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Hate Crime: What it is and the Laws surrounding it

One of the many struggles of humanity in recent decades is to curb racial discrimination. As we mourned the casualties influenced by race, we have set efforts for such atrocities to never occur once more. We have authored laws and reinforced cultural norms to banish forever such discrimination which once placed people of color in chains. However, there are still trace cases of racism in our communities. Cases which lead to violence of those oppressed are referred to as hate crime. Let us tackle this form of crime to gain a better insight on what fuels it.

Also referred to as bias-motivated crime, it usually arises from prejudices against the target’s membership in a certain social group or race. Aside from race, groups differentiated by sex, ethnicity, disability, language, among others can also be the target of this form of crime. It is considered a form of crime if any criminal acts are done on any members of such groups due to them simply being part of them and for no other reason. Initially, the term ‘hate crime’ referred to unauthorized punishment of criminal by extrajudicial means. It has since been recognized as execution outside of normal justice, motivated by suppression of minorities.

Biases are considered criminal if they involve physical assault, bullying, harassment, damage to property, verbal abuse and insults, or even graffiti against members of the victimized groups. Due to the discrimination that members are exposed to, a hate crime can cause serious psychological consequences on its victims as compared to other crimes, often leading to depression and anxiety.  For the groups involved, this may cause generalized terror as members feel vulnerable in their communities and lose their sense of security.  Widespread hate crime can also cause division and factionalism especially for multicultural communities who consider these biases as norms and tend to sever bonds once formed among its citizens.

To curb such incidents and deter bias-motivated violence, hate crime laws have long been enacted by almost all nations globally. In the law, hate crimes are considered more grave than hate speech and are given greater penalties. In the U.S, hate crime laws are upheld by both the Supreme Court and lower courts. The first to be passed in the US is the Civil Rights Act of 1871 after the American Civil War, aimed to fight the growing number of racially-motivated crimes.  The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act also increase the penalties for hate crimes fuelled by race, color, or religion.

Persons who violate this law are charged with a fine or imprisonment of one year or both. If the victims suffer bodily injuries caused by the assailant using weapons, the sentence can reach 10 years. Hate crimes that involve sexual assault, kidnapping,  or murder are punishable with life imprisonment or worse; death penalty. Victims may also seek compensation for damages.

Hate crimes pose a threat to humanity’s goal of purging racism and oppression of minority groups. Fortunately, there exist laws that ensure that those who commit them do not go unpunished.  

The Distinctions Between a Sheriff and a Police Officer

Although these two types of public servants are very similar, a sheriff and a policeman have essential differences too. Did you know that voters elect one of them? Other distinctions are the boundaries of areas that they serve and where they get their funds.

Sheriffs hold public office, and in fact, they are elected every four years. According to the law, a sheriff is a peace officer who enforces criminal laws, serves warrants, manages the county jail, and protects the courts. The general public funds the sheriff’s office.

In some states, the sheriff helps shuttle prisoners to local courts and provides transportation for juvenile delinquents and mentally challenged detainees. An interesting bit: sheriffs can sometimes be called on to help rope in livestock on the run.

On the other hand, police officers are not elected; instead, they are hired by city managers. A city manager plans the duration of the police’s work term and how large the police force should be.

One striking difference of police officers to sheriffs is that they do not have the responsibility for prisoner transport or giving assistance in rounding up cattle running amok. However, they do serve warrants and act as a bailiff. They may or may not operate a jail.  

Interestingly, the counterpart of a sheriff is the chief of police while a police officer corresponds to or is equivalent to the position of a sheriff’s deputy.

If a county both have a police department and sheriff’s department, it is the sheriff’s department that controls jail management, transporting prisoners to and from jail, courts, and hospitals, and as well as the processing of legal papers.

Question: is it redundant to have both departments in the same area? The answer: it all depends on politics. It may help to have two county law enforcement systems. A sheriff is very powerful, having a staff of armed, uniformed employees to provide public services. Unlike the chief of police who undergoes a professional hiring process, an appointed sheriff cannot be fired easily. Of course, he or she can be removed from office, but not for simple reasons like offending the county commissioners. Counties put up county police departments to have more stable political control in implementing the law. The county chief of police can be removed if they are not up to par.

