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 13, 2013
Fort Myers Police, community work to end silence
Relay Against Violence held in Dunbar.
Fort Myers police and the Dunbar community continue their efforts to work together and defeat criminals.
The Police Department held its first Relay Against Violence on Saturday at Clemente Park.
Much like the annual Relay for Life and other charitable walks, this one put together teams who walked around the park, showing unity against crime.
Community Policing Officer Yvetta Dominique said the event was excellent, and it shows the community is responding.
“They're opening up a little bit more,” she said. And Saturday's event was another way for the department to tell residents it can't be done without them.
The department released its mid-year crime report in August, showing a downward trend in violent crime. At this time last year, Fort Myers had seen 20 homicides. This year, only nine have been recorded.
Much of that drop is being attributed to not only police work, but to help of residents, who in the past have been apprehensive about getting involved.
Fire safety fest a fun reminder to be cautious
PANAMA CITY — Fire departments from all over the county teamed up Saturday to raise fire prevention awareness with children and families.
Representatives from Callaway, Panama City Beach, Panama City, Parker, Springfield, and Bay County fire departments, as well as Red Cross and Bay County Emergency Medical Services were on hand to provide demonstrations and answer questions in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week.
“Area fire departments are here to educate on fire safety … and, you know, just let them see the equipment, let them see the gear, some of the things they do, and promote fire safety,” said Mary Lou Hodson, a member of the Panama City Fire Department's training fire safety and public education division.
National Fire Prevention Week is held every year during the week of Oct. 9 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred Oct. 8 and 9, 1871. Each year, the National Fire Prevention Association focuses the week on a different theme. This year's theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” with the Fire Prevention Association distributing literature focusing on tips to promote fire safety in the kitchen.
Some of those tips include keeping flammable items — such as oven mitts and wooden spoons — away from the hot stovetop and never leaving cooking food unattended.
Public Safety Fair on Oct. 19 will offer tips for surviving disasters
SEQUIM — Private and public agencies will tell about community resources available after personal and family life changes or natural or man-made widespread disasters at the Sequim Public Safety Fair on Saturday, Oct. 19.
The Sequim Police Department and Clallam Fire District No. 3 will host the fair at the Guy Cole Convention Center at Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Attendees can collect information about assistance programs ranging from Medicare and other senior issues to Clallam County Juvenile Services and understanding the Affordable Care Act.
Emergency and support vehicles from Fire District No. 3, the Sequim Police Department and the Clallam County Sheriff's Office will be on display outside the convention center.
Retired Detective Myrle Carner of Washington's Most Wanted and Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound will have the WAMW 335-horsepower Chevy Camaro at the event.
Certified child-passenger safety seat technicians will host a child-seat inspection station in the parking lot just south of the Guy Cole center.
Parents and grandparents may have safety seats inspected for proper fit and installation.
The cost of a bullet: Price of gun violence takes widespread toll in Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Hardly a week passes without someone, usually a young man or two, getting shot in the city's West End, South Side, Smith Hill or in the Mount Hope neighborhood on the East Side.
And things are not getting better in the state's largest city, which has a growing gang problem and increasing poverty. As of Oct. 8, 88 people had been shot in Providence in 2013, slightly higher than the 87 shot this time last year. Overall, 105 people were shot last year, 110 in 2011, 90 in 2010 and 86 in 2009. The vast majority are not random victims — they tend to know who shot them or what group was seeking revenge.
The constant shootings and trips to emergency rooms have become so commonplace that most people pay little attention to the bloodshed. But an investigation conducted by The Journal has found that the cost of the violence is high and widespread, affecting residents statewide. They help foot medical expenses, since many victims have no private medical insurance. They pay for assistance to individuals and families affected by violence. And then there are the costs of prosecution and incarceration when arrests are made.
Data from the Children's Safety Network and Urban Institute, both based in Washington, D.C., provide staggering numbers about gun violence. The cost of each fatal shooting, using 2010 figures, is $5,094,980, with more than $3 million of that charged to changes in “quality of life,” $1.5 million being the amount of income each victim would have earned during his or her life. Medical care and criminal justice costs were placed at some $423,962. Each shooting victim who survives costs an average of $432,813, with the biggest component once again being lost “quality of life,” at $296,498, according to the organizations.
