LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
"News of the Week"  

March 2019 - Week 2
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

Police One

5 examples of how evidence-based policing enhances law enforcement

Proactive policing that targets hot places, hot people and hot times based on knowledge gleaned from crime analysts is an effective crime-reduction strategy

by Lieutenant Jason Potts

Successful day-to-day policing is largely based on building relationships and trust both internally in our organizations and externally in our communities – emotional concepts that are often difficult to measure.

Getting a confession from a subject, making connections with a shop owner or community member, or a patrol officer using natural, keen instincts to read cues that a subject needs further investigation, are examples of successful policing that are often considered the “art and craft” of law enforcement.

However, that doesn't mean we should ignore the contextual data, technology and best available empirical research to train our officers and inform their activity. This practice of evidence-based policing is a decision-making perspective that suggests policies and practices should be supported by assessing and analyzing data, rigorous scientific evidence about what works and what does not, and acknowledging that research should be part of the conversation around police operations.

There is still a great deal of weight placed on the craft or art of policing, and there should be. Most every police department has a police officer who is a magnet for guns, stolen cars, wanted subjects and those carrying large amounts of illegal narcotics. Still, relying on the craft of policing and random patrol can only take us so far. What if we could enhance these instincts with the best available evidence – data that rules out other theories and then informs and challenges policies, practices and decisions by continually assessing the information gathered?

Evidence shows that proactive policing that targets hot places, hot people and hot times based on knowledge gleaned from crime analysts has proved to be an effective crime-reduction strategy. If we can couple instinctive proactive policing while addressing hot spots and reducing criminal opportunities through deterrence then the police might be able to exert their influence in meaningful ways.

The challenge is overcoming the belief by some that officers who participate in evidence-based policing desire to study problems incessantly or have a “paralysis by analysis” mindset. Members of the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing are out to change that perception. The society is comprised of front-line cops who suggest police become the drivers of research while partnering with researchers to find the answers to questions that are relevant to policing's core missions. What is critically important is that as police officers, we are the ones who have the most accurate view of the world within which we operate.


The following examples of evidence-based policing show promising results that might be applicable in your jurisdictions. The research is based on rigorous evaluation often done with randomized controlled trials (RCTs), considered the gold standard in scientific methodology. RCTs are methodology designs used to compare the counterfactual (what would have happened at the same time as the intervention) but were not discovered because something else was done. They are essentially randomized comparisons of an equal number of treatments (interventions) compared to the business as usual (controls).

1. Repeat offenders and crime variations

Evidence: Crime risks vary consistently and are typically concentrated by the time of day, the day of the week, season, type of holiday and even weather conditions. Additionally, only a few offenders commit most of the crime. Some estimates show that just 3-5 percent of the population commit 50-60 percent of crime. Additionally, based on the “power few” or loosely connected 20/80 rule, 80 percent of all crime might be committed by 20 percent of the population.

Recommendation: With the assistance of a crime analyst, track repeat offenders for repeat offenses and monitor when they are in and out of jail. Staff your patrol teams when crime is the highest. Also, after assessing the data, use crime reduction teams to target hot places, hot people and hot times. Avoid random patrol and consider a focused offender approach – partner with probation, parole and prosecution.

Some police ignore their own crime data of where and when crime is occurring and tend to overstaff during off times and days – more than likely due to labor/union contractual expectations.

For crime to generally happen there must be a likely offender, a suitable target and the absence of a capable guardian or someone to care enough to observe or intervene.

2. Hot spot policing

Evidence: If police assessed the data and patrolled hot places sporadically and unpredictably every two hours for 10-16 minutes they could have a measurable impact on crime with a policing strategy known as the “Koper Curve.”

In Sacramento, a hot spot study was conducted involving an intervention area (the hot spot patrols), which was then compared to a control area or (business was usual). The result: Part I Crime incidents decreased 25 percent in the intervention (treatment) hot spots compared to the business as usual (control) hot spots (where crime incidents rose 27 percent). Calls for service declined by about 8 percent in the intervention group and increased by approximately 11 percent in the business-as-usual hot spots.

Recommendation: Consider conducting traffic and pedestrian stops proactively in locations with violent activity. As a police leader, visit these hot spots frequently to demonstrate commitment, enthusiasm, credibility and an overall investment in the plan. Further, by visiting, you may gain additional insights into new strategies and deployments.

Putting a “cop on the dot” in an area where crime takes place is probably not very realistic for most resource-strapped police departments running from call to call. However, if police leaders can place an officer in that hot spot for 15 minutes unpredictably and sporadically, then research shows a decrease in crime that lasts for 2 hours. Suddenly, this becomes much more realistic and manageable.

3. Burglary risks

Evidence: Predictable risk of residential burglary occurs in the areas to the side, front and behind the victim's residence for the first 10-14 days after the crime. This evidence has been ignored for years and was just recently tested in Redlands, California, and Baltimore City, Maryland.

Recommendation: After a burglary warn neighbors of their risk and suggest ways in which they can target harden their residence such as locking back windows; utilizing ring technology, video surveillance, alarms and motion lights; cutting away shrubbery; and encouraging more guardianship of neighbors.

4. Domestic homicide predictors

Evidence: Previous suicide attempts appear to be the best predictor of domestic homicide.

Thames Valley Police (UK) records were examined for 118 victims and 120 offenders in 118 cases of “deadly” domestic violence: murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm. The case-control study found male offenders who committed serious domestic assaults were over three times more likely than other violent offenders to have had markers of suicidal tendencies.

Recommendation: Use this information as a threat matrix and tailor services accordingly. If there are those suicidal tendencies, utilize support services and other partners for prevention.

5. Cognitive interviewing techniques

Evidence: According to several studies, cognitive interviewing techniques, or asking open-ended questions, reinstating the context by eliciting memory retrieval cues, and focusing on sensory details – resulted in 25-40 percent more details.

Many U.S. local police do not practice cognitive interviewing techniques when speaking to victims and witnesses of violent crime, despite significant evidence that shows the victim will feel heard, empowered, and less often felt re-victimized.

Recommendation: Show empathy – acknowledge trauma and pain, use open-ended questions, i.e., “tell me more” and “help me understand.” Use powerful retrieval cues like smell and sound. Ask impact questions – “How has this impacted you? What can't you forget about the experience?”


Dynamic demands in daily policing require shifting priorities while allowing officers to make sound decisions rooted in discretion. Evidence-based policing doesn't suggest replacing the craft of policing – it advocates for enhancing it.

It is my experience that police generally welcome research and data if they are empowered, included and the measurements explained to them in concise ways. However, it is these measurements that researchers and practitioners are often at odds with – crime reduction versus crime detection or how evaluations are done – experiments, quasi-experiments and before/after analysis.

Police supervisors and managers must continue to translate and digest the research in ways that make sense to our front-line police but look and feel like everyday police activities, while encouraging officers to participate in their own officer-led research.

Finally, we don't prove anything in science; we only test theories that might work in one jurisdiction but might be less successful in another. [8,9] The hope is that we progress to the point where one day we will consistently assess our data with competent crime analysts and place our officers in positions to succeed, both from an officer-safety and a crime-reduction perspective, for themselves, their departments and the communities they serve. Besides as Neil de Grasse Tyson once said, “To be scientifically literate is to empower yourself to know when someone else is full of shit.”

If you want to learn more about evidence-based policing or how to conduct rapid officer-led research trials with the help of organizations such as BetaGov, register for the third annual ASEBP conference on May 20-21 at the University of Cincinnati. Attendees will even be provided an opportunity to participate in a quasi-experiment on a virtual reality simulator by Street Smarts VR.

To learn more about the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing, visit



(video on site)

Portents of Black-White Unity in the Struggle Against State Violence

by Stephen Boni

If you read a lot of journalism, you've probably noticed a pattern in many articles. Before jumping into their main story, a writer will often treat you as if you're reading a novel and open their piece with stuff like:

“The sun hangs low, casting a bright light on the darkened dirty corners of Abidem Street. Quite a contrast from the muted cleanliness of the Manhattan offices where I spend most of my time. This part of town wasn't always this way. Before the freeway bifurcated the neighborhood, it was one of the cleanest and most popular thoroughfares in the city. But in 1965 .. ”

Whether this approach is a bastardized hangover from a popular era of novelistic journalism exemplified in the work of Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and other luminaries from the 60s or simply a device to draw readers in I don't know. But I always chafe a bit when I get stuck reading unnecessary expositions grafted onto a news story.

So I have to apologize if it seems like I'm doing the same thing in this piece today, which is about a video that went viral last week showing a collaboration between black and white activists at a contentious Sacramento, California city council meeting in the continuing aftermath of the March 2018 murder of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police.

Here goes.

If you're a cinephile like I am you may be familiar with one of the great politically minded (and decidedly leftist) independent writer/directors of the last 40 years, John Sayles, and some of his best films such as Return of the Secaucus Seven, Brother from Another Planet, Matewan and Lone Star. What you may not know about John Sayles is that he was first a novelist and wrote an extraordinary book in the late 70s called Union Dues, which chronicles the desire and confusion of a teenage boy from West Virginia who seeks belonging in the world of late 60s left-wing activism.

In the story, one of the white male leaders of the activist group the teenager falls in with decides that they will force their way into the community of a radical black organization and demand collaboration and alignment with the white-led group's political agenda. Needless to say, this approach, dripping in arrogance, doesn't get a warm response and bad things happens.

I bring this fiction up because in reality there is a longstanding and persistent paternalism in the way that majority white activist organizations engage with people who have been marginalized, dehumanized and abused in our culture. One need only do a few Internet or Twitter searches to find copious stories from activists who identify as black about having their priorities pushed aside and dismissed in such groups as The Green Party or Democratic Socialists of America. In all too many cases, white-led groups—either consciously or unconsciously—want black-identified activists to subordinate their experiences and ideas to better conform with strategies dictated by white leaders.

This week, the lefty British YouTuber Angie Speaks produced a satirical video about this very issue.

With all of this exposition as context, let's get to what went down in Sacramento last week.

First, the background: In March of 2018, responding to a 911 call about vandalism, Sacramento police shot and killed a young unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, in his grandmother's backyard. For more than a year, Black Lives Matter and other activists have been staging protests and advocating for accountability and justice, to no avail. They marched. They blocked a freeway. They blocked entrance to a Sacramento Kings basketball game. They shut down a mall. And they were summarily ignored by the city.

However, when county district attorney Anne Marie Schubert recently announced there would be no charges filed against the two police officers who killed Clark, activists took their peaceful protests to the streets of one of Sacramento's wealthier majority white neighborhoods, prompting an immediate police response with over 80 arrests, including the unlawful detaining of reporters and clergy members.

It's helpful to note here that it is tactically unusual for majority black activists to take their protests to well-heeled majority white neighborhoods. Given the rapid response from the police, one might say this approach ruffled feathers and might be used again to real effect in the future. But what's even more notable about the latest protests is the evidence of fruitful collaboration between white and black activists. This got a lot of attention last week when video from the subsequent Sacramento City Council meeting went viral, showing a white activist going on an eloquent and expletive-laden tirade at city officials for their unwillingness to address Clark's murder and the issue of police abuse of black citizens more broadly.

