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.
Oct 6, 2013
Gov. Brown signs another bill easing conditions for immigrants
Law enforcement officials in California who arrest immigrants in the country illegally will be prohibited from detaining them for transfer to federal authorities unless they committed a serious crime under one of several bills signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown to ease conditions for immigrants.
The Trust Act is the second milestone bill on immigration signed by the governor in two days. On Thursday he approved a measure allowing immigrants in the country illegally to receive California driver's licenses.
“While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead,” Brown said. “I'm not waiting.” Brown's action came as immigration advocates rallied in California and across the county to push for new immigration legislation.
As Washington remains preoccupied with a federal government shutdown, immigration has faded into the background.
Earlier this week, House Democrats introduced an immigration bill that mostly parallels the one passed by the Senate in June. It would offer a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally, as well as expand visa programs in an effort to eliminate current backlogs.
But many House Republicans do not support a path to citizenship for the 11 million.
Montclair Police to Get Office Space in Glenfield Middle School
At the last Board of Education meeting, Police Chief David Sabagh announced that the MPD would be placing officers inside Glenfield Middle School to establish better communication with the students, parents and teachers.
Yesterday, Glenfield principal Joseph Putrino sent home a newsletter titled, “Glenfield: A True Blue Community School,” with more details of the partnership between the Montclair Community Police Unit and Glenfield. This is a part of the MPD's new Community Service Unit initiative:
|Glenfield Middle School has been known as a true community school. We offer our space and resources to all aspects of the town. Our facility has housed many community-based functions ranging from sporting events to the Montclair Adult School. We are now engaged in yet another community partnership that will indeed benefit our town and our school. Glenfield Middle School and the Montclair Police Department have joined forces!
As part of their new community policing program the Montclair Police Department is seeking to reconnect with schools. Many of you may remember the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program that used to exist in all of our schools. Due to town budget constraints the program was eliminated over 5 years ago. I still run into teachers, students and parents who valued and miss the program. D.A.R.E was not only a great system for educating students but also a way to remove the stigma of seeing a police officer and thinking, “There must be a problem!” When the MPD approached me about wanting to have a base in one of our schools, I saw a win-win situation.
Traffic cameras continue to sprout, despite little evidence they increase public safety
Ohio Representative Bill Patmon attended a community meeting in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood this past June. When it was his turn to speak, he asked the nearly 150 people assembled in the community center to demonstrate by a show of hands how many of them supported the use of traffic enforcement cameras in the city.
“Not a single person raised their hands. I knew the devices weren't popular. But not a single hand went up. My constituents in that room were completely against the use of cameras,” said Patmon, who later voted with the majority of the House to ban the rapidly growing use of red-light and speed cameras in Ohio. The bill is now pending in the Ohio Senate.
It's not surprising that the traffic enforcement technology, so popular with the administration of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council, is a whole lot less popular in the neighborhoods.
Despite glimmers of hope and flashes of economic revival, Cleveland remains a poor and under-employed city. Residents are economically stressed and resent the robo-cop devices. They consider the non-blinking mechanical eyes as little more than blatant revenue generators that do little to improve public safety in a meaningful way. They are offended by officialdom's claim that the cameras are all about promoting safety.
Public safety: Policing the police
ACTING POLICE Chief Julie Tolbert is starting out right in keeping a promise to restore public confidence in the metro police department.
On Thursday, she made two necessary moves. She placed two veteran officers who were named in a 2010 federal police corruption investigation on paid administrative leave.
She did the same thing with a police captain who was implicated in a sexual harassment complaint against former chief Willie Lovett, who was forced to retire a week ago.
Both moves show responsible leadership. Unfortunately, she failed to take one more needed step — putting someone else in charge of the department's Internal Affairs unit.
If she genuinely wants to police the police, and help restore the department's integrity, then she must put a trusted cop in this key position.
'Public safety ambassadors' patrol downtown Tulsa
Chase Durnal pulls his city of Tulsa security vehicle into a narrow clearing of trees along a highway bordering downtown's East Village District and examines a mattress tucked between branches.
“That's where we'll find campsites — on the outskirts” of downtown, he says.
Durnal, 28, is one of three “public safety ambassadors” who patrol within the Inner Dispersal Loop on behalf of the Downtown Coordinating Council, observing and reporting graffiti, trash and disruptive or criminal activity.
Not that this vacant campsite is disruptive.
