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

May 2019 - Week 4
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Community-led research teams present recommendations for addressing trauma in Tulsa schools


North Tulsa activists are one step closer to executing a plan to address trauma in schools and other important issues during a community meeting Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of people attended the second annual Building Wakanda Summit to hear about the Met Cares Foundation's proposals for driving positive change on the city's north side. One of the foundation's primary goals is to transform the academic and social outcomes of north Tulsa's prekindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Greg Robinson II, director of family and community ownership at Met Cares, said the summit is a culmination of the work the foundation has done with the greater north Tulsa community in the past 18 months. Countless meetings and persistent research led to the creation of four sets of recommendations around the areas of trauma in schools, community policing, housing access and economic development.

North Tulsa stakeholders who were at the meeting or watched it online via Facebook Live voted on which recommendations resonated with them the most to help organizers prioritize them. Officials from Tulsa Public Schools, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and the Tulsa Mayor's Office also shared their thoughts about the ideas.

“We hope to leave here with a community-driven agenda to work toward,” Robinson said.

The recommendations were crafted by research teams consisting of community members, including Brittnee Buck.

Buck is a long-term substitute teacher at Greenwood Leadership Academy, a TPS partnership school operated by the Met Cares Foundation. She helped create five recommendations centered on trauma in schools. They included every school in the McLain and Central feeder patterns receiving funding and support to implement measurable long-term trauma informed practices, having a full-time therapist and licensed social worker at every school, and TPS collaborating with the city of Tulsa to commission a task force to attack the root causes of trauma in north Tulsa.

But the recommendation that led the way in votes Tuesday night involved TPS requiring all teachers to engage in at least 12 hours of trauma-informed learning, implicit bias and culturally competent teaching training every year.

Buck stressed the importance of schools understanding how trauma affects students. A lot of kids, she said, get labeled as having behavioral issues when they're actually experiencing trauma. They often don't know how to process trauma and verbalize that they're stressed, causing them to lash out in other ways.

“I want to really speak to the need for teachers to be thoroughly trained in how to properly handle trauma, how to work with that student and ways that they can work with student support (services) so that it's a group effort and not an overwhelmed teacher dealing with 20 stressed-out kids,” she said.

In responding to the recommendation, TPS Deputy Superintendent Paula Shannon said she agrees that educators still have a lot to learn and that the district needs to work with colleges to ensure that teachers are grounded in trauma-informed learning.

However, Shannon said schools need help from their communities to advocate for more funding to allow better teacher training.

“Right now we have four contract days given how much we pay our teachers and where the state sets the bar,” she said. “We need to treat our teachers like professionals. We need to fund educators so we can create the conditions for educators to continue to learn together. We can't do that alone.”

The community policing recommendation with the most votes focused on law-enforcement agencies in Tulsa moving from a “warrior” to a “guardian” mentality by implementing implicit bias training, eliminating ticket and arrest data as an evaluation tool, and increasing transparency and accountability around problem officers.

For housing, the most popular recommendations for the city of Tulsa were establishing a rehabilitation loan fund and enacting a vacant property policy to alleviate issues of depreciated value and crime without placing the burden on underserved communities.

Leading the way for economic development was a recommendation for the city to begin a campaign highlighting the north Tulsa community to bring additional investment, business, employment and lifestyle opportunities to residents.



New virtual reality training tech takes cops directly into the minds of the mentally distressed

by Chris Francescani, Josh Margolin

A pilot program in Chicago uses virtual reality to help police better understand how to handle a subject in the midst of psychiatric distress.

It seems to happen almost every week: a cop in America is called to respond to some sort of disturbance -– a man with a weapon, a woman disrupting the midnight calm at an apartment complex, an escalating domestic dispute.

Law enforcement arrives, confusion ensues, a shot is fired, and suddenly the subject is on the ground.

Only in the aftermath does it emerge that the cop was not dealing with a violent criminal but someone having a psychiatric emergency: a schizophrenic episode, a problem with their medications, drug-induced psychosis, or a person with autism who is lost and cannot find the way to where they were going.

Police in America confront these situations all the time but they are too often untrained and incapable of effectively de-escalating the incidents towards a peaceful conclusion, experts say.

Already this year, at least 53 people diagnosed with mental illness have been shot and killed by U.S. police officers, according to a Washington Post database, which experts on police use of force described as among the most comprehensive of its kind.

“If you look at fatal police encounters, a high percentage of these -- some years as much as 25%: in 2017 it was close to 25% of all fatal shootings involving a police officers -- were dealing with somebody with a diagnosed mental health issue,” said ABC News contributor John Cohen, a former street cop and senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, who studies police responses to violent encounters as a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

A new pilot program in Chicago is being hailed as a potentially groundbreaking new tool that uses virtual reality to help police better understand how to handle a subject who is in the midst of psychiatric distress.

“And, frankly, I think that understates the problem, because a number of those people will have undiagnosed mental health problems," he said. "It's a huge issue.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told ABC News that "when I was out on the street [in Chicago] I would say that anywhere between ... 45% and maybe 55% of the people that I encountered on the street in an arrest situation or a disturbance situation had some type of mental health challenges -- whether it was autism, bipolar, schizophrenia, you know -- all those things factor in to people that the police encounter on a daily basis."

The reasons for the increase in police interactions with those in psychiatric or emotional crisis are manifold, said Dr. Bill Lewinski, a leading behavioral scientist and founder of the non-profit Force Science Institute in Illinois, which studies police use of force.

“We've seen a significant increase in officer contact with those in the midst of a personal crisis – and part of that is the opioid epidemic, part of it is a significant increase in diagnoses of those on the autism spectrum, and the third is an even greater tightening of [access to] facilities for those that have psychiatric issues.”

But a promising new pilot program in Chicago is being hailed as a potentially groundbreaking new tool that uses virtual reality (VR) to help police better understand how to handle a subject who is in the midst of psychiatric distress.

“This is really an innovative technology and it's very compelling,” said Lewinski. “There are some verbal programs out there that allow you to hear what someone is hearing, as opposed to seeing and hearing – but virtual reality is on the forefront of teaching tools in this area.”

Using training simulations created for video-gaming goggles, cops can now literally step into the shoes -- and, more importantly, the minds – of those suffering from emotional disturbance.

“I think it's really imaginative to provide the police officers an experience of what a person who may be having a mental health crisis – what they're hearing, what they're seeing, what they're perceiving, their surroundings – because that will give the officers more insight into how to respond to the person's behavior,” said Cohen.

“It's part of a broader trend among law enforcement executives around the country that have recognized that their officers need to be better trained and have better resources available to more effectively deal with calls involving individual having some type of psychiatric episode,” said Cohen.

'You can't get out'

Last week, ABC News joined a training session at the Chicago Police academy, where officers donned headphones and gaming goggles to learn in the most visceral way possible what it feels like to experience a psychiatric crisis. ABC News reporters also got the opportunity to participate in the VR simulations – and they produce bracing experiences.

In a virtual reality simulation, a cop confronts an actor playing a boy with autism in emotional distress and another actor playing the officer's partner.

Once you put on the headphones and goggles, you are suddenly immersed in a jarring scene in which bright lights are flashing ominously at you from different directions, multiple voices compete at varying volumes for your attention, and your vision blurs unpredictably. While this is happening, police officers are approaching you while a parent to the side is shouting instructions frantically to the police. No matter how you turn your head, you're trapped inside the experience.

“You can look around everywhere and not find yourself a way out of that scenario – you're stuck in that guy's head and you can't get out,” said Laura Brown, senior director of training at Axon Enterprise, the Arizona-based company that develops technology and weapons products for law enforcement, formerly known as Taser International. Axon is perhaps best known for outfitting police departments around the country with body cameras that have become ubiquitous.

Brown acknowledged that the VR training can be an intense emotional experience, even for hardened veteran cops.

“We put a lot of warnings out that this could trigger folks,” Brown said, before stressing the underlying aim of the training: empathy.

“We're helping [officers] to develop that sense of empathy [for the mentally ill] -- how people with that condition might be experiencing the world.”

She said that in her experience training officers, most are certainly aware of the symptoms of mental illness, but that few if any have ever had the opportunity to literally experience the spectrum of sensations that a person in psychiatric distress is feeling.

“The ‘aha' moment we get is not so much, ‘oh, they hear things' or ‘oh, they see things,' but what the individual feels. If you're going through a psychotic episode, you feel rational.”

Brown said that Axon has trained about 1,000 instructors to date who can implement the VR training to police nationwide.

One Chicago police officer who was particularly anxious to participate in the virtual reality training sessions is Officer John Tolley, whose son is schizophrenic.

“That's one reason I wanted to get in on this … if I can help train officers how to deal with this, because … I have a more intimate view of it,” Tolley told ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez. “My son is now 19, and I have watched him grow with this disease since he first told it to me at 10 years old.” ‘

“And if I can break the stigma on it with some of these officers, you know, and let them understand that it's … it's a disease, you know? You don't do anything yourself to get this. It just comes on you … no one is at fault for it. And if I can help officers understand that and break the stigma, that's why I want to be in here.”


The existing mental health crisis in America dates back to 1955, with the introduction of Thorazine, the first effective anti-psychotic medication, and a simultaneous nationwide push a decade later with the creation of Medicaid and Medicare towards de-institutionalization – a nationwide campaign to move the mentally-ill out of state psychiatric institutions and into community medical centers, or to live independently on their own.

The population of severely mentally ill patients in public psychiatric hospitals plunged from 558,239 in 1955 to 71,619 in 1994, according to “Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis,” by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. A study published in 2010 by the National Sheriffs' Association and the non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center found that there were three times more severely mentally ill people in America's jails and prisons than its hospitals.

“There's a direct connection between decreases in funding for in and outpatient mental health services and an increase in police encounters with mental ill persons,” observed Cohen. “Increasingly, state and local law enforcement agencies have become the response mechanism for communities to deal with individuals involved in mental health crises.”

In a virtual reality simulation, a cop confronts an actor playing a boy with autism in emotional distress and another actor playing the boy's father, who is trying to calm the situation down.

This decades-long de-institutionalization process reached a crisis point on September 24, 1987, when police in Memphis, Tennessee responded to a call about Joseph Dewayne Robinson, a 27-year-old paranoid schizophrenic who reportedly cut and stabbed himself with a butcher knife as many as 120 times. Police responded, confusion ensued, shots were fired and Robinson ended up dead.

That incident led to the creation by the Memphis Police Department of crisis intervention training (CIT) – which spread to thousands of departments around the country and the globe and is now a 40-hour course considered to be the gold standard in U.S. police training to deal with mentally and emotionally-disturbed subjects.

'I am God! I am in outer space!'

The Chicago Police Department knows this tragic scenario all too well. In 2015, Officer Robert Rialmo fatally shot Quintonio LeGrier, 19, after the teenager had called 911 three times asking that an officer be sent to his address.

