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This Police Force Stocks Their Patrol Cars with Healthy Food for the Homeless

This Police Force Stocks Their Patrol Cars with Healthy Food for the Homeless

The Minneapolis sheriff department’s new program fills patrolling police cars with granola bars and canned vegetables

Wikimedia Commons

These cops aren’t just patrolling for traffic violations; they’re looking to make a difference.

The police have gotten a bad rap lately after several violent confrontations between officers and citizens this year, including, most recently, the murder of Walter Scott by South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. As part of a new program with the nonprofit group Matter, each sheriff deputy’s patrol car will be stocked with healthy foods like granola bars, oatmeal, and canned vegetables. It’s a way for officers to immediately help any homeless or needy person they come in contact with, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we will come across a number of those who are less fortunate, maybe even homeless," Stanek told MPR. "This will allow the deputies to build a little rapport, reach out to them, [offer] a healthy alternative to what they might be doing."

The total homeless population has increased steadily in Minneapolis over the past decade, and at last count in 2012, more than 4,300 people in the area were homeless, or approximately 1 percent of the city’s population. In addition, 8.9 percent of Minneapolis residents receive SNAP federal assistance.

Through this current program, Matter hopes to distribute as many as 15,000 boxes of food through the sheriff’s office.


Photos: State Patrol puts current, classic cars on display for agency’s 90th

A 1930 Model A Ford Deluxe Coupe State Patrol vehicle, with a top speed of 40 mph, is on display as the Minnesota State Patrol celebrates their 90th anniversary at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Thursday, May 9, 2019. The Minnesota Highway Patrol was founded in 1929 in response to the boom of automobiles.with an initial force of nine men. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

A roll call of current and retired State Patrol cars, including this 1979 Dodge St. Regis, are on display as the Minnesota State Patrol celebrates their 90th anniversary at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, talks with guests as the State Patrol celebrates their 90th anniversary at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

A roll call of current and retired State Patrol cars are on display as the Minnesota State Patrol celebrates their 90th anniversary at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Former St. Paul Police Chief and current Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington looks over a 1979 Dodge St. Regis State Patrol car on display as the Minnesota State Patrol celebrates their 90th anniversary at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)


NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: FLUSHINGGlad to Have Police, but Not in Parking Spaces

When the city reopened the Flushing Armory as a homeless shelter in December, businesses and residents were relieved to find that the Police Department's Queens North Task Force was also moving in.

But the initial enthusiasm for the squad has been replaced by discontent as patrol cars have taken over coveted metered parking spots on Northern Boulevard between Linden Place and Union Street.

People are happy that they moved into the Armory," said John Watts, an aide to Councilwoman Julia Harrison and president of the Flushing Local Development Corporation. "Their presence benefits the community. But they can't be taking up the parking meters. The parking spaces are at a premium on Northern Boulevard. There aren't many of them."

Capt. Michael Doherty, the commander of the task force, said that the Armory grounds had been the site originally chosen for official vehicles, but that repairs there had forced officers to park on the street. "We're sympathetic to the problem," he said. "But unfortunately we're a mobile unit and we have a large amount of vehicles. We're currently repairing the ground inside the Armory and that should be done by April or May. By then, most of the cars will be parked inside the Armory."

Some business owners along Northern Boulevard, however, have complained that spaces available on the Armory's grounds were being used by officers to park their personal vehicles. On a recent afternoon, eight patrol cars and a police van were parked at meters and in a no-standing zone on the south side of Northern Boulevard. On the Armory grounds, 80 unmarked cars were parked. Captain Doherty said 20 to 25 of them were officers' personal vehicles.

According to the captain, the squad has 150 officers, most of whom take public transportation to work. Officers who drive to work are allowed to park on the Armory's grounds because, according to the Police Department's Legal Bureau, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's contract requires the city to provide free parking for the police. Captain Doherty said the three nearby municipal parking lots are often filled when officers begin their shifts.

