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.
June 2, 2013
Rubio wants stronger border security in immigration reform bill
The Florida Republican is working on a proposal that would give Congress, not the Obama administration, control over developing a plan.
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a key author of the bipartisan Senate immigration overhaul, is working on a proposal that would give Congress, not the Obama administration, the authority to devise a plan to bolster border security.
The Florida senator has long insisted that the bill's border security provisions are not strong enough to win significant Republican support. He plans to introduce his proposal as the legislation moves to the Senate floor late this week or next.
As the legislation is now written, the Department of Homeland Security would be required to develop a plan to achieve effective control of 90% of the border with Mexico before immigrants in the U.S. illegally would be allowed to gain permanent legal status. Rubio's emerging alternative would shift the responsibility for creating that plan to Congress.
"The problem is people do not trust this administration and the federal government in general to do the law," Rubio said during a recent interview on Fox News. "Maybe the solution is to actually have Congress write that plan for them."
Congressman says Russians believe Boston bombings were preventable
Russian intelligence officials believe that if U.S. authorities had acted on warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombings could have been prevented, U.S. Rep. William Keating said Saturday after returning from a congressional delegation trip to Russia.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who met with Russian intelligence officials Thursday, said he was provided with details on how U.S. intelligence agents were warned in 2010 that Tsarnaev was preparing to join a terrorist cell in the southern Russian region of Dagestan, the Boston Globe reported.
Keating told reporters at Boston's Logan International Airport that a top Russian counterintelligence official told the delegation that "if we had the level of information sharing that we do now, then the bombings might have been avoided," according to the report.
He said he learned that information was sent from Russian officials to the U.S. government about Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tsarnaev who was killed by an FBI agent in Florida on May 22 while being questioned in the bombing probe, the Boston Globe reported.
Meetings help police combat neighborhood crime
Wichita police late last month blocked off both ends of the 1700 block of North Piatt. A handful of officers from Patrol North walked house-to-house, knocking on doors and inviting residents out.
Officer Carl Lemons introduced himself as community policing officer, then explained that on May 19 someone got shot on their street.
“We're here to get information and let you guys know what occurred,” Lemons said to the group assembled in a nearby church parking lot.
“Are you with a neighborhood watch?”
“We used to be,” a man replied. “But I don't know if it's active anymore.”
June 1, 2013
California's death penalty on hold again
Ensuring California's death penalty system remains in limbo for the foreseeable future, a state appeals court on Thursday scrapped the state's latest attempt to update its lethal injection procedures.
In a 28-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal found that state prison officials failed to comply with administrative rules when crafting new regulations more than two years ago.
The unanimous decision of the three-justice panel sends California back to the drawing board, unless the Brown administration takes the case to the California Supreme Court and keeps more than 700 Death Row inmates on an indefinite reprieve.
The appeals court upheld a Marin County judge, who faulted the prison department for a variety of procedural missteps, including offering no public explanation for why San Quentin officials opted to continue with a three-drug lethal injection method instead of a single-drug execution option being embraced by a number of other states.
Navy football players face rape inquiry
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — As midshipmen were graduating from the Naval Academy here last week, Navy investigators were conducting an investigation into reports that several football players had serially raped a female midshipman at an off-campus party last year.
Three Navy football players are under investigation in the case, say Naval Academy officials. No charges have been brought, but the academy has delayed the graduation of one of the three midshipmen and his commissioning in the Navy, say academy officials and others briefed on the inquiry. The academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, is expected to receive a final report from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in the next week or two and then decide whether to proceed with charges, academy officials say.
The investigation, stemming from an April 2012 party, has sputtered off and on for more than a year, hampered in part by the woman's initial reluctance to cooperate, the officials said. She was ashamed and then later felt intimidated, said her Washington lawyer, Susan Burke. In a series of interviews, the female midshipman said that she was upset that she had faced disciplinary action for underage drinking at the party while the football players were permitted to play last season.
Academy officials acknowledged the inquiry but declined to comment further. “Naval Academy leadership is monitoring the progress of this investigation and evaluating the appropriate options for adjudication,” a spokesman said in a statement. “It is completely inappropriate to make any other public comment on this investigation or any ongoing investigation, as we risk compromising the military-justice process.”
