Crime & Public Safety

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Department of Education tells Harvard to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

click image Jasmine Lester, founder of founder of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault at Arizona State University and Know Your IX organizer from the KYIX website.
  • Jasmine Lester, founder of founder of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault at Arizona State University and Know Your IX organizer from the KYIX website.
In the last year, there's been a lot of news about campus rape. Colleges generally didn't know what to do with themselves as students protested leniency with attackers and accused rapists defended their honor. This week, the  U.S. Department of Education is saying they had better figure it out.

Because of increased attention and organizations like Know Your IX—a very cool organization that helps students deal with sexual assault at their colleges—there's been a lot of pressure to get things right.

Yesterday was a big day in the direction of progress. The U.S. Department of Education announced it had found Harvard University and its Law School had fallen short in its campus sexual assault responsibilities. The ruling means that Harvard will have to redo it's sexual harassment policies. 

From yesterday's U.S. Department of Education press release
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Harvard University and its Law School after finding the Law School in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

"I am very pleased to bring to close one of our longest-running sexual violence investigations, and I congratulate Harvard Law School for now committing to comply with Title IX and immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "This agreement is a credit to the strong leadership of Harvard President Drew Faust and Law School Dean Martha Minow, for which I am deeply grateful and from which I know their students will benefit significantly."

Following its investigation, OCR determined that the Law School's current and prior sexual harassment policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX's requirements for prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Law School also did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault. In one instance, the Law School took over a year to make its final determination and the complainant was not allowed to participate in this extended appeal process, which ultimately resulted in the reversal of the initial decision to dismiss the accused student and dismissal of the complainant's complaint.

During the course of OCR's investigation, the Law School adopted revised procedures that use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for its sexual harassment investigations and afford appeal rights to both parties, in compliance with Title IX. The Law School also complied with the Title IX requirements relating to the designation of a Title IX Coordinator and publication of its non-discrimination notice.

The Law School has committed to take further specific steps to ensure that it responds to student complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence promptly and equitably. As part of its monitoring of the agreement, OCR will review and approve all of the policies and procedures to be used by the Law School, including the Law School's use of the new University-wide sexual harassment policies and procedures adopted for this academic year. The changes relating to the University-wide policies and procedures will be published in supplemental guidance and will affect all of the University's schools as they, like the Law School, decide how to implement the new University-wide policies and procedures.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Law School must:
  • Revise all applicable sexual harassment policies and procedures to comply with Title IX and provide clear notice of which policy and procedure applies to Law School complaints;
  • Through its Title IX Coordinator, coordinate provision of appropriate interim steps to provide for the safety of the complainant and campus community during an investigation;
  • Share information between the Harvard University Police Department and the University and notify complainants of their right to file a Title IX complaint with the Law School as well as to pursue the criminal process in cases of sexual assault or other sexual violence;
  • Notify students and employees about the Law School's Title IX coordinators and their contact information;
  • Train staff and provide information sessions for students on the policies and procedures applicable to Law School complaints;
  • Conduct annual climate assessments to assess whether the steps and measures being taken by the Law School are effective and to inform future proactive steps to be taken by Law School;
  • Review any complaints of sexual harassment filed during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years to carefully scrutinize whether the Law School investigated the complaints consistent with Title IX and provide any additional remedies necessary for the complainants; and
  • Track and submit for OCR's review information on all sexual harassment/violence complaints and reports of sexual harassment/violence filed during the course of the monitoring and responsive action taken by the Law School.
The agreement announced today relating to the Law School does not resolve a still-pending Title IX investigation of Harvard College and its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, of undergraduate students.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Introduction Of Police Officers Into TUSD Schools Needs To Be Thoughtful and Careful

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 3:28 PM

At the same time high profile killings of unarmed black men by police officers are making national news and bringing thousands of people into the streets to protest, TUSD is introducing police officers into some of its schools. When you combine people's justifiable concerns that too many police are arrest- and trigger-happy with the introduction of officers into Tucson schools with a high minority population, it's inevitable there will be concerns. And it's the job of TUSD and the Tucson Police Department to address and deal with the concerns directly.

