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.
April 21, 2013
Muslim leaders emphasize bombing suspects are acts of extremists
Local Muslim leaders called for unity among all Americans on Friday and denounced the violent behavior of two Boston Marathon bombing suspects identified in media reports as Muslims of Chechen origin.
Southland Muslims said they were shocked and heartbroken over the recent news, emphasizing the behavior by the two men are acts of extremists and not that of the Islamic community.
"It's very disturbing to us all that our faces are being dragged into the mud by Muslim extremists and how we have to explain to our children what Islam is really about, and we have to explain to the American public what Islam is really about," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council.
"We're not responsible for what happened in Boston but we are responsible for speaking out against violent extremism."
The story behind the two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing
BOSTON (AP) - Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an amateur boxer with muscular arms and enough brio to arrive at a sparring session without protective gear. His younger brother Dzhokhar was popular in high school, won a city scholarship for college and liked to hang out with Russian friends off-campus.
Details of two lives, suddenly infamous, came to light Friday. Overnight, two men previously seen only in grainy camera images were revealed to be ethnic Chechen brothers suspected in a horrific act of terrorism. Tamerlan was dead; his 19-year-old brother would be captured after a furious manhunt that shut down much of Boston.
But the details of their lives shed precious little light on the most vexing question: Why would two brothers who came to America a decade ago turn on their adopted home with an attack on a cherished tradition, the Boston Marathon?
The Tsarnaev family arrived in the United States, seeking refuge from strife in their homeland. "Why people go to America? You know why," the father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said in an interview from Russia, where he lives now. "Our political system in Russia . Chechens were persecuted in Kyrgyzstan, they were problems." The family had moved from Kyrgyzstan to Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia's North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya.
Privacy vs. security: Boston frames surveillance debate
Americans hate Big Brother — until moments like this.
Police state paranoia has long stoked angst and outrage, until an incident like the Boston Marathon bombings takes place and the nation heaves a sigh of relief that security cameras gazed unblinkingly upon Beantown's streets and sidewalks.
Eyes in the sky — cameras that keep tabs on possible red-light runners, peer out at ATM users and stand sentry for commercial businesses — provided investigators key intelligence that led to identifying suspects in the attack. A department store camera held the much-viewed footage released by the FBI.
The developments have once again pitted personal rights against public safety. Politicians at every level — from the sheriff in Tampa to members of Congress — are urging the deployment of more surveillance and law enforcement access to captured material. Civil libertarians and privacy advocates, just as predictably, are preaching restraint.
“There is going to be more of a push to have more cameras on the streets, and it will be difficult to resist that push,” said Neil Richards, a privacy advocate and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He authored a Harvard Law Review paper last month titled “The Dangers of Surveillance,” where he wrote that the amount of observation these days “should give us pause.”
From the White House
President Obama: "We've Seen the Character of Our Country Once More"
After a daylong manhunt that saw police searching door-to-door through Boston, law enforcement officials captured the remaining suspect believed to be responsible for Monday's bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He was ultimately found in Watertown, Massachusetts.
In a statement from the James Brady Briefing Room after the arrest, President Obama commended the response from the state and local police and federal investigators.
"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals," he said. "These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe -- and as this week showed, they don't always know what to expect. So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects and we pray for their full recovery."
While tonight's arrest closes one chapter in this tragedy, we're still left with many questions about these young men. President Obama pledged to put the full weight of the federal government behind finding answers.
Weekly Address: America Stands with the City of Boston
WASHINGTON, DC— In his weekly address, President Obama spoke to the American people about the act of terror at the Boston Marathon that wounded dozens and killed three innocent people on Monday, and said that through it all, Boston's spirit remains undaunted and Americans have proven they refuse to be terrorized. This past week, first responders, race volunteers, doctors and nurses, and the good people of Boston joined together to show the world how Americans respond to evil: with resilience and resolve, and without fear. And that's the way Boston and America will move forward together.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, April 20, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama:
On Monday, an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three innocent people at the Boston Marathon.
But in the days since, the world has witnessed one sure and steadfast truth: Americans refuse to be terrorized.