Here it is (video)

Now, unlike the organizational paternalism that silences many black activists, here we have an instance of a white activist embracing the humanity and the priorities of a marginalized community and using his voice—a voice that, because of the color of skin from which it's issued, is given greater respect—to hold people in power to account. In our divided country, this kind of solidarity is rarely seen and that's part of the reason the video went viral. Many comments from both black and white viewers pointed out that this was true “ally” behavior. Others stressed the danger of lauding the activist too much, for fear that attention would be taken away from activists and community members who are most directly affected by police violence. Given the historical co-option of black-identified activism by white-led groups, this view is absolutely understandable.

Black-supporting tirade aside, though, what happened after this comment-period confrontation may have been even more important. As the meeting got increasingly heated and unruly, one black activist leaped up onto a desk, which brought security officers rushing forward. However, in what appeared to be a coordinated and pre-planned act, white activists helped thwart a violent take-down of their fellow protester by surrounding and protecting him. Security officers were clearly unwilling to get violent with the white protesters and backed off.

This is one of the first instances I'm aware of where white activists have used the fact that law enforcement favors their skin tone to keep a black activist safe. It harkens back to the efforts of white freedom riders in the early 60s, who made the decision to put their bodies on the line to protect their fellow black freedom riders. There are, of course, multiple ways to look at this.

One way might be to consider how unjust it is that favoritism towards white skin must be used in this fashion at all. Doesn't it rob agency from black people? Is it merely paternalism in another form? As a confirmed movie freak, my mind immediately goes to the scene from the 2017 horror film Get Out where the protagonist's girlfriend uses the illegitimate power of her whiteness to face down a cop intent on victimizing her black boyfriend. The film rightly positions the act as problematic, which comes into broader relief when we later learn that the girlfriend is the movie's villain.

Let's take this back out of fiction, though.

We talk a lot about unity in this publication. In that regard, it's a fair question to ask: can there be true unity among unequal citizens?

Another way of looking at this tactic is that, when employed in good faith by white activists who understand deep within their beings that their black counterparts are every bit their equals; who understand that the forces that place higher value on whiteness are liars; who reach consensus on this approach not just among themselves but in dialogue with black activists; perhaps then it can become a canny and subversive act of unity to be built upon.

Because confronting a city council is one thing, but what about actually changing the nature of policing itself—away from its terrifying tradition of unaccountable slave patrols and overseers (KRS-One has a great track about this on Return of the Boom Bap) and towards a new paradigm of community-controlled peacekeeping? Community empowerment and governance will take a level of unity that has few precedents in the history of our deeply wounded and mixed up culture.

I don't have the answers. I wish I did. But I do see some doors cracking open and a light beyond.


Washington DC

How a focus on national service can unify our divided country

by General Stanley A. McChrystal (ret.) and Michael E. O'Hanlon

Editor's Note: Particularly at a time of heightened polarization, national service is an idea that should help unify our nation, write Stanley McChrystal and Michael O'Hanlon. This piece originally appeared on The Hill.

A proven technique in peace talks, labor disputes, and many other types of difficult negotiations is to begin by finding some type of common ground upon which antagonistic parties can agree. But in today's political climate, everything seems difficult.

So why not seek the common ground of helping our young people benefit from the experience of service—service of a kind that changes almost everyone who does it for the better?

Presidential, congressional, state, and local officials should endorse the idea of at least a year of national service, not as a legal obligation, but as an increasingly widespread cultural, political, and moral expectation for all able, young Americans.

The fundamental purpose of such a program would not be to create jobs, or a low-wage pool of laborers for menial tasks. Rather, the main point would be to change the people who undertake it and thus the society in which they live.

The real product of national service, as much as the good work that participants carry out, is the group of alumni that it produces—individuals with increased maturity, civic awareness, and the empathy that comes from working with people from different backgrounds and different zip codes.

This is not a new idea. In recent presidential campaigns, some politicians have made nods in a related direction, as with Barack Obama‘s, “Yes, we can,” rallies, George W. Bush's “compassionate conservatism,” or George H.W. Bush's “thousand points of light.”

But it has been hard to translate such campaign sentiments into actionable policy. Arguably, not since the 1960s Peace Corps and VISTA programs has the federal government achieved major progress in the realm of national service.

Most of the action that has occurred since then has been driven by the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and civic society, as with Wendy Kopp's Teach for America program for recent college graduates.

All of that is well and good, but we need to bring national service up to scale and infuse it into our culture. As Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) said in a recent speech at Brookings, we need to make national service so common that a young adult in a job interview should expect to be asked, “Where did you do your year of service?”

And employers throughout the land should be encouraged, when possible, to defer start dates for new hires until they finish their service.

The combined efforts of Teach for America, Peace Corps, various faith-based organizations, and other worthy groups now collectively involve a couple hundred thousand young Americans per year. There are also those already going into public service in professions like policing, first-responder communities, park and wildlife services and schools.

Add in the U.S. military, which recruits about 200,000 individuals annually, and, today, roughly 500,000 Americans annually undertake the kind of service we are promoting. That is a lot already, but it is out of a population of nearly 5 million at each age cohort in the United States.

By a very rough count, only about 10 percent of the population is doing some variant of national service. Roughly speaking, the near-term goal should be to double today's national service ranks and reach the goal of 1 million individuals early in the 2020s.

Some might worry that such a government-sponsored effort would take jobs from those adults who really need them. This is a manageable risk—especially when national unemployment rates are so low. Many useful jobs that are not currently being done by anyone could be created as part of a new effort.

For example, mentoring and tutoring services for struggling poor Americans who cannot afford to hire their own after-school tutors could be provided. Outreach groups to visit the nation's nursing homes and Veterans Affairs hospitals could be organized.

Teams to clean up distressed neighborhoods could take the “broken windows” philosophy of community policing one step further, giving crime-plagued and poverty-stricken areas more reason to be proud of where they live.

The Peace Corps could be expanded back to the size that typified it in the 1960s. Having more people who have profited from such experiences can be a competitive advantage for our nation in a complex, global economy.

This concept can be good for our country in other ways, too, including its national security. Right now, we have a remarkable all-volunteer military. It would remain an all-volunteer force under our proposal. But something big would change, we hope.

Today, only about 0.5 percent of all Americans are in the military at any given time, and fewer than 10 percent of all Americans are veterans of previous military service. Worse, the pool of young Americans from which the armed forces can recruit is dwindling.

Relatively few Americans have a proclivity to join the military; relatively few of those who are interested meet its standards. The armed forces are still doing reasonably well with recruiting, but there are sometimes shortfalls.

Moreover, military service is increasingly something that only certain categories of Americans—those from the mountain West and deep South, for example, or those with parents in the military—tend to seriously consider.

The Army gets 50 percent of its enlisted recruits from 10 percent of the nation's high schools. That trend cannot be good for our nation. A culture of national service would not grow the military or require the armed forces to take people they don't want, but it should increase and diversify the pool of applicants willing to consider a tour in the armed forces as one among many options for national service.

National service is an idea that should help unify our nation. It builds on the best traditions in America, imposes only very modest costs on the federal government and asks Americans to give back at a time when most of the Washington debate is having no such edifying effect on our nation's citizenry.

According to the Service Alliance's latest polling, 60 to 70 percent of Americans would support this idea, and one in four would consider serving themselves.

When one of us speaks across the nation to groups interested in national service, the response tends to be overwhelmingly positive. Yet, we as a nation seem hesitant to take on this kind of challenge. If we believe it would make our country better and stronger, then what are we waiting for? If we don't take on the task, who will?



St Louis, MO

Thriving Regions Have Big, World Class Police Departments

Police mentoring in schools explored at Koster's roundtable

Recently, some in our community have tried to make the case that large police departments are undesirable, unmanageable and unsafe. This argument is misguided and wrong.

Large police departments throughout the world partner with residents daily to produce vibrant, thriving communities. These departments provide connected, local service and are receptive to the community's needs. Not only can large departments ensure exceptional public safety, they can supply expertise and leverage resources unavailable from a small department. For the region to move forward, we require caring and professional local policing, and the ability to devote resources for any event regardless of the magnitude.

Those who promote the idea that large departments are unable to keep communities safe ignore the most obvious examples of New York and Los Angeles. The two most populous cities in the nation have respective murder rates of 3.4 and 7.0 murders per 100,000 residents. These numbers are as low as many small cities that are considered extremely safe.

Locally, the St. Louis County Police Department proudly provides police services to many municipalities, including Wildwood, which enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in Missouri. In 2011, we started providing police services to Jennings after the Jennings Police Department disbanded. Since then, Jennings has experienced a sustained drop of 26 percent in serious crimes.

Clearly, the county police have figured out how to partner with local communities to provide low crime rates, to satisfy residents and to ensure the safety of businesses even though we are a large police department. Ask a member of the clergy who the precinct captain is in the North County Precinct; they will know. Ask a businessperson in South County who the neighborhood policing sergeant is in the Affton Precinct, they too will be familiar.

I am not arguing that small police departments are unable to provide service to their residents. Rather, my contention and experience is that large police departments can do this just as well, and provide far greater resources, expertise and capacity.

Large departments such as the aforementioned NYPD and LAPD have officers who work in local precinct stations just like officers in small departments. Further, officers in large agencies are just a radio transmission away from calling on the vast resources of their respective departments. In stark contrast, some small departments do not even have a supervisor on duty at all times.

The idea that large departments do not deliver connected, local resources is untrue. However, the fact that smaller departments are unable to offer scalable, connected resources remains a reality. On balance, large departments have more to offer a city and a region. We desperately need to compete with other regions and cities in the United States. Our region must not only sustain, but attract economic growth in order to prevail in today's competitive economy. To do this, corporate leaders need to be confident that the public safety system has the capacity to ensure their assets, while our residents remain confident that they will be safe in their homes and travel.

Voters will be presented an opportunity to create a new, more inclusive regional approach to policing that is modeled on the best policies, resources and integration. We owe it to ourselves to set high standards of our law enforcement as part of a much-needed reform of our regional governance in order to create economic viability and enhance the lives and safety of all our citizens.



New York City

Why the mayor gives the NYPD a free ride

Bill de Blasio was supposed to transform policing. What happened?


In December, many New Yorkers were shocked by a video of NYPD officers ripping Jazmine Headley's baby from her arms. Her crime? Sitting on the floor of a Brooklyn food stamp office after waiting for hours and getting into a dispute with New York City Human Resources Administration “peace officers.” The video went viral, and was widely circulated by news outlets. Condemnation of the NYPD's behavior was so ubiquitous, even the New York Post's right-wing editorial board noted that “the de-escalation training the NYPD rolled out after the fatal 2014 takedown of Eric Garner .. clearly didn't help much here.”

While elected officials swiftly denounced the actions of everyone involved, one notable voice declined to criticize the NYPD: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Several days after the news broke, de Blasio called the incident “disturbing” but blamed the agency security staffers. “By the time the NYPD arrived, this situation was already out of control,” he said. (Internal investigators at the NYPD found no wrongdoing by its officers.)