Judge orders Google to give customer data to FBI
SAN FRANCISCO—A federal judge has ruled that Google Inc. must comply with the FBI's warrantless demands for customer data, rejecting the company's argument that the government's practice of issuing so-called national security letters to telecommunication companies, Internet service providers, banks and others was unconstitutional and unnecessary.
FBI counter-terrorism agents began issuing the secret letters, which don't require a judge's approval, after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The letters are used to collect unlimited kinds of sensitive, private information, such as financial and phone records and have prompted complaints of government privacy violations in the name of national security. Many of Google's services, including its dominant search engine and the popular Gmail application, have become daily habits for millions of people.
In a ruling written May 20 and obtained Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ordered Google to comply with the FBI's demands.
TSA Stops Invasive Scanning at Airports
The TSA has agreed to fit all future X-ray machines with filter technology, eliminating scans that essentially create nude photos of travelers, The Hill reports.
Following complaints from travelers, Democrats and Republicans in Congress leaned on the Transportation Security Administration to add filters to the X-ray machines.
In a letter written on May 24 and released on Thursday, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole wrote to the House Committee on Homeland Security that the agency is in compliance with the statute requiring generic images of the human body.
TSA had asked for an extension of its original deadline because it dropped the contract with the original makers of the scanners. That extension was granted and moved to May 31, 2013. All future scanners, Pistole wrote, will be have the filter built-in.
'Community policing' leads to arrest in Holiday
HOLIDAY -- As 25-year-old Nicholas Pasvantis was carted off to jail Saturday, his neighbors cheered with excitement.
May 31, 2013
“We have been living and putting up with this for years," Gretchen Schultz, a neighbor said. "We're just sick of it."
Schultz said they thought Pasvantis was involved in drugs and were taking pictures of the cars coming and going from a home on the 3400 block of Chickadee Drive in Holiday.
"It looked like a drive through over there," Schultz said.
Investigators said on Saturday Pasvantis got into an argument with his neighbors. According to a Pasco Sheriff's report, Pasvantis cussed at them and even mooned them.
Person of interest a focus in ricin letters case: Sources
Investigators have identified a person of interest as they seek the sender of three apparently licin-tainted letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama, sources tell CBS News.
Authorities were seen searching the area of a home in New Boston, Texas on Thursday in video shot by CBS Shreveport, La. Affiliate KSLA-TV.
Officials said Thursday a suspicious letter mailed to the White House and intercepted this week was similar to two threatening, apparently poison-laced letters on the gun law debate sent to Bloomberg, one of the nation's staunchest gun-control advocates.
This, as yet another letter became known publicly Thursday, one tainted with the poison ricin and mailed to President Obama from Spokane, Wash., the FBI said. Authorities have arrested a man in Spokane in connection with that letter, which was intercepted May 22.
The Secret Service said the White House-bound letter similar to the ones Bloomberg was sent was intercepted by a White House mail screening facility. Two similar letters postmarked in Louisiana and sent to Bloomberg in New York and his gun control group in Washington contained apparent traces of the deadly poison ricin.
Iran's sponsorship of terrorism sees "marked resurgence" : U.S.
(Reuters) - Iran's sponsorship of terrorism overseas underwent "a marked resurgence" in 2012, reaching levels not seen in 20 years, the U.S. State Department charged on Thursday in its annual report on trends in political violence.
The report cited a series of actual and planned attacks in Europe and Asia linked to Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanon-based ally, including a July 2012 bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli citizens and a Bulgarian, and wounded 32 others.
"The year 2012 was ... notable in demonstrating a marked resurgence of Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism," via Tehran's elite al Quds force, its intelligence ministry, and Hezbollah, the report said. " Iran and Hezbollah's terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s."
There was no immediate reply to a request for comment from Iran's mission to the United Nations.
Cyber threats pose 'stealthy, insidious' danger: defense chief
(Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that cyber threats posed a "quiet, stealthy, insidious" danger to the United States and other nations, and called for "rules of the road" to guide behavior and avoid conflict on global computer networks.
Hagel said he would address cyber security in his speech on Saturday to the Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore and the issue was likely to come up in a brief meeting with Chinese delegates on the margins of the conference.
"Cyber threats are real, they're terribly dangerous," Hagel told reporters on his plane en route to the gathering. "They're probably as insidious and real a threat (as there is) to the United States, as well as China , by the way, and every nation."
Cyber conflict could lead to "quiet, stealthy, insidious, dangerous outcomes," from taking down power grids to destroying financial systems or neutralizing defense networks, Hagel said.
