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 22, 2013
(Video on site)
Terryl Peters, Mary Peters' Husband, Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison In Sex Abuse Case
PHOENIX -- The husband of former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has been sentenced to 14 years in prison in a sex abuse case.
Maricopa County prosecutors say 67-year-old Terryl Gene Peters Sr. also was sentenced Friday to lifetime probation for one count of child molestation and two counts of attempted child molestation.
Terryl Peters, of Peoria, Ariz., was accused of sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl in April 2008. The allegation was reported to police in June 2012.
Prosecutors say the victim's mother called Terryl Peters to confront him in a recorded phone call, and he admitted having sex with the girl.
Mary Peters served as the nation's transportation secretary from October 2006 until January 2009. She considered a run for the Arizona governor's post in 2006 but ultimately decided against it.
Shooting shows policing gap
CHICAGO (AP) — A shooting that injured a 3-year-old boy and 12 others in Chicago occurred just outside a section of the city that police have flooded with officers, reigniting outrage over the toll of the community's gun violence and the inability of stepped-up police action to stop it.
Residents had gathered in a neighborhood park Thursday to watch a late-night basketball game when assailants armed with an assault rifle indiscriminately sprayed the crowd with bullets.
On Friday, residents decried the perpetrators' disregard for those caught in the crossfire, the invasion of drugs into their communities and a lack of local leaders to stand up for them. A prominent rap artist, meanwhile, said more must be done to understand the city's youth, and a frustrated police chief again called for tougher gun laws.
“We can do a lot of really good policing. ... We can reduce crime, like we're doing, but we're not going to have success occur as long as these guns keep flowing into our community,” police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said during a news conference.
“Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence,” he said as he called on lawmakers to toughen the nation's gun laws.
Wounded 3-year-old boy is recovering
CHICAGO (AP) — A 3-year-old boy shot in the head during this week's mass shooting at a southwest Chicago park was recovering from surgery in intensive care Saturday, a family spokesman said.
Deonta Howard was among 13 people wounded late Thursday when an unknown number of people shot up a crowded basketball court with an assault rifle. The family's pastor, the Rev. Corey Brooks, said the boy had surgery Friday that went well.
“There's going to have to be some plastic surgery done later on,” Brooks said. “... Thankfully there was no brain damage or eye damage.”
Police hadn't announced any arrests as of Saturday afternoon.
Police have said they think Thursday night's attack at Cornell Square Park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood was gang-related. Several gang members were among those shot, though it was not yet clear who the intended target was, police said.
Residents learn about public safety
CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) - A number of agencies, including police, fire, Marines, street maintenance and utility crews were at Carmel's Public Safety Day Saturday to teach residents about what they do. It was a great opportunity for those to say thanks to a group that often goes unsung.
24-Hour News 8 spoke with a Carmel Police officer that said it's understandable, because law enforcement is usually involved when something bad that has happened. When they do get a "thank you," it goes a long way.
“Stuck his hand out and said, 'thank you!' That really means a lot to us in law enforcement. A young man who has an appreciation for law enforcement and an understanding of what public safety is all about really means a lot to not only law enforcement but all of us in public safety," Officer D.J Schoeff said.
Organizers say the goal is for the families to leave Safety Day knowing more than they did when they arrived. That way, residents can be introduced and taught safety concerns from the professionals
Extra $169 Million Will Go to Public Safety
In an era when most city and state agencies struggle under the weight of budget constraints, the Manhattan district attorney's office this year found itself in an unusual position: sitting on a veritable windfall.
In December, federal and state authorities secured a record $1.92 billion payment from HSBC Bank to settle charges that the banking giant transferred billions of dollars for nations under sanction by the United States, enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder tainted money through the American financial system, and worked closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations.
For its role in the investigation, the Manhattan district attorney's office cashed a check this week for $169 million — slightly more than twice its total annual budget of $80 million.
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said the money would help lower crime in public housing projects, modernize courtroom technology, increase cybercrime investigative capabilities and add programs to help keep children out of the criminal justice system.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to enhance public safety in New York City,” Mr. Vance said. “We are sharing these funds with our colleagues in all five boroughs, so that this investment of funds benefits all of New York City.”
