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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:27 pm 
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A sustainable community is more than just about alternative energy, transportation and local food but also how our human infrastructure/government institutions interface with the community, serve our best interests, and just as importantly, how the community interfaces with its institutions, like proactively rather than blind followers or even angry victims. This being Part 2 of "Cops, Courts and Jails, Oh My" I again take up the Cop Shop as it is the first in the "Justice System" triad. Its been intriguing following the upheavals in places like Albuquerque, Ferguson and New York and really across the country, by the citizens over how they are policed and a lack of support by the courts.

Over the years there have been many complaints about our police department, police attitudes and practices made here on Gila Community News, to me personally, to the cop shop and town administrators and now, as occasionally in the past I see some response and perhaps some progress is breaking out. When I began my investigation 5 or 6 years ago I wanted to "get it right". Being a news junkie, a downtown merchant here in the early 1980's and raising kids here I was not unfamiliar with the cop shop from those perspectives, but I needed the "other side" perspective. To this end I started a dialog with the SCPD Chief Ed Reynolds, the Town Manager Alex Brown and James Marshall, then Mayor now Assistant Town Manager as well as occasionally following the cops around, monitoring a scanner and watching Central Dispatch records and Jail invoices . With the release a few months back of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division report on Albuquerque's PD and NM Police Academy my investigation became invigorated as did the Towns interest in evaluating and reforming our own PD and Court before something really bad happened here as in other places.

Community Policing?
Community Policing is the catch-word of the day for the healing process between cops and the rest of the non-cop community and perhaps an actual solution to a very old problem between the police and the policed. One the most consistent themes from the public mentioned during my study was a feeling that "for the cops we are all suspects". For some cops I find that to be true and may well have been a subtle (or not so subtle) theme of the state wide police academy and I've encountered some of them but not all cops believe this and I've met some of them too. It is sometimes difficult to remember that cops are first people with a wide range of temperaments and reasons they chose to be cops, second "they" are our neighbors and fellow community members and that on their part they must not forget that they chose a job in the service sector, in like "protect and serve" rather than judge and sentence and most I've met are conscientious.

In a recent interview with Chief Ed I ask again, as I had of James what exactly they mean by "Community Policing" and each has said that they are not sure yet but that the beginning is to have officers on patrol stop and talk with residents then fill out a form with their responses. I was shown a stack of about 100 of these forms with comments ranging from "everything is just perfect" to "fuck you, I hate cops and won't talk"; wow, ok that'll help. Though nobody yet knows exactly what Community Policing will look like they all, including cops on the streets I've talked with do know that whatever it is will require a good communication with the community. In my 30+ years here this is a unique opportunity worth consideration and a creative input. We just may have an opportunity to set the example as I'm not aware of other municipalities nor Grant County undertaking this effort; surely not the County as the Sheriffs ride around in their darkened windows solidifying the separation between those who are watched from seeing the watchers .

Also recently Chief Ed said that a cop or 2 would be sent to a new, revamped "use of force" training which they would impart to the department personnel upon return and the SWAT team would be evaluated and improved, this is good as from my watching and reporting I have noticed a drastic elevation in the violent and destructive use of the SWAT Team since the arrival of the armored vehicle.

From cops leaving (quitting) the department I've heard such comments as: "I didn't sign up to be a revenue collector for the town" and "I feel like I was forced to be mean" referring to the quota system aka the point system which was stopped sometime late spring early summer 2014 and a policy that required 75% of the stops had to result in a ticket. Another was "too much secrecy/need-to-know policy" within the department and with the community.

When James Marshall was brought on as Assistant Town Manager October 6th, 2014 his job was to evaluate the various Town departments and suggest improvements and/or restructuring and this is part of my 3 month evaluation. So far James is developing a software that will track current, completed and future projects each department is involved with and has helped resolved some safety issues with the Fire Department and is in the process of evaluating the whole Community Development Department in preparation of the spring retirement of Director Peter Russell. But the Cop Shop is a bit more complex partly due to the number of contacts a day often with stressed-out people, complex laws and court decisions and what is an outdated philosophy of policing, court and penal system.

