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Archive for April 29th, 2015

FBI Releases Training Video on Notifying Family Members of Loved One’s Death

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

It’s one of the most difficult parts of the job – telling family members they’ve lost a loved one.

To better train law enforcement and first responders on handling the notification of family members of a death, the FBI joined up with Penn State University to create a no-cost website.

The idea was “to better equip law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, coroners, medical examiners, chaplains, hospital staff, and others who find themselves delivering death notifications to do so with professionalism, dignity, and compassion. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the way a death notification is made can have a significant impact on a family’s grieving process and on potential future prosecutions,” the FBI wrote in a press release.

The training, called “We Regret to Inform You …” is available at www.deathnotification.psu.edu.

 

Los Angeles County Reaches Civil Rights Agreement with Justice Department

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Less than two years after prosecutors discovered a pattern of racial discrimination, the nation’s largest sheriff’s department reached a sweeping agreement Tuesday with the Justice Department to restore civil rights.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the deal 4-1 after patterns of abuse were found, including unlawful stops and seizures and excessive force, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

In addition, the Justice Department claims that Los Angeles sheriff’ deputies harassed and intimidated minorities in public housing.

The agreement means the sheriff’s department admitted no wrongdoing but will be overseen by three outside experts.

 

AG Loretta Lynch Tested with Baltimore Riot, Releases Plan of Action

Loretta Lynch

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

New Attorney General Loretta Lynch received her first big test after riots broke out in Baltimore this week.

Lynch, the first black female attorney general, released a statement soon after violence broke out, examining what happened and “going beyond the criminal civil right investigations” launched last week by her predecessor Eric Holder into the death of Freddie Gray, The National Journal reports.

Read Lynch’s statement:

“I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore.  Those who commit violent actions, ostensibly in protest of the death of Freddie Gray, do a disservice to his family, to his loved ones, and to legitimate peaceful protestors who are working to improve their community for all its residents.

“The Department of Justice stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful.  The Civil Rights Division and the FBI have an ongoing, independent criminal civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray.  We will continue our careful and deliberate examination of the facts in the coming days and weeks.  The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services has also been fully engaged in a collaborative review of the Baltimore City Police Department.  The department’s Community Relations Service has already been on the ground, and they are sending additional resources as they continue to work with all parties to reduce tensions and promote the safety of the community.  And in the coming days, Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, and Ronald Davis, Director of Community Oriented Policing Services, will be traveling to Baltimore to meet with faith and community leaders, as well as city officials.

“As our investigative process continues, I strongly urge every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.  In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents.  And I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence.”

Resignation of DEA Administrator Offers Fresh Opportunity for Reform

Michele Leonhart

By Bill Piper
Huffington Post

Bill Piper is the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. 

The resignation of the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, comes as no surprise to those of us working to reform the agency. The DEA is a bloated, wasteful, scandal-ridden bureaucracy charged with the impossible task of keeping humans from doing something they’ve been doing for thousands of years — altering their consciousness. As states legalize marijuana, reform sentencing, and treat drug use more as a health issue and less as a criminal justice issue, the DEA must change with the times. Leonhart’s departure is an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the agency and support reform.

The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other drug war problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA Administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues. The failure to exercise oversight over one of the most powerful enforcement agencies in the world has led to disaster, including questionable enforcement practices; numerous scandals and human rights abuses; and open defiance of statutory requirements requiring decisions be based on scientific evidence.

The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General currently has six openinvestigations into numerous DEA scandals, including the massacre of civilians in Honduras, the use of NSA data to both spy on virtually all Americans and to systematically fabricate evidence, and controversial uses of confidential informants. Aseries of recent investigations by USA Today found that the DEA has been tracking billions of U.S. phone calls without suspicion of wrong-doing, an operation copied by the NSA and other agencies after 9/11. The DEA built the modern surveillance state.

Leonhart publicly rebuked President Obama for admitting that marijuana is as safe as alcohol, told members of Congress that the DEA will continue to go after marijuanaeven in states where it is legal despite DOJ guidance stating otherwise, and spoke out against bipartisan drug sentencing reform in Congress. Last May, the DEA created a political firestorm when it seized seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. Then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the incident “an outrage” and the agency was forced to back down.

The agency has a long history of disregarding science. It obstructed a formal request to reschedule marijuana for 16 years. After being forced by the courts to make a decision, the agency declared marijuana to have no medical value, despite massive evidence to the contrary. The agency’s own administrative law judge held two years of hearings and concluded marijuana in its natural form is “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” and should be made available for medical use. Similar hearings on MDMA, aka ecstasy, concluded it has important medical uses, but the DEA again overruled its administrative law judge.

President Obama should appoint someone who can turn the heavy $2-billion-a-year DEA ship in a new direction. There’s no law requiring the head of the DEA to have a background in policing or prosecution, and it’s worth thinking outside of the box when considering an appointment.

To read more click here. 

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