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The 5 Summer Woes Affecting Citizens in 2017

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 15:56

During the summer of 2017, the following five woes plague U.S. cities.

#1 The Spike in Poison Ivy

As the climate changes, the number of people seeking treatment for poison ivy has nearly doubled at the Medical University of South Carolina since 2013, according to The State. In other places, increased rain is also a factor.

Access 5 things you need to know about poison ivy.

Find out how to remove it from landscape.

Share this guide on how to recognize it.

#2 More Diseases from Tick Bites

If Lyme’s Disease wasn’t enough, an increased risk of Powassan virus and becoming allergic to eating meat are just two more woes generated in 2017 by the scourge of ticks.

#3 The Extreme Heat

The temperatures may be most out of control in the Southwest, so Phoenix, Ariz., has lessons for any city looking to beat the heat.

#4 Needles at Beaches

A byproduct of the growing opioid epidemic, communities struggle with stray needles and proposals to offer sharps containers. Having a child step on a stray needle at the beach, park or even on a sidewalk is likely a reason for most parent’s anxiety this summer.

#5 Fears of Deportation & Racism

Everywhere people are discussing immigration rules, or are hiding in churches in fear or reacting to what happened in Charlottesville, Va., over a Confederate statue the city wants to relocate.

The biggest summer woe may be the fear of strife over deportation and the struggles of racism.

The post The 5 Summer Woes Affecting Citizens in 2017 appeared first on EfficientGov.

Spalding County Goes Mobile and Limits Liability with MaintenanceEdge™

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 15:17

“In the past, we have had some pretty major failures with trying to implement maintenance software, and that made me wary about getting anything. But, my County Manager emailed me about FacilityDude by Dude Solutions and asked me to look into it. I investigated to see whether it was a viable option for us and felt that it was. MaintenanceEdge looked like it would be simple for our users and us, so that sold me.

Before MaintenanceEdge, the sheer volume of our paperwork was a problem. Our work orders were disorganized, and we didn’t really have a system. Everything was communicated verbally, and schedules were tracked in Outlook and on a desktop paper calendar. It was way too easy to lose work orders because of using all these different methods to intake them and track them…”

Online Form – Dude Solutions-Spalding County-Case Study

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Case Study: City of Asheboro, NC, Reduces Expenses and Improves Efficiency with Mobile311™

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 14:17

The City of Asheboro started Mobile311 as a way to reduce expenses and increase efficiency. They started with a focus on reducing fuel expenses in the sanitation division.
Prior, sanitation trucks were making pickups at every home two times a week to remove household waste and collect recyclables. Additionally, a pair of brush trucks and a second pair of bulk trash trucks would cruise up and down every street looking for waste items to remove, a process that could take from one to three weeks to complete.

Now, employees picking up household trash and recyclables act as scouts for the others. They are armed with an app on a mobile device so they can mark the GIS location of every bulk waste item, pile of rubble, or any other waste in need of a visit by a collection truck. This lets workers see exactly where they have to go, know what it is they have to collect, and plot the most efficient route (in conjunction with other pickup points).

<a href=”https://p-d.formstack.com/forms/dude_solutions_city_of_asheboro_case_study” title=”Online Form”>Online Form – Dude Solutions-City of Asheboro-Case Study</a>

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Food Trucks Sue Cities Over Distance Ordinances

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:26

Food trucks argue that local distance ordinances can choke their fledgling industry, and disenfranchise their abilities to make a living. Fights over food truck distance restrictions are beginning to play out in court.

A Baltimore judge on Aug. 14, ruled that a lawsuit brought against the city by two food truck owners should go to trial in late September. The suit against the Maryland city, filed last year, is in an attempt to change local restrictions.

The complainants, who own the trucks Pizza di Joey and MindGrub Café, are contesting the ordinance that forbids food trucks from operating within 300 feet of a brick-and-mortar store that sells a similar food product, according to an article in the Baltimore Business Journal.

Street Vendor Defenders

Representing the Baltimore mobile restaurateurs is The Institute for Justice (IJ), a Virginia-based nonprofit law firm that has championed and represented the food-truck industry for several years. IJ’s position is that similar laws restricting food trucks are unconstitutional and protect immobile restaurants.

“Customers, not city hall, should decide where and from whom they buy things,” said Robert Frommer, senior attorney at IJ and executive director of its National Street Vending Initiative.

The lawsuit is the latest to fall under the umbrella of IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative, “a nationwide effort to vindicate the right of street vendors to earn an honest living by fighting unconstitutional vending restrictions in courts of law and the court of public opinion,” according to IJ’s website.

“Competition is the American way,” Frommer said. “It makes us all work harder to provide a better product to our customers, and state and local government should be encouraging it not shutting it down.”

Punishing Distance Ordinances

Similarly, IJ also represents two food-truck owners from Louisville, Ky., suing the city over its 150-foot proximity restrictions on trucks selling food similar to nearby restaurants without their permission. Mobile vendors face fines and the threat of having trucks shut down or towed if they break this law.

The Louisville lawsuit was filed June 28th in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

Smart cities have recognized that food trucks play an important role in developing a lively and vibrant local business climate,” according to an IJ description of the case. “But instead of encouraging local entrepreneurs, Louisville officials use the city’s 150-foot ban to punish food trucks for choosing a different business model than their brick-and-mortar competitors.”

Chicago’s No-Food Truck Bubble to Remain

An extensive IJ study about Chicago’s 200-foot rule, points out that the concentration of more than 600 restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores in the city’s Loop district, each with their own 200-foot buffer, creates a blanket of overlapping bubbles making it illegal to operate a food truck virtually anywhere downtown.

The study stated food truck owners face $1,000-$2,000 fines for parking too close to a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Chicago, dwarfing the fines of other parking safety restrictions, like the $100 fine for parking at a bus stop.

“The city’s scheme therefore perversely incentivizes food trucks to break laws that protect the public’s health-and-safety concerns instead of a law that protects only a competitor’s bottom line,” according to the study.

In Dec. 2016, a Cook County judge upheld the city’s 200-foot restriction on food trucks, rejecting arguments that the law gives traditional restaurants competitive advantages, according to an article in the Chicago Sun Times.

The Institute for Justice is appealing the case.

Branson Dialed Back Zoning to Enable Food Trucks

Branson, Mo., also has a distance ordinance restriction for food trucks: they can’t operate less than 100 feet from a restaurant without the owner’s permission. That’s OK with Peter Berzofsky, the co-owner of Spork Express; he’s just happy to sell his food within city limits.

Until this spring, Branson zoning code stated that businesses with a temporary structure couldn’t operate in the city. This included food trucks, ice-cream trucks and lunch carts, according to Berzofsky, who owns Spork Express with his sister Jane Goss.

“That stood for years and no one had ever challenged the law,” Berzofsky said.

