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 26, 2013
From the White House
Giving Thanks to our Fallen Heroes this Memorial Day
WASHINGTON, DC— In this week's address, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country. The President said that America has always risen to meet and overcome its challenges because of their brave sacrifice, and asked all Americans to honor our fallen heroes and to stand with our veterans and military families as we come together this weekend.
Remarks of President Barack Obasma
Hi, everybody. This week, I've been speaking about America's national security – our past, our present, and our future.
On Thursday, I outlined the future of our fight against terrorism – the threats we face, and the way in which we will meet them.
On Friday, I went to Annapolis to celebrate the extraordinary young men and women of the United States Naval Academy's Class of 2013 – the sailors and Marines who will not only lead that fight, but who will lead our country for decades to come.
And on Monday, we celebrate Memorial Day. Unofficially, it's the start of summer – a chance for us to spend some time with family and friends, at barbecues or the beach, getting a little fun and relaxation in before heading back to work.
Obama refocuses terror threat to pre-9/11 level
WASHINGTON—Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.
Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat—a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.
His speech Thursday was designed to move America's mindset away from a war footing and refine and recalibrate his own counterterrorism strategy. Obama asserted that al-Qaida is "on the path to defeat," reducing the scale of terrorism to pre-Sept. 11 levels. That means that with the Afghanistan war winding down, Obama is unlikely to commit troops in large numbers to any conflict—in Syria or other countries struggling with instability in the uncertain aftermath of the Arab Spring—unless, as his critics fear, he tragically has underestimated al-Qaida's staying power.
"Wishing the defeat of terrorists does not make it so," said Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In Thornberry's view, Obama is pushing the idea that "we can simply declare al-Qaida beaten and go back to the pre-9/11 era."
Oregon teen planned Columbine-style attack at his school
Sniffer dogs will search an Oregon high school for explosives before students return from the Memorial Day weekend, because one of their classmates was planning to attack them with bombs and bullets, police said.
The 1999 shooting spree at Colorado's Columbine High School served as Grant Acord's benchmark and inspiration, Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson said. But the prosecutor said the teen wanted to top Columbine in a planned attack at West Albany High School.
With the help of explosive devices, checklists and diagrams, Acord made "some adjustments that would make it a greater success," Haroldson said.
The prosecutor said police found six types of explosives in the 17-year-old's possession after they arrested him Thursday night at his mother's house in Albany, Oregon.
They recovered napalm, pipe and drain cleaner bombs, as well as Molotov cocktails Friday from "a secret compartment that had been created in the floorboards" of the teen's bedroom, Haroldson said.
Connecticut Leads the Way on Protecting Children
At a town hall meeting today on school safety at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford, I got to hear firsthand how Connecticut is leading the nation in adopting common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence and improve school safety.
In the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, the courage and resilience of teachers, parents, children, and communities in the Newtown area has been nothing short of remarkable.
From Governor Dannel Malloy to state lawmakers to the members of the Sandy Hook Promise, the entire state worked together to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence.
Unlike here in Washington, Connecticut's lawmakers didn't defend the status quo or shrink from tackling difficult questions. With bipartisan support, they enacted a comprehensive law to help curb gun violence and mass shootings that does not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and hunt.
May 25, 2013
Judge rules against 'America's toughest sheriff' in racial profiling lawsuit
PHOENIX -- (Reuters) -- Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio violated the constitutional rights of Latino drivers in his crackdown on illegal immigration, a federal judge found on Friday, and ordered him to stop using race as a factor in law enforcement decisions.
The ruling against the Maricopa County sheriff came in response to a class-action lawsuit brought by Hispanic drivers that tested whether police can target illegal immigrants without racially profiling U.S. citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.
U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ruled that the sheriff's policies violated the drivers' constitutional rights and ordered Arpaio's office to cease using race or ancestry as a grounds to stop, detain or hold occupants of vehicles - some of them in crime sweeps dubbed "saturation patrols."
"The great weight of the evidence is that all types of saturation patrols at issue in this case incorporated race as a consideration into their operations," Snow said in a written ruling.
He added that race had factored into which vehicles the deputies decided to stop, and into who they decided to investigate for immigration violations.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to appeal ruling in racial profiling case
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will appeal a federal judge's ruling that his agency systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency racially profiles people.
