NEWS of the Week - Sept 9 to Sept 15, 2013
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


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 15, 2013



Community Policing Unit: Public face of the Ogden force

OGDEN — Officer Kevin Mann was waiting in line at the grocery store one day. He wore his yellow and black uniform, which is a bit more colorful than the average police uniform.

The little boy in front of him turned around and looked him up and down. “Mommy, is that a super hero?” he asked his mother. Mann was beaming, until the mother replied, “No honey, he's just a cop.” Today, Mann laughs about it and says that all in all, he is just a cop. Although, he's not your typical cop.

As part of the Community Policing Unit, he's got a different mission — to be the face of the Ogden police force. “You definitely need to be a people person for this,” Mann said. While most officers are bound to answer dispatch, Mann isn't tied to the radio and has a bit more freedom. He has more time to handle problems that require depth and delicacy.

The problems he takes care of can range from regular traffic stops to responding to a loud party — miscellaneous things that aren't considered a priority for most officers, but are just as important to enforcing the law.



Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards Finally in Effect, but Will They be Effective?

"Sexual abuse is not an inevitable feature of incarceration. Leadership matters because corrections administrators can create a culture within facilities that promotes safety instead of one that tolerates abuse." – National Prison Rape Elimination Commission

A report released by Human Rights Watch in 2001, titled "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons," served as a catalyst which, in conjunction with increased public awareness about the issue of prison rape, led numerous organizations to lobby for federal legislation to address the dilemma of sexual abuse behind bars.

Michael J. Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, garnered support for the legislation from a number of conservative and evangelical organizations – particularly Prison Fellowship, founded by former special counsel to President Nixon (and ex-federal prisoner) Charles "Chuck" Colson.

Groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum joined together to back the bill, including Just Detention International (formerly Stop Prisoner Rape), the NAACP, Amnesty International, National Council of La Raza, Concerned Women for America, the Salvation Army, Penal Reform International and Focus on the Family.

For some, legislation to protect prisoners from sexual abuse was preferable to enlarging their legal rights. According to a 2002 article in the National Review, "While some on the left – most prominently the group Human Rights Watch – have proposed anti-prison-rape solutions such as expanding prisoners' rights to sue corrections officials, the new proposal represents a sensible middle-ground solution."



Sept 14, 2013


Al Qaeda leader calls for attacks inside US

CAIRO — Al Qaeda's leader on Friday marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by calling on Muslims to strike inside the United States, with big attacks or small, using any opportunity they can to ‘‘bleed'' America financially.

In an audio message released two days after the 12th anniversary of the attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri said America is not a ‘‘mythic power'' and that the mujahedeen — Islamic holy warriors — can defeat it with attacks ‘‘on its own soil.''

Al Zawahri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, used the anniversary to argue that the United States can be defeated by targeting its economy. At the same time, he also addressed the ongoing upheaval in the Arab world.




Close calls in US skies rise due to better reporting, FAA says

WASHINGTON - Documented close calls between aircraft in U.S. skies shot upward last year as the government switched on more automatic monitors to track the incidents, a new report says.

Cases in which aircraft came closer together than U.S. Federal Aviatioation Administration rules allow rose to 4,394 in the year ending Sept. 30, 2012, from 1,895 the previous year, according to agency data released Thursday.

The increase indicates there have been many more close calls in U.S. aviation than the FAA knew about when it largely relied on humans to report errors. Through better reporting, the agency can identify hazards more precisely and improve safety, according to the report.

“Collaboration is now the rule, not the exception,” David Grizzle, chief operating officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, said in the report. “We've gone from counting errors to identifying and mitigating safety risk.”

The most high-risk incidents, those that came closest to an accident such as a mid-air collision, declined as a percentage of total incidents. This shows that risks in the system have declined, according to a presentation Thursday by Joseph Teixeira, vice president of the air traffic unit.




Earthquake early warning system moves forward in California

LOS ANGELES — The California Legislature approved a bill that would require development of an earthquake early warning system similar to what exists in Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries.

The bill advanced in Thursday's last hours of the legislative session and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 13 to act on it.

