Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
Unsung Heroes: Community policing matters
DIANE RAVER, THE HERALD-TRIBUNE
The Batesville Police Department consists of 13 officers, who all have varying reasons for wanting to get into this line of work.
“Growing up I had relatives in law enforcement, but I didn't recognize that it would be the path I would take until I was a senior in high school,” recalls Chief Stan Holt, who has served the department for 27 years.
Twelve-year veteran Sgt. Chris Smith had family members who were involved in law enforcement, which piqued his interest.
Patrolman Ethan Back, who has been on duty for about 11 months, reveals, “I always wanted to be a police officer.”
The chief says his main duties are “making sure we do everything we can to provide a safe environment for citizens, and giving my officers and dispatchers the equipment, training and tools they need to provide the best professional services they can.”
He also has administrative tasks, which include “overseeing the daily duties” and working with the city administration to stay within budget.
“In a small agency, I have more of an opportunity to be more involved with all aspects of the job, such as working with the detectives and crime scene people and working with the patrol guys who are out in the neighborhoods keeping our roadways safe.”
Smith reports, “I supervise four people and do crime scene investigations.” He is in charge of the property room and makes sure evidence “gets up to the lab or where it needs to go.” The defense tactics instructor also manages the fleet.
Back does routine patrols, traffic stops and responds to calls.
“We have a low crime rate in Batesville and we're not having to deal with the more serious crimes,” Holt points out. “Most of our cases fall into the lower-level crimes and property crimes.” Daily activities focus mostly on “motor vehicle accidents and assisting citizens with things such as unlocking vehicles and title checks.
“Our guys do a good job. Community policing is a big aspect of our jobs. A lot of times in the bigger cities, this is hard for them to do. It really seems like our officers really get to know the community. On so many of our cases, we make personal contact with people. A lot of times, citizens will ask for an officer by name because they do have a good relationship with them.”
“Our officers do a lot of different presentations for different groups and at the schools. It's very common for officers to be at the schools on a weekly basis.”
The chief reveals, “The opioid crisis hit our community just like every other community. A lot of the crimes we investigate are connected back in some way to drugs. We deal with so many families who are dealing with drug addictions. A big part of our jobs is working with those families.”
Over the last three decades, technology has “come a long way.” He remembers, “When I came on, the only equipment you had was the radio in your car. Now all officers have computers in their cars. They can go through dispatch or run a license plate directly through the computer.
“If we have a situation where we're looking for suspects, the dispatchers can text us pictures of them so we know who they are.”
Radio technology has also improved. Years ago, “if you got very far out of the city, you couldn't reach anyone on your car radio. Now you can talk to officers in the northern or southern parts of the state with hand-held radios.”
The officers work well with other members of the criminal justice system.
“Batesville sits in two counties, which is unique,” Smith announces. “We deal with prosecutors from both” Franklin and Ripley counties.
The prosecutors “recognize the caliber of officers we have,” Holt emphasizes. “They rely on the officers to give them a strong case to prosecute, and they're well satisfied with what we give them.”
Through “our hiring process, we really select the best candidates. They go through 15 weeks at the law enforcement academy and are sent to lots of trainings in state and nationwide.
“Chris has attended the National Forensics Academy. It's uncommon for most agencies in the state of Indiana to send someone there .... We really step things up with our crime scene and active shooter trainings.”
What do the officers enjoy about their jobs? Back likes “the interaction with the public and helping people on a daily basis.” Smith appreciates “not doing the same thing every day and getting to investigate and follow up on solving crimes.”
“Just knowing that you have an impact on making your community and county a safer place for citizens” makes it worthwhile, the chief believes. “Working for a small community is really rewarding because people will come up and say thank you for what you do.”
As in any occupation, there are also challenges they deal with.
“The mental health issue is pretty significant,” Smith observes. “We want to help people, but it's hard to find a place for them to get help.”
Back says it's difficult “dealing with children when they get removed from their families and when you find teenagers with drugs and see the path they're going down.”
“With this job, you see the best in society and the worst,” Holt stresses. “When you're involved and go to some of those scenes where there are severe injuries or the overdose of a young person, you're dealing with a family, and their hearts are just broken.
“Police are human just like everyone else. You take things home with you. When we bring in new people, we tell them, ‘Don't let this job be your priority in life. Make sure your family is.'”
However, “over the years, you see so many different things, so much tragedy with people. That's been the toughest part, working with families in those situations.”
Smith maintains, “The things that make Batesville great can hurt us sometimes. We do have a low crime rate, but don't be afraid to report things when you see them. You won't bother us.”
For those interested in a law enforcement career, Back says, “Be open-minded. There are lots of different law enforcement agencies out there.”
“It's hard to get into law enforcement,” Smith points out. “I was interviewed and turned down .... Don't get discouraged if you're not selected. Keep trying. It generally works out for the better.”
“These are really competitive jobs,” the chief adds. “A lot of agencies don't require a college degree,” but he recommends it.
“Pay attention to your driving record. Don't do anything that's going to hinder you from getting hired. Integrity is everything in this job, and it's applied to the highest standard.”
“One of the first things we do (when looking at prospective candidates) is look at their social media presence and see what they have on there.”
“I am really proud of our agency and the team we've put together,” Holt acknowledges. “Police officers sacrifice a lot. It's a 24/7 job. They're working holidays and nights, dealing with all kinds of things.
“This is not the highest-paying job. You know going into it you're not going to get rich. It really is a calling in life, and you're making your community a safer place for citizens.”
Make Community Policing Guiding Principle of U.S. Law Enforcement: Study
by TCR Staff
Community policing principles should be incorporated into every facet of U.S. law enforcement activities, from the training of raw recruits to performance measurements of serving officers, says a new study released by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The massive 416-page report, entitled “New Era of Public Safety,” which the conference described as a “starting point for communities and police departments to work together to achieve policing reform in the 21st century,” offers 100 sweeping recommendations to police agencies across the country—including some that openly contradict policy strategies of the Trump administration.
Based on consultations with leading chiefs, academics, policymakers, and police organizations, the report argues that police agencies across the U.S. must allow communities a “greater say” in their operations in order to eradicate the racial biases and warrior culture that have opened a chasm of distrust between law enforcement officers and the citizens they serve—particularly in at-risk communities—over much of the past decades.
“The pain and frustration are profound,” wrote Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in her introduction to the report.
“It is no understatement that we are confronting serious challenges in solving the erosion of trust between police and the communities they serve.”
The emphasis on strengthening community policing comes as the White House considers eliminating the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS), established in 1994 during the presidency of Bill Clinton, by folding its budget into other programs within the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs.
One of the advisors to the report was Ron Davis, a former COPS director and a former California police chief.
Many of its recommendations have long been on the agenda of police reformers, but by putting them together in a single report, the study amounts to the most comprehensive blueprint for transformation of American policing since the release of President Barack Obama's 21st Century Task Force on Policing in 2015.
Among its most notable recommendations:
End the practice of “broken windows” policing and eliminate the criminal enforcement of minor offenses that do not endanger public safety;
Make it a standard departmental practice to encourage officers to live in or near the neighborhoods they serve, and return to the practice of foot patrols and beat policing;
End the practice of assigning police to schools;
Establish more systematic programs to deal with officer well-being.
The report also emphasized that police managers should make it a matter of policy to “permit the use of force only when necessary to resolve conflict and protect public and officer safety,” and should “prohibit and regulate tools and tactics with a high risk of death or injury that are disproportionate to the threat.”
The report cautioned that there were no “one-size-fits-all” solutions to policing challenges in a nation with 18,000 law enforcement agencies of widely different sizes and structures.
But it said that general principles of behavior and practice were applicable to all officers and their managers, under the overriding umbrella of community policing.
“Policing reform depends on community engagement,” the report's authors wrote.
“Those who know and understand their public safety needs are best positioned to help police departments develop policies and practices to meet those needs.”
Roadmap to 21st Century Policing
The report contained policy and practice recommendations in 12 broad areas that it said constituted a “roadmap to 21st century policing,” including crisis response, use of force policies, accountability, first amendment and free speech, data retention and officer health.
In the most noteworthy challenge to administration policy, the report said police had no business asking individuals for their immigration status.
“Officers may record this information only if (1) people voluntarily provide it and (2) ot relates to the incident (e.g., a potential hate crime),” the report said, noting that fears of being stopped and asked such questions “may cause people to under-report violent crimes, such as intimate partner violence.”
Through the report, researchers cited instances of “best practices” developed by police agencies around the country that illustrated some of their recommendations.
It noted for example that after the city of Anaheim, Ca., established in the early 2000s “permanent neighborhood councils to facilitate neighborhood problem-solving,” neighborhood crime dropped by 80 percent.
The report advised police managers to go outside their “comfort zone” by engaging with community organizations that were openly skeptical or opposed to them, rather than stay with traditional stakeholders who supported law enforcement.
Public safety could be most successfully achieves over the long term when it was “co-produced” by police and local community organizations, the report said.
The report cited the police department in Gary, Indiana, which served as one of six pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Under the initiative, officers were trained in procedural justice and encouraged to hold regular “listening sessions with youth, intimate partner violence survivors and residents in high-crime neighborhoods.”
Underlining an emerging trend among urban police forces, the report said departments should develop “crisis intervention approaches” that de-emphasize traditional law enforcement approaches to troubled individuals.
“Our society should aim for the least ‘police-involved' responses to crises,” the report said, citing efforts underway in many cities to divert individuals with mental health issues or developmental disabilities to appropriate caregivers in the community.
Police should also adopt “harm reduction models for people with substance use disorders,” the report said, in a reference to the practice of administering medication to arrest opioid overdoses and avoiding arrests of opioid abusers.
Police forces should also eliminate “discriminatory and bias-based stops, searches, and arrests” and safeguard against “unconstitutional surveillance,” the report said.
