Christopher Dorner's firing from LAPD defended
by Rick Orlov
Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer who went on a killing rampage he said was motivated to clear his name, was properly fired after using the internal Los Angeles Police Department system to try to stay on the force, police officials said Friday.
In a report to the Police Commission, Police Chief Charlie Beck and Inspector General Alexander Bustamante said the department followed all the correct procedures in removing Dorner from the department in 2009 after he filed a false complaint against a training officer, accusing her of kicking a suspect who had been restrained.
Beck had ordered the review after Dorner's manifesto, a 17-page document called "Last Resort," raised questions over the procedures used in his firing.
Dorner is believed to have committed suicide when he was cornered inside a Big Bear cabin following a killing spree in which he had allegedly murdered the daughter of the attorney who had represented him and her fiance, as well as killing two other police officers and wounding three others.
Gerald Chaleff, special assistant for constitutional policing to Beck, detailed in a 22-page report the problems Dorner experienced at the Police Academy and while on the force up to his dismissal.
"After a review of all the evidence ... and the allegations of Christopher Dorner, it has been determined that terminating him from the department was not only appropriate, it was the only course the department could take based on the facts and the evidence," Chaleff said.
"Dorner repeatedly displayed a tendency to utilize the department's complaint process to further his own personal agenda."
Chaleff said Dorner was originally hired by the LAPD in 2005, but that it took him 13 months to graduate rather than the normal six months due to a variety of factors, including an injury suffered with the negligent discharge of his weapon.
Dorner was fired in 2009 after it was determined he had filed a false complaint against his training officer, saying she had kicked a suspect during an arrest.
Chaleff said Dorner made the complaints 13 days after the arrest and only after he was told he was being given an unsatisfactory rating report.
Also, he said, Dorner passed up several opportunities in that time period to lodge a complaint against the training officer.
"The inconsistencies in Dorner's various explanations as to why there was a delay in his reporting the alleged kicks to a supervisor, and the fact that he offered no reasonable rationale for such delays, cast considerable doubt on the credibility of his allegations," Chaleff said.
"Dorner's statements concerning the delay continued to change throughout his testimony and appeared to be self-serving and in several instances were blatant fabrications."
Once the complaint was made, investigators tried to follow up with the mentally ill suspect who had been arrested, but they were unable to corroborate that he had been kicked.
"The record is clear that Dorner fabricated allegations against his training officer, and later, against his peers and superiors," Chaleff said. "The decision to terminate Dorner was sound and just. Dorner's documented proclivity to concoct allegations and evidence to advance his personal agenda support the conclusion that Dorner was rightfully terminated from the LAPD."
Dorner would also make complaints about the Board of Rights hearing in which his dismissal was upheld. Later investigations also cleared the board of any conflicts.
Chaleff said a second report is being prepared on the department's disciplinary process.
Dorner also filed an appeal over his firing with the Superior Court and it was dismissed.
In his manifesto, Dorner accused the LAPD of continuing to discriminate against officers based on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and there was retaliation against those who reported problems.
Chaleff said the department has acknowledge past problems, including a code of silence, but that steps have been taken over the past decade to address these problems. Most recently, a federal judge lifted the consent decree over the department noting the gains that had been made in dealing with problem officers.
Edward Snowden extradition attempts 'could take years'
Hong Kong legal experts say US could face lengthy diplomatic and legal process to try NSA whistleblower in American court
by Conal Urquhart
Any attempt by the US to extradite the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from Hong Kong for espionage could take years and be blocked by China, legal experts have said.
The warning comes after it emerged on Friday that the US has charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorised person. The latter two charges are part of the US Espionage Act.
Legislators in Hong Kong responded by calling for mainland China to intervene in the case. Snowden, 29, who is reportedly in hiding in Hong Kong, was last seen on 10 June. He is understood to have made contact with human rights lawyers in anticipation of a legal action from the US.
The US and Hong Kong have had an extradition treaty since 1998, a year after Hong Kong was transferred from British to Chinese rule. Scores of Americans have been sent back for trial under the treaty.
While espionage and theft of state secrets are not cited specifically in the treaty, equivalent charges could be pressed against Snowden under Hong Kong's official secrets ordinance, legal experts said.