The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in creating a public alert system, which provides seconds of warning after a fault ruptures. For the past several years, the U.S. Geological Survey and several universities have been fine-tuning a test alert system that only broadcasts warnings to select users.

Scientists and public safety officials have urged for the creation of a system that would use a network of sensors to detect the start of a quake, the strength and provide useful seconds of warning.

While a few seconds may not sound like much time, supporters say it's enough notice for trains to slow down, utilities to shut off gas lines or people to duck under a table to ride out the shaking.




New Public Safety Video Cameras Help Keep Campus Safe

As students return to Michigan Technological University for the new school year, the Department of Public Safety and Police Services (DPSPS) is rolling out new technological tools—all with campus safety in mind.

This year, officers have access to a set of small, wearable, digital video cameras. The cameras allow them to record their interactions with the public if they feel it appropriate, providing a new layer of transparency, safety and security for both officers and the community.

“We have two separate camera options for our officers,” said Dan Bennett, director and chief of DPSPS. “There are 16 cameras altogether—some to be worn on uniform lapels and some built into pairs of sunglasses.”

Video recording is not new to law enforcement. Police officers have been using video recorders in patrol vehicles for more than a decade.



Sept 13, 2013



California Legislature approves driver's licenses for immigrants in U.S. illegally

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — After years of setbacks, Democratic lawmakers and Latino activists are on the verge of seeing immigrants who are in the country illegally granted the right to a driver's license in California.

The state Assembly approved the bill on a 55-19 vote late Thursday, hours after the Senate passed it on a 28-8 vote. Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement indicating he would sign it into law, which would make California the 10th state to allow immigrants to apply for licenses.

“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” the Democratic governor said in his statement, issued immediately after the Assembly vote. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”

The approval on the final day of this year's legislative session was a surprise.

The author of AB60, Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville, was prepared to put his legislation on hold until next year because of opposition from immigrant-right groups. They had objected to a provision that calls for the licenses to be given a special designation, fearing the different look could lead to discrimination.




Canton Police to Host Coffee Hours - Coffee with a Cop will begin this month.

Beginning this month, officers from the Canton Police Department will come together with community members in an informal setting to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee.

Community members are invited to attend Canton's first round of Coffee with a Cop sessions being held over the next month.

Coffee with a Cop provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department's work in Canton's neighborhoods and business districts.

The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or stressful situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for relaxed one-on-one interaction.



Sept 12, 2013


Public safety network demands successful wireless auctions

The horrific events of September 11, 2001 changed everything when it comes to public safety. In big cities and small towns across America, it was clear first responders needed an expanded toolbox to tackle 21st century threats. Most critically, the brave men and women responding to public safety crises needed better communications tools – they needed a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. The 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of such a network,, and yet, a decade later, there is still no dedicated nationwide public safety network for first responders. While first responders constantly modify and adapt public safety approaches, the communications technology that is the backbone to effective response is lagging dangerously behind. Public safety needs 21st century communication technology.

In 2012, with passage of The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, a nationwide interoperable broadband public safety network (FirstNet) was planned. To cover the $7 billion price tag, a spectrum incentive auction is being designed to repurpose airwaves currently owned by TV broadcasters. Revenue raised by the sale of those airwaves will be used to fund the deployment of FirstNet and for Next Generation 9-1-1.

In order to be successful, however, the auction must generate maximum revenue by capturing the full value of repurposed spectrum. This is the best and perhaps only opportunity to raise the necessary funds for investment in a network we so desperately need. We cannot settle for half-measures and incremental moves – the FCC must take decisive steps and set up an auction that delivers the resources needed to empower our public safety officials.

An incentive auction permitting all bidders to participate will be the most effective way to deliver the funds necessary to build FirstNet and help deploy Next Generation 9-1-1. If the most likely bidders in the auction face participation limits, then as a recent study found, auction proceeds would fall 40 percent. Restrictions, including limits on bids, would likely slash $12 billion in revenue. Broadcasters wishing to make the most of their spectrum holdings will be more hesitant to offer up their airwaves for bidding. A limited spectrum inventory will reduce funds generated from the auction, and jeopardize the future of FirstNet and funding for Next Generation 9-1-1.




