate the situation in a matter of minutes.
A SHIFT IN MINDSET
The Vitals app can completely change the tone of an introduction between a police officer and a vulnerable person, whose relationship with law enforcement can be forever shaped by an initial encounter, Harteau says.
“Even something as simple as calling someone by their name can change an outcome,” said Harteau. “Because my phone gives me a notification, now I know that Jimmy, who's standing in front of me or in a park nearby, I know his name, I know his condition, and I can go up and talk to him and have a conversation. I can start to build a relationship or a rapport in a way that we couldn't do before.”
The Vitals app is getting a welcome reception from law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and neighboring states. Families and caregivers want others to have access to this potentially life-saving information, and the Vitals team wants to ensure that they equip everyone in the community.
“It's an opportunity to shift the ‘us-versus-them' mindset and build the foundation on which we can come together because we share this common concern for our most vulnerable,” said Harteau.
Public safety recruiting event focuses on women
by Elise Kaplan
There are 650 New Mexico State Police officers. Forty-one are women.
And out of 299 Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies, 35 are women.
The Albuquerque Police Department has 134 women on a force of 922 and the U.S. Marshals Service employs four women in sworn positions, out of a total of 58.
The local FBI operation has a little more than 100 women employed with the bureau, out of almost 300 employees total. A department spokesman asked the Journal not to provide exact numbers for security reasons.
With those statistics in mind, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies will hold an event Monday aimed at recruiting more women into public safety.
“The purpose of the event is to recruit the next generation of special agents, marshals, police officers and sheriff's deputies,” said James Langenberg, special agent in charge of the Albuquerque FBI Division, at a media briefing last month. “We're seeking diverse individuals with unique educational, professional and life experiences to carry out our respective critical missions.”
The media briefing was attended by women who work for local agencies – ranging from a civilian media specialist for APD, a BCSO spokeswoman and an FBI agent who just graduated the academy to a 7-year veteran with NMSP and a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals.
Several of those women will be on a panel at the recruiting event.
Emily Fertitta, a special agent with the FBI, said she began her career in law enforcement last year after being inspired by her husband and his friends who work for the FBI.
“I think it's something women need to step up and do,” she said. “We're half the population and we have the opportunity. We need to stand up and make those sacrifices, and have the support of our community to make it happen.”
Frank Fisher, an FBI spokesman, said the Valencia County Sheriff's Office, Sandoval County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Secret Service, Las Cruces Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Rio Rancho Police Department will also attend.
Next Gen TV Could Be Another Tool in Public Safety Arsenal
Next Gen TV, or Advanced Television Systems Committee standard, has the potential to enhance communication for EMS and fire agencies still reliant on 60-year-old technology.
by Jim McKay
In this era of highly advanced technology, some fire and EMS agencies still use paging systems to communicate about incidents. The communication is often sequential in nature and not the best avenue for sharing urgent information.
That's what prompted the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NC DIT) in partnership with the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina and UNC-TV Public Media, have embarked on a project they hope will change that.
With the advent of ATSC 3.0/Next Gen TV, which is based on Internet protocol and merges broadcast TV with the Internet, researchers hope they can channel more information simultaneously through broadcast television to give first responders more real-time data, video and other information, including alerts, more efficiently.
In the late 1990s, there was a transition from analog broadcasting to digital, and all analog broadcasts ended in 2009 with the transition to digital television using the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard. ATSC 3.0 is an evolution of that standard.
“Next Gen TV is kind of the digital evolution of broadcast TV,” said Gerry Hayes, CEO and founder of the Wireless Research Center. “ATSC 3.0 will provide content in less bandwidth, so not only will standard-definition TV broadcast be made to be HD, the bandwidth footprint will be smaller and will be able to have the same content in a smaller part of the pipe.”
Hayes said one of the first applications of Next Gen TV could be replacing the pagers that some first responders use, or enhancing their efficiency. With Next Gen TV, the transmission is simultaneous, and specific data, including weather mapping and video content, could be targeted to certain receivers.
“Like in an emergency response situation, a lot of high-data content can be pushed out and targeted to specific people and large groups of people if needed,” Hayes said.
Red Grasso is a former firefighter who is now director of the First Responder Emerging Technologies Program for NC DIT. He explained the pager system as 60-year-old technology, usually 100 watts coming from a 200-to-300-foot tower, covering maybe a county or two and operated on the local level.
“Broadcast television is hundreds or thousands or a million times greater in power with 10 times greater height that is going to have a bigger footprint and much better building penetration and better overall coverage than today's public safety analog paging systems,” Grasso said.
For the concept to work, there has to be a robust connection between the 911 call center and the paging system and the television station that will be transmitting it. It won't go over the Internet. It might be virtual private network, or a direct data connection, but it ends up being delivered to a device such as a pager or a chip or smartphone.
Grasso said there are three or four experimental ATSC 3.0 licenses on the air and one happens to be in North Carolina and thus the ability to experiment. So far, that's what this project is.
“Right now, it's not ready to be sold,” he said.
“I can describe to you what the vision might be, but that will be influenced by the for-profit company that picks it up to market it.”
What does community policing look like in Tulsa? In its infancy, positive changes are still to come
by Corey Jones Tulsa World
Officer Khara Rogers mishit a volleyball into the net and then playfully shoved teammate Mario Gaytan as she and the 17-year-old broke into laughter on the court.
The last time a Tulsa police officer laid hands on Gaytan, a task force had awoken him during a pre-dawn raid of his home that turned up drugs. He was court-ordered to the Tulsa Boys' Home, where Rogers was launching classes for the burgeoning Tulsa Police Activity League.
The raid traumatized Gaytan and seeded his mind with nightmares. Interacting with Rogers — at first odd but soon more like a weekly visit with a friend — has helped calm and ease his mind.
“I used to think that if I see a cop I had to say, ‘Pig.' Or if I see a cop I had to be intimidated,” Gaytan said. “There's no reason to be intimidated as long as you're not doing anything bad. And we can actually see them as if they're just a person instead of law enforcement.”
Therein lies the key for firing up Tulsa's drive toward community policing: Build one-on-one relationships to establish trust and portray officers as actual people who are community leaders, not just cops.
In recent years the city and police have taken numerous strides in implementing community-policing ideals. But the big-ticket item — an influx of officers on the streets to free up time for proactive policing and community engagement — is a work in progress. And not all of the initiatives have been met with praise.
The first Gallup-Tulsa Citivoice Index poll report released in January found that half of black residents feel that Tulsa officers don't treat people like them fairly and only about 1 in 5 have a lot of trust in the Police Department.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said his plan is to conduct that poll annually with Gallup in part to tangibly gauge evolving trust of and attitudes toward law enforcement as community policing develops.
“I think that we've come a long way in two years,” Bynum said. “When I first came in as mayor, we didn't even have a common understanding of what community policing was or what it should be in Tulsa. ... (It's) empowering citizens and officers to work together to make the community safer.”
‘Under more scrutiny'
Police Chief Chuck Jordan views community policing's progress at its infancy stage in that much has been installed but time is needed to achieve positive effects.
Officers are performing well — legally and ethically — and have adjusted to wearing body cameras, Jordan said. He said the agency has one of the most rigid use-of-force policies in the nation and requires officers to fill out a report any time they put hands on someone.
He said the rates of officers exonerated from complaints has gone up since body cams went online.
“We are under more scrutiny than any profession in the U.S.,” Jordan said. “I'd like for some of our detractors to wear a camera for eight hours a day.”
In an unspoken reference to Terence Crutcher's killing, he said all of the public demands that arose two years ago have been implemented: body-worn cameras on all field officers, training on cultural competency and creating environments for de-escalation, use-of-force classes to help citizens understand what police do and community advisory groups.
He emphasized that TPD requires a bachelor's degree of all its officers — a rarity in the U.S. — and that people generally agree its training program is top notch.
So a significant part of the problem, Jordan said, is overcoming local and national negative perceptions of police, as well as generational issues.
“We have to win people over one by one,” Jordan said. “I think that's the reality of it, and we're prepared to do that.”
Jordan said an early struggle is gaining public buy-in with community action groups in some neighborhoods. And the groups aren't necessarily centered on policing issues but also economic or cleanliness matters that can help make a neighborhood more attractive and deter criminals.
As the Public Safety Tax funnels more sworn officers into the ranks, those efforts and other initiatives are expected to gain more traction.
The number of sworn officers has crested 800, which is up from about 750 a few years ago and will continue upward until reaching about 940 in the coming years.
Jordan said response times have started to decline. And the time officers spend going from call to call — previously at least 80 percent of their shifts — has started to dip below 80 percent.
‘Just sugar coating or fluff'
City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper has been an outspoken critic of a perceived “blue line” in law enforcement that discourages officers from speaking ill of fellow officers.
