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NYC police department outlines punishments for misconduct | USA News

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When the New York Police Department fired an officer last year for putting Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold, the officer’s union argued that there was little, if any, precedent within the department’s internal disciplinary system for such a penalty.

Now, the nation’s largest police department is spelling out potential ramifications for officer misconduct, unveiling on Monday a draft of a discipline matrix that will guide punishment decisions similarly to how sentencing guidelines are used in criminal cases. It will be adopted after a 30-day public comment period.

“We wanted to make it very, very clear that if you do certain things there are certain consequences,” said Assistant Chief Matthew Pontillo, who helped develop the disciplinary policies with the help from department officials and outside agencies.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a “big step forward for transparency and accountability”.

Police reform advocates were not as enthused, arguing the NYPD still has too much power policing its own and that it rarely enforces top penalties, with just 12 officers fired for misconduct since the mid-1980s.

The head of the city’s largest police union blasted the guidelines for different reasons, painting them as a way for elected officials “to manipulate NYPD discipline to further their radical political goals”.

“Apparently, mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines are unfair to criminals, but perfectly fine for cops,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, suggesting the guidelines would be subject to change “based on headlines and poll numbers, rather than any objective sense of justice or fairness”.

The NYPD is shifting to formal disciplinary guidelines at a time when law enforcement agencies around the world are being pressed to be more transparent about discipline in the wake of protests against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who will still have the final say on discipline, said it was important to have a “road map” so the public and officers know what to expect. Development of the matrix was well under way when the city council passed a law in June mandating its use. The law also requires that the public be informed how often Shea deviates from it.

Around the same time, state legislators sought to shed more light by repealing a decades-old law that had kept police disciplinary files secret. Police unions suing to block their release are appealing after a judge ruled last week that they should be made public.

A 48-page draft report lists presumptive penalties for dozens of forms of misconduct, including termination for using deadly physical force without justification, engaging in hate speech and making a false statement.

Among the other items covered in the matrix: If an officer forgets to turn on his or her body camera while responding to an incident, he or she can be suspended or docked three days, but if it is done intentionally, it’s a 20-day punishment.

The discipline matrix outlines grounds for suspension or firing for a number of offences, such as failing to turn a body camera on, or using a prohibited chokehold [File: John Minchillo/AP Photo]

Accessing confidential information can be punished with a 10-day suspension or loss of vacation days, while leaking confidential information to the news media can be punished with a 20-day suspension or loss of vacation days.

Chokeholds resulting in death and the intentional use of a chokehold are also grounds for firing. The NYPD has long banned chokeholds and legislators recently passed laws explicitly outlawing the tactic. One was named for Garner, who died in 2014 after then-Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold.

In developing a discipline matrix, the NYPD is fulfilling one of the last remaining recommendations from a panel of criminal justice experts that examined the disciplinary process on its behalf two years ago.

While the experts found that the disciplinary process generally worked well, they said a set of guidelines would help eliminate perceptions of favouritism or bias in officer punishment. They also called for stiffer penalties for officers making false statements and committing domestic violence.

The department revised its domestic violence punishment guidelines last year, Pontillo said. An officer can be fired for an incident that results in serious physical injuries, violates a restraining order or is part of a pattern of abuse.

Pontillo’s group spend more than a year shaping the new guidelines. They looked at five years of case outcomes to get a sense of penalties that had been applied and studied how other police departments – including Los Angeles, Denver and New Orleans – built their guidelines. They also solicited input from the watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption.

Misconduct complaints are investigated by the CCRB and the NYPD’s internal affairs bureau. If departmental charges are filed, an officer can either agree to a penalty or take the case to trial before an administrative judge. The judge sends any punishment recommendations to First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, who passes his recommendation to Shea.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Opposition sidelined as Benin votes in presidential election | Elections News

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With most rivals in exile or sidelined, Benin’s President Patrice Talon looks set to win a second term in office.

Voters in Benin are set to cast their ballots in a presidential election on Sunday, days after deadly protests against President Patrice Talon, who is heavily favoured to win a second term.

Talon, a cotton magnate first elected in 2016, faces off against two little-known rivals, Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue.

Opponents accuse the 62-year-old Talon of undermining Benin’s vibrant multi-party democracy by sidelining most of his main opponents.

Protests in several cities last week turned violent. At least two people died in the central city of Save when troops on Thursday fired tear gas and live rounds to break up protesters who had blocked a major highway. Five others were wounded.

In the commercial capital Cotonou, several people said they feared violence on election day.

“The events of these last days scare me,” said Christophe Dossou, a student. “I prefer to remain cautious.”

Benin’s President Patrice Talon denies targeting his opponents [File: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters]

Among the protesters’ complaints are Talon’s U-turn on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2016 to serve only one term, and changes he pushed through to election laws that he said were aimed at streamlining unwieldy government institutions. In practice, those reforms resulted in total control of parliament by Talon’s supporters and the exclusion of leading opponents from the presidential race.