People who work and shop in the area say officers abuse their perquisite. "They park all over the place, in meters and in driveways," said John Ryan, an employee of the Quick Stop convenience store on Northern Boulevard. "If I did that with my own car, they would have given me a ticket." JANE H. LII


U.S. Declares Local Force Will Police, Patrol Iraq

BAGHDAD -- The head of the U.S. occupation of Iraq announced the creation of an all-Iraqi security force to be staffed by ex-soldiers and designed to guard key utility and oil installations, as sabotage of the country's infrastructure threatens to incite further unrest.

The water and power woes that plague Baghdad are clearly the work of Baathist saboteurs, top administrator L. Paul Bremer III said Wednesday.

Mr. Bremer said the infrastructure-protection force, unveiled two days after he announced the creation of a new Iraqi army, would employ "thousands" of men. If all security people at all public utilities are counted, the security force could number as many as 100,000, estimated Dathar al Khashab, the head of Baghdad's biggest oil refinery. He has recruited about 230 to guard Baghdad's Daura refinery complex, scene of a five-day firefight between looters and refinery employees after the city's fall. U.S. military spokesmen were unable to confirm the size of the new force.

Securing the oil, electricity, and water facilities in Iraq has become a priority for the American administration. Months of looting and sabotage at installations across the country have hindered efforts to restore both oil production and basic services, in turn fueling Iraqi frustration with coalition authorities. Mr. Bremer blamed sabotage of the main power line between Baiji and Baghdad for the power and water shortages, citing "rogue Baathist elements" who are "waging their campaign not against the coalition, but against the Iraqi people."

In a parallel move that reflects the growing concern over unrest in Iraq, the Pentagon announced it will pay Vinnell Corp. $48.1 million to train the core of a new Iraqi army, starting July 1. Under the one-year contract, Vinnell, a Fairfax, Va., unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. , of Los Angeles, will prepare nine 1,000-man truck-mobile infantry battalions to guard borders, secure convoys and installations, and maintain law and order, the Pentagon said. Vinnell helps train Saudi Arabia's national guard.


Half of BART police use-of-force incidents were against Black men last year, report shows

BART police officers patrol the platform level of Powell Street station in San Francisco, Jan. 9, 2020.

Jessica Christian / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 2 A passenger boards a Richmond train at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. BART is joining transit agencies from around the country in seeking economic federal relief funds because of dwindling ridership during the coronavirus shutdown. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

BART police officers used force more frequently last year than the previous year and nearly half of all incidents were against Black men, who are a small share of the trains&rsquo riders, a new report revealed.

The 2019 use of force report comes amid the agency&rsquos push over the past few years to address racial disparities in policing and more recently as the nation grapples with police brutality.

The number of arrests also rose to 2,011. The report said use of force incidents didn&rsquot increase proportionally, although not all incidents result in arrests. Incidents dropped in 2018 following a policy change that ordered officers to use the minimum amount of force necessary and de-escalation techniques whenever possible.

The most common reason for use of force was resisting arrest, according to the report.

Approximately 61% of those involved in use of force incidents were Black, but only 10% of BART&rsquos ridership was Black at the last pre-pandemic count in 2018. That number rose to 22% during shelter-in-place, but the report does not include use of force incidents for that period.

The racial breakdown is unchanged from the year before, leading to calls for action from some of BART&rsquos leadership and the agency&rsquos Police Citizen Review Board this week.

&ldquoThere&rsquos a problem that disproportionately African-Americans are affected by contact with the police, and we haven&rsquot changed that,&rdquo Citizen Review Board member Todd Davis said during a meeting Monday. &ldquoThe more contact we have, the more potential we have for something turning violent and deadly, and we&rsquove seen it.&rdquo

Lateefah Simon, BART's new board president and a single mom who is legally blind, riding BART during her morning commute on January 16, 2020 in Richmond, Calif. Kate Munsch / Special to the Chronicle

High-profile deaths at the hands of BART police rocked the agency in the past decade. In early 2009, police shot Oscar Grant to death at Fruitvale Station, followed almost exactly nine years later by the fatal shooting of Sahleem Tindle in West Oakland.