Oct 12, 2013
College of the Desert to hold memorial for public safety employees
PALM DESERT — College of the Desert Public Safety Academy police and fire cadets will hold a memorial ceremony tomorrow for two Riverside County public safety employees who died in the line of duty this year.
The ceremony — scheduled to begin at noon Saturday at the academy's memorial fountain — will honor Riverside police Officer Michael Crain and Riverside County Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Douglas.
Members of their families, the Riverside County Fire Department and Riverside Police Department and COD staff are expected to attend. A barbecue will follow.
Crain, 34, was fatally shot in February by disgrunted ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner, who also wounded Crain's patrol partner. Dorner, who also killed a San Bernardino County sheriff's detective and an Irvine couple, died when the Big Bear cabin where he was hiding burned, following a gun battle with authorities.
Douglas, 41, was killed in July when he was struck by a pickup truck on the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 10 at the Monterey Avenue onramp in Palm Desert, where his engine truck was stopped.
Oct 11, 2013
Mission Division's Operation Ceasefire takes aim at gang gun violence
Sixteen known gang members sat politely in a conference room at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery one night last week, listening to, among others, a police captain, a deputy district attorney, a pastor and a shooting victim.
All had the same message: Stop shooting.
The meeting was part of Operation Ceasefire, a five-year pilot program at the Los Angeles Police Department's Mission Division started in 2011 and targeted at lowering gang violence in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Gang members on parole are “invited” — with the threat of a parole violation if they fail to attend — to community meetings to hear the ways law enforcement is cracking down on their gangs and meet community members and programs that can help them leave gang life behind.
“What we're saying to them is that we know they have a propensity toward violence, or to be hurt by violence, and we're not putting up with it,” said Capt. Todd Chamberlain, who heads the division.
The parolees are then asked to take the message back to their gangs.
“Consider this a gift,” Karl Cruz, a senior pastor at Victory Outreach in Sylmar, told the group, recounting how he himself left a gang more than 20 years ago — and changed his life forever. “In my time, they were just locking people up, not trying to help them.”
U.S. Accuses 2 Rabbis of Kidnapping Husbands for a Fee
In Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Mendel Epstein made a name for himself as the rabbi to see for women struggling to divorce their husbands. Among the Orthodox, a divorce requires the husband's permission, known as a “get,” and tales abound of women whose husbands refuse to consent.
While it's common for rabbis to take action against defiant husbands, such as barring them from synagogue life, Rabbi Epstein, 68, took matters much further, according to the authorities.
For hefty fees, he orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of reluctant husbands, charging their wives as much as $10,000 for a rabbinical decree permitting violence and $50,000 to hire others to carry out the deed, according to federal charges unsealed on Thursday morning.
Rabbi Epstein, along with another rabbi, Martin Wolmark, who is the head of a yeshiva, as well as several men in what the authorities called the “kidnap team,” appeared in Federal District Court in Trenton after a sting operation in which an undercover federal agent posed as an Orthodox Jewish woman soliciting Rabbi Epstein's services.
Paul Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey, said in an interview that investigators have “uncovered evidence” of about a couple dozen victims. Many are men from Brooklyn who were taken to New Jersey as part of the kidnappings.
Crime on decline in Elm City
Crime is on the decline in Elm City — since the end of 2011, homicides and shooting incidents have fallen by nearly 50 percent.
According to new data released late last week by the New Haven Police Department, homicides in the Elm city dropped 46.2 percent during the January-October period from 2011 to 2013. During the same time span, the incidence of nonfatal shooting victims fell by 49 percent, and the number of shots fired fell by 44.1 percent. Experts interviewed said the marked decline in crime is likely due to several major factors, including effective leadership within the New Haven Police Department, an increase in police presence and a community-oriented focus.
“My marching orders from the mayor and the Board of Aldermen [were] to focus on the violence and to bring community policing back to every neighborhood of this city,” said New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman. “And that's what we've been working very hard on now for the past two years.”