Police to use hot dogs to keep Vineland safe
VINELAND — Hoping to encourage some goodwill around the grill, Vineland police have scheduled a trio of community barbecues this summer. The city's Community Policing Unit is inviting the public to its “Dog Days of Summer” events. The officers will be cooking up hot dogs that they'll give away along with beverages.
The Saturday afternoon barbecues are set for central locations near Center City apartment complexes. Mark your calendar for the one closest to you. Each is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m:
• June 15 — 400 block of North Sixth Street.
• June 27 — 1000 block of Florence Avenue
• July 20 — Carl Arthur Center on Plum Street.
Chicago Police Say Shooting Deaths Are Declining
After years of shocking gun violence, America's murder capital may be getting its streets under control
Chicago seemed the capital of gun violence when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was killed by a stray round there just days after performing at President Obama's second inauguration.
But even then, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was reorganizing the department and implementing new strategies that would lead to a dramatic reduction in the violence.
The result: A nearly 40 percent drop in the murder rate and a 30 percent drop in shootings over the same period last year. These recent statistics mean 74 lives saved and 206 fewer shooting victims.
And though McCarthy is careful to call it “progress not victory,” he says the numbers promise to get ever better. He reports that the city is presently on track to post the lowest annual murder rate in more than 50 years.
May 30, 2013
Bill would give licenses to those in US illegally
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - People living in the U.S. illegally would be able to seek a California driver's license under a bill that passed the state Assembly.
The measure from Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville would allow those without a Social Security number to apply for a license. They must show several alternative forms of identification, including a birth certificate and proof of residency.
Alejo says AB60 would increase safety on California roads because unlicensed drivers are nearly three times as likely to cause a crash.
A committee analysis says there are 2 million people in California who would be eligible for a driver's license or ID card.
Republicans opposed the bill, saying it could jeopardize other uses for the IDs. The Assembly approved the bill 53-20 Wednesday, sending it to the Senate.
Cops: Letters to NYC mayor test positive for ricin
NEW YORK—Two threatening letters containing traces of the deadly poison ricin were sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York and his gun-control group in Washington, police said Wednesday.
The anonymous letters were opened in New York on Friday at the city's mail facility in Manhattan and in Washington on Sunday at an office used by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the nonprofit started by Bloomberg, police said.
Chief New York Police spokesman Paul Browne said preliminary testing indicted the presence of ricin in both letters but that more testing would be done. He said the threats contained references to the debate on gun laws and an oily pinkish-orange substance.
The billionaire mayor has emerged as one of the country's most potent gun-control advocates, able to press his case with both his public position and his private money.
The people who initially came into contact with the letters showed no symptoms of exposure to the poison, but three officers who later examined the New York letter experienced minor symptoms that have since abated, police said.
Fighting Spice, a Growing Epidemic
It's about as easy to buy as a soda, there is no age restriction, it's pseudo-legal and it's difficult to detect.
Spice, as it is commonly called, is frequently branded as incense or potpourri and, although the label says that it's not intended for human consumption, it is often used as synthetic marijuana. With names like K2, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk and Moon Rocks it's little wonder why.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Spice consists of dried lettuce leaves mixed with fertilizer that has been laced with synthetic cannabinoids, which mimics THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Because Spice is sold in legal retail outlets as incense the manufacturing process can avoid Food and Drug Administration regulatory oversight. Further complicating the situation, because Spice is easy to produce, it's impossible to know how much of what chemical is being ingested, which makes it incredibly dangerous.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports nationally 659 calls of exposure to synthetic marijuana from January to March of this year. The use of this dangerous synthetic drug can lead to agitation, confusion, hallucinations, vomiting, heart attacks, comas and death.
From the FBI
Helping Injured Soldiers Continue to Serve
May 31, 2009. Eastern Afghanistan. U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Clifton and his Special Forces team were conducting a raid against a Taliban stronghold. As an assault team leader, Clifton busted into a compound—and into a wall of enemy bullets. “I still remember everything vividly,” he said, “from the time I kicked in that door to the time they Medevaced me off the battlefield.”
