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Police Chief Invites Public Complaints Against Officers

first_imgInspector General of Police, Col. Chris Massaquoi has described as “significant” a hotline project launched by the Search for Common Ground and the Professional Standard Division (PSD) and called on the public to file in complaints about unprofessional conduct of any police officer.Making the statement in an assertive mood during the launch of the hotline at the Liberia National Police Headquarters on February 20, Col. Massaquoi stressed that no police officer, even himself, is above the law.He said with the law hanging above all in the land, he will not relent to investigate any officer and punish those found guilty of unprofessional conduct.“This project is a significant one that will draw civilians close to the police, and I want to thank Search for Common Ground for that.  The public should make use of this to file in any complaint about any officer who behaves unprofessionally, and we will deal with that person. “All they need to do is to get the name of the officer, the badge number, and area of assignment,” Col Massaquoi said.He recalled that complaints had come out against some officers who were investigated and those found to have been engaged in unethical acts were penalized while others were disrobed.He, however, indicated that in spite of efforts made to draw civilians close to the police, many people do not file complaints when there is professional misconduct, but would take the issue to the media.Col. Massaquoi, who appeared annoyed over media complaints about police misconduct, said it is not the proper way and it makes, “it difficult for us in authority to investigate such claims of misconduct.”He stressed that before taking an issue to the media, the Liberia National Police should be contacted before going public to the media and called on partners, including Search for Common Ground, to help disseminate the good work that police officers are doing for the country.“Police are doing some good things in the midst of challenges here, but the good is not propagated.  The public only talks bad about us and our partners who know what we do should tell the public,” Col. Massaquoi asserted.With respect to the role of the LNP and the importance of the hotline, Search for Common Ground Director, Oscar Bloh recalled that the current members of the LNP, since 2005, have exhibited high levels of professionalism.However, Mr. Bloh was quick to note that there are still “Bad apples” among them and the LNP should weed out those bad ones. He called on the LNP to investigate cases and reduce impunity.He put the cost of the project at US$100,000 primarily provided by the Swedish International Development Agency.In another statement, Dr. Thomas Jaye of the Kofi Annan Institute of Peace and Conflict Transformation said the project will enhance citizens’ trust in the LNP and called on the public to make a better use of it.Search for Common Ground is expected to print the call center telephone numbers in abundance to circulate them in public places so citizens can call in case of any problem, he said.The project will for now be implemented in five counties, including Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Bartica Market set for major rehab works

first_img…costing MResidents of Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) will soon be the beneficiaries of a state-of-the-art market, according to Town Clerk Phebe Wallerson, who disclosed that in a few weeks, the Bartica Market would undergo major rehabilitation works.According to the Town Clerk, the municipality intends to design the Bartica Market as one of the first ‘green markets’ in the country and is eagerly anticipating its completion.  “We also intend (that) it will not just be a place for selling goods and acquiring products that you need, but we also want to ensure that our marketplaceBartica Town Clerk Phebe Wallersoncan be a tourism point within our municipality as well,” Wallerson stated.The Town Clerk added that the estimated cost of the rehabilitation was $20 million and was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.Wallerson said vendors who currently occupy the Market have already been notified of the upcoming works and have given the Town Council their full support.Additionally, she disclosed that the Council has also embarked on a project to develop the community centre. The facility will see major structural changes, which include the construction of an all-purpose court for the youths of the community.According to the Department of Public Infrastructure (DPI), the project was facilitated through a grant provided by the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.It is among several major projects that the fairly new town has undertaken for its development.The Bartica Golden Beach Boulevard project commenced last month as part of the Green Bartica initiative and is now 40 per cent complete. Mayor Gifford Marshall said that thus far, five mini-marts have been constructed and works have commenced on the walkway.The contract for this project was one of seven signed under the Communities Ministry’s Community Infrastructural Improvement Project (CIIP) earlier in the year. Contractor Ivor Allen is currently carrying out the project at a cost of $40.8 million.last_img read more

