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.
Dec 1, 2013
HIV no longer considered death sentence
Justin Goforth was just a 26-year-old nursing student when he had unprotected sex with another man and, as a result, got the diagnosis that changed his life.
"I started to feel like I had the flu -- aches, pains, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, that kind of thing -- and so I went to my doctor ... we did a viral load test, which was rare back then ... and he called me and said, you know, it came back (HIV) positive."
It was 1992. Goforth's doctor immediately sent him to the National Institutes of Health, where research was being done, but treatment options were, at the time, still few.
Patients were being treated with AZT, the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1987 to treat HIV/AIDS in the United States -- by then known for its serious, even life-threatening side effects.
The reality of the diagnosis set in.
"I was so sick," Goforth says. "I was sitting silently and crying because of my circumstance ... and the nurse came over and was trying to console me, I believe, and said ... 'Because you were just infected, you may have, you know, six or eight years before you die.'
"I think she was trying to cheer me up," he says. "Didn't work very well, but that's just a good commentary on where we were at the time"
Transformation of Community Policing Into Military Policing Sanctions Government Violence
What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.
Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.
This is not an isolated incident, which is why it's yet one more tragedy I can't get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that's eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists.
“That's America, we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks,” Henry Porter wrote in September in the U.K. Observer. The massacre of the moment was lone gunman Aaron Alexis' slaying of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
“But what,” Porter asked, “if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as an international humanitarian crisis — a quasi civil war, if you like, that calls for outside intervention?”
This begins to get at the American lunacy, its out-of-control certainty that authorized violence has things under control. We need some kind of outside intervention. I fear the death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa won't bring about the fundamental changes we need, any more than the tragedies that preceded it. We lack systems capable of holistic assessment of our problems; we lack systems that are not part of the problem.
Immigrants need licenses, not detention
Immigration reform is dead — or maybe not, depending on whom you talk to.
Yet, in a refreshing response to Washington political sclerosis, some Massachusetts lawmakers are following the lead of a handful of states that have recently implemented measures to fill the void left by the ghost of immigration reform.
Two very different bills are in play at the State House, but both draw on the fundamental, yet controversial, premise that undocumented immigrants are a fact of life and require sensible policies, rather than purely exclusionary or hostile treatment. This is the same notion that animated the recent nationwide immigration debate — the growing awareness that longstanding denial about undocumented immigrants is getting the country nowhere.
One widely supported Massachusetts reform is a rebuttal to the Secure Communities program, which has the unintended consequence of making many communities less secure. Secure Communities gives federal immigration officials the authority to insinuate themselves into local police enforcement. This is the program mostly responsible for the highest rate of deportations ever in the country — 400,000 a year. Since Massachusetts officially implemented it last May, and immigrant communities became aware that the local police at times have become an extension of federal enforcement, Secure Communities has cast a pall in community policing.
Immigrants' fear of the police breeds less cooperation and less public safety. A recent national report confirms Latino immigrants are less likely to contact police because of their involvement in immigration enforcement: More than 4 in 10 Latinos are less likely to report a crime.
Nov 30, 2013
Report: Accused of spying, American held in North Korea issues 'apology'
(CNN) -- An 85-year-old American man detained in North Korea has apologized for his actions, including for killing troops and civilians during the Korean War, North Korea's state-run news agency reported Saturday.
KCNA released a statement it claimed was from Merrill Newman -- a Palo Alto, California man who, his family says, has been held in North Korea for more than 30 days.
"After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," Newman said, according to the "apology" reported by KCNA.
His statement ends: "If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading."
In addition to this statement, KCNA ran a story alleging Newman came to North Korea with a tourist group in October and afterward "perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and slandering its socialist system."
Newtown killer's father 'broken,' family stigmatized
Adam Lanza's aunt asks, "Was there something more we could have done? Did we miss the signs?"
Adam Lanza's father remains "broken" and family members are "shaken to the core" and stigmatized a year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, his aunt has told a British newspaper.
"Peter has only spoken about it to a very, very small number of people, including my husband, Michael, his brother, as they are very close," Lanza's sister-in-law, Marsha, told the Daily Mail from her home in Crystal Lake, Ill. "'Peter is a changed man. He's broken. How can you ever begin to try and deal with that? It's just impossible."
Dec. 14 marks the first anniversary of Adam Lanza's spree. He first killed his mother, Nancy, in her bed, and then slaughtered 20 first-graders and six educators at the school in Newtown, Conn., before taking his own life.
Investigators said the antisocial 20-year-old was obsessed with violent video games and mass murders. He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder not associated with violence.