She hasn't been impressed by the city's community policing progress. That is until the mayor recently announced his proposal for an Office of the Independent Monitor to review the integrity of internal investigations of use of force.
“I felt like our efforts were just sugar coating or fluff,” Hall-Harper said.
Hall-Harper and two of her City Council colleagues on Wednesday will propose holding public meetings on the 2018 Equality Indicators report. The report indicates, among other things, that African-Americans are more likely to experience use of force by police officers than other members of the community. The police union disputes that claim.
The meetings are intended to examine how the Equality Indicators scores were determined and to begin a conversation on ways to instill trust between police and the public.
Hall-Harper said changes in culture are accomplished through policy, which has been absent from community policing initiatives to this point. As an example, she pointed to the Mayor's Commission on Community Policing.
The task force developed 77 recommendations based upon the Obama administration's 21st-century policing report. All but two are fully implemented, according to the city's online dashboard tracking progress on each one.
Hall-Harper was a part of the commission that developed the recommendations. But she also signed on to an NAACP Legal Defense Fund letter that contends few recommendations address racially biased policing and none hold officers accountable if they fail to comply.
She characterized the recommendations as community relations building but not ushering in a shift in law enforcement culture.
Hall-Harper said transparency, likely more than anything else, is what is necessary to make her people believers in the community policing push.
A refrain she hears from officers is, “When will enough be enough?” Her response is, “Never.” There will always be opportunities for improvement, and the city can't risk stagnation, she said.
“I absolutely believe, for the most part, law enforcement officers do a good job and are in it for the right reasons,” Hall-Harper said. “But it is a situation where some are not. We can't cover up or act as if these problems don't exist.
Mayor Bynum said the city needs an independent entity to help provide transparency and remove barriers to understanding TPD's practices and evaluate long-term best practices.
So the Office of the Independent Monitor will have three main functions — oversight, policy and outreach. It will be responsible for analyzing community policing strategies, not simply reviewing the integrity of internal use-of-force investigations.
“It's not enough to say, ‘Oh, we're doing implicit bias training for all of our officers,'” Bynum said. “We need to be able to tell people if we are doing it well and do our officers feel like it's making a difference.”
The Tulsa Black Officers Coalition welcomes the OIM in a letter noting that, “We have become too comfortable hiding behind our keyboards and surrounding ourselves with people that are afraid to challenge once accepted norms.”
But the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police has come out against it and threatened litigation.
Jerad Lindsey, chairman of the Tulsa FOP, called it unacceptable for Bynum to attempt to implement the proposal without negotiating it through the union.
To illustrate how on-board officers are with community policing, Lindsey said the FOP spent $100,000 of its funds to campaign for the Public Safety Tax to hire 160-plus officers.
He said that was a counter-intuitive move — knowing the tax wouldn't pay for raises or benefits of current officers — because it will make it more difficult to obtain future raises. Officers want to connect with a person as a human being but are unable to do so when another 10 people are waiting in line for service, he said.
Lindsey said TPD already is one of the most open and transparent agencies in the country. He used the Coffee With A Cop program as a prime example because people can sit with command staff or beat officers in an informal setting to voice concerns or simply chat.
“The thing I hear overwhelmingly from (officers) is they are OK with most of the changes that have been proposed,” Lindsey said. “They just want to know what our goal is and how we're going to measure that we have achieved that outcome.”
Time, resources needed
The Rev. Anthony Scott said he trusts city and police leaders and feels they are moving forward with positive progress on the community policing front.
But Scott, as senior pastor of First Baptist Church North Tulsa, regularly talks with residents who don't have his level of access or positive experiences with police and harbor different feelings.
“It's going to take time for that culture and relationships to change to the point you see substantive change,” Scott said. “It's just like trying to change a bad elementary school. A policy isn't going to change things right away.”
Hannibal Johnson serves as the facilitator for the Mayor's Police and Community Coalition, as well as the Community and Police Leadership Collaborative.
Johnson, a consultant in diversity and cultural competence, has a general sense that the philosophy of community policing is in place, but that understaffing will curtail its effectiveness until more officers hit the streets.
Johnson pointed to the Tulsa Police Activity League as a great new, evolving way for officers to “demystify policing” and engage with ethnically diverse youths to learn there's not much difference among them.
“I think it's easy as a police officer sometimes, depending on what your beat is, to become jaded by seeing all the negative examples of a certain kind of person,” Johnson said. “And you have to fight against that. And one way to fight against that is to proactively build relationships with people from all sectors of the community in a situation that's safe for everybody. And TPAL does that.”
‘We care for people'
Officer Khara Rogers enjoys combining her love of fitness with her drive to help others.
She is a certified CrossFit instructor and the first officer dedicated full-time toward making TPAL a reality. Reaching out to children at a younger age — when their minds are more malleable and aren't as steadfast on pre-conceived notions — is critical, she said.
“When kids are growing up, they either are taught not to like police officers or see it on TV or their first encounter wasn't necessarily great. ... So we want to make sure kids know that they can trust us,” Rogers said. “We are positive role models. We are actual real people. We have families. We care for people.”
TPAL's home is at Skyway Leadership Institute, formerly the HelmZar Ropes Challenge course off of North Peoria Avenue, after signing a lease in October with Tulsa Public Schools.
The nonprofit operates under the Tulsa Community Foundation with three citizen employees.
Offerings go beyond the ropes course and include archery, baseball, golf, biking and fitness education. There are near-term plans to expand with outdoors education, boxing and reading efforts.
Rogers said each class is geared toward “experiential learning.” Kids learn leadership, teamwork and character development skills to help unlock their potential.
“By using the athletic side or just the activities, they're more relatable,” Rogers said. “And also, there's studies that show when a kid is involved in exercise or some sort of moving activity, after they're done their brains function a little bit better. They can think a little bit better.”
So when 17-year-old Mario Gaytan says interactions with Rogers in her fitness class abated his fear of police after his traumatic arrest during a drug raid, that is the ultimate outcome.
“To hear that, I mean, that's what we're wanting to do,” Rogers said. “And it just makes you feel very successful. That's what we're out there doing, and we're making progress. It definitely warms the heart.”
Social Media Changes Community Policing
Last Friday night a shocking post was published by the Moses Lake Police Department on its Facebook page. The police department detailed an incident earlier in the evening in which a man who was riding a horse was struck from behind by a vehicle. The exact details of what happened will unfold as court proceedings progress, but what is known is that the horse was killed in the collision, the man riding the animal was seriously injured, and the driver of the vehicle left the scene of the horrific accident instead of stopping and getting the man help.
The collision happened around 7 p.m. By 10:50 p.m. that night, the MLPD put its PSA up on Facebook about the crash, in which it laid out what happened and urged the public to help find the driver of the suspect vehicle.
The post spread across social media like wildfire. The MLPD says within 15 minutes of its post going up on Facebook, 22-year-old Cooper Wilson was identified as the driver. Fast-forward about 13 hours: the MLPD had Cooper in custody by Saturday afternoon, and the vehicle was recovered. Any cop will no doubt tell you that to have a hit-and-run suspect captured in such a short amount of time is nothing short of remarkable.
Statistics tell us Facebook is by far the most widely used social media platform. Stats also tell us that, according to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Facebook users visit the site daily, with 51 percent of users visiting several times a day. What happened Friday night could be a case study for those statistics. By the end of the weekend, the MLPD's post had been shared over four thousand times, commented on over 150 times and engaged with by over 700 people.
More important than the statistics, less than 24 hours after a life-changing event, police had a person in custody for, if proven to be true in the courts, a heinous act. Statistics can't reflect or put a price on a family not having to wonder where or who the person is that shook up their world.
“This is the way it is supposed to work, the community and your police department working together for the common good,” said the MLPD on Facebook. We echo the department's sentiments. In a world where there are innumerable examples of the harm that social media can do, let's not forget about the good that it can do as well.
A terrible incident occurred Friday night, but thanks to simple shares, thousands of 30-second reads and a community coming together, even if only over a screen, a wanted person was captured and relief was brought to countless people across our tight-knit community.
The Amesbury Beat: How community policing works
by Officer Tom Hanshaw
The term, “community policing” has been around for quite some time and often brings about a number of reactions when mentioned.
The concept was actually developed in the early 1800s by a British statesman, Sir Robert Peel, who is known as “the father of modern policing.” Peel formed the Metropolitan Police Force in England and promoted a philosophy still relevant today.
His foundation was based on the belief the public and police must work together for the interests of community welfare and existence. There are a couple of challenges, however, in every community. From an early age, people generally don't like to be told they must do this or they can't do that – pretty much the role of what police officers do.
Establishing community and police partnerships is more important today than ever. Public education about preventing crime, addressing safety concerns, working on efforts to improve a community and reducing the fear of crime are some of the benefits of a strong partnership.
