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 30, 2013
U.S. taps half-billion German phone, internet links in month: report
(Reuters) - The United States taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in German in a typical month and has classed its biggest European ally as a target similar to China, according to secret U.S. documents quoted by a German newsmagazine.
The revelations of alleged U.S. surveillance programs based on documents taken by fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have raised a political furor in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.
Exposing the latest details in a string of reputed spying programs, Der Spiegel quoted from an internal NSA document which it said its reporters had seen.
The document Spiegel cited showed that the United States categorized Germany as a "third-class" partner and that surveillance there was stronger than in any other EU country, similar in extent to China, Iraq or Saudi-Arabia.
"We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it too," Der Spiegel quoted a passage in the NSA document as saying.
Matteson man accused of carrying loaded guns near Hawks rally
Authorities say sports fan told police that he had been robbed before
A Matteson man who had two loaded guns in a backpack while walking with crowds toward the Chicago Blackhawks victory rally tried to avoid a search by police officers, Cook County prosecutors said Saturday.
Roger Harrison has been charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he was arrested during Friday's Grant Park rally, which hundreds of thousands of people attended.
Chicago police said there was no indication that the south suburban man — of the 3100 block of Holden Circle — was a threat.
Still, Harrison, 37, "became agitated" when he was stopped by police in the 100 block of North LaSalle Street, according to an arrest report. When officers asked about the large backpack he was carrying, Harrison told them he would "go the other way," the report said.
Harrison turned to walk away, but the officers followed him. When asked what was in his bag, he told officers, "I might have a handgun on me," and said he needed to go to work, court documents said.
From the White House
Senate Votes to Reform Our Nation's Immigration System
When was the last time you can remember a week like this?
On Tuesday, President Obama committed the full weight of American leadership to the fight against carbon pollution and climate change. Then on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and took us one step closer to marriage equality.
It's not all been good news. Before the President spoke on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down one of the core provisions of the Voting Rights Act that has helped to protect one of Americans' most fundamental rights for nearly 50 years. As the President said, it's now up to Congress to ensure that every American has equal access to the polls.
But the most incredible thing about this week is that it's not over yet.
On Thursday, 68 members of the U.S. Senate, Republicans and Democrats, came together and voted to reform our nation's immigration system. They voted for a bill that secures our borders and cracks down on employers who refuse to play by the rules. They voted for a bill that provides undocumented immigrants with a way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. They voted for a bill that provides visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start American businesses, reunites families, and helps the students and young people who've never known any home but America fully embrace the country that they love.
US, Mexican authorities shut down smuggling tunnel under construction in Nogales
NOGALES, Ariz. – U.S. and Mexican authorities shut down an incomplete cross-border drug smuggling tunnel following its discovery Tuesday during a routine, bi-national inspection of the city's main storm drain system.
While inspecting the storm drain running under Grand Avenue, authorities found a concrete access panel embedded in the storm drain floor. Upon removing the panel, they located an illicit tunnel containing numerous tools, a core drill and forced air ventilation. The inspection was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led Nogales Tunnel Task Force and U.S. Border Patrol, in partnership with Mexican federal police.
Investigators believe the tunnel, which was in the final stages of construction, would have exited on the U.S. side through a public parking lot located near the Dennis DeConcini port of entry. The passageway stretches for approximately 160 feet and is roughly two feet wide by three feet tall. About 153 feet of the tunnel is located within the United States, with seven feet in Mexico. A water line, storm drain pipe and two fiber optic lines were exposed inside the passageway. No people or drugs were found inside the tunnel and no arrests have yet been made in the case, which remains under investigation by the Nogales Tunnel Task Force.
Federal authorities have discovered and shut down six cross-border smuggling tunnels in the Nogales area in fiscal year 2013.
From the FBI
Race Against Time
Holiday Bomb Threat Averted
It was one of those cases like you might see on TV or in the movies—where the FBI and its partners work feverishly behind the scenes, racing to stop bombs from going off and lives from possibly being lost.
But this was real—and the stakes were high. The target was one of the nation's largest retailers in one of America's most populated areas. And the day of reckoning was Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
It all started last October 15, when the Home Depot in Huntington, New York—a town on the north shore of Long Island—received an ominous anonymous note. The sender demanded $2 million or he would “shut down” three Home Depot stores on Long Island the day after Thanksgiving by remotely setting off bombs filled with roofing nails using a cell phone. As proof of his ability to hide a bomb, he said that he had planted a live device in the Huntington store's lighting department.
The man wasn't bluffing. Home Depot immediately contacted the Suffolk County Police Department, which found an operational pipe bomb hidden within a light fixture inside a box on a shelf. Bomb techs rendered it harmless through a controlled detonation.