Once a large resort became interested in bringing food trucks onsite, the city began to draft an ordinance to change the rule. The process took a year, said Berzofsky, and when it was published for approval by the Branson Board of Aldermen, it was too restrictive, requiring water, sewer and electrical hook ups, and tornado tie downs for each truck, as well as a 1,000-gallon grease interceptor.

Berzofsky, his sister and a friend who owns an ice-cream truck attended multiple meetings in an attempt to have the city back off the restrictions. Berzofsky said he convinced the city engineer and board members to visit Spork Express at a neighboring city’s farmers market.

“After a year of working on the ordinance, they had not seen the truck,” he said.

Once they saw how self-contained food trucks are, they backed off the restrictions.

“Then suddenly they liked us and they liked the food.”

In April, Spork Express received a permit to operate in Branson, something Berzofsky — and his customers – are happy about.

“The thing that drives me and keeps me focused is that we’ve had this amazing reaction from the public, Berzofsky said. “Besides the food, the enthusiasm the customers have shown for the overall experience is phenomenal.”

Learn more about food truck issues:

3 Fire Safety Risks of Food Trucks

Mobile Food Vendor Regulations

 

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$40K Road Erosion Grants Increase Water Quality

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:24

Through a partnership between the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Vermont Better Roads Program is accepting applications for grants to be used in preventing road erosion and increasing water quality.

Town, city or county governments are eligible to apply for the Better Roads grants, and must indicate which of the four grant categories the funding would be used towards.

Category A: Used for planning and provide funding to conduct a road erosion inventory, prioritize identified projects and develop a budget plan to implement the projects over a period of time.
Maximum grant: $8,000

Category B: Used for construction projects that correct a road erosion problem and/or stormwater mitigation retrofit to the road drainage system that will result in improved water quality. Examples of eligible projects in this category are the installation of grass or stone lined ditches, rain gardens that treat road runoff, or drop inlet rehab/ replacement.
Maximum grant: $20,000

Category C: Used for construction projects that correct a streambank, lake shore or other slope related erosion problem on town roads.
Maximum grant: $40,000

Category D: Used for structure/ culvert upgrade projects. These grants can be used to replace multiple small culverts or a larger structure.
Maximum grant: $40,000

Road Erosion Grants Principles

The program aims to provide towns with the funds needed to maintain local roads and safeguard water sources based on their five principles of better roads:

  • Get water off the road quickly and avoid having water run lengthwise down the road.
  • Stabilize and revegetate disturbed areas in and/or near ditches, culverts, banks, inlets and outlets immediately.
  • Divert as much runoff as possible away from surface waters into vegetated areas.
  • Good maintenance saves money by decreasing road problems and preventing untimely repairs.
  • Good maintenance and infrastructure reduces susceptibility to flash flood damage.

Applications are due by December 31, 2017.

All grants require a local match of 20 percent.

Learn more about the program and apply on the Vermont Agency of Transportation website.

View this document on Scribd

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Arrest & Diversions Can Replace The ‘War on Drugs’

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 12:04

Last month for PoliceOne.com, Lt. Dan Marcou, an author and a police trainer with 33 years experience and numerous awards, wrote about why the term “War on Drugs” needs to be abandoned and strategies for arrest and arrest diversions are better suited for the opioid crisis the country finds itself immersed in.

You’ve seen the stories of whales dying after beaching themselves. There are even cases of beached whales who have been assisted back out to sea by rescuers only to die after beaching themselves once again,” he wrote as a comparison to people with an illicit drug addiction and their arresting officers.

Here is his advice on evolving drug enforcement.

Arrest as a Drug-Life Rescue Attempt

Because of many programs, like drug court referrals to treatment and pre-arrest diversions, currently in place in many jurisdictions, a drug arrest is actually an intervention that has the potential to become a life-changing event for the addict. The arrest or rescue attempt may serve to:

  1. Sound the alarm to the user and their family that a problem exists.
  2. Lead to an assessment that may enlighten the user to the realization that they are in need of treatment.
  3. Remove the user temporarily from the drug life.
  4. Give the user an opportunity to alter the path they are on.
  5. Make treatment available to the user.
  6. Identify and rescue their imperiled children.

Post-Arrest Diversions, Drug Court

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Skemp, a 21-year career prosecutor in La Crosse County, Wisc., observed that there is good that can come out of an arrest. Skemp says an arrest can be “horrific, but it can also shock them into action.”

She added that when that arrest is made by a “caring officer, (the arrest) can have great impact and change lives.”

The special La Crosse “drug court” offers many options for the user, besides jail. The arrest is the first step toward assisting the illicit drug user on the path toward drug and alcohol detox, assessment, monitoring, ongoing testing and treatment. These post-arrest diversions are options many users never would have considered if not for their arrest.

Pre-Arrest Diversions, Treatment Partners

The Gloucester, Mass., Police Department ANGEL program was called a “pre-arrest diversion,” when it was developed by Chief Leonard Campanello in 2015.

“Gloucester used to be called the fishing village with a heroin problem and now it’s called the fishing village with a heroin solution, because of the ANGEL Program,” John Rosenthal, co-founder/chair of Police Assist Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), said.

Current Gloucester Police Chief John McCarthy explains, “ANGEL is a tool to rescue addicts from their drug-life before there is a necessity to arrest.”

The term “ANGEL” comes from the name the department gave to the team of volunteers, who respond to the police department to sit with the addict, while a trained Gloucester police officer facilitates the placement of these users in treatment.

McCarthy says that since its inception the police department has placed over 500 addicts into treatment and these efforts have brought successes.

Gloucester PD has established professional relationships with treatment centers all over the country. All a drug user, who wants help, need do is walk into the police department and ask for it. If they can’t walk they can just call.

What the program has done has changed the conversation in the police world,” McCarthy said.

Rosenthal says this approach is making a difference. “We are experiencing a public health epidemic, which now kills more Americans every year than car crashes,” Rosenthal said.

PAARI is helping other police agencies adopt their own ANGEL pre-arrest diversion programs. The approach has been adopted by 256 police agencies in 38 states. Three hundred treatment centers across the country are available for agencies to place addicts in, who ask for treatment.

“We still have a zero tolerance enforcement approach for illegal drugs.” McCarthy said. He emphatically added, “We still arrest drug dealers.”

(Editor’s Note: PAARI also trains groups to administer naloxone.)

Drug Dealer Arrests as Effective Tools

Arrest and incarceration of drug dealers are the most effective tools for police officers to rescue their communities from these insidious profiteers. Treatment certainly can be offered to dealers while they are serving lengthy punitive prison sentences.

Drug dealers spread misery, addiction and death. Death comes from not only the products they sell, but also from the violent gun battles dealers wage against their clients, their competition, police and bystanders caught in the cross-fire.