Tim Casey, the lead attorney representing America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in the case, said an appeal of the finding that the agency racially profiles people was planned in the next 30 days.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in Phoenix backs up years of allegations from Arpaio's critics who say his officers violate the constitutional rights of Latinos in relying on race in their immigration enforcement.
Snow, whose ruling came more than eight months after a seven-day, non-jury trial, also ruled Arpaio's deputies unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people who were pulled over.
The ruling marks a thorough repudiation of the immigration patrols that made Arpaio a national political figure, and it represents a victory for those who pushed the lawsuit.
Foley Police to host ‘Coffee with a Cop'
FOLEY — On Thursday, officers from Foley Police Department and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee at “Coffee with a Cop.”
All community members are invited to attend. The event begins at 10 a.m. Thursday at Cracker Barrel in Foley.
“Coffee with a Cop” provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department's work in Foley's neighborhoods.
The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship-building with the community, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. “Coffee with a Cop” breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
“We hope the community members feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns or simply get to know our officers,” Foley Police Chief David Wilson said. “These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships.”
Lakewood Police Fair will take place June 7
The Lakewood Police Department's neighborhood officers will be hosting a police fair from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 at the Woman's Club Pavilion in Lakewood Park, 14532 Lake Avenue.
The event will highlight several of the department's units, and their roles in the community.
Mayor Mike Summers said recent events including the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the recovery of three kidnapping victims in Cleveland underscore the importantce of citizens working closely with public safety forces.
“In Lakewood, we place great emphasis on our community policing strategy," Summers said. "This strategy is focused on working with citizens to leverage each other's role in making our neighborhoods safe. This Safety Fair is one of many important elements of our community policing strategy.”
May 24, 2013
Uninsured can shop for health care plans
Californians can now view a list of health plans that are competing to provide policies to the millions of uninsured residents who need health care coverage to meet the Affordable Care Act's deadline, state officials announced Thursday.
Covered California, a five-member board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators that operates the exchange, unveiled the 13 health insurers who have agreed to be part of the marketplace, including the state's largest health insurers such as Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente.
Consumers can go on to CoveredCA.com and compare plans under tiered policies that include Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum - each providing different levels of out-of-pocket costs, based on income. The plans listed are for individual coverage. Small business owners will view different rates which will be available in June. All who qualify can begin purchasing insurance in October.
The rates, however, are still subject to review by the Department of Managed Health Care and other regulators, Covered California officials said.
‘War on terror' redefined
President Obama said Thursday that the United States has reached a ‘crossroads' in its fight against terrorism and that it is time to redefine and recalibrate a war that eventually will end,” the Washington Post reports.
“Far from repudiating the controversial use of drones against terrorist targets, Obama defended the tactic as effective, legal and life-saving.
But he acknowledged that threat levels have fallen to levels not seen since before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, requiring new criteria for the use of lethal force.”
New evidence in Zimmerman case: Trayvon texted about fighting, smoking marijuana
The evidence that George Zimmerman's attorneys have uncovered on Trayvon Martin's cellphone paints a troubling picture of the Miami Gardens teenager: He sent text messages about being a fighter, smoking marijuana and being ordered to move out of his home by his mother.
And photos from that phone offer more of the same: healthy green plants — what appear to be marijuana — growing in pots and a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.
Defense attorneys on Thursday gave formal notice to prosecutors that they intend to use those and other reputation-damaging pieces of evidence about Trayvon once Zimmerman's second-degree-murder trial begins June 10.
Prosecutors say they're not relevant and should be barred.
Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson must decide. Those issues may come up at a hearing Tuesday in Sanford.
Overall, the evidence made public Thursday by Zimmerman's attorneys portray Trayvon as a wannabe gangster who couldn't stay out of trouble.
Dearborn Police Department trains and hosts all female Iraqi police delegation
DEARBORN – The Dearborn Police Department was selected by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as one of 23 American law enforcement agencies to provide leadership, tactical, and field training to Iraqi Police Officials.
The Dearborn Police Department hosted 10 female Iraqi Police Officers from the 12th to the 19th of May, 2013. This all female Iraqi police delegation marks the first time female officers have participated in police training in the U.S. While with the Dearborn Police Department, the Iraqi Police observed field training officers and techniques, were embedded with patrol officers and specialized units, met with command staff, street officers and detention officials, and were also exposed to American police training techniques and curriculum.
