NEWS of the Week - May 13 to May 19, 2013
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


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.


May 19, 2013


North Korea fires short-range missiles for two days in a row

(Reuters) - North Korea fired a short-range missile from its east coast on Sunday, a day after launching three of these missiles, a South Korean news agency said, ignoring calls for restraint from Western powers.

Launches by the North of short-range missiles are not uncommon but, after recent warnings from the communist state of impending nuclear war, such actions have raised concerns about the region's security.

"North Korea fired a short-range missile as it did yesterday into its east sea in the afternoon, " South Korea's news agency Yonhap reported, citing a military official.

A South Korean defense ministry official confirmed the Yonhap report, but did not provide any details.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned about North Korea's launch of short-range missiles, urging Pyonyang to refrain from further launches and return to stalled nuclear talks with world powers.




Hero cop, who sat next to the first lady, charged with rape

A former "top cop," who had the honor of sitting next to first lady Michelle Obama during a televised presidential speech four years ago, is facing rape allegations.

Richard DeCoatsworth left a party with two women on Thursday, according to authorities.

The women called authorities and said once they arrived at a second, undisclosed location, the retired officer pulled a gun on them, the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement.

He allegedly forced them "to engage in the use of narcotics and to engage in sexual acts," the statement said. He was charged with rape on Saturday.

DeCoatsworth became a hero in 2007, after an assailant shot him in the face with a shotgun, according to a White House statement preceding President Barack Obama's 2009 speech to Congress.

Then a rookie on the Philadelphia police force, DeCoatsworth had followed a group of men in a car, whose activities he found suspicious. They parked and three men got out of the vehicle.



Should FBI manhunts use drones? US lawmakers debate

At Friday's house hearing on privacy and domestic drones, government representatives and civil rights advocates tried to wrap their brains around a drone-filled future.

Once drones are a common sight as scheduled in 2015, activists have suggested that privacy laws need an update. Police drones, for example, are already proving their use, but will privacy be threatened by more capable technology? Who should regulate their use, and how?

But some who attended the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigationshad questions beyond the issue at hand.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked the assembled panel of drone tech and privacy experts: "Can you shoot down a drone over your property?" Without answering the senator directly, the expert panel pointed out the obvious safety issue of a plummeting drone.

Representatives in government, like many Americans, are still coming to grips with the reality of drone technology, which today spans the range from missile-hurling Predators that land themselves to hobbyist quadracopters with an hour-long battery life that can be carried in a backpack. At a Judiciary Committee hearing on domestic drone regulation in late March, assembled senators were tickled by the idea of a mini drone with a camera in hands of an adolescent child. On Friday, committee participants asked serious questions they hope will be answered long before the drones are flying.




Oakland police struggle to rebuild — using fewer resources

'Working smarter' and reorganization can go only so far. It's not clear that the public is ready to make the investment.

OAKLAND — It was a quiet evening by this city's standards, and still the police emergency lines were lighting up.

As screams rang out behind her, a caller said her neighbor was being beaten. A woman reported that a front door down the street had been bashed in by a possible intruder. Another said a family member with a knife and supply of methamphetamine was threatening to kill herself.

By 7:30 p.m. there were 40 calls requiring squad cars on the eastern half of town but no officers available to respond. The western district wasn't faring much better.

So when a resident phoned to report that someone was removing boxes from his driveway, he was told he'd have to wait. "Can't you just have an officer drive by?' he asked the 911 dispatcher.

Managing expectations amid a rising crime rate is the latest challenge in California's most violent city.

The Oakland Police Department is under pressure to satisfy conditions of a decade-old federal court settlement that stemmed from racial profiling and improper use of force. Two of its chiefs have left in as many years. A quarter of its sworn officers have been lost since 2008 to budget cutbacks. Yet it handles about twice the emergency calls per capita as the average law enforcement agency in the state.



Don't want to be tracked? Turn cellphone off, says magistrate

Don't want your location to be tracked on your cellphone by police? Just turn the GPS off, otherwise you've got no expectation of privacy, a federal magistrate said recently in a ruling. The ACLU calls the decision an "opinion straight from the Twilight Zone," as well as a violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against illegal search-and-seizure.

The case involves a New York doctor who was recently arrested and indicted by the federal government for illegally distributing oxycodone, a prescription medicine for pain. Among the various ways the doctor was tracked by law enforcement, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, was via the GPS signals from his cellphone.

