Local authorities are refusing to take simple meas

first_imgLocal authorities are refusing to take simple measures that will provide new legal protection from discrimination for wheelchair-users who want to travel by taxi.On 6 April, the government finally brought into force legislation that imposes fines of up to £1,000 on drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles who refuse to accept wheelchair-users, try to charge them extra, or fail to provide them with appropriate assistance.But the new laws only apply in those areas where the local authority has drawn up a list of all the wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in their area.Even though the government has been encouraging councils to start drawing up such lists for the last seven years, early responses to freedom of information requests sent by a disabled activist to every council that licenses taxis in England, Scotland and Wales have revealed that many are refusing to draw up the lists.So far, about one in four of the councils that have replied to Doug Paulley (pictured) have said that they do not intend to draw up a list, so rendering the new laws useless in those areas.Among those so far to have told him they have no plans to draw up a list are Hertsmere (in Hertfordshire), Oldham, Telford and Wrekin (in Shropshire), Stratford-on-Avon, Epping Forest (in Essex), Suffolk Coastal and Waveney (in Suffolk).A spokeswoman for Hertsmere Borough Council confirmed to Disability News Service (DNS) that they do not maintain a list and “don’t have plans to”, although all taxis in the borough must be wheelchair-accessible and drivers must undertake training in handling wheelchairs, while private hire drivers receive a discount on their licence if their vehicle is wheelchair-accessible.A spokesman for Oldham Council confirmed that they had told Paulley that they do not have a list and had no plans to draw one up, but told DNS that although they “don’t have a list at present” the issue “will be discussed with the Licensing Committee in June”.Telford and Wrekin Council, which told Paulley that they “have not produced and do not have any plans to produce a list”, told DNS that all of its taxis had been wheelchair-accessible since 1998, that it provided disability awareness training to all new drivers, and that its licensing service can already deal with drivers who refuse to carry a wheelchair-user, overcharge them or fail to provide assistance.The council said in a statement: “We have no current evidence that there is a problem within Telford and Wrekin. “As we said in our response to the freedom of information request, should it come to light that there is a problem in the borough regarding our licensed drivers, we will review the situation. “We have not said that the council will not maintain a list of designated vehicles… we merely do not propose to introduce one at this time.”Although Epping Forest District Council said in its freedom of information response that it did not keep a list and had no plans to draw one up, it told DNS that it was now the council’s intention “to consult with members over this in the near future”.Stratford-on-Avon District Council said in its freedom of information response that it did not keep a list and had no plans to draw one up, but after this was queried by Paulley and DNS a spokeswoman claimed that it “hasn’t drawn up a list, but it is intending to” and that it had “already pursued enforcement action where there have been incidences of discrimination”.Two other councils, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District, originally told Paulley that they had no list and “no scheduled plan to produce such a list” although they did not rule out drawing one up in the future.But after being contacted by DNS, the councils, which work closely together, said they were “looking to produce one within this year”, while both offer a 50 per cent reduction in licence fees if a vehicle is wheelchair-accessible, and neither “has any complaints on record relating to wheelchair users not being assisted in the correct manner and no reports of excess fees being charged”.The new laws, included in the Equality Act 2010 as sections 165 and 167, affect England, Wales and Scotland, and were first included in the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 but were never brought into force.The government finally agreed to act last May, after a hugely-critical report on the impact of equality laws on disabled people by the House of Lords Equality Act 2010 and disability committee.But taxis and private hire vehicles are only obliged to follow the new rules if they are fully wheelchair-accessible, and it is up to each local authority to decide how to define “wheelchair-accessible”, and whether they will draw up a list.Paulley has already warned that that the new laws could provide far less protection for wheelchair-users than had been hoped, because they only apply if local authorities co-operate with the new legislation.last_img read more

