NEWS of the Day - July 19, 2013
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day
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 ...


Have You Been Missing Your Senior Lead Officer Lately?

If so, you're not alone—and neither is your senior lead, who's been patrolling other neighborhoods more frequently.

by Ajay Singh

In June, Highland Park Senior Lead Officers Mark Allen and Fernando Ochoa spent an average of three of their four workdays policing the neighborhood—and “if there's a sense that senior lead officers are being pulled away” from their primary responsibility, “the short answer is yes,” according to Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Division Capt. Jeff Bert.

Allen's and Ochoa's 25-percent absence from Highland Park isn't anything out of the ordinary, however, and is part of what the LAPD does every summer to cope with the absence of officers on vacation, while trying to meet the force's mandate to consistently have at least 85 percent of its officers on patrol duty.

“But that number increases because there's more crime in summer and more cops are needed on patrols,” Bert told Eagle Rock Patch in an interview Thursday.

But summer also happens to be the time when the number of officers on vacation hits an annual peak.

“At any one time in the year, no more than 11 percent of cops are on vacation—and we're at that 11-percent level right now,” Bert said. “When you couple that with the 85-percent patrol requirement, it becomes a challenge” for senior lead officers to focus exclusively on their communities.

“They drive around in two-person cars, taking radio calls,” Bert said, adding that only about a fourth of the senior lead officers' time is spent exclusively patrolling their allotted communities.

Typically, around the Fourth of July, said Bert, officers from the LAPD's specialized units, such as the Crime Analysis Detail in the Northeast Division, don their uniforms and drive around in patrol cars.

“It's certainly not anything new, but that's how we flex our capabilities,” Bert explained. “When it's quiet, officers go back to their specialized units.”

A case in point? Bert himself. “I'm the captain, and I worked on patrol last week,” he said, adding: “Every single able-bodied cop had to work patrol.”

Extra officers are also needed to provide security for the city's annual Summer Night Lights program, a series of after-hours events in 32 public parks located in communities that have high rates of gang-related crime. (The parks remain open until midnight Wednesday through Saturday.)

The challenge of balancing community policing with the LAPD's larger responsibilities became more acute this week in the wake of the not-guilty verdict in the Florida shooting of Trayvor Martin, which prompted civil unrest across the nation, including in Los Angeles.

LAPD officers are not getting any special days off and a good portion of the detectives in the Northeast Division have been assigned to patrol duty in areas as far off as South Central L.A.

“We're doing all we can to keep the cops out on patrol because our primary function is to keep the city safe,” Bert said. “When you have bands of people robbing people in Hollywood we have to stop that.”



Police photographer releases photos of Boston bombing suspect on night he was captured

Massachusetts State Trooper relieved of his duties, will face disciplinary hearing next week

by Jay Lindsay

BOSTON -- A police photographer, furious with a Rolling Stone cover photo he believes glamorizes the surviving Boston Marathon suspect, released gritty images Thursday from the day he was captured.

Photos released to Boston Magazine by Massachusetts State Police tactical photographer Sgt. Sean Murphy show a downcast, disheveled Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the red dot of a sniper's rifle laser sight boring into his forehead.

The pictures were taken when Tsarnaev was captured April 19, bleeding and hiding in a dry-docked boat in a Watertown backyard.

Murphy said in a statement to Boston Magazine that Tsarnaev is evil and that his photos show the "real Boston bomber, not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine."

The April 15 bombing killed three people and injured more than 260. Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier was allegedly killed April 18 by Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, who died following a shootout with police later that evening.

State police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement Thursday that the agency did not authorize the release of the photos to Boston Magazine and will not release them to other media. "The State Police will have no further comment on this matter tonight," he added.

Boston Magazine editor John Wolfson, who wrote the story accompanied by Murphy's photos, later tweeted and reported on the magazine website that Murphy was "relieved of duty" and had a hearing next week. Asked by The Associated Press about Murphy's job status, Procopio said in an email: "All I can say is that he is subject to an internal investigation."

Murphy, who did not return a message from the AP, said in his statement to Boston Magazine that Rolling Stone's cover photo, a softly-lit image of a brooding Tsarnaev, insults officers killed in the line of duty, their colleagues and their families by glamorizing the "face of terror."

"It also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine," he said.

Rolling Stone said the cover story on Tsarnaev was part of its "long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day."

Boston Magazine printed more than a dozen photos from the day Tsarnaev was captured, including images of police during the manhunt and Tsarnaev as he was captured and taken away by ambulance.

Three images showed Tsarnaev as he emerged from the boat, head bowed, with red smudges and streaks on his clothing and the boat.

