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Deadly encounters between police and civilians often made 2016 a year full of palpable tension. Across the country, demonstrators took to the streets to protest police shootings, while at the same time officers in a number of states were targeted and killed by gunmen.

Both situations have prompted law enforcement to examine use-of-force policies.

Robert Jimison / GPB

Texting the 911 number during an emergency is now an option for several metro Atlanta residents.

Last week Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Dunwoody, and Brookhaven announced new texting programs for the 911 emergency service. The new feature is aimed at making communication easier for those with hearing and speech disabilities or for emergency situations where a voice call is not an option.

Roswell Police Department

A former Roswell police sergeant is suing the city after being terminated for flying a Confederate flag outside of her home. Silvia Cotriss filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court and names the City of Roswell, the Chief of Police, and the City Administrator as the defendants.

Geriatric Jewel Thief Arrested At Georgia Mall

Dec 14, 2016
John Bazemore / AP Photo

An internationally recognized jewel thief once again finds herself behind bars. Dunwoody Police arrested Doris Payne, 86, Tuesday after she allegedly tried to shoplift a $2,000 diamond necklace.

Police incident reports state that Payne tried to conceal the stolen necklace in her back pocket before making an effort to leave the store unnoticed. Payne now faces charges of larceny shoplifting and is being held at the DeKalb County Jail.

Suspect Arrested In Shooting Of 2 Lavonia Police Officers

Dec 13, 2016

Investigators say they've arrested a man suspected of shooting and wounding two Georgia police officers.

In a news release late Monday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says Khari Anthony Dashaun Gordon was charged with multiple counts including attempted murder and assaulting a police officer.

The two Lavonia officers were making a traffic stop Monday evening in northeast Georgia near a restaurant when officials say the 22-year-old Gordon opened fire. Both officers were hit.

GBI Says Thousands Of Rape Kits Await Testing

Dec 6, 2016

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says more than 4,200 rape kits containing evidence from sexual assault cases statewide await testing.

A report this month says the agency also has evidence from more than 5,400 cases that occurred before 1999 and will determine if DNA analysis is still needed.

A new state law prompted this month's report. The law was intended to speed up testing of rape kits following reports of sexual assault.

Georgia Department of Corrections

Update 12/07/2016:

 

 The Supreme Court of Georgia and U.S. Supreme Court denied Sallie’s attorney’s requests for a stay of execution Tuesday. Sallie was executed at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday evening. 

Original Story:

On Tuesday night, Georgia plans to carry out its ninth execution of the year, the most since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976.

 

At the same time, new death sentences are getting rarer and rarer. It’s been more than two years since a Georgia jury handed one down.

 

Getting inside the state’s capital punishment contradiction, means getting inside the cases of the condemned. 

 

Derek Bridges / Flickr

Crime rates in Atlanta are reportedly down about 30 percent since 2009. But how has the Atlanta Police Department achieved that number? How are other areas of Georgia faring in fighting crime?

We talk crime statistics in Atlanta and across the state with Vernon Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Police Department Assistant Chief Shawn Jones, and Georgia State University Criminology Professor Dean Dabney.

A man was fatally shot following a dispute in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Reno, Nevada, on Thanksgiving night, police say.

The incident began about 6 p.m. on Thursday. Local news station KOLO reported that "there was apparently a dispute over a parking spot" and said police characterized the shooting as a road rage incident.

In mid-August, an affable, 40-year-old man from Everett, Mass., overdosed at his mom's home after almost 25 years of heroin use. Joe Salemi had overdosed before, but this time couldn't be revived. Salemi's brother, Anthony, says he was pretty sure when his brother died that there must have been something besides heroin in the syringe. The medical examiner later confirmed it.

"I knew, deep in my mind, it was going to be the stuff that everyone's talking about now — fentanyl," Anthony says. "Because I never thought straight heroin would kill him."

PBS

The new PBS documentary "Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise," explores the many twists and turns of the civil rights movement over the last 50 years. The four-part series airs November 15 and 22 at 8 p.m. on PBS.

The documentary ends with the current struggles highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. To talk about those issues, Georgia Public Broadcasting hosted a panel discussion with three experts and leaders in the African-American community in Atlanta. 

Valerie Reneé / Flickr

Voter suppression and intimidation is a very real issue in Georgia. We talk with Kristina Torres of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the most recent and shocking examples from across the state. We also bring on University of Georgia Professor Charles Bullock to provide context and discuss the implications of voter intimidation.

Police used pepper spray and what they called nonlethal ammunition to remove Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from federal land Wednesday. Demonstrators say they were trying to occupy land just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation where construction of the controversial pipeline is scheduled.

A Canadian woman who worked as a nurse has been charged with the murders of eight nursing home residents in Ontario over the course of seven years.

If Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer is found guilty, The Globe and Mail reports, the 49-year-old woman would be "among the worst serial killers in Canadian history."