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LAPD makes a dent in March, but gangs hold ground in Valley

first_imgTwo months after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed a crackdown on the city’s most-wanted street gangs, the Los Angeles Police Department still finds itself struggling to make a dent in San Fernando Valley crime. While violent gang crime has subsided 12 percent across L.A. so far this year, compared with the same period in 2006, it remains flat in the Valley. “This is not one arrest away from success; this is a journey that is going to take persistence and real endurance of working toward getting violent crime down,” Deputy Chief Michel Moore, the Valley’s top cop, said Tuesday. But LAPD officials say their two-month-old effort to combat gang crime – including having a 50-officer task force in the Valley and placing probation officers inside the gang units – is showing steady progress. And the department points out that, citywide, gang crime is down 15 percent among the top 11 targeted street gangs, while arrests of their members are up 35 percent so far this year from the same period in 2006. “These very-early numbers show we are making progress but still have a lot of work to do,” said Matt Szabo, the mayor’s spokesman. “Residents in the Valley today are safer than they have been in decades.” Overall, gang crime in the Valley inched up 1.8 percent over this time last year – when a 44 percent spike in gang crime led city leaders to call for an assault on gangs. Gang crime in the Valley jumped 15 percent in February – when Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton announced their crackdown – over the same month last year. But in March, it dropped 23 percent from the same month last year. “The numbers are getting smaller each time around,” said David Doan, second in command of the LAPD gang unit. “I am encouraged by the numbers I see. If they keep the pressure up, then I think the numbers will be below what they are now in six months. But it’s too early to tell.” In the Valley, 2.3 out of every 10,000 people will be victims of gang crime, compared with 6.9 of every 10,000 in South Los Angeles and 1.8 in West L.A. Much of the Valley’s crime is concentrated east of the 405 Freeway, Doan said. Isaac Luna, owner of a muffler shop in Pacoima, said prostitutes used to regularly pick up johns along his block, and taggers frequently marked up his business. Though their presence diminished over the past few years, he thinks the recent clampdown has scared off criminals and gang members. “I see the difference. There’s a lot less people in the street at night,” said Luna, former president of the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce. “A while ago, you used to see a crowd of gang members hanging out. You don’t see that anymore. The LAPD has really made an effort to work with business owners, the community and even our Neighborhood Council. They know we are down to change the community.” After Villaraigosa and Bratton announced their plan, many criticized it, saying the decision to name gangs and their members would glorify criminals and inspire those seeking recognition. Over several weeks, the mayor and chief claimed the upper hand, announcing the capture of two of the most-wanted gang members, including one from Pacoima. But pressure still has been building to create an accountable prevention and intervention program. “We are looking forward to the day when we are spending as much on suppression as we are spending on intervention as well,” said Bobby Arias, president of Communities in Schools, a gang-intervention program that has garnered the LAPD’s trust. Later this month, Villaraigosa is expected to release his own prevention and intervention plan. For now, Moore said the 50 extra officers give the department the ability to throw investigators behind cases that might otherwise have slipped through the cracks. On Saturday, the task force aided in apprehending Robert Valdez – a man police say has a long criminal history and could be responsible for several still-unsolved gang crimes. “Typically we don’t have the resources to commit investigative resources,” Moore said. “You give (officers) the training and ability, and they demonstrate what the LAPD can do.” But so far, the task force is limited, dispatched only to the Valley’s high-crime areas. The Devonshire Division – which covers Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Northridge and West Hills – was the only one that saw a spike in gang crime during March. And it wasn’t patrolled by the task force. “Our violent crime task force is only so big. We can’t spread them throughout the Valley,” said Lt. Gary Nanson, head of the LAPD’s Valley gang unit. “It’s not a good tactic to move them in and out of one area. You need resources to cover it all the time.” rachel.uranga@dailynews.com (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Tense Ahmadinejad questions 9/11, Holocaust after blistering reception from Columbia president

first_imgNEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the official version of the Sept. 11 attacks and defended the right to cast doubt on the Holocaust in a tense appearance Monday at Columbia University, whose president accused the hard-line leader of behaving like “a petty and cruel dictator.” Ahmadinejad smiled at first but appeared increasingly agitated, decrying the “insults” and “unfriendly treatment.” Columbia President Lee Bollinger and audience members took him to task over Iran’s human-rights record and foreign policy, as well as Ahmadinejad’s statements denying the Holocaust and calling for the disappearance of Israel. “Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” Bollinger said, to loud applause. He said Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust might fool the illiterate and ignorant. “When you come to a place like this it makes you simply ridiculous,” Bollinger said. “The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history.” Ahmadinejad rose, also to applause, and after a religious invocation, said Bollinger’s opening was “an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “There were many insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully,” Ahmadinejad said, accusing Bollinger of falling under the influence of the hostile U.S. press and politicians. “I should not begin by being affected by this unfriendly treatment.”last_img read more

