January, 2016 - Week 1
Community-based policing involves work
by Rob Debuck / Former Captain, Albuquerque Police Department
I want to praise the efforts of those who have lost loved ones to violence, as depicted in the article “Victims' Families Unite” published in the last Sunday Journal.
I want to wish them luck as they take on the majority of our elected officials who are only interested in the status quo or who have been bought off by lobbyists such as those who represent the Defense Bar.
In reading the article, I was pleased to see that they have established a working relationship with those representatives who do want to make a difference.
The group they have organized, Repeat Offenders Bring Death, Destruction and Devastation (ROBD), are beginning a process that will make them active participants in community policing initiatives. As an early adherent and practitioner of the philosophy of community-based policing, I know there are a number of misconceptions about this approach.
The Department of Justice demonstrates this ignorance by promulgating the idea that just voicing concerns and needs to the police department is enough. I am reminded of that every time I pass the billboard near I-40 that states, in effect, “What do you want to tell APD?” followed by a blank line.
The “Coffee with a Cop” initiative, while a good idea and an excellent way to bridge the gap between the police and the public, is yet another feel-good measure that is being promoted as community-based policing.
Community-based policing is absolutely not just a forum to lay down the public's collective wish list. It is, rather, a collaborative effort in which members of the community work to meet shared goals. The emphasis is on work.
It brings to mind the old adage of “don't complain unless you bring a solution to the table.”
The neighborhood groups that I had the privilege of working with spent countless hours attending City Council hearings when efforts were undertaken to neuter efforts such as the Safe City Strike Force, Drug Court and other proactive measures undertaken by members of the criminal justice system.
They also wrote letters to judges regarding the sentencing of repeat offenders, attended court proceedings, participated in anti-violence and anti-drug marches, worked with politicians, and supported the city administration in increasing the number of officers on the streets. These are just a few of the activities such groups were involved in.
Community-based policing in short takes work and does not consist merely of meaningless platitudes. The core of community-based policing was providing the political and moral support for officers to engage in proactive policing. Reactive, just responding to calls, does absolutely nothing to address the causes of disorder and crime.
There is the constant call for more officers on the streets, which of course we need, but you also need detectives who investigate crimes and target the sources of crime or you will be forever mired in the “revolving door” of crime as field officers cannot conduct the extensive investigations required in producing long-lasting change.
Finally, we must, as a community, support the men and women who put their lives on the line daily for our country. I don't know about you, but I certainly fear more for my family members today than in the past.
Has anybody connected the dots between the national attack on police by the vocal few who have spread hate and distrust of police officers and the rise in disorder and violence? It does not seem like rocket science!
Any profession that is under such close scrutiny of every act and utterance would exhibit less than admirable behavior, including lawyers, journalists and doctors. Officers are afraid to do their jobs now more than ever before.
Yes, we need oversight and, yes, we make mistakes and, yes, we need to be reined in and disciplined for misdeeds, but we don't need to let the ever-critical few speak for all of us.
Let the politicians hear you, and let's work together to take back our city and our country from those who would destroy us!
And I will emphatically proclaim that all lives matter!
Detroit sees drop in homicides, overall crime in 2015
Detroit earned the nickname 'Murder City' after 714 homicides were committed in 1974
by Corey Williams
DETROIT — Detroit saw a drop in most violent crimes in 2015, the second consecutive year in which homicide totals in the city dipped to pre-1970 levels, according to newly released data.
The reduction in crime comes amid Detroit's fiscal turnaround a year after shedding billions of dollars in debt through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. It also follows Mayor Mike Duggan's promises to attack crime as Detroit works to regrow its population, which at around 680,000 is barely of third of what it was in the 1950s.
Detroit earned the nickname "Murder City" after 714 homicides were committed in 1974 and still has among the highest crime rates in the nation. Last year's 295 homicides were four fewer than in 2014 and down 37 from two years ago. Both numbers were the city's lowest since 1967, when 281 homicides were committed.
Most other violent crime and property offenses also decreased last year, according to statistics released Wednesday to The Associated Press. From 2014 to 2015, rapes dropped from 599 to 497; robberies from 3,806 to 3,103; non-fatal shootings from 1,052 to 1,035; burglaries from 10,600 to 9,027; and stolen vehicles from 10,356 to 7,938. But the number of larcenies increased from 15,270 to 15,920.
Duggan told the AP that the city still has "a lot of work to do" to reduce crime.
"The work has only started," he said. "This city remains much too violent. This isn't a feeling we're satisfied with what we've accomplished."