From the FBI
Latest Crime Stats for the U.S.
From the Department of Homeland Security
USCIS to Welcome More Than 18,000 New Citizens During Annual Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Celebration
Agency's Partnerships with Libraries, National Parks Highlighted
WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will welcome more than 18,000 new citizens during more than 180 naturalization ceremonies from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23 in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.Museums, historic libraries, government landmarks and national park sites will provide the backdrop for this week-long celebration of citizenship and the achievements of our newest citizens.
“This is a time for all Americans to reflect on what it means to be a U.S. citizen,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “For the 18,000 people taking the Oath of Allegiance this week, it is the beginning of a privileged status as full participants in our nation's democracy. Each and every one of these individuals can now exercise the rights and fulfill the responsibilities that help define United States citizenship.”
USCIS's ongoing partnership with the National Park Service and a recent agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services allow USCIS to showcase some of the nation's prominent landmarks and important community institutions during this year's Constitution Day and Citizenship Day celebration.
National park sites hosting ceremonies span the country from the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Mass., to the Point Reyes National Seashore in Point Reyes, Calif. Other landmarks hosting naturalization ceremonies include the New York Public Library in New York City and the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. For a full list of featured 2013 Constitution Day and Citizenship Day naturalization ceremonies and landmark locations, visit http://www.uscis.gov/news
Sept 21, 2013
Bellefonte police probe tip on missing DA
BELLEFONTE -- Police are investigating a tip that a missing central Pennsylvania district attorney was murdered and dumped in a mine shaft.
Bellefonte police Detective Matthew Rickard said the tip regarding the 2005 disappearance of Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar is being investigated and that the FBI was involved.
Gricar's name was linked to Pennsylvania State University's abuse scandal in 2011. In 1998, he decided not to charge Jerry Sandusky after the mother of one abuse victim complained to State College police.
Earlier this year, a judge declared Gricar dead at the request of Gricar's daughter.
Gricar's nephew said he takes the new claim with a grain of salt because there have been so many false leads over the years.
KU puts professor on administrative leave for tweet sent after Navy Yard massacre
The University of Kansas journalism professor who sent a tweet wishing violence on children of National Rifle Association members has been put on administrative leave.
David Guth's remarks, which had led NRA leaders to calls for his firing, were in response to Monday's shootings at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead.
University officials called his words “repugnant,” and on Friday Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Guth would be put on leave.
“In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation,” Gray-Little said in a statement.
Guth's classes will be taught by other faculty members. The professor tweeted Monday that “blood is on the hands” of the National Rifle Association.
“Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters,” the tweet read. “Shame on you. May God damn you.”
Duluth's community policing wins national recognition
For the second straight year, the Duluth Police Department has earned recognition from an international organization.
The department was named a finalist for this year's Community Policing Award selected by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the department announced Friday.
Duluth police were honored for their Blight and Nuisance Crime Project. Chief Gordon Ramsay said the project began in 2010 with a state grant that paid for a full-time community police officer and a full-time city attorney. Although the grant ended in 2012, the city has kept it going.
“We've sustained it because it's been so successful,” Ramsay said.
The project focuses on two patrol zones — one encompassing the Central Hillside and downtown, and the other the East Hillside, Ramsay said. The program has been particularly effective in dealing with habitual offenders, he said. It brings together police, court officials, probation officers, city attorneys, social service workers, public defenders, homeless outreach workers and others to focus on offenders who continually reoffend and consider how best to deal with them.
Sept 20, 2013
Ashland police see value of bike patrols in community policing
Patrolling a shopping center on his bike, Ashland police Sgt. Scott Menzies was accosted by a woman who shouted, “Are you a guard?”
“I am a police officer. But sometimes people call me a guard,” Menzies responded, looping back toward her.
“Somebody left their pocketbook,” the woman said, handing him a purse that had been left in a shopping cart near Walmart.
Returning a purse to its rightful owner was among Menzies' many tasks during a daylong bike patrol Monday.
Bike patrolling has become a mainstay for the Ashland Police Department, particularly in the past two years. This year, Police Chief Douglas A. Goodman Jr. said the department's officers had patrolled a total of 1,475 miles by the end of August.