A “sheriff’s office” and “sheriff’s department” actually mean the same thing. Although sheriffs are elected constitutional officers, they always take their work seriously. They also prefer to run in the elections and hold an office instead of a department.

These are the basics of the differences between a sheriff and a policeman. If you are considering a career in law enforcement after reading this, the first step is to get a degree and set your sights on a police officer or sheriff’s deputy position.

On the other hand, if you are looking into a career related to the management of people convicted of crimes and enforcing rules and conflicts resolution in the community, a position of a correctional officer is an option.

Theft and Robbery: Where the Lines Overlap

When an item you possess goes missing, we can only assume one of two things –we misplaced it or it got stolen. And in terms of stealing, we no longer bother to examine the circumstances surrounding the incident unless we get a chance to get our missing stuff back. But crime is not at all a black and white subject. There are several aspects of crime that overlap and may be subject to confusion. And two such types of crime are theft and robbery. But for two types of crimes of such similar nature to be given different categories, it falls to the question of what their differences are for them to merit having different names.

In hindsight, both crimes involve the loss of someone else’s property without permission. For both cases, the victim can head down to the police station to file an incident report to blotter the stolen items.

So why are the two are considered different if they have the same effect on the victim? The main difference boils down to one thing – force. In the simplest terms, robbery requires force from the assailant to steal the item from the victim directly. This can involve brute physical force, intimidation, blackmail, and the like. The robber can also make use of a weapon to scare the victim into surrendering. In all cases of robbery, the victim is made aware of the incident as it happens since it occurs right before his very eyes. Such an encounter can give him the opportunity to either fight back or find out the robber’s identity for incarceration. However, in most cases, the victim is intimidated enough to submission without the chance to fight back. It is because of this than most civilians unskilled in theft resort to this type of modus to get their desired item.

Robbery also has a larger chance of being caught than theft due to the assailant exposing himself directly to the victim. Without  proper attire, he may not be able to hide his identity during the act. Thus, a victim has a better chance of getting back at his robber and retrieving his personal belongings if the incident that occurred is a robbery.

On the other hand, theft requires the suspect to act behind the victim’s knowledge. He makes use of the victim’s lack of attention to steal from him such as when he’s sleeping or distracted by something else. He tries his best to avoid contact with the victim since it will destroy his cover during the act. Theft involves the use of several aspects such as timing, location, and distractions, to name a few. Theft requires skill from the thief as compared to robbery which uses just brute force or intimidation. Theft may also require insider information of the victim’s actions throughout the day – where he lives, eats, goes to school, and such. Such data will provide him with the perfect scenario to steal at just the right timing and location.

But regardless of their differences, both are crimes that the victim has every right to report and seek justice from. Knowledge on their difference can come in handy when seeking retribution from such heinous acts.

Tips to safeguard your home against burglary and crime

Whether you are a new homeowner, someone who just moved in, or someone about to leave for vacation, home protection ranks high in your list of critical things to remember. Peace of mind is always worth it, even if taking the effort seems time-consuming. Remember, statistics show that there is a burglary incident every 21 seconds, and most burglars actually strike during daylight hours.

Here are some steps and strategies you can apply, to keep that sense of security for both inside and outside your home even while you are miles away. It pays when you let the thief see that robbing your home is a pointless exercise!  

These tips are special because these were derived from interviews with burglars and thieves. Go through these carefully and learn something new:

1. Have as few as possible hiding places in your yard. Tall/thick shrubs have to go, especially if they are near windows and doors.

2. If you want to send a message that someone’s watching the yard, then get an outdoor floodlight. But if you want to say, any trespassers are in big trouble, then a motion sensor floodlight is for you.

3. Staying low about your belongings helps get rid of any prying eyes. An expensive car will need to be kept in that garage. Nice decorative stuff indoors is kept behind blinds. This applies even to your trash! The box of the latest laptop will need to be in a trash bag before getting.. trashed.

4. Help the neighborhood and spread the word about vigilance. Granted: everyone has work to do round the clock. During your out of town trips, it still helps that someone gets to check in on your home from time to time.

5. Putting up a “Protected by XYZ Systems” on your door does not help at all. Why is that so? Making public the brand of your security system gives away valuable information already!

6. A dog is a lot of help but get not just any dog. A burglar counts on the element of stealth; so a yappy dog (regardless of the size) will send your interloper away.

