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Jewish high holidays: Boston-area synagogues adapt creative ways to observe holidays amid pandemic

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Jewish high holidays: Boston-area synagogues adapt creative ways to observe holidays amid pandemic

The Boston-area Jewish community is adapting to a very different high holiday period this year, as synagogues have turned to creative ways to bring people together safely amid the coronavirus pandemic and delta variant.

While last year’s high holiday services were nearly all virtual, many local synagogues are now in a hybrid mode. Some temples had outdoor gatherings for Rosh Hashanah last week and are planning more of those for Yom Kippur this week.

There were also neighborhood shofar blowing services for the Jewish New Year last week, allowing congregants to hear the traditional shofar blowing while keeping a safe social distance amid the delta variant.

“We continue to see our communities and synagogues being creative and resilient and adaptive,” said Rabbi Marc Baker, CEO and president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

In addition to the in-person services this year, temples are also offering Zoom and virtual options for people who would prefer to stay home.

To support communal celebrations, Combined Jewish Philanthropies has distributed nearly $200,000 in grants to local synagogues to help them provide hybrid services through updated technology platforms; security services (police detail, added guards, security contractors); or engagement opportunities, such as challah and honey packages to congregants.

Baker noted the security concerns in the Jewish community following the stabbing of a rabbi in Brighton.

“It’s critical that people know they can gather safely,” he added.

The organization has provided $1,800 grants to almost 100 synagogues.

Meanwhile, Combined Jewish Philanthropies has launched a new fund to support Afghan refugees resettling in Boston. The Fund for Afghan Immigrants and Refugees will provide food, housing, job training and other assistance to newcomers in the region.

More than $300,000 has already been raised for the fund, according to Sarah Abramson, Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ senior vice president of strategy and impact.

The Afghan refugee story connects to the Jewish journey from the last several millennia, she said.

“We know what it feels like to be a stranger,” Abramson added, noting that the Jewish community “is united in the belief that this is the right thing to do” to help the Afghan refugees here, just as Jewish immigrants began new lives in America less than 100 years ago.

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Odds you’ll run into someone contagious with COVID in Colorado are at their highest point this year

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Odds you’ll run into someone contagious with COVID in Colorado are at their highest point this year

The odds that a Colorado resident will run across someone who’s contagious with COVID-19 in any large group are now higher than they’ve been since the start of 2021 — though how much people should worry about that depends on whether they’ve been vaccinated.

With the state now experiencing its fifth wave of the virus, about one in every 99 people was estimated to be contagious as of last Wednesday, according to a new report from the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 modeling team. During the fall surge last year, about one in every 40 people was contagious.

When so many people are contagious, it means that interactions will remain relatively risky, even if cases start to go down, said Beth Carlton, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the School of Public Health. Getting vaccinated, wearing masks and avoiding high-risk activities will help speed up the return to the relative freedom we had in the early summer, but “it takes a while,” she said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 data paints a mixed picture of whether the situation is improving. But what is clear is that unvaccinated people remain highly vulnerable, Carlton said. The state reported about 83% of those who are hospitalized now aren’t fully vaccinated.

New cases were down for a second week, with 11,561 reported in the week ending Sunday. But the percentage of tests coming back positive was up, reaching 6.58% over the last three days. That suggests the state might not have a complete picture of how widely the virus is spreading.

So far, Colorado has been spared the large increase in seriously ill children that some states have endured, though about 26% of new coronavirus cases are in people younger than 20.

Hospitalizations also were difficult to interpret. As of Monday afternoon, 980 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That’s an improvement over the previous Monday, but a worsening compared to Saturday and Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear masks in indoor public places when their community has 50 or more cases for every 100,000 people. Only three Colorado counties have case rates lower than that: San Juan, Hinsdale and Lake. More than 10% of tests in Lake County were positive, though, suggesting the virus is spreading more widely than the case numbers show, and residents might want to mask up.

It appears that the rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations Colorado saw in August has slowed down, but it’s not clear if a decrease is starting, Carlton said.

“I think we’re at a very uncertain moment,” she said. “We’re seeing these kind of wild swings in the data.”