“The bike has a number of different advantages. Not only are you able to maneuver in somewhat of a stealth fashion through the town,” Menzies said, “it's a great way to connect with the community.”
Arizona police departments get $5.4 million to hire more officers
Police departments across the state will get about $5.4 million in federal grants in order to hire more officers.
For some departments, it will be their first new positions since the recession hit Arizona and the rest of the nation. Previously, they'd only been hiring to fill vacant positions.
The grants from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services were announced Thursday by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, whose city got the lion's share – nearly $1.9 million.
“Today is a great day for public safety,” Stanton said.
He was joined by Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia, law-enforcement leaders from around the state — including Yuma, Glendale and Peoria — and Joshua Ederheimer, acting director of the Justice Department's COPS program.
Police departments win grants to hire new officers
The U.S. Department of Justice awarded $750,000 in grants on Tuesday to the police departments of Indio, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Hemet so they can hire new officers.
Across California, 39 cities and counties received grants from the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to create a total of 105 law enforcement positions.
COPS also named Arizona's seven grantees in the $125 million-plus program. A full list of grants will be released Sept. 30.
U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Palm Desert Democrat, on Thursday congratulated the four departments in his congressional district that received funding.
“This grant will provide much needed funding to add more police officers to the force and help build safer, stronger communities across the 36th District,” Ruiz said in a statement.
Twitter Helps Upper Darby Police Dept. Expand Its Reach
A local police department has called upon Twitter to fight crime and spread cheer.
The Upper Darby Police Department started using the hashtag #udhero this week with the intention of establishing a positive trend and recognizing good deeds by local heroes.
When a school day ended earlier this week, the department passed out 75 T-shirts to students who have done something good. In addition, followers can tweet their good deeds for a social shout-out and, possibly, a T-shirt.
"The only prerequisite to get a T-shirt is that you can't do anything illegal or get arrested wearing that T-shirt," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. "The kids like shaking hands and taking pictures with them (the officers)."
Sept 19, 2013
Obama orders security review after DC shooting, Defense Department report
President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of government contractor and employee protections, according to the White House.
The move comes in the wake of the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, which raised concerns about security procedures at U.S. military installations.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama has directed his Office of Management and Budget to closely inspect security measures for contractors and employees across federal agencies.
Military officials said that the shooter — Aaron Alexis, 34, a former Navy reservist who was working as a civilian contractor — had a security card that allowed him access to the Navy Yard but not to the office building where he later opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding several others Monday.
Obama's move also followed the public release Tuesday of a Defense Department Inspector General report which disclosed major flaws in security screening of contractors working on Navy installations.
The reports says some 52 convicted felons managed to routinely get on bases even though their felony convictions came before they were granted entry credentials.
Online fund for Glen James, homeless man, nears $100k
If doing the right thing is its own reward, Glen James appears on the verge of a big-time bonus.
The homeless Boston man who turned in a backpack holding $42,000 in cash and travelers checks is attracting donations from across the nation. By early Thursday, an online fund set up by a Virginia man who has never been to Boston had collected almost $100,000.
And Ethan Whittington said he planned to keep the fund open for as long as people wanted to give.
“I just felt that this was somebody who needed to be rewarded for his good deeds,” said the 27-year-old Whittington, a marketing accounts manager from Midlothian, Va. “It’s just inspiring to see somebody do an honorable thing like that. If everybody could have the humanity that he did that day, and be together and warm, it’d be a special thing.”
Whittington thinks $250,000 — and a home — is now a reasonable goal for James, a soft-spoken man in his mid-50s who has been walking the streets for five years.
A Virginia man inspired by James’s honesty has started an online fund to raise money for him. As of early Thursday, there were pledges of more than $92,000.
‘“You know, $250,000 can change his life for the rest of his life.” —Ethan Whittington of Midlothian, Va., who started fund to benefit Glen James.
Nicholls relies on community policing
Nicholls State University Police patrol a quiet campus that has its share of incidents that come with university life.
But Nicholls' ranking as one of the safest college campuses in Louisiana on StateUniversity.com is a result of a philosophy of community police work, said Craig Jaccuzzo, director of University Police. Nicholls is the highest-ranked regional university in the website's ranking, sitting at No. 6 out of 44 schools.