Durnal often finds these set-ups while patrolling out-of-view areas along the Inner Dispersal Loop. He stops, speaks with any residents and, if they're willing, he'll direct them to a shelter or ask the John 3:16 mission to reach out to them.
Oct 5, 2013
Indio Blue Mass ceremony honors public safety officials
INDIO — A church filled with hundreds of people who prayed for public safety officials Friday night and thanked them for always protecting them.
They gathered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church for the annual Blue Mass ceremony, which is dedicated to law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics.
A dozen representatives from the Indio Police Department and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were in attendance, and they received a standing ovation after introducing themselves, one by one.
“It would be selfish of us to not take just an hour to show them we appreciate what they do,” said Julio De Los Santos, 20, of Indio.
Everyone stood together, prayed and read hymns during the hourlong service dedicated to the guests of honor, who said they were appreciative. “It's Friday night, and you're here with us and that's special,” Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said.
The Rev. Alex Gamino, who led the service, also took the time to thank them. “A lot of us are grateful for your presence and grateful you put your lives on the line for us,” he said.
Public safety agencies aim to educate at Zebulon Night Out
ZEBULON — The town's fire and police departments are ready to show off what they have to offer, and then some.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, the departments will hold their annual Zebulon Night Out event designed to familiarize the public with the services public safety agencies provide. The night is also about bringing the community together for some good, clean fun.
“It's a way for us to have all the citizens of Zebulon to come together to one safe place so they can learn more about us,” said Zebulon Police Capt. Dennis Brannan. “We usually draw a large crowd not only from Zebulon, but from Franklin and Wake County. It's very important that we reach out to everyone.”
Free hot dogs, popcorn and drinks will be provided to keep appetites in check as a wide variety of information sharing takes place at the Zebulon Municipal Complex, 1003 N. Arendell Ave., from 6 to 9 p.m.
The Zebulon Community Center, 301 S. Arendell Ave., is the alternative site for the event if weather threatens to interfere, like it did last year.
Oct 4, 2013
Woman shot dead after Capitol Hill chase 'quiet, kept to herself'
WASHINGTON— A Connecticut dental hygienist with a history of mental health issues was killed by police after a chase and shooting near the U.S. Capitol Thursday afternoon, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.
The source said Miriam Carey, 34, was the woman behind the wheel of the black Infiniti coupe with Connecticut license plates that tried to pass a security checkpoint at the White House.
Carey led police on a chase through central Washington and died after being shot near the Capitol. She had a 1-year-old child in the car with her, officials said. Video shows the car speeding away from police during a chase that went for about 1.5 miles.
Carey's motive was not known late Thursday. Agents from FBI were assisting with the investigation, an FBI spokesman said. It appeared there was no connection to terrorism, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said of the incident.
The Capitol was locked down for about an hour during the incident.
Carey's sister, Amy Carey, a nurse in Brooklyn, N.Y., was incredulous when she was reached Thursday afternoon by the Washington Post and told what had happened outside the Capitol.
"That's impossible. She works, she holds a job," said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would bring her sister to Washington. "She wouldn't be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. ... I don't know what's happening. I can't answer any more."
Divers resume search after Sicily migrant boat disaster
(Reuters) - Italian divers searched on Friday for bodies trapped in the wreck of a boat packed with African migrants which sank off Sicily, killing an estimated 300 people in one of the worst disasters in Europe's decades-long immigration crisis.
Rescue teams have so far recovered 111 bodies and expect to find more than a hundred others in the submerged wreck, which is sunk in around 40 meters of water less than 1 km (0.6 miles) from the shore of the southern island of Lampedusa.
After 155 survivors were pulled from the water on Thursday, choppy seas were expected to make the recovery work more difficult and there was no realistic hope of finding any more of the estimated 500 passengers on board the vessel still alive.
"Two motorboats remained in the area overnight and this morning divers resumed work but we expect to recover more than a hundred bodies from the ship," coast guard official Floriana Segreto told Reuters.
The boat, carrying mainly Eritreans and Somalis, sank in the early hours of Thursday after fuel caught fire onboard, triggering a panicked rush to one side of the vessel, which capsized and sank.
How FBI caught Ross Ulbricht, alleged creator of criminal marketplace Silk Road
The FBI caught the man accused of creating Silk Road -- the shadowy e-commerce site it describes as "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today" -- after he allegedly posted his Gmail address online, according to court documents.