Since he was appointed police chief in November 2011, Esserman has reinstated a community-policing strategy, requiring new officers to spend their first year on the job walking a beat in one of New Haven's neighborhoods.
The community-policing strategy aims to familiarize different neighborhoods with their dedicated officers, in the hopes that neighborhood residents would feel comfortable approaching an officer they trust to report situations that can potentially escalate into crimes. To that end, the police department has also increased the amount of block watches and is expanding the Police Athletic League Camp, a summer camp for New Haven children. These initiatives are meant to humanize officers, Esserman said.
Oct 10, 2013
S.C.'s lawn mower man: A cut above the bickering
Chris Cox has taken cleanup around Washington's memorials into his own hands.
Most everybody complains about the government shutdown, but Chris Cox is actually doing something about it.
With many government operations shuttered by the political standoff in Washington, Cox took a lawn mower to the National Mall this week and began cutting grass areas between the Lincoln and World War II memorials.
"These are our memorials. Do they think that we're just going to let them go to hell?'' Cox told Washington radio station 99.1 in a story recounted by Columbia, S.C., TV station WIS.
Cox carried a blue South Carolina state flag as he pushed a standard gasoline-powered mower. He is a native of Mount Pleasant, S.C., living just outside Washington in Alexandria, Va.
He calls his one-citizen effort the Memorial Militia, aiming to keep things tidy and trim the grass that failed to halt its growth when the U.S. government issued furloughs and suspended many official functions last week.
West Shore Regional Police to be latest department to embrace community policing style
Over the next few weeks, some residents in the west shore communities of Wormleysburg and Lemoyne may get the impression that local police are getting friendlier.
According to West Shore Regional Police Chief Michael Hope, this is not the case. In Hope's mind, his officers have always been friendly: They'll just be making more of an effort to interact with the public on a non-enforcement level thanks to a new community policing program announced by the department this week.
"It's a weekend detail that tries to get the officers out of their cars and into the community," Hope said of the effort Tuesday. "To get them to walk around for about 30 minutes in a park or at a football game. I want them to get out of their vehicles and talking to the community they serve."
While the concept of openly personable, talkative law enforcement officers may seem a novel idea to some, the community policing angle — which seeks to create greater trust and cooperation from the public by cultivating positive interactions with residents — is an idea that's gaining traction in recently in more than one midstate department.
Just last week, Harrisburg's interim police Chief Thomas Carter reiterated his support for a more citizen-friendly police force, an approach to law enforcement he feels was all too often disregarded and even discouraged in the past.
Police to beef up in historic district areas
Grant will allow for 10 officers to patrol on foot and bicycles
In the coming spring, five Toledo neighborhoods will get some face time with Toledo police officers. new community-policing effort, the Community Corridor Initiative, will distribute 10 officers to designated “historic neighborhood districts to address community and small business concerns,” said police Chief Derrick Diggs.
The chief said the officers will work in vehicles, on bicycles, and on foot. The chosen corridors are “vital gateways to businesses and residential areas of Toledo and their success is critical to the overall well-being of the city,” Chief Diggs said.
Areas include neighborhoods around Lagrange, Cherry, Main, and Broadway streets as well as near West Sylvania Avenue.
“One of the things I always hear at all of the Block Watch meetings is that people want to see and hear and talk to police officers,” said Councilman Tom Waniewski.
Part of his district falls within a portion of the Sylvania Avenue corridor.
Oct 9, 2013
Officials warn of ‘ransomware' computer viruses
Authorities locally and nationwide are cautioning Internet users of a new trend in computer viruses known as “ransomware,” which take control of victims' computers and demand a ransom to restore the users' data.
They have different names, such as Reveton or Crypto Locker, and they attempt to extort money from victims by encrypting or blocking access to their data without their knowledge, then demanding a ransom in order to undo the damage, according to police and FBI officials.
Most recently, Glendora police issued a warning Friday after a businessman in the city fell victim to the virus and lost all of his computer data as a result.