7. Keep your home simple but secure. It’s true that you built a house to have a home, and not to feel like you are in a secure jail or a nuclear bunker. But, all these measures are simply meant to discourage any unhealthy interest. Your goal is to keep your home secure and nothing special.

8. An important tip for social media fans: Posting about your trip on some future date is fine; announcing it ahead or on the same day is obviously a no-no. This might seem obvious, but still many people are oblivious to the danger; worse still if your post is on a public setting. A family officially on vacation implies a totally empty house. If you must leave for a trip, no need to leave a message on your answering machine.

It is good to know there are many more practical tips against theft (even if coming from repentant felons) to add here. Focus on the one or two that is critical to you now. We can never deny that awareness and preemptive action (which tolerates no sneaky surprises) are trusted ingredients for a more secure home.

Telling Murder from Homicide

As early as possible, it is best to address the doubts we have in our minds. This can help us to tell which is which and would be able to give answers to questions. One of the most interesting “which-is-which” questions that we might have heard of or even have asked ourselves about is: “What is the difference between murder and homicide?” We know that they both involve killing another person but, when do we say that the killing is a homicide or a murder? We will address that question through some information gathered.

What is Murder?

Murder falls under the category of homicides. What made it stand out is the motive behind the killing. The suspect has no valid excuse, such as self-defense, why he killed that person. Some motives are intentional that pushed the perpetrator to kill another person. In other words, it is intentionally killing another person that is not legally justified and was due to malice aforethought.

How do they weigh murder down? Well, there are a lot of factors involved in this type of crime. One type of murder could be premeditated which means that the perpetrator has the time to conceive the crime and how he would execute it. There could be emotions involved like anger or hatred that could be used as the motives for the crime. There is also a kind of murder that happens in the course of crime execution and is termed as felony murder. For example, an arson might claim some lives so those could be charged to the person that has committed arson. The penalty could range from a life sentence without parole to a death sentence.

What is Homicide?

Homicide is a general term for a crime committed by a person killing another person. However, it is also broken down into further categories called a criminal homicide, an excusable and justifiable homicide. Since it is a term for all types of killing, it does not always merit punishments. Murders and manslaughters are often the homicides that were considered to be criminal offenses. However, in critical times, killing a person might be due to self-defense and could not be counted as violating criminal laws if there is evidence that supports the claim. This is in-line with justifiable homicides that were done when protecting one’s self when there are life-threatening situations, or the killing was made in the line of duty which is common among police officers. Some factors need to be considered first before concluding that the homicide would be excusable, justifiable or could be counted as a criminal offense. Some of the factors include the weapons used to threaten the victim, the severity of the attack and as well as the motives and intentions present during the crime.

No matter what kind of criminal offenses there may be, as long as it claimed a life, it is considered as the most serious case in the justice system. We are never given the freedom to kill or claim lives. Now that we are acquainted with the words homicide and murder, we should be in a better position to help with the prevention of these kinds of crimes.

Getting Acquainted with Criminal Offenses

Today, no one is safe. Crimes and any all types disturbances abound in all corners of the world. What is sad about this is that a lot of people are unaware that they have been victims of crimes since there is a lack of dissemination of information about them. Being educated about crimes is an integral part of safety. There might be a long list of different kinds of crimes, but generally, they can be grouped as offenses. Four of them are the following: offenses against the person, against the property, offenses that are incomplete, and offenses against federal statutes. Let us take a closer look in each one of them so we would know what to do when involved in such events.

Offenses Made Against a Person

The crime made against a person or termed as “personal crimes” include a wide array of different kinds of offenses. This can consist of physical assault or assaults resulting in bodily harm, rape or sexual assaults or abuses, homicide, physical abuses, kidnapping, and robbery. Each of the offenses mentioned also branch out into more specific details depending on the type of harm done and the degree of damage incurred. Depending on the state or the country you are living, the punishment for these crimes differs based on the constitution of the state. Some felony crimes such as those mentioned, punishment range from years in prison into life or death sentences.