The timeframe for such proceedings remains unclear, but Hectar Pun, a barrister with human rights expertise, said such an extradition could take three to five years.
If Hong Kong authorities did not charge Snowden with an equivalent crime, authorities could not extradite him, lawyers said. In the absence of charges, Snowden was also theoretically free to leave the city, one legal expert said.
Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that while the first charge involving theft might readily find equivalence in Hong Kong, the latter two spying offences will likely attract "litigation and dispute" in the courts.
Under Hong Kong's extradition system, a request first goes through diplomatic channels to the government, who decides whether to issue an "authority to proceed". If granted, a magistrate issues a formal warrant for the arrest of Snowden.
Once brought before the court, the judge would decide whether there was sufficient evidence to commit Snowden to trial or dismiss the case, though any decision could be appealed in a higher court.
Snowden could claim political asylum in Hong Kong, arguing he would face torture back home. Article six of the treaty states extradition should be refused for "an offence of a political character".
"The unfairness of his trial at home and his likely treatment in custody" were important factors to consider when assessing Snowden's chances of claiming political immunity from extradition, said Young.
Should a Hong Kong court eventually call for Snowden's extradition, Hong Kong's leader and China could still veto the decision on national security or defence grounds.
Snowden has admitted leaking secrets about classified US surveillance programmes, which he said he did in the public interest. Supporters say he is a whistleblower, while critics call him a criminal and perhaps even a traitor.
Ex-Border Patrol agents get at least 30 years
by JULIE WATSON
SAN DIEGO — Two brothers who worked as Border Patrol agents were sentenced to at least 30 years in prison each for smuggling hundreds of immigrants into the United States, crimes that the judge termed a threat to national security.
U.S. District Court Judge John Houston sentenced Raul Villarreal on Friday to 35 years in prison for being the ring leader and ordered him to pay a $250,000 fine. His brother, Fidel Villarreal, was sentenced to 30 years for managing the illicit business.
The sentences are among the longest given to border law enforcement officials for corruption.
Houston said he gave the severe sentences to deter other agents who have been entrusted by the American people to protect the border. The judge called their smuggling operation "disgusting."
Prosecutors said Raul Villarreal — who made television appearances as an agency spokesman and once played the role of a smuggler in a public service ad — recruited his brother to his ring. The veteran agents worked in cahoots with a corrupt Tijuana police officer and a network of others, including foot guides and drivers.
The agents would abandon their job duties manning the border to transport the migrants in Border Patrol vehicles — sometimes several times a day from the Mexican city of Tijuana to a rugged mountainous area along the California border, federal officials said. Prosecutors said they smuggled in as many as 1,000 Mexicans and Brazilians; the judge put the figure at more than 500.
The ring smuggled in immigrants in groups of 10 and charged them about $10,000 per group, said prosecutors who alleged the brothers made more than $1 million from the scheme. The judge put the figure closer to $700,000.
"This long-term guaranteed method of bringing aliens into the United States was disgusting, pervasive and impacted significantly the national interest," Houston told the court before handing down their sentences.
Raul Villarreal thanked the court for giving him a "good trial, a fair trial." His brother echoed that. They did not show any emotion when the sentences were announced.
The federal probe began in May 2005 when an informant tipped off the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Investigators installed cameras in areas where migrants were dropped off, planted recording devices and placed tracking instruments on Border Patrol vehicles. They also trailed the ring's smuggling operations by airplane.
Prosecutors said when the brothers learned they were being investigated in June 2006, they quit their jobs and fled to Tijuana.
Two years later, the brothers were arrested there and extradited to the U.S. where they were charged with human smuggling, witness tampering and bribery.
Raul Villarreal's attorney, David Nick, had argued the prosecution's witnesses were not credible and surveillance yielded no evidence his client was the ring leader.
Fidel's attorney, Zenia Gilg, echoed that argument, saying the prosecution's case rested largely on two alleged accomplices who were promised leniency for testifying and "inconsistent statements" from migrants.
Gilg said an appeal will be filed.
"I was just disappointed," Gilg said after the sentencing. "The one thing I'm troubled by is the credibility that was given to the government's lead witness (an alleged smuggler). I felt the jury had rejected everything he said."