This was not the first time de Blasio was reluctant to denounce police officers for the use of force on people not even suspected of any serious crimes. In January 2018, in an incident captured on video outside a federal office building near City Hall, protesters gathered to prevent the deportation of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir were manhandled – put in a headlock, shoved in the throat – and arrested by police, including members of the New York City Council. “Many of us suddenly and without warning or provocation (were) shoved and pushed,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said afterward. “I was not blocking anyone. I was not resisting in any way.”

The Daily News reported that de Blasio “called the protest a ‘very, very problematic incident' but would not say whether the NYPD officers involved were in the wrong.” The NYPD defended the arrests on the grounds that the protesters were in the way of an ambulance. (One officer involved was disciplined and one was transferred to a different unit; nine other officers were cleared.)

To some of de Blasio's supporters, incidents like this represent a betrayal of the credo of his first mayoral campaign and the coalition that elected him. Bill de Blasio is mayor today because he won the support of two key constituencies in 2013: African-Americans and liberals. He did so by campaigning against the racial and economic “tale of two cities” that existed under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Reining in the NYPD's perceived trampling of civil rights in marginalized communities was at the very top of that agenda. Now, many of the mayor's usual allies ask why these incidents still happen, why few officers ever seem to pay a price for it and why the mayor's penchant for starkly moralistic language suddenly evaporates when it's most sorely needed. “Mayor de Blasio has had a lot of accomplishments in a lot of different areas – but in police reform, he's fallen extremely short in my eye,” City Councilman Antonio Reynoso said.

By many measures, de Blasio's tenure has coincided with impressive reductions in police brutality and other intrusive practices. According to City Hall, stop and frisk is down 94 percent since 2013, and complaints of excessive use of force by police officers declined 34 percent from 2014 to 2017. Instances of police discharging their firearms have continued a long-term decline, reaching record lows. By historical standards, and compared to other large American cities, today's NYPD demonstrates impressive self-control.

And yet some liberal leaders have problems with the mayor's record – including persistent racial disparities in policing, and rollbacks in transparency and accountability.

“He's not willing to be bold, to stand up for police reform and criminal justice reform when he ran on that,” said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, a statewide grassroots low-income advocacy organization. “The police unions have outsized weight and nasty tactics. That's why it's important that you have someone who is very principled and not going to make all their decisions on politics. That's what this mayor was lacking.”

Jumaane Williams told City & State during his successful campaign for New York City public advocate that the mayor's record is a mixed bag. “There is a clear difference between this administration and the last (on policing),” he said. “There have been some very good things that have happened.” But he added, “There are two primary areas where that hasn't happened: accountability and transparency.” On those issues, Williams said: “The mayor I endorsed in 2013 doesn't seem to be the mayor I see now.”

Why do these critics think de Blasio has failed to reform the NYPD? The answer, which may disappoint progressives even more, is that the reasons depend less on who is mayor than on the structural constraints that any mayor faces.

The occasions in which police kill someone get most of the attention, even though New York City has a relatively low rate of such incidents. But there are lesser-known policy disputes that activists say have allowed the NYPD to continue some aggressive practices in low-income communities and communities of color, for whom de Blasio is supposed to be a champion.

The Right to Know Act

The most painful fight for activists and progressive legislators was the struggle to prevent cops from intimidating suspects into allowing unwarranted searches. In de Blasio's first term, a bill to require officers to apprise civilians of their rights, specifically when searched or questioned, languished in the City Council despite having majority support because it was opposed by the mayor. The City Council passed a compromise version, which de Blasio backed, of the Right to Know Act in December 2017, which required police in many situations to explain why they are questioning someone and to let them know when they have the right to refuse to comply with a search.

But advocates say that the mayor worked behind the scenes to water down the legislation by creating broad or vague exceptions. “The gutting of the Right to Know Act was heartbreaking and not what we expected,” said Johanna Miller, advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “He's wiping out the bread and butter of most police interactions with the public.” De Blasio's spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie replied that the law's “carefully crafted balance has helped further bridge the police-community divide at the center of keeping neighborhoods safe.”

There are also accusations by activists that updates to the patrol guide do not follow the law. According to Joo-Hyun Kang, the director of Communities United for Police Reform, the patrol guide makes it sound as if any public gathering is an exception to the restrictions on bag searches. “In the law, that exception only applies to gatherings where you're submitting to a search – for example, entering the barricaded section in Times Square on New Year's Eve,” Kang said. Last year, she told the Daily News that the guide doesn't make it clear that non-English speakers can't consent to a search without translation.

NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak said at the time: “The NYPD will of course continue to talk to advocates to fine tune the policy as it is implemented and we can assess what's working and what might be improved.” He later told City & State that the NYPD “fully complies with the Right to Know Act.” Lapeyrolerie said, “Officers are trained on how to work with non-English speaking New Yorkers in the academy.”

The law exposes a wide gulf between the views shared by progressive activists and council members and those of many police officers, who contend that the civil libertarians make unreasonable demands because they don't understand policing. “Almost everything they're calling for is absurd; the Right to Know Act is absurd,” said Eugene O'Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Are you going to have a colloquy with people who are maybe armed and dangerous?”


Citing Section 50-a, a 1976 provision of the state civil rights law that prevents the release of officers' personnel records, the NYPD abruptly stopped making police officer disciplinary actions public in 2016. “It used to be, after a disciplinary hearing, you could find out what happened at 1 Police Plaza,” Kang said. “It was no longer at the clipboard. First, the excuse was they were moving to an electronic system. Eventually, we realized that's not happening and it became clear through court rulings they were taking a different position going forward.”

Despite complaints from advocates, state courts have sided with the administration's new interpretation of the law, while de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill support the state Legislature revising it to allow more disclosure. “The mayor and police have been clear that this state law needs to be reformed,” Lapeyrolerie said. “But in the meantime, the NYPD has no choice but to comply with the Law Department's ruling.”

Meanwhile, the police unions are offended by the mayor's call to change the disclosure law. “Reckless efforts to repeal 50-a intentionally ignore the serious statewide impact on policing this would have, not just in New York City, but in Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and every other county, town and village in our state,” said Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins in an emailed statement. “Interestingly, the NYPD supported keeping 50-a in recent litigation that went all the way to the Court of Appeals. The only things that have changed between then and now are leftward-leaning elections, and the mayor's renewed flirtation with national politics.”

Strategic Response Group

Advocates say the mistreatment of the Ravi Ragbir protesters in January 2018 occurred in part because policing rallies is now handled by the Strategic Response Group, which was created in 2015. It was initially supposed to be a 350-person unit that de Blasio's first police commissioner, Bill Bratton, said would handle counterterrorism and protests. Activists objected at the time to the conflation of peaceful demonstrations with terrorism, but O'Neill, then the NYPD's chief of department, said, “They'll have no role in protests. Their response is single-fold. They'll be doing counterterror work.”

Within a year, the group expanded to 800 members and became involved in nonterrorism-related activities. Last year, the group's officers responded to 911 calls regarding a mentally ill man in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, named Saheed Vassell who was brandishing what looked like a gun but turned out to be a metal pipe. Officers shot and killed him. Neighbors said that local precinct police would have recognized Vassell and known that he was harmless. Criminal justice news website The Appeal reported, “Days later, during a large march in Brooklyn demanding justice for Vassell, the SRG showed up to try to intimidate protesters.”

“What should happen is a re-examination of policies for protests and the Special Response Group,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told City & State.

The NYPD did not respond directly as to whether the unit's mandate is too broad. “SRG is comprised of highly trained officers that specialize in a range of functions and duties,” Walzak said. Referring to the Ragbir protest from January 2018, Lapeyrolerie said, “This isolated event should not undermine the fact that the NYPD patrols thousands of protests each year without any issue.”

Lieberman agreed that there had been a shift from the Bloomberg era, when the city denied permits for rallies, police crammed protest crowds into pens and, during the 2004 Republican National Convention,1,800 people were arrested – many pre-emptively – leading to millions of dollars in wrongful arrest settlements. “The Bloomberg years began with people being arrested for attempting to attend a rally, with people being held in protest pens that were basically jail cells without a ceiling. I think it's better now,” Lieberman said. But, she hastened to add: “I'm not saying it's good.”

Arrests for quality-of-life crimes

Perhaps no issue better illustrates institutional resistance to policy change than de Blasio's struggle to reduce arrests for minor infractions. Arrests are down 37.5 percent from 2013, which is partly because there is less crime but also due to shifts away from arresting every perpetrator of piddling offenses. During his first mayoral campaign, de Blasio said “low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences,” explaining the racial bias in marijuana enforcement and calling the policy “unjust and wrong.”

In de Blasio's first year in office, City Hall directed the NYPD to switch from arrests to tickets for most minor pot infractions. Arrests dropped substantially, then leveled off at around 17,000 per year between 2015 and 2017. In 2017, 86 percent of those arrested were black or Latino – roughly the same proportion as it was before de Blasio took office – even though studies show whites and nonwhites use marijuana at similar rates. Politico New York noted last year that de Blasio “has been reticent to criticize the police force” for failing to follow his policy direction. In 2018, the city announced a new policy that would eliminate arrests for smoking pot in public with exceptions, such as encounters with those who are on probation or parole. Williams warned these loopholes would perpetuate racial disparities, and he was right. Pot arrests have subsequently dropped dramatically, but the racial gap has widened.

“The culture of the NYPD is really intractable,” said Miller, the NYCLU's advocacy director. “The Compstat era of the '90s made cops show they were doing what they were supposed to do with numbers. Every few years, we hear about some precinct commander saying, ‘Go out and get five collars or six tickets with each shift.' Frivolous arrests are still rampant. And the numbers show that these enforcement actions are falling very disproportionately on communities of color.”

The NYPD says it is trying to change that culture, to reward demonstrations of good judgment rather than merely making arrests for its own sake. “For the past four and a half years, Commissioners Bratton and O'Neill have made a forceful and department-wide commitment to redirect the NYPD from what they believed to be a too-narrow focus on enforcement numbers by past administrations to a targeted, specific focus on the sources of serious crime and disorder,” Walzak wrote in an email. “One example of this shift can be seen in Compstat meetings, where captains and inspectors are routinely challenged about arrests that do not contribute to public safety – i.e., arrests for smoking marijuana, when the defendant has no criminal record.”

“Broken windows”

De Blasio has defended his belief in “the underlying principle” of the Rudy Giuliani and Bloomberg era crackdown on quality-of-life crimes, such as open alcohol containers and loitering, even if the principle was overzealously or incorrectly executed. “There's been a failure to make a full break with the discredited policies of the past, including ‘broken windows' policing, which the mayor is a fan of and he should get over it,” Lieberman said. “He should use the bully pulpit of his mayoralty to match the rhetoric of his campaign and recognize broken windows as the ineffective and discredited and divisive theory it is.”

But some experts say enforcing quality-of-life laws through respectful community engagement is different from indiscriminately arresting every loiterer or litterer and that de Blasio has struck the right balance. “Broken windows is often confused with zero tolerance,” said Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, a nonprofit research organization. “Broken windows policing is about maintaining orderly conditions. That shouldn't be conflated with overpolicing.”