The report said police had no business in schools, despite an i trend among school administrators to use them to enforce discipline.
“Antagonistic interactions between officers and students disrupt learning environments and violate the principles of community policing,” the authors wrote. “Moreover, they funnel students into the criminal justice system, which has long-lasting negative consequences for individuals and society.”
The report said in the face of widespread “partisanship and polarization” in American society, police departments should be conscious of not exacerbating further divisions.
“Everyone in America deserves to live in safe communities—this is one thing we can all agree on,” the authors said. “We need a common language to foster better communication and collaboration among those seeking change.
“We believe that true public safety requires communities and police departments to work together to co-produce it.”
Lead author of the report was Lynda Garcia, policing campaign director of the Leadership Conference Education Fund, with assistance from Gabrielle Gray, policing campaign manager of the fund
Vermont State Police introduce new community policing model
by Mike Hoey
TUNBRIDGE, Vt. - A method of police work that's helped reduce crime in Massachusetts has come to Vermont.
It's called intelligence-based policing, and Vermont State Police Sgt. Jerry Partin says it's about building trust and friendships within communities and then being alerted by those community friends about potential illegal activity.
"We're trying to bring local police, state police, all entities together with community stakeholders and come up with a holistic approach to solving community problems," Partin said.
The Vermont State Police recently started using intelligence-based policing in Williamstown and Tunbridge.
Nancy Chapman is a retired former South Royalton teacher. She's worried about teenagers in and near Tunbridge who are about the same age as her former students.
"There are kids I'm hearing about all the time who are being arrested, caught for possession, and so I just think anything that we can do as a community to figure out what needs to be done is what we've got to do," Chapman said.
On Thursday, Partin told several dozen people at Tunbridge Central School that Springfield, Massachusetts saw a 30% decrease since officers started using intelligence-based policing.
He said the methods could help take the drug market away from potential dealers and address other issues caused by substance abuse.
"Even domestic violence, fraud, theft and so on, so these create a whole host of problems in the community," he said.
But Chapman says it may be difficult to attract more community involvement in policing.
"I think people are afraid to make a commitment to do anything because they're afraid there will be some repercussions on back roads, and I think we've got to do more for prevention," she said.
Another Voice: Community policing can break down barriers
by Marian Bass
Well over a generation ago, the Buffalo Police Community Services unit was added to the police hierarchy of services to help maximize public safety.
As its first director, I was assigned a staff composed of both sworn and civilian personnel. Our objective was to try to develop those worthwhile programs that would bring about wider understanding, systematic communication and more harmonious relations between the police and the public.
Community policing involves police striving to deal with issues while improving their own image in the process. It is directly antithetical to the traditional image of reacting to crime, for its principles are predicated upon the prevention of crime. Community policing is community peacemaking. It is an ideological change in how police must deal with citizens.
It means that public safety and protection are not the exclusive concern of law enforcement agencies, but the concern of the entire community. Thus its implementation is not a simple matter. It cannot be achieved through the issuance of a general order mandating change. It must be organized around specific goals and a set of priorities that are credible to both the police and the public. We are, in essence, asking the police to improve the community's racial climate.
Foot patrol is an important aspect of community policing and is regaining popularity in many departments. But beyond its popularity, there is no visible proof that it reduces crime. When foot patrols are instituted, however, the degree of fear in the community seems to diminish.
But if foot patrol does not actually aid in reducing crime, should it be utilized simply because it makes citizens feel safer? Despite its feel-good quality, there should be serious misgivings. Violence in some inner-city neighborhoods reflects not only serious black-on-black crime, but in some instances a great hostility toward police. To expose a young officer, black or white, to patrol on foot in certain sections of the city, where they are most needed, may be foolhardy, and deserves rethinking as a police strategy. Antipathy toward police knows no color line in neighborhoods where homicides are common and commonly unsolved.
Foot patrol is only one aspect of community policing. Responsible citizens live in immense fear and press for more police protection. The problem is compounded when mixed messages are sent to police. The cry is for more aggressive patrol, yet police are often accused of using too much force.
Community policing is not a cure-all for violence, but it is an opportunity for departments to prove that police are a part of, not apart from, the community
Boise Police Department sees benefits of growing female force
BOISE, Idaho — "Is being different sometimes a strength?" I asked.
"Absolutely!" said Officer Jessica Raddatz, Boise Police Department (BPD).
Officer Raddatz serves in the domestic violence division at BPD.
"The whole concept of community policing is evolving. It's becoming more empathetic, forward-thinking. And adding females to that mix is the perfect combination."
And while she may not look like most other BPD officers, the officer of five years says being a woman often works to the community's advantage.
"The majority of domestic violence victims we serve in this community are primarily female. I think that in itself is maybe easier for a victim to come speak with a female officer about what they experienced."
Currently, 12 percent of sworn officers at BPD are women.
"I think that maybe a lot of women wouldn't be drawn to this type of career."
Still, the number of female officers grew by 191 percent since 1999.
20 years ago there were only 12 female sworn officers in BPD. Now, there are 35.
"I would say-- being male or female-- this is a profession that you need to be built for."
Raddatz says her desire to serve started at a young age.
"My mom-- I watched her for years struggle with poor choices in relationships."
In watching her mother grow through those experiences, Raddatz said she herself was empowered.
"I wanted to be that person that somebody in the community could come to, that was a safe person to speak with, to rely on."
She says she hopes to be that person for aspiring young women cops as well.
"You kind of have to step into it with a little bit of faith."
And for those who say policing is a man's job, Officer Raddatz says this:
"Strength looks like many different things. Strength can look like communication and deescalating a volatile situation, strength can look like being that person that knows how to deal with a child when someone else may not have the skill set to do so. Women bring so many different qualities to the job that it really just reinforces how we're trying to serve our community
‘Chaotic' Bridgeport police episode reflects strained community relations
by Tara O'Neill
BRIDGEPORT — Sgt. Paul Scillia raced from the East Side in his police cruiser.
On duty from 4 p.m. to midnight, he was about an hour and a half from the end of his shift when he heard a 10-32 call signaling all available officers to respond to the scene of a pre-Halloween party.
The sergeant sped to Colorado Avenue, lights on and sirens blaring, on Oct. 21, 2017.
He ended up being one of 46 cops there.
“It was a rough night,” Scillia recalled later in a 405-page Office of Internal Affairs report, released to Hearst Connecticut Media on March 6 after a Freedom of Information Act request in January.
Chief Armando Perez requested an investigation following two civilian complaints about police conduct that evening. The report told of excessive force and a lack of supervision by police, and of intoxicated and confrontational partygoers.
Seventeen officers and two civilian detention officers were cited in the report for violating Bridgeport Police Department policies. They were referred to the city Police Commission for hearings on their conduct.
For some, accusations of Bridgeport police abuse didn't come as a surprise. There had been other such instances in recent years.
In 2015, officers Elson Morales and Joseph Lawlor were each sentenced to three months in prison for stomping suspect Orlando Lopez Soto in Beardsley Park in 2011. A third cop, Clive Higgins, chose to have a trail and was acquitted.
In May 2017, rookie Bridgeport Police Officer James Boulay fatally shot 15-year-old Jason Negron. A report by Waterbury State's Attorney Maureen Platt found Boulay was justified in firing at Negron, who the report said was driving a stolen car that was about to run him over.
Negron's sister, Jazmarie Melendez, and others have said they don't trust the police investigations in Bridgeport. They say the Bridgeport Police Department murdered Negron — and 18-year-old Corbin Cooper, who died when a car in which he was a passenger crashed on Route 8 while being pursued by police in June 2018.
There have been demonstrations sparked by the teens' deaths and what critics of the Bridgeport Police Department say has been a systemic lack of accountability.
“One of the main points that we've always been calling for is these officers brutalize and then nothing happens to them and more damage happens,” Melendez said in a recent interview.
In early March, an unidentified group of people confronted Perez after the chief spoke at a mosque following the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand.
A video posted on Facebook showed a tense back-and-forth between Perez and an unidentified woman whose face was turned away from the camera. She questioned the chief about Negron and Cooper. He responded at one point by saying that they had received justice, and that Negron should have been cared for while he was living on the streets. The reference alluded to statements made by Melendez shortly after the teen's death that he had been living in friends' cars.
Perez said he regretted his response. And he has maintained that Bridgeport police are here to help.
“I want Bridgeport residents to realize we serve and protect them,” Perez said.
Mayor Joe Ganim said in a recent statement, “Generally speaking, the men and women of the Bridgeport Police Department have a very good relationship with the community.”
Accounts of the October night in 2017 differ, though, among police and the two Colorado Avenue partyers interviewed in the recent Internal Affairs investigation. In their report, investigators interweaved those interviews with civilian video showing the party and police footage from inside department headquarters.
The word “chaotic” comes up again and again in the report.
“Everybody sees things a little bit differently,” Perez said. “Truth is what you perceive at the time that you are experiencing that event. You may not remember one thing, or you may not have seen something, but cameras catch it.”
Two calls were made that night to the Bridgeport police dispatch center.
“It really was a nothing call — a noise complaint,” Perez said later.
Officer Natalie McLaughlin was dispatched at 10:17 p.m., with another officer sent as her backup. Three minutes later, they found the party on Colorado Avenue and, they later said, were met with pushback from some of the 25 or so people there.
Peter Diaz and Carmelo Mendez, who were among the people arrested that night, filed civilian complaints a few days later. They were the only party guests who agreed to speak with Internal Affairs investigators, and they have declined to speak publicly about the details of the incident since the report was released.
The two appeared Wednesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, where their cases were continued. On Friday, an attorney filed a lawsuit against some of the officers involved, claiming Mendez's 6-year-old son and 12-year-old niece “witnessed their family, dressed in superhero costumes, being attacked and severely beaten by the police” and were traumatized.