Peter and Nancy Lanza divorced in 2001, but he had regular contact with Adam until their relationship deteriorated. He last spoke with his son in 2010.
In North Philly, community policing is at heart of crime reduction
IT WAS ABOUT 8 o'clock Tuesday night, and the chilly, rain-soaked streets of North Philadelphia's 39th Police District were nearly empty as Officer Michael Levin's Crown Vic crept across the blacktop.
But Levin, who usually works in bicycle patrol when weather and circumstances permit, was on the street anyway, keeping a watchful eye on the swaths of North Philadelphia, Nicetown, Germantown and East Falls that make up the district headquartered at 22nd Street and Hunting Park Avenue.
On this night, Levin, 28, a seven-year veteran who's spent all those years in the 39th, reflected on community policing - a strategy favored by Capt. Michael Craighead, who took command of the district about a year ago.
"Bike patrol is really good for community relations. People come up and thank you. It's a real good deterrent presence," Levin said. "The community needs us and we need them."
Police statistics show that shootings in the 39th District have dropped about 40 percent over last year. The district has had 63 shootings, compared with 106 in the same period last year.
Nov 29, 2013
California jail violence rises on reforms
County jails that account for the vast majority of local inmates in California have seen a marked increase in violence since they began housing thousands of offenders who previously would have gone to state prisons.
Many of the 10 counties that account for 70 percent of California's total jail population have experienced a surge in the number of inmate fights and attacks on jail employees, according to assault records requested by The Associated Press.
The spike corresponds to a law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in which lower-level offenders are sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons. Some jails have seen violence dip, but the trend is toward more assaults since the law took effect on Oct. 1, 2011.
Brown sought realignment of the state's penal system in response to federal court orders requiring the reduction of prison overcrowding as the main way of improving medical and mental health treatment for state inmates. But the change has shifted many of the same problems the state had experienced to local jails.
Nearly 2,000 more jail inmates were assaulted by other inmates in the first year after the realignment law took effect, up about one-third over the previous year, the figures compiled by the AP show. Attacks on jail employees increased by 165 during the same period.
Families of Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams sue Cleveland and police over chase, shooting
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The administrators of the estates of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams — who were killed after a car chase and shooting Nov. 29, 2012 , in which Cleveland police officers fired 137 shots at a mangled Chevy Malibu — sued the city, its police department and officers in federal court Thursday in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The suit in U.S. District Court in Cleveland claims officers used excessive force, supervisors failed to rein in officers during the chase and top administrators provided inadequate supervision and training to officers regarding the department's policies and practices.
Elizabeth Goodwin, the administrator for Williams' estate, and Debra Bodnar, the administrator for Russell's estate, are seeking an undetermined amount of money, plus reforms in the police department. Though the court was closed on Thanksgiving, attorneys filed the suit electronically.
The lawsuit identifies a number of city officials, including Mayor Frank Jackson, Police Chief Michael McGrath and Safety Director Martin Flask, and police officers involved in the chase and shooting. The lawsuit is the latest chapter in year-long legal saga that seeks to determine what took place when 60-some police cruisers chased Russell and Williams for more than 20 miles to the parking lot of Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland and the gunfire that followed. The suit says the pair did not have a gun with them during any part of the pursuit.
The civil complaint not only addresses the individual officers' conduct, but also the systemic failures of the police department.
From the FBI
Latest Hate Crime Statistics -- Annual Report Shows Slight Decease
The FBI has just released its hate crime statistics report for 2012, and the numbers show that we as a nation still have a way to go toward alleviating these crimes that have such a devastating impact on communities.
For the 2012 time frame, law enforcement agencies reported 5,796 hate crime incidents involving 6,718 offenses, down from 2011 figures of 6,222 incidents involving 7,254 offenses. Also during 2012, there were 7,164 hate crime victims reported (which include individuals, businesses, institutions, and society as a whole), down from 7,713 in 2011.
The data contained in Hate Crime Statistics, 2012 is a subset of the information that law enforcement submits to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program . The full hate crime report can be viewed on our website.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Working Together to Keep Shoppers Safe
Every day, malls around the country work closely with DHS, FBI and state and local law enforcement to keep shoppers safe. This year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is partnering with a number of communities across the state of New Hampshire as part of our If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign and displaying materials encouraging shoppers to report suspicious activity to local authorities.
At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), homeland security begins with hometown security. We're all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that's what the Department's nationwide If You See Something, Say Something™ public awareness campaign is all about. Currently, DHS partners with a number of shopping centers, including the Mall of America , Walmart , Simon Property Group , and the Building Owners and Managers Association, to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities.