It's also important to deliver accurate information about crime data to reduce fears and rumors; communication is the key to any successful relationship. A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to participate in a neighborhood watch program hosted by City Councilors Mary Louise Bartley and Rick Marggraf. It was an opportunity for residents to share concerns about their neighborhoods and about 30 attended, including Mayor Ken Gray.
While police cannot resolve every issue, residents often turn to them first. After all, the Police Department is open 24/7. We pay a lot of taxes, so it's understandable that residents want to know how their money is being spent.
We spoke about suspicious activity, how and when to call police, using 911, what goes on daily and some concerns shared throughout each neighborhood. For nearly two hours, attendees were able to get an idea of police operations and we learned about their needs, too.
It was a productive two-plus hours and hopefully the first of regularly scheduled sessions for the public. I wanted to thank Councilors Bartley and Marggraf for the invitation as well as everyone who attended. We can't do the job alone and rely on community members to help make the city a safer place, so please take some time to get involved in your neighborhood watch. We will also advertise future meetings and hope to see you there.
This week, I “flashback” to 2010, where I found quite a few topics to pick from in the community-policing scrapbook.
Lyndsey Haight took over the reigns at Our Neighbors' Table, the Grad Night Committee held a drawing where the winner and friends received a limo ride to school and our area was drenched with over 17 inches of rain in March.
Our community lost World War II hero and retired police Sgt. Bob Antell and the Hines Bridge closed for 18 months. At the Amesbury Police Department, Chief Cronin, Lt. Ingham and Sgt. Frost retired and Lord Mayor John Halligan of Waterford, Ireland, toured the city.
The event I chose to highlight this week was a presentation held at Amesbury High School in December. Former Newton, New Hampshire, Police Chief Richard LaBell spoke with students about decision-making and learning from a mistake.
When he was 19, he broke into a neighbor's home and stole money, only to be arrested for the crime a short time later. On the morning he was due in court, Detective Joe Leary picked him up and offered Rick a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In exchange for a promise to turn his life around, the charges would be dropped and Rick would remain free. He accepted the challenge and did, entering a career in law enforcement and becoming chief of police in Newton.
He also became an inspirational speaker, appearing across the nation. His message was simple, yet powerful: Encouraging the audience to have a positive attitude, avoid drugs and alcohol, and to learn from their mistakes. In the crowd was actually Detective Leary's grandson, Liam, who is now a third-generation officer at APD.
Rick's message and presentation certainly hit home, not only with the students but with adults as well. We all make mistakes but he proved you can learn and overcome those challenges.
He also brought attention to the reality of the dangers associated with drug and alcohol use and abuse, saying nothing would destroy dreams more than drugs and alcohol. He accepted responsibility for his actions and appreciated the power of forgiveness. The victim of his crime actually paid his bail money and Rick embraced his second chance.
Officer Tom Hanshaw is the crime prevention officer for the Amesbury Police Department.
How faux collaboration stymies community policing efforts
The idea that somebody else should get to vote on our course of action is contrary to our instincts – but it is key to successful community policing
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 PoliceOne Leadership Briefing. To read the full briefing, visit Faux collaboration | Black History Month | Bias in community policing, and add the Leadership Briefing to your subscriptions.
Current leadership literature emphasizes the importance of teams and collaborative decision-making. In police work, however, collaboration is often interpreted as a lack of confidence or a way to take or shift blame depending on the outcome. In our world – where the time frame for decisions is measured in milliseconds and we have within our reach a belt-load of tools designed to bring a quick end to an adversary's life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness – the idea that somebody else should get to vote on our course of action is contrary to our instincts.
BE AN INTENTIONAL LISTENER
As a researcher on the subject of community policing, I discovered that while we train officers and leaders about community policing and community policing programs, we seldom teach skills associated with making collaborative decisions.
Shared exploration of police problems – beginning with the question of whether a problem in the community needs a police response as part of the resolution – requires the ability to shift from an autocratic, unilateral decision-making process to a process of intentional listening that disregards one's own position of strength.
INVITE DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT
This is not only true of officers on the street, but for police leaders as well. In an attempt at the collaborative process many leaders fail at an essential component of collaboration that is the meat of a collaboration sandwich.
Think of the ideas for addressing an issue as two slices of bread. One slice is the leader's ideas, the other slice is comprised of ideas of others who are invited to offer facts or an opinion about the ultimate outcome. The meat of the sandwich is the examination of the problem from various perspectives and the exploration of solutions offered.
To extend the sandwich metaphor, note that the two slices of bread on a sandwich are usually from the same loaf. In other words, when we invite people to join us in making our decisions, we are likely to ask those who will probably have the same world view and basis of opinion as ourselves, because we really aren't looking for diversity of thought, but for others to agree that out decision was the right one to begin with.
This is not collaboration. It's not even collaboration lite, it is faux collaboration. Faux collaboration is asking a lot of opinions to give the appearance of collaboration and then doing what you were going to do in the first place. We've all been in those meetings!
MOVE FROM COERCION TO COLLABORATION
In policing – whether on the street, at a community meeting, the squad room, or conference room – there is always a tension between our coercive habits and our need to fully engage in collaborative decision-making. I developed the C-10 decision model to facilitate understanding that tension and discovering the optimal strategy for problem-solving.
After a problem has been identified accurately, C-10 begins with a continuum between the first two Cs, coercion (power) and collaboration (engaging in thoughtful discourse to discover solutions).
The Cs in the coercion column include control and compliance in order to achieve conformity. Under the collaboration column are creativity, cooperation and consensus.
The 10th C is completion, which is the end goal identified as the most desirable outcome.
The shared characteristic of each strategy is communication. In coercion, the object of communication is to ensure that the decision-maker's power and demands are heard and obeyed. In collaboration, the object of communication is to ensure that every voice is heard and understood.
In faux collaboration, coercion is masked by asking for everyone's input, but only those that align with the decision-maker's predisposed outcome are heard. The Cs of creativity, cooperation and consensus are missing from the formula. Control, compliance and conformity rule the process while collaboration makes a brief appearance for display only.
There is nothing wrong with decisive, unilateral decisions when the circumstances require and time demands are pressing. In circumstances where others are going to be asked to be invested in a lasting outcome collaborative decisions are often the most sound.
Police Violence and a Safe Black Space
by SETH SANDRONSKY
Dr. Kristee Haggins is an African-centered psychologist who facilitates Sacramento's Safe Black Space: Community Healing Circles by and for People of African Ancestry. Black community outrage in California's capital city is an apt word for the district attorney's decision to condone the police killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed African-American man. The email interview below is an effort to amplify underreported aspects of how militarized policing affects nonwhites in the U.S.
Seth Sandronsky: What is the psychological toll on black and brown folks after Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert decided not to criminally charge the two police officers who shot and killed unarmed Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African-African male, in his grandmother's backyard on March 18, 2018?
Kristee Haggins: The psychological impact has been one of anger, disappointment, frustration and rage for many people. While some expected this outcome —given the law, it still feels like a “slap in the face” especially in terms of how Stephon Clark and his personal life was put on trial during the report process. Black people are tired of feeling as though their lives simply do not matter – both locally here in Sacramento and beyond. Stephon Clark did not deserve to die. Period. Many in the Black community are carrying the pain and anguish of his murder, along with so many others who have died at the hands of police violence – without consequences.
SS: What is your sense of the March 5 Sacramento City Council meeting and the community's reaction in real time to the DA's report clearing the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark?
KH: I was able to watch the DA's report live on March 2 with a few other African American community members and leaders and am glad I had that support and we had each other. The sentiments I described above were some of the reactions present in the room that day, along with others. The March 4 peaceful protest that resulted in the arrests of nearly 85 people only exacerbated these types of emotions and with good reason. People reported being trapped by the police on a bridge, unable to leave and then subsequently arrested with batons and bikes used to corral, contain and control them. During the City Council meeting on March 5 many community members described being traumatized by the arrests and found the circumstances reminiscent of the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Our local situation was one in which youth, women, clergy, among other community members, were marching to express their discontent. What was communicated to them was—your voice doesn't mater, you don't matter, you're in the wrong neighborhood, and a militarized response is necessary. At the City Council meeting emotions ran high as people told their stories. You could see the passion and pain of the people.
SS: What are your thoughts on the report from Xavier Becerra, the state Attorney General, about Clark's killing?
KH: Similar to the DA's report. It feels as though Stephon Clark's death was in vain. This was another slap in the face. There's a feeling of a loss and of hope, yet also a renewed commitment to continue to support the family and the community.
SS: What is the meaning of the Sacramento City Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol arresting 84 people at the March 4 nonviolent protest over Clark's death at the hands of the police?
