| 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 24, 2013
Kimani Gray Funeral Highlights Human Cost of Stop and Frisk
NEW YORK -- On Saturday, inside the mahogany wood and white stone sanctuary at St. Catherine of Genoa Catholic Church, no one spoke openly about the New York Police Department's impact on the church's East Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn.
No one mentioned the controversial tactic, formally called"stop-question-and-frisk," and its possible impact on police community relations in the neighborhood.
No one talked about what it has done to alter the lives of the nearly 5 million people -- the overwhelming majority of whom are black or Latino -- citywide who have been stopped and frisked.
No one had to.
At the church's altar Kimani Gray, a 16-year-old known by the nickname"Kiki" whose favorite subject in school was English because he, “loved the power of words,” lay silent and still inside a coffin, beneath a bone and gold embroidered pall.
Why more SWAT-style raids? A 'militarized' world
OGDEN — Law enforcement officials agree: Police execute a “door kick” somewhere in Weber County, on average, once every week.
The forced entries range from a welfare check, when neighbors become concerned as newspapers pile up on someone's porch and the family car is parked in the driveway.
At the other end of the spectrum are the full-on, SWAT-style raids with helmeted officers battering down a door unannounced, such as the Sept. 16, 2010, entry that left the suspect, Todd Blair, fatally shot.
Officials point to the frequency of door kicks, in police parlance, that occur without publicity or complaint as proof they're benign — only a small percentage go awry. They steadfastly maintain they are crucial, the swift deployment necessary for officer safety and to keep suspects from destroying evidence.
But there are critics concerned about the increase in the commando-style entries, also known as a breach.
Mar 23, 2013
Crime declines in Boston in beginning of 2013
Community policing, wintry weather credited
Major crimes in Boston dropped 15 percent in the first three months of 2013 compared with the same period last year, and Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis credited good police work and an assist from Mother Nature for the decline.
“I would attribute it to a few things — one is the weather,” Davis said.“We've certainly had a lot of snow this year, and that keeps people inside.”
Between Jan. 1 and March 18 this year, there were seven killings, compared with eight in the same period in 2012, according to police department statistics. Rapes and attempted rapes dropped by 25 percent; robbery by 7 percent; aggravated assaults by 16 percent; burglary by 8 percent; larceny by 17 percent; and vehicle theft by 14 percent.
However, shootings and firearm-related arrests are on the rise.
Davis said he considers the overall numbers “a very important start to the year.”
“Whenever you see double-digit reductions in crime, even when it's in a short period of time, it bodes well,” he said.
Mar 22, 2013
Police search for young suspects after Georgia infant shot, killed in stroller
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A young boy opened fire on a woman pushing her baby in a stroller in a Georgia neighborhood, killing the 1-year-old boy and wounding the mother, police said.
The woman, Sherry West, told WAWS-TV that two boys approached her and demanded money Thursday morning. Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green said the boys are thought to be between 10 and 15 years old.
West said she insisted she didn't have any money and tried to protect her son, Antonio, before shots rang out. She had been walking near her home in this coastal city about 80 miles south of Savannah.
"I put my arms over my baby and he shoves me, and then he shot my baby right in the head," West said.
West was shot in the leg.
Richmond police to participate in ‘Tweet-A-Thon'
The Richmond Police Department will join more than 100 law enforcement agencies in eight countries today for a “Global Tweet-A-Thon.”
The department said it will take people along for a virtual ride-along via its Twitter account — @RichmondPolice — from noon until 4 p.m.
Richmond police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh will tweet updates as she is riding with Officer Al Joyner.
“I look forward to giving citizens a realistic idea about the types of things we encounter and deal with on a regular basis,” Joyner said in a news release. “I may be more of a Facebook person than a Twitter person, but I believe social media is key in helping to keep our community informed about what we do.”
Richmond police officials said they believe the Tweet-A-Thon will further community policing efforts and bring attention to the use of social media by police agencies.
Oakland police focus on neighborhoods
Oakland police will switch to a neighborhood system of law enforcement, making high-ranking officers responsible for smaller geographical areas and building stronger ties to residents, in an effort to stretch a shrunken force more effectively and cut the city's crime rate.
Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that police will partition the city into five districts and that captains in each one will answer to him as they develop crime-fighting strategies tailored to individual neighborhoods.
The plan was devised by Robert Wasserman, one of several highly paid consultants hired by city officials to harness Oakland's violent-crime rate, which is the highest in the state. Wasserman and his team, known for emphasizing a community policing philosophy, have won $350,000 in contracts from the City Council in the past year.
Making top officers responsible for relatively small areas is not a unique strategy - San Francisco's Police Department, for example, divides the city into 10 districts, each with its own station run by a captain.
Mar 21, 2013
From the Department of Justice
Acting Assistant Attorney General Elana Tyrangiel Testifies Before the U.S. House Judiciary
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
Chairman Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member Scott, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Department of Justice regarding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). This topic is particularly important to the Department because of the wide-ranging impact the statute has on public safety and both criminal and civil law enforcement operations. We are pleased to engage with the Subcommittee in discussions about how ECPA is used and how it might be updated and improved.
ECPA includes the Pen Register Statute and the Stored Communications Act (SCA), as well as amendments to the Wiretap Act. These statutes are part of a set of laws that control the collection and disclosure of both content and non-content information related to electronic communications, as well as content that has been stored remotely. Although originally enacted in 1986, ECPA has been updated several times since, with significant revisions occurring in both 1994 and 2001.
I intend to focus the majority of my testimony on the SCA, which contains three primary components that regulate the disclosure of certain communications and related data. First, section 2701 of Title 18 prohibits unlawful access to certain stored communications: anyone who obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to those communications is subject to criminal penalties. Second, section 2702 of Title 18 regulates voluntary disclosure by service providers of customer communications and records, both to government and non-governmental entities. Third, section 2703 of Title 18 regulates the government's ability to compel disclosure of both stored content and non-content information from a service provider; it creates a set of rules that all governmental entities must follow in order to compel disclosure of stored communications and other records.
Mar 20, 2013
UCF Gunman's To-Do List Ended With 'Give 'Em Hell'
(Video on site)
The University of Central Florida student who planned to massacre his fellow students had ordered more than $700 worth of weapons online, including two packages of ammunition, gun shooting DVDs, and accessories for his weapons that arrived on campus after the attack had already been thwarted.
The packages contained even more ammunition for the attack that former UCF student James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, planned to carry out Monday morning shortly after midnight.
He already had a handgun, assault rifle, high capacity magazines, and four homemade bombs he hoped to use on fellow students after pulling the fire alarm and forcing them into the crowded hallways, according to police.
University Police Chief Richard Beary said today that Seevakumaran had written out a detailed list of the actions he hoped to take Monday night and crossed off the items as he went, including getting drunk at a bar called Mad Hatters and pulling the fire alarm. Police confirmed that he did both.
The last item on the list was "give 'em hell," but Seevakumaran killed himself before killing any fellow students, Beary said.
Oakland unveils new community policing strategy
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland's police chief says his department is implementing a new crime-fighting strategy that he hopes will allow officers to respond to calls more effectively.
Chief Howard Jordan says the new strategy includes dividing the city into five smaller districts, instead of two massive zones the department has been using.
In announcing the plan Monday, Jordan says the smaller districts will be led by a captain who will oversee about 60 officers. The captains will be encouraged to get more input from residents to help strengthen ties between police and the community. Each district will also have its own citizen's advisory council.
A similar strategy to fight crime with three zones was adopted a few years ago but failed police say because of a lack of officers and equipment. The department switched to covering the city in two large zones not long after 80 officers were laid off in 2010.
Trenton council, residents grill police director about department's crime strategy
TRENTON — Residents and several council members united to ask Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr. the same question tonight: What exactly is the police department's plan to combat the drug dealing, shootings and rash of burglaries and break-ins residents deal with on a daily basis?