April 20, 2013
From the Department of Justice
Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Ongoing Investigation into Explosions in Boston
The Attorney General released the following statement today on the ongoing investigation into the explosions in Boston:
“I want to express my deepest sympathies to the victims of yesterday's heinous attack in Boston, to those who suffered injuries, and to those who lost friends and loved ones. All of you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
“As our nation struggles to make sense of this attack, I want to assure the citizens of Boston – and all Americans – that the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and all of our federal, state, and local partners are working tirelessly to determine who was responsible for these unspeakable acts, and to make certain they are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and by any means available to us. To this end, I have directed that the full resources of the Department be deployed to ensure that this matter is fully investigated. We will continue working closely with the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police – who have performed superbly – to respond to this tragedy, to maintain a heightened state of security, and to prevent any future attacks from occurring.
“As President Obama stated earlier today, we are treating this event as an act of terror. This morning, I met with the President and my fellow members of his national security team to discuss our continuing response. Although it is not yet clear who executed this attack, whether it was an individual or group, or whether it was carried out with support or involvement from a terrorist organization – either foreign or domestic – we will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice. The FBI is spearheading a multi-agency investigation through the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force. They are devoting extensive personnel and assets to this effort – and have already begun conducting exhaustive interviews, analyzing evidence recovered from the scene, and examining video footage for possible leads. In addition, the ATF is providing bomb technicians, explosives assets, and other substantial investigative support. The DEA and U.S. Marshals Service are providing further assistance. And the Office of Justice Programs will coordinate victim support that the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may request under the Anti-terrorism Emergency Assistance Program.
From the FBI
Update: FBI Response to Reports of Suspicious Letters Received at Mail Facilities
The FBI, through laboratory testing, has confirmed the presence of the toxin ricin in these letters. Further forensic examination is being conducted.
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans, but the effects of ricin poisoning require ingestion, inhalation, or injection into the body. To date, the FBI is not aware of any illness as a result of exposure to these letters.
The FBI would like to thank our federal, state, and local partners, specifically the U.S. Capitol Police, whose efforts were instrumental in identifying Paul Kevin Curtis, who was arrested and charged with threats against the President and with other threatening communications.
From the Department of Homeland Security
"If You See Something, Say Something" Campaign
The nationwide "If You See Something, Say Something™" public awareness campaign - is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities. The campaign was originally used by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which has licensed the use of the slogan to DHS for anti-terrorism and anti-terrorism crime related efforts.
If you see something suspicious taking place then report that behavior or activity to local law enforcement or in the case of emergency call 9-1-1. Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious. For that reason, the public should report only suspicious behavior and situations (e.g., an unattended backpack in a public place or someone trying to break into a restricted area) rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech unrelated to terrorism or other criminal activity. Only reports that document behavior reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism will be shared with federal partners.
DHS is working to expand “If You See Something, Say Something ™” throughout the country by partnering with a variety of entities including: transportation systems, universities, states, cities, sports leagues and local law enforcement. If you're interested in getting your group involved please contact 202-282-8010.
April 19, 2013
One Boston bombing suspect dead; one sought
BOSTON -- One of the suspects wanted in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing was shot and killed by police and a manhunt was underway for the second suspect, authorities said Friday.
Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police said the first suspect from Monday's bombing was shot by police in a gunfight following a pursuit that began Thursday night in Cambridge and ended a short time later in nearby Watertown. He said that suspect died at a hospital.
Alben said the second suspect, seen in FBI-released photographs wearing a white cap, is still at large. Authorities urged residents in Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge and the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods of Boston to stay indoors. All mass transit was shut down.
Alben described the second suspect as a light-skinned or Caucasian male with brown curly haird ressed in a gray hooded type sweat shirt.
"We are concerned about securing the area and making sure this individual is taken into custody," he said. "We believe this to be a terrorist. We believe this to be a man who has come here to kill people."
From the White House
President Obama: "The American People Refuse to be Terrorized"
Following a briefing from FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and homeland security advisor Lisa Monaco, President Obama went to the Brady Press Briefing Room to update Americans on developments in Boston, following two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon.