One opposition leader Reckya Madougou was detained last month on accusations of plotting to disrupt the election, a charge her lawyer says is fabricated.

A judge from a special economic crimes court created by Talon also fled the country last week after denouncing political pressure to make rulings against the president’s critics, including the decision to detain Madougou.

Meanwhile, businessman Sebastien Ajavon, who came third in the 2016 presidential poll, was convicted of drug trafficking in 2018 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, while another potential rival, ex-finance minister Komi Koutche, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for embezzlement. Ajavon lives in exile in France, while Koutche lives in Washington, DC.

Talon denies targeting his opponents.

He has campaigned on his economic record, which includes improvements to key infrastructure such as roads, water and energy supplies.

Soldiers stand in line to block supporters of the incumbent president during an electoral campaign rally at Abomey-Calavi, on April 9, 2021 [Pius Utomi Ekpei/ AFP]

Benin, a country of about 12 million people, became Africa’s top cotton exporter in 2018 and recorded average annual gross domestic product growth of over 5 percent before the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we did was not easy,” Talon said at one of his final campaign rallies on Friday. “We are strong and we know how to get it done.”

He said he expects a “knock-out victory” for which there would be no need for a runoff vote.

The United States, German, French and Dutch embassies as well as the European Union delegation in Benin all called on Friday for calm and for the vote to go ahead in a free and transparent manner.

“We urge all parties to express their perspectives peacefully,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “We urge the electoral institutions and courts overseeing these processes and verifying these results to ensure these elections are conducted freely, fairly, and transparently.”

Results are expected to be announced on Monday or Tuesday.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Trucks Traveling to Juba Get Military Escort

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Government of Southern Sudan has agreed to provide full military security and safety to all road users including Ugandan cargo truck drivers plying Juba – Nimule highway starting this week.

This was reached during a meeting between South Sudan government and Ugandan authorities on Friday at Elegu One-stop Border point in Amuru district, Northern Uganda.

High level security officials from both countries met to deliberate on the deteriorating security along major highways in South Sudan in which eight Ugandan truck drivers have been shot dead by armed men in the past weeks.

The Sudanese high-level delegation was led by the country’s Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Johnson Juma, Inspector General of Police, Gen. Majak Akech, and Director-General of Internal Security, Gen. Akol Khor.

The Deputy Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority, Hon. Africano Mande was also present and four East African Ambassadors.

On the other side, Uganda’s delegation was led by Police Operations Director AIGP Edward Ochom, Director Crime Intelligence Col. Damulira among others high ranking officers.

“We have successively concluded our two days meetings with Ugandan authorities including the drivers who later agreed to resume the normal operation,” said South Sudan authorities.

“And as government, we assure them of full security on the major highways in the Republic of South Sudan and removal of the illegal road blocks and check-points for easy movement of trucks to Juba and others towns within the country.”

Last week, truck drivers from across the East African region protested the increasing insecurity in South Sudan, illegal taxes and also demanded for compensation of their deceased colleagues.

They parked their trucks at Elegu border and demanded for both governments to intervene before the situation deteriorates further.

In regards to compensation, Sudanese authorities agreed to pay for the victims but said that the process will be discussed through the foreign ministries of the two countries.

Although traders had also requested Ugandan authorities and in this case the UPDF to escort their goods to South Sudan, Lt.Col Deo Akiki said that “this can’t be a decision of UPDF. South Sudan is a sovereign State, therefore anything done on its territory at the moment has to be a bilateral matter beyond the two forces. It’s a government to government affair.”

ChimpReports understands that some trucks on Saturday left Elegu border for Juba under full security escort.

The post Trucks Traveling to Juba Get Military Escort first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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21 workers trapped in flooded mine in China’s Xinjiang | China News

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CCTV says rescuers have located 12 of the 21 trapped miners.

Eight miners have been rescued and 21 remain trapped in a coal mine in China’s Xinjiang region after flooding cut power underground and disrupted communications, according to state media.

The accident happened in Fengyuan coal mine in Hutubi County on Saturday evening, when staff were upgrading the site, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Rescuers had located 12 of the 21 trapped miners, broadcaster CCTV said, but it was unclear if they were all together.

Rescue personnel were trying to pump water from the flooded shaft and have been piping air into the mine.

Pipes were being laid but the pumping operation was going to be challenging, CCTV said.

Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and enforcement of regulations is often lax.

In January, 22 workers were trapped in a mine in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance, leaving workers stuck underground for about two weeks.

Eleven men were pulled out alive, 10 died and one miner remained unaccounted for.

In December, 23 miners died after being trapped underground in the southwest city of Chongqing – just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning at another coal mine in the city.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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