June 29, 2013
Norwalk To Host Roundtable On Urban Violence, Community Policing
NORWALK, Conn. -- The city of Norwalk will host a community roundtable discussion Monday on urban violence, including gun- violence reduction strategies, community policing and other urban crime mitigation efforts, Mayor Richard Moccia announced.
Moccia will host with Gov. Dannel Malloy, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik and other members of the Norwalk community.
The discussion will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Community Room at Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Ave.
Moccia invites all residents and members of the Norwalk community to join him for this important discussion.
Please RSVP via email to Sally Johnson at email@example.com
If you have any further questions, call City Clerk Erin E. Herring at 203-854-7703.
Edward Snowden's father seeks to broker deal with U.S. for son's return
NSA leaker Edward Snowden's father, Lonnie, says he is trying to arrange terms with the U.S. Justice Department for his son's return.
WASHINGTON — The father of Edward Snowden, the computer expert who exposed secret U.S. surveillance programs, revealed Friday that he was trying to broker a compromise with the U.S. government that could bring his son back to the United States.
In a letter to the Justice Department, Lonnie Snowden said through his attorney that his son wanted "ironclad assurances" he would not be held in jail before trial or subjected to a gag order, and would be allowed to choose where he would be tried on federal espionage charges.
The elder Snowden said the offer could end the impasse that has kept his 30-year-old son stuck in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and raised tensions between the U.S. and other countries, including China, Russia and Ecuador, where the former National Security Agency contract employee is seeking political asylum.
"We believe you share our objective of securing Edward's voluntary return to the United States to face trial," Washington attorney Bruce Fein wrote to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. on behalf of Snowden's father.
Lonnie Snowden, Fein wrote, "is reasonably certain that his son would voluntarily return to the United States if there were ironclad assurances that his constitutional rights would be honored, and he were provided a fair opportunity to explain his motivations and actions to an impartial judge and jury."
Community policing adds overview of Islam to officers' toolbelt
Rockford-area leaders aim to reduce racial, cultural bias in police work
ROCKFORD — Shpendim Nadzaku perhaps took a step Friday in bridging a cultural divide.
The Muslim Association of Greater Rockford imam's skull cap, traditional white robe and his thick beard, which hung just beyond his shoulders, stood in contrast to the mostly clean-shaven law-enforcement faces looking back at him.
It was all part of a tour police chiefs and command staff from Rockford, Rockford Park District, Loves Park, Winnebago, Cherry Valley and Winnebago County took of the Muslim Community Center mosque in hopes of improving cultural awareness.
Police officers unfamiliar with the myriad cultures that make up the Muslim community could find Nadzaku's dress, accent and manner strange. On the other hand, some of the 500 Muslims who regularly attend services at the mosque, 5921 Darlene Drive, have a deep distrust of law enforcement.
June 28, 2013
Columbus Street, San Fernando Valley gang, subject to new injunction
An injunction against the San Fernando Valley's Columbus Street gang was approved Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the city attorney's office announced.
The injunction prohibits 18 members of the gang from associating with one another within a specified zone in Panorama City and North Hills and engaging in other activities such as intimidating witnesses. The zone is defined as a 2.7 square mile area covering territory generally bounded by Plummer Street, Sepulveda Boulevard, Saticoy Street and Woodman Avenue.
Among the crimes attributed to the gang, which include former state prison inmates with ties to the Mexican Mafia, are murders, assaults, shootings, street robberies and drug dealings, according to the City Attorney's Office.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich filed for the injunction in February in an effort to stem violence attributed to the more 200 members of the Columbus Street gang. The injunction includes more than 400 pages of declarations from law enforcement officials about the activity of the members of the Columbus Street gang. Trutanich has said the gang goes back several generations to the late 1970s and includes some leaders who are in their 40s.
"For too long, the Columbus Street gang has used intimidation, violence and fear in holding this community hostage to its nefarious activities," Trutanich said. "Today, our prosecutors and law enforcement partners have secured an important tool to curb illegal activity in our neighborhoods and bring safety and security to our residents."
Senate passes sweeping immigration bill
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate, after a decade of trying and failing, on Thursday passed a wide-ranging immigration bill that would put 11 million foreigners now living illegally in the United States on a path to American citizenship.
But the bill may not progress beyond the Senate. The measure was in serious trouble in the more conservative House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner has said it will not even be considered in its current form.
The legislation, debated nearly non-stop since early May - first in the Senate Judiciary Committee and now on the Senate floor, is backed by President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of such a law one of his top priorities this year.