Clifton was critically injured, with major organ damage and a shattered wrist. He eventually pulled through and spent several months at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. before returning to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. There, he learned about Operation Warfighter, a Department of Defense program that places wounded service members in internship positions with federal agencies so they can contribute while healing (at the time, the program was only available in the D.C area). Intrigued by this idea but wanting to stay in Ohio, Clifton—who had at one time considered becoming an FBI agent—called up our Cincinnati Division to see if it would be willing to do something similar. The answer? “Anything we can do to support you during your recovery.”
Clifton began working as an intern in the Columbus Resident Agency, shadowing analysts and agents to help out on cases. And when his time with the military—and therefore, the internship—was up, another door opened. On April 22, 2012, Clifton became a full-time Bureau employee.
May 29, 2013
Cop on trial after girl, 7, dies as TV crew films
DETROIT (AP) — Police accompanied by a reality TV crew fired a stun grenade through a window as they raided a Detroit home in search of a murder suspect. A gunshot then went off inside, fatally striking a 7-year-old girl in the head while she slept on a couch.
Now three years later, Officer Joseph Weekley goes on trial in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Jury selection starts Wednesday.
Weekley, charged with involuntary manslaughter, is accused of acting with gross negligence when he didn't prevent his gun from firing during the chaos that followed use of a "flash-bang" device.
The shooting shocked Detroit. Cooperation between police and the reality show, "The First 48," was banned in the aftermath, and the chief soon resigned at the mayor's request when it was revealed that he was working on plans for another TV show.
But beyond the city, there was little, if any, impact on the hunger for real-life police drama on the small screen. "Cops," in its 25th year, still is on the air, moving from Fox to Spike TV this fall. "The First 48" has been on A&E Networks since 2004.
Accused hacker pleads guilty to US charges
Washington, United States (4E) – Hacker Jeremy Hammond on Tuesday pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for hacking global intelligence firm Stratfor in December 2011.
The United States Justice Department said that Hammond, who belonged to a loosely organized group of hackers, is also accused of breaching the FBI's computer network. He has also confessed about his involvement in other digital intrusions into the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the FBI Virtual Academy among other government networks.
Four more people, believed to be the members of Anonymous, Lulz Security and other international hacking groups, have also been indicted last year.
“While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn't like,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the plea.
“He was nothing more than a repeat offender cybercriminal who thought that because of his computer savvy he was above the law that binds and protects all of us,” Bharara added in a statement in the federal court.
Freeport Mayor Calls for "New Full-Blown Police Strategy" Following City's First Homicide
FREEPORT - Newly elected mayor Jim Gitz stands defiant after a grizzly homicide at a Freeport gas station become's the Pretzel City's first murder of 2013. Gitz says he's not going to let Freeport become the state's new "problem child," an apparent nudge at the city's big neighbor to the east.
Blood splatter stained the parking lot outside the scene of the murder, 833 S. Galena Avenue. The 30 year-old victim was a clerk inside the South Galena Avenue Convenience Store. Just before 11:00 PM police were called to gas station for reports of a shooting. When they arrived on scene they found the victim suffering from an apparent bullet wound. He died while emergency medical personnel were on the way to the scene.
Freeport Police Chief Jerry Whitmore says, "at this point a motive is not clear," however a sign posted on the store's front door suggested there was an on-going dispute with specific customers - unclear if it had anything to do with Monday night's shooting.
Police and Mayor Gitz held a news conference on Tuesday to address the limited details surrounding the murder investigation, but most of the conference was dedicated to discussing how the city will try to combat future crime.
May 28, 2013
IMMIGRATION: Path to citizenship won't be easy
WASHINGTON -- The path to citizenship outlined in the Senate immigration bill for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants is a long, expensive and complicated journey.
Earning citizenship will take more than a decade, cost thousands of dollars, and require applicants - half of whom live in poverty and many of whom don't speak English - to comply with a daunting list of regulations.
Even as opponents decry the path as "amnesty,'' immigrant advocates are concerned that the burdensome process may make citizenship nearly unachievable for millions who qualify.
"We have grave concerns about whether low-income immigrants will be able to afford the fees, fines, and tax liability that they would be required to pay" the National Immigration Law Center wrote in an analysis of the measure.
More than 900,000 undocumented immigrants live in Los Angeles County according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. There is no way to be certain how many of them would make it through the process, let alone qualify, to obtain citizenship.
Confidential report lists U.S. weapons system designs compromised by Chinese cyberspies
Designs for many of the nation's most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon and to officials from government and the defense industry.
Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board.
