| NEWS of the Week
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. 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 ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
Feb 17, 2013
Jersey firefighters to build 26 playgrounds for Newtown victims
For the first time since Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey's shoreline and a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., firefighter Bill Lavin feels OK.
For a while, the president of a 5,550-member New Jersey firefighters union said he felt “demoralized and crushed and depressed.” But now he has new focus: building 26 playgrounds.
The effort led by the Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Assn. is a response to both tragedies. The playgrounds, one for each of the 20 children and six school employees who died in Newtown in December, will be built in states hit hardest by the storm — New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
They need to raise about $2 million, and even though Lavin knows it's a bit crazy, it feels right.
“Everyone I spoke to had a tear in their eye,” Lavin said. “And the response from the families validated that I needed to do this.” He reached out to the families of all 26 shooting victims. The 16 he's heard back from are on board.
Prescription drug abuse persists in Ohio
Residents relapse after gains in 2011
COSHOCTON — Although state law tightened restrictions on pain management clinics in 2011, the modest decline in prescription pain pills didn't continue into 2012, especially for Coshocton County.
Amanda Poorman, a head nurse who has worked in the Birthing Centre at Coshocton Hospital for almost 13 years, said she has seen a marked increase in mothers who use drugs who come to the hospital to have their babies.
“In the past year, the increase in use of drugs like heroin (and) oxycodone has been noticeable — also marijuana,” Poorman said. She said no system can pull up exact numbers; however, a registered nurse certified in inpatient obstetrics, she is basing her statement on experience. But it's not just a local issue — it's something seen nationwide, she said.
A study published in 2012 in The Journal of the American Medical Association confirms what Poorman said. The study estimated a baby is born every hour in the U.S. with symptoms of withdrawal from opiates — about 13,500 babies per year. The condition, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, can cause seizures, breathing problems, dehydration, difficulty feeding, tremors and irritability.
LAFS Donates New Patrol Bike to Lansdale Police
Lansdale Area Fundraising Society also donated money to the department's D.A.R.E. program on Saturday. Donations came from proceeds of LAFS-sponsored events, such as the Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival
Lansdale Police Department's bike patrol will have more officers getting around town to fight crimes, thanks to the Lansdale Area Fundraising Society.
On Saturday afternoon, LAFS donated a new $1,350 bicycle to the department, along with a $930 donation to its D.A.R.E. program.
The check will be used to pay for the bike, purchased at Scooter's Bike Shop in Souderton.
The donations were made possible from proceeds garnered at various LAFS-sponsored events and programs, like the Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival and the recent calendar sale featuring photographs of Lansdale landmarks and its people.
The idea to donate a new bicycle to the police department came from a discussion Councilman Steve Malagari had with officers at last year's Oktoberfest.
Feb 16, 2013
After Christopher Dorner's rampage, how to build community trust in police
Christopher Dorner, the former L.A. police officer who died Tuesdayafter allegedly going on a murder spree, said racism was behind the Los Angeles Police Department's decision to fire him in 2009, after he accused another cop of kicking a mentally ill man. In a perverted mission of vengeance, Dorner allegedly killed two civilians and two officers.
“I know I will be vilified by the LAPD and the media,” Dorner wrote in an online manifesto. “Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name.”
Given its history of scandal, the LAPD has spent a decade building a kinder, gentler organization and making significant strides in community-based policing. Even past detractors, including civil rights lawyer Connie Rice, admit that the LAPD has changed since the early 1990s. But people still associate the department with events of 20 years ago: the acquittal of officers accused of beating Rodney King, the subsequent L.A. riots and the resignation of Chief Daryl Gates.
The department's problems aren't all in the past, either: In November, a jury awarded former officer Pedro Torres $2.8 million after finding that officials retaliated when he verified claims about an allegedly racist supervisor. During the past decade, 17 officers have won million-dollar-plus verdicts in lawsuits claiming harassment, discrimination and retaliation. African American officers, including some supervisors I've spoken with, say in private that they don't feel like they are part of the system and don't trust it.
US fugitive Christopher Dorner died from single gunshot
Fugitive US ex-police officer, Christopher Dorner, whose remains were found in a burnt-out cabin after a six-day manhunt, died from a single gunshot wound to the head, authorities say.
Police had launched the manhunt for Dorner after he killed three people, apparently in revenge for being fired from the LA police in 2008.
He was cornered near Big Bear Lake and incendiary tear gas was fired in.
Police could not confirm whether the gunshot was self-inflicted.
After a six-hour post-mortem examination, San Bernardino County coroner Kevin Lacy said: "We are not yet able to speak about the manner of death and tell you whether or not it was the result of a self-inflicted wound or another round.