KH: I spoke to this in a previous response but will add that although I was not present at the March 4 nonviolent protest, I heard from the testimony of many community members at the City Council Meeting on March 5th that the number of responders present and the actions of the officers were inappropriate, over the top, and an abuse of power. This primarily African American group of protestors described being restrained with zip ties and having to sit in the rain after being arrested until the early morning hours. Some people were bruised, wrists cut from the restraints, one person's ankle was broken and another's shoulder was injured. This occurred as the march was coming to a close and people described trying to retreat as ordered. These injuries were a result of the actions of those meant to “protect and serve” but that was not what was experienced. People felt terrorized and traumatized. The physical injuries were accompanied by mental health or psychological responses although these may not always be spoken about. We heard of someone hyperventilating that night, experiencing a panic attack without being offered assistance by law enforcement. Others were overwhelmed or crying uncontrollably, while some experienced intense fear. Because of this encounter, the already tense relationship between the community and the police has justifiably intensified. There is huge disappointment and anger at the response of law enforcement on Monday evening as well as at the City Council meeting. At the March 5 meeting Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn was not able to answer questions about what occurred the night before—stating a review of body cameras and other reports was needed. This tension was exacerbated when later during that meeting, police officers advanced with batons drawn, after a speaker exceeded his time to speak and became upset and emotional in his responses. The energy in the room intensified for almost a half hour -until it was acknowledged that what was happening in that very moment was in itself traumatizing/re-traumatizing especially for those who had been arrested less than 24 hours before!
SS: Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) have introduced AB392 to limit police violence, which law enforcement groups oppose, at the state Capitol. How do you see AB392?
KH: I believe AB392, the bill that allows police to use deadly force only when it's necessary to prevent injury or death is one change that will address some of the concerns with the killing of black and brown people by law enforcement. Having the legal backing in instances like what happened with Stephon Clark, can provide some sense of relief in ensuring justice may be served. We have much work to do in shifting laws that do not serve Black people and in addressing the inherent, institutional and historical racism that is still present today. In addition to legal implications, there are profound shifts needed in how we see, treat, and understand the experiences of Black people in the U.S., in our state and in our city. Intentional efforts to address implicit bias, racism and oppression, and its consequences for both the targeted and privileged groups is necessary. As we begin to truly protect all lives equally and legally, and we truly value all lives equally – including Black lives, then we will be moving toward a world that truly works for everyone.
SS: Thank you for your time.
KH: Thank you for the opportunity. I invite people who identify as being Black and have been impacted by racial stress and trauma to check out the Safe Black Space website and consider coming to an upcoming Safe Black Space Community Healing Circle. www.safeblackspace.org. In addition, I encourage everyone to use local community resources and tap into their personal support systems in order to take care of themselves right now.
IG Advocates Technology as Key Driver to Improve Community Policing
The Acting Inspector General of Police (IG) Mohammed Adamu, has stated that there is need for increased adoption of technology as a key driver to improving community policing in the country.
Adamu disclosed this in Lagos at the graduation ceremony of officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) who bagged profession executive diploma in crime prevention and community safety organised by Halogen Academy in partnership with Elizade University.
He stated that due to the increased use of technology in perpetuating crimes, the NPF has bought into the idea of training officers of the force in professional executive diploma in crime prevention and community safety.
Adamu, who was represented at the event by Assistant Inspector General, Training, Femi Folawiyo, noted that they are very much interested in the diploma, as a result they are in support of the programme and they are committed in partnering with Academy Halogen to multiply the trainees.
He said some of the officers would be posted to some communities.
“The influence on those communities will be positive. Next time, we will multiply it so that we can have bigger number to be able to train others and also, we will have plenty officers that can be deployed. Cyber is activated and dependent on technology. If you don't interface with technology, you are not in the cyber business,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Group Managing Director, Halogen Group, Mr. Wale Olaoye, noted that in the area of crime control, there is need to accelerate learning and build capacity in order to address the security challenges.
He expressed hope that universities would bring combine theory and practice to help impact the work of officers of the law enforcing agencies in the country.
According to him, “the first purpose first is to address capacity and knowledge gap in a changing world. Like I did say why do you bring practice and theory together, if you demonstrate that you want to see the impact the way they develop. We will track the performance of our people. The first set graduated last year, this is second batch and we appreciate the wisdom of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to allow their men to partake in this programme.
Everyone that go through this programme and exchange from the police, we are going to track their performance on what they have learnt especially within the dynamics of technology and cyber. Also, how it affects investigations today and what they can learn to keep practice this would be done.”
Live PD has gone from reality TV to real world phenomenon
Live PD is a reality TV hit, but the A&E series is also having significant effect, both good and bad, off screen. Learn more in the latest Deeper Cut.
by Brittany Frederick
When Live PD premiered on Oct. 28, 2016, it caught lightning in a bottle. The show has become a huge reality TV hit—but three seasons and almost 200 episodes later, there's also consequences in the real world, as we'll explore in this week's Deeper Cut.
The A&E series has become a staple on Friday and Saturday nights. Its hashtag regularly trends on Twitter, and an Inscape survey in December declared it the most-watched TV show of 2018 in all but one category.
It's not hard to see why. It's addictive and even thought-provoking television. Audiences have the chance to watch police departments interact with the public and handle calls live, from the crazy (complaints about Christmas lights and chocolate fountains) to the very serious (shootings and a rumored abduction).
The officers and deputies who have been featured on the show are memorable personalities, from Lt. Danny Brown in the Richland County Sheriff's Department and his ability to always locate drugs on scene, to Officer Jill Marshall in the Warwick Police Department and her endearing approach to policing. And don't forget the numerous K-9 units who make viewers' hearts melt every time their dogs appear.
It's harnessed the same kind of popularity as Cops, only on steroids. Instead of showing TV fans an edited, condensed version of being a police officer, Live PD is public service nearly unfiltered, showing as much as it can squeeze into a three-hour block twice a week.
Yet as Live PD has captured the public's imagination, there have been real-world effects—some of them quite serious—of the show's popularity.
First, the good: a number of excellent law enforcement officers have been promoted or awarded after appearing on the show. Richland County deputies Kevin Lawrence and Chris Mastrianni were both promoted to investigator, following Live PD showing the outstanding work that they'd been doing every day. Mastrianni in particular became a hero in 2017 after Live PD cameras caught him getting a child out of harm's way after a car chase.
The show has also inspired a greater awareness of, and understanding about, law enforcement. Its promotional tagline is “America, this is your ride-along,” and that's been true as viewers have been able to see officers performing every facet of their jobs. From routine traffic stops, to high-stakes arrests, to mundane activities like changing a flat tire, Live PD presents the most complete picture of policing that's ever been on TV.
And it's hard not to smile when, thanks to the show's incredible reach, people will ask “Is this Live PD?” or want to interact with officers. Many departments have even hosted watch parties where they've raised money for charity. It's clear that the series is helping to change the public's attitude toward cops.
Plus, A&E is using the series as a platform to help close cases. Each week, there are “Crime of the Week” and “Missing” segments that spotlight open investigations, and Live PD has found missing kids and wanted suspects. Last March, the show located a girl who'd been missing for almost two years.
Unfortunately, it hasn't all been positive. Some cities featured on Live PD have walked away from the show, following complaints from city leaders or other notables that claim showing live police calls as they happen is putting their area in a bad light.
At least one lawsuit has resulted from situations that aired on the series. Warwick made headlines in August when a city councilwoman was pulled over for DUI, and viewers questioned if she was released because of who she was.
And the added attention to the departments seen on the show means that their difficulties get more publicity, like when a Pasco County corporal who'd appeared on Live PD was fired after an off-duty car accident where he behaved erratically.
Then there's the just plain creepy: the show has made celebrities of the people who appear on it, and that's led to some unwanted attention. Pasco deputy Nick Carmack, a fan favorite, allegedly has had fans harass his girlfriend and show up at his parents' home.
There's also the question of how Live PD impacts the prosecution of cases that it documents, as the video and any related information would potentially be used in court.
Concerns aside, the Live PD phenomenon isn't slowing down any time soon. A&E renewed the program for a whopping 150 episodes in September; for comparison, that would be almost seven seasons of a regular broadcast TV show.
The network has also started merchandising the series, and other shows are trying to copy it. (See: Discovery's short-lived Border Live, MD Live, and the upcoming Animal ER Live, the latter being produced by the folks who make Live PD.)
It's not uncommon for reality TV to create success stories—one only needs to look at how many people have become celebrities thanks to reality shows, or even social media. But it is rare to see a series having a tangible impact on how society operates, and affecting it in such a wide variety of ways. Policing and the way police interact with the community has long been a hot-button issue, and this series has created an accessible platform for it by making it entertainment.
Even if you don't want to be part of that discussion, Live PD has plenty to offer. It makes Cops look boring because it puts audiences in the moment and lets viewers see the entire story. There are so many moments that wouldn't be out of place on a scripted TV show, like the aforementioned flat tire that Williamson County's Lt. Grayson Kennedy had to fix because a motorist cut him off while he was trying to race to a crime scene, forcing him to jump a curb to avoid them.