Obama's decision to shift drone strikes from the CIA to the military has been tried before.
Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.
Citing Danger, Schumer Calls for Scrapping New Screening Plan for Statue of Liberty
Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the National Park Service on Monday to scrap what he called a dangerous new security plan for the Statue of Liberty, saying that it could leave visitors to the tourist attraction vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
For nearly two years now, the New York Police Department has opposed the Park Service's plan to screen visitors to the statue at central points on Liberty and Ellis Islands, which were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy and are scheduled to reopen on July 4. In early 2011, Ken Salazar, then the secretary of the interior, intended to announce the change, but he held off because of stiff objections from the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.
Prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Park Service had for more than a decade conducted airport-style security checks at tented pavilions in Battery Park or in Liberty State Park in Jersey City before passengers boarded ferryboats to the statue. The people who run Battery Park, the Battery Conservancy, wanted the pavilion removed because it was unsightly and clogged the park with tourists.
The Park Service tried to find a nearby alternative, considering Pier A, then a Coast Guard building, but could not reach a deal and so decided to move the screening to Ellis and Liberty Islands.
Boulder police chief to lay out five-year plan for community law enforcement
Plan could require more officers, more funding
Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner will go before the City Council on Tuesday evening to lay out his vision for meeting the community's evolving expectations for law enforcement, a plan that could require more officers and more funding over the next five years.
As part of an update of his department's master plan, Beckner is expected to outline proposals to hire additional officers and staff, refine Boulder's "community policing" approach and establish a funding plan for things such as replacing vehicles and technology, as well as renovating the city's Public Safety Building.
The hour-long study-session presentation is intended to give councilmembers a chance to recommend revisions to the plan before it comes back before the City Council for a public hearing in July in hopes that a final version will be ready for review and approval in August.
The plan is conceptual in nature, and the actual price tag won't emerge until the city's budget process gets under way later this year.
IMPD seeks help from social service agencies to address roots of crime
Facing officer shortages, a surge in homicides and unrelenting youth violence, Indianapolis police are turning toward community organizations more than ever to reduce crime by zeroing in on its root causes.
Seeking help with keeping tabs on the mentally ill, learning how to talk to teens and finding meals for poor families, IMPD is recruiting outside help to reduce the burden on its depleted ranks.
The strategy is intended to free up officers for their core mission — responding to emergencies and arresting people — and delegating tangential matters to the professionals trained to handle them.
Officers are being trained to arrive on calls equipped with contacts for community, church, philanthropic and government agencies to which they can refer residents in crisis or professionals they can call on the spot.
May 27, 2013
Americans gather to honor fallen service members on Memorial Day; president heads to Arlington
ATLANTA – Americans plan to gather at cemeteries, memorials and monuments nationwide to honor fallen military service members on Memorial Day.
President Barack Obama is expected to lay a wreath Monday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington.
Another wreath-laying ceremony is planned at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York City. The park is a tribute to President Roosevelt's famous speech supporting freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
In one of several ceremonies honoring Americans killed in Afghanistan, the city of South Sioux City, Neb., plans to unveil a statue honoring Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Douangdara, a dog handler for the SEALs killed in a 2011 helicopter crash.
One week later: The daunting recovery in Oklahoma
Moore, Oklahoma (CNN) -- One week after a tornado devastated the lives and landscape of Moore, much of the city seems frozen in time. But despite the staggering wreckage that still litters the ground, the road to recovery is well underway.
Here's the latest on the Oklahoma tornado aftermath:
Remembering those lost
Thousands of residents poured into First Baptist Church in Moore for a public memorial and prayer service Sunday night. Tissues in each of the pews greeted the mourners.
"It was pretty amazing celebrating all of the people that died and that lived," third-grader Ally Keepers told CNN affiliate KOCO.
Police chief vows revenge after officer gunned down for no obvious reason
(CNN) -- Grief over a Kentucky officer's death is giving way to rage and anxiety as police believe someone set up a trap just to kill their colleague or another driver.
Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis was driving home from work around 2 a.m. Saturday when he noticed some debris on the road, Kentucky State Police Trooper Norman Chaffins told CNN.
When Ellis got out of his car to remove the debris, he was shot multiple times.
"It was an obvious ambush," Chaffins said. "He never used his service weapon. It was holstered."
Other drivers pulled over and used Ellis' police radio to call for help. But the officer didn't survive.