L.A. School Police, District Agree to Rethink Court Citations of Students

This story originally appeared on iWatchnews.org by the Center for Public Integrity. In the wake of critical news reports, Los Angeles school police and administrators have agreed to rethink enforcement tactics that have led to thousands of court citations yearly for young students in low-income, mostly minority neighborhoods. The Center for Public Integrity and the Los Angeles-based Labor-Community Strategy Center each performed their own analysis recently of previously unreleased citation records obtained from the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department, the nation’s largest school police force. The Center found that between 2009 and the end of 2011, Los Angeles school police officers issued more than 33,500 tickets to students 18 and younger, with more than 40 percent handed out to kids 14 and 10 years old. That was an average of about 30 tickets a day.

UK Advocates Turning to NYC as Model for ‘Saner’ Criminal Justice System

For decades, New York City was besieged by violent crime, peaking in 1990 when the city was ravaged by an estimated 2,245 murders. But then something remarkable happened, according to Greg Berman, author of the recent report “A Thousand Small Sanities: Crime Control Lessons from New York.” Over the last two decades, New York City experienced an unprecedented turnaround in violent crime. In 2009, there were 461 murders in the city, a 79 percent drop from 20 years earlier. Other crimes drastically declined as well, with the city seeing significant decreases in rapes, robberies and car thefts. Berman quotes Frank Zimring, author of the book “The City That Became Safe,” who called the crime rate reduction in New York City “the largest and longest sustained drop in street crime ever experienced by a big city in the developed world.”

The report, released by the Centre for Justice Innovation, explores the possibility of applying the policies and practices implemented in New York City to communities in the United Kingdom – where in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, London’s Metropolitan Police tallied more than 170,000 instances of violent crime, including 113 murders and more than 2,800 rapes.

School Discipline Debate Reignited by New Los Angeles Data

This story originally appeared on iWatchnews.org by the Center for Public Integrity

As a national debate heats up over appropriate student discipline, new data from Los Angeles reveal that school police there issued more than 33,500 court summonses to youths between 10 and 18 in three years — with more than 40 percent of those tickets going to children 14 and younger. The data obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show that officers of the nation’s largest school police force issued the equivalent of 28 tickets every day to students during the 2011 calendar year. The Los Angeles Unified School District totals almost 680,000 pupils; the district’s police force has 340 sworn officers and support staff. Students ticketed in 2009 through 2011 were disproportionately Latino or African American. Last year, black students represented about 10 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District but 15 percent of those ticketed.

Kindergartner Placed in Handcuffs, Arrested After Tantrum in Class

A 6-year-old kindergartner in Milledgeville, Ga. was placed handcuffed and arrested last week after a tantrum in class. According to police reports, Salecia Johnson was misbehaving, ripping items off walls and tossing furniture across her classroom. She was sent to the principal’s office, where she allegedly continued the tantrum, jumping on office equipment while attempting to shatter a glass frame on the wall. The report also said that Salecia knocked over a shelf, which slightly injured her principal.

Occupy Movement Camps in New York and Oakland Emptied by Police

Encampments of protestors in New York and Oakland, both part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, were raided by police Monday and cleared of demonstrators, tents and garbage. Officials in both cities said the camps posed health and safety concerns for the protestors and nearby residents. Police cleared the Occupy Wall Street camp in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, birthplace of the Occupy movement, Monday. About 180 to 190 demonstrators in the park were arrested, according to The New York Times. At a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the park needed to be cleared because “health and safety concerns had become intolerable.” Protestors have been camped out in the park for two months.

UC Berkeley Occupy Protestors Clash with Police, Call for Student Strike

Occupy protestors at the University of California in Berkeley, birthplace of the Freedom of Speech Movement in the 1960s, twice clashed with police Wednesday while trying to establish an encampment on campus. As seen in the video below, campus police hit students with batons while attempting to disperse the crowd. The Demonstrators linked arms while police pushed them back. Protestors are now accusing police of using excessive force. Occupy protests are taking places in numerous cities in California, with the most violence occurring in nearby Oakland where protesters have clashed with police.

Photo illustration: Clay Duda/JJIE.org

Law Enforcement Learns the ‘Social Media Beat’

It’s no secret: Social media has redefined the way people communicate, especially among the under-30 crowd. Now, law enforcement agencies are catching on and increasingly incorporating social media into their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.

Over the past few months a series of high profile social-media-turned-criminal acts have made headlines — from flash mobs turned violent on the streets of Philadelphia to Atlanta house parties taped off as homicide scenes — and law enforcement has taken note.

Some agencies have been quick to recognize the potential of embracing social media. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has run a “Social Media Monitoring Center” since early 2009; Correction officials in California have worked directly with Facebook to thwart inmates from accessing social profiles while behind bars; And police in New York formed a special unit to monitor social channels for gang-related and other potential criminal acts.

Kids Learn Defense Against Kidnappers

Most parents don’t want their children to fight but at radKIDS, hosted by Gainesville, Ga’s., First United Methodist Church’s Fit Fun Camp, parents looked on with pride as their kids punched, kicked and elbowed a police officer dressed in a heavy, rubber protective suit. The children were demonstrating techniques for defending themselves against attackers or kidnappers while Crime Prevention officer Joe Britte of the Gainesville Police Department played the role of the bad guy. According to The Gainesville Times, the radKids program — Resist Aggresssion Defensively — taught kids how to escape an attacker through homework assignments and activities. “If you ever have that happen to you, you know what to do,” Madison Sartain, 10, a rising fifth-grader, told The Times. After participating in a similar women’s self-defense course, First United Methodist Church’s recreation director, Vicky Bailey told The Times she wanted her church to host the program.

Lisa Thurau: Why Police Need to Understand Trauma

The girl is maybe 15 years old? She is standing in the back of a building, or maybe it’s an alley way.  She has her arms wrapped around her body and her teeth are chattering.  When the officer approaches and tells her to leave the alley way she shakes her head and refuses.  The officer moves in closer and reiterates his order to leave. Suddenly the girl is lunging at him, screaming, “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Get away from me!”  She is pushing her hands out at him, then pointing her finger at the officer, ordering him to keep his distance.

Supreme Court Gives Juveniles Protection in Police Interrogations

[This article was reprinted with permission from YouthToday]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that said a police officer must take a child’s age into consideration when determining whether to issue a Miranda warning to a juvenile suspect. The case, J.D.B.v. North Carolina is the latest in a string of cases in which the high court has applied protection to certain groups of juveniles. The court banned the juvenile death penalty in the 2005 Roper v. Simmons case, and last year ruled in Graham v. Florida that life without parole sentences were unconstitutional for juveniles convicted of any crime other than homicide. “This represents the court’s settled commitment to its view that kids are different,” said Marsha Levick, deputy director and co-founder of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. “It’s just a further shoring up of that direction they’ve been moving in for last several years.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said, “So long as the child’s age was known to the officer, or would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer,” law enforcement and the courts must factor age into a decision to give a Miranda warning to a juvenile suspect.