“A local businessman received an email from what he thought was his bank, addressed to his business, only to find that after he clicked on the zip file attachment, a malware virus encrypted his files, rendering them useless,” Glendora police said in a written statement.
“Two windows then popped up, one with the word ‘Crypto Locker' in the title, requesting that he pay $300 via a pre-paid money card and once done, he would receive a ‘key' to unlock his files,” according to the police statement. “The message continued to tell him that he only had a certain amount of time to pay the money, and if he did not send the money, his files would then become useless and he would not be able to retrieve his photos, files and other documents.”
Coffee with Cops helps community, police start conversation
With uniforms donned, badges in place, and equipment in tow, the Community Oriented Policing Unit, a division of the Ocean City Police Department, gathered Oct. 2 in Sunrise Cafe in Ocean City.
In a scenario that may sound intimidating to some, the police were not there as an imposing force, but as one that would "break down the barrier" between the police and the community, Patrolman Michael Gray said.
Capt. Steven Ang said he started COPU or the "bike cops" program about 20 years ago as a way for officers to be a more visible presence in the community.
"People are intimidated to approach a police officer," Ang said. "With (bike cops) it becomes a simple, 'Hey, excuse me.'"
Gray, who took over event planning for the COPU two years ago, said the events used to be staged outside places like Wawa, but in order to gain a more personalized experience with community members, they started having Coffee with Cops in cafes so people could relax with a cup of coffee and a pastry and address concerns with the officers.
Public safety agencies in Brown County expected on new radio system by Oct. 15
by Nathan Phelps
A new public safety communications system is expected to finish rolling out to police and fire departments in Brown County next week before moving on to include other county services.
The transition is part of a federal mandate to use the radio spectrum more efficiently. The change is expected improve communications between officers and the dispatchers.
Law enforcement and fire departments in Brown County are expected to be on the new system by Oct. 15.
“At that point we'll have all of the emergency services on the new system and then we'll start bringing up some of the non-emergency users like the parks and highway departments,” said Cullen Peltier, Brown County director of public safety communications. “We're seeing a major benefit in the quality and clarity of the communications.”
The system also provides better communications within the department, he said.
Oct 8, 2013
Billionaire couple donates $10 million to Head Start programs closed by U.S. government shutdown
A philanthropic billionaire couple pledged up to $10 million in an effort to fund Head Start programs that could no longer operate due to the ongoing government shutdown, officials announced on Monday.
Laura and John Arnold provided the money needed to reopen the seven Head Start programs in six states that were expecting to receive their federally allotted grants on Oct. 1 but were forced to close when the government closed many of their own offices on Tuesday, said Sally Aman, a Head Start spokeswoman.
Head Start serves “the poorest of the poor in our country from ages 0-5 to get them ready for kindergarten,” Aman said. She added that over 7,000 children have been affected by the closures.
"The Arnolds … have selflessly stepped up for Head Start children to ensure their path toward kindergarten readiness is not interrupted by the inability of government to get the nation's fiscal house in order," said Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director of the National Head Start Association, in a Head Start press release.
Supporters of the Head Start Program rally to call for an end to the partial federal government shut down and fund the comprehensive education, health and nutrition service for low-income children and their families outside the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.
California drug overdoses rise, but state fares better than many
The number of drug-overdose deaths in California — most of which are from prescription medications — increased by 31 percent from 1999 to 2010, according to a new report.
However, the Golden State fared better than many states with the 15th lowest drug-overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with 10.6 per 100,000 people suffering fatal overdoses in 2010, according to “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” which was released by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health. And while most states received a score of 6 or less, California rated an 8 on a scale of 10 for “promising indicators” of strategies to curb prescription drug abuse, the report found.
“We've been working at it, but we can do better,” said Billie Weiss, associate director of the Southern California Injury and Violence Research Prevention Program at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. “We can be using our pharmacy prescribing database to really keep better track of physicians who are overprescribing ... We have drug shoppers who go to a bunch of physicians and get prescriptions; using that prescribing database would really help identify some of those folks.”