Federal agents swooped on Ross William Ulbricht in a San Francisco public library Tuesday afternoon, charging the 29-year-old American with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. They allege he is "the Dread Pirate Roberts," the Silk Road's mysterious founder, who drew his pseudonym from the feared, fictitious character in the film The Princess Bride.
The FBI claims the former physics and engineering student even publicly alluded to his alleged criminal enterprise on his LinkedIn profile, with a statement describing how his goals had "shifted" in accordance with his libertarian economic views since leaving grad school at Pennsylvania State University.
Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile states that, since completing his studies in 2010, he has focused on "creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" of the kind imposed by "institutions and governments."
"I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression (sic) amongst mankind," he wrote.
Oct 3, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown to sign bill giving immigrants driver's licenses
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign a bill Thursday adding California to the growing list of states allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver licenses.
Immigrant advocates have long lobbied for the change in the nation's most populous state so immigrants can drive without fearing being pulled over for a ticket, which could wind up getting them deported.
“This is really a historic day for California,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “This is really simply about driving and ultimately about being able to engage in everyday activities that every American does.”
Over the last two decades, immigrant advocates have pushed to get licenses restored in California. The effort took on new significance in recent years as immigrants caught driving without a license began seeing their cars impounded and wound up being screened by federal immigration authorities for deportation.
Most states don't allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain licenses. But a growing number, including Colorado and Oregon, have passed similar measures to issue marked licenses for driving purposes only.
New California 'revenge porn' law may miss some victims
For many victims, California's new "revenge porn" law doesn't go far enough.
Revenge porn , also called cyber revenge, is the act of posting sexual photos of an ex-lover online for vengeance. The photos were typically exchanged consensually over the course of a relationship and meant only for the other person.
There are websites dedicated to posting and making money off of these types of shots, which are primarily of women.
The new California law, which was signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, is only the second revenge porn-specific piece of legislation in the United States. Under the law, people convicted of distributing sexual images of exes face six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Critics say the law has some glaring loopholes. It only applies when the person accused of spreading the images online is also the photographer. It does not cover photos a person takes of themselves and shares with a lover, say during a sexting session.
Up to 80% of revenge porn victims had taken the photos of themselves, according to a recent survey by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. CCRI is a group founded by revenge porn victims and activists to push for legal reform in the United States. That means the vast majority of revenge porn cases would not qualify under this law.
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be overseen by monitor, judge rules
For years to come, Sheriff Joe Arpaio can expect to have a federal judge looking over his shoulder, watching almost his every move and those of his deputies.
A federal judge Wednesday approved a plan to place an independent monitor inside the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Office to ensure the department is not racial profiling.
Maricopa County deputies - once described by a Justice Department expert as conducting "the most egregious racial profiling in the United States" - will have every traffic stop monitored statistically and with video cameras, with strict orders to ignore suspects' race.
U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow's ruling caps a class-action anti-discrimination lawsuit against Arpaio and the sheriff's office. In May, Snow ruled that Arpaio's office was using unconstitutional racial profiling to target and detain Latinos suspected to have entered the U.S. illegally.
Oct 2, 2013
The Government Shutdown Explained (Like You're an Idiot)
So, it's happened. Congress could not agree on a budget and the U.S. federal government has shut down all non-essential services. Hundreds of thousands of government workers have been furloughed without knowing when they will return to work.
Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw this on "Doomsday Preppers." Total collapse! I knew I should have built that bomb shelter and started hoarding lentils.
Cool your jets. This is far from the apocalypse. The government has not ground to a complete halt. Services deemed essential like Medicare, mail delivery, tax collection and the military will continue to operate. Non-essential departments and employees, like national park rangers and NASA staff (who aren't currently in orbit) will be furloughed. Also, the National Zoo will be closed.
Someone is going to get a very angry tweet about this! If only I knew who to blame… and also how this happened.
Every year Congress has to agree on a budget to fund the government. The fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, but Congress was unable come to a consensus about how best to use federal funds. Without a budget – essentially a law passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate -- to pay employees and fund programs for the new fiscal year, the government effectively shut down at midnight on Oct. 1.
New police program reduces crime in community
Gwinnett County police say a reduction in crime and an increase in trust are a direct result of the community policing initiative implemented to fight crime at area apartment complexes.
The department rolled out the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program -- a type of community policing that involves property managers and residents -- in April 2012.
"The program focuses on trying to reduce gangs, drugs, prostitution -- typical problems that occur in rental or apartment communities,” said officer Bert Garcia.