Castle Rock PD reaches out to community

The Castle Rock Police Department is hoping to engage the public in a positive way and address some residents' issues with a new Coffee with a Cop program.

The program was started by an agency in California and then went national, though Commander Jason Lyons of the Castle Rock Police Department said he believes it is the only law enforcement agency in the state with scheduled events for the program.

Lyons said the goal of the program is to engage residents in a non-confrontational format because most of the public's interactions with police officers is when something bad has happened. Coffee with a Cop is similar to the citizen's academy, self-defense classes for women and National Night Out in the attempt to engage the public.

"We offer a lot of programs that are aimed at bridging that gap to see what the needs are and what the police department can do to meet those needs," Lyons said.

The department has held two Coffee with a Cop events in August and said from one of them officers were able to address a business owner's concerns of transients loitering near his property by helping to clean up the alley where they were loitering.

"It's not window dressing for us. We take advantage of the opportunity of listening to their concerns and if there's an issue that's assigned out to an officer to address to work with the reporting party to resolve," Lyons said.



Sept 11, 2013


9/11 anniversary a time of commemoration, reflection

A nation that stepped back from the brink of war with Syria Tuesday paused Wednesday to honor and reflect on the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11, the day terrorist attacks spurred two other long-running conflicts in the Middle East.

In New York, hundreds of friends and families of the victims stood silently — many holding photos of their loved ones — as bagpipes played. Relatives were to recite the names of those killed when two hijacked commercial airliners slammed into World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Another plane that day crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth plunged into the ground near Shanksville, Pa.

"No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year — and it's always the same," said Karen Hinson of Seaford, N.Y., who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee. "My brother was never found, so this is where he is for us."

Denise Matuza, 46, from Staten Island, lost her husband, Walter, on 9/11. She plans to keep returning to the memorial ceremony each Sept. 11. "We'll still keep coming back," she said, as her 21-year-old son, also named Walter, and two other sons stood nearby.




Final push on funds for memorial honoring United Flight 93 passengers is underway

When last we checked, back in May 2012, the memorial outside Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11 , 2001, was a whopping $8 million short of meeting its proposed $70 million budget.

The National Park Foundation, the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, has closed the gap to about $1.5 million and has raised more than $40 million from 110,000 contributors. (The rest of the money has come from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and federal coffers.)

State lawmakers thinking about backing new gun control laws now have something extra to consider.

The capital fundraising campaign has been completed, foundation officials announced Monday, but that didn't include $1.5 million for the “Tower of Voices,” the site's signature feature, as well as some educational programs. The tower would stand 93 feet high and include 40 wind chimes — one for each of the passengers and crew members on Flight 93.

We should note that the memorial to victims at the Pentagon was completed five years ago. The World Trade Center Memorial was completed on Sept. 11, 2011. Shanksville, without the deep-pocketed defense industry here or the financial industry in New York, has struggled to raise the money to complete work there, though the memorial is open to visitors.




Former TSA employee arrested, accused of making threats against LAX

Members of a federal task force late Tuesday arrested a former TSA screener who they accused of making threats against Los Angeles International Airport, including "unspecified threats" related to the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, was taken into custody in Riverside before midnight by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from Riverside police officers, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. Pending additional investigation, Onuoha will be held on suspicion of making threats, she said.

The arrest came after Onuoha allegedly made threats against LAX terminals earlier in the day following his resignation from his post as a screener with the Transporation Security Administration. Onuoha held the position since 2006 but had been suspended recently, Eimiller said. Details about his suspension were not immediately available.

Eimiller said federal authorities began investigating Onuoha on Tuesday afternoon after he resigned from his job and allegedly left a suspicious package addressed to another employee at the TSA's LAX headquarters. The Los Angeles Police Department's bomb squad inspected the package and determined that it contained no explosives or harmful substances, she said.



DEA insists cold drug can be used in meth-making

ST. LOUIS — A cold and allergy decongestant now being sold nationwide contains a new form of pseudoephedrine that's being billed as difficult to use to make methamphetamine, but the Drug Enforcement Administration said Tuesday that it still won't allow it to be sold over the counter.