“The Dearborn Police Department is proud to have provided training to this group of Iraqi female Police Officers. We valued this training experience and believe it serves to better safeguard the world from violent extremism,” said Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad.
The Iraqi police officers are participating in the Iraq Police Education Program (IPEP), a program managed by the IACP and its partner police departments and funded under a grant awarded to IACP by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) grant. INL manages development programs aimed at building effective rule of law systems in over 100 countries around the world. The IPEP is a five-year, $8 million grant and has facilitated training for more than 100 Iraqi police officers since the program's inception in 2010. Among the goals of IPEP is to enhance the participants professional development and introduce them to an American policing culture.
May 23, 2013
Questions raised about huffing after college student in Claremont dies from allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide
Law enforcement say inhaling nitrous oxide is becoming common
CLAREMONT -- Law enforcement officials said inhaling nitrous oxide - which apparently killed a Claremont McKenna College student last week - is becoming abused by more and more people seeking a high, especially teens and young adults.
Ali Wallace Mirza, 19, was pronounced dead about 2 a.m. Friday at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. Police officers reportedly found used nitrous oxide containers, also known as whippets, that are used in the food-preparation industry. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is also used as an anesthetic in medical settings.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Michael Parker said Wednesday "we have found the abuse of nitrous oxide is very prevalent" among people under 21. Veronica De Alba, a deputy city attorney for Los Angeles, said Mirza's death is not an isolated incident. "Unfortunately, we're seeing usage on the rise in California, especially in Southern California," De Alba said.
Why power down our phones on planes? The questions fly
When Kenneth Kirchoff notices that an airline passenger has failed to power off his gadget as instructed, he'll politely point out the oversight. He might use a nonconfrontational line such as this: "Excuse me — did you realize that you didn't turn off your device?" What he doesn't mention during this brief interaction is who he is, what he knows and why you should listen to him.
If he won't share, I will.
Kirchoff is a research and development engineer with Boeing. Since 2003, he has been testing aircraft to ensure the safe usage of portable electronic devices (PEDs) onboard, focusing on how signals emitted from passengers' gadgets can muddle pilots' communications, navigation or surveillance systems. His conclusion: "Interference is possible."
The debate over PED use on planes has turned into a seething nest of Angry Birds. On one side are passengers, legislators such as Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and electronics manufacturers and suppliers. These folks question the science, and sense unfairness in the rule requiring travelers to unplug all devices during takeoff and landing. This contingent wants its e-readers, its tablets, its DVD players, its video games, its Words With Friends (that one's for you, Alec Baldwin) and other techy diversions for the entire span of the journey — not just the middle portion.
Force Protection Excercise: Tests Fort Hood, community response to disaster
Suspicious packages at Central Texas College and Harker Heights High School, an explosion at a building on post and a fuel spill into an installation waterway served as training scenarios for Fort Hood's annual postwide Force Protection Exercise May 14-16.
The annual training event tests the installation's emergency response capabilities and ability to work with outside organizations in the event of a real-world incident.
“An exercise like this is very important to us,” Incident Commander and Fort Hood Fire Chief Billy Rhoads said. “It prepares us for a real-world incident.”
The most visible response during the exercise though was the arrival of police, fire and emergency medical assets and personnel as they converged on the exercise's most graphic scenario, an explosion at Resource Management's Bldg. 4613.
Victims made-up to illustrate the types of traumatic injuries seen in an explosion littered the area around the building.
Moss Point taking new look at 2006 double murder cold case, asking community for assistance
MOSS POINT, Mississippi -- Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis announced today that he is reopening a 2006 double murder cold case and has been approved to use drug forfeiture money to bring in a team of cold case specialists to bring justice in the deaths of Gary Riley and Brandon Taylor.
Riley and Taylor were shot, killed and robbed as they sat in a vehicle in a Moss Point subdivision in April of 2006.
Two suspects were arrested - LeDerrick Brown and Terrance Coleman, both of Moss Point - but the charges were dismissed right before they went to trial on capital murder trial because of the loss of evidence by the previous administration of Moss Point chief Sheila Smallman.