While California has an active prescription-drug monitoring program called CURES for certain controlled substances, it does not require — as 16 other states currently do — mandatory use by its prescribers, the report noted. The state also does not have a law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to mandate identification prior to dispensing a controlled substance.
‘Old School' policing to take back Chester
CHESTER — Police began Friday conducting foot patrols in a violence-plagued area of the city's East End as part of an anti-crime initiative that officials said Monday is already showing positive results.
“We are not going to wait for another tragedy,” city Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr. said at a joint press conference with Mayor John Linder announcing the implementation of “Operation Old School,” a community policing initiative currently focusing on an 18-block area that stretches from 20th Street north to 24th Street, and Madison Street west to the Upland Borough boundary.
By tragedy, Bail was referring to the fatal shooting Thursday of a 23-year-old man in the area of 21st Street.
Since the initiative went into effect 2 p.m. Friday in the area known as “Madi Block,” officers made three weapons and three drug possession arrests, Bail said. In addition, three individuals were charged with disorderly conduct and one individual was picked up on a warrant.
Equally as pleasing to Bail was seeing typically shuttered residents out on their porches, and children outside playing as he patrolled the target area over the weekend.
Want To Give New London Police A Tip? There's An App For That!
New London Police Department is embracing all kinds of technology, with a way to report crimes on Facebook and text message with a new mobile app.
The New London Police Department (NLPD) has introduced a new Tip411 mobile application and social media tool to make it easier and more efficient for anonymous tipsters to report crimes in the community.
Administered through a partnership with CitizenObserver, a web-based community policing solution, NLPD is providing residents with various new ways to report incidents while also ensuring the public's anonymity. To report an anonymous tip, New London citizens can now send a text message, download an application for an Android or iPhone, or send a tip via Facebook by clicking “Submit A Tip” on the NLPD's Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewLondonPolice.
Once the tip is received, a message will automatically be sent to New London police supervisors, who can communicate back to the tipster through CitizenObserver without ever knowing the tipster's identity.
“The City of New London will continue to use the newest technologies to enhance our approach to law enforcement,” said Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. “I believe this new 411-app will aide our ongoing efforts to make New London the safest city in Connecticut.”
Oct 7, 2013
GPW Public Safety Shares Fire Safety Tips, Tours, Fall Treats At Open House
Fire Prevention Week started with an open house Sunday at the Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety.
The Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety hosted an open house to mark the start of the Fire Prevention Week. Families learned important fire safety tips in a festive setting Sunday as Grosse Pointe Public Safety hosted the annual open house.
In 2012, home fires killed more than 58 people in Michigan. Fire departments throughout the state responded to 15,256 home fires, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Cooking equipment, heating and electrical equipment, smoking materials, and lit candles are among the leading causes of all reported home fires.
Nearly two-thirds of home structure fire deaths occur in homes where there is no smoke alarm or where smoke alarms are present but fail to operate because the batteries have been removed, according to the state fire marshal. Having working smoke alarms cuts the risk of dying in reported home fires in half and having automatic fire sprinkler systems in the home cuts the risk of dying in a home fire by about 80 percent.
Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month using the test button and the batteries replaced every year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), less than 25 percent of American households have developed and practiced a fire escape plan to be prepared for a real emergency.
9-year-old boy manages to board flight to Las Vegas alone and without boarding pass
-A 9-year-old boy managed to board a Delta Airlines flight to Las Vegas alone and without a boarding pass, Thursday morning.
The child arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Thursday, and was screened by TSA officials before boarding flight 1651 from Minneapolis to Las Vegas.
Crew members on the flight became suspicious of the unaccompanied child while on the flight and contacted authorities. He was turned over to Child Protective Services once the flight arrived in Nevada.
"The fact that the child's actions weren't detected until he was in flight is concerning," said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan, ABC reports. More than 33 million people travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport every year, and I don't know of another instance in my 13 years at the airport in which anything similar has happened. Fortunately, the flight crew took appropriate actions to ensure the child's safety, so the story does have a good ending.
According to CNN, authorities called the boy “street smart” because he was able to get that far without being caught. The Transportation Security Administration is investigating the incident.