Two images showed the red dot of the laser sight in the middle of his forehead and just above his left eye. The other showed the dot on the top of his head as he buries his face in his arms.

In his statement, Murphy said the capture played out like a television show, but he hopes his photos show it was "as real as it gets."

"Officer Sean Collier did give his life. These were real people, with real lives, with real families," he said. "And to have this cover dropped into Boston was hurtful to their memories and their families.

"I know from first-hand conversations that this Rolling Stone cover has kept many of them up -- again. It's irritated the wounds that will never heal -- again," he wrote. "There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family."



Detroit: How the Motor City went bust

Kevyn Orr, the city's appointd emergency manager, formally sought federal bankruptcy court protection.

DETROIT — Detroit, the once-thriving Midwest metropolis that gave birth to the nation's auto industry, is now the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.

Kevyn Orr, the city's appointd emergency manager, formally sought federal bankruptcy court protection on Thursday after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, approved the filing, deeming the decision necessary "as a last resort to return this great city to financial and civic health for its residents and taxpayers."

"I know many will see this as a low point in the city's history," Snyder wrote in a letter authorizing the bankruptcy filing. "If so, I think it will also be the foundation of the city's future — a statement I cannot make in confidence absent giving the city a chance for a fresh start, without burdens of debt it cannot hope to fully pay."

In the letter, Snyder explained his decision by citing statistics that have hobbled the city's operations:

• The city's unemployment rate has nearly tripled since 2000 and is more than double the national average.

• The homicide rate is at historically high levels, and the city has been named among America's most dangerous for more than 20 years.

• Detroiters wait an average of 58 minutes for police to respond, compared with the national average of 11 minutes.

• An estimated 40% of the city's street lights didn't work in the first quarter of 2013.

• Roughly 78,000 city structures have been abandoned.

The combination of lost auto industry jobs and rising crime rates prompted many middle-class whites and African Americans to flee Detroit over the past few decades. That exodus left behind an overwhelmingly poor and nearly 83% African-American population, making Detroit the nation's largest black-majority city.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing represents perhaps the biggest body blow yet to a faded city that's now home to barely 700,000 — down from a peak of 1.8 million during the auto industry boom years of the 1950s — and struggles to cope with the abandoned buildings and decaying municipal services.

The filing listed more than 100,000 creditors and more than $1 billion in estimated liabilities, but Orr has said Detroit's total financial responsibilities could be as high as $20 billion.

Because of the stakes involved, and the impact on residents statewide, as well as 30,000 current and retired city workers and Detroit's ability to stay in business, the case could be precedent setting in the federal judiciary. It could also set an important trajectory for the way troubled cities deal with shrinking populations, dwindling tax bases and large debts from municipal pension systems and government services.

"I think you're looking at a very long and protracted bankruptcy," said Brad Coulter, a managing director at O'Keefe LLC, a turnaround consultancy in the Detroit area. "The fight that's taking place in Detroit is the fight that's going to take place around the country as other struggling cities and municipalities come to grips with major financial issues."

The bankruptcy isn't likely to spur many similar filings by other U.S. cities because state and local laws in most cases don't allow localities to turn to the federal court system for protection, said Michael Pagano, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Cleveland defaulted on its debt during the 1970s but didn't go bankrupt. New York City teetered at bankruptcy's edge in 1975 after President Gerald Ford rejected its emergency aid request in a famous "Drop Dead" speech, but a last-minute bailout arrived via a $150 million investment in municipal securities from the city teacher union's pension fund.

In April, Stockton became California's fourth city to seek bankruptcy protection since the national recession's start five years ago. There have been 36 municipal bankruptcy filings since January 2010, according to Governing Magazine . Two proceedings, in Harrisburg, Pa., and Boise County, Idaho, were dismissed.

Woodward Avenue runs towards downtown Detroit through Highland Park on Thursday, July 18, 2013, the day that Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. (Photo: Brian Kaufman, Detroit Free Press)

Orr, a turnaround specialist, spent recent months in tense, but unsuccessful negotiations attempting to get Detroit's creditors to settle for a fraction of what they're owed and persuade municipal unions to accept cuts in benefits.

The city's two pension funds, which collectively have claims to $9.2 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities, filed state lawsuits this week in a bid to prevent Orr from slashing retiree benefits as part of a bankruptcy restructuring.

Ambac Assurance Guaranty, which insures some of Detroit's general obligation bonds, has also objected to Orr's plan to treat those bonds as "unsecured," which would mean they're not tied directly to a dedicated city revenue stream and would be worth pennies on the dollar in value. Ambac and other city creditors have threatened to sue.