Cops Visiting Shops
It's now being encouraged that cops make regular visits to stores downtown, ask how things are going, offer suggestions on shoplifting etc. This would be in their "spare time" while on duty. Bear in mind that often there are only 3 cops on patrol, only sometimes 4 or 5 to cover the 10 square miles and a population that at times jumps from 10,000 to an estimated 15,000 or more on a normal work/shopping day. Now that there are bicycle cops downtown perhaps visiting the stores is something that they should do regularly.

In an informal survey I visited 8 stores on Bullard St and ask if they had been visited:
• 5- "never" with one saying "only when there has been a burglary nearby and it's about the burglary but otherwise never".
• 2- "once in July but sure wish they would visit regularly"
• 1- "a few times"
Additionally most owners wanted to add that when they dial "911response time is very good". Indeed as I've watched the Dispatch records I've noticed the good response times except when it's really busy there occasionally will be "triage" when the most immediate need will be answered first, this is rare.

The time seems to have come when your voice is solicited and for those who would rather not speak with a cop nor file a complaint against the police at the police department should call Assistant Town Manager James with your creative input or even a complaint as we have no Police Review Board.

Can we do this? Last word from James is that "Chief Ed seems to be very into this".


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:24 pm 
I saw a couple of SCPD officers walking downtown recently and got to say that was a welcome sight, but with 3 or 4 officers on duty, what if they get an emergency call that requires them to run up to their units, shorter response times, something to keep in mine. Thank goodness our local officers don't have very dark tinted windows like the county officers. ( A few undercover officers do, and I think thats okay) I'd sure like the sheriff to get his officers to stop hauling ass up and down Hudson Street. I hope he doesn't coast the next 4 years now that he got elected. As for the person with the response, f___k cops, I'd say that he/she's probably been in trouble with the law before, hence the bad attitude. Good article Crow.


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 Author: judithelise
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:21 pm 
Thanks John, for continuing to be an advocate for your fellow citizens.


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 Author: saminsilver
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 11:26 am 
I fully support revisiting the role of police in the community. In recent years there seems to have been a shift with the police becoming more military oriented, aggravated by the DHS dispersal of surplus military equipment. The police are there to protect the community, and serve it, while apprehending criminals. In a small community, the objective of violations is no different from progressive discipline in a business. Correct a violation by education, reserving financial penalties for repeat or serious offenders. To me, the police need to be very capable of handling an escalating situation, they also need to gain the support, eyes, and ears of the citizens they serve.

Community Oriented Policing has been around for decades and is not a new fad, and works very well in small and large communities. It is not a love in, it is a respected police presence, supported by the community, not feared, who through honest two way communication enable the police to be more effective in pre-empting crimes. Phoenix is one such example where the community is leveraged by the police, to everyone's advantage. They have many facets to their outreach. Small communities also leverage their presence with the community, effectively.

The assistant Town manager, James Marshall, brings a steady reasoned approach to problems needing to be addressed, and has consistently shown he can view problems from multiple perspectives. One approach often used is to have citizen review and advisory boards, where citizens appointed by the mayor act as a safe interface between the community's complaints, concerns, or other issues, and track them; the objective is to see issues are addressed and do not have the appearance of being swept under the rug. The words "to protect and serve" on police vehicles can remind the officer daily of their role, a role that perhaps needs to be clarified.


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:10 am 
This issue of a "Citizen Review Committee" oversight of the cop shop came up a few years ago and was much discussed by the Town Council, throughout the community and here on this site. I could never understand why the Council backed the statement from the cop shop that the only resonable way was "If you have a complaint about a cop or the cop shop in general make your complaint to the cop shop and trust us, we will investigate ourselves. This attitude is not compatible with "Community Policing". If the definition of Community Policing is left solely to the cop shop then we are in trouble and the Town Council is remiss in their duty of oversight of government and representatives of the community's best interests.


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:25 am 
All good points, but do we really want review boards to oversee the police department, at what point do we avoid micro managing, and most importantly, if citizens are allowed to be on these boards, should we expect them to have some type of background in law enforcement, be ordinary citizens, or hope they just have common sense and hope for the best. A few questions, is the local law enforcement department really that bad? Is this the real reason for this recent article? Is this the opinion of just a few disgruntled citizens?