A Primer on the SF DAs Police Accountability Report

first_img 0% •       “Those guys are pretty stupid! Ask some dumb ass questions you would expect from a black rookie! Sorry if they are your buddies!”•        “I’m just leaving it like it is, painting KKK on the sides and calling it a day!”•        “Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!”Note: Ian Furminger, an officer at the Mission District station who was among the 14 officers involved in what became known as textgate, was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for other charges – stealing from suspects.  The 13 other offices involved in textgate remain on the SFPD payroll, some attempts have been made to discipline or fire the officers, but so far, the courts have ruled that the texts are too old to prosecute the officers.In its report, published last July, the Panel reviews the current state of affairs at the SFPD, making some 81 recommendations for change including Use of Force policy, Internal and External Oversight.Why the Blue Ribbon Panel?Based on the text messages, the DA convened the Panel to investigate the existence and extent of institutional bias (racism/sexism/homophobia) within the SFPD.Since the establishment of the Panel, Mario Woods, Luis Gongora and Jessica Williams have been killed by police officers on duty, and a second text message scandal emerged.Although locally focused the Report also responds to a growing alienation around the country between police departments and the communities, particularly the communities of color, they police.Who Is On the Blue Ribbon Panel?The Panel was comprised of three former judges from outside San Francisco: Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, Justice Cruz Reynoso, Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian.  Several downtown law firms staffed working groups with pro bono attorneys. The working groups studied the issue areas thought to be relevant to the question of institutional bias. Those areas include:• Stops, Searches, and Arrests• Personnel• Use of Force and Officer-Involved Shootings• Internal Discipline• External Oversight• Brady Policies and Practices• Culture• Crime DataWhat are the main takeaways from the Report?The Panel makes no sweeping generalizations. Its conclusions are expressed in a series of findings and recommendations. Overall the Panel identifies significant deficiencies with respect to policy, practice, training, oversight, discipline, data collection, analysis and transparency.For example, the Use of Force policy has not been formally reviewed for over 20 years, and is seriously out of date, according to the report.  On the other hand, the Panel considers the existing policy prohibiting biased policing to be in line with “best practices” around the country. The problem is how those best practices are applied, according to the report.One of the main issues raised nationally has been whether police unfairly target racial  minorities for stops and detentions. The Panel found available data indicating significant racial disparities in the SFPD with respect to traffic stops.Although records are kept on traffic stops, data on other stops is either inconsistent or non-existent, the Panel found. Racial data is not collected on any stops other than traffic stops. The traffic stop program began in 2001, but the panel found it is already outdated and evidence points to considerable non-compliance with its requirements.A recent city ordinance mandates data collection and regular analysis and reporting on all stops. Implementation, however, is not required until 2019.For a city that considers itself the epicenter of the tech transformation, the sections on the Department’s data collection, analysis and reporting will inspire many heads to shake in disbelief.In 2015, the SFPD published two sets of crime statistics. The Department has not clarified the cause of the discrepancy. Over the past five years, SFPD crime data reporting has diminished, according to the Panel.Although the Department may seem stuck in the 1980s with respect to data, readers may feel sections dealing with accountability and discipline stretch back to the 1950s.The Report found that the internal discipline process is “opaque.” For example, when the Panel requested that the SFPD provide it with the number of bias complaints investigated or sustained over the last five years, the SFPD could not respond to the request because it did not track this data, or the outcomes of its disciplinary cases.External oversight provided by the Police Commission and the Office of Citizen Complaints don’t help much. The Panel found Complaints made to the Office of Citizen Complaints rarely result in disciplinary consequences (under 10% of claims were sustained), and when they do, the discipline imposed is almost always mild.Is the Report worth reading?It depends how interested you are in the recent trials and tribulations of law enforcement in San Francisco. It is not a “good read” or at 250 pages (plus appendices) a particularly fast one. The over-lawyerly