Let the Rescues Continue

The making of a drug-life rescue attempt is not only a noble endeavor, but also a necessary one.

If the drug dealer goes unchecked he will continue to sell his poison to the hapless, the hopeless and the helpless. If the drug user goes unchecked they will continue down the destructive path of addiction, which too often ends in the same inevitable conclusion as that whale swimming toward the beach.

Street officers possess a powerful rescue tool – the ability to initiate the ultimate intervention by caring enough to say (when probable cause to arrest exists), “You sir/ma’am are under arrest.”

After the suspect is handcuffed and searched, consider laying a hand on their shoulder, while sincerely adding, “I want you to know that this is more than just another arrest to me. This is a drug-life rescue attempt.”

About the Author

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized, police trainer, who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. His Novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes,” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest Non-Fiction Offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all highly acclaimed and available at Amazon.

The post Arrest & Diversions Can Replace The ‘War on Drugs’ appeared first on EfficientGov.

What To Do With Confederate Statues?

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 16:44

In an unscientific Twitter poll by Breaking911, the majority — 70 percent of more than 19,000 votes today — said they believe Confederate statues across the U.S. should be not be removed because they observe history.

The poll, however, does not address moving them.

B911 POLL: Do you think all Confederate statues across the U.S. should be removed?

— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 15, 2017

Perhaps some of those who responded believe it’s better not to stir emotions in communities, or perhaps they think removal automatically means destruction, such as when protesters in Durham, N.C., recently toppled and damaged a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the county courthouse.

Some respondents may support the causes they represented when erected, which are a murky mix of the loss of states’ rights and opposition to emancipation.

In the last few years, cities like New Orleans and Louisville, Ky., have been removing or relocating Confederate statues as communities question how a nation can reprocess racism with them standing in places of prominence. Cities can also choose a third avenue — modifying the presentation of the statue with an explanatory plaque or other methods that add context and better position the statues for the people that must live with them. Here we take a deeper look at the choices cities have made.

Relocating Confederate Statues

Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher spoke with CityLab about its compassion pledge. But following protests that led to violence in Charlottesville over that Virginia city’s decision to remove two Confederate statues from public parks, he also addressed how Louisville walked that walk with a Confederate statue last year.

Fisher led the relocation of a stone Confederate soldier on the University of Louisville campus to Brandenburgg, Ky. Kentucky never officially joined either side in the Civil War, according to Newsweek, though many fought with Southern States in the war Northern States often refer to as “The Great Rebellion.”

Modern students and faculty at ULouisville that walked by the statue everyday complained that the monument erected in 1895 was a tribute to the Confederate’s chief cause, slavery. In his choice to support removing it, Fisher said he was accused of actively destroying history. He was sued by a group comprised of the descendants of Confederate soldiers and some residents that wanted to keep it where it was.

Revisionism is a word that monument removal opponents utter. Fisher does not see it that way, citing relocation of Confederate statues as the difference between learning from history, and glorifying it.

We’re not destroying it—we’re going to move it to a more appropriate place. We had a dialogue about it as a community; some people sued me to try to stop it, but I had jurisdiction to do it. [Now] it’s about 50 miles from the city, in a town that was doing some Confederate tourism. It’s in a more appropriate historical context with some other Confederate buildings and monuments so it can be explained more clearly in the context of what it is. I asked our public art commission to identify anything that could be interpreted as bigoted or racist or related to slavery in any way so we can have a community conversation around those and make an appropriate decision,” Fisher explained.

Brandenburg’s Mayor Ronnie Joyner welcomed the statue to a city park that holds a biennial Civil War reenactment. “We need to preserve our history,” he told Newsweek then.

Removing Confederate Statues

When New Orleans began removing Confederate statues from public places, it often had to do so with great difficulty. Men wearing masks took one of them down due to a period of protests, and it was transferred to a city warehouse.

It cost New Orleans more than $2 million to take four Confederate statues down, and the decision is to move them to a museum. But in late June, there are no takers yet, according to CNN.

“Monuments were never fully representative of the localities they were put up in. They were put up to send messages and create false narratives about what the war was about and who should be celebrated,” said Anne Sarah Rubin, a University of Maryland history professor and author.

Rubin suggested that moving Confederate statues to museums allows people to choose whether to interact with them in an appropriate historical context.

Changing the Context of Confederate Statues
Some historians believe that the Confederate statues are opportunities to provoke conversation that should be had. “These objects are inherently problematic, and that’s why they’re potentially effective teaching tools,” Sheffield Hale, president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta History Center, told CNN.

Louisville has some experience with adding context to controversial statues, as well. Blood Monday, the 1855 election day riots that led to the death of about two dozen Irish and German immigrants, was said to be incited by a Louisville Daily Journal Editor George Prentice, achieved literary prizes for his stylistic work and is memorialized in a monument outside the Louisville Free Public Library. After years of controversy, the city added a plaque to explain tarnished legacy as an avowed member of the Know Nothing Party responsible for the riots.

The University of Mississippi added a new plaque to the 20th-century statue of a Confederate soldier, which was also a meeting place for a rally opposing school integration in 1962. The plaque explains “Lost Cause” ideology and the racist history of its use. Here is the text of the plaque:

“As Confederate veterans were dying in increasing numbers, memorial associations across the South built monuments in their memory. These monuments were often used to promote an ideology known as the “Lost Cause,” which claimed that the Confederacy had been established to defend states’ rights and that slavery was not the principal cause of the Civil War. Residents of Oxford and Lafayette County dedicated this statue, approved by the university, in 1906. Although the monument was created to honor the sacrifice of local Confederate soldiers, it must also remind us that the defeat of the Confederacy actually meant freedom for millions of people. On the evening of September 30, 1962, this statue was a rallying point for opponents of integration.

This historic statue is a reminder of the university’s divisive past. Today, the University of Mississippi draws from that past a continuing commitment to open its hallowed halls to all who seek truth, knowledge, and wisdom.”

The post What To Do With Confederate Statues? appeared first on EfficientGov.

Why Cities Can’t Deny Protests, Rallies & Demonstrations

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 13:08

When alt-right groups descended on Charlottesville, Va., to protest the city’s decision to remove Confederate statues from prominent areas of public parks, some residents and shocked observers questioned why the city didn’t deny protests.

Some people believe that cities have the authority to deny protests. According to the  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California resource on Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations, protest organizers anywhere in the U.S. should only have to give cities or the local municipality “days” of notice, and they must have “precise and specific standards” for denying protests permits:

An ordinance with no standards, or with vague standards such as ‘will not disturb others’ or ‘in the public interest’ or ‘in the interest of vehicular or pedestrian traffic safety’ gives individual officials too much discretion. Such an ordinance is unconstitutional.”