Test votes on the bill this week indicated that about two-thirds of the 100-memberSenate could vote for passage. Final passage is expected Thursday afternoon.
House Republicans are producing much more narrow bills that contain no steps toward legalization and eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented foreigners, some of whom are now raising families with American-born children.
Feds: Boston Marathon suspect had bomb-making instructions, jihad literature available online
BOSTON — What Dzhokhar Tsarnaev needed to learn to make explosives with a pressure cooker was at his fingertips in jihadist files on the Internet, according to a federal indictment accusing him of carrying out the bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured dozens more.
Investigators have been trying to determine whether Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed while the two were on the run after the bombings, was influenced or trained by Islamic militants during a trip overseas. But the indictment released Thursday against 19-year-old Dzhokhar makes no mention of any overseas influence.
Before the attack, according to the indictment, he downloaded the summer 2010 issue of Inspire, an online English-language magazine published by al-Qaida. The issue detailed how to make bombs from pressure cookers, explosive powder extracted from fireworks and lethal shrapnel.
He also downloaded extremist Muslim literature, including “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation After Imam,” which advocates “violence designed to terrorize the perceived enemies of Islam,” the indictment said. The article was written by the late Abdullah Azzam, whose legacy has inspired terrorist attacks in the Middle East.
Another tract downloaded — titled “The Slicing Sword, Against the One Who Forms Allegiances With the Disbelievers and Takes Them as Supporters Instead of Allah, His Messenger and the Believers” — included a foreword by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American propagandist for al-Qaida who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.
Meth floods US border crossing
Children walk across the U.S.-Mexico border with crystal methamphetamine strapped to their backs or concealed between notebook pages. Motorists disguise liquid meth in tequila bottles, windshield washer containers and gas tanks.
The smuggling of the drug at land border crossings has jumped in recent years but especially at San Diego's San Ysidro port of entry, which accounted for more than 40 percent of seizures in fiscal year 2012. That's more than three times the second-highest _ five miles east _ and more than five times the third-highest, in Nogales, Ariz.
The spike reflects a shift in production to Mexico after a U.S. crackdown on domestic labs and the Sinaloa cartel's new hold on the prized Tijuana-San Diego smuggling corridor.
A turf war that gripped Tijuana a few years ago with beheadings and daytime shootouts ended with the cartel coming out on top. The drugs, meanwhile, continue flowing through San Ysidro, the Western hemisphere's busiest land border crossing with an average of 40,000 cars and 25,000 pedestrians entering daily.
"This is the gem for traffickers," said Gary Hill, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego. "It's the greatest place for these guys to cross because there are so many opportunities."
Synthetic drug raid sweeps U.S.
11 eastern Iowa businesses are reportedly searched
WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies served hundreds of search and arrest warrants across the United States on Wednesday in what officials described as the largest-ever crackdown on those who make and distribute synthetic designer drugs.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that 11 eastern Iowa businesses were raided.
Drug Enforcement Administration Chief of Operations James Capra said drug and other agents served 150 arrest warrants and 375 search warrants and seized bank accounts in 35 states as part of a seven-month investigation. Capra said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have helped authorities seize more than 1,000 kilograms of drugs used in synthetic marijuana, bath salts and other substances that can mimic cocaine, LSD and other drugs.
The drugs, often marketed as herbal incense or other seemingly innocuous products, are marketed to teenagers and young adults in a growing industry that has netted millions of dollars from traffickers, Capra said. Use of synthetic drugs has led to increases in emergency room visits around the country and routinely leads to a dangerous psychosis, he added.
“What (traffickers) care about is lining their pockets on the backs of young people,” Capra said. Untold millions in profits have ended up in Middle Eastern countries, he said.
Detroit to expand community policing program after decline in home invasions
A pilot program that launched a year ago and aimed at reducing home invasions in Detroit's Grandmont Rosedale community is expected to expand to other parts of the city.
“My No. 1 priority is reducing violence in this city,” incoming Police Chief James Craig said during a news conference today in the tree-lined community in northwest Detroit where officials said home invasions decreased by about 25% percent in a one-year period.
Craig, who officially starts his new job Monday, said he plans to replicate many of the strategies used to reduce home invasions in the area — which went down from 269 to 201 — in other parts of the city.
“I want to continue to look at the home invasion,” he said. “Nothing strikes fear in a community more than people's home being burglarized.”
The pilot program involved residents, the Detroit Police Department, Michigan Department of Corrections and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which funded the initiative.