language as expected, doesn’t help. The recommendations are in line with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was fully endorsed by the SFPD.There are two relatively juicy sections, the sub-chapter on Methodology and the chapter on Culture. They also offer a sense of why making reforms will not be easy.The Panel was a creation of the DA’s office and did not have the power to compel testimony, document production or even polite cooperation from the SFPD. Because the SFPD was less than forthcoming, the main question regarding institutional bias could not be answered with any kind of specificity or certainty.From the outset, the Police Officers Association (the Police Union) bitterly opposed the project. Martin  Halloran, the police union’s president, accused DA George Gascon of political grandstanding:Mr. Gascón’s attack on our department regarding our supposed “systemic racism” is self-serving and baseless. For someone who has bragged of his involvement in prior police scandals, it is baffling and astounding that he would use inappropriate text messaging by a handful of our officers to attempt to tarnish our entire department.The sub-chapter on Methodology describes, sometimes in gory detail, the passive-aggressive cooperation the Department offered the Panel when it sought documents, testimony or data. Denial, delay, slow-walking, under-staffing were among the common bureaucratic tactics employed to annoy the Panelists if not subvert the process entirely.In reply, the Report lets loose on the Police Officers Association in the chapter on SFPD Culture.  In the Introduction, the Panel sets up its case.It is common sense that a law enforcement agency ‘can have the best policies in the world, but if [its] institutional culture doesn’t support them, they won’t work.The Chapter on Culture makes clear the Panel thinks the SFPD culture has got to change. Big Time.The Panel’s work on Culture at the SFPD was based entirely on interviews with current and past SFPD officers. There were two sets of interviewees. One set was comprised of officers suggested by the police union. These officers agreed to individual instances of racism, but no evidence in their experience would point to widespread or institutional bias.The second group was comprised of officers who testified to the panel confidentially. These officers, including President of Officers for Justice Sergeant Yulanda Williams, stated categorically that, based on their experience, widespread discrimination and systemic bias exists within the SFPD.Finally, the Panel takes note of a group of officers who did not testify for fear of retaliation by the SFPD or the POA. They may have had reason.After her testimony, which detailed the reasons she gave for the existence of institutional bias, Halloran, the police union president, sent an open letter to Sergeant Williams complaining that her testimony was “self-centered and grossly unfair.”Sergeant Williams viewed the Halloran letter as an open threat, saying she felt “unsafe on patrol” and “a personal attack against me and my constitutional rights of freedom of speech…. It sends a clear message that when you go against what they believe in you are then considered an outsider, an outcast and they attempt to slander your name.”What can we expect from the Board of Supervisors?For those hoping for local political dramatics and some possible fireworks, the meeting begins at 3 p.m. and is scheduled go last until 6 p.m.For those hoping for meaningful, remedial, action, don’t hold your breath. Though the Report portrays a City Department in dire need of reform, it has no official status, and its recommendations are just that, recommendations.As it is the first report off the block, it may provide the framework for further discussions and, with luck, contribute to the consolidation of the political will it will make to the changes the Report recommends.BRP Report by MissionLocal on Scribd Tags: SFPD Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img In the coming months, Mission Local will be looking into Policing the Mission within the context of the national conversation on police reform.  In that series, we will be diving deeper into the Report’s findings and recommendations, but this should prepare you for today’s hearings. The Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing today on a blue ribbon report on racism in the San Francisco Police Department. The report is the result of a year-long inquiry by a blue ribbon panel put together by the District Attorney George Gascón. It represents the first response to the troubles plaguing the SFPD. It won’t be the last.What is the Blue Ribbon Report?The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement (the Panel) was an advisory body to the San Francisco District Attorney established in May 2015 in response to the release of racist and homophobic text messages from 14 police officers within the San Francisco Police Department.  Some examples that led officials to believe racism might be inherent:last_img read more