Offenses Made Against a Property

This kind of crimes may or may not be directly affecting people, but it is more affecting the properties owned by the victim. These may range from robbery, burglary, larceny or theft, forgery, arson and the like. This may not only include the damages done to the property but also the violation of rights of the owner for them to be able to use the properties appropriately. More than just losing privileges as a citizen, because you will be confined in a jail, you might also face expensive fines for the trouble made, and if it was severe, those crimes could put you locked up in prison for many years. And worse, for life-threatening cases, you could end up in high-security jail with little chance of being freed.

Offenses That are Incomplete

They are termed as inchoate crimes or crimes that were started by the offenders but were not completed or finished. This might be when the offender was preparing to commit the crime or about to proceed to another crime but did not push through. It also includes being an accessory to the crime or indirect participation to a crime committed. Any crime attempted, or conspiracies, fall under this category. Since it is an incomplete crime, the punishment is not as severe as that of felony punishments. However, they are considered to be serious crimes.

Offenses Against Federal Statutes

As the name suggests, these crimes are due to violating the laws and policies imposed by the state. Any actions done contrary to the laws such as drunk driving, federal hate crimes, tax evasion and many more. The penalties would depend greatly on what kind of federal crimes you have committed and could be as worse as imposing capital punishments to the most serious ones.

“The law excuses no one” as the famous saying goes. So, make sure that we are not ignorant as to what actions merit penalties and punishment against the law. However, if we always have goodwill to everyone, we can still make the world a better place, and we can save ourselves some trouble.

The Top 5 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in New York City

We all take New York for what it has been known since the beginning of all good things—the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, the city where dreams are made of. New York City is “the” dream for most people. It’s an art, food, business and career haven, all wrapped up in yellow cabs and enormous skyscrapers. However, it’s not all sunshine and gold even in New York. As we explore its dark and gloomy avenues, Business Insider names the Top 5 most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City for 2019.

Midtown. Located at the heart of Manhattan, Midtown is home to only 74,000 people. But the huge volume of tourists, support workers and general wanderers on its streets make if the most trafficked area in the city. Out of the 69 towns in the city, it ranked last in overall safety. This was supported by the fact that 729 crimes have been committed per 10,000 people. There has also been a 146% increase in rape cases from the previous year, and a 14% rise in felony causes. It’s hard not to be a victim of crime around this town.

Greenwich Village & Meatpacking District. Among its commercial streets and alleys teeming with wealthy residents, college students and tourists, Village and Meatpacking is a hub for thieves. As on of the sought-after neighborhoods in NYC, crimes in property, grand larceny and overall crime are rampant. Though there has been a decrease in overall crimes in the area, car theft and rape have risen, and are crimes to watch out for in this town.

Hunts Point. Notorious as the prostitution den in the city, recent initiatives and funds were helpful in cutting back murders, carjacking, burglaries and rape cases. However, to date, there are 135 violent crimes committed per 100,000 residents enough to put this neighborhood as the most dangerous. There has also been an alarming 67% increase in rape, 26% increase in sex crimes and 26% increase in robberies.

Brownsville. This town is home to popular celebrity figures like Larry King and Mike Tyson. This does not euphemize the fact that it has been dubbed as the murder capital of New York City. Its streets are a stage to the most incidents of murders and shootings per capita. Though the prevalence of crime in the neighborhood has dropped in recent years, it doesn’t keep it from ranking 66th in the least safe neighborhoods list.

Flatiron. Violent crimes are low in this part of town. Yet, property crime ranks 67th out of 69 in Flatiron. This sought-after neighborhood has been home to 1,481 incidents of grand larceny, or 158 out of 100,000 residents. Robbery and murder crimes have also increased since 2010, with 1 killing to 3.

Contrary to what one might expect, crime rate has been high in these neighborhoods among the five boroughs on New York City. So if you’re one lost soul, or a gate crasher in the streets of New York, nowhere is safe. But, better watch out for these big neighborhood names. Or you might be the next victim.

Safety On: Carrying A Service Sidearm While Off Duty

Just a few days ago, on June 2, 2018, an off-duty FBI agent was dancing in a club. After performing a backflip, his service firearm fell off his person. While picking it up to holster it, the firearm went off, hitting a spectator. Fortunately, the man hit wasn’t badly hurt. But the fact remains that a civilian was shot with a service firearm in what does appear to have been a preventable accident.

As of the writing of this article, there hasn’t been any news on what sanctions, if any, are going to be levied onto the officer in question. The issue does, however, bring up two issues that have to be discussed. First, protocols on open-carry firearms on off-duty officers; second, the conduct of a law enforcement officer when off duty.