The filing starts a 30- to 90-day period that will determine whether the city is eligible for federal Chapter 9 protection and define how many claimants might compete for Detroit's dwindling settlement resources.

Coulter said city unions and other creditors are likely to argue that Detroit in fact is not insolvent and could pay its bills if forced to sell city resources and further cut services to raise money.

"A lot of issues like this have never been tried before in bankruptcy court," Coulter said.

The Detroit that ultimately emerges from bankruptcy "is going to emerge a very different city than when it went in," said Pagano. "It's going to have to have a tough conversation and decision about what are the core critical services the city has to provide, and at what level."



World Trade Center owners' bid to sue airlines for 9/11 attacks blocked

A Manhattan federal judge barred a multibillion-dollar lawsuit, citing state laws prohibiting ‘double recovery on the same loss.'

by Larry Mcshane

The owners of the World Trade Center were blocked Thursday from filing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the two airlines whose hijacked planes brought down the twin towers.

The ruling from Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein came after a four-day trial where the doomed skyscrapers' owners sought to sue for at least $3.5 billion in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“If this case were to go forward, the WTC companies would not be able to recover anything against the airlines,” Hellerstein ruled in the non-jury trial.

Real estate developer Larry Silverstein and World Trade Center Properties have already collected nearly $5 billion toward reconstruction.

But they sought additional money from United Airlines Inc., American Airlines Inc. and the latter's parent company, AMR Corp., alleging their negligence let the terrorists board the flights.

In addition to the twin towers, a third skyscraper — 7 World Trade Center — was destroyed by the attack.

Hellerstein ruled that Silverstein's multibillion-dollar insurance compensation stopped him from filing a lawsuit against the airlines.

He cited state laws barring “windfalls and double recovery on the same loss.”

United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11, both flying out of Boston, were hijacked and flown into the 110-story skyscrapers.

Silverstein, in a statement, promised an appeal.

“We will not rest until we have exhausted every option to insure that the aviation industry's insurers pay their fair share toward the complete rebuilding of the World Trade Center,” the statement declared.



World Trade Center 40th anniversary:
A look back at the iconic Twin Towers through the years

(Slideshow on site)



From the FBI

Homegrown Terrorism -- Self-Radicalized American Incited Violent Jihad Online

Those who have met Emerson Begolly in person might describe him as a shy young man. But online, the 24-year-old was the complete opposite—he forcefully incited jihadist violence against Americans and Jews. And when FBI agents attempted to talk to him in 2011, he reached for a loaded handgun in his pocket and then bit the agents who disarmed him.

Today, a federal judge sentenced Begolly to eight years and six months in prison for soliciting others to engage in acts of terrorism within the United States and for using a firearm in relation to an assault on FBI agents. Begolly pled guilty in August 2011 after being indicted less than a month earlier.

“This is a guy who definitely had the potential to hurt people,” said Special Agent Blake McGuire, who led part of the investigation from our Pittsburgh office. “He was a disaffected U.S. citizen who was susceptible to the message of violent extremism, and he became self-radicalized on the Internet. That type of offender—the so-called lone wolf—is extremely dangerous,” McGuire added, “because they can be difficult to discover before they resort to violence.”

Begolly came to the FBI's attention in 2010 when he began posting violent material on an Islamic extremist Internet forum. Using the pseudonym Abu Nancy, the Pennsylvania resident and occasional college student solicited fellow jihadists to use firearms and explosives against American police stations, post offices, Jewish schools and daycare centers, military facilities, train lines, and water plants. He further urged his audience to “write their legacy in blood” and promised a special place in the afterlife for violent action in the name of Allah.

Members of the Bureau's Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Pittsburgh and in Northern Virginia worked on the case with U.S. attorneys in both jurisdictions. “We all shared the same concern,” McGuire said, “that something might trigger this young man to carry out his own personal jihad.”

Begolly was under surveillance during the summer of 2010 when he legally purchased an assault weapon. Several months later, he escalated his online postings by soliciting jihadists to violence by posting a manual on how to manufacture a bomb.

Shortly after the bomb-making post, agents obtained search warrants for the homes of Begolly's parents, where he often stayed. While the searches were being conducted, two other agents approached Begolly at a fast food restaurant near Pittsburgh to speak with him. That's when he reached for the loaded handgun in his pocket. As the agents subdued him, he bit their fingers, trying to free himself and reach for his gun. His actions were consistent with a previous online post in which he urged jihadists not to be taken alive by law enforcement and to always carry a loaded firearm.

“When you combine troubling rhetoric that escalates with weapons, it poses a tremendous threat to public safety,” McGuire said. “Fortunately, we headed off any potential danger before it happened.”