The Border Patrol has suffered a string of such embarrassments since doubling its size in less than a decade, including the case of an agent who pleaded guilty in April to smuggling marijuana while on duty along the Arizona-Mexico border.
But prosecutors and Judge Houston said the Villarreal case stands out as being among the worst corruption cases.
"They used their positions as Border Patrol agents to line their pockets," Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Salel said, adding later: "Unlike other corruption cases where agents have been led astray to join an organization, these agents created the organization. They called the shots. They were the ring leaders."
The defense asked the judge to request that the brothers be locked up at the same prison, but Houston declined.
Jasper County Sheriff's deputies start community policing effort
by Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. — Jasper County deputies have taken community policing to the country.
Sheriff Randee Kaiser said the goal of a project started recently is to encourage residents cooperating in reducing crime in an area in the south central part of the county.
The program has been started as a trial with plans to extend it to other areas, he said.
“It's going very well, we've gotten a lot of positive reaction from the community so far,” he said.
The area targeted for the project is from the south county line north to Cedar Road, between County Road 120 and 190, which includes the Fidelity area. He said the area was selected because it now has higher rates of calls for service.
“One thing we've been trying to drive home with residents is that people can become desensitized and don't call when they see suspicious activity,” he said. “We're trying to encourage them to be aware of what's going on and to let us know if they see something. That can be a deterrent to crime.”
Kaiser said the program in some ways is modeled after community policing programs that have started in communities such as Carthage, where he earlier was assistant police chief.
He said it differs from an in-town effort in that residents are more spread out and sometimes less able to keep an eye on their neighbors' property.
“And a lot of people are in the country because they want to be left alone and to mind their own business,” he said. “And that's fine, but we hope it doesn't happen to the exclusion of helping their neighbor if they see something out of the ordinary.”
Kaiser said deputies are going to each house in the area, with deputies assigned to make contacts at least 10 to 15 homes. In talking to residents, he said, deputies “will let them know we're willing to partner with them to solve any ongoing problems or prevent future problems, and that we want their help in reducing crime in their neighborhood.
“And if we see a need that may not be a traditional law enforcement need, they'll try to make the resident aware of the resources like social service agencies available to them they might now know about,” he said.
He acknowledged there could be some initial suspicion among residents when deputies come knocking on their doors. But he said the model for law enforcement always has been to react to problems, rather than trying to anticipate or prevent them.
“So, if a deputy shows up, there can be the assumption there's a problem,” he said. “What we're trying to establish is that we can be pro-active, and help prevent problems.”
The project is expected to last two months.
Kaiser also announced he had designated a department position to ensure that residents are contacted after they make a report or are the victims of a crime. The officer will contact residents when deputies have pursued all leads in a case to inform them of the outcome or determine if the resident has any more information.
LPD: Community Policing Helped Lower Crime Stats
by Rachel Schaerr
Lynchburg, VA - The Lynchburg police department is pleased with new crime statistics, showing the total number of incidents was down in 2012.
The state police released the annual report this week, showing property crime is down significantly from the year before.
Police attribute several things to lowering the number of property crimes last year -- everything from social media to vigilant citizens.
Sirens. It's a sound no one wants in their neighborhood. And if you live in Lynchburg, you may be hearing it less.
"We are pleased with that. But we also understand that we still have a lot of work to do," said Captain Whit Clark.
While kidnappings, forcible rapes and fraud were up, the department says that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
"It could be because we're starting to have more crime reported to us where we haven't seen that in the past," Clark explained.
Most impressive: the decrease in property crimes. There were 727 vandalisms reported in 2012, compared to 966 the year before. Burglaries were down as well, 369 reported in 2012, compared to 522 in 2011.
Captain Whit Clark says the reason is two-fold.
"Good investigations by our officers and detectives. It's also reflective of the community itself," he said.
Through groups like neighborhood crime watch. The Community Services Coordinator says they've seen a steady increase in the number of groups in recent years.
"Watch members are told that they're the eyes and the ears of the police department. And they literally are," said Steven Wood, LPD's Crime Prevention Coordinator.
"We have 58 active groups right now, which is phenomenal," he added.
The department is also offering more home safety seminars, crime prevention fairs and beefing up its presence using social media like Facebook and Twitter. There are nearly 2,000 likes on its Facebook page alone.