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 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:11 pm 
I agree with the preceding posts. "Community Policing" implies there is a thoughtful process in place for the town/police leadership to get useful input from the citizenry about where protection could be better, maybe where there is "too much protection", communication issues, etc. A community review board seems like a logical, perhaps even indispensable, part of such a process. Creating such a board needn't be a confrontational step; it should be seen as a positive tool for the PD to garner ideas and information about how to do their work better, as well as necessary feedback about police/community interactions. Recent events around the country should make it clear that having an objective entity that can intervene regarding disputes about police actions would be beneficial, if only in giving aggrieved parties a place to register their concerns.

Shelby


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 Author: saminsilver
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:06 pm 
Shelby ~ your description of such a board is excellent. Such boards are a safety valve, and ensure problems are faced. Such a board can raise citizen concerns about issues in their area which may be quite different from the police view. Those differences need resolution if trust is to be built. I do not know why the council did not support the citizen's board, I do know that the council should have oversight of the police department, and as far as I know right now, there is no such oversight.

One example, in spite of a noise ordinance, the police chose not to enforce noise issues downtown, and the end result was a citizen's petition at the grass roots level. A review board is a much better system. It lets the citizens and the police get ahead of problems, surely a good idea.


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 Author: alan wagman
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:38 am 
Since August 2013, I have been deeply involved in the struggle to reform Albuquerque's dysfunctional citizen review process. I was an appointed member of the Police Oversight Task Force (POTF), which was charged by Albuquerque City Council with making recommendations for a new civilian oversight system.

Among the things I learned are these: The membership of any such body must be civilian, but the civilians must receive extensive training in police practices and do a minimum number of ride-alongs on an ongoing basis; review of citizen complaints about police is important, and the police chain of command should be answerable to the civilian review body's rulings; civilian review boards should have access to officers' complete personnel files -- including internal police disciplinary investigations on the incident subject to the complaint at issue (although there must be guarantees of confidentiality in place for some of this material); the civilian review body must have a source of funding independent of the municipality's annual budget review; both staff and citizen appointees of the civilian review body must have maximum independence from the rest of municipal government.

Finally, the most important thing that a civilian review board does is to analyze trends in police practice and malpractice in order to spot problems before they become serious and to make policy recommendations to deal with issues that are identified.

Civilian oversight will not cure a police department that does not want to improve, but it is essential to any police department that desires to be well-functioning with the trust of the community. The experience of Albuquerque should be a lesson for those everywhere else: If you wait until the police force has lost the trust of the people; if you try to use civilian oversight to make up for poor leadership in the police chain of command or in elected officials; if you rely only upon civilian oversight to fix problems; if you resist looking at how to avoid problems before they arise; if you do all these things, then sooner or later you will have a real problem that will cost your community millions of dollars in lawsuits and higher non-monetary costs in quality of life.

But there is another lesson as well: If you desire a responsive police force which sees its mission as helping the community and not warring on it, then effective civilian oversight is not sufficient to bring this about, but it is necessary.

AW


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:17 pm 
Looking over the proposed bills for the upcoming legislative session there is one, House Resolution (HJR 1) that allows for the option for a County or Municipality to establish an "Independent Police Review Board". Though the choice to do so is left to county or muni it does specify some things that must be adhered to, it does leave some gaping holes. Alan, is this an attempt to fix the criticisms of the Alb Police Review Board and does it go far enough as far as making it fair for all?


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 Author: alan wagman
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:57 am 
John, If I had been on Albuquerque City Council, I would have voted against the ordinance that they passed. My critique of the ordinance -- which gives some idea of issues that have to be addressed in any civilian oversight scheme -- can be found here: http://lajicarita.wordpress.com/2014/09 ... ht-agency/

AW


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:17 pm 
It's nice to see that local SCPD Cpl. Woods and Sergeant Arrenndo did not get get hurt or shot by suspect reaching inside his coat for his gun. Good job men and stay safe!