During the calls, the first of which was made at 4:18 a.m. the day after Christmas and the last of which was placed three minutes later, LeGrier repeatedly said that he needed help and wanted an officer sent to his address. The 911 dispatcher sounded frustrated by Quintonio's refusal to answer her questions, and at one point, she terminated one of the calls.

When asked what was wrong, LeGrier responded: "Someone is ruining my life."

It would emerge later that LeGrier had been the subject of numerous police encounters in the months leading up to his death for exhibiting increasingly erratic behavior. After one incident in which LeGrier allegedly stared down and then chased a female student at Northern Illinois University, he was involuntarily committed to an area hospital for psychiatric evaluation after repeatedly telling cops “I am God! I am in outer space!” according to the Chicago Tribune.

When LeGrier was fatally shot by police, his 55-year-old neighbor, Bettie Jones, was also killed by police bullets -- compounding the tragedy with a collateral killing.

The shooting was ruled unjustified and Johnson, the Chicago Police Superintendent, has said that the right training could have made the difference.

"I think that if a CIT-trained officer had responded and had enough time to observe and communicate with an individual, then there may have been a different outcome," Johnson told ABC News.

Given the dramatic increase in mental health crises nationwide, the kind of deeply-engaging training that Axon's VR simulators offer is vital to American policing, according to Lewinski, who has a PhD in police psychology and is a professor emeritus of law enforcement at Minnesota State University.

“As long as we are sending law enforcement in to be the front line responders to those in perceptual, cognitive, mental or chemically-induced crisis, they really need to know how their actions are being perceived by those subjects,” he told ABC News. “This is an important, almost foundation awareness they need. And the [Axon virtual reality training program] is “a really hot topic, the next step in police training."

"We need to get better in a number of ways to figure out how to develop social and emotional intelligence for those working in the streets with those in crisis. And this is one of the ways of helping police officers get inside the heads of those in crisis," Lewinski continued. "It's the beginning of building social intelligence in U.S. law enforcement.”

Lewinski said that American police officers are all too aware of the gap between traditional police training and some of the clinical skill sets necessary to deal with today's emotionally-disturbed subjects.

“We have just spent a million dollars, three years of research, two full-time PhDs, two full-time Masters-level students and made thousands of videos of police training,” he said of his institute's most recent work.

“And our conclusion is that there is no profession whose training is so important, and so impactful, that spends so little on training,”

“No other profession sends professionals out with so little support and so little training – especially because they can take away people's lives and liberties,” Lewinski concluded.

“And is there a crisis in the policing world over this? Yes.”



Making sense of community policing in Nigeria

by Mohammed Adamu

To the perceptive, one of the puzzling changes to governance in the last 20 years is the progressive weakening of the all-powerful-state and the rise of groups, businesses and personages, who wield more influence and possess more economic resources than so many countries.

For instance, Walmart – the largest retailer in the world generated a revenue of over $510 billion in 2018 which is far more than the amount Nigeria and her 180 million hardworking citizens made that year. It is not shocking when one puts in perspective the fact that Alhaji Aliko Dangote in 2018 earned more money than some states in Nigeria.

Perhaps, it is the understanding of the changing dynamics of governance that is driving nations to outsource roles that were once jewels of state bureaucracies. Developed and developing states now outsource punishment, detention and deployment of violence to private companies; in fact a 2017 UK Guardian newspaper report states that at least half the world's population lives in countries where there are more private security workers than public police officers.

The answer to the question- what is government and who governs- has no simple answers again and this has great implications on security sector reform and governance, especially police and policing in Nigeria.

The information above is critical for proper contextualising of the recent announcement by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the adoption of a community policing system to combat growing security threats across Nigeria. There is nothing novel about the announcement, the concept of community policing is arguably the single most utilised policing tool across the world, but why is Nigeria just adopting the idea? This is a distressful hand-wringing display of impotence by the managers of Nigeria's security architecture in the face of growing insecurity?

A genuine shift in orientation and an indication of Nigeria's deepening of democratic culture?

Is it a new-found willingness by the federal government to share power of control with growingly assertive sub-national units over the police force? Agenda setting by international development partners who have invested millions of dollars in security sector reform in Nigeria? Or perhaps it is just another of Nigeria's penchant for mimicry?

Also, whose and which of the many applications of community policing is Nigeria adopting? Is the government planning to adopt the principles of community policing as the driving philosophy of the many policing actors in Nigeria? As a philosophy, the focus of policing authorities will be on a focused, problem-solving approach to public safety and security. Or does the government want to adopt community policing as the primary strategy for addressing the issue of Nigeria's worrisome security situation? As a strategy, police and communities will have to work together as partners in addressing local law and order issues. Will the government favour the Anglo-Saxon model, the French, the South African transitional justice variant or the Chinese?

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Irrespective of the community policing choice that the Buhari government favours, it is essential to engage with all the representative components of the Nigerian state to decide the exact roles that the various communities in Nigeria want the police to fulfill in order to determine the type and model that will serve the Nigerian people. The police are the singular most important agency of law and order in any democratic government, therefore the responsibility of determining its ideological and functional leaning is beyond what the Inspector General of Police can single-handedly determine.

A community policing policy framework without the input of all the critical stakeholders in Nigeria is sheer waste of time.

Realistically, can any community policing policy work with the current centralized command and control structure in which the Inspector-General of Police, an appointee of the president determines both policy and operational matters? Can a policeman be reasonably tasked with driving community policing initiative in a community in which he neither speaks its language nor understands its basic cultural drivers? Can an inherited policing system that is designed to use – ‘strangers to police strangers' deliver optimally a system based on community cooperation and collaboration? Will the wide cultural, religious and linguistic differences in Nigeria be countenanced in the design of the community policy framework?

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Has the government thought through the strategy for financing the proposed community policing intervention? Looking at dwindling resources and ever-increasing demand, can only the federal government be tasked with bearing the major burden of financing the community policing rollout? Or perhaps, the government expects community policing initiative to magically make the consequences of the continuous political and fiscal decisions to underfund the police?

While the constitution expressly prohibits the establishment of local policing outfits, state government financed, community-based informal policing groups and networks are ubiquitous across Nigeria and are an integral part of the security landscape, providing security services in many of Nigeria's governed and ungoverned spaces. What is the plan of the government about integrating these varied outfits into the proposed community policing framework? Is this perhaps a gradual movement towards state policing (whatever that means) and a tacit acknowledgement of the government's weakened capacity to protect life and property?

One should equally be interested in the government's plan to address the overwhelmingly negative public perception on the performance of the police in Nigeria as a precursor to the rollout of community policing across Nigeria. Can communities and the police genuinely collaborate in an environment blighted by mistrust and fear? Where are the long- and short-term plans to make the Nigeria Police Force an accountable, transparent and responsive service delivery agency?

Community policing or not, if we continue as a nation to expect police officers to personally fuel operational vehicles, pay for uniforms and other operational exigencies, print bail bonds, individually handle work-related trauma and yet bear the burden of providing security-a public good that every Nigerian supposedly enjoys, then the grim consequences is what we will daily continue to see around us.


A life in recovery: From using his police badge to score to helping those in recovery


What ever became of Michael Lowe?

You may not remember the name, but you might remember the disgraced Vergennes police chief who, in June of 2009, passed out behind the wheel of his police cruiser high, then drove into a parked car.

Then came the revelations of drug addiction, embezzlement and prescription drug fraud, ending with a six-month prison sentence. And although Mike's career as a cop was destroyed, his path out of addiction is helping support Vermont's recovery community.

By today's standards, Mike's fall — although sensational because he was a police chief — is nothing rare. His recovery, however, speaks to how an increasing number of Vermonters are managing to survive one of the most difficult and deadly addictions of our time.

Fast forward a decade after Mike's fall, and 8,000 people have sought out recovery treatment at the end of 2018. The last four years saw a 47 percent increase in people being treated for addiction, according to the state's most recent data. Although there is no comprehensive count of how many Vermonters are in recovery, the state estimates that the average person in recovery accesses treatment for about 10 months.

When the trouble started: An Oxycodone prescription after a weightlifting injury

Michael Lowe spent 6 months in jail after his fall to addiction as Vergennes Police Chief. He talked with the Free Press about his recovery.

Michael Lowe always wanted to be a cop. It's the only thing he really ever wanted to do, Mike said. Right after high school in Montpelier, he fulfilled his dream and, in 1981, joined the Longboat Key, Florida Police Department. For the next 14 years, Mike worked his dream job, specifically the community policing aspects, and eventually landed a job with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department.

Mike says he was good cop, and he loved the work. He was married, raising a family, and life was good.

He frequented the gym. Mike's favorite activity was powerlifting. He even competed in a police Olympics at one point, representing the sheriff's department. But it was that same activity that introduced him to opioids.

The trouble started after a weightlifting injury — a blown disk in his neck in 1995. It was a rare injury, possibly genetic, his doctors told him. He was 38 years old. He received medical treatment, surgery, and was prescribed an opioid painkiller, Oxycodone. Although he wasn't hooked right away, Mike said the pain went away and that he liked what the pills did for him emotionally.

At least in the beginning.

"I was considered this straight-laced guy and when things started to crumble in my life, no one believed it was drugs."

After his injury, his neck problems got worse. He had more surgeries, but the neck problems — and the pain — persisted. With each problem came an opportunity for Mike to get more pain medication.

"I really go south, really fast," Mike said, who started using up pain pills faster than he could get prescriptions for them. "I was considered this straight-laced guy and when things started to crumble in my life, no one believed it was drugs."

He started "doctor shopping" — bouncing from office to office to get redundant prescriptions for pain pills from as many doctors as he could, many unaware of the overlapping prescriptions. Awareness of opioid abuse was still relatively low back then, so Mike got what he was looking for most of the time.

Since he was a cop, Mike said there were far fewer questions or scrutiny from doctors.

"And it worked," Mike said.

The descent: New job, same old problems

Mike's addiction took over everything.

He knew he was out of control. He also knew he couldn't handle work as a cop any longer. At one point, Mike recalled telling his supervisor at the sheriff's department that he just couldn't be a cop any more. His colleagues had tried to help and even offered to get him in into a good rehab clinic in Miami.

"Rehab? Rehab is for crazy people," Mike remembered thinking at the time. He had tried rehab a few times, quietly, picking facilities that were far from home or where he worked in an attempt to hide his addiction instead of confronting what he knew was true. And, of course, all the tries failed.

His wife, seeing what was coming, divorced Mike. That didn't stop him either.

By now, he was drinking heavily in addition to the pills. By 1999, Mike said he was trying to replace his dependency on opioids with alcohol. The effects were obvious. At one point during his addiction, he'd dropped so much weight that people thought he was suffering from AIDS.

Mike resigned from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department. His brother drove down from Vermont to bring him home.

