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.
Sept 8, 2013
From the White House
Weekly Address: Calling for Limited Military Action in Syria
WASHINGTON, DC — In his weekly address, President Obama makes the case for limited and targeted military action to hold the Assad regime accountable for its violation of international norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. The President realizes the American people are weary after a decade of war, which is why U.S. action would not include U.S. boots on the ground. Instead, the President has put forward a proposed authorization that is focused on his clearly stated objectives – preventing and deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons (CW) within, to, or from Syria, degrading the Assad regime's capacity to carry out future CW attacks, and deterring this behavior in others who would otherwise feel emboldened to use such weapons. The President acknowledged it is not a decision he made lightly, but failing to respond to such actions poses a serious threat to our national security.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, September 7, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
September 7, 2013
Almost three weeks ago in Syria, more than 1,000 innocent people – including hundreds of children – were murdered in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21 st century. And the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible for this horrific attack on its own people.
This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security. There's a reason governments representing 98 percent of the world's people have agreed to ban the use of chemical weapons. Not only because they cause death and destruction in the most indiscriminate and inhumane way possible – but because they can also fall into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.
From the FBI
Transnational Law Enforcement Efforts -- Helping Stem Transnational Crime
Four leaders of the MS-13 gang were convicted in Atlanta recently in connection with a terrorizing violent crime spree. During the course of the investigation, we determined that many of their violent acts were directed by gang leadership in El Salvador and Honduras—a common occurrence uncovered in other investigations as well. This international criminal nexus of violent gangs is the focus of several FBI programs funded by the U.S. State Department through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).
CARSI's overall goal is to confront the dangers of organized crime, violent gangs, and drug trafficking in Central America and the U.S., and several domestic federal agencies participate in various facets of the initiative. The FBI, through its National Gang Task Force (NGTF), specifically supports six programs targeting the transnational threats posed by the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs.
The first three are operationally focused:
Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Unit: This program combines the expertise, resources, and jurisdiction of participating agencies involved in investigating and countering transnational criminal gang activity in the U.S. and Central America. These groups—headed by FBI agents who lead vetted teams of national police and prosecutors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—coordinate with FBI legal attachés assigned to those regions and with the Bureau's International Operations Division.
Central American Fingerprint Exchange (CAFÉ): This NGTF-established program was developed to collect and store criminal biometric data, including fingerprint records, from all Central American countries. The collected prints are added to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division's general database, where they're accessible to local, state, and federal agencies in the U.S.
Criminal History Information Program (CHIP): Through this initiative, the FBI provides the Salvadoran and Honduran National Police with the criminal history, biographical, and background information of non-U.S. citizen gang members and associates who are deported from the U.S. back to their home countries.
Sept 7, 2013
Far below earth where twin towers once stood, powerful artifacts in place at Sept. 11 Museum
NEW YORK — Far below the earth where the twin towers once stood, a cavernous museum on hallowed ground is finally nearing completion.
Amid the construction machinery and the dust, powerful artifacts of death and destruction have assumed their final resting places inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
A vast space that travels down to the bedrock upon which the towers were built, the museum winds its way deeper and deeper underground, taking visitors on a journey to the very bottom.
Already on display are several pieces of mangled steel and metal recovered from the World Trade Center towers, each one telling a different story of the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The first relics that visitors will see are two massive pieces of structural steel that rose from the base of the North Tower. Now the rusty red columns soar above ground into the sunlit glass atrium that encloses the entrance to the museum.
“They're so large — about 70 feet tall — that we built the museum around them,” explained Joseph Daniels, president of the memorial and museum.
Press Conference Divides Community Leaders
What was intended to be a press conference about a report on African Americans and community policing turned racially divisive as it morphed into a forum of heavy criticism of the Albany County District Attorney.
The Center for Law and Justice in Albany held the press conference Thursday to promote a report card on Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff's performance over the past three years as head of the APD, but a reporter's query concerning the recent drug arrest of deputy Albany County Executive Christine Quinn tipped the mood in a very different direction. Times Union court reporter Robert Gavin:
Gavin says there were more questions; the situation became darker and darker, as Albany NAACP President Bernard Bryan went on a rant. Gavin noted that Soares did not respond to requests for comment - but Pastor Charlie Muller decided to call the press together again Friday afternoon for a conference of his own.