The police budget is $80 million, its union head said. Of the department&rsquos 351 employees in July, 34% were white, 22% Asian, 21% Hispanic, 19% Black, 2% Native and 2% Pacific Islander, the latest report said.

Amid nationwide calls for police reform this summer, some of BART&rsquos leaders have pushed to reshape the system&rsquos policing model. The Police Department banned carotid control holds and created a new bureau of progressive policing and community engagement. The Board of Directors redirected $2 million in police funds to non-armed ambassadors and anti-racism training and is formulating an upcoming plan for alternatives to tackle homelessness and mental health issues.

BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez told the Citizen Review Board on Monday that &ldquowe are all looking to get better&rdquo and invited feedback. Deputy Police Chief Lance Haight said disparities are &ldquovery complex social issues with multiple factors&rdquo that stem from a number of causes. He added that individual officer bias and department culture are within the control of the police.

&ldquoWe&rsquore looking for quick fixes, but we&rsquore also for the long-term systematic things we can do in order to prevent bias on the part of our officers,&rdquo Haight said. &ldquoBy no means are we turning a blind eye, and we are continually striving to improve. Can we fix this tomorrow? Absolutely not.&rdquo

Both Haight and Keith Garcia, president of BART&rsquos Police Officers&rsquo Association, pointed out that proof of payment citation data reported a demographic breakdown similar to use of force subjects. Proof of payment is enforced through non-sworn personnel, who check everyone in a train car. Garcia added that fare evasion citations given by officers, who do have more discretion, showed a similar racial breakdown.

&ldquoI see no racial bias,&rdquo Garcia said. &ldquoTo me it shows that our officers are doing a good job. They&rsquore not being influenced by any unconscious or conscious bias.&rdquo

Other BART leaders said the report highlights issues that demand action.

&ldquoThe data from 2019 absolutely disturbs everyone in our institution,&rdquo said Lateefah Simon, president of BART&rsquos Board of Directors who is also leading Gov. Gavin Newsom&rsquos task force on police reform. &ldquoWe need to make clear and defined goals of how we get those numbers down and how we make amends in ensuring that we are living out our goal of progressive policing.&rdquo

BART police&rsquos policy defines force as &ldquothe application of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents or weapons to another person.&rdquo Here are the main takeaways from the 2019 use-of-force report.

&bull Use-of-force incidents rose to 277 in 2019 from 212 in 2018.

&bull Last year, officers employed de-escalation techniques 213 times. When using force, police officers most frequently used their body weight (95), took down subjects (86), placed control holds (85) and pointed handguns (64).

&bull 124 incidents were initiated by calls for service and 119 initiated by police officers.

&bull In a third of the instances where force was used, the suspect was not arrested, and 37 incidents resulted in psychiatric detention.

&bull In 78% of incidents, there were no injuries. In total, 62 subjects and 52 officers were injured.


NYPD Opens Probe Into Officers Who Drove Police Cars Into Protesters

New York Police Department officers in Times Square Monday, as protesters rallied against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd.

Katie Honan

Jimmy Vielkind

The New York City Police Department opened an investigation into officers who accelerated their police cars into protesters blocking their way, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

On Saturday officers driving two NYPD vehicles in Brooklyn drove into protesters who stood in front and threw objects at them. A video of the incident was posted to social media. The protesters were part of large-scale demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

The incident is now under investigation by both the NYPD and a task force that the mayor assembled to review police actions during the protests, Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference Monday.

“There is no situation where a police vehicle should drive into a crowd of protesters or New Yorkers of any kind,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said. “It is dangerous. It is unacceptable.”

New York state Attorney General Letitia James is also reviewing what transpired and plans to issue a report in 30 days, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said over the weekend.


