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Is It Time To Remove NYC School Metal Detectors? Critics Charge Bias

No student has been shot in a New York City school in 13 years, a heartening statistic in an era of school shootings. There is a growing cry to rid the city's schools of metal detectors, the very tool some observers credit with keeping them safe, reports the Los Angeles Times. Some parent groups and advocates say the scanners installed at the most troubled institutions more than two decades ago are now unneeded because of low crime rates, and they condemn them as discriminatory, since by and large they sit in schools serving minority neighborhoods. "Making students have to go through metal detectors to go to school sends a terrible message to students about where they are headed and how they are viewed," said Donna Lieberman of the New York City Civil Liberties Union.

Other parents, and the union for school safety agents in the nation's largest district, with 1.1 million students, warn removing the machines would leave children unsafe. The union that represents the 4,915 school safety officers, who are overseen by the police department but are not armed, say scanners placed by the New York Police Department in high-crime schools are necessary. "It's very simple: If the scanners are taken away, then every day will be less safe for the students, faculty and school safety agents inside these schools," said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. More than 300 weapons, including knives and BB guns, have been recovered by school safety agents since July, he said. Nearly 90,000 high school students are scanned every day. Some parent groups and education activists have asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to eliminate or reduce the use of metal detectors, noting almost half of black students are scanned daily, while only 14 percent of white students are.

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Clinton Says Candidates' Anti-Refugee Stances Hurt Law Enforcement

Hard-line stances against admitting refugees to the U.S. are a mistake because they hurt law enforcement's ability to build ties within Muslim communities, says Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The U.S. should not want to send a message that gives any support to terrorists looking to create divisions between the U.S. and Muslims, Clinton told reporters yesterday in Nevada, the Associated Press reports. "That is not smart." She added, "If you're in law enforcement, ... you want the people in the communities that you are looking to get information from to feel like they want to help you. And if the message from people who are running for president, for example, is that we don't want to take any Muslims whatsoever, that's not good for law enforcement."

Clinton was campaigning amid calls for new restrictions on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria after attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump pledged over the weekend to be the toughest of all candidates in response to the terror attacks and suggested he would support ways to track Muslims in the U.S.

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If You Can Take Active Shooter Out, Do It, Says D.C. Chief Lanier

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier is urging that civilians confronted by an active shooter in some cases try to stop the gunman before law enforcement authorities arrive, saying quick action could save lives, reports the Washington Post. Appearing on CBS' “60 Minutes,” Lanier noted that in many multiple shootings, most victims are killed within the first 10 minutes. At Washington's Navy Yard shootings in 2013, 10 of the 12 victims were dead in fewer than six minutes. Lanier said police simply can’t get to the scene in time to stop the initial and deadliest onslaught. “Your options are run, hide or fight,” she said. “I always say if you can get out, getting out’s your first option, your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

Similar advice was offered in 2013 in a video titled “Run, Hide, Fight,” from the Houston mayor’s Office of Public Safety and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is posted on the FBI’s Internet site that also contains a detailed analysis of active shootings and how police confronted the gunmen. Coming from the police chief of the nation’s capital on national television, the words have gained a wider audience. “For a major city police chief to say that is breaking new ground,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. Wexler said that historically, police have urged citizens not to get involved, but instead to call 911 and wait for officers to respond. That remains true in most crimes, he said. “But if you’re dealing with suicide bombers or terrorists, it’s a completely different dynamic,” Wexler said. “I think that because so much can happen in so few seconds, intervention by citizens can make a big difference.”

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First Black District Attorney Elected In LA Office Criticized As Antiblack

It was a historic night in Louisiana's Caddo Parish on Saturday as James E. Stewart Sr. became the first black district attorney, reports the Shreveport Times. Stewart beat prosecutor Dhu Thompson to succeed the late Charles Rex Scott as DA. Stewart, a Democrat, got 55 percent of votes cast. Stewart entered the race in August after retiring as a state appeals court judge. 

Critics say the office aggressively pursues the death penalty and is racially biased in the jury selection process. They also question the quality of representation some on death row have received. "It is up to the next DA whether the media continues to highlight Caddo Parish as an outlier," said Rob Smith of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at Harvard Law School, now a visiting scholar at the University of Texas. "f the new DA takes control of the situation and brings the parish more in line with the rest of Louisiana and the nation, then the media would probably stop treating it as an outlier."

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16 Shot At New Orleans Park As Gunfire Erupts At Block Party

Sixteen people were injured last night after gunfire erupted during a block party at a park in New Orleans, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said he believed several people had fired into the crowd of more than 300. The gathering was part of an after party for an annual parade. Harrison described the party as an "unpermitted event."

A nurse who witnessed the event said two groups began shooting at each other around 6:15 p.m. "It was like New Year's Eve all over again," she said. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who joined Harrison at a press conference at the scene, said, "At the end of the day, it's really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decided to pull out guns and settle their disputes with 300 people in between them. It's not something you can tolerate in the city."

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