"While we are still assembling the reports and putting it together, the implication seems to be that the wound that took Christopher Dorner's life was self-inflicted."
iPhones and iPads have totally changed how this police department works
After budget cuts forced the layoffs of 19 police officers in 2009, the 79-member Redlands Police Department in southern California knew that help was needed so that the same police services could be provided in the community with fewer officers on the streets.
"We had to downsize," said Lt. Travis Martinez, of the department's Community Policing Bureau. "So we're always looking for force multipliers to make our officers more efficient."
At the time, the remaining officers still used pagers and old-style cellphones to communicate. So the department started to look at new technologies, including smartphones and tablet computers. To move things ahead, the department sought and won a grant to help pay for the technology.
"We realized that there are so many other things that you can be doing with smartphones," said Martinez. "We needed to do more with less. The department decided that smartphones could be one of those force multipliers we needed."
The grant money allowed the police department to buy about 110 Apple iPhones and 67 iPads, which were deployed in 2011 to the officers and command staff members. Some of the iPads were given to citizens in the community to help them assist police officers in local crime fighting efforts, said Martinez.
Why Gang Injunction Zones and Stop-and-Frisk Strategies Won't Work.
Oakland's community is in turmoil over crime and policing. A sharp increase in robberies, burglaries, and homicides has the public, especially middle class home owners, demanding solutions. Community activists, particularly young African Americans, Latinos, and their allies, continue to oppose police tactics that target them regardless of criminal activity.
Finding effective solutions will take time. There are no magic strategies, and no out of town saviors – not even William Bratton. But we can learn from history to avoid creating more problems than we solve and to lay the basis for strategies that advance public safety.
Getting involved in debating false dichotomies never solves anything. Some Oakland politicians, newspaper columnists, and well-meaning members of the community have become distracted by the argument that police effectiveness is compromised by judges, civil libertarians and others who demand that the police respect people's rights. Actually, just the opposite is true.
Sir Robert Peel, who founded the London Metropolitan Police in 1829, wrote, “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions,” and “police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
New Haven police sergeants complete leadership class
NEW HAVEN —The new wave of recently-promoted police sergeants graduated Friday from the department's inaugural command college and leadership school program.
The program was a combined effort of the University of New Haven, the Police Department and Yale University. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, said UNH Associate Professor of Criminal Justice John DeCarlo, who helped organize the program.
“These sergeants will be going in with knowledge of the most cutting-edge police policy,” he said.
Sergeants completed the equivalent of two graduate-level college courses in an intensive two weeks, he said. The entire program lasted 80 hours.
About a dozen academic professors, former police chiefs and others taught the group of 19 sergeants. The group of professors included former New Haven Police Chief Nicholas Pastore, Yale Law School Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology Tom Tyler, as well as former executive-level members of both the New York City and Boston police departments.
Feb 15, 2013
Christopher Dorner confirmed dead, says San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles News Group -- Authorities on Thursday identified charred remains they pulled from a remote cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains as those of Christopher Dorner, 33, the fugitive former Los Angeles police officer.
San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said the identification was made through dental records. Miller did not say how Dorner died.
The announcement followed a threat of a cyber attack on the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. The threat apparently came from a group of online hackers known as Anonymous. The group said it was angered that Dorner was killed in a fire started by a tear gas canister.
"Burning another #Human life Just listen to yourselves," Anon_Online tweeted to 13,000 followers at 1:32 a.m. Wednesday. "You can #Expect us."
Officials with the D.A.'s Office did not respond to requests for comment.
The threatening tweet had a link to a YouTube video that contains audio of Tuesday's standoff between sheriff's deputies and Dorner.
Nonetheless, Los Angeles police officials confirmed Thursday that they had lifted protective details assigned to the families of high-ranking officers, LAPD spokeswoman Rosario Herrera said. About 50 people had been guarded at the height of the Dorner manhunt.
Feb 14, 2013
LAPD in the cross hairs
Christopher Dorner may be dead, but the police response to the crisis raises troubling questions.
The manhunt for Christopher Dorner in one sense ended successfully: Assuming that the body recovered from the burnt-out home in Big Bear is his, Dorner's rampage is over, and he won't harm anyone again. Yet it's hard to cheer an episode that left four people dead and that featured police officers firing wildly on innocent civilians in their determination to eradicate a man who had threatened them.
It's understandable that police would be enraged by Dorner. He openly declared war on all law enforcement officers and embarked on a killing spree specifically aimed at his former colleagues. But how does that justify the actions of the officers who shot into a truck driven by two newspaper carriers, Maggie Carranza and Emma Hernandez? Carranza is a 47-year-old Latina who was driving a blue Toyota with Hernandez, her 71-year-old mother; officers somehow mistook those two women for a burly African American man driving a gray Nissan. And, in their zeal or under the impression that any force would be tolerated in these circumstances, officers fired away, hitting Hernandez twice in the back. Both women lived, testament to the poor aim, not the good judgment, of the officers.