To some in communities of color, de Blasio's promise to end the overuse of stop and frisk was part of a larger philosophical reorientation of policing that would include an end of broken windows policing. But while de Blasio has not lived up to all of those expectations, he has undertaken some efforts to make policing less antagonistic. In 2015, the NYPD launched a neighborhood policing initiative to repair relations with communities. It also professionalized its school safety agents and just began a pilot program to bring neighborhood policing into schools, which have experienced an almost 30 percent decrease in major crimes over the past five years.

Like the military, the police are a powerful constituency because of the esteem in which they are held by much of the public, and the fear of what harm would befall citizens without their protection. Just as former President Bill Clinton was brushed back by the armed services in his effort to allow gays to serve openly, police officers can fight back against unwelcome policy changes from Democratic mayors looking to institute liberal reforms. They could learn from President Barack Obama, who – having learned from Clinton's experience – tried to get military buy-in for ending “don't ask, don't tell” by re-appointing President George W. Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates and commissioning a report from top military brass on the best way to implement a repeal.

One can see this strategy in de Blasio's decision to bring back Bill Bratton – a revered figure in law enforcement who pioneered proactive policing in his first term as police commissioner under Giuliani – and in the mayor increasing the NYPD's budget and, at the request of then-City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, hiring more officers.

But every new initiative to improve accountability has been met with backlash from the rank and file. Since the NYPD's internal investigations of reports of sexual misconduct against officers are opaque and victims may fear reporting to the department itself, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent oversight agency that examines allegations of police brutality – with support from City Hall and the NYPD – expanded its scope to include allegations of sexual harassment and assault by officers. The New York City Police Benevolent Association, the largest union representing officers, sued to block change.

On Feb. 28, a judge in Manhattan upheld the CCRB's new authority while striking down some of the accompanying rules. PBA President Patrick Lynch said the union may appeal or file a new suit on different grounds. The PBA has likewise sued to prevent the release of body camera footage. After losing a state court ruling on body cameras on Feb. 19, the PBA recently announced plans to appeal.

Last June – following BuzzFeed's reporting that the NYPD's discipline process is arbitrary and allegedly perpetrated retribution against a female officer who complained about sexual harassment – O'Neill appointed a blue-ribbon panel of leading law enforcement experts like Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, to analyze the NYPD's disciplinary process and recommend improvements. Lynch responded with scorn when, a month ago, the NYPD adopted the panel's recommendations to enhance transparency and to address findings such as the department having failed to consistently discipline officers when they had made false statements.

“When we see a panel of distinguished law enforcement figures bowing to the demands of anti-police, pro-criminal advocates, it is clear that public safety in this city is headed down a very dark path,” Lynch said. Such warnings should be taken with a grain of salt, since conservatives and the PBA predicted a crime wave would ensue if stop and frisk was abandoned. In keeping with national trends, although murders ticked up in the first two months of this year, shootings and murders in New York City continued their long-term decline to impressive new lows in 2018. Although the PBA continues to predict a return to the crime and disorder of the 1970s with each additional reform, de Blasio's success at keeping crime down reduces the salience of that argument.

“The union was very invested in stop and frisk and their assumption was that crime would skyrocket without it,” Aborn said. “There was an assumption that crime would come back under de Blasio, and de Blasio has proven progressives can be very effective crime fighters.”

The de Blasio administration is caught between its base on the one hand, and the police on the other. Cops feel like they're being forced to walk on eggshells and progressives think de Blasio hasn't gone far enough. “We tune out the critics on both sides and focus on doing the work that keeps people safe,” said Lapeyrolerie, the de Blasio spokeswoman. That leaves some progressives wondering why de Blasio is tuning them out instead of taking their side.

Despite the data, the police officers union doesn't see it that way. “The agenda these anti-police activists are pushing has nothing to do with public safety concerns we hear from regular New Yorkers every single day,” Lynch said in an emailed statement to City & State. “Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD's leadership have made a grave error in attempting to appease these forces, because they will never be satisfied. Their goal is not ‘reform.' Their goal is not ‘fairness.' Their goal is the end of any law enforcement in New York City, period.”

One sobering lesson of de Blasio's record on policing is that both sides, for understandable reasons, care deeply about the mayor's tone because they are extremely invested in feeling like the mayor is on their side. Even if the mayor carefully crafts compromise policies, his inability to defend either cops or a victim of apparent brutality with unbridled indignation will leave at least one constituency unsatisfied.

Police allies and other conservatives have asserted that de Blasio engaged in “anti-police” rhetoric during his 2013 mayoral campaign. That perception laid the groundwork for an uproar from the police in December 2014 when de Blasio said Eric Garner, an unarmed black man from Staten Island, “should be with us.” Garner had been choked to death by police for half-heartedly protesting being arrested for selling loose cigarettes, which Garner denied doing. De Blasio also admitted that, as the father of black son, he has had to warn his son about the possible threat of belligerent cops.

The PBA responded to de Blasio's remarks by circulating a form for officers to fill out that would ask de Blasio and Mark-Viverito to not attend their funeral, if they were killed in the line of duty. When later that month, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a man with a long rap sheet in Ohio and Georgia, killed an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore and then drove to New York City and murdered Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn, the PBA was quick to blame the mayor. Lynch said the “blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor,” and cops turned their backs on de Blasio at the slain officers' funerals, then booed him at the next Police Academy graduation ceremony.

It was the key turning point in the administration's approach to policing. “He took on the NYPD and he paid a very heavy political price for that,” said a staffer to a citywide official who requested anonymity to speak openly. “It was a very difficult time for de Blasio's tenure.” Just a month later, The New York Times reported, de Blasio “took pains last week to emphatically convey respect for the police, trumpeting current low crime rates while twice describing the force as ‘the world's greatest.'” Ever since, de Blasio has been more cautious – critics say timid. “He's a lot more concerned with the voices of the Patrick Lynches of the world than he is with the police reform movement, a group that helped get him elected,” Reynoso said.

The cops also have the power to undermine a mayor by refusing to do their job. After Liu and Ramos were murdered in 2014, NYPD officers dramatically scaled back their activity: the following week, they made two-thirds fewer arrests and wrote 94 percent fewer tickets than in the same period from the previous year.

At least they went back to working. In Baltimore, murders have gone up for the past three years, while the proportion of cases being solved has gone down. It's an example of the “Ferguson effect,” named for the city in Missouri where protests against the police killing of Michael Brown gained national attention. In Baltimore, there has been what The Washington Post called “a documented officer slowdown” since protests over the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department.

“Police officers have an incredible amount of discretion,” said the staffer for a citywide official. “If they (stop working) and the crime rate rises, it's an absolute nightmare. Any elected executive comes into office with two or three things they're willing to devote significant political capital to, because you make enemies along the way and you need support to get things done. De Blasio has universal pre-K. He has housing. He has inequality. He got stop and frisk done and felt he'd done enough. He didn't want it to become him versus the NYPD for eight years.”

De Blasio clearly has larger political ambitions, and some observers speculate that his desire not to alienate the police and their supporters is motivated by hopes of appealing beyond his liberal urban base.“I believe he wants to portray himself as pragmatic, even-keeled, bipartisan, to show this level of leadership that isn't solely beholden to the people who got him here,” Reynoso said. “He chose the NYPD to be the place where he does that. He chose it to be the agency that he's not going to war with, that he's going to embrace.”

The mayor contends that what some see as political expediency is just his responsibility to be circumspect when handling a 50,000-person department with a crucial function. “The difference between me and other elected officials,” de Blasio told WNYC's Brian Lehrer, regarding the Headley imbroglio, “bluntly, is I'm in charge – it's very easy to critique when you're not in charge. When you're in charge, you better get your facts straight. So that's why I don't jump in the first hour all the time to say what might be convenient or populist.



Police officers praised for playing basketball with local kids: 'It's been a blessing'

A police department in Texas is receiving praise from its community after officers were seen playing basketball with a group of local boys.

The McKinney Police Department took to their Facebook page to share a video of their Neighborhood Police Officer Unit (NPO) on the court with kids from the area — a few of which were just shooting hoops when the officers were riding by.

“We were doing bike patrol in the area and there were a couple of kids playing basketball by themselves, it looked like they had just gotten there,” Officer Eric Grogan tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The sergeant of our unit, Sgt. Garcia asked them if they wouldn't mind some company and letting us play, and they were very gracious and accepted.”

According to Grogan, it's something that he and the rest of the NPO do often in order to establish rapport with the community. Especially with its younger members.

“Anytime we can impact their lives, especially starting at a young age, and show them a different side of policing, then we like to do that,” he explains. “And sports, in my opinion, just kind of brings everyone together. It's kind of a universal language, if you will, regardless of the sport.”

Comments on the Facebook post seem to prove just how appreciated the unit's efforts are.

“Their interactions with the community is legitimate. We're excited to now be residents,” one person wrote. While another said, “Engaging with the community is good police work.”

That engagement is something that Grogan takes great pride in after gaining fond memories of police officers from the community work that they did in his town growing up.

“I remember when I was young, long before I was a police officer, anytime I saw a police officer out in the community engaging in something that maybe was outside the norm, I thought that was really neat,” Grogan says. “So whether it be a sport or just sitting and chatting with somebody, being a listening ear, I think that always went a long way. Especially having the opportunity in the NPO program to do that and to pay that forward, it's been a blessing in many ways.


New York City

NYPD unveils five-point plan to combat city's rising rape, murder rates

by Anna Hopkins

Faced with rising rape and murder rates, New York City officials this week unveiled a plan to surge cops into trouble spots within the five boroughs in a bid to quash the burgeoning violence at its source.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said during a press conference Monday the department would be increasing patrols in particular Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods where murder rates have gone up. Cops also plan to expand programs designed to reduce gang violence and help ex-cons transition back to life outside of prison, and the district attorney's office vowed "extra strong prosecutions" for weapons possession violations.

The new initiatives come in light of a February report detailing a 50 percent murder increase so far in 2019 compared to the same time period in 2018. In the month of February alone, there were 24 murders, compared to 16 the previous year, NYPD statistics showed. In addition, the department recorded 285 reports of rape in the first two months of 2019 -- an 18.6 percent increase from 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The number of shootings not resulting in death rose, too, with 22 people shot compared to 13 in 2018 -- a 69 percent jump.

"An increase in murders, shootings and rapes is always concerning," NYPD Chief Lori Pollack said on Monday. "One murder, one shooting, one rape is too many. But it is too early to say that this increase is indicative of a lasting trend."

The rise in rapes and murders this year comes, ironically, among a decrease in overall crime in the city, with reported instances of robbery, felony assault, grand larceny and other crimes all coming in below the 2018 numbers.

A select few precincts, specifically in Brooklyn, are said to be where a majority of the shootings and homicides have taken place this year. Through "precision deployment," additional officers will be sent to patrol the 34th, 43rd, 79th, and 113th precincts, in the Bronx, the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, respectively.

A few precincts, mostly in Brooklyn, account for a majority of the shootings and homicides this year. Through "precision deployment," additional officers will be sent to patrol the 34th, 43rd, 79th and 113th precincts in the Bronx, the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens, respectively. In Brooklyn, the NYPD said it plans to work with the District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to ensure strong prosecution of gun-related charges.