Bernard Bryan's caustic comments caught reporter Gavin by surprise. Bryan responded to a request for comment by email, which in part says, "I did not intend any criticism of Pastor Charlie as he and his ministries are doing an excellent job of assisting communities of color in meeting their many challenges. I was lamenting the fact that an African American official has such poor relations with folks who are from the same cultural background as he, that he needs the intervention of someone from another race in order to connect with communities of color..." Mueller accuses Bryan of using bullying tactics.
O'Malley pledges training standards for public safety workers after death of Maryland man
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged Thursday to respond to the case of a man with Down syndrome who died in the custody of Frederick County sheriff's deputies by developing statewide training standards for law enforcement officers and first responders on how to interact with people who have disabilities.
The governor made the promise during a meeting in Annapolis with the family of Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, who died in January after three off-duty deputies attempted to remove him from a theater when he tried to watch a second showing of a movie without buying another ticket.
Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, did not discuss details of the meeting but confirmed late Thursday afternoon that “in the coming days, we will announce actions aimed at improving training for law enforcement personnel and other first responders so that we can do everything we can to ensure this never happens again.”
After emerging from the meeting, Patti Saylor, the man's mother, said that she and disability advocates urged the governor to act. She said that O'Malley (D) told her he would issue an executive order establishing a commission to develop standards that would apply to interactions with people who have disabilities.
“I told him I want good training, state of the art, best practices, not something that just gets checked off,” Saylor said. “He assured me that he understood and that it would be good. I think those were his words: ‘It will be good.' ”
Sept 6, 2013
Reports: NSA has cracked much online encryption
The U.S. National Security Agency has secretly succeeded in breaking much of the encryption that keeps people's personal data safe online, according to reports by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica.
The reports, produced in partnership and published Thursday, are the latest to emerge based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Britain's Guardian newspaper.
According to the reports, the NSA, alongside its UK equivalent, Government Communications Headquarters, better known as GCHQ, has been able to unscramble much of the encoding that protects everything from personal e-mails to banking systems, medical records and Internet chats.
The agencies' methods include the use of supercomputers to crack codes, covert measures to introduce weaknesses into encryption standards and behind-doors collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.
"Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities -- known as backdoors or trapdoors -- into commercial encryption software," The Guardian states.
Revealed: How US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security
|• NSA and GCHQ unlock encryption used to protect emails, banking and medical records
• $250m-a-year US program works covertly with tech companies to insert weaknesses into products
• Security experts say programs 'undermine the fabric of the internet'
US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.
The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".
Anaheim Police Tout Improvements in Community Relations
The Anaheim Police Department has hired 13 officers and focused on building ties with the community since a downtown riot last year revealed the broken relationship between Latinos and city government, according to a report presented to the City Council Tuesday night.
The report is intended to provide an update on the Police Department's improvements since the summer of 2012, when more than 1,000 demonstrators, most Latino, confronted officers after fatal police shootings of two young men.
Newly hired officers are focused on “community policing, gang enforcement and youth services,” the report states.
Critics of the police department say officers disrespect most youth in Latino working-class neighborhoods by assuming they all are gang members, thus undermining a fragile trust with a community that has historically suffered at the hands of police.
Many residents have demanded a civilian police oversight panel as the means to restore trust with the neighborhoods. Mayor Tom Tait has pushed for such a board, but his colleagues have so far resisted efforts to establish one.
Sept 5, 2013
Police: Serial rapist targeting women around Fair Park
Dallas police said an armed serial rapist is targeting women in areas around Fair Park. Police said at a late Tuesday news conference there have been seven victims in six locations.
On Wednesday morning, police said an eighth victim had come forward after hearing about the attacks in the media.
The most recent attack happened Tuesday in the 4100 block of Metropolitan. The attacks happened between June 22 and Sept. 1, all at early hours of the morning.
