NEWS of the Day - March 10, 2012
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Day - March 10, 2012
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...

We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...


From the L.A. Daily News


'Speed Freak Killer' sends new letter to station

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A Sacramento television station has received a second letter from serial killer Wesley Shermantine, with it claiming that he knows of more than 70 murder victims.

Shermantine wrote to reporter CBS-13 Koula Gianulias (http://cbsloc.al/A5FaSn) saying that his accomplice, Loren Herzog, and a third man killed 72 people. The station did not identify the third man.

Shermantine, one of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," is on San Quentin's State Prison's death row for killing four people from 1984 to 1999.

Herzog was convicted of three murders, but authorities had said previously that they suspect he and Shermantine killed about 20 people.

Herzog's convictions were overturned after a judge determined his confession was illegally coerced. He instead struck a plea deal on one count of voluntary manslaughter and was paroled in 2010.

He died in an apparent suicide in January, hours after receiving a call from bounty hunter Leonard Padilla warning him that Shermantine planned to reveal the burial locations.

The letter CBS-13 received Wednesday comes after Shermantine wrote the station in February, claiming that he knew where additional victims had been dumped. Both letters bore a San Quentin State Prison postmark, the station said.

Maps that Shermantine had previously provided led authorities to at least three locations, with Shermatine claiming that 10 bodies or more could have been stashed in the area.

Investigators found remains belonging to two of Shermantine's victims in Calaveras County. They also found hundreds of bone fragments in a well in an abandoned ranch in San Joaquin County.

San Joaquin County officials, who had been searching the ranch based on information provided earlier from Shermantine, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the latest letter.




A reviews high-risk inmate, gang member policies


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A sharp reduction in prison crowding is giving officials in the nation's largest state prison system breathing space to rethink long-outdated policies affecting where inmates live and how best to suppress the gangs that unofficially control many aspects of life behind bars.

California prison officials on Friday unveiled proposed changes to rules that kept some gang members locked in isolation for years and led to widespread inmate hunger strikes last year.

They also released a study that could help save taxpayers money by giving the state more flexibility to house some high-risk inmates in lower-level prisons instead of building new maximum-security lockups.

Both moves are possible, officials said, because the state is diverting thousands of lower-level criminals from state prisons to local jails under a law that took effect in October.

The shift was driven by federal judges who ruled state prisons were so jammed that officials could not provide proper care to mentally and physically ill inmates. The U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the authority of the judges to order the state to reduce crowding.

The reduction is just beginning, but the benefits are changing the way the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does business, said Terri McDonald, the department's undersecretary for operations.

"Public safety realignment has given us the opportunity to begin to implement research and policies that we've wanted to do for years but haven't had the ability to do that because we were just so crowded," she said in an interview.

The department hadn't planned to release the study on the security classification of inmates on Friday, until a copy was independently obtained by The Associated Press. But McDonald said that study fits with the new gang regulations that would give inmates a chance to earn their way out of the state's notorious security housing units.

The state can safely house some maximum-security inmates in lower-level prisons, according to five University of California criminology experts commissioned by the department to review its classification system. That in turn could free up space in maximum-security prisons to house some of the nearly 2,300 gang members who currently are in the security housing units, McDonald said.

Donald Specter, director of the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office, applauded the security recommendations but said gang members should be able to work their way out of the isolation units more quickly than the department is proposing.

The department could have changed its antiquated policies without waiting for crowding to abate, said Specter, one of the attorneys who sued and won the federal crowding-reduction order.

The proposed regulations say gang members would no longer have to renounce their gang membership. Instead, they could win more privileges and get out of the isolation units in four years instead of six if they stop engaging in gang activities and participate in anger management and drug rehabilitation programs.

The old restrictions prompted more than 6,000 inmates at prisons statewide to refuse state-issued meals at 13 prisons in July. They staged another hunger strike in September and smaller strikes intermittently since then.

Officials said their review started in May, before the hunger strikes, and the regulations are based on programs in seven other states.