Or the delightfully meta moment where a man, in the middle of being questioned on Live PD, had his mother arrive at the house—because his father called after seeing him on Live PD. Or there's host Dan Abrams and his various puns and dad jokes, often made funnier by the show's graphics team putting an equally snort-worthy line on the lower third.
Only on this show would you hear someone describe assault with flour as “battery without [the] batter.” Of course, it's likely that this show is the only place you'd see someone being assaulted with baking ingredients, too.
Live PD has become a reality TV success because it has all the ingredients of a hit TV show—plot twists, excellent characters, and surprises, except they all happen to be unscripted. And there's no denying the positives it's contributed, helping to catch criminals, rescue missing children, and support law enforcement.
There are negatives, but those are things that will have to be worked out, because there's just no precedent for dealing with most of them. As long as the series, its producers and fans can find ways to handle the less desirable side effects, this show will be part of the TV landscape for a long time to come.
Police leader calls for laws to allow positive race discrimination
Sara Thornton says shock to the system needed to increase diversity among officers
Radical new laws should allow police to positively discriminate in favour of minority ethnic recruits, otherwise the ranks of officers will be too white for decades to come, the leader of Britain's police chiefs has said.
In an interview to mark the 20th anniversary of the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, Sara Thornton said police had made huge progress, but “unconscious bias” still existed and the way they used their powers needed to be seen to be fair.
Thornton is the chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council and will retire next month after 33 years of service.
She rose to the top having been part of the Metropolitan police team during the Macpherson inquiry, a watershed for policing which still shapes public policy and debate today.
Thornton said new laws should be passed to “shock the system”.
Since 1999 police have been trying to get the proportion of officers from ethnic minorities to match the proportion in the populations they serve.
But not one of the 43 forces in England and Wales has achieved that and it will be 2052 at the earliest before that happens. It is likely to be even decades beyond that if, as expected, the minority ethnic population grows.
Thornton said her personal view was that positive discrimination was needed: “That is unlawful at the moment. If you want to do something to give a shock to the system and say we can't wait to 2052, I think we need to do something different.
“It is a political judgment, isn't it? How important is this? If it's important, then I think you need to look at a different approach.”
While 14% of the population are from an ethnic minority, just 7% of police in England and Wales are – up from 2% when Macpherson reported 20 years ago.
John Grieve: The Macpherson report left a profound and lasting legacy
Thornton said a quarter or even 30% of new recruits in some big forces were from an ethnic minority. But changing the overall makeup of forces was slow and budget cuts meant few new officers joined between 2010-2015.
“It will take a long time. The turnover of police officers is really quite slow, so it is about 6% a year, it's always going to take you a long time, and it's about whether we can wait,” she said.
Police chiefs such as the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Hogan-Howe have favoured the move, but the government has balked at the idea of introducing positive discrimination on the grounds of race. It has been used in Northern Ireland to get more Catholics into the police service and in the US.
Positive action is legal and allows measures to encourage applications from under-represented groups. Some chiefs believe the focus on race issues has been lost at times, so more could be done without a fight with the government to change the law.
Thornton said: “I think there's an argument that we could select on merit and put people into a pool [of recruits] and then appoint on representation.”
Thornton was once described as the former prime minister David Cameron's favourite police chief. She is a former chief constable of Thames Valley, which covers the constituency of Theresa May, who pressed the police over race while home secretary.
Thornton, 56, is expected to be announced on Friday as the government's new anti-slavery commissioner.
Thornton said “unconscious bias” still existed in policing and there were problems in promotion, and minority ethnic officers being more likely to face disciplinary action.
“If we like ourselves, we prefer people who are like ourselves, because we understand them and they are familiar. People who aren't like ourselves, sometimes we feel less comfortable with. What are those stereotypes we sometimes just fall into?” She added that unconscious bias training had been introduced to combat this.
“I do think we can have policies and procedures that can unintentionally discriminate.”
She gave the example of one large force, Greater Manchester, holding a promotion board during Ramadan, when Muslim candidates would be fasting and thus possibly physically weaker and at a disadvantage.
Thornton said she did not like to use the term institutional racism – the headline finding of the Macpherson inquiry – because it was misunderstood and taken as a slur on every officer.
Thornton said forces needed to treat their officers fairly, and they in turn needed to be seen to use their powers justly. It was crucial for legitimacy in a service that prided itself on “policing by consent”, she said, with the issue being even more important because police exercised the “tyranny and majesty of state power”.
Thornton said: “For marginalised communities, policing can represent the tyranny of state power.
“Let's be candid about this, if within communities there is a sense of being over-policed and under-protected, it's not the sort of occupation parents are going to encourage their youngsters to get involved in.”
Police had made huge progress, she said, with the gap in black people's trust in officers narrowing to 7% less than white people's.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, was murdered by a white racist gang at a south-east London bus stop in 1993 and Macpherson found police incompetence and prejudice, which he described as “institutional racism”, helped the killers escape justice.
Police fought suggestions of errors and bias with vehemence, but were exposed by the inquiry. Police chiefs were the last to realise the injustice their force had inflicted on the murdered victim's parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence.
Thornton, a superintendent when the inquiry held its dramatic hearings, said Met leaders who had given their working life to the force could not believe the Lawrence investigation had gone so wrong, before the Macpherson inquiry laid the failings bare.
Thornton said an argument from some officers that police prejudice was no worse than that of others in society was not good enough: “We are police officers with significant powers and therefore it matters much more.”
UK and Kenya
UK and Kenya agree to deepen security co-operation
On 7 and 8 March 2019 in London, the UK Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, the Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP, and the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for the Interior & Coordination of National Government, Dr Fred Matiang'i, co-chaired the second High Level UK-Kenya Security Dialogue. The UK's Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin MP, and the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, also participated.
The dialogue followed the renewal of the UK-Kenya Security Compact, witnessed by His Excellency President Kenyatta and Prime Minister May in Nairobi on 30 August 2018.
During two days of wide-ranging and productive discussions our two countries agreed to further deepen cooperation across the full sweep of our mutual security interests. This includes working together on community policing, efforts to tackle violent extremism, serious organised crime, cyber security, counter-terrorism and our defence partnership.
As close partners on regional as well as international security issues, the British and Kenyan Governments also committed to continue working together to promote stability and prosperity in our two countries, East Africa and the wider world.
Black Man Picking Up Trash In Front Of His Own House Confronted By Cops With Guns Drawn
Several Boulder, Colorado police officers surrounded a Black man who was just picking up trash in front of his home.
by BREANNA EDWARDS
Boulder, Colorado police have launched an internal investigation after several police officers – who either drew their guns or had their hands on their holsters – confronted a Black man who was picking up trash in front of his own home.
According to the Daily Camera, the incident all started when one officer saw the man sitting in a partially enclosed patio behind a “private property” sign. Maybe the officer thought Black people can't live on private property? Because he apparently asked the man, who remains unidentified, if he was allowed to be there.
The man told the officer he lived and worked in the building, showing the officer his school identification card, but the officer still decided to further investigate. He requested back up, reporting that the man was uncooperative and didn't want to put down a blunt object (a harmless clam used to pick up trash to us common folks). Soon several officers were on the scene, again, either with their guns drawn or with their hands on their weapons.
A witness, who said he lived with the man, posted a video of some of the incident to social media. In the video, the person recording could be heard yelling at cops to “Go home.”
“He's picking up trash and you have your hand on your gun?” the outraged roommate yells. “Go home!”
The officer could also be heard asking the man to “put the object down.”
“You're on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me, because I'm picking up trash,” the man could be heard yelling at the officer defending himself. “I don't have a weapon! This is a bucket, this is a clamp.”
Shortly into the video, more officers arrive sirens blazing.
Throughout the confrontation, the man continues to defend himself, as his roommate continues to record.
“I live here! I'm a resident of this f–king property. I'm picking up garbage from my f–king porch,” he yells. “Don't tell me what to f–king do. You guys don't have a goddamn f–king right to be doing this!”
The incident sparked outrage in the community, leading to a city council meeting where members grilled the police chief with questions, the Camera noted in another report.
Councilwoman Lisa Morzel asked about police policy when it comes to drawing weapons. Police Chief Greg Testa acknowledged that it is reasonable for officers to draw their guns if they perceive a threat that could result in serious bodily injury or death.
Morzel also questioned the number of officers that responded to the incident.
“I can only assert that given the information that was there, that was why the number of officers arrived,” Testa said. “I don't want to make an assumption because an investigation is ongoing.”
“This is an extremely concerning issue, and one that we are taking very seriously,” Testa added in a prepared statement.
The officer who first confronted the man has been placed on administrative leave.