Police investigators say that after the first two attacks happened, there was no obvious connection. There was a gap in the rape cases of six weeks. Once there was a clear connection of the same man and same crime pattern, the department alerted the public as soon as they realized a serial rapist was at work.
Police Chief David Brown said his team is supposed to talk to a witness Thursday morning with a description of the suspect. He said he hopes it's enough to draw up a composite sketch.
N.Y. Police Facilitator Appointed in Stop-and-Frisk Case
Vera Institute of Justice President Nicholas Turner was appointed by a federal judge to help facilitate the New York Police Department's compliance with a ruling last month that the department engages in racial profiling as part of its so-called stop-and-frisk strategy.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan ruled Aug. 12 that the city's police department unlawfully targeted people on the basis of their race and violated their constitutional rights.
Turner, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, has initiated and managed projects on racial profiling in prosecutions, safety in U.S. prisons and sentencing reform, Scheindlin said today.
Turner will facilitate the reform process and his fees and staff will be paid by the city, she said.
The judge on Aug. 12 appointed Peter L. Zimroth, a New York University law professor and former corporation counsel for the city, to monitor changes in the police department. Zimroth is responsible for developing changes, informing the city of milestones it must achieve, conducting regular progress reviews and issuing public reports every six months with details on the department's compliance.
From the FBI
The Crime of ‘Swatting' -- Fake 9-1-1 Calls Have Real Consequences
The distraught-sounding man told the 9-1-1 operator he shot a family member and might kill others in the house. A SWAT team was urgently dispatched to the address corresponding to the caller's phone number. But when the tactical team arrived, ready for a possible violent encounter, they found only a surprised family panicked by the officers at their door.
It's called “swatting”—making a hoax call to 9-1-1 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team. The individuals who engage in this activity use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim's phone. Sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank. Either way, it is a serious crime, and one that has potentially dangerous consequences.
Since we first warned about this phone hacking phenomenon in 2008, the FBI has arrested numerous individuals on federal charges stemming from swatting incidents, and some are currently in prison (see sidebar). Today, although most swatting cases are handled by local and state law enforcement agencies, the Bureau often provides resources and guidance in these investigations.
“The FBI looks at these crimes as a public safety issue,” said Kevin Kolbye, an assistant special agent in charge in our Dallas Division. “It's only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously injured as a result of one of these incidents.”
From the Department of Homeland Security
More Passengers Able to Experience Expedited Screening
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it will expand its TSA expedited screening program to 60 new airports in addition to the existing 40, bringing the total number of airports with TSA Pre ? ™ to 100. These airports are expected to have TSA Pre ? ™ lanes at select checkpoints by the end of the year.
The agency also will expand the number of TSA Pre ? ™ lanes and availability at the existing 40 airports in the coming weeks.
TSA Pre ? ™ is an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes. To date, more than 15 million passengers have experienced TSA Pre ? ™ since it launched in October 2011.
“As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “Expanding TSA Pre ? ™ to more locations enables many more passengers across the country to experience expedited screening.”.
Sept 4, 2013
Video shows Long Beach police striking man on ground
LONG BEACH >> Long Beach Police officers have been accused of police brutality after a YouTube video that shows several officers surrounding a man as one officer hits him with a baton went viral.
The video, posted to YouTube Monday, shows a man lying on the ground as several Long Beach Police officers surround him. One of the officers then strikes the man in the legs as others shout orders.
Family members identified the man as Porfirio Santos-Lopez, 46, of Long Beach, and said they were devastated by the incident which took place at Locust Avenue and South Street Monday.
He was being taken into surgery at Long Beach Memorial Hospital late Tuesday night for his injuries, said his wife, Lee Ann Hernandez.
Long Beach Police would not make a comment on the incident late Tuesday night saying a statement would be made on Wednesday.
Inmates get a clean slate by removing tattoos
The ink Lamonte Martin once brandished as a gang banger now marks him for death.
“These are the tattoos that guys look for when I'm out in the community,” said the 41-year-old inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.
“If (members of a rival gang) see it, they won't even ask any questions,” he added, rolling up his sleeves to reveal the symbols emblazoned on his brawny arms. “They'll probably just shoot me.”