O'Neill said Monday he's looking forward to a collaborative effort between agencies to make New York safer.

“New York City has seen massive overall crime reductions over the years and I'm proud of the work our members on the ground do to continually focus – very precisely – on the real drivers of crime,” O'Neill said. “Through the next iteration of Neighborhood Policing, we are bringing together fellow city agencies, elected officials and neighborhood leaders to build trust, strengthen relationships and take action together to further drive down crime and violence.



San Diego, CA

East Village Residents Say Homelessness There Is Less Visible But in Some Ways, Far Worse

The center of San Diego's homeless crisis has changed a lot more than a year after a hepatitis A outbreak inspired dramatic city action. The tent villages are gone. What was once a concentrated city within a city is now a patchwork of mostly clean streets interspersed with misery, filth and drugs.

by Lisa Halverstadt

In East Village and along the fringes of Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights and Logan Heights, the center of San Diego's homeless crisis has changed a lot more than a year after a hepatitis A outbreak inspired dramatic city action.

The tent villages are gone.

But it is still bleak. What was once a concentrated city within a city is now a patchwork of mostly clean streets interspersed with misery, filth and drugs.

On one block considered San Diego's skid row, drug crime is more exposed than ever – with open drug use and deals. The tents and more stable homeless San Diegans seem to have moved elsewhere, leaving behind those with more visible struggles.

On other blocks, there are luxury apartments, restaurants and community centers. Some areas once teeming with homeless San Diegans – such as Fault Line Park in East Village – are now quieter with hints of the homeless crisis.

The reality can change by the day and often shifts along with police enforcement. Perspectives on the state of the crisis vary widely too.

Several residents, business owners and community leaders tell Voice of San Diego they are exhausted by a series of city decisions – past and present – they believe solidified the neighborhood's place as a village of homelessness. In some areas, residents say drug activity has gotten worse, making some of their homeless neighbors more hostile and unpredictable.

Others suggest the areas' challenges have improved since the hepatitis A outbreak. A downtown business group's monthly counts show the number of homeless San Diegans living on East Village streets has dropped 44 percent since the height of the hepatitis A outbreak.

The mayor's team and police officials often point to a dramatic reduction in near-permanent camps and the increased public safety and cleaning services they have deployed in the area. Police say they try to respond to complaints and to clear camps before they build up again. But the police and mayor's staff have also admitted the area is dangerous. They recently weathered criticism that they may have disrupted the region's annual homelessness count when they stepped up arrests after tents built up during January rainstorms.

East Village resident David Gapp, who regularly walks with his wife to volunteer in Sherman Heights, said there's been a reduction in tents and shopping carts on city sidewalks.

“I really feel things are much better than a year and a half ago,” Gapp said.

Others are wary.

“You realize at every moment something could go really wrong,” said Rev. John Auther, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic church blocks from both the storage center and 17th Street, often dubbed San Diego's skid row.

During a walk around his grounds late last month, Auther recounted attempts to steal from the church's outdoor donation boxes, how funeral attendees recently stepped over feces in a church lot and the decision to hire security for the school – a move Auther said hadn't been necessary during past gang wars in the neighborhood.

And in January, Auther said, someone stole copper pipes from a church-owned apartment that parishioners are working to convert into a temporary home for homeless families.

“It's constant,” Auther said.


In August 2017, tents dominated sidewalks in the area where East Village, Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and Sherman Heights converge.

Then, amid a rapidly escalating hepatitis A outbreak, the city scrambled in September 2017 to clear and disinfect city sidewalks.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer also said the city would offer additional services to homeless San Diegans. The area got two new shelters and a storage center where homeless San Diegans can store their belongings. Family Health Centers of San Diego will open a homeless service hub this spring.

Auther has been one of a slew of residents speaking out against those plans. For years, the area has been the countywide hub for homeless shelters and other aid. That is a major reason why homeless San Diegans gather in the area.

But the new storage center allowed the city to revise a key legal settlement, paving the way for what police have said is a game-changer in the city's efforts to keep homeless camps from building up again. The change has allowed city workers to give homeless San Diegans three hours' notice – down from 72 hours – before conducting sweeps of homeless camps if there is space at the storage center.

“That is what allows us to keep the street clean,” said police Capt. Scott Wahl, who leads the city's Neighborhood Policing Division, which focuses on quality-of-life crimes.

The new rule, coupled with continuous police enforcement, has meant far fewer tents.

For homeless San Diegans, the increased enforcement came with a cost.

Latoshia Hardnett, who settled in East Village in 2017 after being released from prison, said police are now quick to react when tents go up. She no longer has one but she said police are still quick to crack down on her and others staying on the streets.

“Police mess with you all the time,” said Hardnett, who recalled a less aggressive approach in years' past.

Yet the number of homeless San Diegans in the area seems to be rising again, she said.

Homeless San Diegans often wander into the street as cars come off the freeway onto 17th Street and Imperial Avenue and in recent days, dozens of people have milled in several surrounding blocks during the day and at night. Urine stains and human feces are common on sidewalks.

More homeless people living in cars also seem to be parking in the area following a City Council vote to repeal a ban on vehicle habitation.

But what alarms some residents and business owners more, they say, is an uptick in open drug use and sales.

On Friday afternoon on 17th Street, an area cleared during the hepatitis A outbreak, at least two people smoked crack on the sidewalk and two men exchanged cash and heroin. Others nodded off, fresh from a hit.

Many tell stories of watching people smoke crack and shoot heroin in broad daylight on a daily basis.

“They have no fear of anything,” said East Village resident Eva Lee, a hairdresser who said she carries a pocket knife and pepper spray to protect herself.

Wahl and Capt. Mike Holden, who oversees the police department's central division, say police have tried to curtail drug activity and quality-of-life crimes in the area. They expect to rack up $2 million in overtime charges this year to deliver on promises of increased patrols following the opening of the storage center.

During a month-long operation in East Village last August, police arrested 48 people for drug sales alone.

Wahl said the police department's homeless outreach team and homeless-serving nonprofits also partnered during the effort to offer shelter and other aid to hundreds of homeless San Diegans.

Police acknowledge enforcement efforts rarely have a lasting impact.

When one drug dealer is arrested, Holden said, another quickly materializes and those who are arrested often soon return.

“It's frustrating for us to see people we're arresting for selling drugs back out in a few days, arresting people over and over again,” Holden said.

And police have made many arrests. Data provided after a public records request shows drug-related arrests spiked by more than a third in East Village and Sherman Heights from 2017 to 2018.

Despite outcry and a legal challenge from advocates, police have also continued to use laws that bar blocking city sidewalks with trash bins or erecting a tent to try to keep homeless San Diegans from establishing tent villages. Those homeless San Diegans often return days later or simply move a few blocks away.

Longtime Logan Heights activist Connie Zuniga, who fought the mayor's storage center proposal, said she has appreciated the police department's stepped-up response. She just doesn't believe police have the resources to combat the area's challenges.

“It has made all the difference in the world,” Zuniga said. “They just have a job they can't do.”

Homeless San Diegans have been affected by the changes in the area too.

Stephen French, who has recently settled near the Imperial Avenue underpass, said he moved to the neighborhood about three months ago after living on the street in other areas for years. French said he's been surprised by both the volume of open drug use and mental-health challenges.

“I've never heard so many people talking to themselves in my life,” French said.

Derek Williams, who initially lived on East Village streets after falling into homelessness in 2016, said he and his wife eventually found it too chaotic and moved elsewhere. Williams said they tired of intense early morning police enforcement and thefts among the homeless population.

Williams still regularly visits East Village to meet friends or attend practice with the Voices of Our City Choir and when he does, he said, he's hounded by drug dealers.

“You really can't walk through there without people asking you for something or wanting you to buy something,” Williams said. “It's inconvenient and frustrating.”

Yet the pull remains for many homeless San Diegans for another reason: East Village and now Barrio Logan and Sherman Heights are places where they can access services. They count on free meals in East Village, check into the homeless tent in Barrio Logan or store their belongings in Sherman Heights.

“You go to other places and you're not gonna have food as much,” said Sean Davis, who said he has bounced on and off the streets of East Village over the past six months.

City Council members Vivian Moreno and Chris Ward, who represent the Barrio Logan and East Village neighborhoods, and Greg Block, a spokesman for Faulconer, say they are aware of the strain that homelessness and drug activity have put on the neighborhoods.

Ward, who also chairs the countywide Regional Task Force on the Homeless, said he supports aggressive police efforts to address drug issues and has continued to urge investments in homeless-serving programs, outreach and housing across the city.

“We have to actually serve homeless people in other communities,” said Ward, who last year successfully pushed a resolution to build supportive housing facilities in every Council district.

Still, Ward said, homeless services remain in the East Village, Sherman Heights and Barrio Logan neighborhoods because many homeless San Diegans live there.

Block said city officials are now seeking out locations in other neighborhoods for safe parking lots and homeless storage but defended the city's decision to add additional services in the eastern reaches of downtown. He said the city is serving homeless San Diegans where they are, and that police and cleaning crews have mobilized to respond to the neighborhoods' concerns.

“We believe that what we're doing is the right thing and that we're helping a lot of people with the things that we're doing,” Block said. “We can always do more and do better.



An App For Mapping Crime, or Urban Paranoia?

The crime-tracking app 'Citizen', which recently launched in Baltimore, alerts users to danger nearby. Where some critics see risks, others see a tool for empowerment.


It is 2:25 p.m. on a Wednesday, and on North Streeper Street in East Baltimore, a worker is threatening to burn down a building. Seven hours earlier and a few blocks north, a woman was assaulted. The day before, in the same neighborhood, a shot was reportedly fired, and a teenager was spotted “with axe” by a 911 caller who said the boy was off his ADHD medication. Last weekend, another woman—or the same one—was assaulted there, too.

I know all this and more not because I've reporting from the streets of Maryland's biggest city but because I've been tracking Baltimore for the last few weeks on an app called Citizen. Using police reports, 911 calls, and ambulance dispatches, the public safety app places red dots of varying sizes on a dark, gray-scale Gothamscape. They glow like sirens, indicating where and when and with what intensity things are going wrong. With the tenor of a military video game, Citizen creates an image of a city coursing with widespread dysfunction each day—for free, and in real time.

Citizen was deployed first in the New York City metro area in 2016 and then in San Francisco, before launching last month in Charm City. There's a big difference between the app's initial markets—two affluent enclaves that are now enjoying historically low homicide rates—and its third one. Of the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Baltimore reported the highest homicide rate in 2017; nearly 24 percent of its residents live below the federal poverty line. The city, said Citizen founder and CEO Andrew Frame, was specifically chosen in part because of these fearsome stats. “Given the escalating crime and lack of public safety resources, Baltimore was a great place to try something new,” Frame wrote in a blog post.

It also had a very powerful local booster—the former head of the NAACP and the most recent Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland, Ben Jealous. He's a major investor in Citizen, and the one who invited Frame to come to town.

“I think the app needs to be in every city in the country,” Jealous told me. “What we're doing is taking a closed information loop that used to only flow to first responders, and including everyone in that loop.”