New Mission District Navigation Center opening with increased security

first_imgThere will also be more police officers present in the neighborhood.“We are going to increase police visibility and presence within a few blocks around the site,” said Lazar. At least one officer deployed with Mission Station currently patrols the area, he said. “We will have a more  concentrated effort within a four to six block radius [of 1515 South Van Ness], all throughout the day, to make sure we are present and around,” said Lazar, but declined to say how many officers will be patrolling the area, calling it instead, “Just a slight increase.”The new Navigation Center is a joint effort of various city departments – including the San Francisco Police Department, Public Works and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing – to address homelessness in the district. “It’s about geography,” said Quezada, adding that clients of the 120-bed shelter will be admitted only if they currently stay in the area stretching from Division to Cesar Chavez streets, and from Potrero Avenue to Valencia Street. Clients will be allowed to stay for 30 to 60 days with some flexibility, he said. A homeless count released last week placed the number of homeless residents in the Mission at 510 – up from 410 in 2015. Homeless-related calls for service in the district have increased, a reflection of the city’s housed residents’ peaking frustrations with the visible and often heartbreaking reality of homelessness on their doorsteps. The Mission’s once sprawling tent encampments have long been deemed “unsafe and inhumane” by Ronen and other city leaders. Since last August some of the large scale encampments have been broken up or moved, but few have vanished entirely.Without adequate permanent supportive housing or shelter space – a citywide adult shelter wait list has some 1,100 individuals  – many of those removed from resolved encampments simply move a few blocks away.“The city cleared Division Street [last March], then people went into residential areas. The [neighbors’] complaints increased 40-60 percent, then they [responded] sweeps and encampment resolutions and folks were then pushed into more industrial areas,” said Kelley Cutler, a human rights advocate for the Coalition on Homelessness.“Lately what we are seeing now is sweeps there too. Nothing is being accomplished it’s making things worse,” she added. The new  Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. will add 120 beds to the Mission. Along with the city’s first Navigation Center, a 75-bed Center at 1950 Mission St., is one way to address the homeless residents who move from block to block and to connect the homeless to city services, said Quezada.“It’s not permanent housing, it’s not long term transitional. Its a Navigation Center, a way to plug people into broader system and help people figure out their journey out of homelessness,” said Quezada. The new Navigation Center will operate for six to nine months and was spearheaded by Ronen in an effort to provide immediate relief for the proliferation of tent encampments in the neighborhood.But since its planning stages, it has split neighbors along the lines of compassion and opposition – citing safety concerns, a group of neighbors protested its construction. “There is a lot of neighborhood concern around loitering – There are perceptions of the neighborhood overnight becoming what the neighborhood is like around 16th and Mission. It’s a different place,” said Quezada, referring to an existing Navigation Center at 16th and Mission streets.  “We actively discourage loitering in front of the facility. “In past months the department heads have met to address operational and security concerns.  Talk of a fixed police post on the site of the new center earlier this week stirred advocates for the homeless, who decried an enforcement-heavy approach to address homelessness in the area. “There’s always the concern when the response to homelessness is law enforcement,” said Cutler. “They are putting officers in a role they shouldn’t be in. We have a housing and health crisis and responding with law environment makes no sense.”But Quezada said that the department’s social workers will be at the forefront of moving homeless campers off the streets and into the shelter.  “We always lead with social services. But we do have an interest in keeping streets clean and healthy,” he said. “We are trying to get people off the streets and to a better life, that’s our goal. The police department shares our goal. The police department has other goals around public safety and we support them.”With the temporary center’s limited operation, the question remains of what happens once the clients’ stays end. “A huge concern is .. the police enforcement for those people [who] go back to the street after nine months,” said Cutler. A temporary Navigation Center uniquely serving the Mission’s homeless population is set to open its doors on Monday and will come with bolstered police patrols near its  location at 26th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, as well as a private security guard on site. “We will have private security – and not make it a large police presence at the Navigation Center,” said Commander David Lazar, of the San Francisco Police Department’s Community Engagement Division. “We want people to be free to go and not be intimidated. We have a role as police officers to make sure people are safe.”Randy Quezada, the spokesperson for city’s Department on Homelessness and Supportive Housing, confirmed that a security firm will be contracted by the San Vincent De Paul Society,  the nonprofit that will manage the center. The details, including the name of the firm, have not yet been released. A guard and the center’s staff will be on site at all hours, said Quezada. In a community meeting on the matter in early May, Mission Supervisor Hillary Ronen and other city department heads involved in the center’s build-out and operations promised a dedicated police patrol for the area.   Tags: homeless • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img 0%last_img read more

SAINTS are continuing their preparations for Super

first_imgSAINTS are continuing their preparations for Super League XIX with a number of sessions designed to increase endurance, stamina and game readiness.Head of Strength and Conditioning Matt Daniels has been putting the players through their paces and invited us down to see their latest session!Saints will kick off their Super League campaign with a trip to Warrington on Thursday February 13 before hosting Hull FC eight days later in a blockbusting Langtree Park opener.Before then Nathan Brown’s men take on Batley (January 24) and Wigan (January 31) in pre-season friendlies.To buy tickets for these matches click here or pop into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park.Mobile users can see the video here.last_img read more

THE Champions will get their first taste of the 20

first_imgTHE Champions will get their first taste of the 2015 campaign when they host Widnes Vikings in a friendly this coming Sunday (3pm)Keiron Cunningham is likely to give all his fit squad members a run out in the traditional Karalius Cup match which is part of the side’s preparation for the new season.Widnes have already played their first game of the pre-season – a 16-0 reverse at Warrington last Wednesday – so Denis Betts will be looking to further fine tune his team ahead of their Super League opener against Wigan.Saints will also face Wigan (Jan 25) and Rochdale (Jan 30 – St Helens Select Team) as they build up to their first game of the First Utility Super League season with Catalan.Tickets for the game are on sale from Langtree Park – as well as being available on the turnstiles.They are priced at £12 for adults, £10 for concessions and Juniors £5 (Solarking South and Totally Wicked North Stands) and £10 (adult) £8 (concession), £5 (Junior) (Hatton’s Solicitors West Terrace).Hospitality packages are also available. Click here for more information.last_img read more