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Electrical workers charged up for Annissa Essaibi-George

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Electrical workers charged up for Annissa Essaibi-George

Annissa Essaibi-George has connected with another union in her bid for mayor.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 endorsed her Monday at the union’s office on Freeport Street in Dorchester. IBEW Local 103’s membership includes 10,000 highly skilled electricians and technicians in the Boston area.

“IBEW Local 103 is incredibly proud to stand with Annissa Essaibi-George in her candidacy for Mayor of Boston,” said Lou Antonellis, Business Manager for IBEW Local 103. “As a former union member herself, Annissa knows our values firsthand. She will advocate and fight for us every single day as our Mayor, and will always govern with Boston’s hard working residents and families in mind.”

Essaibi-George said she will “work hand in hand with our unions to fight for fair wages, increase benefits, and maintain safe working conditions for all. Labor will always have a seat at the policymaking table in order for us to do this work, together.”

Michelle Wu, the other finalist for mayor of Boston, has also lined up a few key endorsements — Suffolk Sheriff Steven Tompkins, to name a big one — as the Nov. 2 final looms.

Jamaica Plain State Sen. and gubernatorial hopeful Sonia Chang-Díaz also endorsed Wu during a rally in the South End on Saturday.

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J&J: Booster dose of its COVID shot prompts strong response

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J&J: Booster dose of its COVID shot prompts strong response

LONDON — Johnson & Johnson released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose.

J&J said in statement Tuesday that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study’s results haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.

“A booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development at J&J. The company previously published data showing its one-shot dose provided protection for up to eight months after immunization.

J&J said it is now in talks with regulators including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and others regarding using booster doses of its vaccine.

J&J’s vaccine is approved for use in the U.S., across Europe and there are plans for at least 200 million doses to be shared with the U.N.-backed COVAX effort aimed at distributing vaccines to poor countries. But the company has been plagued by production problems and millions of doses made at a troubled factory in Baltimore had to be thrown out.

The J&J vaccine has been considered critical by numerous health officials to ending the pandemic because it requires only one shot, but fears about the easier-to-spread delta coronavirus variant have prompted numerous governments to consider the use of booster shots for many approved vaccines.

Last week, experts at the FDA recommended people 65 and older get a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech while Britain previously authorized booster shots for people 50 and over in addition to priority groups like health workers and those with underlying health conditions. Other countries including Israel, France and Germany have also begun offering third vaccine doses to some people.

The World Health Organization has urged rich countries to stop administering booster doses until at least the end of the year, saying vaccines should immediately be redirected to Africa, where fewer than 4% of the population is fully immunized. In a paper published last week in the journal Lancet, top scientists from the WHO and FDA argued that the average person doesn’t need a booster shot and that the authorized vaccines to date provide strong protection against severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death.

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Police charge Albany man in connection with May shooting incident

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Police charge Albany man in connection with May shooting incident

WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Tuesday, September 21 Washington County reported their daily COVID update.

For Monday, September 20 case activity, 18 new COVID cases were added/processed, there were 24 new recoveries of active cases, nine current cases are hospitalized. 12 of the 18 new cases with ties to other cases/investigations (including household spread cases, workplace spread, and other school and/or community activities) and the remaining six cases have no identified origin of exposure at this time. Of the Tuesday, September 21 new cases were added, six have been fully vaccinated (five received the Pfizer series, one received the Moderna series).

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Where is Brian Laundrie? Timeline of FBI search for Gabby Petito’s boyfriend

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Where is Brian Laundrie? Timeline of FBI search for Gabby Petito’s boyfriend

(NEXSTAR) – The search is still on for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the disappearance and death of his girlfriend, 22-year-old Gabby Petito.

Petito had been traveling around the country with Laundrie, 23, documenting the road trip on Instagram and YouTube. Remains fitting her description were found in Wyoming Monday.

So while the search for Petito has ended, Laundrie is now the one who has disappeared. Here’s what we know about where he was last seen, where he might be now.

Sept. 1: Laundrie returns home

Police say Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida on Sept. 1 with the white van the couple had been traveling in. The van was registered in Petito’s name.

Sept. 11: Petito reported missing

After Petito’s family hadn’t heard from her since August, they report her missing. At this point, Laundrie was not named a person of interest or taken into custody.