He remembers drinking the entire way back, fearing that if he stopped, he'd go into delirium tremens, commonly known as DTs or the "shakes," which can be triggered by alcohol withdrawal and can be fatal.

Once home, Mike's father sent him to Maple Leaf Treatment Center, the now-defunct drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment center in Jericho.

But the relatively short two-week treatment didn't stick. When Mike got out, he was still racked with anxiety and guilt about what had happened in Florida and quickly started drinking again.

Somehow, months later, Mike had finally had enough.

"One day I woke up and said I got to get healthy," he recalled. Mike stopped drinking nearly cold turkey. He started going to the gym again and started to get a handle on things.

No recovery counseling, no groups, no 12 steps. He was going to go it alone.

By the summer of 2000, Mike said he felt good. But despite seemingly getting his life together and putting his addiction behind him, he missed his work in law enforcement.

He managed to land a job working in private security. That's when Mike met Washington Country Sheriff Don Edson and told him his story, much of which Edson already knew.

Seeing what Mike had done to clean up, he said Edson urged him to get re-certified as a police officer in Vermont. Mike did.

While at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford, Mike met then-Vergennes Police Chief Jon Anthony and they became friends. Anthony was also impressed by how Mike had seemingly cleaned himself up and wanted to help.

That landed Mike his first police job in Vermont as a part-time officer with the Vergennes Police Department. In 2002, Anthony retired and the town appointed Mike as their new chief.

He was still sober, feeling good, and everything was working out. But his doctor had warned him. "You have to work recovery," Mike recalled him saying. That's exactly what he wasn't doing. Mike figured that since he'd managed things up to that point, he could handle whatever came next. That he was cured.

He met a woman and married her. He never told her about his past struggles with addiction. And then, Mike said he "flipped her life upside down."

"Of course, she had no clue what I was," he said. "I went right down the tubes."

Mike started having cocktails with her. He figured, what's the harm?

All of his addictive behaviors came rushing back. He started back on Oxycodone or whatever else he could get his hands on.

He had another neck operation, and freely admits that he used the opportunity to its fullest, employing all the old tricks to obtain as much pain medication as he possibly could. He even convinced himself that, because of the surgery, it was OK.

Mike used his badge and his authority to co-opt officers into helping him get what he wanted. When he asked one of his officers for their wife's unused pain pills, he obliged. Mike even had another officer on duty pick up the pills and deliver them to him. He convinced that same officer to let him fill and refill his prescription for a drug to treat ADHD, which Mike then used for himself.

He even took a handgun from the department's evidence lockup and gave it to another officer in exchange for vitamin supplements. Court testimony would reveal that Mike convinced the officer by lying to him, that the attorney general said it was OK to dispose of the gun in that manner. Later in court, prosecutors would question why Mike tried to trade the gun for vitamins, something that wasn't even a controlled substance, that anyone could walk into a store and buy.

One possible answer: By that point, Mike's addiction was so bad that his ability to make basic decisions had fallen apart.

Rock bottom: A Xanax-fueled cruiser crash

"I was at the absolutely lowest," Mike said. He remembers thinking about suicide, about how utterly out of control he felt.

Then, a miracle of sorts happened.

The night before, Mike said he went to bed in his clothes, shoes and all. The day had been a "bipolar" mess of weird behavior. He woke up the next morning, abruptly jumped out of bed and told his wife he was going to get lunch and head to the office to do paperwork.

Instead, he hit a parked car in the middle of of town.

"Things happened real fast after that," Mike said.

It was a slow-speed crash, doing just minor damage. But the fact that Mike was in his cruiser attracted a lot of attention. People in nearby homes came outside to see what all the commotion was about. Mike's own officers responded and quickly realized that something about their chief wasn't right.

"I flipped everyone's world upside down," Michael Lowe says, referring to his time as Vergennes Police Chief. After years of struggling with opioid addiction that spiraled into the abuse of other drugs, Lowe hit rock bottom and served prison time, destroying his career in law enforcement.

Per standard police procedure, the Vermont State Police were called to the scene, rather than having the Vergennes Police Department investigate one of their own. Mike's blood was drawn. According to toxicology evidence presented in court later, Mike had Xanax, painkillers and sleeping pills in his system.

Mike remembers that he wasn't nervous at all after the crash. In hindsight, he knows that's because he wasn't remotely sober at the time. He had so much Xanax in his system that day that he said he was surprised he could walk.

"They just kind of let me bounce around," Mike remembers as he tried to act the chief in charge of his own crash scene.

That "miracle" was twofold. One, Mike hadn't hurt anyone and, two, the crash forced everything out into the open.

“It was a god send," Mike said. "It saved me.”

Unknown to Mike, a lot of people close to him had known for a while what was going on, and they were ready. Shortly after the crash, Mike was shocked to learn that a rehab facility was ready and waiting for him out of state. Now everything was out in the open.

There were court proceedings, stories in the media. There was no more hiding.

Forcibly sober now, Mike was terrified.

Fighting back: 'I basically took responsibility for everything'

A lot of things changed for Michael Lowe after that.

Instead of the two weeks at Maple Leaf, Mike spent two months in rehab. For the first time in his life, he started to "do the work."

Then Mike went to jail.

At his sentencing in 2010, Mike said that the judge described his apology as the most sincere he'd ever heard while on the bench.

"I basically took responsibility for everything," Mike said, one the fundamental principles of recovering from addiction.

Despite Mike owning up to what he had done, the judge said an example had to be made. He ordered Michael Lowe to serve six months in prison, suspending the rest of his 1 1/2-to-3 year sentence.

Mike's biggest regret is what he did to the officers at the Vergennes Police Department who worked for him, and what he did to the community.

Although many still came to his rescue after the crash, trying to help and support him, Mike hasn't set foot back in Vergennes since. And he has no intentions of ever doing so.

The idea scares him.

Recovery: Finding a new way to serve

As part of his sentence, Mike was required to perform 120 hours of community service. Instead, he said he put in about 2,000 hours in the first year alone and now volunteers for a restorative justice program despite not being required to.

After prison, Mike got a job working in addiction recovery. He was also diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and started to receive treatment along with coaching to help manage his recovery as well as his newly identified mental health challenges. He returned to the gym, but sought out a trainer who would help him avoid any more issues with his neck.

He has worked out nearly every day since.

Michael Lowe processes intake paperwork with Assistant Manager Chelsea Lamore for a new client at the Oasis House in Hyde Park, a Lamoille County Mental Health Facility that opened in 2013. Lowe is the only staffer still there who started when the in-patient mental health facility opened.

Recently, Mike got divorced again. For now, he is living with his sister and her family outside of Montpelier near where he grew up. Rather than trying to put the pieces of his most recent life back together, Mike said he will just let that go.

As for his career, Mike will never be a cop again. His actions in Vergennes made sure of that. At age 60 and suffering from nerve damage as a result of that old neck injury, Mike has let that go too.

But he did find a way, again, to protect and serve.

The Oasis House, a psychiatric crisis program run by Lamoille County Mental Health Services, opened in 2013. Mike started the day it opened and still works there as a crisis clinician helping people with some of the same mental-health challenges that he experienced, that he says helped fuel his addiction in the first place.

He is the only person who has remained from the original staff. Before that, he worked in the agency's Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, a short-term detox for people in substance abuse crisis.

"I kind of pinch myself sometimes, that I get paid to do what I do now," Mike said

What started with a desire to help people has come full circle.

"I thought I'd be dead," Mike said. "I've got my life back."



Black people are still suffering from police violence. Is America still listening?

Five years after the rise of Black Lives Matter, activists are still protesting. But national attention to police misconduct has waned.

by P.R. Lockhart

It's been nearly five years since several high-profile incidents of police violence spurred racial justice protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and chants of “black lives matter!” began to echo across the country.

The deaths of several black men and women, including Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, drew national attention to issues of race and policing and spurred on demands for police reform.

But recent developments in two high-profile cases raise questions about whether police violence is still a flashpoint issue — or if national attention to the problem has faded.

In early May, a previously unreleased video recorded by Sandra Bland, the black woman whose 2015 death in a Texas jail cell sparked protests, emerged. The video showed Bland's perspective of the traffic stop that led to her arrest, and it contradicted police claims that she posed a threat to the officer who pulled her over. Bland's family and others have since demanded that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death be reopened.

About a week later, the disciplinary hearing for Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer accused of recklessly using a department-prohibited chokehold on Eric Garner, kicked off in New York City. Garner, an unarmed black man, died in 2014 shortly after being restrained by Pantaleo, and officers failed to immediately render first aid. Video of his arrest, and his gasps of “I can't breathe,” became a rallying cry for activists.

Pantaleo, who is still employed by the NYPD, was not indicted by a grand jury in 2014, but he's now facing a department trial that could result in him losing his job as an officer. Several new details about the case have been revealed to the public, including the fact that a police lieutenant texted a different NYPD officer that Garner's death was “not a big deal,” and that another officer inflated charges against Garner when filling out an arrest form after the man died.

The new revelations in both the Bland and Garner cases are striking — yet they arrive at a time where national anger over police violence doesn't seem to be as strong as it was when their deaths occurred.

More recent police shootings and incidents of police brutality still draw local attention and activist outrage, but they often fail to attract the same level of public attention they did from 2014 to 2016. At the federal level, the Trump administration has halted efforts to enact police accountability measures. And years into racial justice activists' fight for structural reform, many of the systems that shield officers from accountability remain in place. In short, it appears that public interest in these problems is waning, along with the momentum to push for police reform — even as the need for these changes remain.

Black and brown Americans still suffer from police violence

The Washington Post has been tracking fatal police encounters since 2015, and for the past four years, the database has found that roughly 1,000 people have died in police shootings each year. So far, 363 people have been killed by police in 2019 alone, according to the Post database.

Even now, these shootings continue to disproportionately affect black Americans. A 2018 article in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that while roughly half of police shooting victims are white, young black Americans and Native Americans are disproportionately likely to be killed in a police shooting.

And as Vox's Dara Lind and German Lopez have previously reported, significant racial disparities have also been seen in federal data and other media-compiled databases of shootings, like the Guardian's Counted project, which ran from 2015 to 2016.

Black people are also more likely than whites to be exposed to arrests and traffic stops that could potentially escalate into violent encounters.

But recent police violence incidents and shootings haven't dominated headlines or spurred calls for federal investigations and demands for national police reform efforts in the same way they did three or four years ago. And while some stories that center on the deaths of unarmed black men — such as the fatal 2018 shooting of 22-year old Stephon Clark in his family's Sacramento, California, backyard — continue to go viral, they tend to fade from public view more quickly, even as activists on the ground continue their protests.

“Police violence — beatings, Taserings, killings — and criminal justice reform more broadly were arguably the leading domestic news storyline during the final two years of the Obama administration,” Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery wrote last year. In 2018, he added, “the issue has all but vanished from the national political conversation.”

