NEWS of the Day - Dec 10, 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 ...



Report connects realignment to increases in property crime, auto theft

by Beatriz Valenzuela and Greg Yee

The rise in property crimes in California can be tied to the implementation of the state's prison realignment, according to a report by The Public Policy Institute of California.

On Monday, the research nonprofit released a report that found that crime rates increased during the first year of realignment from 2011 to 2012 and that property crimes — motor vehicle theft, larceny and burglary — rose 7.6 percent. This increase is higher than in states that had crime trends similar to those in California prior to realignment. Nationwide, property crime decreased slightly.

The report did not find that realignment had any effects on serious violent crimes, murder and rape.

“When we compared California to other states, we saw an increase across the board in the same period,” said Magnus Lofstrom, co-author of the report with Steven Raphael. “It's part of a broader trend.”

In particular, auto thefts started to increase noticeably at the time realignment began, according to the report, which was based on data from the California Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Statistics Center. The exact reason why auto theft in particular saw an increase is not known, but Lofstrom said it could be tied to the nature of the crime itself.

“Auto theft is included in the list of (offenses) that are transferred to county jails under realignment,” he said. “These are part of the offenders now on the street, and, according to CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) data, they had a 74 percent recidivism rate in 2011.”

These offenders, in other words, are more likely to continue committing auto thefts after they are released than those who were incarcerated for other reasons.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials pushed back on the findings noting the state's low crime rate.

“Crime rates remain at historically low levels and are substantially below those observed a decade ago, as this study notes,” said Deborah Hoffman, spokesperson for the CDCR.

“Under realignment, the state is investing hundreds millions of dollars in local rehabilitation and crime-prevention programs to continue to improve public safety in our communities. The impact of these investments will be measured over years, not months.”

Hoffman also points out other studies, including one from the Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice, that found the data analyzed did not demonstrate any relationship between the implementation of prison realignment and increases in violent or property crime.

Under AB 109, those convicted of a triple-non offense — nonviolent, nonserious, nonsexual — would be eligible to be supervised by county probation departments or serve their sentences in county jail. AB 109 was implemented on Oct. 1, 2011 as a way for the state to comply with a federal three-judge panel's order to decrease the population of California's prison. The panel found the overcrowded conditions in state prisons led to inadequate medical attention for inmates.

Many in law enforcement, including Los Angeles County probation officials, who are now tasked with monitoring the largest number of AB 109 probationers in the state, say a major issue with the law is that violent criminals are being placed under local control.

Despite prison realignment stating only nonviolent offenders would be placed under local supervision, several post-release community supervision offenders have prior convictions for violent crimes or have violent tendencies, according to several probation departments.

High-ranking members of law enforcement officials from California have long been talking about the dangers of prison realignment.

Glendale Police Chief Ronald De Pompa has called the legislation “dangerous public policy.”

However, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials have always maintained those who were transferred to local county supervision from state prisons were ready to be released anyway. Prison realignment, or AB 109, did not free anyone from prison early, it just shifted the monitoring duty of lower-level offenders from state parole to county probation.

In San Bernardino County, probation programs and tactics have reduced the re-arrest rate for PRCS offenders from 82.5 percent when being supervised by parole to the current 42.5 percent under probation, said Chris Condon, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Probation Department. Condon credits the department's rehabilitation programs and the county's three day-reporting centers in helping keep rearrest numbers low.

Because California still has 8,000 more state prison inmates than its court-mandated limit of 110,000, the report also assessed how further reductions would affect crime rates. Lofstrom and Raphael found that if the state further reduces the prison population — rather than transferring prisoners to other facilities — the effect on property crime could be between 7 and 12 percent greater per released offender than realignment's current effect.

The report also found that alternatives to prison incarceration could improve public safety and at lower cost. Spending an additional dollar on policing would prevent from 3?1/2 to 7 times as many crimes as spending that dollar on incarceration, the report said.




FBI arrests 16 Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies

by Frank C. Girardot

LOS ANGELES — Federal authorities arrested 16 current and former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in connection with five criminal cases that involve allegations of corruption and civil rights violations at Men's Central Jail.

The arrests were announced at a press conference downtown Monday afternoon by U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr.

“The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct,” Birotte said in a written statement. “This investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests.

“Our investigation also found that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized. The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law. Instead of cooperating with the federal investigation to ensure that corrupt law enforcement officers would be brought to justice, the defendants in this case are accused of taking affirmative steps designed to ensure that light would not shine on illegal conduct that violated basic constitutional rights.”

A total of 18 deputies were named in the indictments which were unsealed Monday.

