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.
Aug 18, 2013
Muslim group blasted for planning mass demonstration on Sept. 11
Critics say a Muslim group picked the wrong day – Sept. 11 - to march on Washington to complain about religious profiling and President Obama's handling of an investigation into the terror attacks that rocked America 12 years ago.
The mass demonstration, called the "Million Muslim March," was changed to a more mainstream-sounding event, "Million American March Against Fear," but the name did not seem to gain much traction and has apparently reverted back to its original title.
American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC), which is organizing the march, claims Muslims nationwide have been the victims of anti-Islamic bigotry in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on American soil.
"On 9.11.01 our country was forever changed by the horrific events in New York. The entire country was victimized by the acts done on that day," the group said in a statement. "Muslim and Non Muslim alike were traumatized but we as Muslims continue 12 years later to be victimized by being made the villains. To this day every media outlet and anti Islamic organization has committed slanderous and libel statements against us as Muslims and our religion of Islam."
"Yet our Government either sits idly by and does nothing to protect our freedoms or it exacerbates the problem with its constant war on terrorism in Islamic countries, congressional hearings on Islam in America, and its changes to the NDAA law," the statement says.
Bill gives Calif. youthful offenders second chance
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Criminals serving long prison sentences for offenses they committed as teenagers would have an earlier chance for freedom under a bill working its way through the Legislature.
The bill by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, expands on legislation signed into law last year that gives a second chance to inmates who committed murder before they turned 18 and were sentenced to life without parole.
Hancock's bill covers other offenders and requires the Board of Parole Hearings to give “great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles” and to signs that they have matured in prison. Parole commissioners also would have to individually counsel offenders about the steps they should take to earn their freedom.
Under the bill, SB260, inmates who committed such crimes as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as teenagers would be presumed eligible for parole after 15 years unless officials believe they present a threat to public safety. Inmates also could ask for release after serving 25 years for first-degree murder if the sentence included the possibility of parole.
“If you're a 15-year-old when you're convicted of even a very serious crime, by the time you're 35 you're going to be a different person,” Hancock said in an interview. “Those who don't significantly change in prison are not going to be eligible for this program or this opportunity.”
361 arrested during nationwide gang operation
WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 361 individuals in July and August during a nationwide gang operation targeting members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) transnational street gang.
The 361 arrests included 263 gang members and associates from 43 different gangs in 71 U.S. cities and 98 others encountered during the operation: 84 non-gang members wanted on criminal charges and 14 for immigration violations.
This national anti-gang enforcement operation, "Project Razor's Edge," was conducted July 15 to Aug. 9. The operation was led by HSI's National Gang Unit (NGU) under the auspices of Operation Barbed Wire to combat the national security and public safety threats posed by MS-13 gang members and associates and to ultimately identify, target, arrest, and prosecute MS-13 gang members and associates as well as their rival gangs.
Twenty-five HSI field offices worked with local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies in the areas they cover to conduct threat assessments regarding MS-13 members and associates with prior criminal convictions as well as foreign-born gang members and those on federal or state parole.
"Operations like these are especially rewarding for the men and women of HSI as they know firsthand that they're playing a critical role in community safety," said HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins.
Aug 17, 2013
Asylum seekers at Southwest US border double
PHOENIX (AP) — Requests for asylum in the United States along the Southwest border have more than doubled over the last three years as immigrants seek legal entry into the country by claiming fear of persecution back home.
That's according to figures released Friday by the federal government.
The Department of Homeland Security says the number of so-called credible fear claims at the border reached nearly 15,000 by the end of June, with three more months to go in the fiscal year. That's compared with about 7,000 such claims for the entire 2011 fiscal year.
The numbers represent what's known as "defensive" applications where foreigners who are outside the U.S. arrive at ports of entry seeking asylum. They don't include additional asylum requests filed by immigrants who are already in the U.S. The department says those figures aren't available.
Black police officers discuss challenges, changes
BEAVER, Pa. (AP) — Several years ago, Andre Davis and his wife were driving home from a concert in Pittsburgh. The couple had seen Luther Vandross at the Civic Arena.
At a red light on Route 65 north between the city and the Beaver County line, Davis — then a beat cop — found himself across the intersection from a police cruiser stopped in the opposite lane. When the light turned green, Davis proceeded through the intersection. The cruiser made a U-turn and pulled over his vehicle.