That trend has been noticed by other writers, like the Week's Bonnie Kristian, who recently wrote that part of the problem may be that public opinion of police has improved among some groups:

Indignation about police misconduct and calls for reform were fading among the white majority by early 2016, as I wrote here at The Week at the time. Polling in late 2015 showed white Americans found police more trustworthy after 18 months of notorious police custody deaths and resultant protests. Already it was becoming evident that cases which once would (and should) have provoked national controversy were increasingly met with desensitization and indifference outside of local protests.

In 2017, a Gallup poll showed that public confidence in police was back to its historical average, with 57 percent of those polled saying they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in police compared to 52 percent in 2015. This was largely driven by shifts among white Americans, with more people expressing confidence in police in the 2015-17 period than from 2012 to 2014 (61 percent to 58 percent). During that same time confidence in police fell among black Americans, going from 35 precent in 2012-14 to 30 percent in 2015-17.

Black Americans are also significantly less likely to view police “warmly” when compared to white Americans.

There could be several reasons for the change in the national discussion of policing, but one factor stands out in particular: the election of President Donald Trump. Trump's election and presidency has consumed a significant amount of media attention and public discussion, leaving little space for discussions of policy issues like police reform.

The Trump administration has also effectively halted federal momentum on policing reform. Under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration announced it would review old police reform agreements between the federal government and police departments and also stop entering into new ones.

In cities like Baltimore and Chicago, the Justice Department went so far as to attempt to intervene in ongoing reform efforts, arguing that reform agreements would hamper effectiveness and morale of police officers.

Lack of police accountability is still very much a problem

In recent years, several of the most high-profile cases of police violence have ended with officers not facing charges or not being convicted. This is largely due to longstanding legal standards giving officers wide latitude to use force.

It is possible the continued dismissal of police misconduct cases by police departments or the legal system — especially in incidents caught on video — has created a sense of futility, or discouragement, among some people who were first exposed to police violence incidents back in 2014.

While some officers involved in police violence are never indicted, in other cases, like the case of Michael Rosfeld, a former East Pittsburgh officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose in 2018, officers faced trial but were not convicted. Convictions remain very rare in police shooting cases, and officers who are given prison time for their involvement in shootings is rarer still.

In fact, the only acknowledgement of wrongdoing often comes in the form of settlements given to the families of police-shooting victims. But these settlements, which usually arrive after lawsuits (and in some cases aren't given), are far from the systemic reform that activists and families of victims have demanded.

And because these protections largely hinge on if an officer had a “reasonable” belief that he or others were in danger rather than if a threat was actually expressed, the result is that some police misconduct or excessive force is shielded from prosecution. Efforts to change that standard have emerged in states like California, but no laws have yet to be passed.

There are other longstanding practices within police departments that make accountability for police misconduct, abuse, and fatal shootings a challenge. A 2016 New York Times report and 2017 Washington Post investigation found that officers who were fired from departments for misconduct or criminal behavior often go on to be hired by other departments or are rehired by the same agency that dismissed them. And tracking officer misconduct, or viewing body camera footage of a police shooting, remains difficult for the public.

Public attention has waned, but activists continue to push for reform

Though police violence and lack of accountability remains a very real problem, Americans in general simply seem less interested in hearing about it — which makes it more difficult for activists and politicians to push through tangible reforms.

However, that doesn't mean people have given up. Instead, groups seem to be putting more of an emphasis on pushing for structural change from within.

The police reform-oriented Campaign Zero and the Movement for Black Lives have outlined detailed policy plans aimed at policing, but they have also demanded changes to education systems and the economy and joined a larger set of groups making up the anti-Trump “resistance.”

Other groups are seeking to boost black political engagement in the upcoming election and things like the 2020 census in an effort to force politicians to address black voters' concerns about racism and police accountability.

Activists say their fight for justice is as urgent now as it was five years ago, and that while systemic policy change may still be a work in progress, their movement has had an impact. “Since we started using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, since the jump start of this current iteration of the Black Liberation movement, I know the world has transformed,” Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, wrote in a 2018 HuffPost op-ed. “I know the world is changing."



Liberia: Police Demand Stronger Drugs Law

by Winston W. Parley

The Liberia National Police (LNP) is urging lawmakers to legislate non-bailable and stronger laws against drugs trafficking and abuse here, warning of a risk of growing drugs addiction and criminality if government fails to take charge now.

Outgoing Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Col. Robert Budy told a community policing forum Thursday, 23 May in Clara Town that drugs traffickers are using Liberia "as a transit point" for their drug trade due to the country's weak laws on drugs offenses.

"So Liberia is being used as a transit point; and when it gets here, our citizens use it and they get affected and at the end of the day they're on the street begging for something to eat. They ... [are] in the cemetery," he says.In some countries around the world Col. Budy observes that drug traffickers are executed "because drugs kill people."

But in Liberia, he also observes that if a drugs trafficker is caught with container of drugs, the trafficker is by law entitled to bond to secure his or her release.

Col. Budy who is nominated to head the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), warns further that in the next five to ten years "some of us might not be able to walk on Broad Street if the Government of Liberia does not take charge right now."

He indicates that there might be more zogoes in the years to come if "we are not careful."

Zogoe is an unofficial nomenclature identifying disadvantaged youths here or wayward folks in the Liberian society.

Hundreds of young Liberians in this category take in drugs, steal from people and sleep in the streets and in cemeteries as well.

Col. Budy explains that a lot of these drugs - affected victims come from good families, but they don't think like the rest of the people here "because they have been addicted or used to using drugs" so "their brains have been affected."

According to him, these guys sleep with the dead in the cemetery, but they don't realize that.

Additionally Col. Budy told students, young people, community leaders and motorcycle union task force partners to continue to work with the police in fighting against rape, sexual based violence and other crimes.

He warns students and young people against rape, noting that it is a non-bailable crime of statutory rape to be in a love affair with a person who is 17 years old or younger.

He also alarms against too much violence in Liberia, referencing instances of motorcyclists setting vehicles ablaze when there is an accident involving a car and a motorcycle instead of seeking proper redress.

According to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Varney A. Sheriff, the community policing program is being supported by the Sweden counterparts based on request from the LNP to help enhance the institution's work.

In response to the police's request, ACP Sheriff says Sweden is helping financially and also enhancing the LNP's works in handling rape matters; general crimes investigation; forensic area; sexual gender - based violence; role of the police and prosecutors in processing cases for prosecution and public awareness.

The police authorities commanding Zone 10 have lauded a cordial relationship with other national security agencies including the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA).

Students, community leaders and the police's partners including the task force from the motorcycle union and community watch forum leaders have applauded the partnership with the p, urging that it continues.



Baton Rouge 'ahead of the curve' in use of software to predict where crimes most likely to occur


With crime risk analysis data on the computer monitors, left, Brandon Jumonville, a GIS analyst for the city, talked about his findings in Baton Rouge, La.

Jumonville, is presenting at an upcoming conference in Spain on "crime risk analysis," which is using geographical data (like blighted properties, convenience stores, past crime scene locations) to predict where crimes are most likely to occur and distribute BRPD officers accordingly. Apparently Baton Rouge is ahead of the curve on this trend, which experts say helps improve community relations by focusing on where crimes occur, instead of who's committing them. Also increases department efficiency, which of course is a big deal now given serious manpower issues and ongoing efficiency study. Conference is June 6 and 7.

Local officials and law enforcement leaders are embracing emerging technology that allows them to map where crimes are most likely to occur within Baton Rouge neighborhoods based on geographical factors like dollar stores, apartment complexes and blighted properties.

The software identifies high-risk locations where law enforcement patrols are most needed, which means the Baton Rouge Police Department can deploy their officers more effectively in hopes of preventing crime before it occurs.

That proactive model becomes especially important in light of the department's long-standing manpower

Consultants who are completing an efficiency study of the agency — part of Paul's push to "do more with less" — recently complimented the department's approach to technology, which they said is ahead of the curve.

Efficiency of Baton Rouge Police Department studied amid discussions of police pay

The city also received a national award last year for its use of the software, which is called Public Safety Common Operational Platform or PSCOP, pronounced "peace cop."

The city's efforts are getting noticed.

Senior Geographic Information System Analyst Brandon Jumonville will travel to Spain in a few weeks to present at a conference specifically focused on the use of "risk terrain modeling" to analyze the likelihood of crime. The conference includes speakers from around the world, including a few other U.S. cities.

Jumonville has worked extensively with the PSCOP platform since joining the city's GIS department in 2016 — just months after his cousin, Matthew Gerald, became one of three officers killed during an ambush on law enforcement in July 2016 that rocked Baton Rouge during an already tumultuous summer.

"This is kind of a tribute to Matt's life for me," Jumonville said. "He needlessly died serving his community, and this gives me the opportunity to play at least a small role in keeping our officers and citizens safe."

Jumonville approached the job with skills he acquired doing geospatial analysis during his six years in the U.S. Marines. He works alongside other analysts within the GIS department, which handles a range of data sets including addresses, infrastructure and the 311 system for citizen complaints. The police department also has their own analysts who process crime data.

"The PSCOP system is basically taking counterinsurgency military tactics and adapting them to an urban terrain," he said. "It's looking at how criminals are interacting with their landscape — what makes a potential criminal feel safe enough in their environment to commit that crime?"

Part of the goal is getting officers to use the software and patrol accordingly, he said. That's happening more and more all the time.

Jumonville has distributed a survey among uniform patrol officers, asking them to rank various geographical features according to how often crimes seem to occur near those places, such as bars, convenience stores and check-cashing businesses.

He's collected the results and used them in developing new models, which also take into account past calls for service and crimes occurring at specific locations.

The next step is circulating another study among the general public, which asks similar questions about where people feel unsafe. Once enough people have responded, those results will also be integrated into the risk terrain modeling system.

"From an analytical viewpoint, this is a completely unbiased, data-driven approach to crime," Jumonville said. "It's not focusing on demographics or individuals, it's looking at the environment where crimes occur. … This marks a paradigm shift. We're asking officers to view crime differently."

The PSCOP platform will also be integrated into the department's Real Time Crime Center, which is set to open in coming months and will boost data analysis and information gathering for officers.

A recent study conducted by researchers from LSU and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office used the same technology to show that the concentration of blighted properties and the presence of convenience stores could be used to predict where Baton Rouge homicides are most likely to occur. The risk of homicide becomes about 13 times higher within a few blocks of blighted properties, according to the results.

Researchers: Battling blight in Baton Rouge can play a key role in fighting crime

Research has long shown that crime is not distributed evenly across communities. It's highly concentrated in certain neighborhoods — or blocks or street corners — and almost nonexistent in others.

