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 25, 2013
50th anniversary March on Washington to focus on continued fight for civil rights
WASHINGTON — Alice Long planned months ago to use vacation time to travel from Huntsville, Ala., to the 50th anniversary events for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Long, a NASA administrative assistant, brought along her grandchildren to give them a close-up view of African-American and civil rights history that she said isn't being taught in schools.
“I'm here supporting this march because there are so many injustices in this country,” Long, 59, said on the eve of Saturday's march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. “I'm very concerned about it because I have a 5-year-old grandson and a 13-year-old granddaughter.”
Marchers began arriving early Saturday to gather on the National Mall, many staking out their spots as the sun rose in a clear sky over the Capitol. By midday, tens of thousands had gathered on the National Mall.
Eric Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, thanked those who marched a half century earlier. He said he would not be in office, nor would Barack Obama be president, without them.
Departing FBI Chief Worries About Airborne Terror
The nature of terrorism has changed in Robert Mueller's dozen years as FBI director, but his concerns for the future are much the same as when terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001, merely a week after he'd taken over the bureau. As he wraps up his FBI tenure, Mueller worries that terrorists will once again target planes or finally pull off an attack using a weapon of mass destruction.
Mueller sees terrorism as a shifting landscape, evolving from Osama bin Laden's global brand in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to the splintering threats arising in the fallout from the Arab Spring across the Middle East.
"Every one of these countries now has cadres of individuals who you would put in the category of extremists, violent extremists, and that will present threats down the road," Mueller said.
Mueller, the architect of the bureau's transformation into a terrorism-fighting agency, spoke to reporters at FBI headquarters this week.
The director's last day on the job is Sept. 4. His successor, former Justice Department official James Comey, will be on hand next week for the transition.
Community policing is this cop's M.O. ...
Every police department runs community policing programs like neighborhood-watch groups and DARE. But departments often forget that community policing isn't a program — it's the way officers treat and interact with people every day.
It's police officers living in the city they work in, understanding the blocks they patrol, and knowing the people who live there. If you want to know how it's done, ride with Officer Melvin Woods of the Toledo Police Department.
The 30-year veteran was awarded the Meritorious Service Award from Chief Derrick Diggs last year, one of the department's highest honors, for actions that led to the arrest of two armed-robbery suspects. But he's also a cop who will take groceries to a hungry family and listen to a young man beef about police brutality.
Cops and journalists have one thing in common: A lot of people don't like them. That's especially true in neighborhoods that police target, such as Toledo's Beat 620, a central-city sector that includes Dorr Street and Detroit Avenue and leads the city in shootings.
In the hood, police are often regarded as intruders who abuse their authority and push people around. When police focus on a high-crime area, people who are just standing around can get rousted.
Police manpower decreases in most Washtenaw County agencies, and crime largely follows suit
Violent crimes increased in the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction despite the number of deputies growing by more than 7 percent from 2003 to 2011, statistics show.
The increase in crime comes with an influx of more than 10,000 new residents, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Reports of violent crime went from 307 to 430 in the WCSO's jurisdiction during that time frame, according to the FBI.
Sheriff Jerry Clayton , in office since 2009, said the amount of violent crime has trended down during that time. Statistics from the FBI show 450 total violent crimes in 2009, 461 in 2010 and 430 in 2011.
Even though staffing has remained relatively constant from 2003 to 2011, the WCSO is still below ideal levels in most areas, he said. An added issue is an increase of more than 10,000 people living in the sheriff's office jurisdiction.
FEMA Corps to train people for disaster response
VICKSBURG, Miss. -- About 210 young adults are arriving in Mississippi on Monday to begin training for disaster preparation, response and recovery. The FEMA Corps members are coming from across the U.S., and they'll be sent work where needed nationwide.
The group is a new unit within the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.
FEMA Corps members will be in Vicksburg to receive training and some certifications from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. When they're finished, they'll be sent around the U.S. to support FEMA operations. They could work directly with disaster survivors, coordinate supplies, assess damage of public facilities or share information with the public.
The FEMA Corps members are between 18 and 24 years old, and they're making a 10-month service commitment.