"Although the DEA agents requested a search warrant and the judge found that there was probable cause to believe that the cellphone location data would assist in the location and apprehension of an individual for whom there was already a valid arrest warrant, the judge later published a 30-page opinion further stating that he didn't think the government needed to seek a search warrant in the first place," writes Chris Soghoian of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

The opinion by U.S. magistrate Gary R. Brown notes that the defendant in the case could have turned off his phone if he didn't want to be tracked.



May 18, 2013



AG Kamala Harris meets with DAs to reduce gun violence

Bringing together district attorneys and law enforcement officials from throughout the state, Attorney General Kamala Harris convened a working group Friday to develop a strategy on how to better enforce gun laws, particularly for those prohibited from owning a firearm.

"We need to eliminate and reduce gun violence in California," Harris said during a news conference at the Los Angeles Police Department administration building. "We came together to talk about best practices and what we can do to bring our resources together."

Harris said she is particularly concerned with enforcement of the state's Armed Prohibitive Persons System, a list of people with criminal records, mental illness or court orders banning them from owning a gun.

California has a backlog of 20,000 people who might be prohibited from owning firearms and whose names have to be checked on that list. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said his department receives a monthly list of 3,000 people who are checked out as quickly as possible by either his 20-officer gun unit or officers assigned in divisions to check on the parole status of individuals.



Inmates report sexual abuse at L.A. County jails

Jails in downtown Los Angeles are among the worst in the nation when it comes to inmates alleging sexual abuse by fellow convicts or even the deputies guarding them, according to a new survey from the U.S. Justice Department.

The survey found that 8 percent of respondents at the downtown Twin Towers Corrections Facility complained of "sexual victimization" - compared to a national average of 3.2 percent. At Men's Central Jail next door, the rate was 6.9 percent.

The "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates" survey was mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

Sheriff Lee Baca's spokesman, Steve Whitmore, said the department was taking the survey seriously.

"We're going to analyze this and take appropriate action," he said. "If anything needs to be done, we're certainly going to do it."

He seemed skeptical about the findings, however, pointing out that about half of the Twin Towers' 3,300 inmates are mentally ill.



Half of U.S. public pools contaminated by feces

WASHINGTON — Human feces taints more than half of public swimming pools, a finding U.S. health officials are using to urge better personal hygiene as the summer months approach.

E. coli, which indicates the presence of fecal matter, was detected in 58 percent of samples taken from pool filters by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to data released Thursday by the Atlanta-based agency. Pools frequented mostly by children were more likely to test positive for E. coli, which can cause stomach and respiratory illness.

Municipal pools open to all were worse than public pools requiring membership, the CDC said. Acute gastrointestinal illness related to recreational water sports has substantially increased since 1978, with diarrheal incidents and other poor swimmer hygiene being a major contributor, the CDC said.

"Finding a high percentage of E. coli-positive filters indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a fecal incident in the water or when feces rinse off of their bodies because they do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water," the agency said in a statement.

The CDC tested pool water from filters around the Atlanta area in June through August 2012. It's unlikely that swimmer hygiene differs in other areas, the CDC said.



North Korea Fires Missiles Into Sea

SEOUL—North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into the sea off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula on Saturday, once again stirring tensions that had appeared to ease in the wake of a recent series of bellicose statements directed at South Korea and the U.S.

Analysts said the launches were likely intended not only as a protest against the joint South Korean-U.S. military drills in the East Sea earlier this week, but also as a political gambit aimed ultimately at drawing a dialogue offer from the U.S.

The launches come several weeks after the final group of South Korean workers returned home from a jointly run industrial park inside North Korea, after Pyongyang blocked inbound traffic into the complex.

The closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex—-the last outpost of inter-Korean economic cooperation—in turn followed weeks of near-daily verbal attacks by North Korea against the South and the U.S. after the U.N. imposed tougher sanctions against Pyongyang following its third nuclear test in February.



States cracking down on drunken boating

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, Coast Guard says.

It's not just the highways: With the summer recreational boating season just getting underway, several states are moving to cut down on boating under the influence.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. It was the main factor in 17% of the 651 deaths involving registered recreational vehicles in 2012; that was a slight uptick from 16% the year before.