Mendez's initial complaint to the department, included in the Internal Affairs report, indicated that police acted aggressively when they arrived at the party that night.
McLaughlin's cover unit said otherwise.
“When we made them aware of the noise complaint, Fernando (Morales, one of the party's hosts) immediately became belligerent,” said an officer who was not cited for wrongdoing in the investigative report. “This behavior incited other party attendees to become belligerent by disobeying the repeated commands of officers to calm down.”
City Councilman Ernie Newton said Thursday that the encounter might have escalated at least in part because of cultural differences.
“A lot of our police officers come from suburbs. They don't deal with the kind of stuff that happens in urban areas,” Newton said. “We've got some work to do in our police department.”
State Sen. Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport, voiced a similar sentiment.
“We need people here who not only look like us, but understand us, who are organically from the community, who know who each and every single one of us are, so we can effectively work with law enforcement,” Bradley said Thursday, at an event urging the reopening of a dormant police substation on the city's East End.
Ganim also said that many of the officers who responded that night were relatively new to Bridgeport's police force.
Raising the stakes
McLaughlin, who called for backup on the night of the party, later told investigators she had hoped more officers would bring calm to the situation.
Instead, things got worse, and arrests quickly followed. In their complaints, Mendez and Diaz said officers were yelling at the party. Cops said partygoers were yelling and cursing, the Internal Affairs report said.
“If I yell at you, you're going to yell at me — that's just human nature,” Newton said. “We've got to do a better job on how we de-escalate situations, so they don't turn into what happened at that party.”
But often, encounters between cops and the urban communities are framed by mistrust, in Bridgeport and elsewhere.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform through the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of police officers surveyed nationwide said their jobs always or often made them feel angry and frustrated. The survey found these officers were more likely to have physically struggled with a suspect or to have been verbally abused by a citizen in the past month.
“I think all residents in Bridgeport want a better relationship with law enforcement,” said City Councilman Kyle Langan, who along with Marcus Brown was elected more than a year after the Colorado Avenue party to represent that neighborhood. “Residents want to see police officers outside their cars, interacting with people ... People want to know their beat cop and have a relationship with their officers.”
“We've been working so hard to try to get community policing in our community,” he said. “That's what it's going to take in order to build trust between people and police.”
The Internal Affairs report said that when officers Daniel Faroni, Thomas Lattanzio, Todd Sherback and Michael Mazzacco arrived at the party as backup, they were confronted by a crowd. A threatening statement from Fernando Morales prompted the 10-32 call, the report said.
At 10:27 p.m., McLaughlin and Sherback took Morales into custody. Wanda Mendez, the other homeowner, was arrested at about the same time. Diaz, who was in a wheelchair because of recent foot surgery, was arrested a minute later.
In Diaz's complaint, he said he tried to get between Morales and the cops “to prevent anything from escalating.” Someone pulled Diaz back, although he didn't know who it was, he told investigators.
Mazzacco said the N-word to Diaz in repeating back a phrase Diaz said to him earlier, according to the report. Daiz claimed to have that exchange on video, but the report said he did not provide it to investigators.
Mendez said in his complaint that people were arrested for “no reason.”
Sara Deida was arrested at 10:29 p.m. after she threw a beverage at several cops, police said. In his complaint, Mendez said Deida was “slapped a couple of times” and dragged down some stairs. Video footage showed — and officers told investigators — that Deida resisted arrest, the report said, but it cited no proof of excessive force in her arrest.
The report said Officer Adam Szeps forced Mendez to the ground about 10:30 p.m. after he refused to leave. Szeps yelled “gun” after he saw a firearm on Mendez's waistband, the report said.
In his complaint, Mendez said he yelled that he had a pistol permit. The police questioned about the arrest said they didn't hear that, the report indicated.
Lt. Robert Sapiro was seen on camera “observing other officers struggling to handcuff Mr. Mendez,” the report said. Officer Michael Stanitis, who joined the officers arresting Mendez, appeared to repeatedly hit Mendez with his flashlight, the report said. Investigators said the marks seen on Mendez's face were consistent with wounds inflicted by the end of a flashlight.
Scillia, the sergeant drawn to the scene by the 10-32 call, kicked or stomped on Mendez and appeared on video to punch him, the report said.
Ganim said after the report was released earlier this month that since the party, Perez has cracked down on supervisors.
“You've got to have strong supervision,” Perez said of the incident. “The supervisors should have been more aware of what was going on. When they got there, they should've pulled everyone back.”
The department's technology has been upgraded, too. In 2017, Bridgeport police did not have body or dashboard cameras, which might have clarified what happened at the party and possibly changed behaviors that night.
Last August, the city implemented a camera program, and state lawmakers announced on Thursday that the State Bond Commission would approve a reimbursement to Bridgeport of more than $1 million for equipment.
“Body cameras provide the public with transparency, and can work to improve the relationship and trust some members of the community have with law enforcement,” Bradley said in a release accompanying the reimbursement announcement.
“This funding will help protect both residents and police officers in our communities,” said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport.
Trouble in booking
After police broke up the Colorado Avenue party, chaos continued into the night at department headquarters. Typically, no more than two people are brought into the booking area to be processed at the same time. That night, eight people who had been arrested were brought in at once.
Sgt. Mark Belinkie, assigned to booking, was set to wrap up his shift at 10:30 p.m. He was working when Diaz was brought in by Faroni, who admitted to investigators that he briefly dragged Diaz when the man refused to cooperate. The Internal Affairs report said Belinkie intervened and told Faroni to help Diaz up and write a report about the dragging incident.
Another sergeant was to relieve Belinkie at 10:30 p.m., the report said, but had responded to the 10-32 and didn't get to booking until 10:59. Belinkie left before 11, the report said, and the two did not cross paths, but Belinkie told investigators booking sergeants often don't have a face-to-face switch.
While in booking, Scillia told investigators, he accidentally hit Diaz in the face and accidentally bumped Diaz's injured foot, the report said. Diaz told investigators it was intentional. Video footage viewed by investigators appeared to support Diaz's statement, the report said.
In his complaint, Diaz said Lattanzio “suddenly” punched him in the face. The report said surveillance video also showed Diaz spitting in Lattanzio's face before the punch was thrown. Lattanzio later told investigators he “acted the way he did to protect himself.”
Diaz told investigators he had “six to 10 straight shots” of Remy Martin cognac that night. The next day he remembered “some stuff and not everything,” he told them, according to the Internal Affairs report. He mentioned that he has short-term memory loss but didn't think that was the reason for the gaps in his recollection, the report said.
The relief sergeant, who was not accused of wrongdoing in the report, told investigators he should have “gotten somebody up in booking to cover the flow of people that were coming in.”
A time of stress
The Office of Internal Affairs' investigation into the party incident took more than a year. It began on Oct. 24, 2017, and was led by Officer in Charge Lt. Brian Dickerson. The results were released to the chief and the mayor on Nov. 13, 2018.
Walter Signorelli, a former New York Police Department inspector and professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said internal investigations are taxing on those under scrutiny.
“It undermines your self-esteem; it's very demoralizing,” he said. “You have a certain image of yourself, and your friends and family do, too — law-abiding, honest — and this puts that into question ... These officers are already being painted with a broad brush.”
The process can wear down investigators, too. Dickerson was transferred to a position with “less stress” earlier this month.
The officers named in the report were referred for hearings, unscheduled so far, in front of the Police Commission. Those sessions will be closed to the public, as with other police disciplinary procedures.
Sgt. Chuck Paris, head of the police union, submitted a letter to the Police Commission on March 19 requesting 11 of the officers named in the report be subject to discipline by Perez instead of the commission.
Chairman Dan Roach said that request would be considered. As of Friday, there was no announcement of a decision.
Perez said he couldn't comment on the union's actions, but he was concerned about a public rush to judgment.
“I'm worried that the entire truth of the event is not out there,” the chief said. “It's not adjudicated, it's not completed.”
Lattanzio died by suicide on Dec. 4, 2017. Belinkie killed himself on March 2. There has been no direct link established between the report and the suicides.
Sapiro retired earlier this month, immediately after being promoted to captain.
In early March, state Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, criticized the city for not releasing the report nearly four months after it had been delivered to city officials.
Moore, who is running for mayor against fellow Democrat Ganim, said there was “no excuse” for the delay. She mentioned the two police suicides and said “Latinos' civil rights were violated” by police.
The day after Moore's criticism, the city released the Colorado Avenue report. But the city has yet to release the Internal Affairs report conducted after Boulay shot and killed Negron.
A request by Hearst Connecticut Media sent last June was denied, with a note indicating the internal probe into his conduct remained active/open. An follow-up request for the report was submitted March 9; that request is still pending as of Friday.
On Thursday, Moore heralded the news of the city's reimbursement for police dashboard and body cameras.
“The timing for this funding could not be better,” she said, “in light of the miscommunications between our police and our community
CRDA funds $7.5 million community policing program in Atlantic City
by MICHELLE BRUNETTI
ATLANTIC CITY — A community policing initiative based on a New York City model will start in the resort this summer, after the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority voted Tuesday to provide $1.5 million a year for five years.
The total of $7.5 million will allow the Atlantic City Police Department to hire 15 regular police officers to replace veteran officers, who in turn will be assigned to the city's six wards in pairs, along with three officers who will be assigned to addressing vagrancy and homelessness in the Tourism District, said Chief Henry White.
The need for better police and community relations was stressed in the Johnson report, a September 2018 plan to strengthen the city's government, civic engagement and community partnerships so the municipality can take back control of its government and finances from the state sometime after 2021. The report was drafted by Jim Johnson, the special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy.
White said the officers will begin community patrols by early summer. Two veteran officers will be assigned to each of the city's six wards and be freed up from responding to 911 calls, said White.