The fairly young, white officer told Davis, who is African American, that he pulled him over for a "white line thing." There was no alcohol involved, Davis said, and he and his wife didn't understand the justification for the traffic stop.
Davis opened his wallet to retrieve his driver's license, and the officer saw his badge inside. "His whole demeanor changed and we were sent on our way," said Davis, who is now chief of the Aliquippa Police. "But I was thinking, had I not been a law enforcement official, that could have gone south for me."
New local policing initiative helps cops track marijuana, money
EAST CHICAGO | A new local policing initiative is being credited after police confiscated 11 pounds of marijuana, two loaded handguns and $12,000 following a traffic stop in area of Guthrie and Deodar streets Thursday evening.
Officer Hector Rosario, a member of the East Chicago Police Department's STOP Team, stopped Timothy Pearson, 34, and Kevin Rhodes, 40, at about 5:50 p.m. Rosario saw Pearson inside the car and knew a warrant was out for his arrest.
Rhodes, who also had warrants, was taken into custody with Pearson. Police reported confiscating a bag of marijuana from inside the vehicle.
Police Chief Mark Becker said Pearson's warrant was a result of a traffic stop earlier in the week with his 16-year-old daughter in the car, when police found a quantity of marijuana inside. Pearson was later released, and Lake County subsequently issued an arrest warrant for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Nation's judges say federal budget cuts risk public safety
August 16, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- "Public safety is at risk" in Chicago and across the country because of federal budget cuts to the judiciary. Those are the words of new Chicago Chief Judge Ruben Castillo in a scathing letter he and other judges have sent to Congress.
In an unusual and rare public criticism of one of the other branches of government, Castillo is among those who have blasted Congress for cutting its funding.
There was no trial or witnesses but the verdict is in Friday night, and nearly all of the nation's chief federal judges say Congress is guilty of nearly starving the United States court system and endangering the public.
But Friday night, the recently-sworn in Castillo is among 87 top district judges who sent this letter to congressional leaders, citing grave concerns over possible new government budget cuts.
Aug 16, 2013
NSA broke privacy rules 'thousands of times each year,' report says
The National Security Agency broke privacy rules "thousands of times each year" since 2008, The Washington Post reported, citing an internal audit and other documents. NSA leaker Edward Snowden provided material to the newspaper this summer.
The May 2012 audit found 2,776 incidents of "unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications" in the preceding 12 months, the Post reported in its story Thursday.
"Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure," the newspaper said. "The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders."
The paper said most incidents involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the country. In one case, the NSA decided it didn't need to report the unintended surveillance.
Seattle Central Community College to offer free class in policing
The office of the Mayor and Seattle Central Community College announced a new partnership between the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Central Community College to offer a free five-credit course entitled “Introduction to Community Policing.” The course will cover basic policing skills with an emphasis on collaborating with the community, as well as help recruits prepare for exams required to become a Seattle Police officer.
“This is part of our effort to increase the accessibility of the police recruitment process through our SPD: 20/20 reform initiative,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “We plan to hire 300 new officers over the next five years. We want to make sure that if you're a member of our community interested in being one of those officers, you have the tools you need to accomplish that goal.”
The course will be offered in the evening at Seattle Central Community College beginning with the fall quarter. Because it is an accredited course, interested students need to enroll at Seattle Central. Current students can simply sign up for the class through the regular registration process.
“This partnership between Seattle Community Colleges and the Seattle Police Department will help students prepare for a career in law enforcement,” said SCCC President Paul Killpatrick. “Because Seattle Central has a diverse student body which reflects its neighborhood, we hope the class will draw some of these students into police work. A diverse police force better reflects the community it serves and protects.”
Aug 15, 2013
Community Policing in Salinas
Salinas PD leads an academy for community members. Go on ride-alongs with patrol officers, observe SWAT team activities, and learn about the inner workings of the department. 6-9pm for 12 consecutive weeks beginning Tues Sept. 3. To qualify, participants must be at least 18, have no felony record, and live or work in Salinas. Capped at 20 participants. Request an application in advance.
Central American students complete DHS law enforcement course at FLETC
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Twenty-seven Panamanian and El Salvadoran law enforcement officers graduated Friday from an elite training program in the United States and joined the fight against transnational organized crime.