Sept. 14: Petito’s family begs Laundrie to help, search warrant executed for the van

Petito’s family releases a statement asking Laundrie to cooperate with the investigation and help find their daughter, saying, “the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help.”

An attorney for Laundrie’s family releases a statement saying he would be “remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

“It is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family,” reads the statement from his family.

Petito’s van is towed away from Laundrie’s parents’ house to be processed as evidence. Police find an external hard drive inside.

Sept. 15: Laundrie named person of interest

Police name Laundrie a person of interest, but not a suspect, in Petito’s disappearance.

Police say Laundrie “has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators” and hasn’t “provided any helpful details.”

They request a warrant to search the hard drive found in Petito’s van.

Sept. 16: Investigation continues

North Port Police hold a press conference asking for the public’s help finding Petito. The police chief says he knows Laundrie’s whereabouts, but is frustrated he isn’t being more helpful.

“Two people went on a trip. One person returned. And that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” says Chief Todd Garrison.

Sept. 17: Laundrie goes missing

Police and the FBI enter the Laundries’ home and search the property. Brian’s parents say they haven’t seen their son since Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Law enforcement announce they’re now searching for two missing people: Petito and Laundrie.

Sept. 18: Search for Laundrie begins

More than 50 North Port police officers, FBI agents and members of other law enforcement agencies search the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Florida. They start the search there because his family says it’s where he went earlier in the week with just a backpack.

Authorities use drones, scent-sniffing dogs and all-terrain vehicles in the reserve, which has more than 100 miles of trails, as well as campgrounds. Investigators took some of his clothing from his parents’ home Friday night to provide a scent for the search dogs.

Sept. 19: Petito is found, Laundrie still missing

The FBI says remains matching the description of Gabby Petito are found in Wyoming. Meanwhile, the search for Laundrie in Florida continues.

Sept. 20: FBI, police search Laundrie’s home for hours

Law enforcement announces they are no longer searching the Carlton Reserve for Laundrie. Instead, FBI agents and North Port police begin searching the Laundrie home, tape it off and start collecting evidence.

WFLA reporters on scene see FBI agents carry suitcases and documents into the home and photograph a shed on the property.

A few hours later, a tow truck arrives and tows away a Ford Mustang.

The search of the Laundrie home lasts about eight hours.

What comes next?

While officers have stopped searching the wildlife reserve, the search for Laundrie continues. An attorney for the Laundrie family originally planned a press conference for Tuesday afternoon in New York, but later canceled it at the FBI’s request.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Vail Resorts nixes reservation system this year, but vaccine proof will be required for some dining

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Vail Resorts nixes reservation system this year, but vaccine proof will be required for some dining

Vail Resorts will require proof of vaccination for guests to dine at indoor on-mountain, cafeteria-style restaurants this winter and vaccinations will be required for all employees, according to protocols announced Monday.

The Broomfield-based industry giant which owns three dozen resorts — including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado — also reiterated that reservations will not be required for skiing and snowboarding, a decision that was announced last spring. Reservations were required last season due to COVID-19.

An email from chief executive Rob Katz to Epic Pass-holders sent out Monday said lifts and gondolas will be loaded at normal capacities this season but face coverings will be required indoors, including at lodging properties, restrooms, retail and rental locations and shuttle busses. They will not be required in lift lines or on chairlifts, unless local public health policies require them.

Some on-mountain restaurants will require reservations, the email said, but Katz noted “we are expecting significantly more seating and dining capacity than last season.”

The company said details on the vaccination requirement for guests will be posted on resort websites before those mountains open for the season.

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Jet Set: Early Fall Travel Accessories

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Jet Set: Early Fall Travel Accessories
Welcome to Jet Set. Below, see our favorite travel items and accessories right now. Julia Cherruault for Observer

Welcome to Jet Set, a recurring feature in which we highlight our favorite accessories and travel must-haves that are perfect for any kind of trip. Travel is starting to open up again, and whether you’re already packing for your next adventure or you’re just beginning to contemplate venturing out again, we’re here to help with all your jet setting needs. From a customizable suitcase and the most luxurious travel-sized fragrance to toiletry bag essentials and the comfiest on-the-go ensemble, here are the travel pieces we’re loving and coveting right now.

Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Silver Eau De Parfum

While you want to avoid toting around a giant bottle of your favorite fragrance, this travel-sized (TSA-approved bottles are key) version of Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Gentle Fluidity is ideal for fall getaways; it’s a dreamy scent of amber, vanilla, juniper berries and nutmeg, which is perfect for the season. $140, Saks Fifth Avenue.

1632227283 258 Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Irene Forte.

Irene Forte Essential Regenerating Kit

Irene Forte launched her skincare brand in 2018, and while her company is separate from her family’s famed Rocco Forte hotels, she knows a thing or two about travel. Now, she’s combining the best of travel and beauty, with this seven-piece skincare set complete with a cleansing milk, toner, serum, face cream, night cream and mask, all in very convenient travel sizes. $345, Irene Forte Skincare.

1632227283 704 Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Ilia.

Ilia Fullest Volumizing Mascara

A quality mascara is a key component of any toiletry bag, and if you’re looking to amp up the drama, then you must try clean beauty brand Ilia’s latest volumizing formula. Just one swipe gives serious volume and definition, without any leftover flakiness or smudges. It’s non-irritating, which is a major plus for those of us who wear contacts, and it also easily comes off using your favorite cleanser, without having to aggressively rub at your eyes. $28, Ilia.

1632227283 822 Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Roam.

Roam Luggage The Jaunt XL

There’s a lot to like about Roam’s The Jaunt XL suitcase, like its sturdy polycarbonate exterior, waterproof zipper, TSA-approved lock, smooth-gliding wheels and double interior compression system. The best part, though, is surely that Roam’s luggage is entirely customizable; you can select the colors for the shell, wheels, zipper, accents and every other possible detail, because why not explore your creative side when it comes to your travel accessories? $525, Roam Luggage.

1632227283 690 Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Onzie.

Onzie Hush Puppy Jumper

An ultra-soft jumper just might be the most comfortable travel outfit, and this wide-legged version is such a cozy way to dress while on-the-go this autumn. $58, Onzie.

1632227283 442 Jet Set Early Fall Travel Accessories
Tom Ford.

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Blush

Tom Ford’s new blush is one of those rare beauty products that’s actually worth the hype. It comes in six different shades, and each palette contains dual colors with semi-matte and highlighting shades, for the perfect natural glow. $90, Tom Ford.

Jet Set: Early Fall Travel Accessories

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Thousands of Haitians driven from Texas encampment

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Thousands of Haitians driven from Texas encampment

DEL RIO, Texas — More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from an encampment at a Texas border town, U.S. officials said Monday — and warned all to stay away.

Calling it a “challenging and heartbreaking situation,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a stark warning: “If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”

Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said they would look into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips and their horses to push back migrants at the river between Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of migrants remain camped around a bridge.

Both officials said they saw nothing apparently wrong based on the widely seen photos and video. Mayorkas said agents use long reins, not whips, to control their horses.

Ortiz, the former chief of the Del Rio sector, said it can be confusing to distinguish between migrants and smugglers as people move back and forth near the river. The chief said he would investigate to make sure there was no “unacceptable” actions by the agents.

Mayorkas said 600 Homeland Security employees, including from the Coast Guard, have been brought to Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people roughly 145 miles west of San Antonio. He said he has asked the Defense Department for help in what may be one of the swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants and refugees from the United States in decades.

He also said the U.S. would increase the pace and capacity of flights to Haiti and other countries in the hemisphere. The number of migrants at the bridge peaked at 14,872 on Saturday, said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union that represents agents.

Migrants in the camp are not in custody until they are put on buses, and “as long as they do not try to further their entrance into the United States, they’re free to go back and forth to Mexico,” Judd said Monday.

Word of expulsion flights spread rapidly through the camp on Sunday, but few have turned back to Mexico, he said.

Mexico also said it would expel Haitian migrants.

The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 that allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. President Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but let the rest stand.

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Parents lobbying for remote learning in Massachusetts

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Parents lobbying for remote learning in Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – Children across the Commonwealth are expected to be back in the classroom for the entire school year but dozens of parents say they are worried that the state’s requirement is putting some kids at a higher risk of catching the virus.

