RPD Activities and Highlights

2/16/09

Councilmembers and others,

Here are some recent highlights and an interesting (timely) article from the Boston Globe for your consideration.  As always, let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.

Chief Chris Magnus
____________________________________

Friday, Feb. 13, 2009, 8:10 p.m., 200 block of S. 2nd St.–At approx.
2007 hrs., Officer D. Riley observed suspicious activity in the 200
block of S. 2nd Street.  Officer Riley has extensive knowledge of the
drug dealing in that area and knows several dealers who are active
there.  Officer Riley observed one of these individuals conducting what
he believed was a street sale of narcotics to a vehicle stopped in the
area.  Officer Riley had arrested this same suspect earlier in the week
for other drug-related violations.

As Officer Riley attempted to make contact with this
suspect, the suspect walked to a nearby residence on 2nd St. and throw
baggies containing an off-white rocky substance over the fence into the
yard.  Officer Riley detained the suspect and located two individually
packaged pieces of off-white rocky substance.  Officer Riley arrested
the suspect.
Monday, Feb. 2, 2009-Following chronic problems with trespassing and
“hanging out” around the liquor store at Cutting Blvd. and 33rd St., our
Special Counsel-Trisha Aljoe-following up on arrest made by the beat
officer was able to secure a conviction in court against Andre Jacob
(DOB 8/6/60) for RMC 11.68.030 (Trespass on Commercial Property).

He was given 2-days jail (credit for time served), fined $150, and
placed on probation for three (3) years. The terms of his probation
include:  a 100 yard (300 feet) stay away from 3322 Cutting Blvd.
(liquor store) for duration of probation; an order not to commit the
same or similar offenses; and the usual obey all laws.

 
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009-We were notified by Deputy D.A. Cabral that
Lamarea Mims, DOB 02/10/91, pled guilty to 32 PC (Accessory) in relation
to the killing of Aaron Beltran. As many of you know, the shooting took
place on 01/26/09 in the 5000 block of Creely Path, while Beltran was
attempting to sell Mims and another BM several guns. We are still
attempting to identify the second suspect, who has been described as a
BM, approx 14 yrs of age, with a short braided or twistie type hair
style, wearing a “baby blue” horizontal stripped polo shirt with a white
background.

The guns that were taken from the victim (two AK-47 rifles and possibly
even one 38 cal. handgun) at the time of the shooting are still
outstanding. ~ Info from Det. Avon Dobie

 
Wed., Feb. 11, 2009–On February 4, 2009, the department’s Family
Services detectives were contacted by Officer Chris Decious regarding an
arrest made by Officer Googins.  On February 3, 2009, Officer Googins
conducted a traffic stop on a silver BMW X5 on the Richmond Parkway.
The driver of the BMW, Michael Stevens, was arrested on an outstanding
warrant.  Stevens had a known prostitute in the vehicle and his cell
phone rang several times–displaying sexually explicit photos of women.
Officer Longacre responded and towed Stevens’ vehicle pursuant to his
arrest. 
On Feb. 4, 2009, Officer Longacre was reading the Contra Costa Times
when he noticed an article about a rape that the Sheriff’s Department
was investigating.  The rape had occurred several days prior in the 200
block of Parr Ave.  The article listed a description of the suspect and
a vehicle description (a silver BMW X5).  The article urged anyone with
information to contact the Sheriffs Department.

Officer Longacre recalled that the vehicle he had towed the previous day
and he thought the suspect description might match the suspect in the
rape case.  Officer Longacre gave the article to Officer Decious and
Officer Googins who also thought the description matched suspect
Stevens.  Officer C. Decious provided the detectives with the newspaper
article, booking sheet, and a copy of the tow form. 

Sgt. Bisa French contacted the Sheriffs Department and provided them
with suspect Stevens’ information.  She also spoke to RPD Detective
Gray, who advised her that he was working three additional rape cases
involving this suspect.   The modus operandi in all the rape cases was
the same. The suspect would pick up a prostitute and tell them that he
was a police officer.  He would then act as if he was talking to other
officers on his cell phone or a walkie-talkie radio and drive to the
area of Parr/Richmond Parkway.  He would then rape the victims and kick
them out of the vehicle. 

Upon follow-up investigation, several of the victims picked STEVENS out
of a photo line-up.  On February 11, 2009, Detective Gray and Detective
Sommers (CCSO) presented the case to Deputy District Attorney Cashman.
DDA Cashman filed 14 felony counts against suspect Stevens.  His bail
was set $6,000,000.   This suspected serial rapist is facing life in
prison as a result of the outstanding police work done by the above
mentioned officers.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009, 2:15 p.m., 2100 block Carlson Blvd.–Officer
Abetkov responded to an address in the above block on the report of an
attempted burglary.  Upon arrival, the victim told Officer Abetkov he
was taking a shower when he heard loud banging coming from his front
door.  The victim went to the front door to see who it was.  He opened
the front door, but nobody was there.
The victim then heard someone trying to pry open his
bathroom window.  He went to the bathroom window and opened it.  He saw
a black male adult standing outside the window. The victim yelled at the
suspect and asked what him what he was doing. The suspect took off
running northbound on Carlson Blvd.

Officer Shanks observed a BMA, fitting the description of
the suspect, walking northbound along Carlson Blvd.  Officer Shanks and
El Cerrito PD officers detained the suspect who was positively
identified by victim. The suspect was found to be in possession of a
woman’s purse and jewelry.  El Cerrito officers went to an address found
in the purse and determined that a house in El Cerrito was also
burglarized.

Detective Hall and Detective Wentworth from El Cerrito PD
interviewed suspect Fleisher and determined that he was responsible for
several burglaries in Richmond and El Cerrito.

