NEWS of the Day - Nov 9, 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 ...



Stephen Sedensky, State's Attorney, To Ask Court Not To Release Newtown 911 Tapes

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut prosecutor is asking a court to block the release of 911 recordings from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as he seeks the reversal of an order from the state's Freedom of Information Commission.

A New Britain Superior Court judge is holding a hearing Friday on the request for a stay from Stephen Sedensky III, the state's attorney who has fought to keep the recordings sealed in his role as the lead investigator of the Dec. 14 massacre.

In September, the FOI commission ruled the recordings of calls from inside the school must be provided to The Associated Press, which sought them in part in examine the police response to the massacre. Sedensky has appealed that ruling.

"A stay will ensure that the appeal will not be moot and will remain viable pending its resolution," Sedensky wrote in a court filing. "Additionally, a stay will protect crime victims and witnesses as well as allow information relative to child abuse to remain protected."

The AP and the FOI commission have opposed the request for a stay, writing in a joint filing that there is no reason for Sedensky to continue withholding the records. If the 911 recordings are released, the AP would review the content and determine what, if any, of it would meet the news cooperative's standards for publication.

"911 tapes routinely are disclosed to the public, and Plaintiff cannot meet the standard for staying enforcement of the Commission's decision," attorneys for the AP and the commission wrote.

The Newtown gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle. Lanza, who also killed his mother inside their house earlier in the day, committed suicide as police arrived at the school.

As the dispute over the 911 recordings shifts from the FOI commission to the courts, Sedensky has re-asserted his arguments that releasing them could subject witnesses to harassment from conspiracy theorists and violate survivors from the school who deserve special protection as victims of child abuse.

Investigators have not revealed a possible motive for the massacre. Sedensky is preparing a report on the shooting that is expected to be released before the winter.



Instagram pulls account exposing witnesses in Philadelphia as 'rats'

Police are investigating the RATS215 account on the popular photo-sharing site that posted photos and other identifying information on witnesses to violent crime. More than 30 people have been identified since February.

by Deborah Hastings

Police and prosecutors in Philadelphia are trying to find the source of an anonymous Instagram account that put up photographs and other identifying information about witnesses in violent crime cases.

The "RATS215" account, taken down Thursday by Instagram, outed more than 30 witnesses with police reports, photos and information about secret grand jury proceedings, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Police are investigating the account as an act of witness intimidation in a city with a long history of reluctant witnesses. Nearly 7,900 people were following RATS215, the paper reported.

One photo appeared to have been taken inside a courtroom while a witness was testifying. Another showed evidence and photos from a shooting victim whose case was in secret grand jury proceedings.

There were more than 150 photos and dozens of "likes" and comments on the account before it was shut down.

Police learned of the account last week when a 12th District police officer monitoring Twitter spotted photos of a witness and court records from a 2012 shooting, law enforcement officials said. That led police to the Instagram account.

There, they found witness statements from the 19-year-old victim, who was not hit, according to Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives. The victim told police he was fired at in summer 2012 because he had testified in a homicide case.




Matthew Tully: IMPD's push for diversity promotes good policing

It's probably inevitable these days that just about every public policy concept or proposal, no matter how helpful or sensible, will at some point get bogged down in silly conservative-versus-liberal chatter.

And, so, when I wrote recently about Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs' belief in the value of a more diverse police department, one more representative of the city it serves, the talk in some quarters immediately turned to the phantom issues of quotas and reverse discrimination. And even though Riggs is the appointee of a Republican mayor, many people wrote or called me to blast the column and his thinking as empty headed liberalism. That knee-jerk response is based on ideological grudges that, sadly, end up making it hard for people like Riggs to do the right thing.

I'm coming back at this issue today because I fear the shouters may damage what shouldn't be a risky or controversial endeavor but probably is. After all, while the critics of a more diverse department are out in force, the Democratic machine in this town, which claims to stand for equality and fairness, sure hasn't come rushing to defend Riggs.

So I will.

First things first. Yes, it is worth asking questions about demographic information when a county is 28 percent black but has a police department that is only 13 percent black, and when the numbers regarding Hispanic officers are even worse. It is worth looking to see if there is an inherent discrimination at play, intentional or not, that results in such numbers. It's important to make sure all applicants are starting on level ground.

But Riggs' thoughts, and my initial column, were largely about something else: the need to create a department that better reflects the community so that it can better serve and protect that community. The director didn't talk about quotas or affirmative action but rather about better protecting the city by making sure the department better understands it. And he talked about being smarter about how the department finds candidates -- reaching out to the best and brightest across the city, for instance, and not simply waiting for people to show up and ask for an application.

That's what smart organizations do. They work to create a deeper and better pool of candidates on the front end. Unfortunately, it's hard do smart things in these hyperpartisan times.

I recently heard from an angry reader who, I should note, turned out to be a nice and rational guy. But his initial email gnawed at me for hours because it suggested that the effort by Riggs was founded in politics and ideology and not good policing.