Summoned before council for an update on the city's policing strategy, Rivera was equal parts defensive and defiant about his job performance and the state of the department, complaining at times about “sensational” media accounts, a small group of disgruntled officers resistant to change and other community members — an “evil force” — whom he said were “stirring the beehive” and criticizing the reforms he's been trying to institute since taking over the police force nearly one year ago.
“When I got here — I'll be honest — the layoffs destroyed this department,” he said.
Tonight's meeting included a verbal sparring match between Rivera and Councilman George Muschal, who accused the police chief of delegating much of his responsibility to a subordinate and said that his department was on “life support.”
Rivera claimed he inherited a department marred by small pockets of laziness, a lack of supervision, disciplinary problems, an overly generous union contract and low levels of morale spawned by mass layoffs in 2011, but said overtime was down, patrol units beefed up and department resources prioritized to the most high-crime areas of the city over the past year.
Mar 19, 2013
Data help decide police priorities
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association wanted to know what people thought about public safety, so it did something interesting: It asked. The organization, which represents police across the state, recently commissioned a statewide poll conducted by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute.
The Daily Herald Media Editorial Board recently met with WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer to discuss the results. One discovery: Wisconsin is narrowly divided between wanting stricter gun laws and wanting to keep the rules we have — 47 percent want stricter laws; 43 percent want them kept the same. (The poll did not test specific gun control policies.) The respondents also value law enforcement (no surprise) and might be somewhat skeptical about consolidation of government services, with only 28 percent of the public calling that a top priority.
It's always interesting to ask members of the public how they see things, and we appreciate that the WPPA would go to the trouble. It's too common for professional organizations to make assumptions about how people feel without actually investigating.
Here are a few points that stood out to us:
• Consolidation still holds promise. • Community policing costs money. • New drunken driving laws also can be expensive.
2 teens charged with threatening victim in Ohio rape case
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A day after two high school football players were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl, authorities arrested two Ohio girls suspected of making social media threats against the accuser.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the girls arrested Monday posted threatening Facebook and Twitter comments on Sunday, the day the players were convicted in Steubenville.
The rape case brought international attention to the small city of 18,000 and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High School football team.
Steubenville police Capt. Joel Walker said the Jefferson County girls, ages 15 and 16, were being held in juvenile detention.
The older girl was charged with aggravated menacing for a tweet that threatened homicide and said "you ripped my family apart," according to the attorney general's office. A Facebook posting from the younger girl threatened the accuser with bodily harm, leading to a menacing charge, the office said.
3 Ohio teens plead in 'bored' beating case
NORTH COLLEGE HILL, Ohio -- Three of the six teenagers charged with the brutal beating of a man simply because they were bored pleaded guilty Monday in Hamilton County Juvenile Court, officials said.
Daquan Cain, Lamont Champion and Antonio Hendrix, all 14, admitted to one count each of felonious assault in exchange for juvenile prosecutors dropping the aggravated riot charge and a serious youthful offender stipulation that would have sentenced them under a blend of juvenile and adult guidelines, said North College Hill Police Chief Gary Foust.
The teens will be sentenced in April and May by Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter.
They could be placed on probation or incarcerated from a minimum of one year or until they turn 21.
Foust said he hopes the judge locks the boys up."We certainly would like to see some sort of incarceration," he said.
Pearl murder suspect caught in Pakistan
More than a decade after four terrorists were imprisoned for the murder of Daniel Pearl, another suspect has been arrested in the gruesome death of the American journalist four months after 9/11.
Pakistani paramilitary forces have arrested militant leader Qari Abdul Hayee, popularly known as Asadullah. He was captured during a raid on Sunday in Karachi and is apparently being questioned about his possible role in the kidnapping and beheading of Pearl in the winter of 2002, said two paramilitary officials.
Pearl, a former reporter with The Berkshire Eagle and North Adams Transcript, was working for the Wall Street Journal in Pakistan in January 2002, when he was abducted. A month later a video of his execution by Islamic terrorists was delivered to the U.S. consulate in Karachi.
In June 2002, four men were convicted in a Pakistani court of being the masterminds behind Pearl's death. Seven others charged in the case were tried and sentenced in absentia, two of them later killed in encounters with police.