What can be done?

Hill said the Salem-area desperately needs a 24-hour "clearinghouse" for the homeless community that provides food, beds, showers, access to transitional and housing programs.

At the moment, Hill said many organizations serving the homeless are acting independently and not coordinating with each other as well as they could.

"There needs to be a single point of contact so that there is not a duplication of efforts by multiple organizations," Hill said.

The Salem-area has roughly 200 emergency shelter beds across various organizations, but shelters struggle to accommodate more clients as the homeless population in Marion and Polk counties is nearing an estimated 2,400 people.

While these organizations and shelters provide urgent services, Salem Police Officer David Smith said city organizations and officials are still lacking consistency among services.

"Being consistent in their message all over downtown may be more helpful than what we're doing, which is putting a Band-Aid over the problem," Smith said. "There should be fewer people handing stuff out in the streets and more structured services."

If services become more structured, Smith said people experiencing homeless would be able to receive necessary treatment, take advantage of services while living in transitional housing before securing permanent housing through the housing authority and, hopefully, reduce the number of people living on the streets.

Smith said while many members of the community applauded city officials when they announced the creation of the joint Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative task force in 2016, some residents openly complained later about Union Gospel Mission's plan to build an expanded homeless shelter in north downtown.

"You can understand how frustrating it is for transients when everybody is trying to help them one day, and then the next day everybody wants them to leave," Smith said. "So to me, I think it's important that we be more consistent in our message."

Law enforcement also has a responsibility to be consistent in that message, Smith said.


Editorial: Law enforcement is not the enemy. Real police reform is the answer.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva takes questions at a late-night news conference about the condition of two deputies shot in Compton, Calif. Authorities searched Sunday for a gunman who shot and wounded the deputies who were sitting in their squad car.

It&rsquos welcome news that two Los Angeles County sheriff&rsquos deputies, shot as they sat in their parked patrol car on Saturday, are expected to recover from their injuries. That doesn&rsquot make the attack on them any less heinous.

Surveillance video shows a man walking up to the vehicle and firing several shots through the passenger side window and then running away.

The deputies, identified only as a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, were waiting at the M.L.K. Transit Center in Compton as part of a transportation detail. The deputies had been sworn into office just 14 months earlier.

A $100,000 award is being offered in the hunt for the assailant. We can only speculate as to motivations. There&rsquos no excuse for such senseless cowardice. On Saturday night, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva gave voice to a dreadful suspicion that can&rsquot be ignored: The two deputies were shot solely because they are police officers.

&ldquoThis is just a sober reminder that this is a dangerous job,&rdquo Villanueva told reporters after the shooting, &ldquoand you know actions, words have consequences, and our job does not get any easier because people don&rsquot like law enforcement.&rdquo

According to FBI statistics, 48 officers were killed last year in the line of duty, including five who died in &ldquounprovoked attacks.&rdquo At least 37 have been fatally wounded in 2020, including eight that were caught in what police say were ambushes.

That is why we must make certain that the debate over reforming policing methods is not about demonizing cops or painting them broadly as the enemy. It is about changing policies, strategies and cultures that bring true justice, order and peace to our communities. We are all in this together.

Widespread protests and social unrest over the summer have rightfully focused on the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who have died at the hands of police. These cases raise legitimate questions about the use of police tactics and the dynamics of race in which Black men and other people of color are too often victims of lethal force.

The video images of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of a prone and handcuffed George Floyd for more than eight minutes as he struggled to breathe and eventually died, are more than enough reason to demand real change.

Anyone who would use these calls for justice and reform to take violent action has no place in the debate. If anything, the discussion so far should have educated us on just how difficult and dangerous the job of law enforcement is and the uphill climb it will take to fix it.

The examples appear daily.

A police officer responding to a domestic disturbance report on Sunday in Lancaster, Pa., fatally shot a 27-year-old man, prompting some protesters to throw bricks through the glass doors of the city police station and a nearby post office.