Charlottesville, in responding to a request for a protest permit from the local organizer opted to move the rally at a public park to a larger, more open public space about one mile from the congested downtown. However, ACLU on behalf of the rally organizer sued the city, and Federal Judge Glen Conrad ruled Charlottesville must permit the protest be held in the downtown park, known as Emancipation Park, in part because it did not revoke the counter-protesters permits for the same location.

“We were unfortunately sued by the ACLU, and the judge ruled against us,” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told National Public Radio following the event.

That rally should not have been in the middle of downtown … where [people] dispersed all over the city streets, and it became a powder keg. We’ve got to look at these permits, and we’ve got to look at where we put these rallies and protesters,” the Governor concluded.

Cities Dos and Don’ts for Permitting Protests

ACLU of Northern California noted in its free speech demonstration resource that organizers of protests must check local permit ordinances before demonstrating.

While regulations vary, however, ACLU said:

  • Cities can’t deny protests on public sidewalks or streets, or rallies in most public parks or plazas.
  • Cities can require a permit to regulate competing uses and to ensure reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.
  • Cities can require advance notice in permit ordinances, but it should be days not weeks, and some leeway should be made for breaking news.
  • Rally organizers shouldn’t need a permit for protests that don’t present serious traffic, safety and competing-use concerns beyond daily ordinary use. “If you hold a small rally in a public park or march on on the sidewalk and obey traffic laws, you generally won’t need a permit,” according to the ACLU.

When City Permit Ordinances are Invalid

ACLU said city permit ordinances are unconstitutional:

  • If they are unreasonably or unnecessarily burdensome
  • If they prevent protesters from communicating their messages
  • If permits are selectively enforced
  • If a government discriminates against a group for the content of its speech.

“This means that city officials may not impose additional burdens or costs on you because your message is controversial,” ACLU concluded.

The Courts and Cops’ Roles in Protests

While the judge ruled that Charlottesville’s desire to move the alt-right rally, based on the belief that thousands of alt-right protesters were expected, was speculative, McAuliffe argued that the violent results indicate that courts need to ensure cities can protect public safety and deny protests locations and other aspects.

While the Governor commended the Charlottesville police department, local clergy, counter-protesters, alt-right rally organizers and academic observers all criticized the Charlottesville police department for its approach during the protests.

According to the PoliceOne.com report, retired New York Police Department Sergeant Joseph L. Giacalone, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was shocked local police allowed alt-right protesters to carry torches into a public park Friday evening, and that all protesters were allowed to carry sticks, bats and protective gear to the permitted Saturday rally.

The Department of Justice is currently investigating.

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What’s Next for Cities’ DOJ Funding Under New ICE Strings

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 16:59

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against the U.S. Department of Justice for expanded 8 U.S.C. § 1373 (Section 1373) requirements will not stop the rules before local governments apply for their non-competitive DOJ funding under the Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grant (JAG) program.

The suit asked the court to put a freeze on a new policy that would give federal authorities access to grantees correctional and detention centers until the case plays out. But as a result of this week’s decision, the city will have to apply for the grant under these conditions.

Cities Have 45 Days & Extension Request Option for DOJ Funding

Justice Department lawyers said the city would not be forced to accept the grant conditions until it signed a potential award letter, and would have until 45 days after being notified to sign. The award letters would list special conditions, such as 1373 certification, that must be met to release the funding.

Chicago can ask for an extension of time to accept the award as it awaits a legal decision and avoid award forfeiture. Units of local government can make extension requests in the DOJ online grants system.

State allocations under a separate JAG program announcement — which also fund local government law enforcement needs and programs — would also have 45 days and an opportunity to request an extension, according to the DOJ’s request for proposals.

Acceptance Locks Grantees In for The Future

Once a grantee signs for its JAG grant, and begins to draw down funds, it is locked into the award terms. Failure to comply could require funds to be paid back, and could make the government entity ineligible for future grants.

In order to validly accept an award under the JAG programs, a unit of local or state government must submit certification with Section 1373 prepared by its chief legal officer using the appropriate DOJ form specified in the JAG RFPs.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber put off Chicago’s next hearing until Sept. 11th. He noted that if Chicago wins its upcoming case, it would not be bound by the DOJ’s new Section 1373 conditions.

California is also suing the DOJ over the new Section 1373 requirements.

Get our tips on certifying compliance with Section 1373 for DOJ grants. 

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How Data is Cutting Lowell’s Overdoses in Half

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 13:03

When was the last time you saw a cop hug a homeless addict and tell him, “I love you and hope that you get into rehab soon?” If you live in Lowell, Mass., it’s a pretty common sight. In Lowell, opiate-related overdose deaths have been cut in half through a compassionate collaboration between the Lowell Fire Department, Lowell Police Department, Trinity EMS, Lowell House, the District Attorney of Middlesex County, Mass., and others.

Unless you are totally unplugged from the news, you know that America is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, during 2015, 91 Americans died each day from opioid overdose. This year, it’s on pace to be 161 deaths per day.

Lowell is not on the list of the top 20 worst cities in America for opiate problems, but it’s second in the state of Massachusetts. Here’s how data and collaboration is leading to actions that are cutting the afflicted city’s overdoses in half.

Data Maps Opioid Problem 

In January 2015, the city manager asked the folks at Trinity EMS what data they had on overdoses related to heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone. An EMT volunteered to help with the project by reading all the patient care records since the beginning of 2014. That EMT found that overdoses doubled in May 2014 and had been increasing nearly every month since then.

To help them really understand the evolving crisis, they worked with FirstWatch to create a system that alerts them every time a crew runs on an overdose-related incident. The system also aggregates and tracks these calls, monitors and alerts for surges in overdoses, and geographically highlights overdose locations.

Creating a Plan to Prevent the Next Overdose

Led by the Lowell police chief and fire chief, the Community Opioid Outreach Program (COOP) was created. Each chief assigned employees to this project full time along with Trinity EMS and Lowell House, an opioid addiction treatment facility. The objective of the COOP is to decrease overdose-related deaths and the suffering related to addiction.

One member of the team lost a relative to an opiate overdose. He asked his chief how he could help prevent this from happening to other families in their community. He, along with his colleagues from EMS, law enforcement and the treatment community, are kind, compassionate and experienced. They have a laser focus on preventing the next overdose.

Every time an EMS crew, fire crew or police officer is dispatched to an overdose-related call, members of the COOP receive an alert via e-mail and on their smartphone app. The day after a patient has been resuscitated from their overdose, the COOP team tracks them down wherever they are for a visit.

One of the most effective strategies to preventing overdose death is to help people who use opiates get into rehabilitation. The COOP has a direct line to in-patient beds and out-patient appointments. They are able to cut through the normal red tape and get people admitted quickly.