Aug 24, 2013
50 Years After March, Views of Fitful Progress
WASHINGTON — When Daniel R. Smith was born dirt poor more than three-quarters of a century ago, there were only about 20 other blacks in his small Connecticut town. His own father had been born a slave in Virginia in 1862. Mr. Smith served as a medic in Korea in the years just after the Army had been desegregated.
On Aug. 28, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed thousands of people gathered around the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in Washington.
And in August 1963, he found himself standing beside the Reflecting Pool with tens of thousands of others listening to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver one of the most famous speeches in American history.
“I felt that this was the beginning of a new era for black Americans, that whites would respect blacks more,” said Mr. Smith, whose story exemplifies the journey of millions of black Americans. “From then on, I thought, America is America, it has become what the Constitution stands for.”
This week, he intends to join the thousands of others at events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But what is often on Mr. Smith's mind, as it is on the minds of others who attended and watched the historic event, is what has happened in the five decades since Dr. King detailed his vision of a society in which people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Nidal Hasan convicted of Fort Hood killings
Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who opened fire on dozens of soldiers at Fort Hood., Tex., was found guilty Friday of murdering 13 people, taking him one step closer to becoming the first active-duty soldier to be executed in more than 50 years.
Hasan, who acted as his own attorney but demonstrated little interest in mounting a defense, was convicted on 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted murder by a panel of senior officers. He showed no reaction as the verdict was read, according to news agencies. In the courtroom were several survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed, and some began to cry after Hasan and the panel had left the room.
Responses to the attack appear to be on hold pending confirmation, as a U.N. team awaits access to the site.
The case will now move to a sentencing phase, during which more witnesses may be called and the 42-year-old major could testify before a punishment is handed down.
The unanimous verdict closes a key chapter in one of the most painful episodes in recent U.S. military history. The FBI and Defense Department have been criticized for failing to spot warning signs that Hasan had become radicalized, and survivors have accused the government of abandoning them and depriving them of financial benefits.
Aug 23, 2013
Outgoing Director Robert S. Mueller III tells how 9/11 reshaped FBI mission
When the first plane hit, on the pivotal day that would redefine the role of the organization he had just been appointed to lead, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III's thoughts turned to the weather.
“I remember .?.?. seeing the first plane go into the towers and thinking: ‘It's a beautiful day. Somebody really must have gotten off course to have the plane go into the towers,' ” he recalled this week.
The U.N. wants to secure “without delay” the Assad regime's permission for an investigation of the alleged site.
When the U.S. tries to influence the makeup of a foreign government, it can have a negative impact.
Soon after, Mueller had a conversation with President George W. Bush, who said, “We cannot let this happen again.”
Police in Vegas say 'sovereign citizen' plot to kill officers thwarted
LAS VEGAS – A couple spent hundreds of hours over four months plotting to abduct, torture and kill Las Vegas police officers as a way to attract attention to their anti-authority "sovereign citizens" movement, police said.
David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman attended training sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy, shopped for guns, found a vacant house and rigged it to bind captives to cross beams during interrogation, and recorded videos to explain their actions and why officers had to die.
At every step, police said Thursday, an undercover officer was with them, documenting and recording the alleged plot.
Newman, 67, of Las Vegas was a bit nervous, according to a police report. She asked at one meeting to unplug the television because she thought authorities could use it to listen to their conversations.
Brutsche 42, an ex-con child sex offender from California, practiced stalking Newman, posing as a police officer and putting a gun to her head to take her into custody, the report said.
How to Stop Violent Crime Without Stop and Frisk
Surely there are methods for reducing violent crime that don't require indiscriminately throwing innocents against walls.
Stop and Frisk's potential for "harassment, abuse and systemic discrimination" makes Ross Douthat sympathetic to its critics. "In a city as safe as New York has become, there should be room to weigh the costs and benefits of different policing tactics," he writes, "and at the very least the Bloomberg administration needs to do more to answer the skeptics who question the link between this specific policy and the city's overall success combating crime." But he isn't yet convinced that it ought to be abandoned. "New York's relatively low incarceration rate does make a powerful case for the Bloomberg approach, since the social costs of stop-and-frisk are much lower than the costs of mass incarceration," he continues. And "it's also important for would-be reformers to have a clear sense of what that success (in New York and nationally) has meant for the average citizen's odds of being victimized. Thanks to two decades of falling crime rates ," the chance a city dweller will be the victim of robbery, rape or assault has been halved, he estimates.