More cops. Is it the answer to fighting crime?
by SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM and WENDI C. THOMAS
MEMPHIS — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland took office in 2016 vowing to fight the city's high violent crime rate by beefing up a dwindling police force. His most novel idea: use an advisory body, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, to funnel anonymous private donations from the city's elite to reward cops who remain on the force.
His wish list, dubbed the “Blue Sky Strategy” and outlined in emails obtained by The Marshall Project, was ambitious: $48.2 million, including $12.7 million to subsidize housing and private school tuition for police families and $8 million for take-home cars.
So far the commission has channeled $6.1 million into the city budget, most of it for police retention bonuses. FedEx, International Paper and about a dozen other private entities are now subsidizing public safety in a big American city.
The commission has refused to disclose the amount of their individual contributions. “I don't know how much the different businesses gave,” Strickland said. “I'm thankful they gave money, and if they didn't want to say, individually, how much it was, then I am fine with that.”
WILLIAM DESHAZER FOR THE MARSHALL PROJECT
Memphis is unusual in taking money from the private sector to pay cops, but it reflects a popular trope that blames shrinking police forces for violence. Jeff Sessions, during his short tenure as attorney general, played that theme before police audiences, and it has become routine for national police leaders to complain that the politics of Black Lives Matter and viral videos of police killing civilians, along with low pay, have made it harder to recruit and retain qualified officers.
Data shows that the raw numbers of police have declined over the past five years, and the rate of police officers per 1,000 residents has been dropping for two decades. At the same time, the violent crime rate has also dropped.
After at least 16 years of growing police agencies, the nation lost more than 23,000 officers from 2013 to 2016, according to a U.S. Justice Department survey, bringing the total down to about 700,000. Two-thirds of 397 law enforcement agencies reported in a December survey that they have seen a decrease in applicants compared to five years ago.
But according to several policing experts, cities are too focused on raw numbers, hiring consultant after consultant in a desperate quest to increase their headcount. A cottage industry of specialists caters to jurisdictions hunting for an optimal number of cops.
“Most police departments have issues, not with the number of officers, it's with how they are deployed and scheduled,” said Alexander Weiss, a police staffing consultant whose clients have included police departments in Chicago, Albuquerque and New Orleans. “It's more important what the officers do, versus how many of them there are.”
Responding to public panic over urban violence during the 1990s, President Bill Clinton signed off on millions of dollars in federal funds to hire thousands of local cops across the country. In 1997, two years after the money started to trickle out of Washington, the nation had 242 police officers for every 100,000 residents. By 2016, that number had dropped to 217 as law enforcement agencies shed jobs in the aftermath of a national recession while the nation's population grew.
The national violent crime rate, over those 19 years, dropped by 37 percent. According to FBI data, in 1997 the national violent crime rate was 611.0 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2016 the violent crime rate was 386.3 out of 100,000 inhabitants.
Fears of rising crime and shrinking officer counts have emerged as common concerns in cities across the nation from Dallas to Detroit to Memphis and elsewhere. Adding more cops to a violent city seems like an obvious fix, but there is conflicting research on the question of whether more cops drive down crime rates.
James McCabe, a retired New York Police Department official who travels the country as a police staffing consultant, says there is little clear connection between staffing numbers and crime. “New York City made the conscious decision to reduce the number of cops,” he noted in an interview. “And crime continued to go down. It's not what you have, it's what you are doing with them.”
BRAD VEST, MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
The NYPD is one of a few departments that routinely recalculate how many officers they need to staff a 24-hour cycle. Called the Patrol Allocation Plan, the statistical model studies 911 calls and calculates such variables as how the time of day and type of crime affect an officer's response time.
NYPD's model is similar to what McCabe, and consultants like him, preach as the gold-standard in police staffing strategies. These “workload allocation models” are time-consuming and require statistical skills that most police departments lack. Instead, cities sign pricey contracts with Weiss, McCabe and their competitors to perform data-driven analyses of how officers can best use their time.
But the suggested reforms don't always stick, because they entail a lot of bureaucracy and require wholesale support from City Hall and local police unions. The recommendations typically involve assigning longer work shifts, moving officers out of jobs that don't require guns—duties such as crime scene investigations and administration—and hiring more civilians.
“It's helping communities figure out how they can get the most out of their police department,” said Jeremy M. Wilson, a Michigan State University criminal justice professor and police staffing expert.
Wilson discourages police departments from comparing staffing levels to cities of similar size, and instead suggests basing police deployment primarily on the numbers of 911 calls and allowing time for cops to get out of patrol cars to talk to people. “It's important for each community to understand what the community wants and can afford,” Wilson said. “Some communities want a community-oriented style, some want a law-and-order style, or service model. That has implications for deployment, costs, number of officers.”
Memphis has a murder rate worse than Chicago's and a police force that has shrunk by nearly a fifth since 2011, to a head count of 2,020. The city is on its fourth round of outside police staffing consultants in eight years.
The most significant change, prompted by an outside expert, was made on previous mayor A.C. Wharton's watch. In 2013, the department redrew its precinct maps in response to a 2012 analysis from a Washington D.C think tank, the Police Executive Research Forum.
JIM WEBER, MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
PERF's analysis, obtained by The Marshall Project, pointed out that the downtown tourist district had up to seven times as many cops on patrol per square mile as the city's more violent areas. Officers in high-crime North Memphis spent half their work day chasing 911 calls, leaving less time to learn about the neighborhoods they protect. Their counterparts assigned to the tourist zones spent only a fifth of their time answering the police radio.
The Memphis Police Department carved out new precinct boundaries, but rejected other advice. For example, the consultants found that officers were spending a lot of time chasing reports about burglar alarms and vicious dogs. City officials debated and rejected the idea of freeing up cops by outsourcing low priority complaints to other city agencies, or to private security firms.
“That was going to be a pretty steep hill for us to get over with the citizens, to say we aren't providing that service anymore,” said former Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong. “It is hard to stop doing something that you have traditionally done.”
Consultants say that in police departments across the country they encounter similar resistance to change.
Consultant Alexander Weiss analyzed police staffing problems in Albuquerque and New Orleans, and learned both cities had too few officers working during the busiest periods in the week. In New Orleans, Weiss found that, as in Memphis, officers were spending too much time responding to burglar alarms and to minor traffic accidents. “When they say ‘we are short-handed', ‘we don't have enough people,' what they are really describing is a gap in their ability to staff according to their plan,” Weiss said.
PERF also faulted Memphis for repeatedly trying to hire cops who don't meet state standards. Law enforcement agencies in Tennessee need a waiver from the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission to employ an officer who has felony convictions or a record of various misdemeanors. The Memphis Police Department led the state during the last two years in waiver requests. A Marshall Project review of state records found that six of the 48 waiver requests came from Memphis police for non-violent crimes ranging from open container violations to reckless driving. Nashville, with 500 fewer cops, had requested none.
BRAD VEST, MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
PERF and a successor consulting firm, PFM Group, suggested that Memphis police hire more civilians to free up officers in non life-threatening assignments.
But reforms ground to a halt because of continuing fallout from both the 2008 recession and a round of 2011 pay and benefit cuts for city employees, including police officers.
Officer attrition jumped by two-thirds, according to Memphis Police Department records, and the police union put up billboards warning passersby that the city “does NOT support PUBLIC SAFETY.” The salaries were eventually fully restored, but not the benefits.
Armstrong says police recruiters from as far away as Texas and Florida were coming to Memphis to lure away his demoralized cops. “Until someone takes a look at the benefit packages, this is going to be a continual problem,” Armstrong said.
With thinning ranks, overtime is a necessity to keep the department afloat. Taxpayers spent $27 million in 2017 on officer overtime, nearly double the amount two years earlier. Cops complain that they are pressured to work double shifts, while residents say their local patrolmen no longer stop to share a friendly hello.
“Officers burn out in this city,” said Michael Williams, the president of the Memphis Police Association. “You have the police who are hesitant about doing their job because of the environment which has been created.”
Memphis residents have had no choice but to adapt. The Downtown Memphis Commission, a local development organization, recently organized a private security force that patrols a 6-mile swath of downtown and its outskirts, on foot, bike or Segway. The Blue Suede Brigade has 34 state-licensed officers, equipped with handcuffs, batons, pepper spray—but not guns. City Hall spokeswoman Ursula Madden described the brigade as “an added layer of support.”
Longtime furniture shop owner Bartley Garey in North Memphis, like most residents in the city, has no access to private security patrols. After noticing a reduced police presence a few years ago, Garey started to close his Hollywood Furniture & Hardware store by dusk. “I feel if I call 911—and I am being perfectly honest—I would be put on hold,” Garey said.
WILLIAM DESHAZER FOR THE MARSHALL PROJECT
Strickland, then a city councilman, campaigned in 2015 as the “tough on crime” mayoral candidate, and became the first white mayor of this majority-black city in 24 years. He vowed one of his priorities would be “retaining and recruiting quality police officers.” Strickland hired his own outside brain-trust, starting with former New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly, known for his aggressive use of “stop and frisk” and for getting New York's crime to historic lows.