However, officials said the proposed policy change addresses some of the inmates' demands. Inmates wanted a way to earn their way out of isolation, and the proposed policy gives them even more incentives than they sought.

Under the old policy, gang associates are automatically sent to the security housing units to live alongside gang members and leaders. Of the 2,300 felons who are in the isolation units because of their gang involvement, nearly 1,800 are considered gang associates.

The units also house non-gang inmates who kill other inmates, attack employees or participate in riots.

Under the proposed policy, many gang associates could continue living in the general prison population.

That shift alone could significantly reduce the population in the security units, McDonald said.

Friday's developments came a week after the department announced it had taken down the last of nearly 20,000 makeshift beds that had been set up in gymnasiums and other common areas to handle inmates who overflowed traditional cells before the new realignment law.

With fewer inmates throughout the system, McDonald said the department will consider adding education and rehabilitation programs for inmates who want to improve their lives, while leaving other more basic prisons to house offenders who do not want to stay out of trouble.



From Google News


Man accused of sending threatening letters to Congress

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) A 39-year-old man charged in connection with threatening letters containing white powder that were sent to members of Congress and some media organizations was arrested Friday.

Investigators said Christopher Lee Carlson was indicted on two criminal counts arising out of an investigation into the mailing of about 100 envelopes containing white powder.

The letters, postmarked in Portland, Ore., so far have all tested negative for toxic substances, the U.S. Attorney's office in Portland said.

A federal grand jury indictment returned Friday in Portland charged Carlson, described as being from the Portland-Vancouver, Wash., area.

The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Carlson was arrested at a home in the Portland area.

Carlson was charged with one count of mailing a threatening communication to a member of Congress. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was referenced by name. The second count charged the man with mailing a letter threatening to use a biological weapon to a U.S. senator. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. was named in that count.

Carlson is expected to be arraigned Monday.

Investigators have recovered more than 100 letters addressed to U.S. senators and representatives. The Seattle office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said it also received one.

"Threatening letters whether hoax or real are serious concerns that federal law enforcement agencies will aggressively pursue," said Greg Fowler, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.

Murray's office did not immediately return a call for comment Friday night.

Some letters were sent to district offices of the Congress members.

The FBI, U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service all participated in the investigation.

The letters, which first came to light in late February, told the recipients that there is a "10 percent chance you have just been exposed to a lethal pathogen."

The letters bore a return address from "The MIB." The listed Portland return address didn't exist.

The sender wanted an "end to corporate money and 'lobbying,'" an end to corporate "personhood" and a new constitutional convention. The Associated Press obtained a copy of a letter.

The threats raised memories of post-9/11 incidents that rattled Washington. In mid-November 2001, authorities closed two Senate office buildings after anthrax attacks on Congress. Those attacks came after four people two postal workers in Washington, a New York City hospital worker and a Florida photo editor died from exposure to anthrax.




Rockford Police Department to host Citizens Police Academy

by Samantha Jeffreys

Citizens who want to gain insight into the police department will soon get the chance to learn more.

The Rockford Police Department will host its seventh Citizens Police Academy. The academy is an educational opportunity for Rockford citizens to learn more about how police officers perform their duties and how the department serves the community. Attendees will graduate from the program more familiar with their role in partnering with the police department to help reduce crime, increase the solve rate, and improve the quality of life for all citizens of Rockford. Any citizen over the age of 18 who lives or works in Rockford is encouraged to attend.

Program curriculum includes patrol operations, 9-1-1 Center operations, community policing, criminal law, city ordinances, and more. The sessions run every Wednesday from 6 to 8p.m. for a 10 week period and begin March 21. All classes will be held at the Public Safety Building, 420 West State Street, except for the second class, which will be held at the 9-1-1 center.

Applications for the academy are available at the Rockford Police Department front desk and online at http://www.rockfordil.gov/police.aspx. Applications can be turned in by sending them to the Rockford Police Department, Attn. Sgt. Carla Redd, 420 West State St., Rockford, IL 61101.