Steve Whitmore, Sheriff's Lee Baca's spokesman, said county officials had very few details on the matter.

“You should call the FBI,” Whitmore said.

Federal officials will hold a press conference in downtown Los Angeles at 1 p.m. to announce “criminal corruption and civil rights charges against current and former sworn officers of a local law enforcement agency,” according to a press release from Justice Department spokesman Thom Mrozek.

No further details were immediately available.

Whitmore said Baca would hold a press conference in Monterey Park at 3:30 p.m.

“I just got out of a long meeting where we discussed this and its somewhat confusing,” Whitmore said. “The Sheriff will be addressing this matter.”

Whitmore said he didn't know if deputies had been arrested.

“They've been indicted,” he said.

Whitmore did not say if he had seen a copy of the indictment.

The Los Angeles County Board of supervisors recently appointed deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman to oversee the Sheriff's Department as inspector general. He was not immediately available for comment.

“While we are pleased that the United States Attorney's Grand Jury investigation of the Sheriff's Department is coming to an end with these 18 indictments, what we don't know is whether this represents the tip of the iceberg or whether there will be more, including higher-ups,” Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said in a prepared statement. “Our Board has and will continue to be fully cooperative to ensure that all are held accountable.”

In a press release the Justice Department identified the five criminal cases as follows:

Brunsting and Branum:

“Two deputy sheriffs – Bryan Brunsting and Jason Branum – are charged in a six-count indictment with civil rights violations and making false statements in reports.”


“This indictment charges a sergeant and four deputies with civil rights violations that allege they arrested or detained five victims – including the Austrian consul general – when they arrived to visit inmates at the Men's Central Jail.”


“This six-count indictment that alleges a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice charges seven sworn members of the LASD. This case developed when deputies assigned to the Men's Central Jail learned that an inmate was an FBI informant and was acting as a cooperator in the FBI's corruption and civil rights investigation.

After learning that the inmate received a cellular phone from a deputy sheriff who took a bribe and that the inmate was part of a civil rights investigation, those allegedly involved in the obstruction scheme took (steps) to hide the cooperator from the FBI.”


“Deputy Richard Piquette is charged in the fourth indictment with illegally building and possessing an assault rifle. The indictment charges Piquette with possessing an unregistered Noveske Rifleworks N-4 .223 caliber rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches.”


“The fifth case unsealed today is a criminal complaint that charges three LASD deputies, all of whom are brothers, with conspiracy to make false statements to two banks in connection with a “buy-and-bail” mortgage fraud scheme.”



Spies Infiltrate a Fantasy Realm of Online Games


Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents.

Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels.

The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games — fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions — American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers.

Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 N.S.A. document warned, but they had the potential to be a “target-rich communication network” allowing intelligence suspects “a way to hide in plain sight.” Virtual games “are an opportunity!” another 2008 N.S.A. document declared.

But for all their enthusiasm — so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.

The documents, obtained by The Guardian and shared with The New York Times and ProPublica, do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort. Former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations.

Games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players' identity and activity is tracked,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” “For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.”

The surveillance, which also included Microsoft's Xbox Live, could raise privacy concerns. It is not clear exactly how the agencies got access to gamers' data or communications, how many players may have been monitored or whether Americans' communications or activities were captured.

One American company, the maker of World of Warcraft, said that neither the N.S.A. nor its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, had gotten permission to gather intelligence in its game. Many players are Americans, who can be targeted for surveillance only with approval from the nation's secret intelligence court. The spy agencies, though, face far fewer restrictions on collecting certain data or communications overseas.

"We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif., which makes World of Warcraft. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."

A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment. Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and a former chief executive officer of Linden Lab, the game's maker, declined to comment on the spying revelations. Current Linden executives did not respond to requests for comment.

A Government Communications Headquarters spokesman would neither confirm nor deny any involvement by that agency in gaming surveillance, but said that its work is conducted under “a strict legal and policy framework” with rigorous oversight. An N.S.A. spokeswoman declined to comment.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials became interested in games after some became enormously popular, drawing tens of millions of people worldwide, from preteens to retirees. The games rely on lifelike graphics, virtual currencies and the ability to speak to other players in real time. Some gamers merge the virtual and real worlds by spending long hours playing and making close online friends.

In World of Warcraft, players share the same fantasy universe — walking around and killing computer-controlled monsters or the avatars of other players, including elves, animals or creatures known as orcs. In Second Life, players create customized human avatars that can resemble themselves or take on other personas — supermodels and bodybuilders are popular — who can socialize, buy and sell virtual goods, and go places like beaches, cities, art galleries and strip clubs. In Microsoft's Xbox Live service, subscribers connect online in games that can involve activities like playing soccer or shooting at each other in space.

