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Joseph McNamara, crime researcher and San Jose's police chief for 15 years who recently criticized the police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Missouri, died Friday at age 79, according to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
McNamara, who was chief of police in San Jose from 1976 to 1991, had since then served as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and taught at five colleges, including Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley according to the institution's website.
"It is with profound sadness that we learned of the passing of our colleague, Joe McNamara, who lost his battle with cancer this morning," the institute's director John Raisian said in a prepared statement.
"Joe was a rare person: a man who not only served as a revered police chief, but who had uncommon insights," Raisian stated. "He was known by his colleagues for his tireless public service and deep commitment to promote ideas that contributed to positive solutions pertaining to law enforcement."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Laurie, and his children."
In a statement, San Jose police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said, "The San Jose Police Department mourns the loss of Chief McNamara, a great man and leader for our Department."
McNamara, controversial for views favoring gun control and criticizing racial profiling of suspects by police, started his career in law enforcement in 1956 with the New York Police Department as a beat patrolman in the predominately black borough of Harlem, and later became a criminal justice research fellow at Harvard.
In 1973, McNamara earned a doctorate in public administration and dubbed himself as "the only retired police chief in the United States to hold a PhD from Harvard University," according to his personal website.
In 1976, he became the youngest police chief in the country when he accepted the job in Kansas City, Missouri, where only days into his new job, an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen burglary suspect, he recalled in an article he wrote for Hoover's website on August 19.
In response, McNamara went to the boy's funeral in plain clothes, rewrote department firearms policy that "prohibited police officers from firing at unarmed suspects" and "cut back on all police use of military gear," he wrote.
"We invited local community leaders to help shape police responses," he wrote. "In the wake of the new policy, police shootings fell dramatically, and crime declined as local leadership joined with police in speaking out against crime."
McNamara wrote for Hoover in 1999 that San Jose's leaders sought his appointment as police chief in 1976 to make improvements to the department after two fatal police shootings in the city, one of a black man in his front yard following a traffic violation and another of a young unarmed Hispanic thought to have been reaching for a weapon.
"As a result of the shootings and generally bad relations between the police and minority communities, the San Jose mayor and city council had asked the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to monitor the department," he stated.
"Three years later, the commission praised San Jose police for greatly improving relations and recommended that the department be used as a national model for large cities," McNamara stated.
"San Jose police back then believed it was their job to keep the citizens in line," he wrote. "They saw themselves as tough cops and believed that confronting everyone - especially minority males - as potential criminals would scare people into being law abiding."
"In reality, police disrespect made citizens reluctant to report crime, help gather evidence, or come forward as witnesses. Paradoxically, the police were discouraging the very citizen cooperation they needed to fight crime," he wrote.
"With the help of San Jose supervisors and leaders from community organizations, we were able to change the police culture and bring cops back into contact with the people they served," he stated. "Both crime and police use of force declined as trust was renewed."
McNamara would boast that during his tenure as police chief, San Jose became the "safest large city in the country, despite having the fewest police per capita," according to the Hoover website.
In the August 19 article, his last published on the website, he criticized the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri, and specifically its chief, for its handling that month of the fatal officer-involved shooting of black teenager Michael Brown, who was not armed.
He faulted the department for using of military-type vehicles and equipment to quell demonstrators and detaining a few journalists.
"This sort of militarization was intended for extremely rare hostage situations," he wrote. "The arrest of journalists and the use of tear gas in Ferguson is zany."
"The major issue, though, still is the unanswered question: What justification do the police have for killing an unarmed suspect?"
"The answer is always: None."Fri, 19 Sep 2014 22:16:37 -0700
A massive Northern California wildfire is burning so explosively because of the prolonged drought that firefighters are finding normal amounts of retardant aren't stopping the flames. And so they are dropping record-breaking amounts — more than 203,000 gallons in one day alone.