As a would-be reformer who wants Stop and Frisk to end, I'd like to emphasize that I am also fully cognizant of how salutary the nationwide drop in violent crime has been (though the very fact that it is a nationwide drop suggests Stop and Frisk isn't its source). In fact, I think violent crime is so terrible that, even with the drop, I favor taking additional aggressive steps to reduce it even more. I just don't happen to think massive 4th Amendment violations and racial profiling are appropriate options, regardless of efficacy, any more than it would be an appropriate option to increase the ease of convicting criminals by lowering the burden of proof or tracking all city dwellers with ankle bracelets. If we're going to incur costs to fight crime, they shouldn't come at the expense of core liberties, and they shouldn't be born almost entirely by ethnic minority groups.
Return to Community Policing
“A large reservoir of good will was under construction when I left the department in 1994. It was called community policing. But it was quickly abandoned for tough-sounding rhetoric and dubious stop-and-frisk tactics that sowed new seeds of community mistrust.”
That was Raymond W. Kelly speaking six years after his tenure as Mayor David N. Dinkins's police commissioner and two years before resuming the post under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Since then, he seems to have forgotten his hard-won lesson.
Crime began to decline in New York City in 1990 under the community patrol officer program, which assigned officers to beats, worked with community members to identify and resolve problems, gave officers autonomy to creatively respond to the needs of the community and let officers serve as an information exchange link between the department and the community.
Kelly continued to work with this approach in his first stint as police commissioner, from 1992 to 1993, and crime continued to decline.
Aug 22, 2013
‘Active shooter' training boosts public safety
After all of the controversy over gun control measures in the wake of December's mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., relatively little attention was paid to the Obama administration's nationwide effort this week to make our schools safer.
Elko's first responders enacted an “active shooter” scenario Monday on the Great Basin College campus. It was part of a nationwide effort following a White House directive to implement FBI-based “best practices” in handling such dire situations.
Pat Anderson, director of environmental health, safety and security at GBC, coordinated the drill along with Elko police Capt. Will Lehmann.
It was a case of students working with law enforcement to improve their own safety.
It was also a major undertaking, but one that will pay off in preparedness. A planned and coordinated response is the best tool we have to deal with the unthinkable.
“You don't need negotiators, you don't have time for SWAT teams, you need to get in there as fast as possible and stop the killing,” the FBI's Chris Combs told The Associated Press.
Seminar to address growing problem
PANAMA CITY — Dear lucky winner, we are pleased to inform you that you have won a huge sum of cash in a lottery you never entered in a country you've never visited.
Ever wondered who responds to those emails? They're so obviously scams, right?
But people want to believe it, said Investigator Paul Vecker with the Bay County Sheriff's Office. Vecker investigates scams and frauds.
“All they become is a big loser, and that's the tragedy,” Vecker said.
In the past few months, Bay County residents have fallen victim to scams and lost tens of thousands of dollars, Vecker said. In an effort to keep Bay Countians from falling victim to such scams, Vecker, who investigates frauds and scams, and Investigator Craig Romans, who investigates financial crimes, will lead an identity theft seminar Thursday.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and National Network of Partners Collaborate to Raise Awareness of Cybersecurity
Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on cyberspace. While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the risks to privacy and security. Everyone has a unique role to play in cybersecurity—whether it's protecting small businesses from fraud, teaching students about cybersecurity ethics, or just thinking twice before clicking on a hyperlink. The Department's Stop.Think.Connect. TM campaign relies on its National Network of partners to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of staying safe online.
The National Network comprises approximately 30 non-profit organizations, including D.A.R.E., Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 4-H, InfraGard, and the National Association of Counties. Some of these partners have joined the campaign in recent months, helping us reach more Americans to inform them about their personal role in addressing cybersecurity risks.