Overall violent crime has been trending down elsewhere in the United States, but some cities saw jumps in homicides in 2015. Preliminary figures from Albuquerque, New Mexico, show at least 46 homicides last year — a 53 percent increase over 2014. Figures released last week by Chicago police show homicides jumped to 468 in 2015 from 416 the year before. Baltimore ended 2015 with a record 344 homicides.
Detroit officials credited the city's crime reduction to a number of factors, including a crackdown on youth violence; collaborations with federal and other local law enforcement; and the hiring of civilians to fill desk jobs, allowing more officers to be on the streets. They said officer morale also has improved as the city instituted 4-percent raises following pay cuts made before Detroit's 2013 bankruptcy filing.
"Finding ways to get some of that officers' money back ... was critical," Chief James Craig said. "Cops do count. If cops are engaged, we have an effect on crime."
Al Conway, 46, who lives in Detroit and works a hot dog stand near City Hall, feels safe enough that he openly counted early afternoon earnings while discussing the crime rate.
"I've been down here for three years and I keep my money out ... no trouble at all," Conway said Wednesday.
"Any crime is too high," he said. "Things happen everywhere. You have a very small group of people that's going to make it bad for everybody."
ICE HSI San Juan Public Safety Group anti-gang operation reduces homicides by nearly 45 percent
Territorial gangs are found in all societies throughout the world, and they represent a public safety threat wherever they are located. Criminal gang activity involves nearly every type of egregious crime, from drug and firearms trafficking to homicide, armed robbery, carjacking and home invasion.
With drug trafficking and gang-related homicides on the increase on the island of Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Juan Public Safety Group (PSG) took action. The group deployed their Resilience Strike Team, which partnered with state and local law enforcement agencies from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, to crack down on gangs and dismantle violent criminal organizations.
Law enforcement agents and officers made criminals arrests, resulting in 414 successful prosecutions. Asset forfeitures and seizures amounted to more than 171 firearms, 8,468 rounds of ammunition, 191 pounds of marijuana, 44 pounds of cocaine, $593,460 in U.S. currency, five pounds of heroin and significant amounts of crack cocaine, as well as illegally-obtained prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Puerto Rican Police reported homicides remained at nearly 45 percent below the record high murder rate in Puerto Rico during FY14 and FY15.
“The Public Safety Group is highly-motivated, professional and committed,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge at HSI Puerto Rico. “The Resilience Strike Team is dedicated to halting domestic gun and violent crime and protecting our nation from transnational threats from both at home and abroad. The work of the San Juan Public Safety Group was significant contributing factor in keeping the homicide rate in check.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico and the government of Puerto Rico commended the initiative and enforcement actions.
Meanwhile, the San Juan Public Safety Group also launched a new partnership program with the Puerto Rico Police Department in which they deputized and trained 18 police officers in their respective precincts to assist HSI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the investigation of federal firearms violations.
Additionally, the public safety members formed specialized teams, such as the HSI-San Juan Special Response Team and the HSI-San Juan Rapid Response Team. HSI-San Juan Defensive Tactics instructors also helped train U.S. international law enforcement partners at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.
The HSI Public Safety Groups throughout the United States combat the growth of transnational street gangs and are under the auspices of ICE's National Gang Unit's Operation Community Shield.
From the FBI
Transnational Gangs -- Understanding the Threat
The town of Sonsonate, not far from the Pacific Ocean in western El Salvador, is home to a prison housing more than 800 inmates. Like many of the prisons in this Central American country, Centro Penal De Sonsonate incarcerates only gang members—and, by definition, each one is a killer.
La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and the 18th Street gang require their mostly teenage recruits to undergo at least two years of initiation before becoming full-fledged gang members. One of the final tests for membership is to commit murder.
“That is certain, you have to kill,” said Special Agent Julian Igualada, who is part of an FBI team that works in El Salvador with local law enforcement and the government to fight the transnational gang threat, because what happens there—and elsewhere in Central America—has a significant impact on the safety of U.S. citizens at home and abroad. Gang leaders in El Salvador routinely order their subordinates to commit crimes, including murder, on U.S. soil—and many times these orders are issued from behind bars.
“El Salvador has become the epicenter of gang violence in Central America and represents the largest connection to gang crime in the U.S.,” said Special Agent Grant Mann, who works in the Safe Streets and Gang Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington and helps U.S. and Central American law enforcement agencies forge partnerships in the battle against transnational gangs.
“The gangs respect no borders, so law enforcement must respond in kind by working together,” Mann said. His unit recently sponsored a Central American Law Enforcement Exchange (CALEE) that brought Central American police officers and prosecutors together with local law enforcement personnel from American cities where MS-13 and 18th Street operate. It was the sixth such exchange the FBI has sponsored jointly with the U.S. Department of State since 2009. The goal of CALEE is to have participants share intelligence about the gangs as well as best practices.