To be clear: Their actions would be worrisome even if Dorner had been behind the wheel of that truck. Force, including lethal force, is a necessary part of police work, but it may be used only to protect officers or others from harm. It is to be wielded to ensure safety, not to exact vengeance. While it is especially offensive to have that force used against innocent people, it's even improper to use it in this fashion against the guilty.
From the White House
Improving the Security of the Nation's Critical Infrastructure
The Nation increasingly relies on the Internet to run the systems that light our houses, provide gas for our cars, and ensure our water is safe to drink. Collectively, these diverse systems represent our cyber critical infrastructure. Linking our critical infrastructure to the Internet brings considerable benefits, but our daily reliance on this critical infrastructure means that we are vulnerable to disruptions in our ability to use it. Unfortunately, the threats against our cyber critical infrastructure are numerous, ranging from sophisticated nation states to common criminals.
The government's senior-most civilian, military, and intelligence professionals all agree that inadequate cybersecurity within this critical infrastructure poses a grave threat to the security of the United States. Most recently, we have seen an increased interest in targeting public and private critical infrastructure systems by actors who seek to threaten our national and economic security. Along with dissuading their actions, we must better protect the critical systems that support our way of life.
Because of the importance of our cyber critical infrastructure, and the seriousness of the threats, the President issued an Executive Order yesterday directing federal departments and agencies to use their existing authorities to provide better cybersecurity for the Nation. These efforts will by necessity involve increased collaboration with the private sector and a whole-of-government approach.
Feb 13, 2013
California Fugitive Is Believed to Have Died in Blaze
BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — After a shootout and a forest standoff on Tuesday afternoon, Christopher J. Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer sought in the region's largest manhunt, was apparently killed in a cabin as it burned down around him, but officials said they needed time to sort through the rubble.
At 11 p.m., the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office released a statement, saying that “charred human remains” had been located inside the burned-out cabin. Though the remains were not identified as those of Mr. Dorner — “identification will be attempted through forensic means,” the statement said — there is little doubt they are his.
“We believe he was still inside the cabin” when it went up in flames, Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said earlier during a news conference in Angelus Oaks, six miles from the scene. Mr. Dorner, a self-described survivalist believed to be heavily armed, had holed up in the rental cabin hours earlier and engaged deputies in a shootout, killing one deputy and wounding a second.
The dramatic chain of events, which included hostage taking and a chase in vehicles and on foot, played out in the sun-dappled, snowy San Bernardino Mountains.
North Korea defiant over nuclear tests as Obama promises swift action
President likely to address 'highly provocative' actions in state of the union speech following emergency UN meeting
Barack Obama has vowed to take "swift and credible action" over North Korea's "highly provocative" nuclear test which appeared to bring Pyongyang closer to producing a viable weapon.
The United Nations security council held an emergency meeting in New York on Tuesday morning to "strongly condemn" Pyongyang's most powerful underground blast to date as a "clear threat to international peace and security".
The council called the test a "grave violation" of earlier resolutions and warned that it will strengthen sanctions just three weeks after the latest wave took effect.
But North Korea remained defiant, describing the test as a "preliminary measure" and threatening "stronger" actions unless the US ends its "hostility".
Experts said the explosion appeared to be an important step toward developing a nuclear bomb capable of fitting to a long range missile.
Ohio agencies request airspace use for drones
ODOT, colleges among petitioners to FAA
COLUMBUS — Even as Congress raises questions about the military application of unmanned drones and the targeting of U.S. citizens, the Federal Aviation Administration is opening airspace to more civilian use of the technology.
In Ohio, the Department of Transportation, Medina County sheriff, Ohio University in Athens, Sinclair Community College in Dayton, and Lorain County Community College have all either won FAA authorization or are seeking it.
So have the University of Michigan and Northwestern Michigan College.
The lengthy list of past and new applicants was obtained from the FAA via a records request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit defender of civil liberties.
The FAA confirmed Tuesday that it made the list available to the group, but it doesn't expect to publicly release it until Thursday.
Feb 12, 2013
Riverside County DA charges fugitive Christopher Dorner with murder, attempted murder
Los Angeles News Group
RIVERSIDE -- A fugitive ex-Los Angeles police officer was charged Monday with murdering a Riverside police officer and special circumstances that could bring the death penalty.
Christopher Dorner was also charged with the attempted murder of another Riverside officer and two Los Angeles Police Department officers, Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said.
A no bail warrant was also obtained which means Dorner can be arrested anywhere in the country and once captured will not be freed .
"It is our opportunity as citizens to assist law enforcement in the apprehension of this individual." said Zellerbach.
The charges filed today are one charge of murder & 3 counts of attempted murder in the fatal shooting of Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain and the wounding of Crain's partner.