“They will be more proactively engaging in the community — both residential and business communities,” said White. “They will be getting problems solved. We are going to take veteran officers who know the terrain of the city and know how government operates.”
CRDA Chairman Robert Mulcahy said the $1.5 million a year will also allow the city to hire 20 new Class II officers, on top of the 45 such officers the authority already is funding.
“We have been talking about this for two or three years,” said Mulcahy, who said it was the Murphy administration that allowed the idea to “get this over the finish line.”
Former State Police Lt. Col. Michael Fedorko, also the former chief of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police, will provide training for the officers, said Mulcahy.
“This goes to meeting the recommendations in the Johnson report,” said board Vice Chairman Richard E. Tolson. “It has the full support of the Attorney General's Office as well.”
Tolson said the community officers will also receive training in how to help residents navigate getting help from city government.
Three assigned to the Tourism District will help casinos navigate getting help for the homeless and those with mental health and other problems who are currently engaging in aggressive begging and shoplifting, said White.
“We will try to alleviate the problems,” said White. “We have been arresting people forever, but it's not solving the problem.”
Community policing will allow officers to dig deeper and make lasting change, he said.
“Our city is facing the facts — we have got to take care of our citizens and visitors with safety,” said resident and community leader Bill Cheatham in supporting the idea. “Maybe everybody can be proud of this city like I used to be proud of it way back.”
In other business, the CRDA board also voted to spend $500,000 to fund emergency repairs to the Boardwalk, which Mayor Frank Gilliam has said needs a $50 million rebuild
The Amesbury Beat: How community policing works
by Officer Tom Hanshaw
The term, “community policing” has been around for quite some time and often brings about a number of reactions when mentioned.
The concept was actually developed in the early 1800s by a British statesman, Sir Robert Peel, who is known as “the father of modern policing.” Peel formed the Metropolitan Police Force in England and promoted a philosophy still relevant today.
His foundation was based on the belief the public and police must work together for the interests of community welfare and existence. There are a couple of challenges, however, in every community. From an early age, people generally don't like to be told they must do this or they can't do that – pretty much the role of what police officers do.
Establishing community and police partnerships is more important today than ever. Public education about preventing crime, addressing safety concerns, working on efforts to improve a community and reducing the fear of crime are some of the benefits of a strong partnership.
It's also important to deliver accurate information about crime data to reduce fears and rumors; communication is the key to any successful relationship. A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to participate in a neighborhood watch program hosted by City Councilors Mary Louise Bartley and Rick Marggraf. It was an opportunity for residents to share concerns about their neighborhoods and about 30 attended, including Mayor Ken Gray.
While police cannot resolve every issue, residents often turn to them first. After all, the Police Department is open 24/7. We pay a lot of taxes, so it's understandable that residents want to know how their money is being spent.
We spoke about suspicious activity, how and when to call police, using 911, what goes on daily and some concerns shared throughout each neighborhood. For nearly two hours, attendees were able to get an idea of police operations and we learned about their needs, too.
It was a productive two-plus hours and hopefully the first of regularly scheduled sessions for the public. I wanted to thank Councilors Bartley and Marggraf for the invitation as well as everyone who attended. We can't do the job alone and rely on community members to help make the city a safer place, so please take some time to get involved in your neighborhood watch. We will also advertise future meetings and hope to see you there.
This week, I “flashback” to 2010, where I found quite a few topics to pick from in the community-policing scrapbook.
Lyndsey Haight took over the reigns at Our Neighbors' Table, the Grad Night Committee held a drawing where the winner and friends received a limo ride to school and our area was drenched with over 17 inches of rain in March.
Our community lost World War II hero and retired police Sgt. Bob Antell and the Hines Bridge closed for 18 months. At the Amesbury Police Department, Chief Cronin, Lt. Ingham and Sgt. Frost retired and Lord Mayor John Halligan of Waterford, Ireland, toured the city.
The event I chose to highlight this week was a presentation held at Amesbury High School in December. Former Newton, New Hampshire, Police Chief Richard LaBell spoke with students about decision-making and learning from a mistake.
When he was 19, he broke into a neighbor's home and stole money, only to be arrested for the crime a short time later. On the morning he was due in court, Detective Joe Leary picked him up and offered Rick a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In exchange for a promise to turn his life around, the charges would be dropped and Rick would remain free. He accepted the challenge and did, entering a career in law enforcement and becoming chief of police in Newton.
He also became an inspirational speaker, appearing across the nation. His message was simple, yet powerful: Encouraging the audience to have a positive attitude, avoid drugs and alcohol, and to learn from their mistakes. In the crowd was actually Detective Leary's grandson, Liam, who is now a third-generation officer at APD.
Rick's message and presentation certainly hit home, not only with the students but with adults as well. We all make mistakes but he proved you can learn and overcome those challenges.
He also brought attention to the reality of the dangers associated with drug and alcohol use and abuse, saying nothing would destroy dreams more than drugs and alcohol. He accepted responsibility for his actions and appreciated the power of forgiveness. The victim of his crime actually paid his bail money and Rick embraced his second chance.
Officer Tom Hanshaw is the crime prevention officer for the Amesbury Police Department
New York State
Chief Kenton Buckner Aims to Improve the Relationship Between Police and Community
Since being sworn in nearly four months ago, Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner has made improving the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve a priority.
WAER NEWS --
Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner has made improving the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve a priority since he was sworn in nearly four months ago. But some community organizations are concerned there isn't enough being done to earn the public's trust.
WAER's Ford Hatchett reports that community groups hope new Syracuse Police Chief does more to improve community relations.
Buckner is in the process of assigning uniformed officers to specific geographic areas in the city rather than a rotation. The chief believes officers can better interact with and get to know a particular community if they are seen on a regular basis. In addition, Buckner is making captains responsible for their own particular area 24/7.
"I think that allows the community to get to know the people that are responsible for the area. Vice-versa with the officers and then also bring sort of a problem solving element to the captains that are resourced in with the community and police officers to be able to address the frustrating issues the community is concerned about.
But Buckner's idea of putting more officers on the streets does not appease everyone.
At a recent Thursday Morning Roundtable at Syracuse University's Nancy Cantor Warehouse, members of the community got a better sense of the role of the Syracuse Citizens Review Board.
Peter McCarthy is the Chair of the Citizens Review Board. The CRB investigates citizen complaints regarding their experiences with police officers. McCarthy believes the neighborhood assignments have promise, but it'll take more to alleviate community members' fear over use of force.
"The whole approach of authentic community policing is something that has promise for building trust and improving relations between police and community. We hear too many disturbing stories where citizens feel they are not treated with respect by police officers. It's in the overall approach, but as I said it's in policy training and supervision for how officers treat people."
Currently, the written policy of the police department reads that, “sworn officers shall use only the level of physical force necessary in the performance of their duties.” But McCarthy says the community seems to believe the police are quick to use physical force.
"People's perceptions were that there was some pretty brutal, unwarranted use of force. There was a report on use of force after fleeing, and the perception was that if you run, they're going to beat you up."
But Buckner sees the new assignments as an opportunity for communities and their assigned officers to bond, which he believes can go a long way.
"I think that when you know an officer and the officer knows the community they're serving I think there's a probability of having a stronger relationship with that community."
Buckner mentioned the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School as a way to attract more young community members to become involved in policing.
The Law Enforcement Instructor at Fowler, Jamie Bazderic, agrees and believes his students are eager to become involved in the criminal justice system.
"I see it in my classroom everyday. Kids are coming here breaking down barriers they see and the stigma around policing and they see this as a viable opportunity. Not only to be police officers, but you get kids who say they want to be lawyers, they want to be part of the criminal justice system."
One the students in Bazderic's law enforcement program, senior Noel Torres, has always dreamed of being an officer.
"When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a cop. I always wanted to help the community."
And the best public servants are from the community which they serve, according to CRB administrator Rannette Releford.
"We need to be trying to include the community in the process and I believe you make a great public servant when you're from the community. That's the reason why I came back, I wanted to give back to my community."
But many Syracuse Police Officers do not actually live in the City of Syracuse. There have been calls for a residency requirement for officers, but the police union has pushed back on those efforts. Buckner believes making more community partners will help entice officers to stay in the city.
"A number of officers that work in this city do not live here in Syracuse, but we have to get community partners in with our black and brown citizens, Spanish speakers in the community and hopefully some of these individuals will actually stay in this community once they get the job."
For aspiring police officer Noel Torres, leaving Syracuse isn't even a thought.
"I definitely want to stay here. I know the city. I love the city and I really couldn't envision myself somewhere else. If I did follow this path it would have to be here."
One of the ways the CRB believes community trust can be built further is through the use of police body cameras. The city has just completed a yearlong trial of the technology. Many feel the cameras keep both police and citizens on their best behavior, but the police association is pushing back. They argue officers should earn more for wearing the cameras and fear consequences for officers who forget to hit the record button.
In the meantime, Chief Buckner is moving forward by assigning officers to specific neighborhoods to establish better relationships with the community
Salinas police honored for community policing, protesters allege police brutality
The Salinas Police Department received a statewide award Thursday for its work in implementing a community-policing approach.
Salinas won the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing from the Regional Community Policing Institute - California. Judges consider five categories, including partnerships with the community and other agencies and organizations, results and problem-solving, according to the institute's website.
Officers accepted the award at the California Police Chiefs Association Annual Training Symposium Luncheon, said Adele Fresé, chief of the Salinas Police Department.
"They were very excited," she said.
But a press conference to celebrate the win Friday afternoon at Closter Park was canceled because of forecasts of rain as well as a protest against police brutality planned alongside the police department's event, Fresé said.
"We invited children, we invited family members, we invited people from the greater community in the Closter Park area," she said. "To expose children to a protest might be a bit much and even irresponsible (at a police-sponsored event)."