The MS-13 and 18th Street gangs have become so bloodthirsty in El Salvador that the government has declared them terrorist organizations. The gangs are responsible for bringing the murder rate to a level last seen during the 1979-1992 civil war.
Last year during the month of August, there were 907 murders in El Salvador, a small country roughly the size of Massachusetts. By comparison, Chicago—known for its gang violence—recorded 411 murders during the entire year in 2014, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. In 2015 in El Salvador, 55 police officers were assassinated by the gangs, along with 18 military officers, six corrections officers, one prosecutor, and one judge.
“In El Salvador now, we have a murder rate of 25 per day, and 80 percent is gang related,” Igualada said. “Many of the gang members committing these homicides are 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds,” he explained, “and every day there are new members coming in.”
“We aren't facing a group of youths who are rebelling, but a very structured organization conducting criminal activities,” said Luis Martinez, El Salvador's attorney general and the country's highest ranking law enforcement officer. “They are using military-grade weapons, and they are using them against the police, military, and prosecutors.”
MS-13 and 18th Street gang members have gained a foothold in numerous U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Charlotte, Newark, and the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. They commit a variety of crimes—mainly trafficking drugs and extorting individuals and business owners—and they maintain strong ties to Central America.
Although gang members in both countries are tightly aligned, Igualada pointed out that they differ in subtle ways. “A big difference in El Salvador is that gang members don't see the gang as a way to make money, to buy the fancy car or house,” he said. “They are in the gang to belong to a social group. They see the gang as a father figure, as a mother figure. They are in the gang because they want to be, and they do what the gang asks them to do.”
“For the gangs, loyalty is key,” Igualada added. “Once you come into the gang, you don't have a family anymore. The gang is your family. And when you get in, with few exceptions, you get in for life. And it's a life of crime and violence.”
From the Department of Homeland Security
Statement By Secretary Jeh C. Johnson On The Final Phase Of REAL ID Act Implementation
Today I announce the schedule for the final phase of implementation of the REAL ID Act. Bottom line up front: Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver's license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to board a commercial domestic flight. Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents.
In 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended that the U.S. government set standards for the issuance of “sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Commission recognized that “[s]ources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists.”
In accordance with that recommendation, Congress enacted the REAL ID Act. This law prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes driver's licenses and identification cards issued by states that do not meet the law's standards for secure issuance and production. The law charges the Department of Homeland Security with establishing minimum requirements for these standards. So, for a license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant, the state issuing it must, for example, incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the card, verify the applicant's identity, and conduct background checks for employees involved in issuing driver's licenses.
The overall goal of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress is to prevent the fraudulent issuance and use of driver's licenses and identification cards, thereby ensuring the safety and security of the American public. Given today's threat environment, this requirement is as relevant now as it was when the 9/11 Commission recommended it.
Since its enactment, the Department of Homeland Security has implemented the law in careful phases, including most recently at military bases, most federal facilities, and nuclear power plants. Throughout this period, we have worked closely with states to support them in coming into compliance with the REAL ID Act standards. Now it is time to move toward final implementation of the law.
At present, 23 states are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act, and the Department has used its authority to grant states extensions when they demonstrate steps toward compliance. Thus, 27 states and territories have been granted extensions for a period of time to become compliant. Six states and territories – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa – are noncompliant and do not currently have extensions.
We have now reached the final phase of implementation of the REAL ID Act, which relates to commercial air travel. These are the timelines for that final phase:
Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security will conduct outreach to educate the traveling public about the timeline below, and continue engagements with states to encourage compliance with REAL ID standards.
Starting July 15, 2016, TSA, in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, will begin to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.
Starting December 15, 2016, TSA will expand outreach at its airport checkpoints through signage, handouts, and other methods.
Starting January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver's license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight. To check whether your state is compliant or has an extension, click here. Passengers with driver's licenses issued by a state that is compliant with REAL ID (or a state that has been issued an extension) will still be able to use their driver's licenses or identification cards.
Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.
Important: Right now, no individual needs to adjust travel plans, or rush out to get a new driver's license or a passport for domestic air travel. Until January 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver's license or identification card for domestic air travel. Passengers can also continue to use any of the various other forms of identification accepted by TSA (such as a Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID, airline or airport-issued ID, federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID).
Travelers are encouraged to check the REAL ID compliance status of their state on the DHS website and review TSA's list of acceptable forms of identification. Travelers may also check with their state's driver's licensing agency about how to acquire a REAL ID compliant license.