Stop.Think.Connect.™ is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety and security by educating and empowering the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits. The campaign encourages Americans to view Internet safety and security as a shared responsibility at home, in the workplace, and in our communities. Through these partnerships with the National Network, the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign gains a greater understanding of the cybersecurity issues and trends, and is able to develop helpful tips and resources specific to the organizations and their members.
For a complete list of Stop.Think.Connect. National Network partners, or for more information on how an organization can join, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect .
Aug 21, 2013
Soliciting Sex With Children Will Now Be a Federal Offense
Last month, the FBI announced that it had rescued more than 100 sexually exploited children in Operation Cross Country, a nationwide sweep of sex traffickers. Some 150 people, most “pimps” who profit from sexually exploiting children, were arrested. A bill introduced last week in Congress, the End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013, goes a step further, calling for those “patrons” who seek sex with children to also be federally prosecuted.
It goes without saying that the new bill makes an important step in protecting children by recognizing that those who “obtain, patronize, or solicit” prostituted children are guilty of the crime of human trafficking. Beyond prosecuting both those who seek sex with children and those who profit from it, we also need to make provisions to better identify children who are being exploited and to help those who have survived such an experience.
“Soliciting or obtaining sex with minors, paying to have sex with a child, is a crime — period, end of story. This is a monumentally important bill that will do more to curb this terrible crime of [sexual] slavery in the 21st Century,” said Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a sponsor of the bill.
The new bill amends the existing Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Under the TVPA,”the guy that brings those girls throughout the United States” is the one who is prosecuted, as Republican Congressman Ted Poe (a former state district judge from Humble, Texas) said during a news conference at the Capitol but “the consumer, the buyer, is not prosecuted on the federal level.” The new bill will mean that “patrons” will also face federal prosecution.
Goshen police reach out to Latinos
GOSHEN — Why did it happen?
David Araujo is senior pastor at Iglesia Menonita del Buen Pastor in Goshen, where on any given Sunday, 50 to 60 people attend services. The congregation is predominantly Hispanic.
Araujo had heard his churchgoers' misgivings about local police, and cited one example in particular: A woman who'd been pulled over during a traffic stop and didn't understand why. She was found to be driving without a license and registration. Araujo said that at first she felt she was being unfairly targeted as a Hispanic and a woman.
A new program in Goshen helped put the misunderstanding to rest. It started with a conversation. Then it grew.
Gilberto Perez Jr. and Goshen Police Chief Wade Branson were talking about Latinos being cited for driving without a license. Those drivers might feel nervous, according to Perez, and perhaps feel they're being discriminated against and wonder why they're being pulled over.
That chat was the springboard for a community policing project. Goals behind the effort include building trust between the Latino community and Goshen police, and sharing information with Latinos about what the police department does.
Public Safety Live-in program celebrates 25 years
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Southern Maine Community College is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Public Safety Live-In program. While most students live in dorms or rent apartments in college, SMCC's fire science students can apply to live in one of 17 fire stations in southern Maine.
Those students get real-life hands-on training running medical and fire calls with the actual station crews. This year, there are about 30 new students participating in the program. These freshmen have already taken a 3 week course, and had live-burn training before the semester even begins.
For the fire stations housing students, they get the benefit of extra crews on hand in their department, and knowing that when these students graduate they'll already have the training and experience they're looking for in new recruits.
For the students, they say that experience gives them a boost in the job market over the other graduates in the program.
The Scarborough Fire Department has one of the largest programs, housing 13 students throughout their 6 stations. While it varies from department to department, the students here live for free, and get paid for the calls they go on.
Aug 20, 2013
Judge approves force-feeding inmates
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge approved a request from California and federal officials on Monday to force-feed inmates if necessary as a statewide prison hunger strike entered its seventh week.
Officials say they fear for the welfare of nearly 70 inmates who have refused all prison-issued meals since the strike began July 8 over the holding of gang leaders and other violent inmates in solitary confinement that can last for decades.
They are among nearly 130 inmates in six prisons who were refusing meals. When the strike began it included nearly 30,000 of the 133,000 inmates in California prisons.