National Safe Boating Week begins Saturday, and some states are moving to reverse that trend:

Georgia on Wednesday lowered its blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from .10 to .08, the same threshold for drivers; it also enacted harsher penalties for those convicted of boating while intoxicated. "We believe getting a drunk boater off the water gets a drunk driver off the roads," said Harris Blackwood, director of the state's Governor's Office of Highway Safety."That's because they're eventually going to head back to shore and most likely get in their car."



Seattle mayor asks community members to contribute to data-driven "Predictive Policing"

SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle police Deputy Chief Nick Metz announced Friday that new "Predictive Policing" software will be deployed in all five Seattle police precincts. McGinn and Metz asked community members to get involved by reporting crimes proactively.

“The software has been used by police departments all over the nation to reduce crime through deep analysis of crime and location data,” a statement from the mayor's office said. “The software makes predictions about the places where crime is likely to occur, based on crime and location data from police reports. It does not predict who, only where. But by knowing the place where crimes are likely to occur, it enables SPD to deploy patrols where they are most needed, and it allows the community to develop strategies to make places safer.”

"We've heard from communities, particularly in the North Precinct, through our Safe Communities outreach process that we need better data analysis to prevent property crime," said McGinn. "We've had anecdotal successes with the pilot project in East and Southwest Precincts, so we're expanding Predictive Policing citywide. We're asking the community to get involved by reporting even minor property crimes so we can improve our data set and predict where crime is likely to occur. This is a tool that can help us prevent some crimes before they happen, so it's very important that community members get involved.”

“Predictive Policing is a technology tool that increases our odds of stopping crime because it tells law enforcement when and where crime is likely to occur” said Metz. “With the community's help, we can prevent some crimes before they take place by being in the right place at the right time.”



13 People Shot In Detroit Within 24-Hour Period

Detroit recently hired a new police chief.

But if Chief James Craig was expecting a honeymoon period, he was sadly mistaken. Fox 2 News Detroit reports that 13 people were shot within a 24-hour period. Though, during a press conference this week, the department failed to mention it, according to Fox 2 News.

In fact, when a reporter asked about the high number of shootings during a press conferece, a police department spokesperson shut it down. For some reason, asking about crime numbers seemed to be a bit of an issue.

It's something that Detroit Police Commission Chairman Rev. Jerome Warfield says he wants to change.

“Part of community policing is to arm the community with as much information as you can give them in order [that] they may look out for you,” Warfield said. “If these type of activities are going on, then the community can coalesce and come together and then be able to help the police in their job.”



From the FBI

Internet Crime 2012
IC3 Releases Annual Report

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, had received dozens of complaints about a St. Louis woman who was selling what she claimed were designer handbags. Buyers spent as much as $100,000 for a single bag, but ended up with either knock-off bags or sometimes nothing at all…and the woman refused to refund their money. The IC3 forwarded the complaints to the St. Louis FBI Field Office, and after an investigation, the woman was charged with selling counterfeit goods and ultimately pled guilty last year .

This case is an example of the effectiveness of the IC3—a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Submissions to this central hub for Internet-related crime complaints can not only lead to culprits getting caught, but also help identify trends that are then posted on the IC3's website to educate the public about constantly evolving cyber threats and scams.

Today, as part of its ongoing education and prevention mission, the IC3 released its latest annual snapshot of online crime and fraud—the 2012 Internet Crime Report . While there is no end to the variety of cyber scams, the report highlights some of the most frequent ones from 2012. Here are a few examples of what to look for to help keep you from being victimized: Auto fraud: Criminals attempt to sell vehicles that they really don't own, usually advertising them on various online platforms at prices below market value. Often the fraudsters claim they must sell the vehicles quickly because they are relocating for work, are being deployed by the military, or have a tragic family circumstance and are in need of money. And in a new twist, criminals are posing as dealers rather than individual sellers.



Police Week: Honoring the Fallen

Candlelight Vigil Held for Fallen Officers

Thousands of law enforcement officers from around the country gathered last night at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for a candlelight vigil to honor fallen officers. The names of more than 19,000 men and women grace the memorial's marble walls. On Monday, 321 new names were officially added, including 120 who died last year. The names of the fallen were read aloud after thousands of participants passed a flame from candle to candle. In remarks to participants, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napoitano saluted those who wear the badge.

“Heroes, patriots, and role models who did not flinch at the first sign of danger,” she said, “but like all law enforcement, acted to protect us even though their lives were on the line.” (Photo Gallery -- Candlelight Vigil)

Attorney General Eric Holder said the officers died doing what they loved.

