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NEW YORK CITY ON PACE TO RECORD LOWEST MURDER TALLY IN DECADES

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Despite enduring its deadliest terror attack since 9/11, New York City is on pace to record its lowest murder total in decades.

The homicide drop mirrors an across-the-board reduction in major crimes over 2016, statistics released by the police department show.

There have been 278 homicides this year, as of December 17, compared with 325 at the same point last year, a drop of 14.5%, NYPD records show. Among those killed were eight victims of a Halloween attack on a busy Manhattan bike path.

The tally last peaked in the early 1990s, with more than 2,000 killings annually, according to police figures provided to CNN.

Numbers of felony assaults, burglaries and auto theft cases also decreased in 2017, compared with the prior year, along with a 10% drop in robberies, data show.

“We’ve seen the lowest number of index crimes here since the ’50s,” police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a recent news conference, referring to the crime categories. “With informed, engaged and empowered communities, we’re going to keep pushing those numbers down even further.”

The number of times police fired their guns during an incident is lower than last year, as well. Officers had fired their weapons in 23 incidents as of December 17, compared with 37 incidents in 2016, Det. Sophia Mason said.

O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio credited the recorded crime reductions to a focus on neighborhood policing, a strategy the NYPD started to implement in 2015.

“We are giving our cops the opportunity to make relationships and build on those relationships,” O’Neill said this month. “Nobody knows what’s going on better on a block than the people that live there, the people that worship there, the people that work there.”

Focusing on neighborhoods

Under the neighborhood policing model, each precinct has two “neighborhood coordination officers” who govern the precinct, plus 12 “sector” officers, O’Neill said. All are assigned to work regularly in the same precinct, rather than shuffling around, so they get to know the people and issues in their own communities.

“We’re giving them back the ability to make decisions,” O’Neill said. “No one knows better than the people patrolling those sectors and the people that live there what’s actually happening.”

Precincts are divided along neighborhood boundaries, rather than crossing them, he said.

Of the city’s 77 precincts, 51 have operated under this model since 2015, and recorded crimes have decreased at faster rates there, O’Neill said, adding that he hopes to implement the strategy citywide next year.

“My vision is to fully implement neighborhood policing, and that’s to give our police officers the opportunity, the training, and the time to communicate, establish relationships, work together to identify problems, and work together to solve problems,” he said.

Targeting gangs

O’Neill cited a focus on curbing gang violence as another reason crime statistics have improved. Precinct detectives work with comrades who focus on vice crimes, narcotics and gun violence to reduce gang activity, he said.

“We’re also continuing to target gangs and crews who commit the majority of the violence in New York City,” O’Neill said. “I think that, in conjunction with neighborhood policing, that’s why you’re seeing the crime numbers go down.”

Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, said he believes part of the decrease in gang violence is because of technology, which has made it easier for police to target suspected gang members. Guardian Angels is a volunteer safety patrol organization — separate from the NYPD — that started in New York City.

“Nowadays, as a gang task force member, I can sit in an office, and all I have to do is look at social networking,” Sliwa told CNN. “The gangs are their own worst enemy. They post everything.”

More work to do

Sliwa acknowledged that crime statistics have improved overall, and he credits the NYPD for that. But he believes the city has become safer for men, not women. In his work, he still sees sexual assault and harassment as major issues that need to be more heavily addressed, especially for women riding the subway.

“It’s because there are so many pervs who have sought sanctuary in the subway,” Sliwa said. “Now our focus because of the problems of assaults against women is on the subways. It’s become a sort of perv heaven.”

Sliwa and his organization started an all-female volunteer task force called Perv Busters to focus on this problem. These volunteers patrol the subways, filling in as extra eyes and ears for police and occasionally making citizen arrests.

At a recent press conference, O’Neill acknowledged the importance of investigating each claim that is brought to police attention.

“It’s important that each rape, no matter what the classification is, is fully investigated,” O’Neill said. “And it’s something that we have to constantly, when we put people into Special Victims, we have to make sure we select people that are right for that job. So, that’s an ongoing process.”

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Six firefighters accused of gang raping a teenage girl are facing only misdemeanor charges.

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Six volunteer firefighters in Virginia, including two department leaders, accused of allegedly gang-raping a 17-year-old girl — and then posting video of it on social media – have been charged in connection with the case, Virginia State Police confirmed on Tuesday.

Police have charged 26-year-old Nathan Hirschberg, 24-year-old Andrew Key, 36-year-old Dale King, 21-year-old Bradly Marlin, 32-year-old Christopher Pangle and 25-year-old Fabian Sosa with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The misdemeanour could bring up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 in fines.