"We continue to mobilize and deploy all appropriate law enforcement resources to protect our citizens, and to investigate and to respond to this attack," the President said in a televised address. "Obviously our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans, and took the lives of others, including a 8-year-old boy.
"This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror. What we don't yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual."
In the Face of Evil, Boston Has Shown that Americans Will Lift Up What Is Good
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama today were at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross to attend Healing Our City, an interfaith service dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday's bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In his remarks, the President paid tribute to those whose lives were taken by the bomb blasts on Boylston Street -- to Krystle Campbell, 29, who was "always smiling." And to Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old graduate student from China who had come to "experience all this city has to offer." And finally to Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy from Dorchester whose mother and sister remain in the hospital, fighting to recover from their own injuries. Martin, said President Obama, leaves us with two enduring images, 'forever smiling for his beloved Bruins, and forever expressing a wish he made on a blue poster board: 'No more hurting people. Peace.'"
President Obama also praised the people of Boston, a city both he and the First Lady once called home. Like thousands every year, the two lived there as students -- just one of the many reasons, the President said, that Boston has a hold on so many hearts. "Every fall, you welcome students from all across America and all across the globe, and every spring you graduate them back into the world -- a Boston diaspora that excels in every field of human endeavor," he said. "Year after year, you welcome the greatest talents in the arts and science, research -- you welcome them to your concert halls and your hospitals and your laboratories to exchange ideas and insights that draw this world together."
April 18, 2013
Security video may prove key to finding Boston Marathon bomber
BOSTON — The daunting task of sifting through thousands of images of the Boston Marathon bombing site in search of a culprit telescoped to a single video from a Lord & Taylor security camera Wednesday.
The discovery of video of a man who wore a large backpack to the finish line area and then dropped the package there raised hopes for an imminent breakthrough in the case, setting off a media frenzy and insistent statements from authorities that no arrest has been made. A Boston city official said the video is of "special interest" to investigators.
The second full day of the investigation into the attack that killed three people and injured at least 176 brought jitters, rumors and the hope that investigators had made important progress. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said that although the probe is "making some progress, ... it's going to be slow, it's going to be methodical."
Boston's federal courthouse, where hundreds had gathered in response to false reports of an arrest, was briefly evacuated because of a bomb threat. Officials also evacuated a Boston hospital, Brigham and Women's, and Oklahoma City's City Hall because of suspicious vehicles outside. No explosives were found in those cases.
“Find the man who saved my life,” teenage Boston survivor searching for her on-site hero
17-year-old Sydney Corcoran wants to find thank ‘Matt', for saving her life
The survivors of the Boston marathon bombings are now hunting for the good samaritans who saved their lives. After the initial blasts, kind-hearted spectactors, some with medical training, and some without, rushed to the aid of the injured.
Sydney Corcoran, a 17-year-old high school student severely injured her leg as a result of the blast, and immediately after surgery, requested that her family search for a man only known by his first name, ‘Matt', who helped in her most desperate time of need. Despite suffering massive blood loss, she is expected to recover.
Sydney is now just one of the many survivors looking for those many individuals who put their own lives at risk in order to help the wounded. Her mother, Celeste, however, endured far more serious injuries - she tragically lost both of her legs.
FBI: Miss. man arrested, accused of poisoning Washington letters
OXFORD, Miss. — A Mississippi man was arrested Wednesday, accused of sending letters to President Barack Obama and a senator that tested positive for the poisonous ricin and set the nation's capital on edge a day after the Boston Marathon bombings.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested at 5:15 p.m. at his apartment in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line about 100 miles east of Memphis. It wasn't immediately known where he was being held.
Authorities still waited for definitive tests on the letters to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Preliminary field tests can often show false positives for ricin. The letters were intercepted before reaching the White House or Senate.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said those two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.
Both letters said: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."
Supreme Court rules sobriety blood tests require warrants
In Missouri vs. McNeely, justices uphold the 4th Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches. Emergencies are the exception, not the rule, they say.
WASHINGTON — Police officers usually must have a search warrant before requiring a suspected drunk driver to have his blood drawn, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.