DHS, in partnership with the FBI, regularly communicates with our partners in federal, state, and local government, as well as in the private sector, about the threats facing our Nation. As part of this ongoing engagement, DHS works with the retail and shopping center industries to enhance security and increase preparedness. DHS also participates in training exercises with our retail industry partners to establish readiness while providing support and resources to their ongoing security operations.
Nov 28, 2013
Hate crime reports drop by more than one-third over past decade in California
by Beatriz Valenzuela
The number of hate crimes in California declined by about 12 percent in 2012 and dropped by more than one-third over the past decade.
Los Angeles County, which has a population of nearly 10 million, reported 331 incidents of hate crimes in 2012. San Bernardino County, which boasts a population of about 2 million, had one of the lowest figures in the state with just 23 hate crimes reported last year. With a population of 2.25?million, Riverside County reported 47 such crimes.
There were 930 reported hate crimes in 2012 in California, down from 1,060 in 2011 and 1,491 in 2003, the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.
Notably, in 2012, Los Angeles County had the lowest number of hate crimes recorded in 23 years, according to the county's Human Relations Commission.
Officials point to a variety of factors for the reduction in the number of hate crimes, including educating the public, training for law enforcement and outreach programs.
“Effective law enforcement is building bridges with the community they serve and reaching out to that community that needs help,” said Ken Lutz, past president of the Golden State Peace Officers Association, which supports LGBT law enforcement and fire officials as well as the LGBT community.
According to the FBI, racially motivated crimes still make up the bulk of hate crimes in California and across the nation with crimes based on sexual orientation being the second-most common.
NSA 'planned to discredit radicals over web-porn use'
The US authorities have studied online sexual activity and suggested exposing porn site visits as a way to discredit people who spread radical views, the Huffington Post news site has reported.
It published a document, leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, identifying two Muslims said to be vulnerable to accusations of "online promiscuity".
An official said this was unsurprising. But campaign group Privacy International called it "frightening".
"Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalise others to violence," Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told the Huffington Post.
Privacy International said: "This is not the first time we've seen states use intimate and private information of an individual who holds views the government doesn't agree with, and exploit this information to undermine an individual's message."
The report came shortly after a group of United Nations experts adopted a "right to privacy" resolution. It will be passed by the UN's General Assembly before the end of the year, but is largely symbolic since it is not legally binding.
U.S. Spying Prompts UN Panel to Review Surveillance
A United Nations panel responded to disclosures of U.S. spying abroad by adopting a resolution expressing concern over the “negative impact” of such surveillance and reaffirming the individual right to privacy.
While the resolution adopted without objection by the human rights committee doesn't single out the U.S., it was drafted by Brazil and Germany, whose leaders' communications may have been intercepted by the National Security Agency.
The National Security Agency headquarters stands in Fort Meade, Maryland. Source: NSA via Getty Images
The 193-member General Assembly will vote next month on the document, which calls for a report by next year “on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and collection of personal data.”
The move sends a “political message” that “the right to privacy has to be protected” even though the resolution isn't legally binding, Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador, told reporters after the resolution's adoption.
Germany and Brazil teamed up on the resolution after top-secret documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, a former NSA consultant, indicated the agency had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and eavesdropped on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff 's private communications.
Nov 27, 2013
Shop with a Cop: Local community policing at its finest
More than 300 children will experience the delight of the holiday season this December courtesy of 10 law enforcement agencies who combine to host the Shop with a Cop charity program.
The 11th annual Shop with a Cop event, spearheaded locally by the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, is planned for Saturday, Dec. 21. POSA, along with officers from 10 other police departments including the Paradise Valley Police Department, will donate their time to mentor hundreds of at-risk youth.
Participants of the program are identified through the city of Scottsdale's school resource officers and community outreach organizations throughout the Valley, according to Cynthia Hill, POSA executive director.
“This is true community policing,” she said of the outreach effort in a Nov. 25 e-mail. “Enforcement alone does not defeat criminal activity. It is essential to build bridges to develop trust and become part of the community.”
This year's event begins at 6 a.m. when participants are paired with police officers to learn about each other. Following breakfast, participants are given a lighted escort to Walmart, 15355 Northsight Blvd., where they are able to spend up to $150 on clothes, coats, shoes and a special toy.
“Shop with a Cop helps those children who wouldn't have much of a Christmas without it,” Ms. Hill said. “Children get the opportunity to eat a homemade hot breakfast at Chaparral Suites with a police officer who will be mentoring them and taking them shopping at Walmart.”