Authorities suspected ex-cop headed to Mexico
Federal agents expressed concern that Christopher Dorner was fleeing to Mexico, hours after shooting and killing a Riverside police officer, according to a court affidavit filed last week.
While the search for Dorner has focused on the Big Bear area, where his burning truck was found Thursday, patrols have also been increased near the Mexican border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have stepped up their inspections at the San Ysidro border crossing into Tijuana, and Mexican officers have been given photographs of Dorner, with a warning to consider him armed and extremely dangerous, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
A hotel in Tijuana was raided early Monday in search of Dorner, the San Diego Reader reported. More than 20 officers searched the Hotel Tapatio, which is located about 250 meters from the U.S. border, the publication's website reported, but no evidence of Dorner was found.
A federal court affidavit filed by a U.S. Marshals Service inspector on Thursday noted that a wallet and identification cards belonging to Dorner were found Thursday near the San Ysidro crossing.
Rome police expand Community Impact Unit
ROME — A new unit of the Rome Police Department is winning fans in the city.
The Community Impact Unit – dedicated to addressing quality-of-life-related crimes ranging from graffiti to underage drinking – is the brainchild of Peter Maher, a Hamilton College senior who conducted an 18-month study of policing operations in Rome as part of his two-year internship with the department.
The unit formed in September. But Rome Police Chief Kevin Beach recently added two more officers to the now six-member team based on its early success.
“We just think that there's such a demand for it,” Beach said.
In its first 90 days, the fledgling unit made more than 135 arrests and partnered with detectives to investigate at least 200 reports of graffiti, according to a report from the Rome Police Department. It also recently partnered with Oneida County Stop DWI to crack down on underage drinking at local bars.
Feb 11, 2013
$1 million reward offered for capture of Christopher Dorner
Police agencies upped the ante in the hunt for suspected cop killer Christopher Dorner on Sunday, offering a $1 million dollar bounty for his capture - the largest local reward ever offered for a wanted man, Los Angeles officials announced.
The announcement came as Riverside police identified and released funeral details for Michael Crain - the 34-year-old Riverside police office and father of two allegedly ambushed by Dorner on Thursday.
The record reward offer comes a week after Dorner's rampage began. A task force of law enforcement from Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside, as well as the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, continues to search Southern California and beyond for the former Los Angeles police officer accused of killing three and threatening many more.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck looked into dozens of television cameras during a news conference Sunday and warned Dorner: It was not a matter if they catch him, but when.
"Let me be clear," Villaraigosa said, "our dedication to catching this killer remains steadfast. We will not tolerate this reign of terror. We will not tolerate this murderer remaining at large."
Dorner is wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of an Irvine couple and the Riverside police officer. In his lengthy manifesto released last week on Facebook, Dorner said he is purposely targeting police officers and their families as revenge for being unjustly fired from the LAPD five years ago.
Fugitive Christopher Dorner may be able to fly, say Federal aviation officials
The Transportation Security Agency has cautioned those in the aviation industry to be vigilant as the search continues for Christopher Dorner -- a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist believed to have flight training.
A security advisory distributed to airports and pilots by the federal agency warned that Dorner was believed to have received flight training while in the Navy, "but the extent of his potential flying skills is unknown."
The elusive triple-murder suspect has already travelled hundreds of miles across Southern California in his week long crime-spree, and tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat in San Diego late Wednesday.
"While there is no specific information at this time that Dorner is considering using general aviation, TSA requests that operators use an increased level of awareness concerning any suspicious activity during the coming days," according to the TSA alert.
Suggested precautions included securing unattended aircraft, verifying cargo and passengers, keeping an eye out for unknown pilots or personnel, watching out for altered or inconsistent identification and being aware of anyone persons "who appear tu be under stress or the control of other persons."
The TSA requested any aircraft thefts be reported immediately, and any suspicious activity reported to local law enforcement as well as the TSA.
Middle Schooler Planned to Shoot 23 Students and 1 Teacher
A 7th grade student in Poway sent an email to a school administrator over the weekend threatening to shoot a teacher and 23 students on Monday morning.
After detectives investigated the boy's house, they found numerous rifles and handguns.
The threat was sent to an administrator at Twin Peaks Middle School on Friday night. The email referred to 3,000 rounds of ammunitions and explained the types of firearms he planned to use during the shooting.
A teacher referenced in the email was confused about why the student included her and referred to her by name, while the students were unnamed.
“I kept asking myself, ‘Why me?' Literally wracking my brain trying to figure out who it is,” she said.
Though the student sent the email anonymously, detectives worked with the Poway Unified School District and Sand Diego's Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team to identify where the email came from.
Once the student was identified, they searched his house and confiscated rifles, handguns and several computers.