Last edited by frankie26 on Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:48 am 
Indeed frankie26 it is good that nobody got shot that day. Perhaps you should elaborate when and where this incident happened as my records show that in December "Sergeant Arrenndo" which you misspelled, (with 19 hrs overtime) was on Shift A and Cpl Woods (16 hs overtime) was on Shift C. Please give more info or is this just rumor that belongs on facebook.


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:23 am 
Crow, sorry about incorrect spelling on SCPD Officer. I read about this incident in both SC Sun-News and SC Daily Press, don't recall the date, but guess the Chief could provide that information. The overtime? Not sure what your referring too, maybe short staffed?


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 Author: riverwalkwoman
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:16 pm 
Last week a woman friend driving alone on an isolated, unlit road had a police car flash at her to pull over. She was indeed going slightly over the speed limit. Immediately she turned on her right hand signal and began driving very slowly to the first street light. She felt very unsafe pulling over in a totally dark place in the middle of no where. She pulled under the light, rolled down her window and waited. The cop went to the driver's opposite door, opened the car door with hand on holstered gun(!) instantly yelled at my friend. Calmly, though shaking, my friend told the cop she felt unsafe stopping on so isolated a road, and drove to the very first light while properly signaling, as is her right. The cop screamed at her, "Not here! Not in NM!"

Several July 4ths ago, I left my house on a sunny, summer day because people were shooting off guns in my neighborhood, tho totally illegal. I was pulled over at Mr. Ed's parking lot. I had no idea why. The cop told me my right turn signal was not working. The new, young cop, (comically) treated me as if I were a murder suspect in a bad movie. I said, "Sir, please speak politely to me, Im not a criminal just someone with a tiny bulb that burned out." A few people had gathered to witness. Suddenly they giggled & applauded. The cop instantly raised his voice and said, "if you speak back to me Ill haul you straight outta here and lock you up in jail. Do you hear me?"

Few cops in Silver have any knowledge of a citizen's rights when they are pulled over. It would be a huge help if they were fully educated about both citizen's rights and an individuals Constitutional rights prior to official detainment or arrest. Many of the few cops who do know our rights, still treat us with a threatening, terrifically bad attitude regarding those rights, making it clear if you do try to exercise your rights you will be sure to incur their wrath.

Any officer who does not know and most importantly, does not follow, respect and PROTECT the laws and rights of a citizen should not be allowed on the SC police force.


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:55 pm 
riverwalkwoman these are examples of the issues currently being looked at by the new Assistant Town Manager James Marshall. Any current issue like this should be reported to James at the Town Hall on Bullard and Broadway. Of course if anyone fells things have gotten better he should hear that also, his email address is below.

Your friend took what is, in a number places, the recommended procedure because of the very real issue of fake police.

Email Assistant Town Manager James Marshall
asstmgr@silvercitynm.gov


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 Author: riverwalkwoman
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:42 pm 
Crow,
I know you will be glad to hear that when my friend went to court the judge affirmed it was indeed the NM law that she had the right to drive to a well lit place and that she did so properly.

I think one of the biggest issues that SC needs to address, actually needs to legally change, is the practice of hiring boys straight out of high school and giving them "on the job training" PRIOR to attending any police academy. The requirements of becoming a SC police officer are listed on the SC police website and they are the most minimal of any place I have ever heard of. Even just a GED is acceptable, tho "not preferred." Im sure there was once a need for this hiring practice, but there is no longer any just cause or appropriateness for hiring immature, under-educated young men. Even the infamous ABQ police, featured in this week's in Rolling Stone and the New Yorker have much stricter requirements than Silver city.