This Is What Happens When Neighborhoods Don't Trust the Police
If you're looking for a case study in what happens when residents stop trusting their local police department, look no further than Wilmington, Delaware.
Last Wednesday afternoon, officers from the Wilmington Police Department and the Delaware State Police were questioning a woman suspected of selling stolen merchandise out of her car when someone opened fired on the group, wounding Delaware State Police Cpl. Richard Deskis. Wilmington police have yet to make an arrest, and one reason why is telling: residents are apparently scared to speak up for fear of retribution.
In a statement released after the shooting, Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning said the shooting was "a symptom of decades of socioeconomic decline and moral decay in some of our oldest neighborhoods." While "moral decay" is a hard thing to measure, both the shooting of an officer (not the first one this year) and the department's inability to figure out who pulled the trigger are definitely symptoms of a trust gap between the community and the police.
Wilmington residents have long complained that there aren't enough officers in their neighborhoods, that almost none of them get out of their vehicles and walk through communities, and that response times are poor. An in-depth investigation published last week by the News Journal made plain the high levels of public dissatisfaction with the Wilmington Police Department. The paper also reported that officers were reluctant to go on patrols (which they call "The Pit"), preferring special teams instead; and that some officers are in roles—such as tech support—that should be filled by non-officer employees. Meanwhile, Dunning says one solution is to hire more officers, despite Wilmington already having a police-to-population ration of 4.5-to-1,000, roughly 2.5 times the national average for a city Wilmington's size. (That ratio alone isn't the best way to determine a department's needs, of course, but it's certainly part of the story.)
Walsh wants Boston out of immigrant ID program
Says it nets too many nonviolent offenders
Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh said Tuesday that he wants Boston to pull out of a controversial federal initiative designed to identify illegal immigrants because he believes too many people are detained for nonviolent offenses.
The Secure Communities program allows the Department of Homeland Security to access fingerprints taken by local police, which federal officials can check against federal immigration databases. Those who are in the country illegally can then be deported.
Asked whether he would continue to enforce the program as mayor, Walsh responded: “If we can get around it, I won't.”
“People that are getting pulled over — I don't think that, necessarily, we have to bring in immigration for that,” Walsh told reporters at a Thanksgiving dinner for immigrants at the State House.
The federal government says it prioritizes for deportation those who pose the greatest threat to public safety, based on their criminal histories. But a Globe analysis this year suggested that federal immigration officials are deporting more immigrants in Massachusetts for civil violations than for serious crimes under the program.
Nov 26, 2013
No motive determined in Newtown shooting, but gunman was obsessed with Columbine, report says
An investigation into the Newtown school shooting did not determine a motive for the attack that killed 20 children and six women, a prosecutor says, but did reveal that the shooter had an obsession with the 1999 Columbine High shootings and other such mass killings.
State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, who led the investigation, said there is no clear indication why 20-year-old Adam Lanza chose Sandy Hook Elementary School as the target for his rampage other than the fact that it was close to his home. The summary report by Sedensky comes nearly a year after the massacre.
He said Lanza had significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and interact with others but did not affect his mental state for the crimes.
Sedensky added that police went into the school within minutes of the first shots being fired and that along with the actions of teachers inside saved many children's lives.
"Why did the shooter murder twenty-seven people, including twenty children?" Unfortunately, that question may never be answered conclusively, despite the collection of extensive background information on the shooter through a multitude of interviews and other sources," investigators said in a long-awaited report released Monday.
Click here to read the report
Nov 25, 2013
As cold sets in, L.A. County's winter shelters for homeless to open
Winter shelters for the homeless will open soon across the Los Angeles County region, where nearly 60,000 people — the most in the nation — live in what are considered to be inhabitable places.
Beginning now and available through March, about 1,500 beds will become available to men, women and children in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, as well as in Long Beach and other parts of Los Angeles County. Most begin allowing residents Dec. 1.
“If it's warm, you don't see as many people,” said George McQuade, a spokesman with the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA), which partners in the venture with the California National Guard and other service agencies.
“Some years it's colder than others, but we're always prepared,” he said. “We have extra cots in most shelters. They're prepared for the worst.”
Temperatures in the start of this week are expected to dip into the low 50s, according to weather forecasts, but a 60 percent chance of showers is expected for Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Rain may remain in the area through Friday.
The numbers of homeless men, women and children increased sharply in the San Fernando and Antelope valleys in the last two years but have decreased in some parts of the county, including in the South Bay, according to figures released over the summer by LAHSA. The agency conducts the homeless count every two years in January to document the number of people within the 4,000 square miles of the county without a permanent, livable place to call home.