Martin, however, impressed his jailers at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department by attending months of educational, vocational and life skills classes, as well as substance abuse treatment and counseling while serving his latest sentence for selling drugs.
As a reward, the department is providing him with free laser treatments to zap away the most offensive of his tattoos.
The service — which would cost several thousand dollars on the outside — is offered only to participants of the LASD's Education-Based Incarceration program, which allows inmates to obtain diplomas, GEDs, vocational certificates for various trades and even college degrees while behind bars.
Education behind bars keeps inmates from re-arrest
Inmates who attended academic and vocational courses while behind bars have far lower odds of going back to prison than inmates who did not, according to a recent study.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan said a Rand Corp. analysis shows inmates who get an education in prison are, on average, 43 percent less likely to be arrested for new crimes than inmates who simply wait out their sentences.
“These findings reinforce the need to become smarter on crime by expanding proven strategies for keeping our communities safe and ensuring that those who have paid their debts to society have the chance to become productive citizens,” Holder said in a written statement.
Every year, an estimated 700,000 inmates leave federal and state prisons, but the recidivism rate is about 50 percent within three years.
The Rand Corp. analysis, funded by the Department of Justice, showed inmates who attended either academic or vocational education programs while in prison had a 13 percent higher chance of getting a job afterward compared with inmates who didn't.
Editorial: Police connection a positive step for city schools
Students and visitors heading into and out of Gloucester High School for today's first day of school will find a new figure manning an office in the school's front reception area.
It won't be a new school administrator or counselor. It will be Gloucester Police Sgt. Michael Gossom, the Gloucester Public Schools' new school resource officer. And we can only hope it doesn't take long for all to recognize just what type of resources Gossom can help provide, and prove to be.
On the surface, Gossom – who will be in uniform, complete with firearm — will provide an important measure of security that can be called upon within the school when needed. And it's important to note that, while he will be based at GHS, he will boost the security of the city's other schools when he visits those facilities as well.
It was through safety and security concerns — largely raised by resident Amanda Kesterson in the wake of last December's Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre — that the idea of providing security guards or police officers for city schools began to take hold.
But as he sets up shop today, it's important that students, parents, school officials and city residents alike recognize this important pilot program for what it can bring — a sense of comfort for students who can talk to and share concerns with a police officer, and a chance for the Police Department, through Gossom, to gain new insight into the issues students and other Gloucester youths are facing in their daily lives, and a new appreciation for building relationships with them as well.
Sept 3, 2013
Have you 'liked' your cop today? Law enforcement gets own social media sites
If you're a cop, Facebook can be a minefield. It's not a good idea to sound off about the sergeant or hash over confidential investigative techniques with your buddies — and 1.2 billion other users. But what if there were a Facebook just for cops?
It turns out there is. 20for25.com launched two weeks ago as a closed, secure social media site "for cops by cops."
"Law enforcement professionals need a place to network, share training ideas, and socialize in a medium that is safe and secure," the new site said in an announcement of its launch Aug. 19. So before law enforcement officers can complete registration, 20for25 ("10-20" is standard police code for a location report, and "10-25" is a request to meet in person) verifies their credentials with their employing agency.
20for25 isn't alone in the market. In October, former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will launch BlueLine, " the secure professional network built exclusively for law enforcement."
"At a time when the growing global market for social networking solutions is transforming corporations, the public safety community — individuals with perhaps the greatest need for real-time collaboration — has been left behind with analog tools," BlueLine's parent company, Bratton Technologies, says in its funding pitch through AngelList, the Silicon Valley startup incubator that has nurtured such successes as Uber, Voxer, 500px and Disqus.
Bill Thompson Calls for ‘New Era' of Policing After 1-Year-Old's Death
A day after a baby boy was shot to death in his stroller, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson is saying enough is enough.
“There must be a new era of community policing,” Mr. Thompson declared at a press conference today, standing solemnly beside his wife, outraged community leaders and grieving residents. They were next to an abandoned lot in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, where 1-year-old Antiq Hennis was killed.
