| 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.
Mar 10, 2013
San Joaquin County Ranks #1 for Youth Homicide Victimization in California, New Study Reveals
Annual Study Compares Rates of Homicide Victimization for Californians Ages 10 to 24 by County, Race, Ethnicity, Weapon Used, Circumstance, and Location
Study Also Identifies Local Youth Violence Prevention Programs That are Working to Reduce California's Youth Homicide Victimization Rate
WASHINGTON -- San Joaquin County's young people suffer a murder rate that leads all other California counties according to "Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2011 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24," an annual study analyzing unpublished California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study, available at http://www.vpc.org/studies/cayouth2013.pdf and funded by The California Wellness Foundation, uses the most recent data available to rank California counties by their homicide victimization rates for youth and young adults ages 10 to 24. This is the third year that the study has been issued by the VPC and for the first time it includes a new "What Works" section detailing the need for prevention over "suppression" strategies in reducing youth violence and looking at three successful youth violence prevention programs in Salinas, Oakland, and Los Angeles as well as proposed federal initiatives such as the "Youth PROMISE Act."
San Joaquin County's homicide victimization rate for 10- to 24-year-olds of 21.29 per 100,000 was nearly three times the state's overall rate of 7.87 per 100,000 for this age group. Monterey County, which had ranked first in youth homicide victimization in 2009 and 2010, dropped to third as the result of a significant and continuing decrease in its homicide rate for this age group: from 31.24 per 100,000 in 2009 to 16.96 per 100,000 in 2011. Second Chance Family and Youth Services, located in Salinas in Monterey County, is one of the three youth violence prevention programs detailed in the VPC report (the others are Los Angeles' Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Program and programs conducted by Oakland's Youth Alive!).
Statewide, the homicide victimization rate for Californians ages 10 to 24 continued to drop--from 10.48 per 100,000 in 2009, to 8.48 per 100,000 in 2010, down to 7.87 per 100,000 in 2011. The appendix from the study comparing California counties' 2009, 2010, and 2011 rankings can be found separately at http://www.vpc.org/studies/cayouth2013ap4.pdf
Mar 9, 2013
The right NYPD fix
Don't cuff cops — hire more
More than 30 members of the City Council have co-sponsored the Community Safety Act, a set of bills designed to curb stop-and-frisks and alter NYPD policies. While it is indeed important to discuss ways of improving the NYPD, these bills neglect to examine a simple solution that will improve policing and keep us protected: Hire more cops.
The bills' author, Councilman Jumaane Williams, and other critics point to a more than 600 percent rise in stops over the last 10 years, and the fact that nearly 90 percent of those stopped are black or Latino, to accuse the NYPD of improperly targeting minority communities.
The NYPD counters that that rise is partly a statistical illusion, driven by much better record-keeping — and, more important, that stops are concentrated in high-crime neighborhoods, so they disproportionately protect minority New Yorkers.
Certainly, stop-and-frisk helps prevent crime and protects cops who are placed in dangerous situations every day. Police officers responding to calls may not have time to ask questions. Education and training are drawn upon to limit the dangers, and stop-and-frisk, used correctly, is a commonsense police procedure.
Giffords Urges Background Checks for All Firearm Purchases
Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona, who was shot in the head at a 2011 constituent event, returned to the Safeway Inc. (SWY) store where she was wounded and urged lawmakers to “be courageous” and “support background checks.”
Giffords and other survivors of the shooting urged passage of a measure that would require background checks for all U.S. gun purchases. Six people were killed and 12 people besides Giffords were injured in the shooting at the store.
Giffords, a 42-year-old Democrat, was hurt in the rampage that killed, among others, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green. Among the wounded was U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat and former Giffords staff member who succeeded her in office.
The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison. Loughner said in his plea agreement that he went to the constituent event armed with a Glock Inc. model 19, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, loaded with 33 rounds of ammunition, and three other magazines containing an additional 60 rounds of ammunition.