Parents from Malden, Roxbury, Worcester and Rehoboth spoke out during a virtual news confrence on Monday.

They all told personal stories about their children who are struggling with conditions like Asthma, which puts them at a higher risk of catching COVID-19.

The group of parents want to see the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put a remote learning plan in place so that parents who want to keep their kids home can do so without any repercussions.

Currently, if a student misses too much school they are contacted by a truancy officer and eventually reported to DCF. Governor Baker weighed in on the remote learning debate Monday, saying he’d like to see all kids remain in school.

One thing we all learned last year was that remote learning for many many kids here in the Commonwealth did not work and there’s lots of evidence that in person does.

Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts

Parents who spoke out at Monday’s news conference say they want to keep their kids home to keep them safe and they want them to continue to learn but the state doesn’t currently have a plan in place that facilitates that.

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Man who filmed police dog biting suspect shares video with FOX 2

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Man who filmed police dog biting suspect shares video with FOX 2

ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 has obtained cellphone video of police officers allowing a police dog to continually bite a suspect during an arrest Monday morning near St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is investigating both police and the suspect.

Woodson Terrace Police responded to a trespassing call with a man refusing to leave a business just south on Interstate 70 on Woodson Road around 7:15 a.m.

The man was under the influence of a narcotic, according to police. People working in the area were getting a little scared.

One of those workers caught the arrest with his cellphone. He shared the video with FOX 2 but declined an interview.

The video shows a Black male with his hands on the hood of an unmarked police car. He had resisted arrest, causing a minor injury to an officer, and had threatened kill officers, calling himself a “sovereign citizen” who did not have to obey government laws, according to police. The suspect was in his 30s.

Woodson Terrace Police gave this account on the use of the K9:

The officers advised the subject to place his hands behind his back but he refused and when the officers attempted to place the subject’s hands behind his back the subject resisted and refused to comply. The officers attempted to get the subject to cooperate with them but the subject continued resisting. The subject was then warned several times that if he did not comply the K9 would be released. The subject continued to resist, causing minor injuries to one of the officers so the K9 was released and the K9 gained control of the suspect’s foot. The suspect went to the ground and the K9 was pulled off the subject.

After the K9 was pulled off of the suspect, the officers attempted to place the subject into handcuffs but due to the subject being under the influence of drugs, he continued to resist and the officers were unable to restrain the subject. The subject got up and attempted to flee from the officers and the K9 was released again, biting the suspect on his leg.

The officers were able to handcuff the subject and the K9 was pulled off.

Woodson Terrace Police Department

The video shows the police dog biting the suspect’s leg for nearly 90 seconds. You can hear what sounds like the suspect yelling “help” and “get it off…get it off.”

“(Police) have a tough job,” said St. Louis County NAACP President John Bowman.

After watching the video, he told FOX 2 it was profoundly disturbing, regardless of police motives.

“It gives an appearance that takes us back to a time period that we’re trying our best to forget. It was haunting to see a dog being unleashed on a human being in that manner. There were three very healthy, strong police officers present,” he said.

Bowman called for a thorough, outside investigation of how Woodson Terrace Police, an 18-member department currently with no Black officers on its staff, handled the arrest.

“I’m just hoping that we can at some point get to a place where the minority community does not see so much of this to where the relationships and trust between the community and the police departments … cannot get to a better place,” Bowman said. “The need to subdue the individual making those remarks and being on drugs, absolutely, for the sake of public safety, I understand. I cannot say I understand that type of force with this person. We’ve got to stop seeing these videos where people are aggressively arrested.”

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell issued the following statement:

Our office is aware of this video, and we will make a thorough review of the incident. It would be premature to comment on the merits or specifics of an ongoing investigation at this time.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell

Officers found what appeared to be methamphetamine on the suspect and after initially refusing medical attention, he asked to go to a hospital for treatment of puncture wounds to his leg, police said.

Paramedics asked for a police escort in transporting the unruly suspect out of concern for their safety, police said.

The Woodson Terrace police chief tells FOX 2 he wished officers had body cameras to give a more complete picture of the incident. The department received approval to purchase them earlier this year but the cameras have yet to arrive. 

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