US defence contractor accused of passing on nuclear secrets
Ex-army officer Benjamin Pierce Bishop charged with communicating national defence information to Chinese woman
A US defence contractor in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of passing national military secrets, including classified information about nuclear weapons, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, authorities have said.
Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former US army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defence contractor at US Pacific Command in Oahu, was arrested on Friday and made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, said the US attorney's office for the District of Hawaii.
He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to national defence. If convicted Bishop faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Bishop met the woman – a 27-year-old Chinese national referred to as Person 1 – in Hawaii during a conference on international military defence issues, according to the affidavit.
Prison Rape Elimination Act Can Keep Children Out Of Adult Jails
Jonathan McClard was 16 years old when he was arrested and convicted as an adult for a shooting at a Jackson, Missouri, carwash that seriously injured its victim, Jeremy Voshage, 17.
McClard was initially incarcerated in an adult jail where he was beaten and was a witness to extreme violence and rape. The day that he received his 30-year sentence, the boy was moved to Bowling Green's Northeast Correctional Center, an adult prison.
For a couple of weeks, he was kept on a juvenile wing where he received education, but, his mother remembers, was cited for minor violations and placed into solitary confinement.
Jonathan McClard spent the last month of his life, through Christmas, in solitary confinement. He turned 17 on January 1, 2008.
Three days later, he was found hanging in his cell.
Mar 18, 2013
Texting, handheld phones: Distracted-driving crackdown coming in April
Next month, thousands of cops will fan out across California in a massive crackdown on drivers texting or talking on handheld phones.
And oh, will they be busy, as so many drivers just don't seem to care that these growing forms of distracted driving have been illegal for nearly five years.
New data from police statewide show they issued 425,041 tickets last year for talking on handheld phones -- down about 35,000 from the previous year but still a 41 percent increase from 2009, the first full year of the cellphone ban.
Numbers were much smaller for texting citations: 21,059 in 2012. But that's a 41.5 percent increase from the previous year and a stunning 640 percent surge since 2009. And it's texting that concerns police the most; it's more dangerous because it takes drivers' eyes off the road, and it's harder to ticket because it's easier to hide.
"Surprised, no. Dismayed, yes," said Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety. "After the intense media, public awareness and enforcement campaigns that have been mounted the past four years, we would hope to see a turnaround."
Ohio Attorney General Seeks Grand Jury Probe in Teen Rape
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he's asking a state court to convene a grand jury to consider evidence of broader complicity in the sexual assault of a teenage girl by two high-school football players last year.
The defendants, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, yesterday were found delinquent, the equivalent of guilty, by Judge Thomas Lipps in a juvenile court proceeding in Steubenville, Ohio.
Charges against each included rape by digital penetration and kidnapping of a 16-year-old, De Wine said yesterday in a statement. Mays was also accused of disseminating nudity-oriented materials of a juvenile.
“Every rape is a tragedy. This is tragedy,” the attorney general said. Agents of his office interviewed almost 60 people in connection with the incident, which involved two house parties. Sixteen people refused to be interviewed, he said.
DeWine said his office's Bureau of Criminal Investigation also analyzed almost 400,000 text messages, more than 300,000 photos, 940 video clips and more than 3,000 calls.
Tricked-Out Ride Highlights Community Policing
The Cinnaminson Police Department's community policing officer says his new vehicle 'does turn a lot of heads'—and more importantly, it's got people talking.
Even for the police department, brand recognition is important. That's the idea behind the Cinnaminson Police Department's newly tricked-out community policing vehicle.
Officer Michael Czarzasty, who heads up the department's community policing programs, came up with the idea of snazzing up one of the department's SUVs as a way to give the programs a sort-of rolling advertisement.
"The idea behind the truck was to show all of our programs that we do in the schools and throughout the community, and kind of emphasize the fact that we're proud of what we do and show it off, and also have a car that everybody wants to look at," said Czarzasty. "It does turn a lot of heads."
The vehicle—which was already Czarzasty's regular patrol vehicle—has only been on the road for about three weeks since having the work done, so it's hard to tell whether it's having the desired impact yet.