King is the Strasburg Fire Department’s Fire Chief. Pangle is the department’s operations captain.

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Homeless Man admits stealing from a gran as her grandaughter lay dying yards away after Manchester terror attck

Chris Parker, 33, admits stealing purse belonging to seriously injured woman whose granddaughter died in attack

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Homeless man who was hailed as hero admits Manchester bombing thefts” was written by Helen Pidd North of England editor, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 12.34 UTC

A homeless man hailed as a hero after the Manchester Arena bombing has admitted stealing from victims of the attack.

Chris Parker, 33, pleaded guilty at Manchester crown court on Wednesday and was told by the judge to expect a prison sentence.

Parker admitted two counts of theft and one count of fraud. He stole a purse belonging to Pauline Healey, who was seriously injured in the blast, and then used her bank card at a McDonald’s in Manchester in the following days.

Healey’s 14-year-old granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski died in the attack on 22 May.

Parker also admitted stealing a mobile phone belonging to a teenage girl caught up in the attack, who cannot be named.

More than £50,000 was raised for him as part of a crowdfunding effort following the attack after he told journalists he had rushed to help the victims.

But CCTV showed him rifling through Healey’s bag as her granddaughter lay dying. He never received the money raised for him.

Parker had been due to stand trial on Tuesday but failed to show up. The court heard he had not been seen since shortly after Christmas when he was discharged from Calderdale hospital in West Yorkshire. His electronic tag was found in an empty soup tin outside his bail hostel in Halifax and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Early on Wednesday morning he was found by police hiding in a loft in Halifax and was brought to court, where he changed his plea to guilty.

The court heard that Parker had failed to answer bail on a number of occasions over the past month and had sent text messages to his mother and ex-partner saying he intended to avoid going to court.

In one message he suggested he was going to commit a robbery “and go on the run”. In another he suggested he was going to hurt himself.

At earlier court hearings, Parker loudly protested his innocence and insisted he had done nothing wrong. But he had a change of heart on Wednesday.

Had his case gone to trial the jury would have seen CCTV footage of Parker at the Arena shortly after the bomb went off. Wearing a woolly hat and carrying a rucksack, he could be seen circling the victims, who were scattered across the foyer and lying in pools of blood.

At one point he appeared to kick a handbag across the floor and then go and look into it. He could also be seen looking through a coat left on a staircase.

The jury would also have seen photographs Parker took on his own mobile phone and subsequently tried to sell to the media. They included a shot of Healey next to Sorrell and Sorrell’s mother, Samantha, who was also injured. Another photograph showed what appeared to be a nail, which may have been used as shrapnel in the bomb which killed 22 people.

The family, from Leeds, had not attended the concert but had come to pick up others who had.

Parker faced eight counts in total but denied five offences, including attempting to steal a coat and a bag and using Healey’s Yorkshire Bank card at Tesco on Deansgate in Manchester and to buy a public transport ticket.

The prosecution decided to accept Parker’s three guilty pleas and not to proceed to trial on the other five counts.

Parker was widely hailed in the media as a hero in the aftermath of the bombing after he described cradling a dying woman.

The day after the bombing, Parker gave an interview to the Press Association saying he had been begging in the foyer area of the arena at the time of the blast. He said: “It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help.”

A total of 3,799 people pledged £52,589 for Parker in the days after the attack via a crowdfunding campaign. Michael Johns, who started the GoFundMe campaign, invited members of the public to donate money in “an effort to help one of our most vulnerable in society who showed great selflessness and courage”.

After Parker was charged, Johns told the Guardian he had yet to receive the money, and that the fund would “likely to be rolled up within a matter of hours in the event of a guilty verdict/plea”.

Parker will be sentenced on 30 January. The judge, David Hernandez, said: “A custodial sentence is most likely in this case.”

The court heard Parker has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2000 and has been convicted of offences including shoplifting, theft and criminal damage. In January 2016 he was found guilty of battery and theft from a dwelling and made the subject of a restraining order.

In July another man, Michael Popik, 24, was jailed after being caught using bank cards stolen from Healey. He did not steal the cards but was captured on CCTV using them at several outlets in the weeks following the attack.

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LA District Attorney’s Office is now looking into two investigations against Harvey Weinstein

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney has confirmed it is reviewing two cases received from the Beverly Hills Police Department relating to Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

The Beverly Hills Police Department referred the cases to the DA, although its unclear which specific allegations.

“Two cases have been presented to our office by the Beverly Hills Police Department regarding Harvey Weinstein and both are under review right now. They were presented last month, on Dec. 18,” Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney told the Daily News.

Risling said he couldn’t comment on the substance of the cases or when his office might made a decision on filing charges.

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