“They helped to make this world a far better, and safer, place,” Holder said. “And, despite the fact that these brave officers were taken from us far too suddenly—and far too soon—their legacies and contributions will always endure.”



May 17, 2013


LAPD consent decree dismissed, federal oversight ends

Twelve years of federal oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department officially ended this week when a federal judge formally dismissed the consent decree that changed how the department handled public complaints, disciplined its officers and trained its cadets.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary A. Feess, who oversaw the decree from its inception in 2000-01 and imposed tough deadlines on the LAPD to comply with its provisions, signed the final order dismissing the decree on Wednesday. He ordered it dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be reconsidered.

Mayor Antonio Villaraiogsa, Police Chief Charlie Beck and other LAPD officials hailed the court's action and what it represents for the city.

"With this ruling, Judge Feess has recognized the tremendous strides we have made in recognizing constitutional principles as a bedrock of the department," Villaraigosa said. "The entire department has made these reforms, their reforms."

Villaraigosa said the LAPD was "once an example of how not to police a major city" and has now become a model for big-city police agencies.



U.S. lost track of two with known or suspected terror ties

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Marshals Service lost track of two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program "identified as known or suspected terrorists," according to the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General's report obtained by CNN.

The Marshals Service has concluded that "one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States," according to the summary.

A Justice Department official said in response to follow up questions about the matter by reporters on Thursday that the pair had left the program years ago and had been accounted for. It was not clear when or for how long the Marshals Service lost track of them.

The report notes that while in the middle of an audit of the witness program, the inspector general notified the Justice Department of national security vulnerabilities.

The agency watchdog "developed the interim report to help ensure that the Justice Department promptly and sufficiently addressed the deficiencies we found."



Feds arrest Idaho man on terror charges

Federal agents arrested an Uzbekistan man in Idaho on ties to terrorism, claiming he provided cash and support to a militant group in his country in order to carry out an attack on unspecified targets.

Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, was arrested at his Boise apartment on Thursday and is scheduled for his first appearance in U.S. District Court on Friday morning, The Associated Press reported.

His arrest came on the heels of a lengthy investigation, AP said. His charges, AP said: One count of conspiracy to give material support to a foreign terrorist group; one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; and one charge of possession of an unregistered explosive device.

Mr. Kurbanov also faces a charge in Utah related to distributing information about explosives and weapons of mass destruction, AP reported.

Wendy Olson, the U.S. attorney in Idaho, didn't release details of Mr. Kurbanov's alleged activities — and declined to say if the planned targets were on American soil. The U.S. attorney's office did say Mr. Kurbanov was in the United States legally, though, AP said.



Third Sexual Assault Prevention Official Fired

A third military sexual assault prevention official was removed from his position Thursday after an Army lieutenant colonel was arrested in a domestic dispute, according to officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., the officer's home station.

Lt. Col. Darin Haas, the Fort Campbell Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention/Equal Opportunity program manager, turned himself in to police Wednesday on charges of violating an order of protection and stalking.

Haas is involved in a “contentious divorce” with his ex-wife, and both have mutual orders of protection against one another, according to a statement released by Fort Campbell. Army officials immediately removed Haas from his position as a sexual assault prevention official upon learning of the arrest, said Master Sgt. Pete Mayes, a Fort Campbell spokesman.

The Fort Campbell officer is the third sexual assault prevention official to be removed from his job since May 5, when the Air Force branch chief for the service's Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office was arrested after allegedly groping a woman near a strip club a mile from the Pentagon.

The Army is also investigating Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen, coordinator of a sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood, Texas, for sexual assault and allegations he forced at least one woman into a prostitution ring. He was immediately removed from his job.



Judge Lets Ariz. Immigrant License Policy Stand

A judge on Thursday refused to halt Gov. Jan Brewer's order that denies driver's licenses for young immigrants in Arizona who have gotten work permits and avoided deportation under an Obama administration policy.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a request from immigrant rights advocates for a preliminary injunction and threw out one of their arguments, but their lawsuit remains alive as they pursue arguments that the young immigrants are suffering from unequal treatment.

Arizona's refusal to view those in President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as legal residents has become the most visible challenge to his announcement in June that some young immigrants would be protected from deportation. The Department of Homeland Security has said immigrants with work permits issued under the policy are lawfully present in the U.S.