By Friday, state firefighters and the U.S. Forest Service together had bombarded the conflagration with more than a half-million gallons of the red slurry, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a state fire spokeswoman.
But the fire activity is so extreme it's pushing through their lines.
"They can slow it down a little bit. But they're not able to hold it long enough to get ground units in there to extinguish it before it burns through and continues its path," Tolmachoff said.
The King Fire, which authorities said was deliberately set, has chewed through nearly 120 square miles of timber and vegetation about 60 miles east of Sacramento. It was 10 percent contained.
The blaze in steep terrain forced the evacuation of 2,800 people and burned multiple structures in the White Meadows area of Pollock Pines. On Friday, it threatened a key University of California, Berkeley research station that is home to scores of experiments on trees, plants and other wildlife.
The fire also is threatening hydroelectric facilities and power lines that deliver water and electricity to the Sacramento region and some treasured Sierra Nevada recreations areas, the Sacramento Bee reported. Some power stations and lines either burned or were shut down as a precaution, cutting off energy from three utility agencies' hydroelectric reservoirs.
The man suspected of setting the fire, Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, pleaded not guilty to an arson charge Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court. He was being held on $10 million bail.
Authorities have not said what evidence they have linking Huntsman to the fire, by far the largest of about a dozen fires burning statewide.
The record retardant drop occurred Wednesday, and Thursday was another heavy day. Authorities reduced drops on Friday because smoke affected visibility for pilots.
Firefighters have used retardant — a water-and-fertilizer mix colored with red dye — since the 1950s to slow the advance of wildfires, but the practice is controversial because of its potential effect on wildlife. The Forest Service recently adjusted its retardant rules after two lawsuits that alleged the drops were killing fish, damaging watersheds and harming endangered species.
The agency now can't drop retardant within 300 feet of bodies of water on federal forest land and can't dump the slurry in certain exclusion zones designed to protect endangered plant species. The only exception is if people are in immediate danger from flames.
Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, said the intended purpose of retardant was "an initial attack tool in very remote fires" to buy time for crews to get to the scene and dig fire lines.
"But now we're seeing a dramatic increase in the amount of retardant being dumped because we're not just using it in those remote wilderness areas, but we're using it on every fire, everywhere, and there are more fires," he said.
The Forest Service used 12 million gallons of retardant nationwide last year, and 60 percent of it was dumped on California fires, Stahl said.
The federal restrictions don't apply to California firefighters, and Cal Fire has increased the amount of retardant during the past decade..
Tolmachoff, the state fire spokeswoman, didn't know how many gallons her agency dropped on fires last year. But she said retardant use was rising because of the addition of bigger DC-10 air tankers, expanding populations in fire-prone areas and the increasing size and frequency of fires caused by drought.
"Our main goal in California is to protect lives and the property and resources, and we put every effort we can into it," she said.Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:41:38 -0700
San Francisco Animal Care & Control rescued eight abandoned dogs in a state of serious neglect from an Outer Mission home on Wednesday.
The two Chihuahuas and six Tibetan and Wheaton terrier mixes had been left in the home after the residents were evicted, according to Capt. Denise BonGiovanni.
The dogs had not received proper care for a long period of time and suffered from malnutrition, hair loss, overgrown nails, parasites and skin conditions, according to the Department of Animal Care & Control.
One dog was transferred to an emergency veterinary hospital for overnight care, the department said.
"We were alerted by a real estate agent," BonGiovanni said.
The department knows the identity of the home's former occupants but hasn't yet been in contact with them, BonGiovanni said. The dogs' former guardians could face criminal charges for abandonment and neglect, according to the department.
The dogs will likely become available for adoption after they convalesce.
Residents who suspect animal abuse or neglect can report it to the Animal Care & Control's emergency line at (415) 554-9400.
"The community members are our eyes and ears," BonGiovanni said in a statement. "I urge anyone who suspects that an animal is being neglected or abused to contact our agency so that we may investigate."Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:36:56 -0700 News Source: MedleyStory More Local News Stories