From July 23 through Aug. 9, 14 members of the Panama National Police and 13 members of the El Salvador National Police completed the International Taskforce Agent Training Course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Charleston.
"Today a dedicated group of law enforcement professionals from Panama and El Salvador graduated from our academy and will return to their countries with new skills to use in the shared fight against transnational organized crime," said Luis Sierra, deputy assistant director for operations west within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of International Affairs.
The ICE Academy and FLETC delivered a tailored curriculum that included instruction about how to conduct criminal investigations. Specifically, the graduates learned investigative and interview techniques and how to process evidence and execute warrants. The training was made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of State.
From the FBI
Seeking the Public's Assistance -- New Information Released in Serial Killer Case
After Israel Keyes was arrested for the murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig in Alaska in 2012, authorities realized that the man they had in custody was a prolific serial killer. Keyes freely admitted as much.
During conversations with investigators, the 34-year-old sometime construction worker revealed the names of two additional victims—along with tantalizing clues about other murders he had committed around the country over a period of years. But last December, Keyes killed himself in his Anchorage jail cell, leaving a trail of unanswered questions and unidentified victims.
Those victims have not been forgotten, however. Today we are releasing new information in the hopes that the public can help us identify others who died by Keyes' hands. The information includes extensive videotaped conversations with Keyes in jail and an interactive map that contains a detailed timeline of his known movements beginning in 1997.
“He gave us a number of clues,” said Special Agent Jolene Goeden in our Anchorage Division. “He talked openly about some of the homicides, but much of what he said only hinted at the things he had done. So we are trying to get information out there about what he did tell us. We are letting the public know the types of cars he rented, towns he visited, campgrounds he frequented. Anything that might spur someone's memory could help us,” Goeden said.
From the Department of Homeland Security
A Major Step Forward in Better Protecting Federal, State and Local Cyber Networks
This week, DHS achieved an important milestone towards better protecting government networks from cyber attacks. The General Services Administration yesterday announced a contract award that will allow government agencies to partner with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) technology that will enhance the security and resilience of their networks – better safeguarding both the sensitive data on those networks and the critical functions they provide to all Americans.
Through the CDM program, DHS works with partners across the entire Federal executive branch civilian government to deploy and maintain an array of sensors for hardware asset management, software asset management and whitelisting, vulnerability management, compliance setting management and feed data about an agency's cybersecurity flaws and present those risks in an automated and continuously-updated dashboard. CDM, which will also be available for state and local entities as well as the defense industrial base sector, provides our stakeholders with the tools they need protect their networks and enhance their ability to see and counteract day-to-day cyber threats.
Whether to receive important health or emergency information or to check on the provision of essential government services, millions of Americans visit government websites every day. While increased connectivity has transformed and improved access to government, it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. The growing number of cyber attacks on Federal government networks is growing more sophisticated, aggressive, and dynamic.
Aug 14, 2013
Cleveland's 'Terry' case continues to frame the debate on effective community policing
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Good proactive community policing is part instinct, part observation and part luck. That's how the late Tyree Broomfield, the pioneering police chief of Dayton, used to describe it.
But a New York City policy that has long encouraged police officers to routinely stop and frisk people on the street based often on nothing more than a style of dress, or a “furtive” movement, is neither usefully proactive or good policing.
What is a furtive movement anyway? According to New York's stop-and-frisk policy, a suspicious movement can include being fidgety, changing directions, walking in a certain way, grabbing at a pocket or looking over one's shoulder. This sort of police fishing expedition has been credited by some for the reduction in the number of violent crimes in New York since its implementation. But at what cost and what constitutional violations?
Monday, a federal judge ruled that the city's aggressive stop-and-frisk police tactics violated the constitutional rights of minorities and were sorely in need of reforms. Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin didn't outright strike down the practice, which is fiercely defended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But she did order a federal monitor to oversee police retraining. She also called for other reforms, which she said are needed because a “policy of indirect racial profiling,” has led to the routine stops of “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.”
Chicago: Police Expand West Side Narcotics Initiative to Reduce Violence
CHICAGO – Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy today announced the expansion of the West Side Narcotics Initiative, an anti-violence effort focused on narcotics markets on Chicago's west side, to the 15th District. The West Side Narcotics Initiative was originally launched in March in the City's 11th District with redeployed officers that were part of 200 were moved from administrative jobs to the street. Since it began, the West Side Narcotics Initiative has led to 552 arrests in the 11th District. Additionally, murders are down 40 percent, shootings are down 38 percent, and overall crime is down 30 percent in that district.