A large-scale, four-month-long gang enforcement operation named “Operation Triple Beam” concluded Feb. 15 resulting in arrest of 197 fugitives, 94 of whom were gang members or associates. The U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force led operation involved multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies concentrating their efforts and focus on known street gangs in Monterey County, particularly within the City of Salinas.
During Operation Triple Beam (OTB), which was conducted from October 2018 to February 2019, Salinas Police noted significant reduction in violent crime reports in comparison to the prior year. Specifically noted were an 87.5 percent decrease in homicide incidents, a 46.6 percent decrease in drive-by-shootings, a 31.7 percent decrease in shootings overall, and a 66.6 percent decrease in armed robberies. Since 2010, the U.S. Marshals Service has led more than 60 counter-gang operations which have yielded over 8,000 arrests and the seizure of more than 1,800 illegal firearms.
One of two fliers for the protest referenced the press conference and called for people to "come out and stand with the Salinas Community against police brutality" while the other referenced Brenda Rodriguez Mendoza, 20, who was fatally shot by police during a standoff March 1.
Fresé said she had seen the first flier but was not familiar with the second one.
When she saw "police brutality," she said, she thought it might be referring to a case in another area that galvanized protesters, such as the state Attorney's General decision Tuesday not to prosecute the officers who killed Stephon Clark.
That decision sparked widespread protests and unrest in Sacramento, according to USA Today.
More than 50 people attended the protest at the park Friday afternoon, organized by Luis "xago" Juarez in response to the press conference planned only a week after Mendoza was killed by police, he said.
"This is a call to action for all who know the value, understand the value, of community safety," Juarez said, adding a march on city hall at the next city council meeting is being planned.
Since she took the helm in September 2016, Fresé has emphasized community policing to improve relations between the department and the community.
Salinas police have focused on "collaboration and problem solving" and showed their results in the application for the Wilson award, Fresé said.
The application listed the department's accomplishments, including:
A focus on Closter Park, including a nearby store that was a front for drug sales and sold alcohol, which were often consumed at the park. It also incorporated additional patrols and enforcement in the area, which led to a 23 percent uptick in reports of crime as more residents contacted police and "subjective reports from residents and patrol officers... that the major problems are gone or reduced."
Drops in homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults and assaults involving firearms of 25 percent, 10 percent, 6 percent and 32 percent respectively.
A renewed commitment to training, especially on the importance and methods of community policing.
Partnerships with various groups, agencies, community members and organizations.
The school resource officers' work in the Santa Rita Union Elementary School district that includes classes for parents in collaboration with nonprofits. They also spent time "hanging out" and "walking about" during school hours, talking with students and also mentoring them.
"While we weren't able to put officers (in schools) throughout the city limits, we were able to make a big difference in that one school district," Fresé said, noting officers "not only work with children, but also work with their parents."
Protest organizer Juarez acknowledged Fresé's efforts to improve relations with the community, but added the police seem to want trust from the community without returning that trust.
"We see she's having a difficult job at that because what happened (March 1) is an indication that it's not working," he said, referring to police shooting and killing Mendoza on East Laurel Drive a week ago.
Salinas police were called out at about 11 a.m. March 1 to the 1000 block of E. Laurel Drive for a disturbance, Fresé has said.
Officers arrived to find a woman, later identified as Mendoza, 20, had barricaded herself in a vehicle after threatening a resident with "something likened to a weapon," Fresé has said.
The standoff lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, with the hostage-negotiation team and Monterey County Behavioral Health communicating with Mendoza, though it was intermittent, Fresé has said.
At one point, she brandished a handgun, Fresé has said.
Three officers opened fire on Mendoza, who died shortly thereafter, Fresé has said.
A gofundme has been set up to cover Mendoza's funeral expenses, said Israel Villa, a member of the community organization MILPA.
MILPA has been vocal against school resource officers in Salinas while advocating against what's called the school-to-prison pipeline.
However, a member of MILPA was arrested on suspicion of inciting a 20-year-old to allegedly attack a 14-year-old at one of their events last year. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.
Salinas police should have given Mendoza, who reportedly was experiencing a mental-health crisis, help instead of "violence," said Carissa Purnell, who attended Friday's protest.
"The best support: wrapping our arms around (those in crisis)," she said.
Police have identified the three officers involved in that shooting as well as seven officers who fired on a man at a Salinas Safeway after he brandished a replica handgun a month before Mendoza's death.
Guadalupe Aguirre Espinoza, 38, survived and later pleaded guilty to brandishing and theft charges.
The Monterey County District Attorney's Office is investigating both shootings. Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni did not return a phone call and an email seeking comment Friday.
Mendoza's shooting rekindled memories of 2014, when Salinas police shot and killed four people, Villa said.
"I can already tell you what they're going to say: justified," he said. "... There ain't no justifying that."
The 2014 shootings sparked protests, one of which turned violent when one man was shot and killed while a police officer trying to help him was hit by a glass bottle.
The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed the Salinas Police Department at its request. The DOJ made several recommendations, including having the District Attorney's Office investigate officer-involved shootings rather than Salinas police, which was implemented.
But thinking the officer-involved shootings demonstrate a disconnect between the community policing award and reality on the ground is "wrong," Fresé said.
"It is a police force looking out for their community," she said. "Community policing doesn't mean we're soft on crime, it means we work together
Facebook Live town hall to focus on community policing in San Bernardino
Since January, San Bernardino city leaders have broached reopening police substations around town to better serve the community.
Before San Bernardino city leaders decide whether to implement new Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving, or COPPS, programs and strategies, Mayor John Valdivia and acting Police Chief Eric McBride will host a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, on Facebook Live.
The city's maiden voyage into social media gatherings will address plans to reopen police substations.
Residents can attend the forum in person by going to the second floor of the Police Department, at 710 N. D St.
Chief Jarrod Burguan has been out since January to recover from knee-replacement surgery, according to Police Department spokeswoman Sadie Albers. McBride has served as acting chief since then.
In the 1990s, San Bernardino implemented the COPPS program and saw a sharp decline in homicides by the end of the century. As many as six police substations were opened to address crime patterns, chronic service drains and all quality of life issues in their surrounding district.
However, declining revenues, budget cuts, the recession and the city's filing for bankruptcy contributed to the closure of all substations in 2012.
Police have operated out of their downtown station since.
At recent meetings, San Bernardino city leaders have broached reopening police substations to better serve the community, increase officer availability and reduce response times.
According to a staff report prepared for the City Council meeting Wednesday, March 20, representatives of the Police Officers and Police Management associations believe having substations in a city as large as San Bernardino would enhance the department's effectiveness.
If approved and funded this year, substations could open in the northern, southern, eastern, western and central parts of town.
To tune in to Tuesday's meeting, visit: facebook.com/SanBernardinoPD.
A Small Maine Town Can't Hire Cops, So It Might Close Its Police Department
This winter, Thomaston police Chief Tim Hoppe knew he was in for a tough few months when two officers left the department just as another was headed to the police academy for 18 weeks.
But spring isn't proving to bring any relief, as two more officers have accepted positions with the local sheriff's office, leaving just Hoppe and one part-time officer to provide police coverage for the town with about 2,800 residents.
“It's pretty serious,” Hoppe said sitting in his office Tuesday. “Thomaston has a longstanding police department. But it's had its ups and downs.”
With the Thomaston Police Department having difficulty recruiting and retaining officers, the town is at a crossroads in how to move forward with providing law enforcement services.
In June, voters will decide whether to continue funding an independent police department or to dissolve the department and contract with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, which would provide four full-time deputies with dedicated coverage of the town.
To cover the town — which straddles Route 1 south of Rockland — the Thomaston Police Department is budgeted to have four full-time officers, plus the chief.
Currently, without any full-time officers aside from Hoppe, the Knox County Sheriff's Office is covering Thomaston on Sundays and Mondays.
Hoppe, the part-time officer and several reserve officers are able to provide coverage for the remaining five days of the week. With his last full-time officer leaving Saturday, Hoppe will begin to cover the night shift next week so the part-time officer can take the day shift.
“I'll get through it like I always do,” Hoppe said.
Hoppe is far from the only police chief struggling to retain police officers. Across the state and country, law enforcement agencies are struggling in this aspect.
In recent years, Maine police departments have seen a decrease in the number of qualified applicants. The problem reflects a national trend, with four of five police departments reporting a shortage of qualified candidates, according to a 2010 RAND study.
“It's not even just in smaller towns, it's departments in general across the country. Everybody is facing these problems. It seems that law enforcement is becoming a difficult profession to hire for, ” said Edward Tolan, executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.
The Draw Of Family Benefits
To entice prospective officers to apply and stay on with the department, Hoppe has been advocating for the town to begin offering family health insurance benefits to the department's employees.
While adding family benefits is not the cure-all for the department, Hoppe said, “it's a stability builder. It at least attracts the people we're looking for.”
Thomaston selectmen accepted the latest resignation from the police department at their meeting Monday night. Officer Jacob Labo, who has been with the department for two years, said he took a job with the sheriff's office because the move allows him to provide health insurance for his family.
“I strongly believe in order for the department to remain, the town must provide family health benefits to keep pace with other local departments and to spark interest for those [who] are thinking about working for the Thomaston Police Department,” Labo wrote in his resignation letter.
Maintaining a five-person roster and adding family health benefits would increase the police department's annual budget for 2019-20 by about $50,000, to $609,000, according to figures provided by Hoppe and town officials.
There are several cost projections that town officials are considering for a contract with the sheriff's office. Four full-time deputies to cover Thomaston for 20 hours a day — broken up into two 10-hour shifts — would cost about $527,000 per year, according to Town Manager Val Blawstow. The final cost would depend on where the sheriff's deputies fall within the sheriff's office payscale.