June 27, 2013
Instead of birthday gifts, 7-year-old collecting school supplies for needy children
Seven-year-old Taylor Armstrong started planning her upcoming birthday party last March.
But instead of obsessing about colors, themes and the latest gift trends, Taylor decided she didn't want anything for herself. Instead, she is asking her friends and the community to bring backpacks with school supplies in them so they can be donated to The Children's Fund of San Bernardino County.
"She was home sick that day and she told me, mommy, I have everything I need, but a lot of kids don't. She told me she knew how she wanted to spend her birthday. She was watching The Disney Channel on television and saw a story about a girl collecting shoes for an orphanage in China. That's when she told me how she wanted to celebrate," said mom Desirae Armstrong of Rancho Cucamonga.
"The idea surprised me, but I'm not surprised that Taylor came up with it. She's always worried about others, and she's always giving away her things."
Armstrong made some calls. She called San Bernardino County, which referred her to The Children's Fund. The Children's Fund is a private/public partnership set up years ago by people who care about all children, but especially those who are neglected, abandoned or abused. The nonprofit helps children in need from throughout San Bernardino County by giving them and families counseling and support along with food, clothing and shelter.
LAPD asks for help to ID gunman who ambushed 2 officers
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Wednesday released a surveillance video of the gunman who ambushed two police officers at the Wilshire Division station early Tuesday morning and asked the public for help in identifying him. He said the attack did not appear related to a separate shooting in Willowbrook on Tuesday night, which injured a police officer and a probation officer.
During a news conference at the downtown Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, Beck said the video shows the gunman walking on the street across from the Wilshire Division station immediately after the ambush, wearing dark clothing and possibly holding a revolver. "He's described as a male African-American, medium build, with a mustache and a goatee," Tips should be phoned into 800-222-TIPS or 877-LAPD-24-7.
Beck added the LAPD would ask the City Council to offer a reward in exchange for information on the gunman, whom he called an extreme danger to the community. "I think people have to recognize that anybody that is willing to engage two armed police officers in a gunbattle certainly has no compunction about attacking unarmed civilians," he said. "This is somebody who should be considered extremely dangerous not only to the people who are sworn to protect you but also to the public in general. I also think it should be one of the highest priorities of the public to help the police to bring this individual to justice."
Beck said the two ambushed police officers, both veteran burglary detectives, sustained only minor injuries after the attacker sneaked up from behind while they were waiting for the gate of the Wilshire Division station parking lot to open. The gunman shot at them through a window of their unmarked vehicle just after they had swiped their key card. A bullet grazed one officer's hand. The other was hit in the head by broken glass.
NYC Council votes to impose new NYPD oversight
NEW YORK – The most expansive plans in years to impose new oversight on the New York Police Department passed the City Council early Thursday, as lawmakers voted to create an outside watchdog and make it easier to bring racial profiling claims against the nation's largest police force.
Both passed with enough votes to override expected vetoes, marking an inflection point in the public debate and power dynamics that have set the balance between prioritizing safety and protecting civil liberties here.
Proponents see the legislation as a check on a police department that has come under scrutiny for its heavy use of a tactic known as stop and frisk and its extensive surveillance of Muslims, as disclosed in a series of stories by The Associated Press.
"New Yorkers know that we can keep our city safe from crime and terrorism without profiling our neighbors," Councilman Brad Lander, who spearheaded the measures with fellow Democratic Councilman Jumaane Williams, said at a packed and emotional meeting that began shortly before midnight and stretched into the early morning.
Lawmakers delved into their own experiences with the street stops, drew on the city's past in episodes ranging from the high crime of the 1990s to the 1969 Stonewall riots that crystallized the gay rights movement, and traded accusations of paternalism and politicizing. In a sign of the national profile the issue has gained, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous was in the audience, while hip hop impresario Russell Simmons tweeted to urge the measures' passage.
DEARBORN: Police chief proud of falling crime rate, community outreach efforts
DEARBORN — When Ronald Haddad was hired as police chief 4 1/2 years ago, the city had recorded more than 8,000 serious crimes in the previous year, landing it on Forbes Magazine's list of the nation's most dangerous cities with populations less than 100,000.
The number was roughly 6,200 for 2012.
The list of serious crimes include homicides, rapes, assaults, burglaries, larcenies, auto thefts and arson.
“Dearborn is a far safer city now,” Haddad said.
He said there are several reasons for the reduction and he's proud of what his department has accomplished. The Detroit police retiree said it was a combination of what the officers have accomplished while teaming with civic leaders, schools and faith-based organizations.
“It's a total effort by our department and our community,” Haddad said, citing examples of working with Fairlane Town Center, businesses in the Ford Road-Southfield Freeway area and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority so everyone is, “pulling in the same direction.”