Prison policy is to let inmates starve to death if they have signed legally binding do-not-resuscitate (DNR) requests. But state corrections officials and a federal receiver who controls inmate medical care received blanket authority from U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco to feed inmates who may be in failing health. The order includes those who recently signed requests that they not be revived.
SMS and The Future of Public Safety Alerts
As mobile adoption rates continue to surge globally, television and radio announcements along with traditional tornado sirens and other public emergency distress signals may get some company in the form of SMS messages blasted out to mobile devices.
According to a fast-growing contingency of public safety officials, mobile devices are the ultimate gateway to alerting the public of dangers heading their way. From inclement weather to potential terror attacks, the public – experts contend – must be targeted where they are most accessible. And that's now on their mobile devices.
In Australia, for example, SMS public emergency alerts are already being deployed by local governments.
Over the weekend, the Victorian Government began testing location-based technology to send emergency alerts to all mobile phones.
During the tests, text messages will be sent to mobile phones on the Optus, Vodafone and Telstra networks. The system, which was a recommendation from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, will be tested in nine locations across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Appointment of New Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity
Over the past four and a half years, cybersecurity has become one of the top priorities at the Department of Homeland Security. Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Phyllis Schneck as the new Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Phyllis will be coming to the Department of Homeland Security from her current position as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Global Public Sector at McAfee, Inc. with a wealth of experience in cybersecurity and information security.
For more than 14 years, Phyllis has had a distinguished presence in the security and infrastructure protection community, most recently as a key contributor on the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency. Phyllis is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance, a partnership between corporations, government and law enforcement for cyber analysis to combat international cyber crime. Phyllis has also served as the Chairman of the NIST Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, which helps identify emerging managerial, technical, administrative, and physical safeguard issues relative to information security and privacy.
Before joining McAfee, Phyllis held various senior and information science positions at Research Integration for Secure Computing, eCommSecurity, SecureWorks, Inc., Avalon Communications, CygnaCom Solutions, the MITRE Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, NASA and the University Of Maryland.
Aug 19, 2013
Ray Kelly questions use of cameras after "stop-and-frisk" ruling
Rather than completely throw out the New York City Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy, a federal judge last week ordered the city to reform the practice, in part by having officers wear cameras in the police precinct where most stops occurred.
On CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the judge's order to use body cameras "opens up certainly more questions than it answers."
"When do you have the cameras on?" he asked. "When do you turn them off? Do you have it on during a domestic dispute? Do you have it on when somebody comes to give you confidential information? All of these issues have to be answered."
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said "stop-and-frisk" is unconstitutional because it intentionally discriminates based on race. In addition to using body cameras, she named an independent monitor to develop reforms to the policy and provide the police department with training and supervision. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appealing the decision and has asked for a stay.
"The judge, in this case, has indicted an entire police department -- almost 36,000 police officers -- for racial profiling based on what we believe is very flimsy information, flimsy evidence," Kelly said.
Building Trust Between Police And Minority Communities
A federal judge ruled Monday that the stop-and-frisk policies of the New York City Police Department were unconstitutional. That same day, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department will pull back from prosecuting low-level drug offenders to avoid triggering harsh mandatory sentences.
Both decisions reflect fundamental changes in U.S. law enforcement practices. The resulting strident opposition to the changes and equally adamant support illuminate the deep disagreements in the nation's unresolved racial divide.
Holder pointed out that mandatory sentences fell disproportionately on minority communities and had led to grossly overcrowded prisons. Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York police policy violated the Constitution — police are most often stopping and frisking innocent male minorities.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly quickly defended the policy. They both argued that the tactics had greatly reduced violence and crime — and the number of minority crime victims. Supporters of mandatory sentences and stop-and- frisk contend that, most importantly, policy changes would lead to far higher crime levels.
My decade-long experience as a beat officer in New York's Harlem, the highest crime area in the city during the 1960s, when crime soared, and as police chief of Kansas City, Missouri, and San Jose, California, during the high-crime 1970s and '80s, convinced me that police tactics and judicial sentencing policies do affect crime rates.