“To say we need more black police officers because there are more blacks is ridiculous,” the man said, adding that, “it is always this liberal way that drives me crazy.”

Well, it's this type of knee-jerk political reaction that drives me crazy.

After all, I asked him, doesn't it make sense to think that a police department that reflects its city, that understands its cultures and neighborhoods, and that includes people who perhaps grew up in the neighborhoods most at risk, would be more effective? Is it really so hard to imagine that black or Hispanic police officers might be able to play a particularly important role in addressing crime and other issues in black or Hispanic neighborhoods?

Riggs is not making a political case. He is not trying to win an election or to score points with the left. He is simply trying to create a police force that is trusted by its citizens, and he understands that people are more likely to trust a department that at least makes an effort to look like its city. He understands that officers with deep ties to the neighborhoods they serve might be able to better prevent crimes and build confidences with kids and other residents. He understands that a great police department relies on a diverse set of employees with a diverse set of backgrounds, skills and experiences.

And, no, he didn't say that white officers couldn't effectively serve black neighborhoods. He never came close to saying that. Who would? What he did say was that all police officers in the city would be more effective if they were part of a department that was more trusted and more reflective of the community. Policing is about more than busting and cuffing, as one cop friend once told me, it's also about building relationships and trust.

It's so basic and so reasonable. But everything gets political these days. And everything gets loud.

As evidence of that, people with absolutely no knowledge of how good policing works spent days dismissing with an ideological shrug the thoughts of Riggs, a respected career cop intent on building a stronger and more effective police department. He's just trying to do the right thing. It sure would be nice if those who support his ideas started speaking up, because the other side already is.



Judge throws out LA man's murder conviction

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles man who spent 34 years behind bars for a decades-old killing was freed from jail Friday after his conviction was overturned.

Kash Delano Register, 53, walked out of the Twin Towers downtown jail at about 4:30 p.m. and was greeted by family members and attorneys.

"I'm just in a numb feeling right now," Register told reporters. "You know, it just hasn't really set in yet. I know it's real, but it just hasn't truly set in yet. It's a beautiful feeling, though."

Register was convicted of killing Jack Sasson, 78, in April 1979 and sentenced to 27 years to life in prison. He always maintained his innocence.

Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader threw out the conviction on Thursday, ruling that prosecutors used false testimony at trial and failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors said they would decide by next month whether to appeal the decision or retry him.

Register was convicted mainly on alleged eyewitness testimony. None of the seven fingerprints found on Sasson's car matched Register's, and police never recovered the murder weapon.

Register's girlfriend said he was with her at the time of the shooting but prosecutors relied on the testimony of Brenda Anderson, who identified Register as the gunman.

Two of Anderson's sisters said their sibling lied about seeing Register running away from the crime scene.

Sheila Vanderkam said she and Sharon Anderson tried to tell police in 1979 that their sister lied, but a detective placed his finger over his mouth, indicating they should keep silent.

"He made it very clear to me, without actually saying anything, that I was to stay out of it," Vanderkam said in a court declaration.

Vanderkam also said her sisters had hidden a package of Avon products at the time of the shooting that they had stolen from a neighbor. Sharon Anderson said police threatened to lock her up for the stolen package.

Brenda Anderson has repeatedly changed her account. When asked in court last month whether Register had been the shooter, she replied, "It may or may not have been that person."



From the FBI

Fugitives Sought -- New Subjects Added to Cyber's Most Wanted List

(Pictures and Podcast on site)

Five individuals have been added to the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted list for their roles in domestic and international hacking and fraud crimes collectively involving hundreds of thousands of victims and tens of millions of dollars in losses.

In announcing the addition of the new subjects—along with rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to their arrests—Executive Assistant Director of our Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch Richard McFeely said, “Throughout its history, the FBI has depended on the public's help and support to bring criminals to justice. That was true in the gangster era, and it's just as true in the cyber era. We need the public's help to catch these individuals who have made it their mission to spy on and steal from our nation and our citizens.”

The new fugitives on our Cyber's Most Wanted list are:

•  Pakistani nationals Farhan Arshad and Noor Aziz Uddin, wanted for their alleged involvement in an international telecommunications hacking scheme. Between 2008 and 2012, the pair gained unauthorized access to business telephone systems, resulting in losses exceeding $50 million. Arshad and Uddin are part of an international criminal ring that the FBI believes extends into Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia and elsewhere.

•  Carlos Perez-Melara, wanted for a variety of cyber crimes—including running a fraudulent website in 2003 that offered customers a way to “catch a cheating lover.” Those who took the bait downloaded spyware that secretly installed a program on their computers that allowed scammers to steal the victims' identities and personal information.

•  Syrian national Andrey Nabilevich Taame, wanted for his alleged role in Operation Ghost Click, a malware scheme that compromised more than four million computers in more than 100 countries between 2007 and October 2011; there were at least 500,000 victims in the United States alone.

