Today's LACP news:
March 25, 2017
Weigh In On Community Policing Push At 3 Town Hall Meetings
by Heather Cherone
CHICAGO — Three town hall-style meetings will give residents a chance to weigh in on the Chicago Police Department's renewed focus on community policing, officials said.
The meetings will give the city's Community Policing Advisory Panel a chance to hear from residents directly, officials said. The panel is charged by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Supt. Eddie Johnson with developing a "strategic plan" for collaborating with neighborhoods to fight crime and restore trust between police and residents.
That plan is expected to be completed by June.
The meetings will take place:
• 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 18 at George Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 25 at Sullivan High School, 6631 N. Bosworth Ave.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 2 at Corliss Early College STEM High School, 821 E. 103rd St.
Residents can also submit their comments online at chicagopolice.org.
Johnson has said the department's renewed emphasis on community policing would "better embrace the critical role the community can and should play in addressing issues of crime."
Community policing efforts throughout the city have been stretched thin after years of budget cuts and a greater emphasis on arrests and violence suppression.
The department is set to grow by 970 positions: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers.
The department also will fill 500 vacant positions, Johnson said.
A 161-page report by the Department of Justice released Jan. 13 concluded that the department must embrace community policing as "a core philosophy" in order to end officers' routine violations of the civil rights of residents by using excessive force caused by poor training and nonexistent supervision.
READ THE FULL DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REPORT HERE
"We commend CPD for its renewed emphasis on community policing," federal investigators wrote. "This policing approach, when implemented with fidelity to all its tenets, has been shown to be effective at making communities safer while incentivizing a policing culture that builds confidence in law enforcement."
Stanford Community Police Academy teaches what it's like to be a cop
Every year since 2003, the Stanford Department of Public Safety has offered an academy for faculty, staff, students and others designed to demystify police work and build trust with the community.
by Kate Chesley
Caleb Smith, a coterminal student in public policy, had no idea that the man driving the SUV he pulled over for a routine traffic stop in his borrowed Stanford police vehicle was packing a gun.
Smith, who donned a sheriff's hat to get into the spirit of things, didn't really have to worry. The man he pulled over was actually Michael Bermudes, a logistics staff member in the Stanford Department of Public Safety (DPS). The “weapon” Bermudes was hiding was a blue squirt gun. And, after a few minutes of griping at Smith, Bermudes' gun was confiscated and he was easily subdued and placed in pretend handcuffs.
The “stop” was a scenario included in the curriculum of the Stanford Community Police Academy, which was first offered in 2003. Each Winter Quarter, DPS teaches about 40 faculty, staff, students and other members of the community what it's like to be a police officer. Participants attend a weekly, three-hour, interactive class for 10 weeks. They learn about everything from taking fingerprints to using a baton, from describing a face to a sketch artist to administering sobriety tests.
Although the mild-mannered Bermudes was, in fact, no threat to Smith or his classmates, the point of the scenario was not lost. There's nothing routine about a traffic stop for the Stanford police – or for any police officer for that matter. It's fraught with potential danger. Officer Maria Gomez, for instance, taught Smith how to check a trunk before approaching a driver during a traffic stop to ensure that no one is hiding there.
Smith hopes the lessons he learned will help him when he returns to his hometown of Oakland to work in municipal government.
“Policing is a critical challenge in my hometown,” he said.
Demystifying police work and building trust with members of the community are two of the academy's objectives, according to Vince Bergado, the DPS program coordinator who organizes the class. Most of us, unfortunately, learn about police work through the skewed lens of television and movies, so there is much to demystify. Real police work is more about “person-to-person” contact than the shoot-outs that pass for entertainment, Bergado said.
After 10 weeks of interacting with and learning from members of the department, participants often leave the academy impressed, including Ross Shachter , associate professor of management science and engineering. Shachter had long wanted to enroll in the academy and finally made the time this year.
“I didn't appreciate the full scale and scope of the operations within public safety, even though I have witnessed many of those services over my years on campus,” said Shachter, a former long-time resident fellow in Serra House. “I have been impressed by the stress on training, planning, teamwork, communication and preparation that allows the individuals in the department, ranging from deputy sheriffs to parking enforcers to special-events staff, to de-escalate tense situations and confrontations to resolve most matters without the use of force.”
Shachter's reaction comes as no surprise to Bergado, who said most participants are also unaware of the many services DPS provides to the Stanford community.
“Our deputies are trained above and beyond California standards,” he said. “We provide the services that municipal agencies provide, as well as additional services like dignitary protection and the event security coordination for some 350 large and small events across campus each year.”
The academy also benefits members of the department, according to Chief Laura Wilson, who instituted the academy in her first years as chief. These types of programs are often called “citizen” academies, but Wilson opted for “community” in a nod to the university's culture.
Wilson says that officers get as much of an opportunity to learn as do academy participants. They get to hear from the people they serve about what matters most to them when dealing with the police.