In an 8-1 decision, the justices rejected Missouri prosecutors' contention that police should have the freedom to act quickly and dispense with a warrant because alcohol dissipates in the blood.
Instead, the court said it would hold fast to its view that the 4th Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches" means the police usually need a warrant from a magistrate before invading a person's privacy. And sticking a needle into someone's veins to obtain a sample of blood "is an invasion of bodily integrity [that] implicates an individual's most personal and deep-rooted expectations of privacy," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
But she also said that police sometimes need to act fast and in these cases they do not need to wait for a magistrate. For example, an officer may find it hard to obtain a warrant if a driver is arrested late at night in a rural area.
April 17, 2013
After Boston: In a California terrorist attack, cameras would be watching
'We will be able to piece it together'
If terrorists ever strike Southern California, police and federal agents here will immediately ask the same question those in Boston did Monday: Where are the cameras?
The answer: almost everywhere.
Though there's no guarantee terrorists would be recorded in the act, the chances grow almost every day - as does the size of Southern California's network of public and private surveillance cameras.
Immediately after the Boston Marathon bombings Monday, the FBI started combing through footage taken by cameras in the area. CNN reported Tuesday federal officials said they had not yet found footage of anyone placing the bombs.
Boston bombings: Muslims fear another 'hysteria'
We will know soon enough who unleashed Monday's grotesque violence on Boston. But it is fair to say that many Muslims who heard that explosions had marred the end of the Boston Marathon had a simple, poignant thought: Please don't let it be a Muslim. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/lanow/la-me-robin-abcarian-perspective-20130402,0,101211.storygallery
“Was this thought crossing your mind today?” asked the Facebook page of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, which featured this Washington Post blog post on the subject. “Seems like it was for many Muslims.”
For Muslims who lived through the hysteria that followed the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, and the ugliness of the backlash against Muslims after the 9/11 attacks, such a response is understandable. “It's bad enough we have to witness the tragedy over and over again on CNN, and hear stories of an 8-year-old boy dying,” said MPAC president Salam Al-Marayati. “And then to add to that the idea your religion is going to be dragged through the mud, that's another layer of concern and anxiety.” Not long after the Boston attack, his group issued a press release that was mostly ignored: “MPAC condemns heinous terrorist attack. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Boston.”
It was important to make the statement, Al-Marayati said, because Muslim groups are often unfairly criticized for failing to raise their voices against violence. But even when they raise their voices, he said, they have trouble being heard. “People say, ‘We love your message. How come we don't hear enough of it?'” said Al-Marayati. “Or we still hear, ‘Where is the moderate voice.' We are always struggling to get our message out in a newsworthy fashion. People do pay attention more to extremists because they are the ones who can make news.” Al-Marayati, who is a member of the Faith-Based Advisory Committee of the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, said he thinks there are fewer reflexive attempts to blame Muslims for apparent acts of terror than there used to be. But the attitude lingers.
Envelope containing ricin sent to Sen. Wicker, lawmakers say
An envelope thought to contain ricin was sent to the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Roger Wicker, lawmakers told Fox News on Tuesday.
The letter to the Mississippi Republican was intercepted at an off-site mail screening facility and never reached the Hill.
Authorities declined to comment on a suspect or any other aspect of the investigation being led by Capitol Police, but Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told the Associated Press police have a suspect in mind.
"The person that is a suspect writes a lot of letters to members," McCaskill said as she emerged from a classified briefing.
Testing is apparently still underway. The letter tested positive for ricin in a field test, but the FBI released a statement Wednesday saying tests have shown "inconsistent results" and the substance is being further analyzed.
A Short Recent History of Pressure-Cooker Bombs
Authorities are now saying the explosive devices used in the Boston attack were fashioned from pressure cookers. Yes, like the kitchen pot you might use to cook rice at home. As it happens, pressure cookers have a nefarious reputation in counterterrorism circles. In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was concerned enough about pressure-cooker bombs to issue an alert to federal and state security officials: “A technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps is the use/conversion of pressure cookers into [improvised explosive devices],” the bulletin warned.