Campbell rejected the argument by immigrant rights advocates who said Brewer's policy was unconstitutional because it's trumped by federal law.



May 16, 2013


National board wants states to impose tougher drunk driving limits

States may consider lowering the standard for drunken driving to the level of a single dry martini after a recommendation Tuesday from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB wants state legislatures to drop the measure from the current blood alcohol level of .08 to .05, about that caused by a dry martini or two beers in a 160-pound person. The .08 standard might allow the same person to drive legally after two beers or a couple of margaritas, according to a University of Oklahoma calculator.

"The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC above 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "Our goal is to get to zero deaths, because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable. They are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will."

The NTSB has no authority to impose its recommendations but provides an influential voice in the setting of safety standards. The board's proposal got an immediate positive response from an organization of state highway safety officials.




Authorities: Quabbin reservoir tests normal after trespassing arrests

State police are increasing their patrols at water supply facilities after seven people were found trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown — but authorities said the primary drinking water source of Boston and 40 other communities is safe.

“As an extra precaution, water quality samples were analyzed at MWRA's lab yesterday and all came back normal,” said Ria Convery of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. “There is no evidence of any water quality issues at the Quabbin Reservoir following the trespassing incident.”

State police alerted the Springfield office of the FBI, which is investigating the five men and two women, who are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.

“There was no evidence of terrorism or any crime committed beyond the trespassing,” said state police spokesman David Procopio.

The septet, who a state trooper came upon parked in two cars at 12:30 a.m. yesterday morning, said they were chemical engineers and recent college graduates. They told the trooper they wanted to see the Quabbin because of their career interests, according to state police spokesman David Procopio.




Two community policing programs open application process

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright recently announced that both COPS Hiring Program and Community Policing Development Programs have opened their application process.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright recently announced that both COPS Hiring Program and Community Policing Development Programs have opened their application process.

"I urge every community make an effort to complete and submit an application for these two programs," said Rep. Cartwright.

"Both programs are aimed at helping to make our communities safer and I encourage local municipalities to contact my office (570-341-1050) if they have any questions or need help completing the application."

COPS Hiring Program (CHP)

The application period for the 2013 COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is now open. Applications for this year's CHP solicitation must be completed and submitted by 7:59 PM EDT on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 in order to receive consideration.

CHP is a competitive grant program that provides funding directly to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies having primary law enforcement authority for the hiring or re-hiring of additional officers to impact their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.




Police aim to build relationships via 'community policing'

What do you think of when you hear the word “police?” A badge? A squad car? Maybe your last ticket? Ripon Police hope to change that image, and replace it with a new one:

A face.

As part of an ongoing effort to help citizens get to know the department, the Ripon Police Department has started a “community policing” initiative. The goal is to build relationships between specific officers and businesses, as well as residents, within a given part of the city.

This, as well as other recent programs held by the department, also aim to rectify what police leadership see as a sort-of PR problem. It's not that people think badly of the department — it's that they don't know the department.




Support our police officers and partner with them to build safer communities

While driving my cruiser down the road, I noticed one of our police officers standing in a sewer. All I could see of him was his head and his chest as he was handing something to another officer who was assisting him. Curious what they were up to, I turned around to learn that they were rescuing little goslings who were trapped in the sewer. Once reunited with their mother -- who at first went after the officer in the sewer -- the birds were safely on their way, as were the officers. For these two officers, it was just another day of "protecting and serving" -- to even our little feathered friends. The disparity that police officers can experience in their daily tours of duty can be quite interesting. Years earlier, the officer in the sewer had entered a room during a SWAT call to help rescue a woman held hostage by a gunman.

As Americans watch police officers throughout the country remember fallen peers during memorial services Friday, including our own parade, we should look for ways to develop a deeper relationship between the "server" and the "served." That will help make our neighborhoods safer places to live, which, in turn, can help reduce our officers' exposure to harm.

From a police perspective, departments and officers can embrace an empathetic model of policing which can have a huge impact on strengthening that critical relationship. An empathetic police model of service is essentially an enhancement of community policing in general and starts at the hiring process, is developed during training and continues throughout an officer's career through a culture of professionalism and trust. Caring about those we serve to make going "above and beyond" the norm is what the empathetic police model is all about.