Experts argue that focusing on where crimes are happening in addition to who's committing them can improve efficiency and boost community relations. That shifting focus has taken hold in recent decades among law enforcement agencies nationwide.

"Are you trying to apprehend someone who's committed a crime or are you trying to prevent crime before it happens? If you're trying to prevent crime, it's much more effective and cheaper and easier to focus on places than people," said Jim Bueermann, a policing consultant and former president of the nonprofit National Police Foundation. "Controlling crime is not always about putting more cops on the problem.



Communities fight back against the drugs trade

by Cormac O'Keeffe

The assistant garda commissioner has pleaded with youths not to get involved in the drugs trade at any level. We must provide initiatives to help, writes Cormac O'Keeffe.

Gary Lawlor and Karl Ducque spent six months “building trust” with a group of eight youths engaged in public drug dealing, drug use, and antisocial behaviour. Their initiative, Targeted Response to Youth (Try), is a pilot project running in St Teresa's Gardens, a flat complex in Dublin's south inner city.

Mr Lawlor said people in the complex, which is going through a long-promised and long-delayed process of regeneration, have suffered high levels of intimidation. Locals are literally “afraid to come out of their homes”, he said.

Try identified a gang of eight youths and worked their way from the fringes into the core members and got to know them. He said interventions that are desperately needed to target young men and gangland area are “not about slides” and brochures but about working with young people who see “drug-dealing as the only way”.

Mr Lawlor said that, after gaining the trust of the youths, they then began the long process of challenging their behaviour. He said a lot of their work with the young men is often “basic”, such as arranging appointments with doctors or the courts, with many of the youths having multiple bench warrants.

“They're not used to people working with them and showing compassion,” he said.

A lot of it is basic hand-holding. We are telling them: ‘It doesn't have to be this way.'

Speaking at a recent conference, covered by the Irish Examiner, he said that, of the eight men, three to four of them are now in drug treatment, two are in counselling, one is in part-time work, and another is in full-time work.

Mr Lawlor said he loves his work and that these youths need intervention, which has to be backed by the State. He pointed out that their project, funded by Dublin City Council, is due to run out shortly.

His work ties in exactly with the plea made yesterday by Dublin's top police officer, who was speaking to the media following the shooting dead of Sean Little and Jordan Davis, both aged 22, within less than 24 hours of each other in north Dublin. Davis was shot dead in front of his partner as they pushed their baby son in a buggy.

Both were involved in the drugs trade, but assistant garda commissioner Pat Leahy said there is nothing at the moment to suggest their murders were linked. Last January, another drug-dealing associate of theirs, Zach Parker, aged 23, was shot dead in Swords, north Dublin.

Mr Leahy said: “We are appealing to the young people out there at the moment, not only in Dublin but across the country, please do not get involved at any level with the drugs trade.

“We consistently hear comments — ‘he's only doing a little bit of low-level dealing'; ‘he's only taking a little bit of gear here and there'.

What we are saying to the public and to parents and to young men and women is please, please do not get involved at any level.

“Low-level dealing now is enough to have your life taken at a young age and we've seen it time and time again across the city over the last number of weeks and the last number of years.”

The conference that Mr Lawlor spoke at saw the launch of research carried out by Matt Bowden of Technological University Dublin.

That study on working with young people involved in the drugs trade found that drugs have become “normalised” in certain communities and that people's involvement in the trade is often an alternative to the labour market.

Many regard it as a “job” — a way to afford prized consumer goods such as top-of-the-range runners and clothes such as Moncler and Canada Goose jackets.

“Drug selling and the associated activity of ‘muling' and ‘holding stuff' generates income to satisfy access to consumer goods desired by young people,” said Dr Bowden.

Initiation into selling or holding drugs can be also subtle and relationships are built over time and can be linked with a “cycle of debt” that a user might generate, according to Dr Bowden's study.

What he found is that low-level street selling is often driven by “networks of friends selling to friends” — that credit sucks people in and then traps them.

A key effect of this credit/debts structure is the “violence it generates”— violence that permeates all aspects of the trade and is “indiscriminate and insatiable”, he said.

Friends at the scene where Jordan Davis was shot dead beside Our Lady Immaculate Junior School, Darndale, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The study, commissioned by the Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, said that intimidation by gangs means that people feel “helpless and abandoned” and entire local communities are kept “insecure, fearful, and subordinate”.

Examples of this have been seen most graphically in Drogheda, Co Louth, and Mulhuddart, west Dublin, where local feuding gangs are engaged in a spiral of reckless violence.

Another local project, targeting drug dealing and anti-social behaviour, was detailed at the conference. The Easy Street project operates in Ballymun, north Dublin, and has worked with 100 people aged 10-24 over the last 10 years.

Project manager Angela Birch said that key to their work is building up “meaningful relationships” with young people. She said they have used the interest of the young people in “health and fitness” and set up running clubs, taking part in ‘Hell and Back' events and bike clubs.

She said the gain for the local community is that the young people are being worked with, through their outreach presence, and see benefits such as local clean-up operations and gardening projects.

Dr Bowden said 10 years of austerity in communities, which slashed local state and voluntary services, has “not been replenished”.

He called on the State to “fully resource” these services and come up and fund interventions to help those entangled in dealing and drug-related debt to exit that world.

Anna Quigley, co-ordinator of Citywide, said that people in positions of power live in a “different planet” and said that the fact the Try project is due to run out of funding in the coming months is “insanity” given the benefits it is having.

There has been other research documenting the insidious impact of the drugs trade on young people and local communities and the need for interventions. These include the Greentown Project, attached to University of Limerick, and numerous research by criminologist Johnny Connolly, including one on illicit drug markets.

On the policing side, there have been undoubted successes at the high end, by the likes of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the Criminal Assets Bureau, and detectives investigating Kinahan-Hutch feud murders.

Since 2019, the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau alone has carried out 59 threat-to-life operations involving murder teams en route. High-visibility patrols and checkpoints, involving armed units, have been put in place, though overtime cutbacks have hit operations.

Mr Leahy cited the success of the bureau and local detectives in securing convictions of “serious criminals” for murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to murder linked to the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

But in terms of preventing young men getting into the trade, what community groups and local politicians have been banging on about for years — as reported on consistently in the Irish Examiner — is greater policing presence locally.

Austerity not only slashed youth services and voluntary services but also drained communities of community policing and regular police patrols. Figures published last year showed community policing numbers were cut by almost 40% over a seven-year period across the country, with parts of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, and Limerick worst hit.

These numbers are only beginning to recover. Mr Leahy pointed to what he said is a very active community policing unit in Darndale.

We need to build bridges with gardaí.

Mr Leahy, who has 37 years of experience, drove a community policing model in the north inner city, which suffered the sharp edge of the Kinahan cartel murderous campaign in 2016. He said there is a renewed focus on community policing and that a new model, currently piloted in four areas, will be expanded by year's end.

Since he was appointed last September, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has emphasised again and again the importance of community policing. It's an area that the Future of Policing in Ireland Commission, published shortly after his appointment, puts at the heart of its policing blueprint. Another recent issue provides just an example of the reality on the ground in many areas.

Garda sources and local politicians have highlighted that in Ballyfermot, west Dublin, there are sometimes either no patrol cars available to respond to calls or there is only a shared one between Rathcoole and Clondalkin.

Commenting on a story published this week in the Irish Examiner, about large gangs of teenagers, armed with blades, hammers, bats, and even saws, going to arranged fights, Ballyfermot-Drimnagh Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said that “Garda morale, numbers, and resources are at a low”.

Even amid the problems, he said local community projects are trying to step into the breach, such as FamiliBase in Ballyfermot. He said they have gone out to a local park and set up a “pop-up” outreach service and engaged with up to 50 youths. The following week they brought them into the service and provided them with food and games to play, where they now go every Saturday night.

“The behaviour is the problem, not the kids themselves,” said Mr Doolan. “We need to build bridges with gardaí.”

It's clear that the drugs trade and gangs are entrapping young people and silencing entire communities. There needs to be a massive State investment in, and focus on, building up and empowering local communities and resourcing local youth, social and policing services.

As Mr Lawlor said: “I wish people sitting in powerful offices could come out to communities and resource them and give people living in these communities a chance.



Central Africa East AfricaLegal Affairs Rwanda

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza has hailed young people's critical contribution to maintaining national security, saying that the youth have a duty to do everything possible to prevent any drawbacks.

Munyuza made the remarks on Tuesday while addressing representatives of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) and District Community Liaison Officers drawn from all districts across the country.

The meeting held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters, aimed at further streamlining human security activities by the youth volunteers.

He commended their unique community mobilization and human security activities in fighting and preventing crimes, and other human security activities dedicated to uplifting the social wellbeing of Rwandans.

He noted that RNP's community policing concept is a deliberate move for every Rwandan to be in the same line of ensuring safety and security, and recognised that the citizenry are the prime movers of this important undertaking.

"Everyone has a stake in ensuring that security in our country is improved and maintained... it is a collective responsibility. I commend your commitment to playing that vital role; we need that involvement more than ever; we must do better," the police boss said.

He explained that citizens of any country are the primary defenders and protectors and that the "common denominator with successful nations is the citizens' patriotic spirit in security and development matters."

He also urged the youngsters to maintain the spirit in their voluntary service.

IGP Munyuza outlined illicit drugs, corruption and human trafficking as some of the high impact crimes that the youth should give much emphasis in fighting.

He stated that the country cannot compromise the security and stability people in Rwanda enjoys today.

The World Economic Forum's 2017/2018 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranked Rwanda as number one African country where citizens trust and rely on Police services to enforce law and order, and 13th globally.

Abdallah Murenzi, coordinator for Youth Volunteers in Community Policing, said that they are dedicated to supplementing the national security and development programme, as a duty to their country.

There are more than 260, 000 members of the youth group across the country.

Their activities range from raising awareness against crimes such as narcotic drugs, human trafficking, corruption and gender based violence; building and renovating houses for the vulnerable people, constructing roads, sensitizing community on proper feeding in an effort to fight malnutrition in children, tree planting exercise, among many others.



New York

Viewpoint: Renew focus on community policing

by Alice Green

The shooting and paralyzing of 19-year-old Ellazar Williams by a police officer last August and the recent recorded acts of police brutality on First Street have strained the relationship between the community and the Albany Police Department. As a consequence, we're in danger of losing 10 years of positive strides made through the city's community policing initiative.

It's time to take serious steps to repair any damage to the public partnership with law enforcement and restore strong community policing to the streets of Albany.

The leadership to bring this about must come from the department and responsible community leaders.

For more than a decade, the relationship between the police and the community underwent an encouraging shift.

Programs and initiatives such as the Albany Community Police Advisory Committee, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, and the joint Legal Rights Education project for youth were carried out under the adoption of a community policing philosophy that fostered a partnership between the public, the police and human services organizations. In turn, this brought about productive engagement between the police and the people who live in Albany's neighborhoods.