The town is currently in mediation with the union that represents municipal employees, including the police department, according to Blastow. Health benefits are a part of that discussion, though it is unclear what specifically is being discussed or how the June vote could affect negotiations.
Tolan said the ability of a department to offer competitive wages and benefits is a “huge” factor in attracting qualified applicants.
“The younger generation of police officers may have five, six or seven jobs in their career,” Tolan said. “They go to the jobs where the benefits are. You don't see the 35-year veterans anymore. Times have changed dramatically.”
Hoppe said he doesn't blame any of the officers who have left the department during the past year. He knew they were having to think about what would be best for their families. But the situation further convinces Hoppe that adding family benefits is what would be best for the future of the department.
“I look at it as supporting what the guys want. It's important to support your people,” Hoppe said. “Even when you have no one, it's important to support your people.”
Switching to the sheriff's office would save the town money and offer more coverage than the Thomaston Police Department currently can. But not all residents are ready to give up their police department.
“One of the reasons I chose the town of Thomaston to move to 41 years ago was because it had its own police department,” Anita Knowlton said at Monday night's selectboard meeting.
“There is nothing wrong with the sheriff's office. It's just not going to be the same coverage. They're not going to know the people as well as our officers do,” she said.
Hoppe said familiarity is a big part of community policing, which is something the Thomaston Police Department prides itself on doing. “There is a comfort level in having your own police department,” he said.
Tolan said in small towns, there is a benefit to people knowing the chief and knowing officers on a first-name basis. He said it is not necessarily common for towns to dissolve their departments and switch to sheriff's office coverage, but it does happen.
“Maine is one of those states that values home rule, and you give up home rule when you dissolve the department and sign onto the sheriff's office,” he said.
Thomaston has recently made strides toward attracting news businesses after the Maine Department of Transportation finished a two-year overhaul of the section of Route 1 that doubles as Thomaston's Main Street.
As the town focuses on growth and development, taking away the police department would be shortsighted, Thomaston Recreation Director Rene Dorr said.
“Having a police force and an ambulance service and a fire department are things that are going to keep people moving to our town,” Dorr said.
Select board members plan to hold an informational meeting on the law enforcement options that will be included in the June referendum. That meeting has not yet been scheduled, though it will likely occur about a month before the June vote, according to chair Peter Lammert
Richmond police investigating officer for yelling 'wait until your asses turn 18, then it's mine' at students outside middle school
A Richmond police officer is being investigated after the mother of a middle school student posted a video to Facebook of the officer yelling at several students.
In the video, the officer, who is driving a marked SUV, can be heard yelling to the Albert Hill Middle School students: “Wait until your asses turn 18, then it's mine.”
It's unclear what precipitated the comment from the officer.
“Even if something was said, that was just a complete wrong reaction,” said Tenesha Calloway, a hairstylist, who posted the video on Facebook on Thursday, encouraging others to share the post and demanding an apology from the officer. As of Friday night, it had more than 11,000 views, 100 comments and 600 shares.
Calloway said the footage was filmed Thursday as her daughter and classmates were waiting to walk to an after-school program. The officer had driven past the group and turned around. Calloway said her daughter denied that the students said anything to provoke the officer.
There was an exchange between the children and the officer before he yelled at them.
“I am disgusted and disappointed, but not surprised that a white male officer would make a threat and use that tone or language towards a group of children,” she said in the video's caption.
“My child and her friends have to walk to their after school program and knowing that the police are making idle threats to them is unsettling. I want to know who this officer is and I demand an apology and some form of reprimand to this officer.”
In a phone interview Friday, Calloway said she believed the comment was racist.
“These were all black and brown children,” she said. “As an adult, I know exactly what he meant by it. Most people just laughed it off because it happens all the time. That's not the way I do things.”
She sent the video to the Richmond Police Department, which is investigating. Police have not released the officer's name.
“We take these concerns very seriously,” a department spokeswoman said in an email. “The officer in the video is currently being investigated by our Internal Affairs Division. There are no further details at this time.”
In a statement, Mayor Levar Stoney called the officer's behavior “unacceptable” but added that he trusts the department to “conduct a quick and thorough investigation and respond accordingly.”
“This type of behavior will not be tolerated by any employee of the City of Richmond,” the statement said. “This behavior is unacceptable. It reinforces stereotypes of our communities that are hurtful and damages the relationship between our police department and the citizens they are charged to serve.”
The Richmond branch of the NAACP also is investigating the incident, according to its president, James J. Minor.
Michelle Hudacsko, Richmond Public Schools chief of staff, said the officer has “absolutely no connection to RPS.” Calloway, the mother who posted the video, said the officer had been at the school for another incident.
“The officer's behavior is outrageous and repugnant. Our students — and all citizens — deserve respect and dignity from law enforcement,” Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said in a statement. “I appreciate RPD's swift action on this matter.”
Adeola Ogunkeyede, legal director of the Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, and a coalition partner of a group calling for more transparency and accountability at RPD, also condemned the officer's actions.
“The threat of this officer portends future harm to these children at the hands of police that could prove fatal,” Ogunkeyede said. “Statements like these from members of the police department undermine the trust black children and their community will have in the police, perhaps forever. This proves that RPD's alleged commitment to community policing is meaningless and that community oversight to ensure that commitment is necessary
Understanding bias and power in community policing.
Police-community relationship often fail because the law enforcement officer is unaware of a fact the community constituency knows all too well
by Shaun Ward, D. Mgt., PoliceOne Contributor
Effective law enforcement leaders constantly find themselves searching for opportunities to improve police-community relationships. Although leaders develop and implement strategies to achieve this goal, it is a difficult task.
The primary reason strategies fail to improve the police-community relationship is that law enforcement officers may be unaware of a fact the community constituency knows all too well: both leaders and their officers always bring their tacit bias and power to every call for service.
An officer is often the only person on-scene to carry multiple lethal weapons. An officer has a certain bias based on his or her previous experiences. An officer has the legal authority to vastly change the lives of all persons on a service call. Thus, the on-scene position of power is definitely one-sided, of which the public can be angrily aware. However, there are strategies officers can deploy to vastly improve this dynamic and subsequently improve community policing.
STRATEGY 1: BUILD AN INTERNAL COMMUNITY
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) defines community policing by three components: relationships, organizational transformation and problem solving. Each component expresses the importance of building a community both internally and externally.
In order for community members to feel their police department cares about them and their communities, leaders should build and sustain an effective internal community first. This is accomplished through leaders involving their officers in every part of the decision-making process. Even though final decisions are made by the executives of an organization, involving officers enables them to feel connected to the overall mission of the organization and empowers them to be a stakeholder rather than an employee.
Police leader tip: When police officers accept leadership positions, their priority is their subordinates. If police officers are expected to serve their community, leaders should also serve their subordinates by embracing the practice of servant leadership.
STRATEGY 2: UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE CONNECT
The concept of positionality, which is supported by the reticular activating system of the brain, attempts to explain how humans, consciously or unconsciously, connect with people with whom they share commonalities and interests. Our reticular activating system plays the role of gatekeeper of the information that travels into our conscious mind and how we perceive sensory information every day.
Although police officers, like all humans, have biases based on their background, experiences and what interests them, they must not apply those biases during their decision-making process.
Police leader tip: In order for decisions to be made without bias, leaders must constantly remind officers to focus on the facts and circumstances before them and make decisions as a result of that information.
STRATEGY 3: RECOGNIZE POWER DYNAMICS
Sworn law enforcement officials have a certain degree of power and influence. It is essential for a sworn officer to understand a power dynamic always exists when he or she responds to a call for service. Knowing that, officers should not focus on exercising that authority as a tool, but rather use facts and circumstances to guide their use of power.
Police leader tip: Leaders may want to consider training strategies that encourage influence to be used proactively and not reactively. For example, letting a person know why they are stopped or why you are at their home encourages transparency. Although the officer has the authority to conduct the vehicle stop or be in someone's home, being transparent invites cooperation and can show the officer is not abusing their power, thus potentially improving both officer and civilian safety.
‘Lack of policing fails the community'
We urge authorities to take stronger action with regards to the trespassing act to prevent break-ins and violent crimes in the area.
AfriForum Margate is of the opinion that there is most definitely an increase in crime-related issues on the South Coast.
Housebreaking and violent crimes is becoming an everyday occurrence and, in our view, is a direct result of lack of visible policing (feet on the ground).
The current situation in our area is escalating because of a reactive approach (waiting for crime to happen) instead of a proactive approach, which should deter these opportunistic crimes in most cases.
Loadshedding has also created opportunities for more house break-ins, with drugs and alcohol playing a big part in more violent crimes.
Examples include the recent attack on an elderly man in Munster who was attacked while walking his dog, as well as another man in Manaba who was tied up and assaulted while the perpetrators ransacked his house.
Crimes like these have a detrimental effect on tourism and the community and requires a proactive approach.
We strongly advise that loiterers, and especially trespassers, be apprehended for profile checks.
We urge authorities to take stronger action with regards to the trespassing act to prevent house break-ins and violent crimes in the area.
Family violence, particularly crimes against woman and children also need better policing in our view.
Body Cameras - Study
Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras Limited, Study Says
by Ted Gest
As police use of body-worn cameras increases rapidly, an examination of 70 studies found that while officers and citizens support the devices, they may not have had significant or consistent impact on officer behavior or on citizens' views of the police.
The study from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University (GMU) appears in Criminology & Public Policy, a journal of the American Society of Criminology.
“Expectations and concerns surrounding body-worn cameras among police leaders and citizens have not yet been realized by and large in the ways anticipated by each,” said GMU criminologist Cynthia Lum, who led the study.
“It's likely that body-worn cameras alone will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens.”