People may hear law enforcement agencies using community police as their slogan, "but the truth is that it is the core of our mission of our police department," Jaccuzzo said. "It is our philosophy, not a program."
Part of that philosophy involves using the disciplinary actions the university already has instead of pressing charges on students for every infraction.
"If we catch an individual whose behavior doesn't constitute a criminal charge but violates our code of conduct, then that student is brought before our Judicial Affairs Department and that student will face sanctions by the university," he said.
Jaccuzzo said students who might have committed a misdemeanor or be disruptive would face more immediate punitive action from the university than through the traditional court system because of the accused's right to due process.
Recreation programs, other initiatives improve quality of life
It’s been six years since the City of Joliet released a study of ways to improve the quality of life for those living in Districts 4 and 5, areas of the city that face challenges of poverty and crime.
The Quality of Life study was an all-encompassing blueprint of proposed initiatives for everything from improving education to reducing crime.
The Unity Community Development Corporation, utilizing information from that 2007 study, has since initiated a number of recreation and after-school tutoring programs aimed at improving the overall quality of life for people who live in the area.
Recreation is a key component to improving the quality of life in the area, which is why the Unity CDC started the Inner City Youth Sports League Program. The primary goal of the program is to partner with other organizations, parents, coaches and volunteers to teach and reinforce core values and life skills using the fundamentals of baseball. Beyond teaching the fundamentals of the game, Unity CDC encourages each coach to access positive and negative core behavior during the season and rewards good behavior.
“It’s not about mastering the sport; it’s about mastering the core values and life skills,” Unity CDC President Mac Willis said. “To this end, our primary focus is youth development.”
Residents Voice Concerns About Police Misconduct, Racial Profiling
Pittsburgh residents brought their concerns about police misconduct to City Council Tuesday during an open forum.
Concerned citizens brought up many issues, including a lack of diversity on the police force, racial profiling and overly aggressive policing in communities with high crime rates.
Rashad Byrdsong, president and CEO of the Homewood Community Empowerment Association, said law-abiding citizens of his community are stuck in a difficult situation.
“These type of shootings, homicide, crimes, in a lot of these distressed communities promote more aggressive policing,” Byrdsong said. “So we’re caught right in the middle between a lot of the gang activity and the more aggressive policing that’s going on in our community.”
Beth Pittinger, director of the Citizens Police Review Board, said she’s already fielded more complaints about police conduct this year than in all of last year.
Sept 18, 2013
After 15 years of false starts, Oakland puts hope into a new community policing plan
West Oakland's Alex Miller-Cole has decided that he can't depend on the police for help. “Mead Avenue was the second worst street in all of Oakland,” he says. “All the neighbors have been mulching. We planted 75 trees. Now it's the cleanest street ever. Nothing happens here now.”
Miller-Cole's lived across the street from McClymonds High School for 13 years. For the first five, he says he and his husband called the police on a daily basis to report things like prostitution and gunshots. But more often than not, the police wouldn't do anything. So they came up with their own way to deal with the problem.
“We started getting to know our neighbors, getting more involved in their lives,” he says. “All of a sudden you know why a prostitute is a prostitute. You know why the boys are selling drugs on the corner. And you can maybe try to influence their lives differently.”
Miller-Cole doesn't think what he's doing is that radical. He just doesn't think he should be the only one doing it. To him, it's what police officers are supposed to do.
“If police came to my door, introduce himself. Next door, oh, you have three kids? Great, thank you. That's community policing – that you know the face of those guys. You'd feel so much more comfortable.”
Sept 17, 2013
13 killed in Washington Navy Yard shooting rampage
WASHINGTON (AP) — The deadly attack at the Washington Navy Yard was carried out by one of the military's own: a defense contract employee and former Navy reservist who used a valid pass to get onto the installation and started firing inside a building, killing 12 people before he was slain in a gun battle with police.
The motive for the mass shooting — the deadliest on a military installation in the U.S. since the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 — was a mystery, investigators said. But a profile of the lone gunman, a 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was coming into focus. He was described as a Buddhist who had also had flares of rage, complained about the Navy and being a victim of discrimination and had several run-ins with law enforcement, including two shootings.