Government chemists were able to make meth from Zephrex-D, and its sale must therefore be restricted, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said.

Zephrex-D has been sold in Missouri since December and the suburban St. Louis company Westport Pharmaceuticals has rolled the product out to more than 15,000 pharmacies in all 50 states over the past month.

Westport officials say meth can't be made with Zephrex-D through the so-called “one-pot” or “shake-and-bake” method in which the ingredients are mixed together in a soda bottle. The vast majority of homemade meth is now produced this way. The Missouri Narcotics Officers Association said it has not found the product in any meth labs.

Pseudoephedrine is a vital precursor for most meth recipes. The key to making meth with pseudoephedrine is crystallization. Westport officials say the pseudoephedrine in Zephrex-D, when heated, becomes a gooey substance rather than crystallizing.



Sept 10, 2013


New Jersey

Montclair Police Develops Community Service Unit, Hopes to Strengthen Community

Who are the people in your neighborhood? That's one question the Montclair Police Department hopes to answer with its new community policing initiative called the Community Service Unit (CSU).

Along with Township Manager Marc Dashield, Mayor Jackson and 4th Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville, MPD Chief David P. Sabagh announced today, at a press conference on Mission Street, that a CSU has been organized to improve communication and trust within the community, identify any problems and concerns of the residents and to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

Montclair had different forms of community policing back in the '90s until 2008, when they were cut when federal grants and funding ran out. Chief Sabagh explained that while the need for more police security has been a concern in recent months after an increase of violent crime, which the MPD is addressing with increased presence in the form of more patrols and a Street Crimes Unit, the CPU is something the MPD has wanted to do for years.

With financial support from the Township, community policing can be brought back. “This could not have been done without the support of the Mayor and Council and township manager Dashield,” explained Chief Sabagh. “It's through their support that we were able to get this program going. We were able to hire a few officers.”

Explaining just what the CPU will be doing, Sabagh said, “We will be going door-to-door, handing out questionnaires, speaking to residents about their concerns, any problems that they see in the neighborhoods, and asking for their feedback.” He added, ”We want to have a dialogue, we want to establish communication, and we want the residents to get to know the officers by name and by face. We want to let them know that they will be seeing these officers day in and day out.”



Boston police sweep in Roxbury had its limits

Many of arrested soon released; area saw spike in violence

Last May, Boston police conducted a massive sweep of men and women they described as drug offenders terrorizing the streets of Roxbury, the culmination of a five-month investigation dubbed Operation H that officials said would send a chilling message to anyone else looking to wreak havoc.

“This operation demonstrates the Police Department's commitment to getting dangerous criminals and drugs off the streets,” Commissioner Edward F. Davis said at a press conference at police headquarters, where he was flanked by supervisors from the gang and drug units. “Today's arrests will give residents back their neighborhoods.”

But four months later, it is unclear whether Operation H, named for the Humboldt Avenue section of Roxbury where the arrests were targeted, made the streets safer or even removed many criminals from the street, according to crime statistics and a review of the court records of those caught up in the sweep.

Forty of the 85 people targeted were quickly released on personal recognizance or given bail as low as $150, and those ordered held on higher sums were bailed out within weeks of their arrests.

Three of the targeted individuals were never even arrested; they received only citations for driving infractions, according to a Boston Globe review of court records.




Davis defends police diversity

Raps complaints of minority officers

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis lashed out Monday at a minority officers' group that has called for his resignation, accusing the organization of engaging in “divisive efforts” to undermine the progress he has made on diversity within the ranks.

In an open letter published on the official Police Department website, Davis wrote that the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers “hasn't proposed legislation or undertaken any valuable initiatives to help its own members or the community.”

“I urge you [the public] to contact MAMLEO and let the organization know you don't support its divisive efforts to undermine the progress that has been made” on diversity, Davis added.

The commissioner's letter came after Larry Ellison, a Boston detective and president of the minority officers' group, called last month for Davis's resignation and said the organization would oppose any mayoral candidate who would retain him as commissioner if elected.