On Strickland's watch, the department has added about 100 civilians. The city also agreed to reinstate a program that trains recent high-school graduates to process minor traffic accidents.
Kelly was vice chairman of a security firm called K2 Intelligence. Strickland side-stepped the City Council and asked the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission to pay for K2's six-figure contract.
Kelly's June 2017 report on “crime reduction strategies” criticized Memphis police for failing to do the basics: Shooting trends were not mapped and analyzed; cops weren't being deployed to areas with upticks in violence, known as “hot spots;” weekly crime stats were not being shared with the public on the department's website.
Kelly recommended that the city hire another round of consultants to figure out how many cops Memphis needs by calculating trends in officer workloads. The city of Memphis contracted with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, or IACP, to do the assessment. IACP, the nation's largest police chief organization, is also looking into how Memphis runs its police academy. Although IACP's contract says it would provide progress reports on its findings, City Hall said the updates don't exist.
WILLIAM DESHAZER FOR THE MARSHALL PROJECT
In response to Kelly's suggestions on how to get crime down, authorities added more personnel to a gang unit that is staffed by local and federal officers, and the police department made its weekly crime meetings, said the City Hall spokeswoman, “more in-depth.”
Violent crime, as of the end of November, is up 2.4 percent compared to the same period in 2016. An August hiring and recruiting report from the Memphis Police Department says that 22 cops who had signed up for the privately financed bonuses left their jobs anyway. The report describes Strickland's new hiring efforts as “struggling.”
Meanwhile, Strickland is facing re-election this year. The centerpiece of his campaign? The need for more cops to carry on the fight against violent crime.
NJ Officer Says Her Career Was Spent Dodging Fellow Cops' Sex Harassment
by ERIN VOGT
A longtime female police officer has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her department, the township and several colleagues on the force.
Kate Proscia-Berger, 39, says that during her 17 years as an officer in Branchburg, she was groped, kissed against her will and propositioned repeatedly by several male co-workers, according to a lawsuit filed February in Superior Court in Somerset County.
The Phillipsburg resident began her career with the department around January 2002. She said soon after, the harassment began as "various and severe sexual comments and unwanted physical advances" created a hostile work environment.
Lt. Peter Crisafulli, Sgt. Manuel Camunas, Sgt. Corey Floyd and Sgt. Thomas Meola are named as defendants.
Proscia-Berger said Floyd once grabbed her crotch while they were in a patrol car, forcibly kissed her in a separate incident and repeatedly groped her. Proscia-Berger said the assaults were reported to fellow officers but no actions were taken.
According to the lawsuit, Proscia-Berger repeatedly rebuffed advances made by Crisafulli, who at the time the harassment began was a sergeant. Crisafulli was her supervisor at various points of her time with the department.
Proscia-Berger said Crisafulli once kissed her inside police headquarters, fondled her and tried to rub her back. She said he repeatedly told her that he was unhappy in his marriage and wanted to have sex with her even though he said he knew he was her supervisor.
Proscia-Berger said Meola, a superior officer, not only refused to report the assault and harassment she told him about involving the other officers, but then tried to discredit her among police administration.
In the court filing, she said Meola made up a story about her writing anonymous letters that criticized and slandered the chief. She also said that Meola made comments in the workplace that wrongly implied that they had been sexually active.
The suit also said that Camunas made repeated sexual comments to Proscia-Berger.
Proscia-Berger said amid all the harassment, she was passed over for promotions several times while other junior officers advanced within the department.
She is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for economic loss, severe emotional distress, physical and emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish.
There have been a few other recent sexual harassment cases involving law enforcement in New Jersey.
Last year, the Ocean County Department of Corrections was named in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by five female corrections officers who said they have been victims of harassment, gender bias and workplace hostility by senior officers.
In November 2018, former Ocean City police Officer Vanessa Strunk filed a lawsuit in which she said she was routinely sexually harassed by male officers during her nine years on the force.
In January, NJ.com reported that Princeton reached a $4 million settlement with seven current and former police officers, both male and female, who had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a former police chief.
These journalists have a list of criminal cops. California is trying to keep it secret.
by Deanna Paul
Two California journalists requested and were given data on police officers' arrests and convictions over the past 10 years. What they found was surprising: domestic abuse, child molestation — even murder. They were given these documents through a public records request, something journalists exercise frequently.
But California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says it was a mistake, and they never should have received it in the first place. Becerra — whose office was responsible for maintaining the information — said the center that distributed it was not authorized to do so. He wants the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California at Berkeley, and its two journalists, to destroy the files and refrain from publishing them. Not doing so, Becerra claimed, would be against the law.
But the Berkeley journalists say they're on solid legal footing and are standing their ground.
The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, a California accrediting body, determines which officers are qualified to be hired or retained by state law enforcement. It receives criminal system data from the Justice Department to assist in setting eligibility standards and maintains many agencies' records for police officers who have been convicted of a crime.
On Dec. 6, reporter Robert Lewis put in a public records request with the commission for a list of officers convicted of a crime. Lewis said his reporting partner, Jason Paladino, sent in a related request roughly around the same time. Soon thereafter, Lewis received an email acknowledging receipt of the request. A few weeks later, a second message requested an extension to compile the relevant records.
On Jan. 8, both men received two files containing a spreadsheet with 12,000 names. It included officers and applicants convicted of a crime, but as Lewis said, it also “included current and former peace officers and applicants, and individuals who applied and went through part of the process and then got rejected.”
It's unclear how or why Becerra's office became aware of the commission's accidental disclosure to the journalists. According to Lewis, he tried several times to reach an official from the attorney general's office with questions about the data but was met only with silence.
Three weeks later, when the office had learned what had happened, it sent a letter to Lewis and Paladino, putting them on notice: They had “inadvertently” been given confidential criminal history information and were breaking the law by “possessing” the spreadsheet. The attorney general requested that they refrain from publishing the data and destroy the document. He said the office could pursue legal action if they chose not to follow the requests.
Lewis told The Washington Post that letter was the “first contact of any substance with DOJ.”
“I was stunned, shocked — all the range of emotions you might have imagined — and continue to be,” he said of receiving the record and then feeling threatened with criminal prosecution.
In a news conference Friday, Becerra — who is a Democrat — called the rumors of veiled threats against journalists a “false narrative.”
“I respect the importance of a free press and the need to have transparency and the need to give the American public the right to know,” Becerra said, calling the commission's Jan. 8 action a “mistake.” “If innocent people get caught up in this, that's not right.”
The First Amendment protects the right to publish truthful information that was obtained legally by the publisher. The Supreme Court has affirmed that right against countervailing state interests, including protecting the names of rape victims and government officials going through disciplinary proceedings. It has even affirmed that right when there has been an inadvertent disclosure by the government, according to Caroline DeCell, staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute.
The caveat, though, is that the published information must be about a matter of public concern.
“If the information meets that standard, they can't criminalize its publication,” she said, adding that there's an interest in keeping certain information private. “There could be a narrow way for the state to argue that it must protect information that doesn't rise to the level of public concern."
These events follow what Lewis called a “impenetrable wall of secrecy” in California that surrounds police officer records or misconduct.
“We're talking about a police officer who was arrested, accused of a crime by another law enforcement agency, formally in a court of law, went through adjudication and, at the end of it, either took a plea to a crime or was found guilty and convicted,” he said, calling it “baffling.”
Within the spreadsheet is “important information to be asked,” Lewis said. For example, he mentioned a San Francisco officer was accused and convicted of accessing confidential records to help his girlfriend dig up dirt on a tenant. Another was convicted of unauthorized access of information. Lewis said that neither appeared to have been reported in the local media or disclosed in any kind of way.
“San Francisco citizens missed the opportunity to know that there might be a problem and ask for oversight of confidential information,” he explained.
It seems both sides are at an impasse.
At Friday's news conference, Becerra made clear that the scenario is “a difficult one.”
“I'm all for investigative journalism, especially in this day and age, in this country, but you can't play fast and loose with private, confidential information,” he said.
The Berkeley Center did nothing wrong in securing the information. But “what they do next is something different,” Becerra said.
The Learning Curve: Schools With Cops But No Counselors
by Will Huntsberry
The ACLU released some disturbing data this week: 1.7 million students in the United States attend a school with a cop or security guard, but not a school counselor. Tracy Wilson, the counseling coordinator for the San Diego County Office of Education. shed some light on how counselors can help a school's most vulnerable students.
The ACLU released some disturbing data this week: 1.7 million students in the United States attend a school with a cop or security guard, but not a school counselor. Here's how that breaks out statewide and locally:
California: 390,072 students
San Diego County: Roughly 11,000 students
The report, which uses data from 2015-16, also looked at arrest data that showed wild disparities between racial groups. Black girls, for instance, are six times more likely to be arrested in California schools than white girls.