Often, one of the challenges involved with getting people to accept rehabilitation is that they often don’t remember how bad things were during their overdose. The team was visiting with a 28-year-old man in his home with his 3-year-old daughter sitting next to him. They were talking about getting him into rehabilitation. The man was brushing the incident off as no big deal and he was refusing rehab.

The Trinity EMT on the team pulled up the patient care report from the day before using the app on his smartphone. He read the narrative to the man, explaining what the medical jargon meant along the way:

“Patient found unconscious, unresponsive and apneic – that means you were totally out and not breathing. With vomit on his shirt and feces in his pants. Skin was cool and cyanotic – that means you were cold and blue. You were close to death and you looked like it. Ventilations were supported with a bag-valve-mask – meaning that we had to breathe for you since you’d stopped breathing for yourself. Two mg Narcan administered IV, continued ventilating for five minutes – that means that we gave you a high dose of the medication to counteract whatever it was that you shot-up and it still was not working. Two more mg of Narcan – that means whatever you shot was probably not heroin. Patient respirations restored – meaning that you were finally able to breathe on your own.”

After hearing what actually happened and realizing that his three-year-old daughter had witnessed the whole thing, he allowed the team to admit him to a rehabilitation bed on the spot.

Data Triggers Real-Time Communications Response

The real-time monitoring and analysis of overdoses allows the COOP to spot when a new batch of opiates comes into their service area and geographically fence the area that’s hardest hit. One day they had six respiratory arrest overdoses in 15 hours. The COOP launched a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter about the dangerous new batch of drugs that had entered their community.

They reached 20,000 people in two hours and 150,000 in 72 hours. It was on TV news within five minutes of launching the campaign. Overdoses dropped off within a day or so of their social media campaign.

Additional Data Driven Action

Because Trinity has such a deep dataset and the tools to analyze it, they have become the go-to agency for questions about the crisis. Recently, someone was asking about the number of overdoses that happen in public bathrooms. Trinity had the answer.

The opioid crisis shows no signs of slowing down across the country. Using a data-driven approach to performance improvement, it’s possible to save lives and decrease suffering for people who suffer from addiction and the people who love them. Here are additional actions that have resulted from the Lowell partnership:

  • All Lowell Fire Stations are safe havens for rehabilitation. That means that someone who is using illegal drugs can come to any fire station and be referred to rehabilitation without fear of getting arrested for possession.
  • They have tested several theories about opiate use using data. For example, there is no correlation between day of the week or between when Social Security checks are administered and overdoses. But there is a relationship between overdoses that occur outdoors and the proximity of the drug purchase. This is helpful for law enforcement working to arrest dealers. All of the 200 communities included in the 13 towns served by Trinity, across all socioeconomic backgrounds, have had at least one overdose.
  • The COOP has been effective at pushing insurance companies to cover drug treatment even when reluctant.
  • The COOP has developed a short presentation on overdoses for businesses and the general public. This presentation includes what a narcotic overdose looks like, when to call 911 and what to do with a needle when you find one.
  • The District Attorney became concerned about the impact this crisis was having on children. It’s estimated that 34,000 children are being raised by grandparents or others because their parents are dead, in jail or otherwise unavailable due to addiction. She launched Project CARE (Child Assessment and Response Evaluation) to help provide immediate services to children who experience opioid-related trauma. The COOP team activates this resource anytime they see toys, car seats or other evidence of children.

About the Authors
Jon Kelley is the director of communications and information technology for Trinity EMS. An award-winning expert in the field of opioid related data analysis, program development and community engagement, he regularly presents at conferences and workshops.

Mike Taigman uses more than four decades of experience to help EMS leaders and field personnel improve the care/service they provide to patients and their communities. Mike is the Improvement Guide for FirstWatch, a company which provides near-real time monitoring and analysis of data along with performance improvement coaching for EMS agencies. He holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Systems and is an Associate Professor in the Emergency Health Services Management graduate program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He’s also the facilitator for the EMS Agenda 2050 project.

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5 Ways EMS Helps Solve the Opioid Crisis

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:53

“EMS sits at the epicenter of the opioid epidemic,” said Rob Lawrence, Richmond (Va.) Ambulance Authority, during an EMS leaders panel at the recent Pinnacle EMS Conference in Boca Raton, Fla.

The panel was about the EMS role beyond responding to an opioid overdose and administering naloxone. Here are five ways EMS is essential to solving the opioid crisis.

#1 EMS Collects & Shares Data

EMS data is important to understanding the local impact of opioids and tracking the effectiveness of interventions.

Naloxone administration data from electronic patient care reporting systems (ePCRs) gives near real-time information on overdose locations, which can help inform law enforcement, public health, mental health and other harm-reduction efforts.

#2 EMS Collaborates on Intervention

EMS leaders are important parties to community interventions and programs. Collaboration can decrease overdose-related deaths and the suffering related to addiction.

Programs like the Community Opioid Outreach Program is a collaboration of Trinity EMS with the Lowell Fire Department, Lowell Police Department, Lowell House and the District Attorney of Middlesex County, Mass., and others.

#3 EMS Serves as Recovery Partners

Paramedics can be trained to be recovery coaches for high-utilizers, those who had articulated an interest and willingness for addiction treatment. EMTs and paramedics can also refer addicts to rehab and recovery resources.

Some EMS agencies are following up with patients the day after an overdose to guide patients toward help.

#4 EMS Partners to Pursue Grants 

EMS agencies are partnering with public health agencies to apply for federal, state and foundation grant funding to purchase and distribute naloxone, as well as provide training.

#5 EMS Educates for Opioid Use Prevention

EMS participates in prevention programs like the STOP Heroin campaign, an emotional and educational video presentation for middle school and high school students. Prevention programs provide a constant presence in the community effect behavior change — EMS involvement with media, schools, civic groups and elected officials helps drive that education.

Read the original coverage on EMS1.com.

View How EMS Can Fight the Opioid Overdose Crisis Matrix for further recommendations.

Learn about an EMS partnership in St. Charles County, Mo., for community awareness.

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Transgender Bathroom Debate Favoring Gender Identity

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 15:26

America’s students are heading back to school, and the transgender bathroom debate is still far from over.

During President Barack Obama’s final year in office, the Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint statement that would allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponded with their gender identity. A month after President Donald Trump took office, the agencies rescinded the guidelines by letter to schools districts, citing faulty logic and a lack of research on the subject.

Without federal guidelines in place, individual states are grappling with the issue of transgender bathroom debate on their own, with rules fluctuating between cities and sometimes even between school districts. But recent transgender bathroom debates appear to be favoring the overriding preference to use the bathroom corresponding to gender identity.

Texas Bathroom Bill Opposed by Business Community

A contentious fight in the Texas legislature appears to be ending, as a bill that would require students to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate will most likely not be voted on.