From the White House

Presidential Address

On Tuesday, September 10th, President Obama will deliver an address to the nation on Syria.
Watch his remarks live at 9:00 p.m. ET.

As part of a briefing on the response to Syria, members of Congress were shown video taken in multiple locations near Damascus on August 21st, when more than 1,400 Syrians – including more than 400 children – were killed by a chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Assad regime. It's important for the American people to have access to information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released these videos, which were compiled by the U.S. Open Source Center.

You can watch the videos here.

Warning: These videos contain disturbing images of dead bodies, including children.




Sept 9, 2013


Iowa grants permits for blind residents to carry guns in public

Sheriffs and advocates are divided on whether that's a good idea.

by Jason Clayworth

Here's some news that has law enforcement officials and lawmakers scratching their heads:

Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.

No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.

The quandary centers squarely on public safety. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it's a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.

On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for the Register how blind people can be taught to shoot guns. And Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities.

On the other side: People such as Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos, who said he wouldn't issue a permit to someone who is blind. And Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, who says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.

Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can't deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff's office, referring to a visual disability.

Polk County officials say they've issued weapons permits to at least three people who can't legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

And sheriffs in three other counties — Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware — say they have granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.

“I'm not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn't be shooting something.”

One county sheriff shows how to train visually impaired

In one Iowa county, blind residents who want weapons would likely receive special training.

Wethington, the Cedar County sheriff, has a legally blind daughter who plans to obtain a permit to carry when she turns 21 in about two years. He demonstrated for the Register how he would train blind people who want to carry a gun.

“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals' hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive,” Wethington told the Register as he and his daughter took turns practice shooting with a semi-automatic handgun on private property in rural Cedar County.

The number of visually impaired or blind Iowans who can legally carry weapons in public is unknown because that information is not collected by the state or county sheriffs who issue the permits.

The Register became aware that a handful of Iowans with visual impairments can carry weapons in public because county sheriffs and their staffs recalled issuing those permits. Sheriff officials in most of the cases said they were uncertain about the extent of the visual impairments.

Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, said the range of sight among people who are classified as legally blind varies greatly. He believes there are situations where such applicants can safely handle a gun.

However, he also expressed concerns.

“Although people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all life's experiences, there are some things, like the operation of a weapon, that may very well be an exception,” Clancy said.

It's an issue that musician Stevie Wonder, who has been blind since birth, called attention to in January.

“Imagine me with a gun. It's just crazy,” Wonder told CNN while calling for reforms to what he has previously called “ridiculous” gun laws.

Some states do consider vision in issuing permits

The Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not prohibit blind people from owning guns. But unlike Iowa, some states have laws that spell out whether visually impaired people can obtain weapon permits.

Vision requirements are either directly or indirectly part of the weapon permit criteria in some surrounding states.

In Nebraska, for example, applicants for a permit to carry a concealed handgun must provide “proof of vision” by either presenting a valid state driver's license or a statement by an eye doctor that the person meets vision requirements set for a typical vehicle operator's license.

Other states have indirect requirements that could — but don't automatically — disqualify people who are blind. That includes Missouri and Minnesota, where applicants must complete a live fire test, which means they have to shoot and hit a target.

A 50-state database of gun permit requirements published by USACarry.com also shows that South Carolina has a law that requires proof of vision before a person is approved for a weapons permit.

Wisconsin, like Iowa, has no visual restrictions on gun permit applicants. Illinois lawmakers enacted a concealed weapons law in July, but permits have not yet been issued.

Illinois' qualifications don't specifically require a visual test, but applicants must complete firearms training that includes range instruction.

The National Federation of the Blind does not track states that require vision tests as part of weapon permit processes and has not taken an official stand on the issue. But its members are generally opposed to such laws, said Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the group.

“There's no reason solely on the (basis) of blindness that a blind person shouldn't be allowed to carry a weapon,” Danielsen said. “Presumably they're going to have enough sense not to use a weapon in a situation where they would endanger other people, just like we would expect other people to have that common sense.”

Iowa requires training for anyone who is issued a permit to carry a weapon in public, but that requirement can be satisfied through an online course that does not include any hands-on instruction or a shooting test.