Congress is debating ways to curb gun violence after the shooting in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults. President Barack Obama supports universal background checks and a ban on sales of assault weapons. Obama is also backing a limit on high- capacity magazines such as the one used in the Giffords shooting.
Mar 8, 2013
Many Homeless Adults Start their Journey in Foster Care
Foster care placement is one of the childhood risk factors, which predicts adult homelessness. A mother with a childhood history of foster care is far more likely to become homeless than one who has never entered the foster care system.
Darlesha Joyner is one such mother who comprises more than 6,500 District residents without permanent homes.
"I'm tired and frustrated," said Joyner, 22, who entered Maryland's foster care system at 14 years old. Her 18-month-old son rested on her hip with his legs akimbo. "My issue is not only with living in the shelter but even before. I don't want to be here."
Since January, Joyner, a mother of two, has lived in the old D.C. General Hospital, which was repurposed as a family shelter in Southeast. Recent reports indicate it houses 284 families with nearly 600 children, more than half of them under the age of 12.
Joyner experienced a series of losses over a short time. At four years old, her mother died. Her father followed at seven. One grandmother died when she was 10 and another at 14. Since the age of seven, she was bounced around by family members, living from house to house, until she entered foster care, the native Washingtonian said.
New Overseer Could Disrupt Oakland Police Routines
Oakland police officers can expect to see change in their department. Thomas Frazier, appointed to oversee the Oakland police by a federal judge on Monday, has a reputation as an innovator not afraid to shatter police department traditions.
Frazier is taking on a job that previous chiefs could not, or would not, do: bring the department into harmony with diverse, leftist, anti-authoritarian factions in the community. And he must do so at a time of tight budgets and spiraling crime.
“He's walking into a tornado,” said Peter Keane, a Hastings Law School professor who served on the San Francisco Police Commission. Frazier did not respond to a request to comment for this article.
Frazier brought big changes to the Baltimore Police Department when he ran it as commissioner from 1994 to 1999, shuffling detectives to patrol positions and even banning the department's trademark style of nightstick, the espantoon.
Mar 7, 2013
Police use of military technology, tactics in Pennsylvania eyed by ACLU in open-records request
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania wants to know whether police departments are using federally subsidized military technology and tactics, claiming their use erodes civil liberties and encourages aggressive policing.
The group on Wednesday filed public-records requests for 31 state agencies, including Pittsburgh police, Allegheny County, Beaver County, state police and the National Guard. It's part of a national effort.
“We've already seen the negative impact of police militarization from G-20,” said Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz, a Pittsburgh-based legal fellow at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We want to see how much that has extended.”
Clashes between protesters and heavily armed police during the Group of 20 economic summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009 led to dozens of lawsuits.
A spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl referred calls to Solicitor Dan Regan, who did not return a call. Amie Downs, a spokeswoman for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said she hadn't seen the request and could not comment.
Mpls. police chief's night job: Teaching about changing demographics
MINNEAPOLIS — Policing, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau says, is mostly about interacting with people.
Sometimes that involves responding to dangerous situations, but it also means understanding communities that often differ demographically from the officer.
When she's not leading the state's largest police department, Harteau teaches a night class at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis to current and prospective officers about how to better understand the different communities they interact with.
The class starts with a range of questions from Harteau, who has a master's degree in public safety administration from St. Mary's. Where are you from? How many siblings do you have? Have you ever voted for a contestant on American Idol?
Harteau is not just trying to get to know her students better, she's illustrating a point central to the focus of her class: Demographic Influences on Policing.
Mar 6, 2013
Bans on pocketknives, golf clubs eased for U.S. passenger planes
WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration will let people carry small pocketknives onto passenger planes for the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with golf clubs, hockey sticks and plastic Wiffle Ball-style bats.
The agency will permit knives with retractable blades shorter than 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) and narrower than 1/2 inch at the widest point, TSA Administrator John Pistole said Tuesday at an aviation security conference in Brooklyn. The change, to conform with international rules, will take effect April 25.