Police are working to improve two corridors that see more than their fair share of crime. Garcia said in early 2012, 98 percent of crime in central Gwinnett County was happening in and around apartment complexes along Satellite Boulevard and Sweetwater Road. Law enforcement needed to try something new.
Twenty-nine properties are now working with police on improved safety and security conditions. There is a full certification that comes after a three-phase program educating management and residents.
Jacksonville Airport shut down after destructive device is found, suspect arrested
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Authorities have a suspect in custody after finding two suspicious packages — including one they described as destructive — at the Jacksonville International Airport.
Zeljko Causevic was booked into the Jacksonville County Jail early Wednesday and is being held without bond on charges that include making a false report about planting a bomb or explosive.
Officials say 39-year-old Causevic will be in bond court at 1:30 p.m.
The airport was shut down for nearly five hours Tuesday evening after the packages were found.
Oct 1, 2013
Syria claims ‘terrorists' eat human hearts
UNITED NATIONS — Syria's foreign minister claimed Monday that his government is fighting a war against al-Qaida-linked militants who eat human hearts and dismember people while they are still alive, then send their limbs to family members.
Walid al-Moallem, addressing world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, also charged that the U.S., Britain and France had blocked the naming of the real perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
He claimed “terrorists” fighting the regime in the civil war are being supplied with chemical weapons, but he did not name specific nations accused of supplying them.
President Barack Obama told the U.N. last week that it was the President Bashar Assad's regime that was behind a chemical weapons attack in August that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburbs and brought threats of a U.S. strike.
Syria has committed to getting rid of its stockpiles of chemical weapons and the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to oblige it to do so based on a plan made by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Al-Moallem claimed that it is clear to all that offshoots of al-Qaida — “the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world” — is fighting in the Syrian civil war. But some countries refuse to recognize it, he said.
More Oakland Neighborhoods Employing Private Security Amid Public Safety Concerns
Consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, the City of Oakland has long been plagued with skyrocketing crime rates.
According to federal statistics, Oakland has one robbery for every 91 residents. The SF Gate reports that this translates to almost 12 robberies a day. And given the fact that the city has fell victim to 3,800 robberies to date in 2013—a 24% jump from last year at this time—this year is shaping up to be a lot worse, leading some community groups to resort to crowdsourcing initiatives in order to fund private security details for their neighborhoods.
The neighborhood of Rockridge is located in the Northern part of Oakland. Its collection of large homes nestled in the hills is known for being one of the wealthiest areas in the city.
Lower Rockridge, however, is middle-class neighborhood located just north of Highway 24. Its proximity to both several freeway onramps and a BART station positions it as a prime target for muggings and robberies.
“Enough is enough,” remarked campaign organizer Paul Liu in the CrowdTilt description. “The crime in lower Rockridge north and west of the Rockridge BART station is completely out of hand.”
Proceeds from the initiative will go towards hiring the VMA Security Group who will patrol from 11am to 11pm, Monday thru Friday starting November 1. The fundraising campaign has already amassed over $12,550 of its $20,513 goal within a week of its inception, securing VMA through February of next year. Over 131 individual sponsors have donated thus far at or above the minimum $82.05 contribution.
Colorado parolees: Some fear new policies put public safety at risk
As Colorado struggles to lower one of the highest return-to-prison rates in the nation, parole officers are stuck balancing second chances against punishment for parolees who misbehave.
Documents obtained by The Denver Post reveal the state's parole division two years ago adopted new policies aimed at keeping troubled parolees out of prison and on the streets whenever possible.
But the shift has been plagued by inadequate training and a lack of resources, corrections officials now say. Law enforcement and parole officers question the new direction, fearing the public's safety is at risk.
Parolees are "getting so bold because of the direction the whole division is going in," said Ryan Burch, who supervises sex offenders out of the Englewood parole office. "We're losing the parolees' fear that prevents them from violating their parole."
Two years ago, Greeley police Chief Jerry Garner complained to corrections officials that his community faced a surge of dangerous parolees on the street.
"These people are dangerous to my citizens," Garner recently told The Post, noting his complaints went unheeded. "They are dangerous to my police officers."
Are Public Safety "Activists" Planning to Shame Drug Addicts and Needle Users?
Public safety "activists" in Santa Cruz recently began planning a protest against those they believe are creating hypodermic needle waste in outdoor and natural areas locally. One individual has suggested shaming clients outside of the county's needle exchange office, where drug users may obtain clean needles when they turn in used ones. In a Facebook discussion, Chris Brown said, "What about taking pictures of those going in and out and posting them to a web site in an effort to shame them? I admit it seems rather creepy and low but????"