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:27 am 
You can't compare Silver City and our biggest city in NM, their like comparing apples and oranges. There's folks out there that want our kids to stay and find work here. We want to be able to provide some sort of good employment for them. If we want to hire older, mature, and better educated officers, guess what, we're gonna have to pay them a lot more than what they're getting now. So that would probably mean higher taxes to cover that, just saying. Can the town of Silver City really afford that with a lot of uncertainness in our local economy? But really who would want to be a cop when society has no respect for not only them, but each other, I mean people resisting arrest and shooting at them. No one here in this forum has not once come out and supported the officer in Albuquerque who was shot at a traffic stop or the idiot who resisted officers and was reaching for a gun here in Silver! Why not come out and be more supportive and not complain about the little stuff. If you break the law, fess up to it, be respectful, maybe the cop will give you a break or not. Remember when we first started our careers, we were once young, and maybe not as educated, or trained up to par, it takes time and experience.


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 Author: riverwalkwoman
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:23 pm 
Quality, good paying jobs that will help upcoming generations stay in Silver City: Yes!
May there be continued job creation in Silver as there has been these last several years.

An eighteen year old with a bad attitude, teenage insecurity, carrying deadly weapons with zero to little training: No!

- Police Academy Training on average is a mere 19 weeks till graduation. Who does not have the wherewithal to complete so short a training?
- Throughout the USA it is standard in small towns as well as in big cites that graduation from a police academy is a pre requisite for employment.
- Reasonable exceptions are made for hiring individuals with excellent records of appropriate military training. I applaud this practice.
- There are a number of towns sprinkled across the US, usually the most undereducated, most impoverished, most rural populations with statistics way below those of Silver City, where on the job police training is still allowed. Thankfully, this practice is no longer common and is used less & less.
- Silver City is a college town in no way as undereducated as are many other towns in NM.
- Silver has a wide cross section of thriving, finically sound citizens, and in general, a caring population that actively believes in fair government & justice.

I never want myself, family or anyone who is a decent, non criminal to find themselves alone with a threatening, untrained teenager, not mature enough to buy a beer, standing over them with their hand on a loaded gun. No one should have their citizen rights abused and threatened by the very officers sworn to uphold the law. No one should be put through a possibly life threatening ordeal because of a tiny, blown out light bulb or the like.

I believe hiring practices in Silver have much improved under Chief Reynolds. However I would like to see the law changed so that it is no longer permissible to hire any person (as a policeman) who does not hold a graduate degree from an accredited Police Academy. The demoded process of being able to hire people straight out of high school should be removed from our laws and entirely forbidden.

Over 15 years, 3 out of 5 times when stopped by a cop, I was spoken to politely, fairly, and intelligently. Such police will always have my support and respect. I wish there were more of them. However, every "bad" incident I know about or have witnessed, has left each person shaken to the core, with their blood pressure often reaching life threatening levels. There is no need for any officer to threaten & intimidate a citizen to the point of a panic attack because s/he lightly rolled thru a stop sign. Often these kind of cop stops include being spoken to (especially if you are alone...) as if you were dirt.

I want to repeat my basic view:
More, good paying jobs & worthwhile careers in Silver: Yes! Definitely Yes!
A teenage cop with lethal, loaded weapons and ZERO TO LITTLE TRAINING: NO! --Absolutely NO.

On the job training for Police Officers who have not completed Police Academy Training prior to being hired needs to be banned.


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 Author: frankie26
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:42 pm 
Speaking of a police academy, WNMU has a academy, but have you seen their facilities? Pretty crappy. Perhaps the president of the university ought to get on board and put more money to upgrade facilities and support this program. Maybe that would be the beginning of others looking into a career as an officer.


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 Author: alan wagman
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:48 pm 
Riverwalkwoman, speaking of the amount of training police should receive, says, "Reasonable exceptions are made for hiring individuals with excellent records of appropriate military training. I applaud this practice."

The only "appropriate military training" would be "military police training." The important part of that equation would be the fact that the training was "police," not that it was "military."

It says nothing against those with military service and military training to say that, for the most part, they should not be police officers. Not, anyway, until they have received extra training to ensure that they have unlearned their military training.

A soldier's mission ("search and destroy"?) is far from the same as a police officer's mission ("protect and serve"). In fact, a large part of the reason the U.S. has been so unsuccessful in most of its recent military adventures is that the United States is sending soldiers into situations where police would be more appropriate.

Albuquerque went out and actively recruited veterans for its police force. Is there anyone who likes the result?

AW


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