According to American officials and the documents, spy agencies grew worried that terrorist groups might take to the virtual worlds to establish safe communications channels.

In 2007, as the N.S.A. and other intelligence agencies were beginning to explore virtual games, N.S.A. officials met with the chief technology officer for the manufacturer of Second Life, the San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The executive, Cory Ondrejka, was a former Navy officer who had worked at the N.S.A. with a top-secret security clearance.

He visited the agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., in May 2007 to speak to staff members over a brown bag lunch, according to an internal agency announcement. “Second Life has proven that virtual worlds of social networking are a reality: come hear Cory tell you why!” said the announcement. It added that virtual worlds gave the government the opportunity “to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviors of non-Americans through observation, without leaving U.S. soil.”

Mr. Ondrejka, now the director of mobile engineering at Facebook, said through a representative that the N.S.A. presentation was similar to others he gave in that period, and declined to comment further.

Even with spies already monitoring games, the N.S.A. thought it needed to step up the effort.

“The Sigint Enterprise needs to begin taking action now to plan for collection, processing, presentation and analysis of these communications,” said one April 2008 N.S.A. document, referring to “signals intelligence.” The document added, “With a few exceptions, N.S.A. can't even recognize the traffic,” meaning that the agency could not distinguish gaming data from other Internet traffic.

By the end of 2008, according to one document, the British spy agency, known as GCHQ, had set up its “first operational deployment into Second Life” and had helped the police in London in cracking down on a crime ring that had moved into virtual worlds to sell stolen credit card information. The British spies running the effort, which was code-named Operation Galician, were aided by an informer using a digital avatar “who helpfully volunteered information on the target group's latest activities.”

Though the games might appear to be unregulated digital bazaars, the companies running them reserve the right to police the communications of players and store the chat dialogues in servers that can be searched later. The transactions conducted with the virtual money common in the games, used in World of Warcraft to buy weapons and potions to slay monsters, are also monitored by the companies to prevent illicit financial dealings.

In the 2008 N.S.A. document, titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,” the agency said that “terrorist target selectors” — which could be a computer's Internet Protocol address or an email account — “have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft” and other games. But that document does not present evidence that terrorists were participating in the games.

Still, the intelligence agencies found other benefits in infiltrating these online worlds. According to the minutes of a January 2009 meeting, GCHQ's “network gaming exploitation team” had identified engineers, embassy drivers, scientists and other foreign intelligence operatives to be World of Warcraft players — potential targets for recruitment as agents.

At Menwith Hill, a Royal Air Force base in the Yorkshire countryside that the N.S.A. has long used as an outpost to intercept global communications, American and British intelligence operatives started an effort in 2008 to begin collecting data from World of Warcraft.

One N.S.A. document said that the World of Warcraft monitoring “continues to uncover potential Sigint value by identifying accounts, characters and guilds related to Islamic extremist groups, nuclear proliferation and arms dealing.” In other words, targets of interest appeared to be playing the fantasy game, though the document does not indicate that they were doing so for any nefarious purposes. A British document from later that year said that GCHQ had “successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live.”

By 2009, the collection was extensive. One document says that while GCHQ was testing its ability to spy on Second Life in real time, British intelligence officers vacuumed up three days' worth of Second Life chat, instant message and financial transaction data, totaling 176,677 lines of data, which included the content of the communications.

For their part, players have openly wondered whether the N.S.A. might be watching them.

In one World of Warcraft discussion thread, begun just days after the first Snowden revelations appeared in the news media in June, a human death knight with the user name “Crrassus” asked whether the N.S.A. might be reading game chat logs.

“If they ever read these forums,” wrote a goblin priest with the user name “Diaya,” “they would realize they were wasting” their time.

Even before the American government began spying in virtual worlds, the Pentagon had identified the potential intelligence value of video games. The Pentagon's Special Operations Command in 2006 and 2007 worked with several foreign companies — including an obscure digital media business based in Prague — to build games that could be downloaded to mobile phones, according to people involved in the effort. They said the games, which were not identified as creations of the Pentagon, were then used as vehicles for intelligence agencies to collect information about the users.

Eager to cash in on the government's growing interest in virtual worlds, several large private contractors have spent years pitching their services to American intelligence agencies. In one 66-page document from 2007, part of the cache released by Mr. Snowden, the contracting giant SAIC promoted its ability to support “intelligence collection in the game space,” and warned that online games could be used by militant groups to recruit followers and could provide “terrorist organizations with a powerful platform to reach core target audiences.”