Many Albany residents now believe this promising relationship may have been damaged by Williams' shooting and the violent response by police to an incident last month on First Street.

These events stand as a reminder of what can happen when the tenets of community policing are used inconsistently or abandoned. At times, the outcome can be tragic.

Fortunately, it is not too late to reaffirm and strengthen the city's commitment to community policing. Community members and Police Chief Eric Hawkins have already acknowledged the need to talk and explore possible solutions.

It will take a collaborative effort to rebuild public trust. Moving forward, our decisions must be well planned, thoughtful and based on sound leadership.

Let's continue to build on the accomplishments of the past decade to bring robust community policing back to our neighborhoods.


New Jersey

Atlantic City launches community policing program

by Michael Hill

Albert Herbert and Jerard Ingenito are two of Atlantic City's seasoned police officers who will spend most of their on-duty time in community policing.

“We need officers on the street, talking to residents, and getting to know them so that they know us and that we know them,” said Ingenito.

There are two officers for each of Atlantic City's six wards, including the tourism district and four for homeless outreach. It's Atlantic City's Neighborhood Coordination Officer program. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is paying $7.5 million over 5 years for new patrol officers to replace those assigned to the program. It's part of the ongoing collaboration with the local citizens advisory board and the State Department of Community Affairs.

“People feel better when there's an officer on the beat. People feel better when officers and community members are solving problems together, and that's what the NCO program will do,” said Jim Johnson, special counsel to the Governor's Office on Atlantic City.

Atlantic City police say overall crime is a third of what it was in 2013. From 2017 to last year, violent crime fell by nearly 30% and nonviolent crime dropped by nearly 32%. Police Chief Henry White says the city's looking to build on that progress.

The officers will focus on quality of life issues and crime trends in the city's six wards. They will have department-issued cellphones and email addresses so folks living and working in those wards can contact them for nonemergency issues so the officers can take action.

The new program got a big embrace from Atlantic City native Latoya Dunston, who lives in the city's 2nd Ward.

“Hopefully it'll achieve a better relationship with the police department,” she said.

Others recall when the city had community policing years ago.

“After a couple months they started to feel good that you were there and they would reach out to you,” said Detective Joseph Corson.

Herbert and Ingenito live in their assigned 6th Ward, which is home to Stockton University's new campus, revitalization and a community policing welcome from diners at a local restaurant.

“Any kind of extra safety is positive, is going in the right direction. Keeping any neighborhood safe is what we all want and need,” said Atlantic City resident Pat McCormick.

Atlantic City stakeholders say community policing worked two decades ago, so they know this reincarnation is no gamble.



Minnesota Teen Hosting Community Policing Discussion

People are invited to talk with officers about their concerns and learn what it's like to have a job in law enforcement.


BURNSVILLE, Minn. — The relationship between police officers and the communities they serve is broken in a lot of places. A Burnsville High School student is trying to bridge that gap by hosting a discussion Wednesday night.

Trevor Dostal has known for a while that he wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.

"I've always kind of wanted to help people. I've always had that mindset of other people first."

As part of a class project, Dostal started the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages "Positive Police Action."

The pages highlight the good that's happening in law enforcement.

"Police officers do good on a daily basis. There's bad that happens, it's unfortunate. The bad police officers and the good police officers that make bad mistakes are the ones that make the media, and they're the ones that we hear about. The majority of the 800,000 officers across the country and 11,000 in Minnesota go out there every single day. All they want to do is help people and protect people," said Dostal.

Wednesday night, Dostal is hosting a community discussion from 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Burnsville High School.

He said that officers from Burnsville, Eagan, Savage and Dakota County will be there.

People are invited to talk with officers about their concerns and learn what it's like to have a job in law enforcement.

Dostal asks people attending to come with an open mind.

"When people have the opportunity to sit with police officers one-on-one in a situation where they're not on a traffic stop or they're not being stopped, then I think it opens up a new pathway to ask these questions and address these concerns. And hopefully understand what police officers do on a daily basis. Not only that, but their mindset and what they go through," said Dostal.


New Orleans

Seventh District Commander aims to combat juvenile crime with community policing

NOPD addresses juvenile crime

by Katherine Mozzone

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Residents in New Orleans East say they want to do their part to tackle juvenile crime in the city.

The Seventh District Commander says it's an issue plaguing the entire city. Residents wake up to their car windows smashed and their belongings stolen.

Commander Lawrence Dupree says juvenile crime is an epidemic.

“I think we got the message loud and clear. The whole city got the message loud and clear, that it has to stop. It has to stop,” emphasized Commander Dupree. “We can't arrest our way out of a crime problem.” Dupree said, in a regular anti-crime meeting Wednesday night.

His district is taking a community policing approach. Officers will be more visible, patrolling neighborhoods on foot, on bikes and on horseback. When summertime rolls around, Commander Dupree says he'll have designated curfew cars to crack down on kids who aren't home on time. Plus, he says he's increasing traffic patrols as a deterrent.

“The kids are stealing cars and are traveling by stolen car so we're out conducting traffic enforcement and not for the sole purpose of issuing citations but as a deterrent,” said Commander Dupree.

Residents in the area say they're optimistic but more must be done. They say they're willing to work with officers to tackle juvenile crime and keep their community safe.

“What can we do? How can we help the police or what can the police do to help us?” Said New Orleans East Resident Gloria Lear. “You're afraid to come home at night because you just don't know what's going on in the street.”

New Orleans East native Demi St. Charles says she believes more must be done.

“New Orleans East has never been like this,” said St. Charles.

Commander Dupree says he's open to ideas from residents. Some volunteered to walk with officers as they patrolled neighborhoods on foot.



Neighbors app puts community policing into hands of Naperville residents by sharing video from Ring devices

by Suzanne Baker

Posting home security video on social media platforms has become the Neighborhood Watch of the 2000s, and the Naperville Police Department is partnering with one of those platforms to help solve crimes and alert residents.

Neighbors by Ring is a free app available on Apple or Android devices that allows people to post and watch home security videos of suspicious people or incidents in and near their neighborhoods.

Deputy Chief Jason Arres said in Naperville, the app is the chance for residents to help keep city neighborhoods among the safest in the country and provide police with valuable information to help catch crooks.

The app not only allows users to watch and share videos so everyone can see what's happening nearby, it lets the police issue real-time crime and safety alerts, Arres said.

People don't need a Ring security camera or any other video doorbell device to download the Neighbors by Ring app.

Arres said residents can use what they see on the app to identify possible suspects or vehicles and that, in turn, can provide vital information for investigators trying to make arrests.

That said, the deputy chief stressed the app should never replace alerting police of a crime.

“What we know is that crimes are committed and they are not reported,” Arres said. “Sometimes people don't think it's a big enough deal.”

Such was the case recently when a Naperville resident posted a video on the app of a thief stealing a package off the porch.

When Arres reached out to the resident, he learned no police report was filed because all that was taken was pet food.

While the incident seemed trivial to the resident, Arres said that's not always the case.

“For us it's important because this could be the start of a pattern,” he said.

Arres sees the app as supplementing traditional door-to-door canvassing by police.

In the case of home burglaries, for example, Arres said thieves tend to park their car blocks away, not in front of the house. A canvass of nearby homes sometimes won't net any residents who might have seen a strange car parked on the block, he said.

“We could knock on 50 doors, but what if it was the 51st door that could provide information,” he said. “The app can be the 51st to 100th door.”

Arres said videos on social media are tools and cannot replace face-to-face contact with police officers. “It's just a new form of community policing,” he said.

And because the Neighbors app is not monitored 24/7 by police staff, residents need call 911 in an emergency, he said.

Neighbors does not reveal how many Naperville customers are signed up on the app, but when the police department joined the network, they were told more than 5,500 already were using it here, Arres said.

“This partnership offers another unique opportunity that we believe will benefit our community and enhance the strong collaboration we enjoy with Naperville's residents,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said in a release.

“We're eager to join the crime and safety conversations that are already taking place through the app as well as expand our investigative reach by encouraging residents to share photos, videos and information to help us reduce and solve crime in their neighborhoods.”

Jamie Siminoff, chief inventor and founder of the home security company Ring, said in the release the company is excited to have the Naperville Police Department join Neighbors and keep the community up-to-date on local crime and safety information.

“Over the past few years we have learned that when neighbors, the Ring team and law enforcement all work together, we can create safer communities,” Siminoff said. “Neighbors is meant to facilitate communication between these groups, while maintaining neighbor privacy first and foremost.”

Ring donates free security devices to the city based on the number of people in the community who are enrolled in Neighbors. Those Ring doorbell cameras are given to crime victims who've lost their sense of security or to people who can't afford them, Arres said.

To download the Neighbors app on iOS and Android, go to or text napervillepd to 555888 from a smartphone.

Residents can opt-in to join their neighborhood or customize the geographic area for which they want to receive notifications. Users must verify where they are located and cannot participate in other neighborhoods.,amp.html



Open Forum: Policing is about community relationships, not wars

by Carl Tennenbaum

As a retired San Francisco police sergeant and peer support officer, I was proud to see that the U.S. Senate just unanimously passed police suicide prevention legislation. With more police dying by suicide than in the line of duty, we need this legislation, and we must go further. We can improve both officer mental health and community safety by preventing situations that pit law enforcement against the community. Instead of asking police to arrest our way out of crises, let's partner with police to address the root causes of crime.

In the course of my 32 years of service with the San Francisco Police Department, I served in foot patrol, undercover narcotics, hostage negotiation, and as commander of the San Francisco Housing Authority Community Policing Team, where I managed conflict within San Francisco's thousands of public housing units.

I learned that police and community safety wasn't about being the best fighter; it was about good relationships — with my fellow officers and with community members. But a major roadblock was our enforcement of drug laws.

During my time in the narcotics unit at the height of the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic, we would speed up to a corner and slam on the brakes just to see who would run so we'd have an excuse to chase them. We tried to solve the community's drug problem by locking up as many people as possible.

These tactics didn't stop drug use, but they did create mountains of anger and distrust toward the police. Some officers felt they were working in “enemy territory,” and some — far stronger than me — were overwhelmed with the stress of that feeling. When I returned to patrol, I realized that this distrust didn't just damage the mental health of officers, it also impacted our ability to solve serious crimes. People stopped answering our knocks on their doors because they didn't trust us.

Our focus on narcotics enforcement was also bleeding other police functions dry. The narcotics unit exploded to a staff of 150 from an original 20. As a result, 911 response times were slower, and minor crimes were barely investigated.

I am proud that our state is finally figuring out that we cannot solve drug addiction with more police.

The San Francisco Police Department is now equipping officers with a powerful alternative — instead of repeatedly arresting and jailing someone whose crimes are drug addiction-related, the officer can refer them to the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program. LEAD's case managers connect them to housing, employment, mental health care, treatment and other services. The program has reduced recidivism by more than 50%, and it is helping officers repair their relationship with the neighborhoods they serve.