Monday's onslaught at a single building at the highly secure Navy Yard unfolded about 8:20 a.m. in the heart of the nation's capital, less than four miles from the White House and two miles from the Capitol.
It put all of Washington on edge. Mayor Vincent Gray said there was no indication it was a terrorist attack, but he added that the possibility had not been ruled out.
“This is a horrific tragedy,” he said.
Alexis carried three weapons: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun that he took from a police officer at the scene, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Navy Yard shooting: What we know and don't know
The one question we all desperately want answered may have gone to the grave with Aaron Alexis: Why?
Why did he park at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, walk into Building 197, perch himself on an overlook above the atrium and open fire? The bullets that rained down killed 12 people and wounded eight others.
But that's not the only missing puzzle piece. Investigators are painstakingly trying to piece together the motive, the means and the method.
"No piece of information is too small," said Valerie Parlave of the FBI said Monday night. "We are looking to learn everything we can about his recent movements, his contacts and associates."
Sept 16, 2013
L.A. Mission College gets at-risk youth back on track
For Javier Franco, it's a long way from Columbus Street to precalculus at L.A. Mission College.
A member of the notorious Columbus Street Gang, which just received an injunction because of street crimes including drug dealing and murder, the 27-year-old Panorama City student had served long stints in Folsom State Prison.
Then he found moral guidance from a former prizefighter at Communities in Schools in North Hills, a welding job through an apprenticeship at Laborers' Local 300 — and hope at the Sylmar community college that he could someday succeed.
“Deep inside, the gang life, the prison life, wasn't for me,” declared Franco, gazing out over the school that sent its soccer forward over many remedial math hurdles. “I always wanted much more. I wanted to be somebody.”
The northeast San Fernando Valley community college has long been a leader in reaching out to so-called at-risk youth by offering college-level courses to kids at local juvenile halls.
California school district hires firm to monitor students' social media
A suburban Los Angeles school district is now looking at the public postings on social media by middle and high school students, searching for possible violence, drug use, bullying, truancy and suicidal threats.
The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year.
Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.
As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student "who was speaking of ending his life" on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.
That intervention was significant because two students in the district committed suicide the past two years, said Superintendent Richard Sheehan. The suicides occurred at a time when California has reduced mental health services in schools, Sheehan said.
Community policing returns to Montclair
After a half-decade hiatus, community policing has returned to Montclair with an announcement Monday about new strategies to police the township using a Community Services Unit.
The plan is for a small, mobile team led by a seasoned detective sergeant to use one-on-one connections made with residents to not only reduce crime but improve the quality of life in various Montclair neighborhoods.
Detective Sgt. Tyrone Williams and officers Jacqueline Allen and Rikki Cook on Mission Street the day their new unit was announced.
"We want to hear from the residents. We need their help," said Montclair Police Department Chief David Sabagh, speaking on Mission Street near an area that has had a high incidence of gun violence this year. "The community is the eyes and ears of the Police Department, and we can't be everywhere at once."
Earlier this year, multiple shootings occurred within a relatively small area - on Mission Street, Greenwood Avenue and Elmwood Avenue - and led to increasing patrols using the MPD and the Essex County Sheriff's Office to quell residents' fears.
Spread thin, Providence police adjust how they investigate gangs, violent crimes
PROVIDENCE — Crime hasn't dropped by much in the city, but the number of police officers has.
The foot patrols are gone. There are fewer patrol officers, fewer detectives, fewer narcotics officers, fewer people investigating gangs and violent crime, and fewer officers posted in the city's public schools. The number of police districts, developed 10 years ago when the department adopted a community-policing strategy, has dropped from nine to seven and is expected to drop further. Although there have been some promotions, 18 higher-ranking positions remain vacant.
The loss of personnel has prompted changes in how the police target and investigate gangs and violent crimes. With fewer officers and less money, the police administration has adjusted how the department responds to violent crime.
Police Chief Hugh Clements Jr. and Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré say they've sought ways to be creative — using crime data to predict the city's hot spots and follow patterns, developing a better system of tracking gangs and gang associates, and employing a crime analyst, on loan from the National Guard, to help them prevent and investigate crimes.