It is unclear whether SAIC received a contract based on this proposal, but one former SAIC employee said that the company at one point had a lucrative contract with the C.I.A. for work that included monitoring the Internet for militant activity. An SAIC spokeswoman declined to comment.

In spring 2009, academics and defense contractors gathered at the Marriott at Washington Dulles International Airport to present proposals for a government study about how players' behavior in a game like World of Warcraft might be linked to their real-world identities. “We were told it was highly likely that persons of interest were using virtual spaces to communicate or coordinate,” said Dmitri Williams, a professor at the University of Southern California who received grant money as part of the program.

After the conference, both SAIC and Lockheed Martin won contracts worth several million dollars, administered by an office within the intelligence community that finances research projects.

It is not clear how useful such research might be. A group at the Palo Alto Research Center, for example, produced a government-funded study of World of Warcraft that found “younger players and male players preferring competitive, hack-and-slash activities, and older and female players preferring noncombat activities,” such as exploring the virtual world. A group from the nonprofit SRI International, meanwhile, found that players under age 18 often used all capital letters both in chat messages and in their avatar names.

Those involved in the project were told little by their government patrons. According to Nick Yee, a Palo Alto researcher who worked on the effort, “We were specifically asked not to speculate on the government's motivations and goals.”



DOJ Agency Warns Of Police Militarization

by Radley Balko

In the monthly e-newsletter for the Justice Department's Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) program, Senior Policy Analyst Karl Bickel sounds the alarm about the militarization of America's domestic police forces. Here's his conclusion:

Police chiefs and sheriffs may want to ask themselves—if after hiring officers in the spirit of adventure, who have been exposed to action oriented police dramas since their youth, and sending them to an academy patterned after a military boot camp, then dressing them in black battle dress uniforms and turning them loose in a subculture steeped in an “us versus them” outlook toward those they serve and protect, while prosecuting the war on crime, war on drugs, and now a war on terrorism—is there any realistic hope of institutionalizing community policing as an operational philosophy?

Given that a number of federal agencies are responsible for incentivizing and providing the hardware for police militarization, it's interesting -- and encouraging - to see a federal agency publish a piece like this. I suppose if there were a federal agency that would publish it, it would be COPS, which promotes a style of policing that's in direct contradiction to the trend Bickel, and I, and others, find troubling.

Community policing should be the antithesis of militarization. It puts cops directly into the community, where they walk beats, attend neighborhood meetings, and know the names of the high school principals and business owners in the areas they serve. The idea is to give the cops a stake in these communities, so they're seen by the communities -- and see themselves -- as citizens protecting and serving other citizens, not enforcers fighting wars on crime, or drugs, or terrorism.

But it's also worth noting that while its aims are certainly noble, the federal COPS program itself has contributed to the problem. It's another example of good intentions not necessarily producing unintended consequences. If you'll permit the indulgence of quoting from my own book :

In 1994 Clinton started a new grant program under the Justice Department called Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS. For its inaugural year, Clinton and leaders in Congress (most notably Sen. Joe Biden) funded it with $148.4 million. The next year funding jumped to $1.42 billion, and it stayed in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion through 1999. COPS grants were mostly intended to go to police departments to hire new police officers, ostensibly for the purpose of implementing more community-oriented policing strategies.

The problem was that there was no universal definition of community policing. Most law enforcement officials and academics agree that community policing is a more proactive approach to policing than call-and-response, but within that general agreement is a huge range of approaches.

The style of community policing embraced by officials like [reform oriented police chiefs Nick] Pastore and [Norm] Stamper aims to make police a helpful presence in the community, not an occupying presence. But theirs is not the only way to be proactive about law enforcement. Street sweeps, occupation-like control of neighborhoods, SWAT raids, and aggressive anti-gang policies are also proactive . . .

One of the first to notice what was going on was Portland journalist Paul Richmond. “The unfortunate truth about community policing as it is currently being implemented is that it is anything but community based,” Richmond wrote in a 1997 article for the alternative newspaper PDXS. Instead, he wrote, in Portland the grants had resulted in “increased militarization of the police force.” . . .

[Criminologist Peter] Kraska found that when most law enforcement officials heard “community policing,” they thought of the militarized zero- tolerance model. To them the idea of a police agency simultaneously militarizing and implementing community policing policies was perfectly reasonable.

In fact, two out of three departments Kraska surveyed said their SWAT team was actually part of their community policing strategy. Surprising as that may seem at first glance, it went hand in hand with the increasing use of these tactical teams for routine patrols.