Unfortunately, some police have viewed high-crime communities as the enemy for too long to shake that perspective. Because they see law enforcement's job as catching and punishing law-breakers, they have resisted alternative solutions that address the root causes of crime, calling those solutions a betrayal of law enforcement.

For example, many police were opposed to Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for certain drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. But their knee-jerk reaction was not rooted in facts. A recent study by UC Irvine researchers concluded that in the five years since its enactment, Prop. 47 has not caused any increase in crime. It has helped shift the burden of dealing with drug addiction from the justice system to the public health system. And it is helping police focus on violent crime, which is at historic lows in the state.

In addition to supporting the federal police suicide prevention bill, let's recognize the benefits of alternatives such as LEAD for law enforcement and community members alike. These alternatives lighten our load, allowing us to stop policing addiction and instead to focus on investigating serious crime. They allow us to rebuild relationships in the community, which we depend on for the information we need to clear cases. And I believe these alternatives can reduce the us-vs.-them mind-set that is assaulting the mental health of our friends and colleagues in law enforcement.



We must start community policing again to ensure sanity – Rawlings to Ghanaians

The spate of indiscriminate felling of trees in the country is increasingly becoming worrying and for this reason, Former President, Jerry John Rawlings has asked government to re-establish the rule of community policing to help fight climate change in the country.

According to him, government cannot solely rely on the Forestry Commission to eradicate this menace of deforestation in the country; reason there is the urgent need to return the culture of community policing so that, everyone can partake in the fight for a greener environment.

He added that, the heat from the sun in recent times is unbearable and if care is not taken, global warming and climate change will have severe impact on humans in future.

The Former President said, “I believe this exercise will also contribute to offsetting the global effects that is awaiting us. The heat is just a little too much, it threatens to get worse”

He said this on Saturday, May 25, 2019 during his tree planting exercise which is to commence activities towards the marking of the 40th anniversary of the June 4 revolution.

The Former President noted that, the tree planting exercise is in line with the theme for this year's June 4th commemoration; “Developing a national character for sustainable good governance”.

Speaking in the same vein, Executive Chairman of Jospong Group of Companies, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong entreated Ghanaians to desist from the habit of pruning and cutting down of trees, especially newly planted ones in their nursery beds.

He urged them to play a watchdog role in ensuring that, every tree planted grows and this, he believes will in turn make humans live healthier and stronger.

“ We all have to be watchmen over the planting of trees because, when you do it nicely within about two days, it goes in and people start cutting it off…”, he said.

Dr Agyepong however stated that his outfit is always ready to collaborate with any available stakeholder(s) who are ready to work on the environment.

The tree planting exercise started from J.J Rawlings Avenue through to Legon ECG Park.



Policing evolves but it's still all about community

A colorful look at police.

Sunday kicked off National Police Memorial Week.

According to “In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation, which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. This week pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty."

There are 20,267 names etched on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, with more being added this week. Their names seem inevitable Peace officers have chosen a dangerous profession.

Regrettably, too many in our nation have accepted this belief. I have not, and I offer this letter as a way forward. Important things do not always come with instructions. Sometimes, we have to behave our way into new paradigms.

Police + community = collaboration

First, we must acknowledge that police do not always seek community input. Yes, we use catchphrases such as community policing and problem-oriented policing, but many decisions made are solely at the discretion of police.

Real community leadership, however, begins with relationships and not positions. To help address this, police must involve stakeholders in far more conversations. We must go into the community and, as I say often, show up and shut up. We must actively listen, even when our natural instinct is to defend or posture.

We must work collaboratively to build community fabric, also called social capital, while recognizing this truth: we use the word community almost as if we are already one. We are not as homogenous as most think. Many things divide us. The path forward will necessitate leadership collaboratives.

The root word of collaborate is "labor." Because communities are not homogenous and do in fact represent microcosms of many different cultures in a single city, scholars believe the solution to building community-wide competencies is through collective action. By identifying members of each culture or sector embedded in a community, a leadership collaborative can be formed and put to work.

This team then requires selective incentives or rewards to work toward truer community, social pressure, surveillance (oversight of members to ensure accountability and follow through), building new norms about compliance, communication, and most importantly, creating trustworthiness.

They ultimately can work to reduce poverty, decrease division and increase unity and resilience, reduce crime and the fear of crime, and yes, actually safeguard residents and peace officers from harm. We must conduct social autopsies of our cities and counties, because trauma affects competence.

There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind.

Progress in Abilene

On this note, this work is already underway in Abilene.

Abilene's Collective Impact effort has been working toward these goals since last year, and I am excited to see our future. Much more work remains, and it is my hope that we will do it together.

What about the police? What is their role?

We must recognize that we are working in an emotional economy. Gone are the days when residents will do what they are told simply because someone of authority is telling them to do it. You grow through what you go through, yet many of us have experienced very different lives. Police must acknowledge that and communicate much more, deescalate always, and be flexible and sociable.

The goals of de-escalation include increasing distance, decreasing intensity and effectively communicating. Police must explain why…why I am arresting you, why I am searching you, why it took me so long to get to your call for service? The whys are important.

Ego and high self-awareness cannot coexist, so police must recognize that we police as part of the community. We do not police the community. We are peace officers, called upon to bring peace with us. Resilience is the intelligent regulation of our emotional energy. All of us would be well-served by remembering that.

Police taking care of ... police

Police also have a huge role in safeguarding their profession by focusing on internal behaviors. Too often police kill themselves. We have a culture of speed, and it is literally killing us.

Nearly 65 percent of all accidental deaths are caused by automobile and motorcycle crashes. We must weigh risk versus need, while recognizing there is never a response that outweighs the situation.

Too often those killed in vehicle crashes are not wearing seat belts. Yet, there is no exemption in the law for first responders. Body armor is also a must, yet many agencies still have not adopted mandatory wear policies. Abilene has.

Heart attacks continue to plague policing, so fitness is foundational. Fit officers use less force, and they use force less often.

Backing the Blue

And lastly, tactical competencies must be taught over and over, if we are going to safeguard our peace officers.

Protecting ournation's first responders is of paramount importance, yet it has become a platitude. A platitude is a remark or statement that has some moral content, but it is used so often that it is no longer thoughtful.

I encourage us to become more thoughtful, as a community … as an Abilenian. We must safeguard our democracy, our residents and our peace officers, but we must do it together.

I'm in. Are you?


New Mexico

Patterns of Force

On violence and policing in Albuquerque

by August March

It sure goes fast. Our narrative so far:

A UNM undergrad was shot dead by a known prior offender after engaging in a drunken, closing time fight with others at a club near main campus, in Nob Hill of all places. The shooter was out on a pass from the judge—even though he had been involved another shoot 'em up Downtown at another nightclub recently—and apparently used that free time to revisit old ways. That's called recidivism, citizens, and it happens when a society punishes without embracing community responsibility while simultaneously commodifying values like violence and power.

The magical ability of the prime murder suspect and his suspected accomplice—alleged shooter Darian Bashir and alleged getaway driver D'Angelo McNeal—to perpetrate such a heinous crime is due to the fact that Bashir had been previously released from custody in an upcoming, gun-related case—due to a judge's decision that was based on a new set of laws meant to reform the criminal justice system in 2017.

Besides setting off a furor about the bail reform amendment which went into effect in New Mexico a couple years ago, the crime demonstrated just how lawless stretches of Albuquerque have become.

Following this transgression of the normative by chaotic, ill-defined but nonetheless violent forces that have arisen as a result of endemic poverty, lack of proper funding and community engagement, et cetera, Mayor Keller met with leaders from all over the state and at all levels and stations of responsibility to discuss plans to bring violence, particularly gun violence, under control in Albuquerque.

Bring the Police

Among the strategies to be employed: 50 New Mexico State Police officers would be stationed in Albuquerque from various parts of the state—mostly assigned to patrol late night and early morning hours, mind you—to help with traffic patrol, callouts and to generally boost the police presence in Burque's sprawling scene.

Weekly Alibi staffers witnessed three separate groupings of these state police patrols three separate times in the past week. All of them were on the Westside. And yeah, their presence in places where people sometimes drive very dangerously—where road rage is common, street people abundant and the after-dark shopping vibe corroded by fear of petty crime—definitely had an initially ameliorative effect on the overall neighborhood vibe, to our mind and way of thinking. After all, what could go wrong?

A History of Violence

But the response on social media—and ultimately the community response as a whole, if you have been listening, dear reader—was not nearly as supportive. Many of those locals who objected to having state police officers driving around town worried that their presence signaled outright oppression. At least two commenters in our respective news feeds were concerned that the state police presence was being inordinately and unreasonably felt in the International District, and that it was by any reckoning, the people of color in that part of town who would be most likely to be negatively affected by this brazen display of jack booted power. Or something like that.

Is this really the next step in a city plagued by crime but committed to police reform at the behest of common sense, progressive politics and federal authorities?

Certainly, the amount of violent lawlessness in this town is at at an all-time high; what do we expect as citizens, as a society? Of course the state police are operating here, primos. We brought them here through years of inaction, through years of letting Republicans advance an agenda that meant fewer government social services and more privatized incarceration.

We've seen some crazy things on the streets in the past couple years that one could not have imagined going down in this town just 15 years ago. The sheer number of outrageous, criminal incidents currently being foisted off on this city requires immediate and practical solutions, including more city cops on the beat.

But the current thinking on entrusting state police officers (often seen by the public as the next level in a policing authority hierarchy) with specific duties here in the metropolitan area is ill conceived. The plan may have been poorly executed and does nothing to advance a progressive agenda designed to lower crime by dismantling its root causes and instituting community policing practices.

This latest move by the Keller administration complicates political relationships for a citizenry repeatedly exposed to years of violent policing techniques foisted on a mostly brown public as a means of demonstrating power and status by the ruling class. Old wounds—emotional triggers really—were surely exposed in some neighborhoods graced this week by the presence of state troopers in their shiny black SUVs. Meanwhile, the whole thing continues to crest, as if it's on some awful, gravitational autopilot.

The most sadly ironic thing about the violence in the city situation came late Thursday night—and it came right from the belly of the beast in the middle of Burque. Two state cops on patrol—neither from Albuquerque, one from Farmington and the other a patrolman in the Gallup area—were involved in two separate, on-duty shootings that evening.

One of the shootings happened at the busy corner of Lomas and Washington; the suspect fled, leaving locals to ponder the contagion of gun violence happening in their midst. Earlier that evening, the first officer-involved shooting happened in the valley and resulted in the arrest of a wanted man who ran a red light and was then pursued.

Neither of these encounters followed current APD policy—governed by that same DOJ settlement by the way—on encounters with offenders, chases or use of force, according to local news reports.