Video released by the police showed the man abruptly charge toward the officer with a large knife. That&rsquos not a situation most of us have to worry about in the course of our daily lives.

In addition to being thrust in the middle of emotionally fraught domestic disputes, law enforcement officers must deal with people battling addictions, mental illness or other issues that cause them not respond rationally to a show of force. The outcomes are too often tragic.

As the editorial board noted after the firings last week of four Houston police officers involved in the shooting death of Nicolas Chavez, mistakes made in the heat of the moment can be deadly even when they are not criminal.

Those dedicated to true police reform know the answer is not demonizing officers or eliminating entire departments but, as we have said before, focusing on training, programs and strategies that make people safer and help our communities thrive.

The CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Ore., which dispatches crisis workers and medics to police calls when appropriate, or Harris County&rsquos Project Guardian to help families share information with deputies about loved ones with autism are just two examples of alternative approaches that demonstrate what public safety should be.

Solutions can be found. We just need to try them.

Violent attacks on police are reprehensible and self-defeating. The answer is coming together around ways to make everyone safer.


Denzel Washington proclaimed a real-life hero after video shows him helping a homeless man in police encounter

Don’t you love it when your big screen favorites are caught doing something heroic in real life?

Denzel Washington is the latest example of that, after he stopped and helped a homeless man who was, as TMZ reported May 22, “in some peril with oncoming traffic.”

Video footage of the Training Day star, which shows him comforting the man by patting him on the shoulder and waiting with the man during an encounter with police, resurfaced online Thursday. Shot May 21, it shows Washington and the officers on the scene each wearing a face mask throughout the interaction.

TMZ reported that the man was “detained — not sure why but possibly to make sure he was okay — then released.”

The Los Angeles Police Department said the man was not arrested.

A rep for Washington told Yahoo Entertainment the actor was unavailable for comment.

However, the internet could not stop talking about Washington’s good deed. The two-time Oscar winner’s name began trending on Twitter, on a day when interactions that black men, like the one Washington was filmed helping, have with police was very much on people’s minds.

Protests against police violence broke out around the country this week, following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, who died May 25 in police custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than seven minutes on a Minneapolis street. While officers have argued that Floyd was resisting arrest, surveillance video and witnesses say otherwise.

In the wake of another police brutality case, I'm glad someone approached what could've been a similar situation with peace & common sense.❤️#DenzelWashington pic.twitter.com/bZ5sK322fk

— Allie 💋 (@FallenAngel1508) May 28, 2020

This incident with Denzel interceding for the homeless man, just breaks my damn heart. Denzel out there in an old T-shirt, doing the good work. Maybe saving a life. Being a good example for all of us. Thank you, #DenzelWashington. https://t.co/VNKdn9CPmy

— Emily (@poppy1080) May 28, 2020

I knew my grandma liked you for a reason #DenzelWashington . Not many people, famous or not, would intervene on the behalf of a distressed homeless person. They're people too. Man just needed some food and water and his meds. You're a good dude.

— Jane Esterquest (@jesterquest) May 29, 2020

They also applauded him for just being a “good dude,” who was willing to help in a situation where not everyone would have done the same.

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Prince Harry Shares New Photos of Archie and Reveals His First Words

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Bethenny Frankel Looks Radiant While Rocking a Teeny Ruffled Bikini & No Makeup

Bethenny Frankel is kicking off summer by catching some rays in a cute swimsuit. The Real Housewives of New York City alum looked radiant while rocking a teeny ruffled bikini and no makeup during a recent sunny day by the pool. On May 26, Bethenny took to Instagram to show off her strong bikini game. As captured in the snapshot below, the Skinnygirl entrepreneur was fresh-faced and glowing while soaking up the sun in a teeny white two-piece emblazoned with a colorful striped pattern. The flirty bikini also featured ruffle detailing to highlight the strapless top and low-rise bottoms. Bethenny topped off her casual poolside look with some gold bangles and a pair of large dark sunglasses. She also donned a wide-brim straw to protect her flawless complexion and straight, sleek strands. “Celebrating #NationalWineDay,” she wrote in the caption alongside the photo, also adding hashtags that read “unfiltered” and “no makeup.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Bethenny Frankel (@bethennyfrankel) Want more RHONY? New episodes air every Tuesday at 9/8c or catch up on the Bravo app.