“It allows people to take greater control of their lives, and to feel fully informed, in real time, of what's happening around them.”

Not everyone agrees that the current gaps in information are wide enough to be harmful. Detective Jeremy Silbert, a public information officer for the Baltimore Police Department, told me by email that the BPD launched its own free mobile app in 2017, which “allows users to submit tips, locate phone numbers, file police reports, watch our live press conferences,” and more. The city also puts 911 call information online for the public to see, as part of a transparency measure passed by the city council. “Accurate and timely information is a powerful tool for members of the community,” said Silbert.

Jealous agrees, and insists that Citizen will only help on that front. “This really is just an extension of a commitment to transparency that the city has had for a long time and led other cities on,” he said.

But it takes 30 minutes for the city's 911 site to update, and not everyone is constantly monitoring kludgy municipal crime blotters. Citizen cuts out the wait time, uses a slick smartphone interface, and introduces a layer of human curatorial expertise. “We have a team of analysts reviewing information, making editorial decisions, and issuing real-time notifications,” a Citizen spokesperson told me. “There are roughly 2 million notifications made each day.”

Only a relative handful of them are considered “major incidents” that merit sending push notifications to every user in the city. Over the past month, Citizen sent out an average of 74 of these a day across the three markets, the spokesperson said. They're like personalized Amber Alerts, for everything from manhole cover fires to attempted stabbings.

Already, in the New York metro area, the app has helped rescue a kidnapped child, find a lost 103-year old, and inform the public about an active shooting at a Jersey City mall. A 4 a.m. Citizen notification informed one man in New York City about the fire in his apartment building, even though no fire alarm went off. When a shooter attacked San Francisco State University last month, Citizen alerted students to the danger before the university's alert system did, too. (“By the time SFSU acknowledged the shooting incident at 9:09 PM … Citizen had already sent 15 updates and 5 safety notifications, alerting 9,985 people within a 3-mile radius,” according to Citizen's blog.) And already in Baltimore, students looked to the app when another shooting rocked Frederick Douglass High School, a day after the app launched there.

“In this moment, [it] allows people to take greater control of their lives, and to feel, for the first time in their lives, fully informed, in real time, of what's happening around them,” said Jealous. “That empowers people to navigate their day with greater confidence and safety.”

Citizen's user alerts can cover all manner of urban dangers.

Jealous wasn't always so gung-ho. When Citizen first launched in 2016, it used a very different name: Vigilante. That got it swiftly booted from Apple's App Store, amid fears that, if people were given a tool that showed the location and details of a crime—and especially if that app's name was Vigilante—they might be struck with the urge to fight it. (Never mind that many of the alerts Citizen pushes out seem to be things like car crashes and gas leaks, which are hardly ripe for intervention by wannabe Batmen.) “Crimes in progress should be handled by the NYPD and not a vigilante with a cell phone,” the NYPD said at the time.

“We just weren't going to invest in a company with the old name,” said Jealous.

So Frame gave the app a rebrand, changing its name to Citizen and leaning into its potential for public safety. “Our mission is to ‘Protect the World,'” the Citizen blog now reads. And that was enough for critics like Jealous. “When Frame came back with the new name, yeah, then we were ready to go,” said Jealous.

But the rechristening didn't entirely eliminate concerns about the possible effects the service might have on the communities it reaches. Some of those concerns are shared by other neighborhood-based social apps whose unstated purpose seems to be to make the problems of an area legible, and therefore more solvable.

One of the most widely used of this fleet of crime-spotting platforms is the social networking service Nextdoor. Communities take to its messaging boards to post about babysitting gigs, free couches, surly raccoons, missing cats—it's a space for celebrating, commiserating, and sharing. Nextdoor's insistence on having its members post under real names and addresses makes it less of a vitriolic free-for-all than other social networks. But that hasn't stopped the site from earning a reputation as a platform for propagating un-neighborly racial profiling, with posters taking to the site to alert others about “sketchy characters”—often African American or Latinx—walking past their homes. The site introduced an algorithmic form intended to stop people from posting about “crime and safety that focus on an individual's race and nothing else,” as Buzzfeed News reported in 2017, but the profiling issue has been a challenge to eliminate.

Citizen is different. It displays a more objective set of realities, crowdsourced not from residents but from city safety officials. It doesn't compel law enforcement to police; it just reflects where they're already policing. Its detailed editorial guide, which is being updated frequently, ensures no reports of suspicious people, says a spokesperson for Citizen. They don't post “vague suspect descriptions,” either.

But it can traffic in similar tensions. Though Citizen responders are not able to generate their own alerts, they are encouraged to keep their eyes on the streets, pinged to livestream events as they happen. After each incident pops up, they're given the option to warn friends, share an alert, react with a little “aghast” emoji, or chat—“Don't push him cuz he's close to the edge,” user suebeehoney quipped of the would-be arsonist. Citizen has a full-time content moderator on staff to ensure the chat language is appropriate, a spokesperson said. The company bristles at comparisons to other apps: “Before Citizen, no one has built a safety network that gets people real-time emergency information,” a spokesperson said.

As Jealous says, an app like this can—at its best—complement existing emergency services and empower residents with the information they need to navigate their cities safely. But in doing so, might it also reinforce neighborhood or municipal stereotypes, and further entrench them?

Location-tagging is central to one of Citizen's objectives—helping people steer around danger. Think of it as Waze, but for urban mayhem.

That's a particular risk in Baltimore, which has long borne a wide reputation for being dangerous and crime-ridden. And Citizen's interface might encourage that image. It punctuates the map with blood-red splotches, flattening the content of the alerts: One red dot could be a man exposing himself, an unfounded report of house fire, a woman attacked.

These incidents aren't the same. But taken together, they form patterns. And seeing the dots cluster in particular neighborhoods can both reflect the reality of an unequal city, and harmfully strip it of context, says Munmun De Choudhury, a professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech who has done research on the relationship between crime and psychological health gleaned from social-media posts. “There are upsides to it, but you also have to weigh that in terms of what it will eventually lead to: It could lead to certain neighborhoods being completely abandoned.”

Other research bolsters this worry. “When people encounter signs of disorder they physically withdraw from those areas, confining their activities to those times and routes perceived as the safest,” write Bruce Doran and Melissa Burgess in the book Putting Fear of Crime on the Map. They're describing Wesley Skogan's “Disorder and Decline” hypothesis, which expanded on the influential “broken windows” theory that small environmental factors (like broken windows) communicate something about the level of safety of an entire neighborhood??????; Skogan's research looked at the psychological effects on residents.

Policing strategies that follow the broken-windows approach have been found to disproportionately impact communities of color, while doing little to address the larger problems in a city. The “disorder and decline” hypothesis, however, focuses more on the fear of crime. Doran and Burgess argue that perceived risk is almost as powerful as actual risk, and fear alone can have “an atomising effect upon individuals and households.”

Citizen isn't like tuning in to a police scanner—it doesn't post all 911 calls or broadcast each and every crime scene. To ensure privacy, for example, suicides at private residences don't become alerts on the app. And cases of domestic abuse aren't logged at their exact address, instead tagged at the nearest intersection. However, multiple “woman assaulted by man” posts I saw were associated with a street and building address. In response to a question about why an address was included on one of the posts, a spokesperson for Citizen said “it appears the first call came over as an assault, not as a domestic call. Once we learned it was domestic in nature, we stopped providing additional details.”

Location-tagging is central to one of Citizen's objectives—helping people steer around things that could put them in danger. Think of it as Waze, but for urban mayhem. Jealous cites an example of a friend in Baltimore who rerouted to miss a robbery they saw reported at their bank, and a flower shop owner who used Citizen to keep her delivery workers driving safe and efficiently on Valentine's Day, the busiest day of the year. But if reacting to those one-off incidents results in long-term behavioral changes, that might ultimately reduce “the amount of informal social surveillance that occurs naturally with pedestrian activity,” as Doran and Burgess write.

When the city started reporting police calls online as part of the transparency measures, a similar fear that real-time reporting could be misleading was raised, according to the Baltimore Sun: James Green, the BPD's counsel, pointed out that with 34,000 false burglary alarms triggered in 2011, a screening method would have to be determined “so as not to give residents a false impression of the amount of crime in their neighborhoods.”

Robert Rueca, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, expressed the same concern to KQED months after the app launched in San Francisco. “There's a lot of times that calls are put out there, and it may appear to be one thing, but it ends up being something completely different,” he said. When I followed up with SFPD about Rueca's critique, a spokesperson said in an email: “There are no changes or updates to this matter. To my knowledge, SFPD is not involved w/ the App.”

“The only thing that actually trumps general fear is specific information.”

Citizen updates posts with new information as it becomes available. But the red dots on Citizen's map don't immediately disappear after threats dissipate. While monitoring the app, I saw three-day-old incidents glowing on the map right next to reports from within the hour. (I also saw a few stray dots from 2017 in cities where the app is not officially launched—a glitch in the interface, a spokesperson said.) Citizen also told me that “the last roughly 15 incidents for any service area are populated within the map view on our application. As new incidents occur, older incidents cannot be seen by members of the public.”

Still, zooming and panning over Citizen's Baltimore map will give you a landscape of new and old incidents, frozen in mid-mayhem. By Thursday evening, Citizen had not posted a new alert on the worker who threatened to burn down a building, but the original post was still active. Did he follow through? Was he apprehended? Did he run? From my voyeuristic perch in Washington, D.C., I could only Google and wonder, or take Citizen's lack of update as an update in itself.

The other perhaps unintended consequence of Citizen's constant barrage of information is psychological, De Choudhury says. “When people are exposed to a lot of information, and they're living in a context where there are these kinds of incidents, it naturally would have a negative effect,” she said. “Because they're constantly immersed.”

In a 2014 paper, De Choudhury and two other researchers analyzed half a million Twitter posts in Atlanta, Georgia, at a time when the crime rate there was three times the national average. “Most of the things we were looking at were particularly targeted at the idea that people are constantly exposed to these types of posts of crime on social media,” she said, in a different, more personal way than TV or newspaper reports used to. In the short term, they found that individual crimes did not have an impact on people's emotions. But over a longer term, historical crime did account for heightened negative emotions and anger expressed in the future.

But in Baltimore, having additional information might be less damaging, Jealous says. Here, rather than compound a widespread fear of crime, he's seen the opposite. “The only thing that actually trumps general fear is specific information,” he said. “It calms you because you know when you need to worry, and then you also know when you don't need to worry.”

What Happened to Crime in Camden?

Jealous also points out that Citizen can be used to help residents hold police and other authorities to account. This is, after all, the city that is still grappling with the killing of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody after being arrested in 2015, touching off a firestorm of protests. It's the city that, since 2017, has been under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, which calls for a sweeping set of police reforms, including enhanced civilian oversight and transparency. Citizen, Jealous believes, can be an instrument of that reform.

“On the second day they launched the app in Baltimore, there was a young man who had been mistaken for a murder suspect—living out many men's greatest fear,” said Jealous. “This man found himself handcuffed on the ground, with the officer's weapons drawn interrogating him.” As he lay there, a Citizen user walked up and started recording the incident on their phone. And the officer's behavior changed.