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A growing threat to civil liberties

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre His bureau had already talked with a federally financed think tank at USC, a forerunner of the kind Harman has in mind to implement her bill. Like Downing, Harman thinks it likely that the U.S. will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with such ideologically based violence. Harman’s bill threatens constitutional rights by creating an anti-terrorist commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission deems homegrown terrorism. Specifically, the commission is a menace through its power of hearings and subpoenas, a power expressly authorized for even a single member of the commission – little Joe McCarthys running around the country holding their own private hearings. Harman’s bill would also assign the commission the insidious power to infiltrate targeted organizations, to hire consultants and contractors to carry out its work, and to create the misnamed “Center of Excellence” which will continue to exist after the commission is disbanded. The proposal also includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with “access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda.” While its purpose is to prevent terrorism, Harman’s bill doesn’t criminalize any specific conduct nor contain penalties. But the commission’s findings will be cited by those who see a terrorist under every bed and who will demand passage of criminal penalties that further restrict free speech and other civil liberties. Personal or group actions contrary to the commission’s findings will be interpreted as a sign of treason, at worst, or a lack of patriotism at the least. While Harman denies that her proposal creates “thought police,” it defines “home grown terrorism” as the “planned” or “threatened” use of force to coerce the government or the people in the promotion of “political or social objectives.” That means that no force need actually have occurred as long as the government can argue that the individual or group thought about doing it. IF there was any doubt about the imminent threat to free speech and thought inherent in Rep. Jane Harman’s “Thought Police” bill, one need only read the testimony of LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing. The Los Angeles Police Department, through Downing’s anti-terrorism bureau, had already implemented the most dangerous provisions of what Harman would do nationwide. Only a loud public outcry got the LAPD to drop – or at least put a more benign name – on its efforts, for now, anyway. With overwhelming bipartisan support, Harman’s “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” passed the House 404-6 late last month. Swift passage through Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee appears certain. It was before Lieberman’s committee that Downing revealed his plan to keep tabs on Muslim organizations in Los Angeles. Under the guise of helping them integrate into the larger community, Downing wanted to know what Muslims are taught, what they read and whose voices among them we should support. Any social or economic reform is thus brought under the gun. Have a march of 100 or 100,000 people in support of a reform – amnesty for illegal immigrants or overturning Roe v. Wade – and someone can perceive that to be a use of force to intimidate the people, the court or the government. “Violent radicalization” is defined as promoting an “extremist belief system.” American governments, both state and national, have a long history of interpreting radical “belief systems” as inevitably leading to violence as a means of facilitating change. Examples are numerous. California’s 1919 criminal syndicalism law was used successfully to break up the Communist Labor Party, sending its leaders to San Quentin for membership in an organization that, the government maintained, advocated force and violence. That law was resurrected in the 1960s in Los Angeles for use against black activists. The hearings conducted by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee for several decades during the Cold War and the solo hearings by a member of that committee’s Senate counterpart, Joe McCarthy, demonstrate the dangers inherent in Harman’s legislation. California’s “Tenney Committee” smeared reformers in a similar manner. Harman denies that her bill is a threat to free speech. It clearly states that no measure to prevent homegrown terrorism should violate “constitutional rights, civil rights or civil liberties.” But as in waterboarding, all the government need say is that “We don’t torture,” or in this case, “We don’t violate the Constitution.” Unless the public applies pressure on a Senate ready to pass this turkey, what LAPD’s Downing tried to achieve here will be implemented nationwide. Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. William Robinson is director of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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