Ideally, officers in the school should be community policing at its finest, bringing police into the halls and the classrooms to increase dialogue and understanding between young people and police at the same time the schools become safer places for students and staff. But officers in the schools can also result in more juveniles being brought into the criminal justice system, which can lead to all kinds of negative, life-altering consequences for the young people involved, and can give students and other community members another reason to fear and distrust police.

There are two positive aspects of the way police officers are being introduced. First, TUSD wisely refused to station police officers in its schools if they were allowed to ask students about their immigration status. Only after the agreement with the city read, “School Resource Officers shall refrain from asking about immigration status,” was the officers' presence OK'd.

Second, the legal agreement between TUSD and the City of Tucson on the use of police officers in the schools looks like a good document to my untrained eye. Attached to the agreement is the Arizona Department of Education's School Safety Program Guidance Manual which begins by saying the purpose of the program is "to contribute to safe school environments that are conducive to teaching and learning." It discusses the training officers go through and their educational duties in the schools. The emphasis of the manual is on safety and education, not arrest and incarceration.


But with a police officer easily at hand, it becomes easier to turn situations which should be handled in house into trips down to the police station. When there's a law enforcement hammer in the school, every infraction of the rules can look like a nail. The officers as well as the school administration need to be aware of the temptation to criminalize bad behavior by students which should be dealt with by in-school reprimands and, if necessary, disciplinary action. The only time the criminal justice system should be involved is when a situation is serious enough that a school without an on-campus officer would call in the police to deal with the problem.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Prison Policy: A Crime Against Our Community. Panel Discussion Wednesday, 6pm

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 10:06 AM

You can attend a panel discussion, Prison Policy: A Crime Against Our Community, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 6 to 8 p.m., YWCA Frances McClelland Center, 525 N. Bonita Ave.

Join us for a panel discussion on the history of incarceration policies in the US and Arizona. Learn how current policies impact and oppress our community and what might be done to bring positive change.

Panel Presenters:
Caroline Isaacs, MSW. Program Director of Arizona American Friends Service Committee.

Tom Litwicki, M.Ed. CEO Old Pueblo Community Services. Retired, Regional Administrator, Arizona Department of Corrections.

A few facts to carry with you to the discussion, from a recent Capitol Times article:

Arizona’s sentencing laws became tougher in 1978, and prisoner population grew from about 3,000 then to more than 42,000 today. The state adopted a “presumptive” sentencing system that requires a judge to sentence someone to a set term and add or subtract time based on findings.

[snip]

The Arizona Department of Corrections, which has a nearly $1 billion budget, recently notified the Governor’s Office it will need $26 million more in fiscal year 2016 for increased expenses, including health care, to cover the current and anticipated growth.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Militarizing Cities, Criminalizing Schools

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM

PICT0024_corrected.jpg

The photo above isn't from the recent demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of an unarmed African American teen. It's over a decade old, a photo I took at a 2003 march in Portland, Oregon, protesting Bush and the Iraq war. I'd attended a number of marches and rallies in Portland before this and had never seen this kind of militaristic response by the police. Were they expecting trouble? Maybe, but not the kind that would demand military-style gear more appropriate for an occupying force in a hostile country than a police department in an urban U.S. setting.

Welcome to our post-9/11 WMDs: Weapons of Mass Deterrence. Counter-terrorism money from the Feds given to local jurisdictions was spent so overgrown children could play dangerous games of dress-up and shoot-em-up on our city streets.

There were no violent incidents during the Portland march. The police didn't fire any tear gas or rubber bullets. But you have to wonder if some of them were disappointed they weren't able to play with their new toys. How many of them were channeling Dirty Harry, thinking, "C'mon, protester, make my day"? After all, when you have all those cool, macho hammers, it's natural to look around for nails you can pound into the ground.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Body Identified After Fatal Train Accident Downtown

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Robert E. Cole, 56, was struck by a train near North Seventh Avenue and East Seventh Street early Friday morning, according to a press release from Tucson Police. Officers from Operations Division Downtown arrived at the intersection around 5:26 a.m., and discovered that Cole deceased at the scene. Detectives from the Traffic Investigations unit have determined that Cole was crossing the railroad tracks and was hit by the westbound train. The next of kin have been notified, according to TPD.