That bulletin cited several plots from 2002 to 2004 to use pressure-cooker bombs in France, India and Nepal. But more recently there have been at least three other instances of would-be terrorists in the West, all of them Islamic radicals, in possession of pressure cookers for reasons that seemed not to involve having friends over for dinner. One was an Army private linked to the 2009 Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, who had reportedly been taking bombmaking tips from al-Qaeda's short-lived (literally) online magazine Inspire and had various weapons and explosives along with his cooking pot . (The magazine reportedly recommended pressure cookers as explosive devices.) A 2010 suicide bomber in Stockholm had rigged a pressure-cooker bomb that failed to detonate. And as a newer DHS warning about the kitchen devices noted, the failed 2010 SUV bomb in New York's Times Square was a pressure-cooker device containing 120 firecrackers. The same DHS memo refers to a March 2010 bombing with a pressure cooker at a Western Christian aid agency in Pakistan that killed six people.
Community Police Academy
Plans were announced Tuesday to revise the Citizens Police Academy in Meridian. The initiative started last February. The primary sponsor for the class was the Meridian Police Department. Costing $100 to register, 20 students filled the ten week class.
Mayor Cheri Barry and Acting Police Chief James Sharpe held a news conference Thursday to announce some changes to the initiative. Both say they want to build on the program's success by making it accessible to more people.
"At this time we are going to shorten it to one night so that more people can attend, and at a later time we can go back to the Community Policing Project, but right now we want as many people as possible involved," says Mayor Barry.
The two hour course will cover four main areas: which include the Meridian Police Department's Patrol Division, Criminal Investigation Division, the procedures used for juvenile cases and details about the department's administration and reserve unit.
Law enforcement 2.0: How to build your virtual police department
An effective partnership with your community today means an awareness and a unique media presence
Every police agency is beginning to recognize the unique challenge we all face in this era of Law Enforcement 2.0. The challenge is how to identify and engage our “community” in an ever-changing age of social media and modern technology advancements.
In early 2012, the Redwood City Police Department took this challenge head on and made a conscious decision to implement a new policing model that enhances proven community policing techniques by expanding their reach through the innovative use of technology and social media.
Social media technology + community policing = Social policing
"Social Policing" is the Redwood City Police Department's “Community-Centric” approach to building an effective partnership with our community and it includes a structured approach to building our unique social media presence.
April 16, 2013
Boston Marathon explosion: Other cities beef up security in response to explosions
The explosions at the Boston Marathon led police from Los Angeles to London to increase security. New York City deployed counter-terrorism units at major landmarks, bridges and tunnels. Police in London, which is hosting the next major marathon Sunday, said they are reviewing security plans.
In Washington, police put up yellow caution tape around Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, pushing pedestrians back to Lafayette Park, and increased patrols around the city and on the subway system.
Los Angeles police said they will be adding officers and bomb-sniffing dogs to major sporting events starting with the Dodgers-San Diego Padres baseball game Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Miami-Dade Police Department announced it would be increasing security at areas of "critical infrastructure" in response to the incident.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said security has been boosted at key historic landmarks around the city and additional measures will be taken at a May 5 run in the city. Seattle police said they are increasing patrols in neighborhoods and around city buildings.
April 15, 2013
Panel of local activists and policymakers discuss gun control, call on community to take action
Bronx Community College hosts forum on urban gun violence
As the U.S. Senate readies to begin debate on gun control legislation this week, locally activists and policymakers have already sounded their own call to action.
“(Sandy Hook) triggered this conversation but those of us who live in the Bronx are no strangers to the senseless killing of innocent people,” said Bronx Community College President Carole Berotte Joseph during a special forum on campus last week.
“One of the goals here,” she continued, “is to broaden the conversation on urban gun violence.”
The forum, which drew 250 hundred students, faculty and community members, was the first in a new college lecture series focusing on major issues.
As grim crime statistics flashed on a screen behind them, the panelists debated topics such as universal background checks and effective community policing.
“A lot of time, people say ‘guns don't kill people, people kill people.' But people with guns are killing a lot of people,” said Phillip Thompson, with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Background checks are checking the people, not the guns. It is important that we have a legal framework...because from that framework, we can build.”