Pistole, the former No. 2 official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has stressed the use of intelligence and "risk- based" security during his tenure leading TSA. The agency is moving away from uniform procedures that apply to every passenger and toward efforts to perform background checks on passengers before they arrive at an airport.
Overseas passengers will no longer have to check the qualifying knives as they pass through the U.S. The agency will still prohibit some knives, including those with locking blades or molded handles, Pistole said. Box cutters, like those used by the Sept. 11 terrorists, and razor blades will still be banned. The agency will relax its prohibited-item list in other ways, Pistole said. Passengers will be allowed to carry on sticks used to play lacrosse, billiards and hockey, ski poles and as many as two golf clubs, he said. The agency is also carving out two exceptions to its ban on most baseball and softball bats. It will also allow souvenir, novelty baseball bats less than 24 inches long and will permit lightweight plastic bats even if they're more than 2 feet long.
3 convicted of bringing in military grade weapons to sell to Mexican cartels
LOS ANGELES - Three Philippine nationals were convicted today in federal court in Los Angeles of illegally bring military grade weapons into the United States to sell to Mexican drug dealers.
One of the three, Arjyl Revereza, 26, was a Philippine police officer who supplied the weapons to Sergio Syjuco, 26, and Cesar Ubaldo, 27, according to officials with the FBI and the Justice Department.
The defendants were charged in an indictment filed on Jan. 12, 2012.
According to the indictment, in November 2010, Ubaldo met with a prospective weapons buyer, who was actually an undercover FBI agent. Ubaldo introduced the undercover agent to Syjuco, who supplied the weapons. Revereza facilitated the movement of the illegal weapons through Philippine customs.
The weapons included a rocket propelled grenade launcher, a mortar launcher, an M203 single-shot grenade launcher and 12 Bushmaster machine guns, as well as explosives, including mortars and grenades.
Citizens Police Academy Taking Applications in Rosemount, Apple Valley
Application deadline is March 25 — classes begin in April.
The experience of watching a police drama on television can become somewhat of a reality for those who want to learn more about local police operations.
Applications are now open for the 2013 Citizens Police Academies by the Rosemount and Apple Valley Police Departments. Each city offers its own program.
According to the City of Rosemount website, the program aims to offer insight into modern-day policing in the local community, through classroom and hands-on training conducted by Rosemount police officers.
Training in Rosemount's Citizens Police Academy will cover topics including an overview of operations, a tour of the police facility, a review of patrol operations, driving under the influence arrest, narcotics presentation, investigations, crime scene processing, M.A.A.G. (SWAT) and firearms, use of force or self-defense, school-liaison duties, arrests, search and seizure issues, traffic stops, community policing and crime prevention, and the chaplain program.
At the completion of the program, citizens will be given the opportunity to ride along with an officer.
Spring 2013 Citizens' Police Academy accepting applications
The Palm Springs Police Department has scheduled the Spring of 2013 Citizens' Police Academy. The first Citizens' Police Academy met in 1993 and the program has been running continuously since then. The program meets one night per week for thirteen weeks. This Community Policing project has graduated hundreds of students from all sectors of the community - doctors, lawyers, retirees, students, homemakers, journalists, pilots, teachers, and many others. Attendees participate in discussions about Patrol Procedures, Traffic Investigation, K-9, SWAT, Community Policing, Narcotics, Crime Scene Investigation, Internal Affairs, and many other interesting topics. Attendees are invited to experience simulated live-fire exercises and participate in a ride-along with a Palm Springs Police Officer on patrol.
WHERE: Palm Springs Police Department
WHEN: Tuesday evenings, March 5th thru May 28th, 2013
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Cornelius police and residents work to tackle graffiti issue
A short tour beyond the main streets of Cornelius turns up numerous, easily spotted stains of black, red or blue spray paint. Some of the graffiti appears on otherwise unmarked fences; some is scrawled over layers of old street script.