 

Excellent article from the Boston Globe with local implications:
 
Breakthrough on ‘broken windows’
In Lowell experiment, crime linked to conditions
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff  |  February 8, 2009

LOWELL – The year was 2005 and Lowell was being turned into a real life
crime-fighting laboratory.

Researchers, working with police, identified 34 crime hot spots. In half
of them, authorities set to work – clearing trash from the sidewalks,
fixing street lights, and sending loiterers scurrying. Abandoned
buildings were secured, businesses forced to meet code, and more arrests
made for misdemeanors. Mental health services and homeless aid referrals
expanded.

In the remaining hot spots, normal policing and services continued.

Then researchers from Harvard and Suffolk University sat back and
watched, meticulously recording criminal incidents in each of the hot
spots.

The results, just now circulating in law enforcement circles, are
striking: A 20 percent plunge in calls to police from the parts of town
that received extra attention. It is seen as strong scientific evidence
that the long-debated “bro ken windows” theory really works – that
disorderly conditions breed bad behavior, and that fixing them can help
prevent crime.

“In traditional policing, you went from call to call, and that was it –
you’re chasing your tail,” said Lowell patrol officer Karen Witts on a
recent drive past a boarded up house that was once a bullet-pocked
trouble spot. Now, she says, there appears to be a solid basis for a
policing strategy that preemptively addresses the conditions that
promote crime.

Many police departments across the country already use elements of the
broken windows theory, or focus on crime hot spots. The Lowell
experiment offers guidance on what seems to work best. Cleaning up the
physical environment was very effective; misdemeanor arrests less so,
and boosting social services had no apparent impact.

Such evidence-based policing is essential, argues David Weisburd, a
professor of administration of justice at George Mason University. “We
demand it in fields like medicine,” Weisburd said. “It seems to me with
all the money we spend on policing, we better be able to see whether the
programs have the effects we intend them to have.”

And this particular study, he said, is “elegant” in how clearly it
demonstrated crime prevention benefits.

The broken windows theory was first put forth in a 1982 Atlantic article
by James Q. Wilson, a political scientist then at Harvard, and George L.
Kelling, a criminologist. The theory suggests that a disorderly
environment sends a message that no one is in charge, thus increasing
fear, weakening community controls, and inviting criminal behavior. It
further maintains that stopping minor offenses and restoring greater
order can prevent serious crime.

That theory has been hotly debated even as it has been widely deployed.

Critics have pointed out that defining “disorder” is inherently
subjective. Some challenge “broken windows” success stories,
questioning, for example, whether New York City’s decrease in crime in
the 1990s could have been caused by the decline in the use of crack
cocaine or other factors.

Bernard Harcourt, a professor of law and political science at the
University of Chicago who has been critical of broken windows policing
method, called the Lowell experiment fascinating because it showed that
changing the nature of a place had a stronger effect on crime than
misdemeanor arrests.

“It helps practitioners,” said Brenda J. Bond, assistant professor of
public management at Suffolk. “We need to . . . focus on hot-spot areas
like this using these kinds of tools and techniques.” With lead author
Anthony Braga, a senior research associate at Harvard Kennedy School,
Bond co-wrote the study detailing the findings, published in August in
the journal Criminology.

The work has directly influenced policing in Boston, said police
Commissioner Edward Davis, who was chief in Lowell during the study. In
Boston, Davis has created “safe street teams” that target disorder in 10
crime hot spots.

“We’ve given them a special number at City Hall to call for removal of
graffiti, any kind of disorder, any broken windows, any trash in the
street,” Davis said. “You have to prove to the officers it works, and
doing this type of experimentation, having findings published, goes a
long way.”

The strategies continue to flourish across Lowell. “Sometimes, we create
mini-task forces to saturate an area at a particular time of day when we
see disorder,” Lowell police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee said. “We
target those activities that could be a quality of life issue, like
drinking, motor vehicle enforcement.”

As Witts, the patrol officer, drove around the city last week, she
pointed out evidence of success. A brick apartment building that once
racked up 100 calls to police in a three-month period has, she said, had
just one incident over the last six weeks. Gone, she noted, are the
unregistered cars in the parking lot, the broken fence, and the code
violations in the building – as well as problem tenants and crime.

The Lowell study is not the only support being given to the broken
windows theory. A second study, published in the journal Science in
December, reported on how it held up in individual experiments in
Europe.

In one, researchers staked out an alley in Groningen, Netherlands, where
people parked their bikes. They attached fliers to handlebars in one
setting that was clean, and one in which the walls were covered with
graffiti. They found that only a third of the participants tossed the
fliers on the pavement in the clean alley, whereas more than two-thirds
did so in the less orderly environment.

In a second experiment, researchers tried to stimulate a crime. Letters
that clearly contained money were left sticking out of mailboxes, one in
a clean neighborhood, and one in a neighborhood where the mailbox was
covered with graffiti.

In the clean neighborhood, 13 percent of passersby’s stole the envelope,
while in the disorderly neighborhood, 27 percent did.

Beyond broken windows theory, psychologists are studying how the
environment influences behavior and thinking.

“One of the implications certainly is that efforts that invest in
improving the environment in terms of cleanliness may actually help in
reducing moral transgressions because people perceive higher moral
standards,” said Chen-Bo Zhong, assistant professor of management at the
Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

All of which plays out in the theory that Wilson and Kelling introduced
in 1982.

“Think of how long it took,” Kelling, a Rutgers professor, said of the
latest evidence. “If you’re a police executive or a policy executive,
you can’t wait 27 years – you have to make good policy decisions based
on bad data and good theory and correlation.”

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com
<mailto:cjohnson@globe.com>
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