Police Uber driver claims woman overdosed before dumping body

first_imgCharles Hunt Jr. was charged with concealing/failure to report the death of a person. (Photo: Columbus County Sheriff’s Office) MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Following up on a tip, Horry County Police arrested a Myrtle Beach man for dumping the body of a woman who was thought to be missing.According to the incident report filed by Horry County Police Officer Emilie Hardwick, police received a tip at 11 p.m. Dec. 30 that Charles Rayford Hunt, 40, had dumped the body of Kathleen Capra in the woods in Columbus County. Detective Josh Johnson went to Capra’s home and spoke with her father, who said she had been missing since the previous night after she was picked up by someone, although Capra’s father couldn’t say with whom his daughter left.- Advertisement – Click here to read more at WBTW.comlast_img read more

WPD adds ice cream truck to make a sweet impact to community

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police is adding a new vehicle to their fleet, an ice cream truck! It’s all in an effort to make a sweet impact in the community.The refurbished work van, which was donated for the effort recently, under-went about $2,000 worth of upgrades, including decals that read “The Frozen Five-O”, a freezer and a loud speaker that plays music.- Advertisement – The idea for the truck was the vision of Assistant Police Chief Jim Varrone. Varrone says he began thinking about his childhood and the neighborhood ice cream truck that visited his neighborhood.“The neighborhood ice cream man, Charlie came to mind. I was always amazed at Charlie. Charlie knew all the kids, and most of their parents. He always looked out for the neighborhood kids. Charlie was highly regarded by the community because he took the time to get to know the kids. He truly cared. He even remembered birthdays” said Jim Varrone.Related Article: Operation BBQ Relief to end operations SundayThe idea was brought to the Wilmington Police Department as part of the agency’s on-going community relation campaign.“We’re always going to have to arrest the bad guys out there,” Varrone said. “That’s never going to go away unfortunately, but we need to be able to capture our youth and have conversations and let them get to know us and let them get to know the people behind the badge. Let them know that we’re also there to protect them but also be their friends and help them.”Varrone says the truck will only have pre-packaged ice cream but no soft serve.Frozen Five-O will start up on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.last_img read more

Williston alumni discuss schools legacy at Cape Fear Museum

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Sunday at the Cape Fear Museum, an event was held to discuss and honor New Hanover County’s only African-American high school for more than 40 years.Although Brown V. Board of Education was decided in 1954, North Carolina schools remained segregated into the late 1960’s.- Advertisement – Sunday, alumni of Williston School shared how disappointed they were in 1968 to hear the school would close, and students would be sent to New Hanover and Hoggard High Schools.Those who attended the school during this transition, say Williston felt like a family, and they were treated very badly by white students once they integrated.last_img read more

4th of July Where you can watch fireworks

first_img Surf City will also hold 4th of July festivities Tuesday starting at 5:30 p.m. at Soundside Park.The fun in downtown Wilmington kicks off along the riverfront Wednesday starting at 6 p.m.The biggest festival in our area is in Southport, where the NC 4th of July Festival holds its fireworks display is at 9 p.m. Wednesday.Related Article: Hampstead neighbors block off private roads to beach trafficDown in Myrtle Beach, you can see fireworks both Tuesday and Wednesday in a variety of locations.Broadway at the Beach After the Game Tuesday at 10 p.m.Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ TicketReturn.com Field TuesdayBroadway at the Beach at 10 p.m. WednesdaySecond Avenue Pier at 10 p.m. WednesdayBroadway at the Beach at 10 p.m. FridaySurfside Drive 6 p.m. Wednesday (No town fireworks)Cherry Grove Pier from 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. WednesdayMurrells Inlet Boat Parade at noon Wednesday WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY/WBTW) — The 4th of July is just days away and there are lots of celebrations planned in communities across the Cape Fear.Carolina Beach will host its celebration Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the Boardwalk.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Preemie baby heads home for Christmas after 6 months in NICU

first_img Preemie baby Arielle is heading home for Christmas after months in the NICU. (Photo: Autumn Murphy) 1 of 4 Preemie baby Arielle is heading home for Christmas after months in the NICU. (Photo: Crystal Baker) Preemie baby Arielle is heading home for Christmas after months in the NICU. (Photo: Autumn Murphy/Crystal Baker) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This story will melt your heart!New Hanover Regional Medical Center shared photos of a preemie baby who is finally heading home for her first Christmas after being in the NICU for months.- Advertisement – The hospital says Arielle spent 190 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Betty H. Cameron Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Preemie baby Arielle is heading home for Christmas after months in the NICU. (Photo: Crystal Baker) Preemie baby Arielle is heading home for Christmas after months in the NICU. (Photo: Crystal Baker)last_img read more