The bill passed in the house, amid emotional testimony from transgender people and allies, as well as vocal opposition from the business community. Similar to what occurred in North Carolina, many companies and athletic organizations said they would resist doing business in Texas if the bathroom bill was pursued and passed.

As the Texas special legislative session ends this week, there is little hope that a transgender bathroom bill will be passed.

The bathroom bill in this session is dead and buried with dirt over its coffin,” Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, said in an interview with Reuters.

Transgender Students Successfully Sue School District for Rights

Three former students at a Pennsylvania high school sued the school district when they were forbidden to use the bathroom that corresponded to their gender identity. Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the “district had not demonstrated its policy advances an important governmental interest.”

Juliet Evancho, sister of America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, who sang at President Trump’s inauguration ball, was one of the plaintiffs, along with fellow classmate Elissa Ridenour and another student who only wished to be identified as A.S.

No one should have to go through what we went through and I’m so happy that transgender students at Pine-Richland High will no longer be discriminated against,” Elissa Ridenour said in a statement. “All of us had been using the restrooms that match who we are with no problems until some parents and outside groups complained. But, I’m glad the school district finally did the right thing.”

The federal ruling requires the school district to allow students to use the restroom that corresponds to their “consistently and uniformly asserted gender identity.”

Equality Groups Applaud New Jersey for Supporting LGBT Students

In July, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill requiring schools to acknowledge and allow students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Christie, a Republican, was praised by equality groups and progressives for standing up for LGBT youth.

These guidelines are needed to ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, one of the sponsors of the measure.

Read more on the controversy surrounding the transgender bathroom debate:

Transgender Bathroom Access Issue is Nationwide

Alabama City Transgender Bathroom Usage Law

NC Lawmakers Return to Address Transgender Bathroom Measure

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Former Coal City to Build Largest Solar Thermal Plant

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 15:02

THE GUARDIAN

A proposed solar thermal power plant in South Australia’s mid-north has been contracted to supply all the state government’s power needs.

Work on the $650m SolarReserve facility will start in 2018, creating 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing positions.

The state government said the 150 megawatt plant, to be ready in 2020, would dispatch energy to the grid even when the sun was not shining.

The chief executive of the Australian Solar Council and Energy Storage Council, John Grimes, described the government’s commitment as a win for the Port Augusta community.

Continue reading the story on the Guardian’s website.

 

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3 Things to Know About Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 13:04

According to the Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative (PTAC Collaborative) launched in April 2017,  37 states and Washington D.C. have involuntary commitment laws for individuals with substance use disorders or alcoholism. Also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment, these pre-arrest diversion strategies are becoming more widely accepted to address substance abuse and other disorders, according to a recent article in the Psychiatric Times.

According to the publication, Assisted Outpatient Treatment was first used in 1972 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, by an agreement between Dr. Roger Peele, a psychiatrist, and Harry Fulton, the chief public defender.

Here are three things to know about Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT).

#1 There’s Federal Funding for Assisted Outpatient Treatment

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced more than $13 million in federal funding for AOT demonstration grants and has extended the funding through 2022.

“AOT has now been officially endorsed by SAMHSA and Congress, joining such groups as the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Psychiatric Association.”

Using federal grant funding for recovery from substance use disorders is discussed in the 2016 SAMHSA AOT funding announcement. The first $13 million in grants funded 17 AOT projects this past year.

#2 Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs Require Clinical or Legal Criteria

AOT programs that reduce arrests generally require that a person meet clinical and legal criteria, such as a history of hospitalization or arrest.

Specific procedures vary by state. In a 2015 Massachusetts pilot, participation in AOT required dual diagnosis of  mental illness and substance use disorder.

#3 Application of AOT for Pre-Arrest Diversion is Spotty

According to the Psychiatric Times, AOT is still underutilized.

  • The states with the most extensive use of AOT are New York and New Jersey.
  • Butler and Summit Counties in Ohio have established AOT programs. The counties’ manuals and forms are available on the Treatment Advocacy Center website.
  • Laura’s Law, first implemented in Nevada County, Calif., now covers two-thirds of the state’s population.
  • All states have laws permitting AOT except for Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee, but in at least 15 states, it is virtually never used.

Access clinical documents from various programs on the Treatment Advocacy Center website.

Read the original story on the Psychiatric Times website.

Grant to Pay for Clinical Assessments at Cook County Drug Courts

$53M in Serious Mental Illness Outpatient Grants

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EPA Moves on Ground Level Ozone Rules, Despite Bill

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 12:03

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Michael Biesecker

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One day after 15 states sued him, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt backtracked on delaying Obama-era rules intended to reduce emissions of smog-causing air pollutants.

Pruitt contended his agency was being more responsive than past administrations to states’ needs. He made no mention Wednesday of the legal challenges to his earlier stand.

At issue is an Oct. 1 deadline for states to begin meeting standards for ground-level ozone. Pruitt announced in June that he would hold off compliance by one year so the EPA had more time to study the plan and avoid “interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth.”

In addition to the suit by a group of states led by New York, Pruitt was sued last month by a dozen public health and environmental groups, including the American Lung Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Club. The EPA was required to file a response in that case by Thursday.

Pruitt, who previously was Oklahoma’s attorney general, has long opposed stricter environmental rules. At the EPA, he repeatedly has acted to block or delay regulations opposed by the chemical and fossil-fuel industries.

Wednesday’s reversal was the latest legal setback for his agenda. Last month, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that Pruitt overstepped his authority in trying to stall an Obama administration rule that oil and gas companies monitor and reduce methane leaks.

In a statement, Pruitt suggested his about-face on ozone standards simply reinforced the EPA’s commitment to helping states through the complex process of meeting the new standards on time.

“Under previous administrations, EPA would often fail to meet designation deadlines, and then wait to be sued by activist groups and others, agreeing in a settlement to set schedules for designation,” said Pruitt, who sued EPA more than a dozen times as a state official. “We do not believe in regulation through litigation, and we take deadlines seriously. We also take the statute and the authority it gives us seriously.”

The EPA’s statement said Pruitt may at some point use his “delay authority and all other authority legally available” to ensure regulations “are founded on sound policy and the best available information.”

Republicans in Congress are pushing for a broader rewrite of the ozone rules. A House bill approved last month seeks to delay the 2015 rules at least eight years. The Senate has not voted yet.

New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said the states intend to keep up the pressure.

“The EPA’s reversal — following our lawsuits — is an important win for the health and safety of those 6.7 million New Yorkers, and the over 115 million Americans directly impacted by smog pouring into their communities,” Schneiderman said.