•  Russian national Alexsey Belan, wanted for allegedly remotely accessing the computer networks of three U.S.-based companies in 2012 and 2013 and stealing sensitive data as well as employees' identities.

Rewards are being offered for each of the five fugitives, all of whom are believed to be living outside the U.S. See the accompanying “Wanted By the FBI” posters for more information.

The FBI's Most Wanted program is best known for its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The Top Ten list was established more than six decades ago and has become a symbol of the Bureau's crime-fighting ability around the world. But the Bureau highlights other wanted fugitives as well—terrorists, white-collar criminals, and increasingly, those who commit cyber crimes.

The FBI leads the national effort to investigate high-tech crimes, including cyber-based terrorism, espionage, computer intrusions, and major cyber fraud. The expansion of the Cyber's Most Wanted list is a reflection of the FBI's increased efforts in this area, McFeely said. “The cyber fugitives we seek have caused significant losses to individuals and to our economy,” he explained. “And cyber crime continues to pose a significant threat to our national security.”

We need your help. If you have information about any of the five individuals mentioned above, or the other fugitives on our Cyber's Most Wanted list, please submit a tip on our website or contact your local FBI office or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.



From the Department of Homeland Security

Serving Veterans Across DHS

As we take time on Monday to thank our nation's veterans for their service and sacrifices, we also recognize the veterans who continue to serve here at home, including across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As a veteran myself, I am proud that DHS employs more than 54,000 veterans who make up almost 28 percent of our total workforce, in addition to the more than 43,000 active duty U.S. Coast Guardsmen and women we are honored to call our colleagues.

I'd like to highlight just some of the work we are doing across DHS to recognize our men and women in uniform.

This year, from November 7 to 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will welcome almost 8,000 new U.S. citizens at over 120 naturalization ceremonies—many of whom are military members and veterans who have sworn to defend our nation and will be proudly welcomed as our fellow Americans.

At the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), over a quarter of the workforce is military veterans. This year, TSA revised screening requirements to allow expedited screening for this group through its Wounded Warrior program.

The Wounded Warrior Screening program makes the overall experience for wounded service members as simple as possible, including curb-to-gate services and expedited screening to move through security checkpoints without having to remove shoes, light outerwear jackets or hats.

Through a new program developed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, injured or disabled veterans can get a chance a chance to continue to serve at home for a good cause. The recently announced H .E.R.O. (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Child Rescue Corps, brings together resources and expertise to train and equip wounded warriors to assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation.

Earlier this month, Coast Guard members organized by the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association honored the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during a Flags Across America event. On Veterans Day, I will join the Coast Guard for a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Coast Guard Memorial in Arlington National Ceremony. Also, next week we will celebrate the naming of the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building. Named after one of our heroes and the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient, Signalman Douglas Munro put himself in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Marines at Guadalcanal during World War II.

We also are proud to work with and support many veterans and veterans organizations outside the department. Last year, DHS provided more than $1.5 billion in contracts to veteran-owned businesses, and we continued to expand our outreach to many veterans groups seeking to work with us.

I hope you will join me in thanking veterans for their service and ongoing contributions. Having served in uniform myself, I am grateful for every veteran across DHS for their hard work and know we are truly safer and more secure because of them.



Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month

November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which recognizes the important role critical infrastructure plays in our nation's way of life and why it is important to expand and reinforce critical infrastructure security and resilience.

What Critical Infrastructure Means To You

The nation's critical infrastructure provides essential services that underpin American society and sustain the American way of life. Critical infrastructure supports the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation systems that get us from place to place, the bridges that connect us and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.

Securing critical infrastructure and ensuring its resilience is a shared responsibility of federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners, as well as individual citizens. Just as we all rely on critical infrastructure, we must all play an active role in keeping it strong, secure, and resilient.

Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month will focus on building awareness and understanding of the importance of critical infrastructure to America's national security and economic prosperity as well as reaffirming the commitment to keep our critical infrastructure and our communities safe and secure. This requires a nationwide effort, with partners working together toward a common goal.

How You Can Get Involved

•  Read the presidential proclamation.

•  Share with your customers, constituents, partners, residents and employees stories and information about your efforts in support of infrastructure security and resilience through newsletters, websites, emails, blog posts, and tweets.

•  Reinforce the role your organization/office plays in infrastructure security and resilience by incorporating references to Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience month in speaking engagements and events.

•  Follow @DHSgov, and post infrastructure security and resilience efforts, tips, news, and resources on social media sites.

•  Request a Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience month toolkit to help spread the word by mailing infrastructure@hq.dhs.gov

•  Check back for a presidential proclamation and to learn more about the national effort to make critical infrastructure secure and resilient, and about training and events that will take place in November.

Americans can do their part at home, at work and in their local communities by being prepared for all hazards, reporting suspicious activities , and learning more about critical infrastructure security and resilience .