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SpotShotter: Only 1 in 5 Gunshots Reported to 911

Only about one in five gunshots is reported to police, according to 2013 statistics released this week by ShotSpotter, a private firm that provides gunfire detection in a number of U.S. cities. The firm said its sensors counted 51,000 gunshots in 48 cities last year. About 15 percent of the shots occurred on New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July, and 42 percent occurred during summer months.

The most popular time for shots was from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. An average of 3.1 rounds were fired per incident. ShotSpotter sensors cover portions of about 70 cities, including Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. Gunfire alerts are passed on from the company to the local police. The technology pinpoints gunshots within a 10-meter area, according to ShotSpotter.

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St. Pete Official Cites 'Impropriety' in Police Promotion Flap

The Tampa Bay Times reports that "specific allegations of impropriety" were behind an unusual decision by a St. Petersburg deputy mayor to halt police department promotions scheduled for this month. The department has been roiled by tension between white and black officers as St. Petersburg conducts a search to replace Chief Charles Harmon, who retired. Five weeks ago, officers, community leaders and city officials gathered at a church to discuss the racial tensions. Soon after, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin ordered stopped the promotions.

Speaking for the first time about police department intrigue that has become the subject of gossip in St. Petersburg, Tomalin said she made the move because she had learned that select officers had access to tests or test answers and that some received help during the testing. She said the allegations "absolutely required investigation." She added, "Our sole motivation in all of this is to create a unified force." The city is expected to hire a new chief this summer.

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Court-Ordered Deportations Have Plummeted Since '09

New deportation cases brought by the Obama administration in immigration courts have been declining steadily since 2009, and judges have increasingly ruled against deportations, leading to a 43 percent drop in the number of deportations through the courts in the last five years, reports the New York Times. New Justice Department statistics show that the administration opened 26 percent fewer deportation cases in the courts last year than in 2009.

In 2013, immigration judges ordered deportations in 105,064 cases nationwide. The statistics present a different picture of President Obama’s enforcement policies than the one painted by many immigrant advocates, who have assailed the president as the “deporter in chief.” While Obama has deported more foreigners than any other president, the pace of deportations has recently declined. The steepest drop in deportations filed in the courts came after 2011. Last year the Department of Homeland Security opened 187,678 deportation cases, nearly 50,000 fewer than in 2011.

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St. Louis Revives 'Dear John' Tactic Against Prostitution

St. Louis police are reviving a push to target — or perhaps humiliate — those prowling the streets for prostitutes with "Dear John" postcards, reports the city's Post-Dispatch. “Johns” charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will receive admonishing postcards by mail. “Thanks for your visit to...” the bright postcards say, leaving a spot for the location and date of a crime. “The city of St. Louis, its residents and your neighbors would like to remind you that lewd, lascivious and/or suggestive behavior (including but not limited to prostitution, solicitation and prostitution loitering) are a violation of city ordinance and state law.”

Police are rolling out the program this week in two neighborhoods, Carondelet and Holly Hills, where residents have complained of prostitution. Police say they will provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes. The postcard approach was last used in St. Louis in 2005. Other cities have also tried it, including Baltimore, Oakland, Calif., and Sanford, Fla.

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Denver Police Pressed Over Domestic Homicide Response

 

Denver police are being pressed to explain why it took officers at least 15 minutes Monday night to arrive at a home just one mile from the nearest police station where a man killed his wife, reports the city's Post. The victim, Kristine Kirk, spent 13 minutes on the phone with 911 before her husband, Richard Kirk, shot and killed her. Richard Kirk is in custody, facing a first-degree murder charge.

 Police have declined to release the audio in which the victim Kirk told a 911 operator that her husband was hallucinating, talking about the end of the world and asking her to kill him. Denver police dispatch alerted two officers about a domestic violence report at the Kirk home at 9:32 p.m. Officers were warned that Kirk's wife said he had been smoking marijuana and was frightening the couple's three young sons. There was a handgun in the house, but Kristine, 44, said it was locked away. More than 10 minutes later, Kristine screamed and a shot was heard.



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Portland Troubled by Failure of Emergency Alert System

Portland's inability to notify residents of an armed gunman in a quiet neighborhood for hours on Wednesday is just the latest failure for the contractor used to provide emergency alerts since 2010, reports the Oregonian. Carmen Merlo, director of the city's Bureau of Emergency Management, said she has a "growing lack of confidence" in FirstCall, the Louisiana-based company that covers Portland and Multnomah County. She described Wednesday's failure as "completely inexcusable."

The incident comes as Portland tries to figure out how to fund the fledgling system when federal grants are longer available starting in July. FirstCall has provided emergency alert notification software to the city and Multnomah County since 2010 and has an $82,000-a-year contract through August. Matt Teague, FirstCall's president, said the city's account of Wednesday's incident was false. Portland's emergency notification system has 320,000 devices – meaning landlines, cell phones and emails mainly – that can receive alerts via the FirstCall software.