“The community needs to step up and say we're not gonna allow this. When something like this happens, the people need to be given up quickly. And, at the same point, I've always talked about the need for a new era of community policing–officers on the ground and in neighborhoods, working closely with the residents. That's how we're going to get guns off the streets,” Mr. Thompson continued.
Mr. Thompson once took a more moderate tone on policing issues than some of his electoral rivals and has since been ramping up his rhetoric as the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy takes center stage in the mayor's race. But Tony Herbert, the president of the Brooklyn East chapter of the National Action Network founded by Rev. Al Sharpton and a potential candidate for the State Senate next year, said he called Mr. Thompson to join him at the press conference because they were old friends, not politics.
Sept 2, 2013
FWay police walking the beat – 21st-century style
Community policing in urban areas tends to be hobbled by arithmetic: Too many crooks to chase, too few cops to do the chasing.
The Federal Way Police Department has deployed a 21st-century strategy to help tilt the math in favor of the good guys. It revolves around a website, safecityfw.com, run by a nonprofit outfit called Safe City Federal Way.
Puget Sound cities that haven't taken their community policing efforts online should take a look.
The original version of community policing was just an old-fashioned cop walking a regular neighborhood beat. A good officer in the shoe-leather days might get to know hundreds of locals on a personal basis. They'd tip the officer off to offenders, suspicious doings and kids starting to go bad (who'd get a friendly but stern talking-to).
Modern law enforcement agencies often attempt to replicate the same kind of alliances with neighborhoods. They've been successful in such places as Tacoma's Hilltop, but rapid response calls and urgent detective work still consume most of their resources.
Federal Way has found another way to replicate the beat: controlled-access social networks. Federal Way Police Commander Chris Norman described safecityfw.com as the most exciting law enforcement development he's seen in his 30-year career. “It's a huge force multiplier,” he said.
Scottsdale bar public-safety ordinance draft ready for council
A proposed public-safety ordinance prompted by two stabbings at a Scottsdale nightclub is ready to go before the City Council on Sept. 10.
The ordinance requires establishments to file new public-safety plans, includes minimum standards for security personnel and requires those businesses with felony incidents to hire off-duty peace officers. If any establishment is found in repeated violation of the ordinance, it could be shut down.
The ordinance is the result of Mayor Jim Lane, other city officials and downtown bar owners coming together to examine the issue of safety in the aftermath of the January fatal stabbing of Tyrice Thompson outside Martini Ranch, 7295 E. Stetson Drive, in the downtown entertainment district. He was a bouncer there.
A second stabbing occurred at Martini Ranch in June.
The 20th version of the ordinance includes more changes made in response to public input, said J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff. The most recent public meeting on the proposed ordinance took place Aug. 8.
Police, mayor to host public safety town hall meeting in Covina
Police and city officials are planning a town hall meeting focusing on public safety and the ongoing California prison realignment process.
The meeting is to take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Royal Oak Middle School, 303 S. Glendora Avenue in Covina, organizers said in a written statement.
Keynote speakers will include Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and Mayor Walter Allen III.
In addition to discussing the impacts of the prison realignment brought about by A.B. 109 in 2011, topics will also include public safety issues such as school safety, neighborhood watch, disaster preparedness and social media.
Los Angeles County firefighters will bring the department's “Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse” earthquake simulator.
For more information, the Covina Police Department can be reached at 626-384-5653.
Musician turns 9/11 survivor stories into songs
A dozen years after 9/11, an American musician has turned memories of grief into survivor songs _ some of them surprisingly joyous.
Composer Jake Heggie said Sunday that his new album titled "here/after (songs of lost voices)" is meant to create hope.
The singers on the album tell the stories of 9/11 survivors from around the country. Their songs express thoughts about lost loved ones as they sort belongings left behind. One set of songs is called "Pieces of 9-11."
Grammy award-winning songwriter Gene Scheer used the words of real people for the lyrics. Adults and children shared sometimes whimsical stories about dead spouses, fathers and friends.
One song asks the emotionally tricky questions: "What's beyond your anger? What's beyond your sorrow?" The album will be released Oct. 21.