New Rules Adopted by the Los Angeles Police Commission Make Fewer Shootings by LAPD the Goal

LAPD (photo via latimes.com)

article by Kate Mather via latimes.com

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department’s manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.Not everyone supported the new policy, however.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday’s meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable. Without such language, the letter said, the ACLU urged commissioners to “refuse to accept the proposed revisions as complete.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission’s inspector general said because commissioners can consider whether an officer’s actions before a shooting contributed to that shooting, the revisions do allow the panel to consider an officer’s de-escalation efforts — or lack of them — when deciding if a shooting was justified or not.

New training and directives from the LAPD reinforce the importance of de-escalation and the policy change, the inspector general, Alex Bustamante, added. LAPD officers expected to face more scrutiny over shootings with new rulesThe revamped policy is the latest in a series of changes the five-person Police Commission has made in hopes of reducing shootings by officers. For almost two years, the civilian panel has pushed LAPD brass for more training and to provide officers with less-lethal devices, as well as a stronger emphasis on avoiding deadly force whenever possible.

To read full article, go to: Fewer shootings by police — that’s the goal of new rules adopted by the L.A. Police Commission – LA Times

ACLU Receives $24 million in Donations Last Weekend in Response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

(photo via washingtonpost.com)

article by Katie Mettler via washingtonpost.com

In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”

That was before Trump had even sworn the oath of office. Eleven days ago he did just that, then spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Amid the swift and intense backlash, the ACLU seems once again to be benefiting directly.This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.” Before the donations had soared to $24 million, Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, told Yahoo News he was blown away by the influx.“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Romero told Yahoo News. “People are fired up and want to be engaged. What we’ve seen is an unprecedented public reaction to the challenges of the Trump administration.”

To read full article, go to: The ACLU says it got $24 million in online donations this weekend, six times its yearly average – The Washington Post

Brooklyn Federal Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Muslim Ban

article by Brandee Sanders via newsone.com

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York put a temporary ban on an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Saturday that was put in place to prevent Syrian refugees and travelers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.  According to the Huffington Post, Donnelly declared that the ban “violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

From the Huffington Post:

The American Civil Liberties Union, immigrants’ rights groups and refugee relief organizations had filed the action in federal court Saturday morning on behalf of two Iraqi nationals who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, asking for a declaration that the order is unconstitutional and requesting an injunction to prevent its implementation against other travelers who may be equally harmed.

“The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioners and others similarly situated violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York wrote in her order.

The legal action named Trump in his official capacity as president, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and other high-ranking officials. Although temporary and subject to appeal, it represents the first major constitutional setback faced by the new administration.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt says that the ruling will protect people from other countries who have permission to be in the U.S. “This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil,” he told the Huffington Post.

To read more, go to: Brooklyn Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Muslim Ban | News One

“SNL” Comedian Sasheer Zamata Named ACLU Celebrity Ambassador on Women’s Rights

Sasheer ZamataActress and comedian Sasheer Zamata, known for her breakout role on the cast of Saturday Night Live, will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union to support women’s rights. She joins the ACLU as a celebrity ambassador on the heels of her recent promotion to repertory player for SNL’s 41st season, her third season with the show.

In her role as an ambassador, Zamata will elevate the ACLU’s work to fight gender inequality and structural discrimination against women in employment, education, healthcare, housing, and criminal justice through advocacy and public education. The ACLU Women’s Rights Project was co-founded in 1972 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called women’s rights “an essential part of the overall human rights agenda.”

Zamata is featured in Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights “Still a BFD!” a new ACLU video that puts the spotlight on gender inequality and privilege.

“It’s so wonderful that women continue to break down barriers and change societal expectations, but women still suffer discrimination for their gender, class and race,” says Zamata. “I am honored to continue the fight for equal economic opportunities, the right to choose, and an end to gender-based violence by serving as an ACLU Celebrity Ambassador.”

Though strides have been made in the past several decades to advance and protect the rights of women and girls, there’s a lot left to do. In the U.S. today:

  • Women make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man; African-American women only earn 64 cents; and Latinas, only 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man;
  • A woman’s right to choose is threatened by extreme lawmakers who have introduced more than 100 abortion restrictions in 2015 alone;
  • Few legal protections exist for pregnant workers and new mothers, putting families in danger of economic instability, though women are the primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 families with children.

“We are thrilled to name Sasheer Zamata as our newest celebrity ambassador,” says Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “She is the perfect voice for the next generation, and especially for those looking to effect real and lasting change on women’s rights issues.”

Zamata—who was named one of Cosmopolitan’s “13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014,”—joins Harry Belafonte, Michael K. Williams, Lewis Black, Marlee Matlin, and others, to amplify the ACLU’s work on priority civil liberties issues, including mass incarceration, voting rights, disability rights, and LGBT equality.

Read more about the ACLU Ambassador Project at:
https://www.aclu.org/feature/aclu-ambassador-project

Be a friend and share the video Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights “Still a BFD!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqL9onVybW0

More information about the ACLU’s women’s rights work is available at:
https://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

ACLU of California Launches Cellphone App to Preserve Videos of Police

A homeless man on skid row was shot to death last month during an altercation with Los Angeles police. Cellphone video captured the incident. (Los Angeles Police Department)

A homeless man on skid row was shot to death last month during an altercation with Los Angeles police. Cellphone video captured the incident. (Los Angeles Police Department)

Californians who use their cellphones to record police encounters with the public on video will be able to automatically transmit them directly to their local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union using a smartphone application launched Thursday.

By using the Mobile Justice CA app to send recordings to the ACLU, leaders of the organization said, people can ensure that video of potential police misconduct is preserved, even if their cellphone is tampered with or destroyed.

“We’re merging the power of technology with the power of the ACLU and the power of the people,” Hector Villagra, the executive director for the ACLU of Southern California, told reporters Thursday. “We are so proud to put an innovative new tool in people’s hands, empowering people to know, to assert and to protect their rights.”

Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, told The Times that work on the app began before the recent national outcry over how police officers use force, particularly against black men. But, he said, the recent string of controversial police killings have shown the importance – and impact – of civilian-captured video.

“As we’ve seen in headlines over the previous few months, recordings by members of the public is a crucial check on police abuse,” Bibring said. “We’ve seen a number of examples of high-profile incidents of abuse and unlawful shootings or killings that never would have come to light if someone wouldn’t have pulled out their phone and taken video.”

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Los Angeles to Buy 7,000 Body Cameras for Police Officers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that the city would purchase 7,000 body cameras for police officers in an effort to increase transparency.

Body cameras for officers have become a major issue in the wake of the shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer and the conflicting accounts of what happened.

At a news conference, Garcetti said the cameras “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula. They’re a great step forward.”

“The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment,” Garcetti said. “Trust is built on transparency.”

Advocates say the cameras will be a valuable tool for the department. The ability to record audio and video of police encounters with the public, they say, could help guard against officer misconduct and clear cops falsely accused of wrongdoing.

Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, has spent months raising private money to outfit officers with on-body cameras. He said the mayor’s plan would supplement the contract the LAPD was already negotiating with the camera vendor, eventually bringing more cameras to officers on the streets.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.29.06 PMMore than $1 million raised through private donations will help pay for the cameras, thus avoiding City Hall budget constraints.

Soboroff called the mayor’s plan a “very big deal,” saying the LAPD’s use of the cameras could set a precedent for law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Earlier this year, the LAPD began a pilot program, testing different types of body cameras. Officers spent 90 days trying out camera equipment while department officials gathered input from the inspector general, the American Civil Liberties Union and other law enforcement agencies that have implemented the technology.

article by Richard Winton and Kate Mather via latimes.com