The head of the largest association of police chiefs in the U.S. has issued a formal apology on the group's behalf for "historical mistreatment of communities of color."

Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego, Terry Cunningham said his remarks on behalf of the group were aimed at breaking a "historic cycle of mistrust."

He said that policing is, in essence, a "noble profession" that has seen dark periods in its history.

What's striking about all the controversial police videos we've covered is how different they can look to people, depending on their backgrounds. If you're a police officer, certain things might stand out, while if you're a civilian or you've been arrested by a police officer, other things might catch your attention.

Grant Blankenship / Georgia Public Broadcasting

Should the State of Georgia execute Gregory Paul Lawler as planned on Wednesday, it will mark a milestone in at least two different ways.

 

Lawler was sentenced to death for the 1997 killing of Atlanta police officer John Sowa. His execution will be the seventh in Georgia in 2016. That makes two more than in 2015 and makes Georgia the only state in the nation accelerating the rate of execution year over year. That’s the first milestone.

 

Promising information that is more standardized and complete than has previously been available, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Department of Justice will collect data on the police use of deadly force in the line of duty.

A few years ago, a pair of sociologists named Andrew Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman decided to study gun violence in Chicago. They focused on a specific community on the west side: overwhelmingly black and disproportionately poor, with a murder rate that was five times higher than the rest of the city.

Their approach was to look at gun violence the way epidemiologists study disease — examining the way it spread by social connections. And like a virus, they found that there were certain people who were especially at risk of being touched by it.

Pakistani lawmakers have passed a new law closing a loophole that has allowed perpetrators of so-called "honor" killings to go free.

"Hundreds of women are murdered every year in Pakistan by male relatives who accuse them of violating family honor. A woman can be killed for just socializing with a man," NPR's Philip Reeves tells our Newscast unit from Islamabad. "The culprits usually escaped punishment because the law allowed the victim's family to forgive them."

But that has now changed, as Philip explains:

A California man pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal court to an elaborate kidnapping that law enforcement had initially branded a hoax.

In court documents, 39-year-old defendant Matthew Muller is identified as a former Marine who suffers from bipolar disorder. He is described as a Harvard-educated lawyer who was later disbarred.

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of El Cajon, Calif., on Wednesday night, protesting the police shooting of an unarmed black man on Tuesday.

A 911 caller had reported that her brother was acting erratically and walking into traffic. She told police that he was mentally ill and unarmed, Andrew Bowen of member station KPBS reports.

It took nearly an hour for police to arrive on the scene. About a minute after they arrived, one of them shot Alfred Olango, The Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, a police officer in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, Calif., shot and killed an unarmed black man, sparking protests in the area.

El Cajon police Chief Jeff Davis said Tuesday night that police were on the scene because the man's sister had called 911, reporting that her brother was "not acting like himself," Andrew Bowen of member station KPBS reports.

The city of Charlotte, N.C., has lifted a midnight curfew, as protests over the weekend continued to be mostly peaceful.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets for nearly a week, after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Police say Scott had a gun; his family says he was unarmed.

The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African-American man, by Charlotte, N.C., police is under investigation and the circumstances are very much in dispute, but when you listen to protesters, you hear that their frustration isn't about just this one case.

Signs, rocks, tear gas, fireworks, broken glass, blood: The streets of Charlotte, N.C., have borne witness to days of unrest after a fatal police shooting on Tuesday.

Two nights of protests have included peaceful calls for unity as well as violence and destruction. On Wednesday night, a civilian was shot at a protest and now, city officials say, is on life support.

Editor's Note: Names of sexual assault victims have been changed in this story, to protect their privacy.

Haley woke up early one morning in June 2014. She had been out with a few friends at a bar in Ashland, Ore., the night before, and she felt safest going home with them rather than walking home alone.

"It turns out," she said, "the creeper that I had to be afraid of was in my circle of friends."

Lilibeth Diego lives in Malate, in one of Manila's seemingly endless slums. People are packed so tightly here, they often wash and bathe outside. Diego is 53 and has been a meth fiend, she says, since high school.

"Every day since 1981," she says. And she's got the emaciated-looking face and lack of teeth to prove it. She swears she never dealt drugs. A few weeks ago, though, after recently elected President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs, she surrendered, along with her husband.

She says it was an easy choice.

"I'm scared to die," she says.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Hartsfeld-Jackson Airport in Atlanta hosted an event Wednesday that marked the start of a national effort to combat the demand for products sourced from endangered species.

Speakers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the nonprofit organization WildAid, and even "The Walking Dead" took the stage at the event.

Heavy scrutiny surrounding officer-involved shootings has some law enforcement leaders rethinking firing at moving cars.

One of those agencies is the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which recently changed its policy on the issue. The LASD is the largest sheriff's dept in the country, with about 10,000 full-time sworn personnel.

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