They are members of the Facebook group "Needle Free Zone - Santa Cruz County," and those planning the protest include many well known names: Ken "Skindog" Collins, Valerie Abbott, Samantha Olden, Kim Gardner, Meriah Campbell, Janell Whiting, Ellie Chapman, Chris Brown (not to be confused with Santa Cruz Clean Team admin Chrissy Brown, who is also in the group but did not comment on the plans for a protest), and Lewis Roubal.
Some members of Needle Free Zone Santa Cruz County say they are still angry that in March, members of Take Back Santa Cruz "softened" down a protest march that went from from Harvey West to City Hall. The protest was originally to include a stop by the Homeless Services Center (HSC), which Samantha Olden said was supported by Ken "Skindog" Collins. (Collins has been the subject of controversy more recently after he was captured on video poking and yelling at a homeless person at a clean up event with the Clean Team in March of this year)
Sept 30, 2013
Government shutdown: What you need to know
Let's start with the obvious question: Will there be a government shutdown this week? Probably.
On that, Republicans and Democrats agree. It's everything else that has them bickering and blaming. And unless they strike a deal on a spending bill Monday, the government will begin shutting down at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
After weeks of congressional back-and-forth, the ball is back in the Senate's court. It meets at 2 p.m. Monday to decide what to do next. The outcome, while likely, isn't a foregone conclusion. The deadline is midnight, and one day can be a long time on Capitol Hill. Here's a quick Q&A to get you caught up on what happened over the weekend and what to look forward to Monday.
Why would the government shut down?
Congress has one key duty laid out in the Constitution -- pass spending bills that fund the government. If it doesn't, most of the functions of the government -- from paying the military, to funding small business loans, to processing Social Security checks -- would grind to a slow-motion halt.
L.A. program helps homeless women vets
She once wore Army-issue green, then earned the rank of E-3 seaman in the U.S. Navy.
But when Serwa Scorza left the uniform, insignia and base behind for civilian life, she fell out of step and lost her footing. By the time she moved to Los Angeles, Scorza's marriage had dissolved and she struggled to balance work, school and single motherhood. Homelessness came next.
“For the longest time, I couldn't get stable,” Scorza, 36, said one recent day.
Then a male veteran told Scorza something she didn't know about herself: that she, too, was a veteran. As it turns out, servicewomen seldom may be afraid to seek services from the Veterans Administration when they need it.
“Many women, when we initially outreach to them, may not even identify themselves as veterans,” said Michelle Wilde, chief of community care at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
New York City
NYC cost per inmate almost equals Ivy League education; expenses tied to Rikers boost cost
NEW YORK — New York is indeed an expensive place, but experts say that alone doesn't explain a recent report that found the city's annual cost per inmate was $167,731 last year — nearly as much as it costs to pay for four years of tuition at an Ivy League university.
They say a big part of it is due to New York's most notorious lockup, Rikers Island, and the costs that go along with staffing, maintaining and securing a facility that is literally an island unto itself.
“Other cities don't have Rikers Island,” said Martin F. Horn, who in 2009 resigned as the city's correction commissioner, noting that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent a year to run the 400-acre island in the East River next to the runways of LaGuardia Airport that has 10 jail facilities, thousands of staff and its own power plant and bakery.
The city's Independent Budget Office annual figure of $167,731 — which equates to about $460 per day for the 12,287 average daily New York City inmates last year — was based on about $2 billion in total operating expenses for the Department of Correction, which included salaries and benefits for staff, judgments and claims as well as debt service for jail construction and repairs.
New Michigan State Police Flint post commander wants more community involvment from troopers
FLINT, MI – With more state troopers than ever patrolling and investigating crimes in Flint, the new leader of the Flint state police post is eager to see his team take a more active role in the community they serve.
"We've done a good job with the law enforcement part," said First Lt. Tom Deasy. "Now we need to reach out to the community. We need to reach out to people in non-traditional ways – not traffic stops and calls for service."
Deasy took over last week at the post, replacing First Lt. Matt Bolger, who took a state police promotion in Lansing.
Deasy declined to get specifics for that outreach but said going out to churches or community centers for forums and events are things that could happen in the near future.
"Community problems are community problems," he said. "If it's a community problem and don't have the support of the community, you can't solve them."