“Removing narcotics markets, an economic driver of many West Side gangs, from our communities is an essential part of our strategy to reduce violence and crime in Chicago,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “More work remains to be done, but we are seeing tangible results from this narcotics initiative and expanding it to the Austin area will benefit the community as whole.” Under the plan, recently redeployed officers from the Department's Narcotics Division conduct undercover operations to bust drug dealers in a targeted geographic area, in this case a District.
Following a bust, additional newly reassigned uniformed officers from the Bureau of Patrol then flood the area to prevent an immediate reemergence of drug dealers and gang activity. Wrap around services from other city agencies then engage neighbors and address immediate needs such as broken street lights and overgrown, vacant lots.
This initiative is a piece of the larger comprehensive policing strategy created, built and implemented under Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy. In less than two years the Chicago Police Department has seen a return to community policing; created Chicago's first comprehensive Gang Violence Reduction Initiative; built a meritocracy and depoliticized the Department; instituted CompStat to track the effectiveness of crime prevention efforts; implemented Operation Impact to saturate high crime areas with officers; and developed a closer partnership with the communities and residents officers serve.
Community comes out against crime
Safety, information, and fun were part of this year's event
Crime, like rust, never sleeps.
This is a lesson that Bayonne Police Chief Ralph Scianni conveyed at this year's Night Out Against Crime, on Aug. 6.
Hundreds of kids and their parents enjoyed rides and snacks, while officers from the Bayonne Community Policing Program, the Bayonne Police Explorers Club, and the Hudson County Sheriff's Department issued helpful information about crime prevention.
Other groups such as Women Rising were on hand to give savvy advice about safety and domestic violence.
Margaret Abrams represented two groups, Women Rising, offering information on domestic violence services, and a group called Rider of the Clouds, which educates motorists and others about motorcycles. She founded the group after her son's death in 2012.
“We have just about everything a victim of domestic violence would need to obtain sources to get the help they need,” Abrams said.
Aug 13, 2013
Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violates Rights
Outside Monitor Is Ordered to Oversee Changes to the Legally Challenged Practice
The New York Police Department violated the Constitution with its practice of stopping and searching people suspected of criminal activity, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a decision likely to lead police departments across the country to take a close look at their crime-fighting tactics.
Finding that New York City's so-called stop-and-frisk program amounted to "indirect racial profiling" by targeting blacks and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the installation of the department's first-ever independent monitor to oversee changes to its practices. City officials have argued that stop-and-frisk is a key component in their largely successful efforts to fight crime, but opponents have criticized it as a blatant violation of civil rights.
New York City officials immediately criticized the decision. "No federal judge has ever imposed a monitor over a city's police department following a civil trial," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He said the city didn't receive a fair trial, citing comments from the judge that he said "telegraphed her intentions," and he said the city would seek an immediate stay while appealing the decision.
Mr. Bloomberg credited stop-and-frisk with helping drive crime in New York City to record lows. Murders in the city are at levels not seen in more than five decades, for instance. The mayor, who leaves office at year-end after three terms, predicted that should the judge's decision stand, it could reverse those crime reductions "and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place."
James ‘Whitey' Bulger found guilty of gangland killings
BOSTON — James “Whitey” Bulger, the feared Boston mob boss who became one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives, was convicted Monday in a string of 11 killings and other gangland crimes, many of them committed while he was said to be an FBI informant.
Bulger, 83, stood silently and showed no reaction upon hearing the verdict, which brought to a close a case that not only transfixed the city with its grisly violence but exposed corruption inside the Boston FBI and an overly cozy relationship with its underworld snitches.
Bulger was charged primarily with racketeering, which listed 33 criminal acts — among them, 19 murders that he allegedly helped orchestrate or carried out himself during the 1970s and ‘80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston's ruthless Irish mob. The racketeering charge also included acts of extortion, conspiracy, money-laundering and drug dealing.
After 4½ days of deliberations, the jury decided he took part in 11 of those murders, along with nearly all the other crimes, as well as a laundry list of other counts, including possession of machine guns.