Concerning the protocols on open-carry firearms, it looks like there won’t be any change given that the situation was an isolated one. We can, of course, expect a lot of buzz and discussion coming from groups that are opposed to public carrying of firearms, whether by civilians or law enforcement, but it’s highly unlikely that it will make an impact on any existing protocols.

For now, what’s important is making sure that these protocols are strictly followed in order to prevent accidents and keep issues like the one in question an isolated one.

This makes the second point of discussion the more important one: conduct of officers when off duty. While it is the right of officers for any law enforcement agency to enjoy themselves and relax when off duty however they see fit, it can also be argued that there’s also a modicum of dignity and restraint that has to be exercised when in public, as is practiced by officers in the armed forces.

There is merit to this as the entire incident could have been avoided if the officer in question hadn’t decided to show off his dancing skills and performed that backflip, especially while carrying his service firearm.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Should off-duty officers be expected to show more restraint? Or should they be able to cut loose, as long as they do it responsibly? Let us know!

Theory Police: Is a Uniform National Police Policy Viable?

Some would say that the federal government we’ve adopted here in the United States is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the sense that each state, while under a single government, gets to focus on the specific wants, needs, and capacities or the state with minimal cost or consequence to its neighbors. This is great as it means each state gets to manage regional laws and policies. There’s a downside as well, however.

This downside is probably felt most by law enforcement. Not only does local sate law enforcement have to rely on federal law enforcement to handle criminals that cross borders, but also they have to deal with different protocols and laws per state as well. This can be a problem especially when it comes to establishing preventive and proactive measures.

In states, for example, where the incidents of school shooters is either low or none so far, security measures tend to relax more quickly, and updated policies aren’t always strictly enforced or practiced. When people think things like “that would never happen here”, they actually put themselves at more risk. To this, end, the idea of a uniform national police policy is being considered.

What does this offer us? A uniform policy means that law enforcement will have the same protocols and training across the field. This is great because officers in states with low incidences of certain crimes will still be prepared to deal with those crimes should they actually occur. It also means that officers who eventually transfer to different states and still wish to serve don’t have to worry about regional differences.

One downside is that clearly, the situation in all states is not the same. States with higher incidence of low-income urban areas will have different crime trends from a state which is primarily farmland, or high-income suburbs. This means that while some policies are fine for certain settings, they may be too lax or harsh in others.

This means that a uniform policy may not have uniform results, which seems to actually be bad for the police force given that we always aim for the same result each time: to serve and protect.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Red ALERT: Preparing First Responders For School Shooters

Since the start of 2018, school shootings have been an almost weekly occurrence. Ever since the 1999 Columbine School shooting, first responders around America have been seeing a shift in school shooting policy. From the more methodical but slower tactical response, the new rapid response policy has one main guiding statement: go towards the gunfire.

Why this shift though? It seems reckless for law enforcement to rush in blindly towards a shooter, doesn’t it? The answer, however, lies in statistics. Over the years, studies of the shootings have determined that the average school shooting only lasts about 15 minutes long. In tactics where officers claim ground, checking and clearing each individual room, heavy casualties have already taken place.

While the claiming ground method  is still effective during operations against gangs, paramilitaries, and terrorist organizations which usually have an unclear number of hostiles, studies of school shootings show that there is generally only 1 to 2 gunmen, and they rarely conceal their position, instead choosing to focus on attacking their targets.

This means that first responders, even if they’re from different departments and units, all have clear orders that can be executed in unison without having to worry about proper clearing procedures, paths to take, or who is in charge; this homogenous group of first responders can quickly locate and interdict the target in the shortest amount of time possible.

Doing so will help minimize casualties as well as prevent the gunmen from escaping or otherwise eluding arrest as has been the case with earlier shootings where the gunman either escaped, or committed suicide before he could be taken into custody.

With the almost weekly occurrence of school shootings, it is important that all possible first responder teams, as well as civilians are aware of the protocol. Being informed of this rapid response technique will ensure that all first responders are on the same page, and that civilians don’t interfere with the operation.

What are your thoughts on the rapid response technique being adopted? Do you think it’s a smart move, or does it put law enforcement at risk?