A survey by the Police Executive Research Forum published last year found that more than one-third of U.S. law enforcement agencies had some or all officers wearing body-worn cameras and another 50 percent had plans to do so.
The adoption of body-worn cameras increased quickly after highly publicized incidents like the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in 2014 and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody in 2015.
Many departments, especially smaller ones, are dropping or delaying their plans to buy cameras, finding it too expensive to store and manage the thousands of hours of footage, the Washington Post reported in January.
“The easy part is buying the body cameras and issuing them to the officers. They are not that expensive,” Jim Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police told the newspaper.
“But storing all the data that they collect — that cost is extraordinary. The smaller the department, the tougher it tends to be for them.”
GMU researchers reviewed 70 empirical studies of body-worn cameras that were published globally through last June.
The studies addressed the impact of body-worn cameras on officers' behavior and on officers' attitudes toward body-worn cameras, the devices' impact on citizens' behavior, and citizens' and communities' attitudes toward cameras.
Some studies considered the impact of body-worn cameras on criminal investigations and on law enforcement organizations.
In general, officers seem supportive of body-worn cameras, especially as they use them more. However, the devices have not produced dramatic changes in police behavior, the study found.
Among other findings:
Body-worn cameras seem to reduce complaints against officers . It is unclear how much these changes reflect citizens' reporting behaviors or improvements in officers' behavior. It is also unclear if the devices improve citizen satisfaction with police encounters, as might be expected if the cameras affected police behavior substantially.
Wearing body-worn cameras has not led to de-policing, sometimes known as a “Ferguson effect” in which officers pull back from some of their duties. Cameras do not seem to discourage police contacts or officer-initiated activities.
Private citizens generally support body-worn cameras, but it's unclear that their use improves citizens' views of police, their behaviors toward police officers, or their relationships with police.
To maximize the positive impacts of body-worn cameras, we suggest more attention to
the ways and contexts—organizational and community—in which the devices are most
beneficial or harmful,”says GMU criminologist Christopher Koper, who co-authored the study.
“Attention should also be paid to how the cameras can be used in police training, management, and internal investigations to improve police performance, accountability, and legitimacy in the community.”
The study's authors say that “improving accountability for police misconduct has been a primary motivation for advocates of body-worn cameras. Prosecutors, however, rarely bring cases against the police, and it remains to be seen whether this will change much as a result” of the cameras.
The new study notes that body-worn cameras were adopted around the U.S. without the benefit of much research. It said that “unfortunately, researchers have consistently found that police technology may not lead to the outcomes sought, and often it has unintended consequences for police officers, their organizations, and citizens
Black people in Halifax 6 times more likely to be street checked than whites
Number from new report is almost double
A new report released Wednesday on racial profiling by Halifax-area police found black people were street checked at a rate six times higher than white people in Halifax.
The independent report found that in Halifax, the odds of being stopped for a street check were highest for black men, followed by Arab males and black females.
The number is about double the CBC News estimate that triggered this review. The new report comes more than two years after data showed black people were three times more likely than whites to be subjected to the controversial practice in the municipality.
The report by Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor, also found that police in the Halifax region do more street checks than police in Montreal, Vancouver or Ottawa. There were comparable rates in Edmonton and Calgary.
Street checks allow police officers to document information about a person they believe could be of significance to a future investigation, and record details such as their ethnicity, gender, age and location.
The 180-page report also found the practice of street checks has a disproportionate and negative impact on the African Nova Scotia community, contributing to the criminalization of black youth.
Wortley reported that black community members interviewed for the study said they are afraid of police, they feel targeted by police, and they are treated rudely and aggressively. They also said police treatment of black people has not improved significantly in the past 20 years.
Blacks more likely to be charged
Wortley was hired by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2017 after a report from Halifax RCMP in January of that year found that in the first 10 months of 2016, 41 per cent of 1,246 street checks involved black Nova Scotians.
Halifax Regional Police figures showed that of the roughly 37,000 people checked between 2005 and 2016, almost 4,100 were black — about 11 per cent of checks — despite making up only 3.59 per cent of the city's population, according to the 2011 census.
In what Wortley described as a "difficult statistic," the report showed that 30 per cent of Halifax's black male population had been charged with a crime, as opposed with 6.8 per cent of the white male population, over that period.
Wortley said this likely means black people are more likely to be charged for the same behaviour than white people. The charge rate for black males with cannabis offences was four times higher than for white males, even though there's no evidence that black people use more cannabis than white people.
He said police street checks have contributed to an erosion of trust in law enforcement and undermined the perceived legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system.
Wortley presented several recommendations including that street checks must be banned or at least regulated.
He said it's clear that street checks have a disproportionate effect on the black Nova Scotia community and consequences of current street check use "clearly outweigh and crime prevention benefits."
Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard said she supports stopping the practice of street checks.
"The rest of Canada will be watching what happens here," she told an audience gathered at the Halifax Central Library, where the report was unveiled.
Lindell Smith, the first black city councillor elected in Halifax in 16 years, said in a statement on his website that he hopes this is an opportunity to "repair the broken relationship with the black community and our police force."
"As a member of the African Nova Scotian community, I certainly do not need Dr. Wortley's report to tell me that for decades the community has felt that there is anti-black bias, and racial profiling when policing black communities. I hope that with the release of this report that we as the black community don't see this as a 'I told you so' moment," he said.
Smith said he's been stopped many times by police, both while driving and walking in the Halifax area. He said in those instances he had the feeling of "humiliation and being racially profiled."
Across Canada, the report found the average annual street check rate was highest in Toronto, with Halifax in second place. Despite an overall reduction in street checks in Halifax in recent years, Wortley says the over-representation of minorities has remained constant.
Ontario banned police carding in specific situations in 2017 — a controversial practice that is similar to street checks.
However, Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais has argued in the past that the valid street checks performed by police officers in Halifax differ from the random stops or carding practices that are now restricted in Ontario.
New York City
Community Policing, Rightly Understood
From the beginning, the crime-fighting revolution, starting in 1990s New York, was based on a cooperative relationship between cops and the public.
by George L. Kelling
Over the last quarter of a century, the United States has seen historic drops in crime—most famously in New York. These gains, once thought impossible, were achieved largely through dramatic innovations in policing, especially the adoption of an approach that stressed order maintenance in communities, data- and intelligence-gathering, and a problem-solving approach to crime and disorder.
In recent years, however, antipolice sentiment has risen in the U.S., sparked in part by a series of tragic, high-profile police-involved killings in major cities but also by the work of critics, mostly on the left but also on the libertarian right, who argue that targeted policing aimed at public disorder is coercive, hostile to community life, and often racist. These critics see such policing as the antithesis to what they call community policing. The arguments that have gained popular currency among police critics have essentially blinded them from seeing that the sort of aggressive policing that they object to can actually be an element of a community-policing model.
The increasingly widespread view that community policing and order-maintenance efforts are at odds represents a fundamental misunderstanding. In reality, the proactive policing that New York first undertook in its subway system under then–transit police chief William J. Bratton in the early 1990s—informed in significant part by Broken Windows theory—was a core element of community policing. Indeed, the very behaviors that residents wanted more heavily policed called for exactly the sort of approach that many modern community-policing advocates now decry.
For decades prior, the prevailing model saw the role of police as responding to serious crime, and it relied on traditional measures of enforcement actions such as arrests and response time to gauge whether they were accomplishing their mission. Call it the law-enforcement model. Policing and criminal-justice policy were, as I wrote in City Journal back in 1992, driven by “the official crime problem as defined in crime, response, and arrest statistics.” But a shift was already under way; soon, police forces would begin to focus their attention on what community members perceived to be the most serious problems that their neighborhoods faced.
Origins of the paradigm began to emerge around the country during the 1980s, when some of its basic ideas began to be implemented in programs such as team policing, increased foot patrol, and improved community relations. But it wasn't until the 1990s that there was, in the Big Apple, a full-scale reorientation of policing around the community; and that development constituted a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift, setting an example that would be followed by urban police departments across the country. Integral to this move was Bratton, at the time a young police chief from Boston. He would serve first as chief of the transit police in New York City, from 1990 to 1993, and then as NYPD commissioner from 1994 to 1996. He returned for a second stint as New York's police chief, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, in 2014, serving until 2016. I worked with him as a consultant during both periods.
Community policing is often portrayed as being soft on crime. A Google search of the phrase turns up images of smiling police officers allowing children to sit on top of motorcycles, posing for pictures, playing touch football, and making presentations to schoolchildren. This risks making community policing seem like a publicity stunt, an insincere attempt by cops to foster a gentler image—what some law-and-order critics mock as “hug-a-thug” enforcement. Community policing, rightly understood, can be, and often is, aggressive and even intrusive, depending on the community's concerns.
It's important to understand the context in which the new policing model emerged; today's police critics fail to appreciate that context. In essence, they can't help but see the efforts of New York City cops in the 1990s through 2019 eyes. Compared with today, the New York of the 1990s was a very different world—and residents' worries were different, too. The decay of public spaces was at the forefront of many New Yorkers' minds. People wanted to use public parks, ride public transportation, and walk in their neighborhoods without fear of being victimized by an aggressive beggar, mentally disturbed street person, or young gangbanger.
Crime was then a daily fear for New Yorkers. In 1990, New York saw 2,262 murders, along with more than 100,000 robberies; in 2017, by sharp contrast, there were 292 murders and 14,000 robberies in the city. Yet, scary as crime was, community fear has always been more closely correlated with public disorder. And by the early 1990s, as City Journal readers know well, New York City was two decades into a meteoric rise in visible disorder. Subway trains were covered in graffiti. Times Square was overrun by prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers. A drive through the Bronx would reveal whole blocks on which only one structure—if any—remained standing. A trip to the corner store would often require cutting through a group of youngsters dealing drugs, drinking, playing loud music, or catcalling young women.