Some In Oakland See Choice Between Police Reforms and Public Safety

The Oakland Police Department seemed to be specializing in chaos last week.

On May 3, a scathing report was issued by Thomas Frazier, the court-appointed overseer charged with ensuring that the department complies with long-delayed reforms stemming from a 10-year-old federal lawsuit. Five days later, the department's consultant Bill Bratton was supposed to release his plan for improving OPD's crime reduction efforts. Instead, Police Chief Howard Jordan retired. Two days after that, his interim replacement, Anthony Toribio, was himself replaced by Deputy Chief Sean Whent after Toribio stepped down, taking the much lower rank of captain. And when Bratton's plan was finally released, it called out some significant shortcomings in the department -- like there being only one part-time investigator assigned to 13,000 burglaries.

As if three chiefs in three days wasn't enough, some observers say the person truly running the department is Frazier, the federal overseer whose main priority is not necessarily public safety but making sure that the department complies with constitutional policing procedures mandated by the reform agreement.

On yesterday's Forum with Michael Krasny, Geoff Collins, a former member of Oakland's Community Policing Advisory Board, voiced concerns about the competing priorities:

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind last week, the week of the three chiefs should have ended it. Tom Frazier and Robert Warshaw [a court-appointed monitor] are in complete control of this department. And that's fine ... but is Tom Frazier accountable to the citizens of Oakland for public safety? We know he's accountable to the judge for compliance. And I believe the concern in the community right now is when you have this rampant crime, you have this good plan put forward by Bratton and Wassserman ... where will commissioner Frazier's emphasis be? Will it be on the compliance issues? Will it be on supporting the Bratton plan?



May 15, 2013


Military sexual assault: Another prevention coordinator investigated

Another U.S. service member is being investigated for ”abusive sexual contact” and other alleged misconduct just one week after an Air Force officer working in the sexual assault prevention office was arrested and charged with sexual battery. The U.S. Army Sergeant First Class who had been assigned as a coordinator of a sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood, Texas, has been suspended from all duties.

A defense official says that this Sergeant 1st Class is being investigated for forcing at least one subordinate soldier into prostitution, and for sexually assaulting two other soldiers. Stationed at the Army's 3rd Corps headquarters in Fort Hood, the sergeant also worked as an equal opportunity adviser. The allegations surfaced while the soldier worked with one of the Corps' subordinate battalions.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a full investigation. Special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are conducting the investigation. The soldier has not been charged and the Army has not released his identity.

A statement released by the Pentagon said that all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters will be re-trained to address the broader concerns in light of recent events. “I cannot convey strongly enough [Secretary Hagel's] frustration, anger, and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” the statement read.



Vermont OKs assisted suicide bill

The approval of an assisted suicide bill in Vermont brings to a close a 10-year battle in the state over the issue and delivers the third state-level victory for advocates seeking to advance the policy nationwide.

But the national implications for the bill — which won legislative approval Monday night and allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to some terminally ill patients — are tough to pinpoint. Backers were quick to say the momentum could open the door to advancing similar policies in states that have long resisted them.

“This historic legislative victory proves that the aid-in-dying issue is no longer the third rail of politics,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, who suggested neighboring states might take a fresh look.

But Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who strongly supports the measure and plans to sign it within six days, was more cautious about its implications. He said Vermont's action will surely influence the country's dialogue on end-of-life issues, but he acknowledged his state's path to legalizing assisted suicide is the result of a decadelong internal debate.

“We've had a very respectful, dignified conversation about a difficult issue where there are strongly held beliefs on both sides,” he said in a phone interview.



Iowa City OK's application for grant to put cops in schools

If approved, Council members want focus to be on improved relationships rather than increased criminal cases

IOWA CITY – The City Council Tuesday night OK'd a grant application that would provide money to put armed police officers in secondary schools in the Iowa City Community School District.

The intent is to hire two new police officers to serve as what are known as school resource officers in the district's three high schools and three junior high schools.

The move comes as school safety has taken on added significance following last December's deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

The City Council voted 6-1 to apply for the federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant, but not without some questions about the wisdom of such a choice.

Council member Jim Throgmorton, who cast the dissenting vote, said he was worried increasing the police presence in schools would increase the likelihood young people get drawn into the criminal justice system.



May 14, 2013


Justice Department secretly obtains Associated Press phone records

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than a hundred journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.