New York was joined in the case by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Ground-level ozone is created when common pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants and other sources react in the atmosphere to sunlight. The resulting smog can cause serious breathing problems among sensitive groups of people, contributing to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“These safeguards are essential because smog pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause irreversible lung damage or even death,” said Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club. “However, with an administration that prizes corporate polluters and its own extreme agenda more than the health of the public, we can’t let up on our fight to protect our families.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

The H.R. 806 Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017 could result in changes to the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

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How Charlottesville Tried to Move Alt-Right Rally Location

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:16

Because Charlottesville, Va., renamed Lee Park to Emancipation Park and planned to removed statues of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the city has attracted the Klu Klux Klan and other alt-right rally groups for several months.

Clashes between “Unite the Right” rally protesters and anti-protesters over the weekend led to a declared state of emergency that required the presence of the National Guard. The event led to the death of at least one woman, with several others in critical condition or injured, when suspect James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, rammed a crowd with a car in the congested downtown. Two state police officers were also killed in a helicopter accident as part of citywide crowd control measures during the violent rally.

“This entire community is a very far left community that has absorbed these cultural Marxist principles advocated in college towns across the country, about blaming white people for everything,” said Jason Kessler, a local man who organized the “Unite the Right” alt-right rally.

How Charlottesville Got Here

The event escalation began a week before the planned rally when city officials wanted to change the location, according to a report by a local NBC News affiliate.

Locally, police believed the alt-right rally would attract as many as 2,000 to 6,000 people, according to CNN. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism that tracks various groups had been saying they believed it would be the largest gathering of the major white supremacist groups in a decade, according to the Capital Journal.

The city sought to move the rally to a larger park, away from the congested downtown.

Representing the rally organizer, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against changing the location.

When the court made the decision Friday night to keep the scheduled Saturday rally at Emancipation Park, The Unite the Rally members took up torches and marched on the University of Virginia campus, and stood around a statue of Thomas Jefferson chanting white supremacy-fueled statements.

Police were called to break up that seemingly spontaneous demonstration prior to the next day’s planned rally, and photos comparing the tone of the evening to the rise of Nazi Germany spread like wildfire on social media.

Looking at Charlottesville’s Public Safety Decision

ACLU regarded previous response by the city to a July alt-right protest as “over-militarized,” according to a prepared statement, saying that they would be monitoring police presence.

But Dan Marcou, who has experience in crowd control tactics in La Crosse, Wisc., and other like him regularly advise cities and local law enforcement agencies to prepare for a range of potential public safety impacts at protests.

“Agencies and their partners — prosecutors and other government entities — need to be ready for a variety of appropriate responses for actions these groups may take,” Marcou said during an International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association conference session during the height of the Occupy Movement in 2012, according to a PoliceOne column about May Day protest prep.

In Charlottesville, City Manager Maurice Jones decided to move the rally, citing public safety concerns. Jones concluded the alt-right rally would be incompatible with the dense, urban location of Emancipation Park and its proximity next to the downtown mall, said Mayor Mike Signer, according to an NBC report earlier in the week preceding the event.

The city held a press conference about the location change on Monday, August 7th.

I expect Mr. Kessler to cooperate with us by holding his event at the approved venue. Having a demonstration at McIntire Park is safer because the park is large enough to accommodate the size of the anticipated crowd,” Police Chief Al Thomas told press.

Charlottesville businesses were also concerned about the upcoming alt-right rally’s location:

“The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville (DBAC) wishes to commend Charlottesville City Manager, Maurice Jones, for his wise decision to relocate the rally scheduled for August 12th from Emancipation Park to McIntire Park. This decision protects the safety of the community as well as downtown properties due to the anticipated increase in the size of the crowd. The size of the McIntire Park location provides more adequate parking and space for individuals attending the rally,” said Susan Payne, spokesperson for DBAC.

The Department of Justice has opened a federal investigation into the motor vehicle homicide Fields, an alt-right protester, is accused of.

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Ending Mass Incarceration is a Local Issue for John Legend

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 17:26

“Over 90 percent of our prisoners are in the state prisons and local jails…Changing state laws and changing practices on the local level is going to be where most of the change is anyhow,” John Legend told BuzzFeed in June. Legend addresses the social and financial costs of sky rocketing mass incarceration with the state and local lawmakers he meets as he continues his social justice work.

Free America is the legendary music artist’s campaign to change the national conversation about America’s criminal justice system. Incarceration has increased 700 percent in 40 years with one in four adults having a criminal record, according to the website.

Mass Incarceration: Are We Throwing People Away?

EfficientGov was present when Legend was recently honored for his social justice work at Salem State University in May.

“It’s who he is away from the piano is why we’re recognizing him tonight,” said Salem, Mass., Mayor Kim Driscoll as she welcomed Legend for the inaugural Salem Advocate for Social Justice award by The Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights and Social Justice.

While his education work was a top reason for the recognition, he discussed his activism in addressing the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration with Boston news anchor Lisa Hughes.

“We’re more prone to lock people up than other countries,” said Legend, noting that imprisonment leaves a stigma in all future endeavors, from getting a job to voting. After leaving prison, Legend wants to ensure that as a society, “we don’t just throw them away.”

Is Mass Incarceration Fueled By the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Legend did not start his social justice campaigns solely on his passion to make change, he said, imploring that to truly effect change, passionate people need to do their homework.

He said he hired experts to educate those that would be working on his campaigns to find out what works, what doesn’t work and perhaps most importantly, where resources should be allocated to effect change.

Part of the homework for Free America was looking at the realities of the juvenile justice system, and the number of minority youth that end up incarcerated, and that inevitably stay in the system. Via Youth First in March, Legend said:

We started our work to end mass incarceration after years of working to improve the quality of K-12 education for the most disadvantaged. We saw again and again that, far too often, kids who look like me and who come from poor and working class neighborhoods like my own, find that instead of getting a good education and a chance to go to college, they get prison.”

Education & Mass Incarceration

In Essex County, which Salem is part of, 36.5 percent of the current male inmate population aged 19-29, has less than a high school degree, according to anonymized data provided by the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. Another 16 percent have a GED. The number is close to the national average that can be calculated from the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics data from the late 1990s, which showed of all jail inmates, regardless of age, that 31.6 percent  had less than a high school education, and 12.3 percent had just eighth grade or less.

National data on the school-to-prison pipeline and how education correlates to imprisonment is spotty, and outdated, at best. The educational attainment data in this table is still referenced in a BJS report on prisoners released in 2015:

But is a reduced education level a catalyst of America’s high prison population, and is it also the solution?

According to a 2013 RAND Corporation report of correctional educational studies, participation in prison education, including both academic and vocational programming, was associated with a more than 40 percent reduction in recidivism.

That same year, The Alliance for Excellent Education also cited education as a way to lower the national cost of mass incarceration. The report suggested that the U.S. could save as much as $18.5 billion annually if the high school male graduation rate increased by only 5 percent.