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Trump's longtime ally Roger Stone has warned that the former president must prepare to be indicted for fraud in the coming weeks

GOP strategist Roger Stone has predicted that Trump will be indicted imminently for "bank fraud or tax fraud," he said in an interview with InfoWars.

Video shows the moment a Southwest Airlines passenger punched a flight attendant in the face, knocking 2 of her teeth out

The video shows the female passenger jumping out of her seat and hitting the flight attendant multiple times as onlookers scream.

B.J. Thomas Dies: Grammy-Winning Hit Songwriter, Singer On ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’ Was 78

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee B.J. Thomas died today at his home in Arlington, Texas at 78. His death was confirmed on his official Facebook page and was attributed to complications from lung cancer. A versatile songwriter, Thomas’s career spanned country, pop and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove and Grammy […]

Joe Lara Dies: ‘Tarzan: The Epic Adventures’ Star Dies In Plane Crash With Diet Guru Wife Gwen

Joe Lara, who played Tarzan in the early 1990s television series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, died in a plane crash Saturday near Nashville. He was 58 years old and was one of seven people killed in the private jet accident. Tarzan: The Epic Adventures was an American adventure drama series that aired for one season in […]

Anti-vaxxer sheriff's deputy dies from COVID-19 complications shortly after mocking the vaccine on Facebook

"I have an immune system," said one of the social media posts that Daniel ɽuke' Trujillo had shared shortly before his death from COVID-19.

Tuchel explains Pulisic omission from Champions League Final starting XI

Pulisic has proven himself as starter and sub with an assist versus Atleti and a goal and assist over two legs versus Real Madrid, only one of those a start

Trump appointees have been left furious after being asked to 'immediately' pay thousands of dollars in deferred payroll taxes, which they thought would be forgiven

Former members of Donald Trump's administration were assured that payroll levies would be forgiven - but are now being told to pay up within 30 days

A Black woman in Michigan was issued a $385 ticket after her new neighbor called the police on her for loudly talking on a cellphone

Diamond Robinson said she believes her neighbor targeted her because she is Black. "There's no way police should be called on me when I am on my own property."

Shelter in place issued for parts of Deptford Township, NJ: Officials

A shelter in place has been issued for parts of Deptford Township, Gloucester County. The area impacted is Pasadena Avenue and Hurffville Road.

Christian Diet Guru and 6 Others Presumed Dead After Plane Crashes Into Tennessee Lake

Screenshot/YouTubeA Christian diet guru and six other people are presumed dead after her small plane crashed into the waters of Tennessee lake on Saturday morning. Authorities were called to the Percy Priest Lake around 11 a.m., not long after the plane took off from the nearby Smyrna Rutherford County Airport. Late Saturday evening, investigators said they believed all seven passengers had perished. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Joe Lara (@joelaraofficial) The plane, a Cessna C501, belonged Gwen Shamblin Lara, founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church and author of The Weigh Down Workshop, and her husband William J. Lara, who went by Joe. The couple lived in nearby Brentwood and had registered the plane via their company JL&GL Productions LP. The aircraft has not been located, but Tennessee Highway Patrol told News Channel 5 that officers located debris consistent with a Cessna C501 and that a small plane had been seen descending into the water near a boat ramp early Saturday.Lara’s daughter, Elizabeth Hannah, sent a text message to members of the Remnant Fellowship Church saying that her mother and father were aboard the aircraft when it was forced to make a “quick, controlled landing.” All the plane’s passengers had ties to the church, including Hannah’s own husband Brandon, according to her text. The others aboard were David and Jennifer Martin and Jonathan and Jessica Walters, according to authorities.“My brother and I are asking for immediate prayers right now, as we have just gotten word that Gwen and Joe Lara’s plane had to go down,” Hannah wrote before authorities said everyone appeared to have been killed. “More information to come, but be in prayer—and be at peace,” the message continued. “GOD IS IN CONTROL, and we will not stop moving forward with WHAT GOD WANTS with this church.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Tennis-Osaka fined for media boycott, could face expulsion from French Open