Officer Dustin DeHaven, a graffiti expert with the Cornelius Police Department, said there are two kinds of graffiti: those done by taggers, street artists looking for notoriety, and those done by gang members. Most graffiti in Cornelius is gang-related.
"It's the newspaper of the street," DeHaven said. "So if something is going on between several gangs, if a situation flares up, there's a good chance you'll see more graffiti. It's trash talk with paint cans."
Now, police and residents are both working to tackle the problem.
For the last four years or so, Cornelius police have been recording graffiti instances in large binders. But complaints, which come in through an online form available on the city's website, by email and phone, haven't always made it to the right place.
Alternative Spring Break students to do 7,900 hours of service
Illinois State students will once again spend their spring break volunteering with Alternative Spring Break, March 9 to 16.
The program is a student-run organization that work with the Leadership and Service Unit of the Dean of Students office. This year, there are a total of 36 student leaders that have met weekly since September. There will be 230 students taking part in Alternative Spring Break this year.
“These students are the ones that make this amazing and inspiring program happen. They will complete over 7,900 hours of community service hours during Alternative Spring Break. This is 1,000 more hours than last year,” said Ben Wright, the graduate advisor for Alternative Spring Break.
Students will volunteer in the following locations:
Greenville, South Carolina -- Selma, Alabama -- Argyle, Texas -- Birmingham, Alabama -- Memphis, Tennessee
Mar 5, 2013
Should schools have more police - or fewer? States disagree
In post-Newtown America, those with power say they must act to prevent another massacre of innocents.
The Obama administration wants stiffer gun control, and $150 million to help schools hire up to 1,000 more on-campus police or counselors, or to purchase security technology. State legislators are considering shifting millions of dollars around to help schools hire more police. Some locals aren't waiting: The 5,500-resident town of Jordan, Minn., has moved its entire eight-officer police force into schools.
Beyond the headlines, though, the push for more cops or other armed security personnel in schools is running headlong into another movement that's been quietly growing in states as diverse as Mississippi, New York, Utah, Texas and California.
It's a push to get police out of schools, or at least to end their involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.
Civil-rights groups and juvenile court judges - and even some officials within the Obama administration - argue that because the ranks of police began growing in schools in the late 1990s, the criminal justice system's involvement in student discipline has gotten entirely out of hand in some communities. That has put students, especially ethnic minorities, on a path to failure, they say - the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.
Arizona loses appeal over part of law aimed at day laborers
TUCSON -- Arizona's sweeping anti-illegal-immigration law suffered another blow Monday when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with day laborers looking for work in the state.
A three-judge appellate panel unanimously upheld a lower court injunction that prevents the state from enforcing a part of SB 1070 that would prohibit motorists from stopping traffic to solicit day laborers.
Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, considered the decision a disappointment, her spokesman said in a prepared statement. “This provision offered one more tool for law enforcement to use in combating crime in our neighborhoods as a result of illegal immigration,” said the spokesman, Matthew Benson.
Civil and immigrant rights activists praised the court's decision, saying the provision attacked day laborers' 1st Amendment rights.
The court reaffirmed "that the freedom to seek work is constitutionally protected,” the American Civil Liberties Union said.
Mar 4, 2013
NY high school raises $489K with marathon dance
SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — The 710 students from South Glens Falls High School danced for more than a day: Conga lines, "Gangnam Style," giddy-ups, hand jives and the "Harlem Shake." Then, flushed and weary, the teens showed why this is a dance marathon with a difference.
Students cleared a path for a group who walked or were wheeled to the stage set at one end of the gym. One by one — a woman battling cancer in a stocking cap, mothers of ailing children, car crash survivors — thanked the teenage dancers who just raised almost $500,000 to help them tackle life's challenges.
"When a community comes together to help lift financial stress, which allows a child to get the proper care and have the best chance in life, that's priceless," Kate LaFoy told the hushed crowd in a choked voice. Her 15-month-old daughter Alessandra has Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition. "You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? You're part of our village now. We are forever grateful."