Study: Feds lack data on how to stem border crossings

Think tank says it will cost $2 million a year to determine border solutions.

PHOENIX -- A lack of solid data on what deters illegal border crossings has been one of the biggest hang-ups as the U.S. Senate debates an immigration and border-security bill.

The Department of Homeland Security can say how much it spent last year on border enforcement ($18 billion). It can say how many crossers agents apprehended at the border (364,768).

Homeland Security officials admit their data is much fuzzier, though, when it comes to how many got away and to what worked and what didn't: More agents? More drones? More workplace enforcement?

But the DHS could collect the data it needs for about $2 million a year, according to a study released Monday by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Compared with what the country spends on border enforcement, that amounts to a penny out of every $900.




West Bridgewater police strengthen ties with community by going back to school

WEST BRIDGEWATER — As schools in every community look to build a police presence in non-threatening ways, West Bridgewater has come up with a novel strategy to accomplish that.

Police have started filling out their regular reports on laptop computers inside school buildings, rather than at the police station.

“First, this extends the time the police are in the schools because they can file their reports on their laptops and their presence in the buildings will beef up security,” said police Lt. Victor Flaherty

“Second, it's a win-win because we're doing more with less and it costs us nothing to do this,” he added.

The police department already owns the four laptops used by officers for daily work.

This new approach comes after police earlier this spring began random daily patrols at each of the town's four schools.



May 13, 2013


New Orleans shooting: 19 shot at Mother's Day parade

Police today are searching for three suspects after 19 people, including two children, were shot in New Orleans on Sunday while watching a Mother's Day parade.

Ten men, seven woman, a girl and a boy both age 10 were hit when wild gunfire opened up at about 1:45 p.m. as the parade marched along North Villere Street, according to police spokesman Garry Flot.

Two victims are undergoing surgery, Flot said in a statement. The children were grazed and are in good condition, he said. It was unclear if the victims were marching or bystanders watching the parade.

Police superintendent Ronal Serpas told reporters that officers saw three suspects running away, with one about age 18 to 22. No arrests were made.

"It appears that these two or three people, for reasons unknown to us, started shooting at, towards or in the crowd," Serpas said, adding that the incident was over in "just a couple of seconds."



Ohio Suspect's Brothers: Hope He 'Rots in Jail'


The two brothers of the Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for about a decade say they have no sympathy for him. One called him a "monster" who he hopes "rots in jail."

Onil and Pedro Castro told CNN that they want Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight to know how sorry they are for their ordeal.

"I'm just grateful they are home and out of that horrible house, and I'd just tell them I'm sorry for what Ariel done," said Pedro Castro, 50.

The brothers were initially taken into custody but released after investigators said there was no evidence against them. Brother Ariel Castro has been charged with rape and kidnapping and is being held on $8 million bond.

Pedro Castro says he was shocked to learn DeJesus was a victim, because they'd known her father for a long time, and Ariel even went to a vigil for her when she went missing.



Nashua Man Convicted and Sentenced to 18 Years for 22-Year-Old Murder

Extensive Cooperation Between Greek, U.S., and New Hampshire Authorities in Greek Court Conviction

New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney, United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire John P. Kacavas, Nashua Police Chief John J. Seusing, and FBI Supervisory Special Agent for New Hampshire Kieran L. Ramsey announced that Steven Kamberidis (age 45), who fled New Hampshire in 1991 to avoid sentencing for the murder of his 2-year-old stepson, James Chartier, has been convicted of the crime by a Greek Court and sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment.

Kamberidis was apprehended in Greece by the Hellenic National Police in February 2013, following tireless efforts by New Hampshire authorities, the FBI, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Hampshire, Department of Justice, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and the Department of State. The Athens Criminal Court subsequently affirmed his conviction for the murder of James Chartier and on April 29, 2013, and the court sentenced Kamberidis to 18 years' imprisonment. Extensive collaboration between U.S. and Greek authorities in sharing the facts of the original investigation and the charging and court documents from New Hampshire was instrumental in Kamberidis' conviction in the Athens Criminal Court.

After Kamberidis' more than two decades on the run, his arrest and conviction in Greece underscore the tenacity of the New Hampshire law enforcement community to ensure that justice was served for James Chartier. We deeply appreciate the cooperation of the Greek authorities, in particular, the Greek Ministry of Citizens Protection, the Ministry of Justice, and the Hellenic National Police, in pursuing the case.