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Plane carrying diet guru Gwen Lara, 6 others crashes into Tennessee lake all on board presumed dead

Diet guru Gwen Lara and her husband were among 7 people aboard a plane that crashed into a lake authorities said there appeared to be no survivors.


The US police department that decided to hire social workers

Cassie Hensley is one of two social workers employed by the police department in Alexandria, Kentucky. While they work for the police, they are not cops: they do not carry any weapon, do not have arresting powers and ride in a civilian car. Photograph: Josh Wood

Cassie Hensley is one of two social workers employed by the police department in Alexandria, Kentucky. While they work for the police, they are not cops: they do not carry any weapon, do not have arresting powers and ride in a civilian car. Photograph: Josh Wood

Last modified on Sat 19 Sep 2020 10.01 BST

T he Alexandria police chief, Mike Ward, was “sick and tired” of sending his officers to respond to 911 calls that they lacked the skills and time to handle. In this small Kentucky town of 10,000 people 15 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio, two-thirds of the calls police responded to were not criminal – instead, they were mental health crises and arguments resulting from long-brewing interpersonal conflicts.

Police would show up, but they could rarely offer long-lasting solutions. Often, it was inevitable that they would be called back to the same address for the same problem again and again.

“We’ve been tasked – sometimes unjustifiably – with solving the problems of our community,” said Ward, who retired last year. “Just call the police, they’ll take care of it. And we can’t do that. It’s unrealistic.”

In 2016 he decided to try a new approach: he talked the city into hiring a social worker for the police department. “To an officer, they all thought I was batshit crazy,” he said of the police.

The current police chief, Lucas Cooper, said he was “the most vocal opponent” of the plan at the time, thinking that the department should be using its budget to hire more officers for a force he viewed as stretched thin. But now four years later, Cooper sees the program as indispensable: it frees officers from repeat calls for non-criminal issues and gets residents the help they needed, but couldn’t get.

As social justice protests continue across America, there has been a push for a reckoning on the role of police in society as well as calls to defund or reimagine policing. Among those calls have been suggestions that police – who invariably show up in most parts of the country if you dial 911 for a mental health or substance abuse emergency – should not be the primary responders to non-violent, non-criminal emergency calls and that cities should devote greater resources to social services.

While police remain the first responders for those kinds of calls in Alexandria, they are not in some cities in America.

Operating for more than three decades, the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets program in Eugene, Oregon, dispatches a medic and a crisis worker instead of a police officer to non-violent calls involving mental illness, homelessness and addiction. In Dallas, three-person teams made up of a paramedic, a social worker from a local hospital and a police officer are dispatched to mental health calls in the south central part of the city. A number of other cities across the US are either putting together or considering similar programs.

Police encounters with mentally ill people can have deadly consequences: according to the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center, people suffering from untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in interactions with law enforcement. Earlier this month in Utah, a 13-year-old boy with autism was shot several times by police after his mother dialed 911 to request help as her son was experiencing a mental breakdown.

In Alexandria two social workers are now on the police department’s payroll. But while working for the police, they are not cops: they do not have arresting powers and they do not carry weapons. They ride in a Ford Focus instead of a police cruiser. They wear polo shirts, not police uniforms, and carry a radio with a panic button in case they find themselves in danger.

“We’re like a non-threatening type of follow-up,” said Cassie Hensley, one of the department’s social workers. “I’ve been told by individuals that they’re very glad I didn’t show up in a police cruiser at their home and that they’re more likely to talk to me.”