But the main findings highlighted “a broad failure to hire enough support staff to serve students' mental health needs,” the report concluded.
Only three (very rural) states – Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire – meet the recommended standard of having at least one counselor for every 250 students. California ranks toward the bottom of states with a 682-to-1 ratio. (Just because some students in the state attend a school with a cop but no counselor doesn't mean there are actually more cops than counselors overall. California has 6,308 school officers and security guards and 9,123 counselors, according to the report.)
For some perspective, I called up Tracy Wilson, the counseling coordinator for the San Diego County Office of Education. Wilson works with counselors in all 42 districts in the county. She helped me understand how counselors can help a school's most vulnerable students and how, ultimately, they can be a force for solving the academic achievement gap, between various class and racial groups.
WH: What was your reaction to the report?
TW: I'm not surprised. But I feel like the rules are very different for what those jobs do. I see school counseling as a type of prevention work. I don't wanna say there's no place for that with police. I support them too. But if you have more prevention work, maybe you have less need for the other type of work. It's the counseling ratios in schools that's the bigger concern. I think 680-to-1 is really high. Expecting one adult to connect with 600 students is just unreasonable. (The ratio in San Diego County is 653-to-1.) I can't tell you the names of that many people. No one can
The Sacramento Cop-Out
The city's district attorney not only declined to charge the officers involved in Stephon Clark's death, but implied the victim wanted to die
by JAMIL SMITH
California has an assisted-suicide law. It was in effect when Stephon Clark went running into his grandmother's backyard nearly a year ago, pursued by two Sacramento police officers who shot and killed him there. But the state's End of Life Option Act didn't apply to Clark. Sacramento district attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who announced Sunday that she wouldn't charge his killers with a crime, knew that Clark wasn't terminally ill. But Schubert, who put up fences on public property outside her G Street office in downtown Sacramento last March to shoo away protesters, went further. She also heavily implied that Clark was suicidal at the time of his death.
In both her 80-minute press conference and the report that followed, Schubert noted Clark's inexcusable history of domestic violence against his fiancée and the mother of his two children, Salena Manni. She also mentioned his fear of being incarcerated again for a new incident that occurred two days before he died. The report indicated that the contents of Clark's cell phone, the same one that the cops mistook for a gun that night, showed that he'd been doing searching for “information related to suicide the day before and the day of the fatal shooting” and had sent a text to Manni on the 17th that read, “Let's fix our family or I'm taking all of these.” Pictured, according to Schubert's report, were a handful of Xanax pills.
Even if Clark hoped that the pursuit would end in his death, it isn't necessarily legal for police in California to help him commit “suicide by cop.” That phrase, a convenient fiction since it absolves those doing the actual killing, has been used to both explain why people are the victims of officer-involved shootings and to excuse the officers who perpetrate the acts. But here's the rub: Schubert later denied that she intended to convey that Clark had a death wish. So why, then, did she bring up his mental state at all? She claimed that it would have been admissible in court had the case gone to trial. So what? That doesn't fully explain what happened that night, nor why she filed no charges.
Reached by Rolling Stone for comment and clarification, Schubert's office said the District Attorney “is not available for follow-up interviews or further statements.”
The district attorney's decision was the result of an unjust process: Cops investigate other cops, then a prosecutor — who works with those cops all the time on cases — relies upon their judgment. This one also relied upon their cash: Schubert took in $13,000 in campaign donations from law enforcement last March less than a week after Clark was shot. No matter how many outside experts she lined up to bolster her decision, the D.A.'s Sunday announcement not to prosecute the officers with murder or another related crime was injury enough. This is a Sacramento community that has seen the newly re-elected Schubert investigate more than 30 such police shootings and not file a single charge. It was an insult to African-Americans throughout the nation who have seen district attorneys give cops a pass for these types of incidents all too regularly.
We may have expected Schubert to exonerate the officers, then all but prosecute the dead victim. It's one thing for the Sacramento D.A. to describe why the case is not winnable, or why the cops allegedly didn't break any laws. It is quite another for her to sully the memory of a dead man and the reputation of his family with previously undisclosed facts that bore no relevance to the guilt or innocence of the officers involved. She did the latter on Sunday and impugned the mentally ill in the process by insinuating that Clark's desperation would cause him to act criminally and to put police in a life-threatening position.
Even now, 352 days after the incident, we still don't know how many times Clark was shot. Schubert reports seven times, though she doesn't detail how many bullets the cops fired at him. (It was 20, by most reported counts.) The independent autopsy findings released last March by forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, which Schubert disputed in her report, concluded that Clark was shot eight times — including six times in the back. Not once was he hit in the front of his body, Omalu concluded, despite the Sacramento police claim that he was in a “shooting position.” Well, why would Clark be in a shooting position if he didn't have a gun?
Clark's brother, Stevante, has rebounded from a well-publicized hospitalization for his mental health issues since Stephon's death. A nationwide study published last summer concluded that when police officers kill unarmed black people, it damages the mental health of African-Americans living in those states.
Sacramento police arrested 84 people Monday night at a protest, including a Sacramento Bee reporter. They were demonstrating because they want the officers who killed Clark fired. I also believe these men should lose their jobs. But fundamental to any civil rights demand is a call for increased mental health awareness among law enforcement. Not only can cities save lives with properly trained personnel to handle and de-escalate situations, but in circumstances like Clark's, that awareness can ensure that a person's despair won't be weaponized against them once they are dead and buried. From Dontre Hamilton to Freddie Gray, mental illness has played a part in police killings — either making them more likely, as per studies, or used as an excuse even when the justification is sketchy. To even imply that Clark wanted to die is to use a person's pain in their absence, to damn them once by killing them and then again by speaking for them out of turn.
What happened in Sacramento that night was the logical conclusion of “broken windows” policing at its most extreme: a helicopter and several officers pursuing a potential vandal in a residential neighborhood. Schubert is part of a larger criminal justice apparatus that has gone awry in California, the state where police are most likely to commit lethal force first against black people. But that is why the district attorney's report, while it offers a token note of sympathy for Clark's family at the end, could have instead done some critical thinking about how we ended up here in the first place. Holding the police accountable may be too much to expect from the prosecutor who literally fenced out nonviolent protesters, only to later cast blame upon a dead man for his own demise.
from Dept of Justice
San Diego County Man Who Laundered Ransom Money Paid by Kidnapping Victims' Families Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison
LOS ANGELES – A National City man convicted of conspiracy was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison today for laundering the money of a violent kidnapping organization that held two dozen Mexican nationals hostage.
Luis Francisco Murillo Morfin, 33, also was ordered by United States District Judge John F. Walter to pay $62,000 in restitution to the victims. After a two-day bench trial in October 2018, Walter found Murillo guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In August 2015, Murillo's co-conspirators recruited victims in Mexico under the false pretense of being smuggled into the United States. The victims were picked up in northern Mexico, were driven in the trunks of cars through a fake border “checkpoint,” then were taken to a Tijuana stash house where they were threatened, beaten and raped, according to trial testimony.
The kidnappers then extorted their victims' relatives in the United States for ransom money, ordering them to send the money via wire transfers to Mexico or to make cash deposits into U.S. bank accounts – including an account that belonged to Murillo, a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Extortion victims testified at trial that they were threatened that their relatives would be beaten, murdered or disemboweled if the ransom money wasn't paid.
As the kidnapping victims' relatives deposited the money, Murrillo twice drove from Mexico to the United States and withdrew ransom payments from his bank account so he could deliver the money to his co-conspirators in Mexico.
Murillo opened a Wells Fargo bank account in his name on April 30, 2015, and made monthly payments to keep it open, but did not use the account until August 4, 2015 – one day after his co-conspirators kidnapped and held for ransom nine of their victims, according to evidence presented at trial.
On August 4 and 5, 2015, extortion victims deposited $62,000 in ransom money into Murillo's account from bank branches in Ontario, Santa Maria, Northern California, Idaho and Mississippi. Less than 48 hours later, Murillo had withdrawn all $62,000, leaving only the $10 minimum to keep the account open, and lied to a Wells Fargo bank employee about how he needed the money to pay for cars.
After his arrest, Murillo told law enforcement that he believed the money he withdrew from the Wells Fargo account was from illegal activity, specifically, human smuggling, according to the government's sentencing memorandum.
Murillo was charged along with four other Mexican nationals, all of whom are believed to be residing in Mexico. The other defendants are: Jesus Antonio Rivera Gaxiola, a.k.a. “The Cook”; Manuel Roman Velazquez, a.k.a. “The Caller”; Alberto Jimenez Bautista, a.k.a. “Jefe”; and Luis Perez Martinez.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Victoria Degtyareva and Carley Palmer of the Orange Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section.
Ciaran McEvoy, Public Information Officer
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