As this kind of disorder worsened, law-abiding residents began to feel increasingly vulnerable to more serious street crime. The disorder made people feel that no one was in charge, and if no one was in charge, anything could happen. More and more New Yorkers began to avoid many public spaces. And the absence of law-abiding citizens from public spaces allowed those spaces, and the surrounding neighborhoods, to fall further into disorder. Eventually, this breakdown encouraged more serious criminal behavior. My colleague James Q. Wilson and I explained the phenomenon in a 1982 article for The Atlantic. I saw my role as a consultant working with Bratton in the 1990s as helping police to incorporate this reality into how they approached their jobs.
The only way to give law-abiding citizens the confidence to begin taking back public spaces from those ruining them—with litter, noise pollution, overaggressive panhandling, drug dealing, boorish behavior such as public urination, and more serious criminal acts—was to respond to their concerns. Police needed to make clear that the problems that the community identified as priorities would be addressed. This focus on the community was an all-important first step in turning New York City around.
Though there is a popular conception today of what “community policing” means, it was actually a concrete idea that my colleague Mark Moore and I described in great detail in a 1988 paper published as part of the Harvard Kennedy School's Executive Session on Policing. In short, the various forms of policing are best understood as integrated organizational strategies with seven essential elements: the function of police in society; how police departments are organized; how police manage demand for their services; how police interact with the external environment; how police measure success; the sources from which police obtain their legitimacy and authority; and the tactics that police adopt to perform their function. Community policing, properly understood, reflects a department's reorientation around public concerns with respect to each of those elements. Though some police department officials had been paying lip service to community policing for nearly a decade, it had never truly and fully been done until Bratton and his colleagues ushered in a new approach with respect to each of these elements. This process involved considerable trial and error.
The new approach broadened the main function of earlier policing—law enforcement and response to crimes after they are committed—to include crime prevention, order maintenance, and fear reduction. Instead of just reacting, policing in 1990s New York started to pursue crime prevention, partly by recognizing the relationship between disorder and crime. As Bratton often acknowledged, the idea that cops could and should prevent crime and disorder could be traced back to the father of British policing, Sir Robert Peel, whose nine principles of policing, promulgated in 1829, opened with that preventive role. When Bratton arrived in New York, police were still being told that they couldn't do anything to deter crime. But experience told him that wasn't true: “I could do something about crime,” he said. “I could do something about disorder; and it was key to do both.”
Enlisting the public in this battle was a key aspect of Bratton's plan to turn New York City's crime crisis around. As he saw it, police had to work with everyone with skin in the game. The broader and deeper the partnerships the police forge with community members, the stronger the resulting trust, which will be crucial in times of stress, such as when police make inevitable mistakes. As chief of the transit police, Bratton ensured that the department assumed responsibility for reducing the then-endemic crime and disorder in the subways and that it made its efforts as visible as possible, in order to make riders feel more secure. One example: transit cops began regularly to board trains and address any issues they came across—such as a homeless person sleeping on a row of seats—and announcements of an inspection would be made on the train's public-address systems, so that riders knew that it was happening. Another example: the department launched new anti-fare-evasion efforts, which included the use of “bust buses”—hollowed-out transit-authority buses deployed as mobile arrest-processing centers. This signaled to the public that the transit police were doing something about fare-beaters, and it also cut down on the overtime logged by arresting officers, who no longer needed to go all the way downtown to do their bookings.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority did its part to promote the change, via clever subway ads. Bratton remembers “a wonderful cover photograph done in black, white, and blue fogged images, which was used on posters that were put up in the subway to advertise Transit Police efforts, to say ‘we're here, we're working.' ”
Responding to the subway disorder had early and unexpected benefits. Transit police found that one out of every seven fare-evaders was wanted on a warrant, while one out of 21 was carrying a weapon. Cops called it the “Cracker Jack box” effect. Kids would buy a box of the caramel-covered popcorn snack for the toy inside as much as for the popcorn itself; when it came to enforcing laws against fare evasion, the “toy”—the thing that made the effort even more worthwhile, for both the cops and the public—was the weapon or wanted criminal taken off the street. By making what turned out to be important arrests through the enforcement of what was (and is still today) regarded as a minor offense, transit cops began seeing their role as preventing more serious crime through order maintenance; previously, the sense among the rank and file was that they were there primarily to protect the city's revenue stream.
Reorienting police also required fundamental changes to how they were managed and organized. Prior to the early 1990s, police departments were highly centralized, both geographically and structurally. Now, geographic decentralization and discretion for lower-level management and beat cops were promoted. Limiting discretion had its uses—it lessened opportunities for officers to engage in corruption, for instance. But beat cops and lower-level supervisors were closer to the neighborhoods that they policed and had greater insight into their problems than did their departments' executive officers. Empowering them made the police more responsive to the public—and more effective at fighting crime.
Decentralization encouraged less reliance on 911 and more direct contact with precinct officers, allowing police to manage demand for their services more directly. One of the most effective ways of creating such interaction is through police/community meetings, where citizens can air their concerns. But foot patrols are perhaps even more important. Foot patrols place officers within arm's reach of the community, looping them into disputes and allowing them to field requests for service on the spot, with no middleman. In addition to making cops more accessible, foot patrols help restore the sense of security that citizens need in order to do their part to enforce community norms, knowing that backup is not far away.
“While working with the community as a partner, police sometimes have to take unpopular, tough stances.”
Community policing, as we understood it, called for an unprecedented level of interaction between police and the external environment—which included the public as well as the private sector. When it came to giving the community a voice in identifying and dealing with problems in the subway, the MTA used focus groups to learn what subway riders thought about the system. The results enabled transit police to understand public frustrations. Abundant research on community concerns taught Bratton that disorder, unlike major crime, was something people experienced every day, viscerally and personally. If robberies declined, people might not feel the effect immediately; but if fare-evaders and aggressive beggars disappeared and subway stations were cleaner and brighter, people using the subway would feel safer. Not only did focus groups give police a better idea of the public's priorities; they also proved useful in getting a sense of whether their efforts were alleviating the public's fears about crime and disorder. Using these sorts of data to measure success is another example of how policing in 1990s New York bucked the old standard.
The NYPD also worked with the private and nonprofit sectors on initiatives to restore public order. For example, the department partnered with local business-improvement districts to identify areas of New York that needed cleaning, better lighting, and other services.
While working with the community as a partner, police sometimes have to take unpopular, tough stances. It's true that disorder drives public fear—and that members of minority groups themselves wanted relief from it—but addressing it meaningfully was not easy, given racial tensions in New York City during the late 1980s and 1990s. Because crime in New York wasn't spread equally throughout the city's five boroughs, the disproportionate impact of enforcement efforts put significant strain on the department's relationship with some members of New York's black and Latino communities. Much of the crime—and, by extension, the law enforcement—was concentrated in these areas. Yet the city's extraordinary crime problem demanded a strong police response. “It had to be done,” Bratton says. “The police had to be more assertive.” (The assertiveness of Broken Windows misdemeanor enforcement, however, does not equate with “zero tolerance” policies and high-arrest strategies, as is sometimes alleged; done correctly, order-maintenance policing does not rely on such practices.) The resolve paid off: in the years following, major (and minor) crime declined enough to save countless lives, reduce public fear, and make the city's meanest streets walkable again—and the greatest drops citywide occurred in heavily minority neighborhoods.
In a city with, as Bratton puts it, “something like 275 recognized neighborhoods, all with different priorities and problems that changed from time to time,” the NYPD also had to be adaptive. No two expressions of community policing will be identical across locations and communities—whether in New York or any other city. Changes in the characteristics of one element of the strategy require complementary adjustments in others: for example, the development and use of more aggressive tactics to deal with particular crime problems requires that police involve citizens even more closely to maintain their consent and support, because part of the paradigm shift involved a recognition that the police derive their legitimacy and authority from the public they serve. Likewise, a move toward decentralization requires administrative refinements: those gaining new authority on the ground will need additional training and accountability measures to handle their expected use of discretion in problem-solving, while managers will have to develop new skills for supervising their officers' wider-ranging activities. For community policing to work, ongoing and continual adjustment of its various elements is required; it is not set in stone.
Police forces have many tactical options at their disposal. For the NYPD, perhaps one of the most important tactics was the use of data to inform police in deploying their resources, allowing them to develop solutions to specific problems. Bratton saw CompStat—the computer-based system allowing police to record and analyze crime patterns and enforcement activity—as the ultimate blend of data and accountability. Making crime data available in nearly real time helped the police track their progress and measure success. Giving power away also required ensuring that it was being used appropriately. Using data to track crime and enforcement activity made it possible to hold precinct commanders accountable by showing clearly whether their approaches to crime in their jurisdictions were effective. CompStat enabled the police to prioritize high-crime areas and target the types of offenses that community members were most concerned about.
One reason such initiatives were so effective in reducing crime was that they reflected an understanding of the critical link between crime and disorder. That connection was stronger than most thought, as my colleague William Souza and I documented in a 2001 report for the Manhattan Institute. It found that, on average, every misdemeanor arrest in a given precinct was associated with 0.036 fewer violent crimes. Order maintenance serves effectively as a tactic for overall crime reduction, partly because of the overlap between violent and nonviolent offenders.
Unfortunately, some New Yorkers seem to be noticing a regression toward the sorts of public disorder that characterized the city decades ago. That perception has followed an official push on the part of some city leaders to roll back police authority to deal with such public-order offenses as fare evasion and public urination. The push reflects a misunderstanding of what true community policing is. New Yorkers who don't wish to see the city's gains eroded only need look to the transformation that its police were responsible for bringing about in the early 1990s—one that set an example for cities and police around the country. The lessons learned then remain applicable today; but applying them properly will require recognition that the law-enforcement model should give way to real community policing.