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No Locals Among 10 Seattle Police Chief Finalists

The search for Seattle’s next police chief has been narrowed to 10 candidates, all from out of state, reports the Seattle Times. The only internal candidate to apply, Assistant Chief Nick Metz, was among 10 applicants removed from a list of 20 candidates reviewed on Friday by Mayor Ed Murray’s search committee, the sources said, without revealing names of those who remain in contention.

With Murray poised to make his selection the week of May 19, the 12-member search committee plans to interview the remaining candidates next week, according to the sources. Pramila Jayapal, one of two co-chairs of the committee, confirmed the numbers, interview schedule and out-of-state profile of the remaining candidates. The removal of Metz’s name and the lack of any internal candidates is not a surprise, considering the department’s leadership came under scrutiny and criticism in the wake of the city’s 2012 settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.

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Hate Crime Groups Surged Since Obama's Election

In light of Sunday’s deadly attack outside two Jewish centers in Kansas City, NBC put together a snapshot of hate crime in America. There are 939 active hate groups in the United States, a 56 percent increase since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The number surged in response to President Obama’s election and the economic downturn, growing from 888 in 2008 to 1,007 in 2012 before falling back slightly last year.

Members of these groups and others were involved in 5,796 “incidents” in 2012, the most recent year for which the FBI has compiled data. While that number declined from the 6,222 incidents reported in the prior year, 7,164 people were victimized. As defined by federal law, hate crimes involve "manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” 

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Texan Executed for 2001 Slayings in Corpus Christi

A man convicted of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend, her young son and her mother 13 years ago at a home in Corpus Christi was executed by Texas prison officials Wednesday, reports the Associated Press. The lethal injection of Jose Villegas, 39, was carried out after his attorneys unsuccessfully argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.

Asked if he had a final statement, he expressed love for his children and added, "I am at peace." Just as the pentobarbital began taking effect, he said, "It does kind of burn. Goodbye." He gasped several times, then started to breathe quietly. Within less than a minute, all movement had stopped. He became the seventh prisoner executed this year in the nation's most active death penalty state. Villegas was convicted of fatally stabbing Erida Salazar, 23, her 3-year-old son, Jacob, and Salazar's mother, Alma Perez, 51, in January 2001. He was free on bond at the time for a sexual assault charge.

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Washington Prison Offers Meditation for Violent Felons

KPLU radio profiles a new meditation class offered to maximum-security inmates at Washington’s Monroe Correctional Complex. Seven students, including violent felons, listen as teacher Cathy Iacobazzi asks, “What would it be like if you took all of the opinions that you have about yourself and just set them aside for right now?” She encouraged them to focus on one thing: breathing in and breathing out.

The meditation class is part of the prison’s Reintegration and Progression Program, which includes aggression control training and lessons on healthy living. Now in its second 10-week term, it has shown promise, prison officials said. Six of the 13 inmates who completed Iacobazzi’s first class have been released from the maximum-security unit to the prison’s general population after “the light came on,” says program manager Mike Walker.

Seven maximum-security inmates sit in a room with their eyes closed, not making a sound.

Shackles bind their hands and feet, confining them to a metal chair bolted to the ground. A guard stands nearby. Yells and clanks from the hallway stray in through the open door.

This is what meditation class at the Monroe Correctional Complex looks like. The students, murderer and rapists among them, listen as volunteer teacher Cathy Iacobazzi walks them through a practice session.

“What would it be like if you took all of the opinions that you have about yourself and just set them aside for right now?” she says. “Right now, the only truth that you need to know about yourself is: I am the one who is breathing in. I am the one who is breathing out.”

But inner calm doesn’t come easily for most. After a session of 10 rounds of breaths, one inmate asks: “Does practice make it easier? Is it like riding a bicycle?” Another inmate says the lunch he ate prior to class is sitting heavy, stealing his focus.

“It’s a brutal kind of practice,” Iacobazzi tells them. “It takes a lot of work. But the results you get — being able to focus … what a benefit. And you get to choose to do that. It’s your choice. You get to do that. No one can stop you, no matter where you are.”

The students ask questions, express their doubt. But when she asks them to try again for another 10 breaths, they close their eyes and breathe

- See more at: http://www.quirksee.org/2014/04/15/how-meditating-is-changing-monroes-maximum-security-inmates/#sthash.FnMeGQqR.dpuf

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TCR at a Glance

Smack Madness

April 16, 2014

Have the media and policymakers overblown the latest heroin “epidemic?”

How Red Tape Snarls Prison Rape Act

special report April 10, 2014

The DOJ’s insistence on state compliance with 288 regulatory standards keeps the program’s implementation in limbo, say critics