In 2001 a Madison Capital Times investigation found that sixty- five of Wisconsin's eighty-three local SWAT teams had come into being since 1980—twenty-eight of them since 1996, and sixteen in just the previous year. In other words, more than half of the state's SWAT teams had popped up since the inaugural year of the COPS program. The newer tactical units had sprung up in absurdly small jurisdictions like Forest County (population 9,950), Mukwonago (7,519), and Rice Lake (8,320). Many of the agents who populated these new SWAT teams, the paper found, had been hired with COPS grants. A local criminologist was incredulous: “Community policing initiatives and stockpiling weapons and grenade launchers are totally incompatible.”

Perhaps that was true in theory, but not in how community policing was being practiced.

All of that said, the COPS program is a favorite of Vice President Biden. (He claims credit for helping to create it.) And re-funding the program was one of Obama's campaign promises in 2008 . If the agency has or can get the ear of the White House, perhaps folks like Bickel can convince the Obama administration to end the Pentagon's giveaway of military gear to police departments across the country, cut the DHS grants that go toward purchasing even more military-like gear, or stop the federal grants and asset forfeiture policies that encourage the use of SWAT teams to serve warrants for nonviolent drug crimes.



New York

Troy woman honored by FBI for community leadership

by Ian Benjamin

ALBANY >> Marion Field has devoted her time and energy to the city for years and been rewarded with her positive impacts on the community, but now that effort is being recognized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI presented Field with the bureau's Community Leadership Award during a ceremony on Monday morning, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew W. Vale.

A longtime resident of Troy, Field helped establish the Little Italy Neighborhood Association, and form the association's neighborhood watch group, which became one of the most active in the city.

Over the years, she has also organized several National Night Out events in Little Italy, coordinated the annual International Day, and established the Path Stone Porject, which employs retired adults in neighborhood cleanup projects.

Field has worked with the city police department in the Weed and Seed program, which aims to prevent and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in select neighborhoods, assisted with the department's Education for Youth program, and is currently working on the Community Oriented Policing program.

She has been invited to Washington next year to be honored by the FBI and a larger ceremony alongside other nominees from FBI districts across the country.

Field has lived in Troy for 73 years.



Washington D.C.

D.C. police investigating reports of after-hours sexual assaults at Wilson Pool

by Peter Hermann

District police investigating a report of a rape by an employee at the Wilson Aquatic Center in Tenleytown are looking into complaints from two other young women who say they were sexually assaulted there by a worker, according to law enforcement authorities and a D.C. Council member.

Officials said the reported attacks occurred Nov. 9 and Nov. 26, after the pool had closed to the public, and that the women had gone there with two workers who used keys to let themselves inside what is considered the District's premier public pool. John Stokes, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, said one employee has been fired and another has been suspended.

D.C. police issued a statement Monday saying no arrests had been made and that an investigation was continuing.

The council member, Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), whose district includes the pool, said residents are worried. “This whole thing is causing a lot of concern and a great deal of insecurity,” she said, adding that her constituents are asking her “about whether there's a rapist running around.”

Police earlier confirmed that they were investigating the Nov. 26 incident, which reportedly occurred between 2 and 4 a.m. at the aquatic center in the 4500 block of Fort Drive, near the Tenleytown Metro station and adjacent to Wilson High School in Northwest Washington.

A police report says the 23-year-old woman was intoxicated and does not recall what happened to her but was told later by a witness. According to the report, the employee told police “that he knew the victim was intoxicated” and had sex with her. Authorities said the incident occurred in a locker room.

Cheh, who has been briefed by police, said the woman was driven to her home in Virginia and “pushed” out of a car in front of her house. Cheh said that after the Nov. 26 incident became public, two girls, both 17, said they were attacked at the pool Nov. 9, also after hours.

D.C. police would not comment on the additional allegations, but three department officials confirmed Cheh's account of the incidents. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing a pending case.

Kent Slowinski, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member who uses the Wilson Pool, said he twice tried to get information about the incidents from a front desk employee. “They told me they didn't know anything about it,” he said.

Cheh said that the Department of Parks and Recreation should provide some details to reassure people who are concerned about safety.

“I've been pressing for answers, and I must say the response of the acting director has been completely unsatisfactory,” Cheh said. “I want a full report. What officials knew, when they knew, who the people who work there are and how they were hired. I haven't gotten any response yet.

“I need to know about the managers there,” Cheh continued, “and how they're given keys to a multimillion-dollar facility.”

Until now, the agency has not commented on the allegations. It posted a notice on its Web site saying operations at the pool were suspended Nov. 26.

Stokes, the parks and recreation spokesman, said staff members are restricted from discussing the case so as not to interfere with the police inquiry. But he said officials from his office are preparing a memo to post at the aquatic center with some details, which he said will note that the alleged incidents did not occur during business hours.