“When the young man was released, he got up and thanked the Citizen user,” he said. “He said that they may have just saved his life.”


New York City

While Stop & Frisk Has Decreased Significantly in NYC, Young Men of Color Are Still Hit Hardest

The good news is that Stop and Frisk—the NYPD's practice of stopping and patting down people in New York City—has dropped by more than 98 percent since its height and the rate of violent crime continues to drop.

The not-so-good but, frankly, not surprising news is that the percentage of people of color stopped—young black and Latino men in particular—continues to be at much higher rates than their population, regardless of the neighborhood they are stopped in.

On Thursday, the NYCLU released “Stop and Frisk in the de Blasio Era: A review of the NYPD's Stop, Question and Frisk 2014-2017 Databases.” The report revealed that black and Latino males between 14 and 24 years of age accounted for 38 percent of reported police stops between 2014 and 2017, even though the group only makes up five percent of the city's population.

Since Mayor Bill de Blasio, a progressive, came into office in January 2014, NYPD stops have plummeted, with reported stops now hovering near 10,000 per year (down from a high of 685,000 in 2011). However, black and brown New Yorkers still bear the brunt of the often humiliating and sometimes violent practice, a fact the NYCLU calls “striking.”

“Our analysis reveals that there's been a lot of progress and that progress should be recognized,” said Donna Lieberman, the CEO of the NYCLU, on Wednesday to reporters on a conference call. “But beneath the surface, there's been no progress in addressing racial disparities.”

Authored by Legal Director Christopher Dunn and Research and Data Strategist Michelle Shames, some highlights from the report underscore these racial disparities:

Four out of five reported stops were of black or Latino people: In 73 out of 77 precincts, more than 50 percent of reported stops were of black and Latino people, and in 30 precincts, they accounted for more than 90 percent of reported stops. In six of the 10 precincts with the lowest proportion of black and Latino residents (such as the 6th Precinct where they account for eight percent of the population), black and Latino people accounted for more than 70 percent of stops.

Young black and Latino males continue to be the targets of a hugely disproportionate number of stops: While they account for five percent of the city's population, black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 38 percent of reported stops between 2014 and 2017.

Blacks and Latinos were more likely to be frisked than whites but were less likely to be found with a weapon: The study notes that young black and Latino males were innocent 80 percent of the time.

Cops' concerns are rarely justified: Though frisks are to be conducted only when an officer reasonably suspects the person has a weapon that poses threat to the officer's safety, 66 percent of reported stops led to frisks, of which over 93 percent resulted in no weapon being found.

Innocence doesn't matter: Between 2014 and 2017, of the 73,055 reported stops of people who were neither arrested nor received a summons, 64 percent were frisked, and 24 percent had force used against them.

In the introduction to the report, the NYCLU notes that in the past, the NYPD has sought to justify the high percentages of stops of New Yorkers of color by contending that those high percentages merely reflect the reality of “high-crime precincts,” or, in plain speak, so-called “bad neighborhoods.”

The report directly contradicts that information by showing that even in neighborhoods where people of color are a minuscule percentage of that community (say, New York City's SoHo, Upper East Side, or Kip's Bay neighborhoods), black and Latinos are still being stopped at rates much higher than their percentages of the neighborhood's makeup.

This makes perfect sense to any black person who's been pulled over or stopped in a predominantly white neighborhood (i.e., “What is your black ass doing here?”) and illustrates that even though the practice has been curtailed substantially, the implicit bias of racial profiling continues to drive racial disparities in policing across the country.

One of the report's authors, Christopher Dunn, acknowledges this and noted to this reporter that the NYPD has “embarked upon a significant racial training program,” but concedes that is a long term, slow process to change culture.

In fact, Dunn says it may take “years, if not generations” to get to the point where a young black or Latino person in any neighborhood does not read “criminal” to both law enforcement and those calling law enforcement to report “suspicious” activity.

“They're taking it on; they're taking it on seriously. And I think it's going to be years if not generations in the making,” says Dunn. “It starts with how they're bringing people into the academy ... but that's going to be a slow process that they're dealing with.”

Dunn also said he believes that there are more stops than have actually been reported by police.

“There plainly is a dynamic in the department now in which officers are choosing to not complete stop reports, perhaps as a way of avoiding scrutiny,” he said. “We have every reason to believe there is a significant problem with the underreporting of stops.”

In recent years, false narratives about the efficacy of stop-and-frisk have reemerged. President Donald Trump has continued to call for a nation-wide stop-and-frisk program, and as recently as October 2018, called for an increase in the practice in Chicago, despite the fact that data shows violent crime in New York continued to drop after Stop and Frisk was curtailed, what Lieberman calls “a living case study.”

As with most criminal justice reforms, Stop and Frisk remains a mixed bag. It is inextricably tied to racial bias, which is much harder to root out than simple policy changes. However, public awareness of the practice might possibly spare more innocent New Yorkers the humiliation of being stopped and frisked and serves as a pushback about so-called “effective” policies that continue to criminalize young black and brown folk.


Sacramento, CA

Roseville Neighborhood At Center Of Sex Trafficking Investigation, Chino Sergeant Arrested

by Steve Large

ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — An upscale Roseville neighborhood is at the center of a sex trafficking investigation. Two people are under arrest and one of the suspects caught in the sex sting is a Southern California cop.

Neighbors watched as the wild scene broke out and police moved in on their suspect. An armored vehicle came down the street with officers in tactical gear. The operation was centered on a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in the gated community of Long Meadow Village.

Ring doorbell video recorded nearby shows the officers riding on the armored vehicle. Another video caught them using a bull horn to shout demands at people in the house.

The scene unfolded in January. Two months later, Roseville police say the home they served the search warrant is connected to sex trafficking. Police found a 16-year-old female victim of human trafficking inside.

Roseville police arrested 24-year-old Anthony Harrison on charges of human trafficking and pimping, and their investigation led them to Chino Police Sergeant Jason Bemowski. Harrison is currently being held at the South Placer Jail on $1 million bail.

Bemowski reportedly solicited prostitution of the minor through Harrison. The 16-year veteran of the Chino Police Department was arrested on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor while he was off-duty at a residence in the City of Redlands.

The two arrests were both made Thursday, some 500 miles apart. The months-long criminal investigation is now coming to light.

“This is a very sad day for our police department,” said Chino Police Chief Karen Comstock. “In my nearly 30 years of policing, I've never had to have one of my police officers arrested. And this indeed is a sad day for us, but the accusations against Sergeant Bemowski are very serious and should they be found to be true, I want to assure this community and my department that I will take the appropriate action at the necessary time. This type of conduct will not be tolerated at the Chino Police Department.”

The investigation is still ongoing and anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact CSU Sergeant Darren Kato with the Roseville Police Department at (916) 774-5000.


New Zealand

49 killed in mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented attack that has shocked the usually peaceful nation.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the horror as a terrorist attack in a Friday press conference, saying the suspects held “extremist views” that had no place in New Zealand or the world. It was one of the country's “darkest days,” she said.

A gunman targeted two mosques in central Christchurch at lunchtime local time Friday. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the attacks unfolded.

Three people were arrested in connection with the shootings. A 28-year-old man was charged with murder and will appear in court Saturday morning local time. Two others were arrested on suspicion of possession of firearms. Police were investigating their ties to the incident, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that at least one of those arrested is Australian. The atrocity was the work of an “extremist right-wing, violent terrorist,” he said.

Police were not searching for any other suspects in connection with the attack but stressed the investigation remained fluid. None of those arrested in connection with the attacks had been on any security watch lists prior to the attack.

A total of 48 people, including young children with gunshot wounds, were taken to hospital.

Attack apparently broadcast live on social media

Authorities declined to discuss the potential motives behind the attack. But in a social media post just before the shooting began, an account believed to be linked to the gunman posted a link to an 87-page manifesto that was filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas and explanations for an attack. The manifesto was not signed.

Police said they were aware of a video shared online and broadcast live during the attack, which apparently shows a gunman walking into a mosque and opening fire. “We would strongly urge that the (video) link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed,” New Zealand police said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said videos that appeared to show the Christchurch shootings were quickly taken down. “New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we removed both the shooter's Facebook account and the video. We're also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we're aware,” she said.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm any information about any of the attackers or the the alleged video at this stage.

A spokesperson for Google and YouTube called the shooting a “terrible tragedy.” A statement said: “Shocking, violent and graphic content has no place on our platforms, and is removed as soon as we become aware of it. As with any major tragedy, we will work cooperatively with the authorities.”

Twitter has removed an account it believes is linked to the suspect in the shooting and is working to keep the video of the incident off its platform, a spokesperson said. “We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Christchurch today,” Twitter said in a statement. “Twitter has rigorous processes and a dedicated team in place for managing exigent and emergency situations such as this. We also cooperate with law enforcement to facilitate their investigations as required.”

IEDs found in vehicle

Armed police were deployed after first receiving reports of the shootings at 1:40 p.m. Friday local time. It is the busiest day for many mosques around the world when Muslims convene for Friday prayers.

Police said 41 people were killed at the al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue. Seven died at the Linwood mosque on Linwood Avenue, and one died from their injuries in hospital.

Two improvised explosive devices were attached to a vehicle as part of the attack. One device was disabled and authorities are working on the other. A number of weapons were also recovered at both locations.

Police urged Christchurch residents to stay indoors and monitor the police website and social media. Worshippers were told to stay away from all mosques in New Zealand.

Police also evacuated properties close to a “location of interest” in the southern city of Dunedin, some 225 miles from Christchurch late Friday night local time. Evacuations were made as a precaution, according to police, and alternative accommodation has been provided for residents.

In a press conference, Prime Minister Ardern described the attack as “one of New Zealand's darkest days.”

“What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” she said, adding that the attackers have “no place in New Zealand.”

“For now my thoughts and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders are with those who are being affected and with the families,” she said.

Gunman opened fire ‘for 10 to 15 minutes'

Mohan Ibn Ibrahim said he was inside the mosque when the shooting began and that he heard the gunman “continuously shooting for 10 to 15 minutes.”

“It's a big mosque and there were more than 200 people inside. The gunmen came from the back side. Gunshots went on for a long time. We had to jump the wall to escape. I saw lots of broken glass and bricks on the backside of the mosque,” he said.

“I came to the street I saw one person got shot on his chest,” he said, adding that the ambulance and police then arrived on the scene. He said that he had a friend in another mosque in the area who told him a gunman had opened fire there as well and five people were dead.

“I could not contact two of my friends who are in the mosque as well,” he said.

Another witness, who did not want to be named, said he was driving by the scene and saw a man with a “with his 3- or 4-year-old daughter” who had been shot in the back. “He was screaming like get her to the hospital and the ambulance couldn't come in until it was secured so I just got my truck and loaded up him, and his daughter, and this other guy had been shot in the leg, and took them to the hospital,” he said.

One man outside the mosque said that he prayed that the gunman would “run out of bullets.”

“I was thinking that he must run out bullets you know, so what I did was basically waiting and praying to God, oh God please let this guy run out of bullets,” he said. He said a man told him to remain still and then the gunman shot the man “straight in the chest.”