The social workers in Alexandria are not first responders. Instead, they follow up with people who have had interactions with police or they respond to a call after police officers have made sure the scene is safe for them to enter.

They work with a wide range of people, from persons suffering from mental illness and substance abuse to the homeless and indigent. They also act as advocates for survivors of domestic violence and other crimes.

Police departments employing social workers are rare: in recent months, interest has spurged in Alexandria’s program – so much so that the department drew up an 11-page document explaining their use of police social workers to send to other departments that send inquiries.

Cooper, the Alexandria police chief, says the use of social workers helps reduce repeat emergency calls while also getting residents the help that police officers don’t have the skills, resources or time to provide.

Lucas described himself as ‘the most vocal opponent’ to the police department plan to hire a social worker in 2016. Now, he views the department’s social workers as indispensable. Photograph: Josh Wood

He gave the example of a Vietnam war veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and would call 911 in the early hours of the morning after waking from nightmares.

“He just didn’t have anybody else – so all he knew to do was call 911 and he knew police would come and he would talk to them,” said Cooper.

Over the course of a year, the man called 911 about 60 times. When cops would show up and speak with him, he would calm down, but sometimes it could take hours, diverting away police resources at a time of day when few officers were on duty.

“We knew we weren’t solving the problem, we were just putting a Band-Aid on it every time he called,” said Cooper.

When the department hired on its first social worker in 2016, she was able to work with the man and connect him with medical treatment with Veterans Affairs. His calls to 911 stopped.

“These people end up calling the cops because they don’t know who else to call,” said Tara McLendon, an associate professor at Northern Kentucky University’s School of Social Work who helped the Alexandria police department devise its police social worker program. “And then mental illness symptoms fester and you end up in really horrible situations that I’m thinking we can prevent.”

After social workers connect with persons in the community who need their help, they ask that they call them directly instead of 911 for anything that is not an actual emergency.

Adding social workers is cheaper than adding on new officers: while a new officer would cost the department around $100,000 up front, adding a new social worker – who does not need to be equipped with a weapon or kitted-out cruiser – costs about half of that, according to Ward.

On Tuesday, Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, said its police force would establish a social worker program. The move is part of a slew of promised police reforms in the city following the March police killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black 26-year-old ER tech whose name has been a rallying cry at racial justice protests in Kentucky and around the US.

“We often ask our police officers to not only keep the peace, but to deal with challenges that society has failed to address, from mental health to homelessness to substance abuse and everything in-between,” said Louisville’s mayor, Greg Fischer. “That’s not fair to our officers. It’s not the right way to address these challenges.

Neither Cooper nor Ward believe social workers can replace cops.

“Social workers do not supplant police officers – they augment,” said Ward. “So you’ve got to have a number of police officers necessary to cover calls of service in your community first and foremost.”

Jerry Ratcliffe, a former British police officer who is a criminal justice professor at Philadelphia’s Temple University, warned that replacing police with social workers is not as easy as some might hope.

“The sense that social workers are an order of magnitude better than police at dealing with some of these issues – I’m not certain there is strong evidence yet to support that, but I’m open to its possibility,” he said.

Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and the author of The End of Policing, said police work and social work should be separated and that police officers should simply not be the first responders on many types of emergency calls.

“The police see the world through a lens where every encounter is potentially deadly,” he said.

Vitale warned that many – such as undocumented persons, people on probation and those who simply do not trust the criminal justice system and law enforcement – likely probably not be comfortable working with a social worker who is employed by a police force.

“Rather than trying to turn police departments into hubs for social work, we should just have more social workers doing social work,” he said.


Watch the video: КРАСИВЫЙ И ЭСТЕТИЧНЫЙ ФИЛЬМ! СМОТРЕТЬ ВСЕМ! Сердце следователя. Русская Мелодрама (November 2021).