Bulger could get life in prison at sentencing Nov. 13. But given his age, even a modest term could amount to a life sentence for the slightly stooped, white-bearded Bulger.
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates
Thank you, Bob Carlson, for those kind words – and for your exemplary service as Chair of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates. It's a pleasure to be with you this morning. And it's a privilege to join so many friends, colleagues, and leaders – including U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag – here in San Francisco for the ABA's 2013 Annual Meeting.
I'd like to thank your Delegates for all that they've done to bring us together this week – and for their dedication to serving as faithful stewards of the greatest legal system the world has ever known. From its earliest days, our Republic has been bound together by this system, and by the values that define it. These values – equality, opportunity, and justice under law – were first codified in the United States Constitution. And they were renewed and reclaimed – nearly a century later – by this organization's earliest members.
With the founding of the ABA in 1878, America's leading legal minds came together – for the first time – to revolutionize their profession. In the decades that followed, they created new standards for training and professional conduct. And they established the law as a clear and focused vocation at the heart of our country's identity.
Throughout history, Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life have turned to our legal system to settle disputes, but also to hold accountable those who have done wrong – and even to answer fundamental questions about who we are and who we aspire to be. On issues of slavery and segregation; voting and violence; equal rights and equal justice – generations of principled lawyers have engaged directly in the work of building a more perfect Union. Today, under the leadership of my good friend, President Laurel Bellows, this organization is fighting against budget cuts that undermine the ability of our courts to administer justice. You're standing with me – and with my colleagues across the Obama Administration – in calling for Congressional action on common-sense measures to prevent and reduce gun violence. And you're advancing our global fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking.
Aug 12, 2013
Holder proposes changes in criminal justice system
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes, divert people convicted of low-level offenses to drug treatment and community service programs and expand a prison program to allow for release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.
In remarks prepared for delivery Monday to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder said he is mandating a change to Justice Department policy so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.
Mandatory minimum prison sentences — a product of the government's war on drugs in the 1980s — limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison sentences.
Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offenses for which accompanying sentences "are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins."
Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000 inmates — with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes and many of them with substance use disorders. In addition, 9 million to 10 million prisoners go through local jails each year. Holder praised state and local law enforcement officials for already instituting some of the types of changes Holder says must be made at the federal level.
Blend prison alternatives, public safety
Bob Houston, who heads the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, knows the need for prison alternatives better than most.
His inmate population of nearly 4,800 sits above a trigger for federal lawsuits and climbs by about 11 people a month. He's got about 200 inmates he could place in settings that help them better transition back into the state's work force and into life outside prison, but he lacks the right kind of space.
He's heard state senators say the Legislature has neither the will nor the money to build a new, $130 million-to-$150 million prison, with ongoing annual costs of $30 million-plus. And he's engaged in promising talk of prison and sentencing reform.
But he works at the back end of the criminal justice system, with no control over whom he receives or for how long. His department needs the help of the Legislature, the governor and judges to free up space, despite years of state focus on parole.
Fortunately, the people who manage the front end of the justice system appear ready to give this issue the attention it deserves. State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, told The World-Herald that he plans to draft a major proposal on prison and sentencing reform for the next legislative session.
NSA debate: Will reforms ease public concern or compromise safety?
CBS News) Top-secret National Security Agency programs that cull metadata from U.S. citizens to keep tabs on potential terrorist threats in no way violate Americans' privacy, two high-ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee and one former intelligence official agreed Sunday on "Face the Nation." But with details of the programs circulating internationally thanks to Edward Snowden, they all added, reforms may be necessary, if only to placate public perception.
President Obama on Friday announced a series of steps to make NSA programs more transparent, explaining not only how the programs operate but also releasing the Justice Department's legal rationale for the programs. The administration also plans to back various reforms to the programs to strengthen oversight.
"Anyone working in the intelligence arena, including the president, understands this program helps protect us," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "It really might have protected us from the 9/11 attack, because we didn't know that one of the terrorists was in San Diego in the United States. And if we would have known, it might have helped."
Still, Ruppersberger said, the fallout from the programs' revelation suggests some soothing of public opinion might be required: "We in politics have to deal with perception, not just reality," he said. "And we need to do better in educating our public so they are not fearful that we, the government, are violating their privacy - that's very important."