World leaders react

Australian Prime Minister Morrison said he has asked for flags to be flown at half-staff out of respect for those killed in the attack.

“Australians stand with all New Zealanders today during this dark time where hate and violence has stolen their peace and innocence. Kia kaha (stay strong),” Morrison tweeted earlier.

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet: “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can.”

In a statement, the White House said: “The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”

Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned the attacks. The OIC represents 57 nations with large or majority-Muslim populations.

“The brutal crime had shocked and hurt the feelings of all Muslims around the world, and served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia,” he said. Othaimeen urged the New Zealand authorities to investigate the attack thoroughly.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweeted his condolences to the victims of the attack, and confirmed that there will be “highly visible” and armed police around mosques in the UK capital on Friday.

“I want to reassure the Muslim communities in London. I have been in touch with the Met Police. There will be highly visible policing around mosques today, as well as armed response officers, as Londoners go to pray,” he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May sent her “deepest condolences” in a tweet. “My thoughts are with all of those affected by this sickening act of violence,” she wrote.


Tulsa, Oklahoma

To maintain peace, Tulsa police must build trust and accountability with the community they serve. Here's how to do it.

by Drew Diamond

A recent community forum on local police reform attracted almost 200 Tulsans, a pointed reminder that issues of race remain a constant theme in the fabric of our city.

Of particular concern are race relations and the continuing estrangement between the police and the poorest and most disenfranchised people they serve. It is time to ask if we have become a people defined primarily by violence, hatred and fear.

Based on the seemingly endless reports of shootings, hate speech and injustice, the answer would be “yes.” However, a deeper look into the daily life of our community yields a more positive response. Overall, we are a peaceful and compassionate people.

The violence and hatred around us is not who we are. Instead, it is a manifestation of our continuing struggle to move peace and nonviolence from a wishful desire to pragmatic actions. Violence is easy and destructive. Making and keeping peace takes persistent effort and steadfast commitment.

What constitutes action in pursuit of peaceful communities? For many communities the action taken has been the full implementation of community policing. Community policing is the daily meaningful engagement by police officers with the people they serve. Community engagement combined with collaborative problem-solving provides the core for delivery of successful and unbiased police service. Reinforced with continuous training and professional development, community engagement is the essential element to policing in a democracy. This is community policing at its best.

Transformation of police into community policing is an essential element in any community's quest for peace and justice. Police actions in cities around our country drive the current national dialogue over race, police use of force and the role of police in America.

In policing, racial profiling has long been an issue. Each individual police officer's behavior, legal or illegal, right or wrong, ethical or unethical, is at the epicenter of race and policing in our country. Important questions are being asked about the relationship of an officer's training, education and experience to their decision-making and subsequent actions.

Police officers fully engaged with the people they serve, supported by leadership and training, are proven to be significantly less biased in their behavior and much more effective in keeping the peace. A police department that utilizes community partnerships and problem-solving efforts as part of its efforts to reduce crime and citizen fear of crime has different organizational needs and challenges than a traditional police department that does not engage its community in such efforts.

Transforming a police agency to community policing mandates:

• Promoting an agency climate and culture conducive to community policing;

• Devolving power and decision-making authority to officers engaged in community policing activities;

• Ensuring transparency and accountability;

• Assigning officers to geographic districts long enough to form strong relationships and have measurable impact on community problems;

• Reducing specialized units in the department to provide for more uniformed patrol officers;

• Recruiting, selecting and hiring service-oriented officers;

• Providing community policing training;

• Evaluating officers on their community policing activities;

• Ensuring access to information systems that provide data about, and context to community policing activities.

The ability to maintain peace is based on trust and accountability between a community and its police by requiring everyone to be held accountable for their actions. The philosophical construct of community policing has proven to be the best possible response to ensuring that police practices uphold the human rights, civil rights and dignity of all people.

Drew Diamond is a former chief of the Tulsa Police Department and current executive director of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.


Tulsa, Oklahoma

What does community policing look like in Tulsa? Program in its infancy; positive changes are still to come

Here are several key areas to watch as community policing develops in Tulsa


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.

Independent monitor

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."


Tulsa, Oklahoma

Educators, officers focus on disrupting school-to-prison pipeline in Tulsa Public Schools forum on community policing

by Corey Jones

Disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline is shaping up as a key focus for educators and police officers in Tulsa.

A Tulsa Public Schools public forum on community policing repeatedly turned toward how to support and keep students in school rather than the juvenile system — a path that often can lead to the state penitentiary. A noted issue across the country but especially in Oklahoma, educators and officers discussed changing mindsets and not unduly punishing young people for mistakes.

Oklahoma's incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people, leading the nation after previously sitting at No. 2, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

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A panel discussed moderator queries and responded to written questions submitted by audience members for two hours during the “Community Conversation” event Thursday night at the TPS Education Service Center.

Ebony Johnson, TPS student and family support services executive director, said one of the district's core values is equity, which emphasizes reducing exclusionary practices. She noted that about a year and a half ago the district reduced suspensions by 27 percent in the effort's first year.

A 2016 report compiled by the Oklahoma Advisory Committee and presented to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that “harsh disciplinary practices such as expulsions and suspensions may lead to high rates of juvenile involvement in the criminal justice system, particularly for youth of color and youth with disabilities.”

Johnson explained the district's Behavior Response Plan for elementary students is written in a way that is “very pipeline-to-prison coding.” She offered the audience two real-world examples.

A kindergartner who walks to and from school inadvertently discovered he had a pocket knife, which he showed to friends. It was reported and, under district policy, required a semester-long suspension as the pocket knife constituted a weapon at school.

“But we're overturning it because we have the power to overturn,” Johnson said. “We're going to ensure that young person is restored back into school and understands what actually happened (and) bring family in to better understand the situation and make sure that that young person — our babies, our students — are on a pathway to be successful.”

The other situation involved two 5-year-old boys inappropriately touching a young girl on the playground. The coding called that infraction a sexual assault.

“When you're contacting our department saying we have two boys that sexually assaulted this young lady and they have to be gone for the year, it's up to us to change our mindset, our practices and policies, so that we can best help that leader to understand that that young lady was not sexually assaulted,” Johnson said. “And for the parents to understand that there's a lot of help that has to happen for both that young lady as well as those parents and the boys (involved).”

Johnson said TPS is on the ground floor of an initiative given to the district by the mayor's office termed “Champions to Prosperity.” She said the focus is on creating a framework to establish sustainable collaborations with police to build relationships with students as part of the push for community policing.

In response to an earlier moderator question about obstacles to improving police and community relations, Johnson said it's not enough to only teach young people how to interact with police and not vice versa.

She said it's a two-way conversation in which officers must equally learn how to interact with youth.

“I think it's a barrier when you're only looking at it from one side of the picture and not understanding stages of development of children,” Johnson said. “What (are) some of the fears and thoughts that young people can have when they interact with police officers and how that may cause them to act a certain way.”

TPS Police Chief Matthias Wicks said community policing to him is still a ghost in that it isn't tangible yet. The city is still trying to figure it out, he said.

“I really believe that community policing should be that conveyor to help young people get to academic success and provide interruptions to the school-to-prison pipeline,” Wicks said.

Wicks said that when he was a city officer he didn't understand the academic process. He said every kid who walks into the classroom is a scholar and must be treated as such.

“Being in the school, we want to look for the alternatives,” Wicks said. “We want an arrest to be the last resort.”

Capt. Matt McCord, assistant director of training for Tulsa police, says the public might be surprised how much cadets talk about social justice. They want to bridge the rift between police and the community by becoming officers whom people trust and respect, he said.

“We're hiring people who are more interested in the community than they are doing police work,” McCord said. “And that's fine. We'll teach them the police work.”

McCord said the recruits don't need to learn what community policing is or how to do it because that is their default modes. But he emphasized that community policing doesn't mean officers will forego enforcing the law when required.

“It is doing enforcement work,” McCord said. “But do it in a fair and equitable manner.”


Baltimore, Maryland

Police need community's support to be effective

by Christopher Brown

In the midst of balancing a brand new commissioner and simultaneously struggling to implement consent decree reforms, the Baltimore City Police Department is allowed to be and often will be ridiculed. With that being said, of what gain is it for that to be the constant ongoing narrative of The Baltimore Sun's editorial board and Baltimore residents alike? Recently, ("Consent decree resistance,” Feb. 28) this newspaper has referred to Councilman Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer's survey of city officers as "wildly unscientific.” Would it be considered more scientific or valid if anyone else besides the officers themselves were surveyed in regards to officer morale?

Hearing from those on the front line is met with great animosity despite a majority of them pleading that they can not perform their job to the best of their ability due to lack of support.The recent National Police Association petition asking for improvements to the consent decree does not wish to abolish the entire mandate. Rather, it suggests to make more of an effort to redirect city funding, provisions and efforts in order to make the goals of the decree more easily attainable. Being critical of a department in reform and supporting the sworn officers are not mutually exclusive actions. Police, the thin blue line between life and death, having ample patrol resources at their disposal to stop violent crime is not controversial in nearly every other part of the world. Perhaps residents are still licking their wounds from the fallout of the Gun Trace Task Force corruption scandal. But, how can only half a dozen officers who are (or will be) rightfully incarcerated be directly reflective of thousands of great officers who make up one of the top 10 largest police departments in the entire country?

Perhaps the department's incredibly high turnover rate has a large part of Baltimore convinced the job of commissioner is impossible. Since Acting Police Commissioner Michael Harrison has successfully implemented consent decree practices at his previous post in New Orleans, that certainly suggests it could translate to Charm City. It's safe to say that with the changing of the guard there is no time like the present to make sure the consent decree has realistic expectations for brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day. Important to note, this is not without accountability measures. Whether it be citizens sitting on boards reviewing use of force incidents, people filing complaints when wronged and other examples of checks and balances to police officers should not be diminished.

Those wrongfully convicted or whom have fallen prey to misconduct from Baltimore police may never have faith in this city's law enforcement ever again. Meanwhile, what this leaves is the other 600,000 plus residents who want to sleep at night knowing they aren't going to be woken by gunfire or even robbed at gunpoint on their commute home from work. It's unfair to only point out shortfalls without also being the change you wish to see in the city and backing the police knowing if anyone is going to improve the fight against crime it has to be them. The age-old adage of “treat others the way you want to be treated” certainly fits the situation.

The city will not see a complete boost in morale and massive crime reduction trend in 2019, 2020 or maybe even beyond that. However, the suppression of police officer outrage and opinion will push that vision of tangible improvement even further back. Do citizens that criticize these officers know they can't chase fleeing vehicles? Have to regularly perform their patrol duties without laptops in their squad cars? Be drafted for forced overtime hours as opposed to being with their families? If so, then continue to learn more from these men and women through ride-alongs, community town hall meetings and overall engagement with the department. Turning your back on the Baltimore Police Department when they need community support the most can't be the solution. Those calling for an end to the old inadequate "zero-tolerance" policing tactics will often point to "community policing" as the alternative. The irony of wanting community policing without the support from the community can not be overstated.,amp.html