A provision in Iowa's law allows sheriffs to deny a permit if probable cause exists to believe that the person is likely to use the weapon in such a way that it would endanger himself or others.

Many sheriffs noted, however, that the provision relates to specific documented actions, and applicants who appealed their cases would likely win.

Vrotsos, the Dubuque County sheriff, did not know whether any blind people had applied for permits in his county, but said he wouldn't hesitate to deny them.

“We do not track these applicants, but ... if I knew the person was blind ... a permit would not be issued, and this person would then have the right to appeal,” Vrotsos said.

But Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, believes changing the state law to deny blind people or others with physical disabilities the right to carry arms would violate federal disability law.

Part of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a public entity to conduct an individualized analysis to make a reasonable judgment before denying a service. Hudson believes someone could successfully challenge Nebraska's proof of vision requirement as illegal.

“The fact that you can't drive a car doesn't mean you can't go to a shooting range and see a target,” Hudson said.

Other issues cited by Iowa sheriffs

The Des Moines Register earlier this year published reports about Iowa's 2011 law that requires sheriffs to adopt uniform standards in issuing permits to carry weapons in public. Read about issues cited by Iowa sheriffs, such as gaps in their ability to search a person's background for mental health problems and their inability to deny permits to sex offenders. Find complete coverage at DesMoinesRegister.com/gunpermits.



Rhode Island

City police are hoping to expand downtown walking beat initiative

WOONSOCKET – Despite the crimp in city budgets, the Woonsocket Police Department has found a way to bring beat cops back to Main Street, at least on a limited basis.

The city allocated a sliver of its $2.1 million Community Development Block Grant – just $10,000 – to fund the department's “Feet on the Beat” program.

“We're still looking for ways to expand the program, but we think this is enough for us to have one officer walk the Main Street beat one night a week for a year,” said Police Chief Thomas S. Carey.

Although the police run regular bicycle patrols on the Blackstone River Bikeway and in other parks, there hasn't been a downtown foot patrol for at least five years.

Carey says there is strong support for a beat cop on Main Street, particularly among merchants and other concerns who are drawing visitors to entertainment and restaurant venues on the weekend.

“People feel safe when they see the police around,” he says.





KC's special police panel has critical decisions to make

For more than five months a group of Kansas Citians has examined how to provide strong oversight of a public agency that spends $210 million a year. Now the Blue Ribbon Commission on Police Governance, which meets again this evening, is getting closer to making its recommendations.

The work of the two dozen citizens who have contributed their time will have been well spent if and when they issue a compelling report on how the city should proceed. However, Police Chief Darryl Forté made it clear last week he has no use for the panel, even though it was appointed by one of his bosses on the current police board — Mayor Sly James.

In an online blog, Forté said he liked his agency being controlled through a governor-appointed police board. The chief concluded, “Our department's model of governance should be perpetuated for generations to come.”

As James acknowledged after Forté spoke out, the chief is free to make his opinions known. But the mayor also pointedly added about the panel members' work: “They are giving thoughtful and thorough consideration to this issue.... If and when we make changes to that governance structure, we will do it as a community and, as always, with facts and data.”




Rebranded Police Department Program To Reach Out To Public

Last month, the Boston College Police department changed the name of the previous “Adopt-a-Cop” program to the “Community Resource Officer,” (CRO) program. In addition to a name change, the program will now include appointments to libraries, dining halls, recreational facilities, community organizations, as well as residence halls.

Sergeant Jeff Postell explained that the program changed as a response to the previous “Adopt-A-Cop” program.

“This is a very community driven program,” Postell said. “It's been in existence since 2006. It was originally intended to bridge the gap between police and students on campus and foster a relationship with the student body. As the years have passed, and the program has developed, we discovered the opportunity to reach out to our faculty and staff as we have had with our students.”

In previous years, the program has been focused primarily on assigning officers to residence halls. Postell found that reviews giving community feedback, however, indicated that the program might benefit from change. “We received 1,500 responses from members of the community, and one thing we identified was a lack of understanding about what the ‘Adopt-a-Cop' program actually was,” Postell said. “We started analyzing ways that we could strengthen the program and make it more effective.”