This is the second fatality near this train crossing intersection in two months. 25-year-old man was hit on Wednesday, July 10. Hopefully, someone at the City or DOT notices and makes some changes to stop this from happening. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If a Botched Execution Isn't Enough to End the Death Penalty in Arizona, What Is?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:59 PM

I get it that it's a standard liberal trope to oppose the death penalty and then for conservatives to say that's soft on crime, and by all means, Joseph Rudolph Wood III did some awful, awful things for which he should be punished, but regardless of any of that, if we can't actually manage to execute people properly or with drugs that can be disclosed, it's hard for me to understand how this sort of thing is ok:

The Wednesday afternoon execution of convicted murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III took nearly two hours, confirming concerns that had been raised by his attorneys about a controversial drug used by the state of Arizona.

Wood remained alive at Arizona's state prison in Florence long enough for his public defenders to file an emergency motion for a stay of execution with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after the process began at 1:53 p.m. The motion noted that Wood "has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour" after being injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.

According to Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, lines were run into each of Wood's arms. After Wood said his last words, he was unconscious by 1:57 p.m. At about 2:05, he started gasping, Kiefer said.

"I counted about 660 times he gasped," Kiefer said. "That petered out by 3:33. The death was called at 3:49."

"I just know it was not efficient. It took a long time," Kiefer said.

Another reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden, said it was "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air."

An Arizona Republic interview with Michael Kiefer is below the cut.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Photos and Video of the Semi-Truck Blaze on I-19

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM




A semi-truck full caught fire on I-19 around 7:47 p.m. Tuesday, May 6. Fortunately, no one was injured, but a load of produce was lost in the blaze, according to Tucson Fire Department Public Relations Officer Barrett Baker.

Here's the official press release:

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Friday, April 18, 2014

5 TPD Officers Fatally Shoot Suspected Bank Burglar

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Santiago_Avila.1.jpg

Five Tucson Police Officers shot and killed suspected bank robber Santiago Avila at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 145 E. 22nd St. on Friday, April 18.

Here is the official press release from TPD:

On April 17, 2014 at 1:37 p.m., officers from Operations Division Downtown responded to a report of an armed robbery in progress at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 145 East 22nd Street. An employee advised 911 that the bank was being robbed, the suspect was still inside and he was armed with a handgun. The employee was able to give a description of the suspect as officers were responding. As officers arrived, a suspect matching the description given over the radio exited the front door of the bank armed with a handgun. He immediately went back inside but came back out about one minute later. Officers gave him multiple commands to stop and drop the weapon. The suspect failed to comply with the officer’s orders and walked to a blue Jeep Cherokee parked in front of the bank. The suspect opened the door to the vehicle and retrieved a box of ammunition from inside of it. He then began to walk back towards the front door of the bank with a handgun in one hand and a box of ammunition in the other. Officers continued to give verbal commands for the suspect to stop and drop the weapon, however he did not comply and continued walking towards the front door of the business. Realizing the danger of an armed robbery suspect re-entering the bank and fearing for the safety of the citizens inside, the officers discharged their weapons, striking the suspect. Officers immediately began to render first aid until the arrival of the Tucson Fire Department. The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene. Neither the officers nor the 16 citizens inside the bank were injured during the incident.

Detectives from the Homicide, Aggravated Assault and Robbery Units responded to continue the investigation. They examined physical evidence at the scene and interviewed the officers involved as well as over 20 witnesses. The identity of the suspect was confirmed, however his name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. Detectives are identifying him as a 35-year old male with associations to both Tucson and California. They also discovered that the suspect had an active felony warrant out of California for Assault on a Peace Officer and Escape. Detectives confirmed the blue Jeep Cherokee in the parking lot belonged to the suspect.

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La Cerce at Ermanos

La Cerca provides a unique stripped-down performance for Thursday night Live Music at Ermanos… More

@ Ermanos Thu., July 30 220 N 4th ave

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