Community Safety and Police Accountability
Crime is an issue in our community and the police play an important role when it comes to crime fighting, but for our community to enjoy peace and not just an absence of violence, it must be free both of the fear of crime and fear of the police. The best policing is that which is done in true partnership with the community being served. It is respectful of the culture and history of the community. It is policing that plays to the positives of the community with the goal of building and supporting the community's leadership and capacity. It is built on trust based on a belief in shared values. This type of policing will be well appreciated by the community and promote mutual respect and good will for the officers on local patrol as well as the entire NYPD.
This is not the type of policing that is taking place in the South Bronx, in Harlem or in of the city's black and brown communities. The kind of policing that takes place in our communities assumes negativity or hostility on the part of the community. It is crime prevention based on instilling fear of the police and base on the assumption that all black and brown people, but especially the young men, are always ready to engage in wrong doing.
That is the message of the city's current stop and frisk policy. Otherwise how do you explain more than 1 million stops during the last two years, mostly of young people of color, that have resulted in only 8% of those persons being arrested or even getting a summons? The problem with the NYPD's stop and frisk policy has little to do with the courtesy and professionalism of the police officers conducting the stops, although more of each is sorely needed on the street. The problem is the logic and rationale behind the policy which promotes the targeting of black and brown people with a special focus on the presumed trouble-making young people. Today's large scale stop and frisk program is based on racial profiling and needs to come to an end.
June 26, 2013
Community involvement is key to stopping crime, activists say
BALTIMORE - Unfortunately Baltimore is known for its violence.
You see it on the streets, and it's also glorified nationwide on TV shows.
But despite the tragedy that the city sees almost daily, there is a section of the community where Baltimore is known for its peace.
Tragedy inspired Toni Clatt to help others find that peace.
"The father of my child was murdered in March and a couple of people in my neighborhood were I'm sorry about that but the world keeps spinning and it's normal nowadays." She says.
Clatt is part of the Computer for Guns initiative.
4 L.A. Officers Shot in Separate Attacks
Four officers were shot in two separate attacks on Los Angeles law enforcement, leading to a manhunt in one case and a SWAT response to a barricaded suspect in the other.
In the first shooting, a black-clad gunman ambushed two undercover detectives returning to a police station early Tuesday.
Police Chief Charlie Beck described the shooting as an attempted assassination and mobilized a huge search involving helicopters, dogs and about 200 officers. The officers' wounds didn't prevent them from aiding the hunt for the attacker. Police still had not found the suspect early Wednesday.
Police initially cordoned off 25 square blocks of the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, leaving thousands of residents stranded in homes and forcing drivers to find detours for their morning commutes.
Later in the day, the search focused on a neighborhood just south of the LAPD's Wilshire substation, where the attack occurred.
June 25, 2013
New York Mayor Bloomberg slams bills limiting policing
Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned on Monday that New York City will be the "laughing stock of the world" if it goes along with proposals to backpedal on crime-fighting tactics such as "stop-and-frisk," which have drawn fire from minority groups.
Bloomberg, who credits tougher police tactics with the city's historic 34 percent drop in crime over a decade, slammed two "community safety" bills that the City Council looks set to pass this week. One would establish an independent inspector-general with broad authority to investigate police practices, and a second discourages discriminatory profiling.
Bloomberg, flanked by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and several district attorneys, said the Inspector General bill would entitle gang members to make anonymous complaints about policing, while an increase in discrimination claims would tie up officers in court and take them off the streets.
"New Yorkers must have policing that respects everyone's rights, including everyone's right to be safe on the streets," he said. "This is life and death we are talking about."
7 Law Enforcement Officer myths that stress you out and scare your family
In a hard-hitting presentation at the ILEETA annual training conference, Dr. Alexis Artwohl challenged widely held misconceptions about police work
Seven persistent, negative myths about law enforcement are needlessly deepening officer stress, damaging recruitment, and generating unnecessary anxiety and fear in cop families, says a popular researcher and trainer in the field of police psychology.
In a hard-hitting presentation at the ILEETA annual training conference, Dr. Alexis Artwohl challenged widely held misconceptions about the danger, emotional trauma, alcoholism, divorce rate, premature mortality, suicide incidence, and burnout associated with police work.
She set the record straight with well-documented findings that officers overwhelmingly are well-grounded, mentally healthy, and resilient.
“Of course, some people fail to thrive in law enforcement, as with any profession,” she says. “But certain prevailing beliefs about the personal risks of a policing career are extreme exaggerations and need to be corrected.”