By the weekend, it had become clear that the idea of dropping unfamiliar, outsider cops into the milieu—law enforcement officers who are certainly competent and willing to interact positively with the Albuquerque community but do not have to work within the city policing framework that is part of the city's settlement with the DOJ—was not going unscathed by observers in the either the community or the press.

A Community Solution

On Saturday, the crime problem in Albuquerque became the feature for a story in Santa Fe's daily. Quoting experts who conclude that the fear of violence is often exacerbated and drawn out into public anxiety by a news media that's more concerned with “sensationalizing with the aim of getting better ratings,” (a bunch of hooey at an alternative newspaper, by the way) the paper also quoted a rightly concerned director of the ACLU, who went on record about the elephant that is still ensconced in our city's living room.

Peter Simonson, executive director of New Mexico's branch of the ACLU said, “For years the Albuquerque Police Department operated with impunity, shooting and killing someone practically every month. We don't want to return to those days. We're deeply concerned that the deployment of New Mexico State Police officers in our communities threatens to wreck progress towards constitutional policing in Albuquerque at a time when there is still much reform to be made.”

We wholeheartedly agree.

Ending violence, especially gun violence, in Albuquerque is bound to be a long process involving delicate extraction techniques. That group of humans being evolved away from unnecessary gun violence must include law enforcement. Ultimately changing the perception of guns among a wide percentage of the population is necessary and the outcome—a peaceful, law-abiding community where police are not seen as part of the patterns of force that previously defined this city's culture—will result.

We all need to be reminded that special masters of the Department of Justice descended on Burque to confirm what many already knew to be true—that the 47 officer-involved shootings starting in 2009 and leading up to the death of James Boyd in March of 2014 pointed to a culture of oppression and violence at APD—more than five years ago in a place where return is impossible by progressive standards.

But folks love their guns in The Land of Enchantment; that's part of the Western mythos carved into the operating patriarchy in these parts. It's not something that can be easily erased or even altered. Yet in order to advance, the city and state must strive for policing solutions that are in line with community values and generally eschew violence as an immediate response.

In retrospect—and despite the immediate shock value induced by seeing State Police personnel filling in for beleaguered city police officers—this particular part of the plan to eradicate lawlessness in Albuquerque seems heavy-handed. A law and order response is typical of Republican governance methods and clearly a tool from the right's bag of democracy-limiting implements; such machinations have no part in a progressive platform.

The fact that two officer-involved shootings can already be traced to outsiders acting without the Albuquerque/DOJ agreement on use-of-force—in mind and in practice—should be a cause for deep reflection among the NMSP, the mayor and the governor, not a reason to crow that the problem is only now being properly addressed.



From police to parole, black and white Americans differ widely in their views of criminal justice system


Black Americans are far more likely than whites to say the nation's criminal justice system is racially biased and that its treatment of minorities is a serious national problem.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, around nine-in-ten black adults (87%) said blacks are generally treated less fairly by the criminal justice system than whites, a view shared by a much smaller majority of white adults (61%). And in a survey shortly before last year's midterm elections, 79% of blacks – compared with 32% of whites – said the way racial and ethnic minorities are treated by the criminal justice system is a very big problem in the United States today.

Racial differences in views of the criminal justice system are not limited to the perceived fairness of the system as a whole. Black and white adults also differ across a range of other criminal justice-related questions asked by the Center in recent years, on subjects ranging from crime and policing to the use of computer algorithms in parole decisions.

Here's an overview of these racial differences:


Black adults in the U.S. consistently express more concern than white adults about crime.

Concerns about violent crime, gun violence are higher among blacks than whitesIn last year's preelection survey, three-quarters of blacks – compared with fewer than half of whites (46%) – said violent crime is a very big problem in the country today. And while 82% of blacks said gun violence is a very big problem in the U.S., just 47% of whites said the same.

Blacks are also more likely than whites to see crime as a serious problem locally. In an early 2018 survey, black adults were roughly twice as likely as whites to say crime is a major problem in their local community (38% vs. 17%).

That's consistent with a survey conducted in early 2017, when blacks were about twice as likely as whites to say their local community is not too or not at all safe from crime (34% vs. 15%). Black adults were also more likely than whites to say they worry a lot about having their home broken into (28% vs. 13%) or being the victim of a violent crime (20% vs. 8%). However, similar shares in both groups (22% of blacks and 18% of whites) said they actually had been the victim of a violent crime.


Some of the most pronounced differences between blacks and whites emerge on questions related to police officers and the work they do.

A survey conducted in mid-2017 asked Americans to rate police officers and other groups of people on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the coldest, most negative rating and 100 represents the warmest and most positive. Black adults gave police officers a mean rating of 47; whites gave officers a mean rating of 72.

Blacks are also more likely than whites to have specific criticisms about the way officers do their jobs, particularly when it comes to police interactions with their community.

More than eight-in-ten black adults say blacks are treated less fairly than whites by police, criminal justice systemIn the Center's survey earlier this year, 84% of black adults said that, in dealing with police, blacks are generally treated less fairly than whites. A much smaller share of whites – though still a 63% majority – said the same. Blacks were also about five times as likely as whites to say they'd been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity (44% vs. 9%), with black men especially likely to say this (59%).

Stark racial differences about key aspects of policing also emerged in a 2016 survey. Blacks were much less likely than whites to say that police in their community do an excellent or good job using the right amount of force in each situation (33% vs. 75%), treating racial and ethnic groups equally (35% vs. 75%) and holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs (31% vs. 70%). Blacks were also substantially less likely than whites to say their local police do an excellent or good job at protecting people from crime (48% vs. 78%).

Notably, black-white differences in views of policing exist among officers themselves. In a survey of nearly 8,000 sworn officers conducted in the fall of 2016, black officers were about twice as likely as white officers (57% vs. 27%) to say that high-profile deaths of black people during encounters with police were signs of a broader problem, not isolated incidents. And roughly seven-in-ten black officers (69%) – compared with around a quarter of white officers (27%) – said the protests that followed many of these incidents were motivated some or a great deal by a genuine desire to hold police accountable for their actions, rather than by long-standing bias against the police. (Several other questions in the survey also showed stark differences in the views of black and white officers.)

The death penalty

Most whites – but only around a third of blacks – support the death penaltyA narrow majority of Americans (54%) support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a spring 2018 survey. But only around a third of blacks (36%) support capital punishment for this crime, compared with nearly six-in-ten whites (59%).

Racial divisions extend to other questions related to the use of capital punishment. In a 2015 survey, 77% of blacks said minorities are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for committing similar crimes. Whites were divided on this question: 46% said minorities are disproportionately sentenced to death, while the same percentage saw no racial disparities.

Blacks were also more likely than whites to say capital punishment is not a crime deterrent (75% vs. 60%) and were less likely to say the death penalty is morally justified (46% vs. 69%). However, about seven-in-ten in both groups said they saw some risk in putting an innocent person to death (74% of blacks vs. 70% of whites).

Parole decisions

Certain aspects of the criminal justice system have changed in recent decades. One example: Some states now use criminal risk assessments to assist with parole decisions. These assessments involve collecting data about people who are up for parole, comparing that data with data about other people who have been convicted of crimes, and then assigning inmates a score to help decide whether they should be released from prison or not.

A 2018 survey asked Americans whether they felt the use of criminal risk assessments in parole decisions was an acceptable use of algorithmic decision-making. A 61% majority of black adults said using these assessments is unfair to people in parole hearings, compared with 49% of white adults.

States differ widely when it comes to allowing people with past felony convictions to vote. In 12 states, people with certain felony convictions can lose the right to vote indefinitely unless other criteria – such as receiving a pardon from the governor – are met, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Maine and Vermont, by contrast, those with felony convictions never lose the right to vote, even while they are incarcerated. Twenty-two states fall somewhere between these positions, rescinding voting rights only during incarceration and for a period afterward, such as when former inmates are on parole.

In a fall 2018 survey, 69% of Americans favored allowing people convicted of felonies to vote after serving their sentences. Black adults were much more likely than white adults to somewhat or strongly favor this approach (83% vs. 68%).



Nigeria: Community Policing Is Badly Needed

The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Gida Mustapha, last week inaugurated a 14-man committee on community policing. Chaired by Dr Amina Shamaki, a Federal Permanent Secretary, the committee is charged with the task of reviewing a study on insecurity done by the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies [NIPSS] with the title "Presidential Parley Report."

While inaugurating the committee, the SGF listed the causes of insecurity in Nigeria to include poor policy linkages, multiplicity and poor implementation of policies, centralized control of the police force, weak monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Others that Mustapha itemised include poor application of technology and innovation, absence of integrated database to aid internal security management, poor budgetary allocation to the security sector and lack of confidence and trust in the country's security agencies.

The SGF acknowledged that as a result of insecurity, Nigerians have been clamouring for the return of State Police. He said, "The agitations have not abated since the coming on board of this administration and not even the resources deployed into tackling the various hydra-headed security challenges in the country coupled with the high level of successes recorded by this Government so far, has succeeded in dampening the agitations."

Government has taken the right step by the inauguration of the committee on community policing. It is a known fact that there is disconnect between the Nigeria Police Force and various communities that make up the country. This is because, as identified by the SGF, Nigerians do not trust the police with useful information about the activities of criminals and masterminds of crimes. Because those who commit crimes live in communities, the people can identify them. A classic example of how successful community policing could be is the situation in Borno State, where the establishment of the Civilian Joint Task Force turned the tide in the country's counter-insurgency strategy. These young men knew members of Boko Haram and they effectively supported the military in arresting and flushing out many of them from Maiduguri.

In the same vein, traditional rulers usually get information about those who engage in criminal activities in their domains. They debrief Village Heads, District Heads, youth groups and leaders of religious organisations to gather facts about criminal elements among them. The police would need to work closely with traditional institutions if they are to arrest crime. Most times, these rulers are helpless even if they know those involved in criminal activities in their domains because they do not trust security agencies well enough to give them such intelligence.

We call on the committee to do a good job by fashioning out good policies and measures that would help the police to earn the confidence of the people. The police cannot succeed in reducing or eradicating criminality in the country unless they get the buy in of various communities. It is as a result of the failure of the police to tame insecurity that vigilante groups have sprung up in all parts of the country, aiming to do the job of the police, but many of them do it wrongly. Some communities have taken measures that inch towards self-help, taking the law into their hands and even carrying out extra-judicial killings because they do not believe in the current security and judicial system. This is very unfortunate, and such trend should be reversed as soon as possible.

The reality in Nigeria today is that the current security architecture does not provide security for citizens, especially those who live in rural areas where there are hardly policemen. In their recommendations, this committee should strongly come up with practical steps to protect rural communities from the activities of bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers who operate freely without fear. All options should be looked into critically, including an improvement in the application of modern security technology and establishment of state police.