“Learning takes place both for the students in the class and the DPS employees who teach,” said Wilson. “I have run into people who took the class five years ago, and when they recognize my affiliation with the department, they will spontaneously start talking about how much they learned and how amazing the class was. That type of reaction makes me think that the investment is worth it.”
The next academy will be offered during Winter Quarter 2018 and applications for enrollment will be available in October.
Police to bring “High Five Friday” to 38 communities
by Dylan McGuinness
Friday will be a “High Five” day in 38 communities in southeastern Massachusetts, where local police officers will greet students at local schools with an exuberant hand slap.
Police hope the familiar greeting will help build a rapport students of all ages in their respective communities.
“Getting involved with schools has become a basic part of community policing now-a-days,” said Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson, who first suggested the idea at a meeting of the Southeastern Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, which includes chiefs from Bristol, Norfolk, and Barnstable counties, as well as the islands.
“It's community engagement starting with our youth, building a relationship with them at a young age,” he said by telephone Thursday night.
Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmontesaid his department is happy to participate.
“To a lot of us, it made sense that we should be doing these kinds of things,” DelMonte said in an interview ”Obviously, you want to create positive interactions with kids in the community.”
“High Five Fridays” is a popular national community policing program that aims to build trust between police and students.
Frederickson said the idea to implement one across the region was in part inspired by former President Obama's “21st Century Policing,” guidelines, which emphasized the importance of getting involved with youths, Frederickson said.
The program burst into the spotlight last month, when police in Northampton stopped the program in its elementary schools out of a concern for kids possibly reacting negatively to seeing uniformed police officers at their school.
The Northampton decision was brought up at the meeting, Frederickson said, but was not the impetus behind the chiefs association's decision to start the program.
“We just wanted to show . . . that engaging the youth in schools is a vital part of community policing and building trust in the community, and understanding that every community is different,” Frederickson said.
He speaks from experience.
For three years following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Frederickson said he greeted students in his Cape Cod town every day as they arrived at their schools.
“I high-fived every kid that walked into the building, and it was the best part of my day,” he said.
Utah getting toughest drunken driving limit in the US
The new law would take effect on Dec. 30, 2018, just before New Year's Eve
by Michelle L. Price
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's governor signed legislation Thursday giving the predominantly Mormon state the strictest drunken driving threshold in the country, a change that restaurant groups and representatives of the ski and snowboard industry say will hurt tourism.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said lowering the blood alcohol limit for most drivers to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent will save lives.
The change means a 150-pound man would be over the 0.05 limit after two beers, while a 120-pound woman could exceed it after a single drink, though that can be affected by a number of factors, including how much food a person has eaten, according to the American Beverage Institute, a national restaurant group.
Opponents, including the group, had urged Herbert to veto the bill , saying it would punish responsible drinkers and burnish Utah's reputation as a Mormon-centric place unfriendly to those who drink alcohol.
"People are going to try to say this is a religious issue. And that is just absolutely false. This is a public safety issue," the governor, who is Mormon, said at a news conference.
Restaurant groups said they don't support drunken driving but a 0.05 percent limit won't catch drivers who are actually impaired. Plus, the law is "a total attack on the state's hospitality industry, customers and the tourism industry," American Beverage Institute executive director Sarah Longwell said.
The group took out full-page ads Thursday in Salt Lake City's two daily newspapers and USA Today, featuring a fake mugshot under a large headline reading, "Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation."
But proponents say the law will send a resounding message that people should not drink and drive — no matter how little somebody has consumed. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety applauded the change, saying it's a "sensible solution" to deter drunken driving.
If drivers are not impaired, they won't violate the law, said Rep. Norm Thurston, the bill's sponsor. The Republican says police won't measure someone's blood alcohol level until they have seen visible signs of impairment and the person fails a field sobriety test.
He also said Utah became the first state to lower its blood alcohol limit to 0.08 percent in 1983, and since then tourism has flourished.
Utah's Tourism Office said it's not concerned about the law discouraging visitors, noting that a number of foreign countries such as France, Australia and Italy have similar laws and don't have a problem attracting tourists.
"There's not many Mormons in Rome, and they're doing it there," Herbert quipped Thursday.
In the United States, the blood alcohol limit for most drivers is 0.08 percent, but limits vary among states for commercial drivers or motorists with a conviction of driving under the influence.
The National Transportation Safety Board has encouraged states to drop their blood alcohol levels to 0.05 percent or even lower, but it's met resistance from the hospitality industry.
Lawmakers in Washington and Hawaii had considered lowering their limits to 0.05 percent this year but both measures appear dead.
In Utah, the new law would take effect on Dec. 30, 2018, just before New Year's Eve.
In the meantime, Herbert said he plans to call lawmakers into a special legislative session this summer to improve the law. He said he wants legislators to consider a tiered punishment system with less stringent penalties for those convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.07 percent.
Utah has some of the lowest rates of fatal DUI accidents in the country, and though the population has boomed over the past decade, the DUI arrest rate has dropped.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has taken a neutral position on the measure.
J.T. Griffin, a government affairs officer for the group, said in a statement that MADD is focusing on "countermeasures that work, such as ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders and sobriety checkpoints."