"We want to send a message that this case has not been forgotten," Davis said as he spoke to members of the victims' families and the media. "It's important to me to bring resolution to this case. It's important to the mayor and the board and the community."
Davis denied to reveal how much drug forfeiture money was approved for the outside cold case investigative team or to identify them specifically.
May 22, 2013
FBI suspect fatally shot; possible Boston link
WESH-TV says the victim and a friend were questioned about bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
An FBI agent shot and killed an Orlando man early Wednesday who had been questioned for several hours about his alleged ties to Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the victim's friend told local media.
FBI officials have confirmed that a man died while one of its agents was "conducting official duties," the Orlando Sentinel reports, but would not elaborate.
The Sentinel and WESH-TV identified the victim as 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev.
The television station quotes Khusn Taramiv, a friend of the victim, as saying both of them had been questioned for almost three hours Tuesday about the Boston bombing case.
Taramiv said his friend knew Boston bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev because they were both mixed martial-arts fighters, WESH and The Sentinel report.
Modesto police chief makes lieutenants responsible for city quadrants
MODESTO -- Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll has implemented a plan he said will make the department more accountable and strengthen the connection between officers and the people they protect. He spoke about the plan Tuesday afternoon before the Modesto Rotary Club during a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Much like the way his former department in Long Beach is organized, Carroll last week assigned a lieutenant, or area commander, to each quadrant of the city.
Those lieutenants, who in the past spent much of their time in the office, will be out on the streets more, using crime data to target hot spots and address spikes in particular types of crime. Sergeants in each quadrant will work more closely with the public by attending at least part of every Neighborhood Watch meeting to hear concerns directly from the people living in those areas.
Before, lieutenants were in charge of the whole city, so no one person was accountable to address the problems in a particular area.
"When everyone is responsible, no one truly is responsible," Carroll said. "If there is a problem in one area, (commanders) don't have to be the loudest, squeakiest wheel for the whole city; they have to be the loudest, squeakiest wheel for that particular area."
In the north part of the city, McHenry Avenue separates the east and the west, with Scenic Drive and Needham Street being the southern borders. To the south, Highway 99 divides the west and the south.
Community Leaders Say Gun Violence In The East Bay Is A Public Health Crisis (Analysis)
An Assembly hearing focusing on rising gun violence in the East Bay instead evolved into a string of community and faith-based leaders clamoring for answers over how to heal what they say is the root cause of violence in places like Oakland: socio-economic despair.
Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay brought three panels of local officials, youth counselors and pastors together Friday to discuss the continuing rise even in crime less than 24 hours after the city suffered two more homicides Thursday night. Thirty-seven homicides have occurred in Oakland this year.
Even as an ambitious package of gun control bills sponsored by Bonta, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Sen. Loni Hancock wind through the Legislature, most panelists instead chose to focus on ideas that will foster hope, rather than the need to pick up a firearm and shoot.
Olis Simmons, a community organizer with Oakland's Youth UpRising says gang activity — the often mentioned cause of gun violence — is not the issue. “It's a clique issue,” she says, resulting from staggering unemployment in Oakland, especially in the black and Latino community, and fear. “They carry guns not because they're a predator, but because they're desperate to feel safe.”
May 21, 2013
Chicago Police Return to Community Policing
The new initiative also is designed to beef up the police presence in tough neighborhoods
Flashlights in hand, the five rookie Chicago cops were walking along a darkened stretch of the gang-infested South Side neighborhood on a recent night when their radios crackled with a call of a battery in progress.
One behind the other, the five jogged the next block over, joining up with four other young officers already huddled around a man who said the two mothers of his children had just duked it out.
"Can you pull someone over if you're walking?" asked the man, surprised to see all the officers had arrived on foot.
"We're still the police, right?" one officer replied. "Absolutely, we can pull someone over. If they don't stop, we'll call (for a squad car)."
Fresh from the police academy and three months of street training, up to 16 rookie cops a night patrol some of the city's most dangerous blocks on foot as part of a new initiative that is a throwback to the department's days of old.
Superintendent Garry McCarthy calls it a return to community policing, but it also is designed to beef up the police presence in tough neighborhoods and give the new cops a taste of life on the street.
May 20, 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.