To address the school-to-prison pipeline, the Youth First Initiative is calling for an overhaul of the $5 billion per year youth prison system and widespread juvenile detention centers as harmful, ineffective and excessively expensive, and in their places, establish community-based alternatives.

Education’s role, and the youth prison system, are surely subjects Legend will address as he continues to speak with local lawmakers that might change the tide of mass incarceration through the criminal justice reforms they may effect.

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Kenton County Judge Receives Heroes Against Heroin Honor

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 15:38

The recovery center Transitions, Inc. will be honoring Kenton County Judge Executive Kris Knochelmann in Heroes Against Heroin 2017 for efforts to help people with substance use disorders, according to WCPO Cincinnati.

Knochelmann was nominated by the community to receive Heroes Against Heroin special recognition for his work in addressing the opioid crisis in Kenton County. He’s focused on solutions from handing out education pamphlets about the Northern Kentucky Addiction Helpline door-to-door in July to advocating to add Kenton and two other other Kentucky counties into the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which resulted in federal funding and law enforcement tools to assist locally in the opioid fight.

We’re appreciative of all the partners who have joined this fight to defeat an enemy that is literally destroying thousands of families in our community. Whether it be education and prevention, intervention, treatment, or law enforcement, we won’t rest until we have every tool necessary to win this battle,” he said in May about the HIDTA designation.

He is also working to create access to medical treatment for opioid abuse in Kenton County. This week, the Kenton County Fiscal Court authorized up to $1 million for Knochelmann to negotiate purchase of a vacant sports complex that Transitions Inc. will turn into a 180-bed heroin treatment facility, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“As the third-largest county in Kentucky, we should have a respectable treatment facility,” Knochelmann said, noting that he hopes to have the land purchased before the end of the month because lives are at stake.

In 2015, Knochelmann also led a shift in county policy for heroin possession, accelerating the process of placing those with heroin addiction into drug treatment through the Heroin Expedited Addiction Recovery Treatment, or HEART program. Instead of waiting in the Kenton County Detention Center, a certified substance abuse counselor evaluates inmates and transfers them to treatment.

Knochelmann along with other Heroes Against Heroin will be honored at a gala with fireworks on Sept. 3rd.

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$83 Million in Local JAG Grants

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 14:28

The Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grant program (JAG grants) is accepting applications for local JAG grants, and will award up to $83 million to units of local government.

Eligible units include towns, townships, villages, parishes, cities, counties, boroughs or other general purpose subdivisions of a state, including federally recognized Indian tribal governments that perform law enforcement functions.

Local JAG grants are awarded to communities with programs focusing on improvement in areas related to law enforcement, drug treatment, education, technology improvement and other issues affecting local communities.

In addition, the BJA, as a component of the Office of Justice Programs, encourages local communities to focus on programs committed to improving programs in five areas:

  • Reducing gun violence in local communities
  • Switching to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • Promoting officer safety and wellness
  • Bolstering support and safety measures for border security
  • Working collaboratively with prosecutors and other members of the justice system

Certain items funded by local JAG grants may have additional stipulations, including:

  • Body-worn cameras
  • Body armor
  • DNA database uploading and testing
  • Interoperable communications

New JAG Restrictions Take Aim at Sanctuary Cities

In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new rules for local JAG grants that would prohibit sanctuary cities from using the federal funds. Under the new rules, local governments are ineligible for JAG grants if they refuse to provide Immigration and Customs officials access to information about arrestees, access to detention facilities or fail to provide the Department of Homeland Security at least two days notice before releasing illegal immigrants from custody.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel filed a lawsuit against Sessions and the federal government, claiming that the new guidelines have not been approved by Congress.

These new conditions — which would give federal officials the power to enter city facilities and interrogate arrestees at will and would force the city to detain individuals longer than justified by probable cause, solely to permit federal officials to investigate their immigration status — are unauthorized and unconstitutional,” the complaint read.

The lawsuit could prompt a judge to place a hold on the new ICE requirements, until the case is litigated.

Applications for local JAG grants are due by Sept. 5, and award notifications will be issued by Sept. 30.

Apply on the OJP Grants Management System website application process.

Review a complete list of potential JAG allocations by city and county on the BJA website.

Access information about compliance with Section 1373, with updates on changing requirements.

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This Police Program Addresses Homelessness Differently

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 13:35

LONG BEACH, CALIF. — The Quality of Life Program was founded in 2007 by the Long Beach Police Department in an effort to impact vagrancy-related crimes, reduce the number of calls for service related to the homeless population and seek long term solutions for these issues.

The grant-funded program pairs a police officer and a mental health clinician to help utilize city resources and provide services to those experiencing homelessness, eventually placing them in permanent housing. The team is a liaison to connect homeless individuals to non-government agency services, community support groups, housing resources, transportation and mental health services. The team also provides training to police officers and outside agencies on alternative methods for addressing homeless-related issues.

The program enables police department time and determination to change the story for homeless people.

Police Program Unites a Family After 25 Years

Police Officer Brad Futak and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Psychiatric Technician Tom Kirk received a request from the Long Beach Health Department Multi-Service Center to respond to a person sitting on a bus bench at a busy intersection.

When they met George Milligan, he was sitting on a bench drinking coffee. After they interviewed him, they started to search for family. When they first spoke to a woman named Rebecca in northern California, she said she did not have a family member named George, but she said she lost track of her brother David more than 25 years ago. Futak sent a photo of George to Rebecca, whom she said was her missing brother. The family once hired a private investigator to locate him, but to no avail.

Relatives nearby visited David in the hospital the same day. Doctors placed him on psychiatric medication and he was able to live with family after spending a month in the hospital. David revealed he left home in 1992 because his father wanted to place him on disability income. He did not want government assistance, so he left home and never returned.

It has been well over a year since David was reunited with his family. One year in housing is considered a bench mark with helping people end homelessness. Futak and David’s family still keep in touch. They even send him photos of David and his family out to dinner on special celebrations.

2016 Quality of Life Program program statistics:

  • Field interviews                                                       1,306
  • Calls for service                                                       501
  • Bus tickets purchased                                            39
  • Motel rooms purchased                                         211
  • Rehab/sober living placements/housing           87
  • Shelter placements                                                 102
  • Mental crisis evaluations                                       112
  • Hospital calls for assistance                                  210
  • LB Rescue Mission calls for assistance               125
  • Multi-service center calls for assistance             832
  • Clothing/meals                                                        329
  • Mental health aid via “The Village”                     45
  • Veterans resources                                                  24

About the Authors
Abram Yap is a police sergeant with the Long Beach Police Department assigned to the Downtown Entertainment District. He is also assigned to supervise the South Division Quality of Life Detail.

Bradley D. Futak is a police officer with the Long Beach Police Department South Division Quality of Life Unit.

The post This Police Program Addresses Homelessness Differently appeared first on EfficientGov.

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