South Glens Falls High School students donated the hefty sum to LaFoy and 39 other recipients by dancing around the clock this weekend as part of an annual event in this small, weathered village just south of New York's Adirondack Mountains.
From Hollywood to Kansas, drones are flying under the radar
(Reuters) - They hover over Hollywood film sets and professional sports events. They track wildfires in Colorado, survey Kansas farm crops and vineyards in California. They inspect miles of industrial pipeline and monitor wildlife, river temperatures and volcanic activity.
They also locate marijuana fields, reconstruct crime scenes and spot illegal immigrants breaching U.S. borders.
Tens of thousands of domestic drones are zipping through U.S. skies, often flouting tight federal restrictions on drone use that require even the police and the military to get special permits.
Armed with streaming video, swivel cameras and infrared sensors, a new breed of high-tech domestic drones is beginning to change the way Americans see the world - and each other.
Powered by the latest microtechnology and driven by billions in defense industry and commercial research dollars, domestic drones are poised for widespread expansion into U.S. airspace once regulation catches up with reality.
Untested Rape Kits Not From the Ohio Valley
Local police and sheriff's departments are not among those Ohio law enforcement agencies that recently sent more than 2,400 untested rape kits to a state crime lab to be examined.
After learning in December 2011 that many untested rape kits were sitting on shelves in evidence rooms, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine urged the state's law enforcement to pass them on for analysis. Since then, Bureau of Criminal Investigation labs have received 2,430 kits from 52 departments.
No law enforcement agencies from Jefferson, Belmont, Harrison or Monroe counties had submitted untested rape kits, however, according to statistics provided by DeWine's office last week.
Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said his department has two rape kits in evidence from the 1990s. Both of those kits, however, were promptly sent to a state lab and analyzed when the crimes were initially reported, he noted.
RCSO Facebook Page to Help with Community Policing
2013 seems to be the year of news for the Richmond County Sheriff's Department. New sheriff, new divisions, new website and a new Facebook page; putting the Sheriff's office at the fingertips of residents for the first time. The goal?
"One team, one dream: community and law enforcement working together," Lt. Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office explains.
An initiative to build the trust of Augusta-Richmond County in the sheriff's department and lower the crime rate. But Lt. Blanchard warns it could get worse before getting better.
Blanchard adds, "we actually believe our crime statistics will go up because of community policing. Once we are more in the community and we're able to talk more to the community citizens and they feel like they're able to trust us more, you actually see a hirer reporting of crime."
Cinnaminson Police Offer Youth Academy for High Schoolers
Officer Michael Czarzasty says the department wants to be known for more than just "locking up bad guys and stopping cars."
Springboarding off the success of last year's police academy for middle school students, Cinnaminson Police are offering a similar program for high schoolers this spring.
Police Director Mickey King said the program is part of the department's continual focus on community policing, and also an effort to forge better relationships between the township's youth and law enforcement.
Officer Michael Czarzasty, who led the middle school academy last year and runs the department's other community policing programs, said these programs aren't there just for the feel-good aspect.
"Police are known for locking up bad guys and stopping cars," he said. "Well, we want people to come up to us and talk to us. If we have more ties to the community, its obviously going to help us out. People will be more forward with us if we have a good relationship with them already."
Sign up for Citizens Police Academy
SOMERSET — In keeping with its mission of Community Policing, the Somerset Police Department will conduct a Citizens Police Academy from March 11 to May 13. Classes will be held each Monday at the Somerset Police Department from 6 to 9 p.m.
The goal of the Citizens Police Academy is to foster a positive image of the Somerset Police Department within the community it serves through education, interaction and cooperation. The intent is for all participants to learn more about the Somerset police officers who are serving their community, gain insight into how officers handle various situations and why they make the decisions they do.
The Citizens Police Academy is open to any Somerset resident, business owner or high school student age 14 or older who has an interest in the Somerset Police Department or law enforcement in general. Candidates must been of good moral character and have no felony convictions.