Finally, we know that some states must change their laws to comply with the REAL ID Act. That is why we have determined to set the timetable above, and have provided extensions to several states. I urge state government leaders to take immediate action to comply with the REAL ID Act, to ensure the continued ability of their residents to fly unimpeded. It is time to move toward final compliance with this law.
Presidential Proclamation -- National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
NATIONAL SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION MONTH, 2016
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
One hundred and fifty years ago, our Nation codified the fundamental truth that slavery is an affront to human dignity. Still, the bitter fact remains that millions of men, women, and children around the globe, including here at home, are subject to modern-day slavery: the cruel, inhumane practice of human trafficking. This month, we rededicate ourselves to assisting victims of human trafficking and to combating it in all its forms.
Human trafficking occurs in countries throughout the world and in communities across our Nation. Children are forced to fight as soldiers, young people are coerced into prostitution, and migrants are exploited. People from all walks of life are trafficked every day, and the United States is committed to remaining a leader in the global movement to end this abhorrent practice. My Administration has made addressing human trafficking issues in supply chains a priority. Earlier this year, the White House brought together private sector and non-governmental organizations to discuss ways to prevent and eliminate trafficking-related activities in Federal contracts and in private sector supply chains. Our National Convening on Trafficking and Child Welfare helped promote partnership and establish coordinated action plans to end human trafficking. Additionally, my Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has proposed a robust set of initiatives. Our anti-trafficking efforts are supported by a newly established Federal Office on Trafficking in Persons, under the Department of Health and Human Services, which helps ensure trafficking victims can access the services they need.
As we work to end human trafficking here in the United States, we will continue to lead the effort to root it out around the world. Our intelligence teams have devoted more resources to identifying trafficking networks, law enforcement officers have been working to dismantle those networks, and prosecutors have striven to punish traffickers. We have also enhanced our domestic protections so foreign-born workers better understand their rights. Additionally, my Administration has been working closely with technology companies and law enforcement to better utilize technology to combat human trafficking. And our Nation will continue promoting development and economic growth across the globe to address the underlying conditions that enable human trafficking in the first place.
All nations have a part to play in keeping our world safe for all people -- regardless of age, background, or belief. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, let us recognize the victims of trafficking, and let us resolve to build a future in which its perpetrators are brought to justice and no people are denied their inherent human rights of freedom and dignity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2016 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
Indicators of Human Trafficking
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:
Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
Has a child stopped attending school?
Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
Man is accused in plot to kidnap Obama pet dogs
by Julie Zauzmer And Spencer S. Hsu
WASHINGTON - A man who plotted to kidnap the Obama family's pet dogs was arrested in Washington on Wednesday with a cache of weapons and ammunition in his car, the U.S. Secret Service said.
Upon his arrest, Scott D. Stockert, 49, of Dickinson, N.D., made a series of outlandish claims to officers - that he was Jesus Christ, that he was the son of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, that he planned to run for president, and that he was there to kidnap Bo or Sunny, the Obama's dogs, the Secret Service said in a court document.
According to a filing in District of Columbia Superior Court, the Minnesota field office of the Secret Service first learned of Stockert's intention to kidnap one of the Obamas' Portuguese water dogs.
After Stockert drove his pickup truck from North Dakota to New York to Washington, Secret Service officers found him at a Hampton Inn, the court document said.
When agents asked him whether he had any weapons, he told them he had two firearms in his truck and then directed them to the truck.
Agents found the two firearms under the backseat - a 12-gauge pump shotgun and a bolt-action .22-caliber rifle.
The agents learned that he was not registered to own a gun and arrested him, the court document said.
They also found more than 350 rounds of ammunition, a billy club, and a machete with a 12-inch blade.
He was charged with carrying a rifle or shotgun outside of his home or place of business, which is illegal in most cases in the District.
At a preliminary hearing Friday morning, a judge found probable cause for the case to move forward.
The judge ordered that Stockert be released into a high-intensity supervision program pending a court date to be set later.
During his release, Stockert cannot possess any real or imitation weapons, or go near the White House or Capitol, the judge ordered.
Missouri governor wants license law changed
by Bill Draper
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri driver's licenses and state-issued identification cards will continue to be accepted at airport checkpoints and most federal buildings for the time being, despite a warning from the Department of Homeland Security that an extension for complying with the REAL ID Act is set to expire.
The act, approved by Congress in 2005, set minimum standards for licenses in response to security concerns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Enforcement of those requirements has repeatedly been delayed.
Missouri is one of several states that haven't received additional extensions past Sunday to come into compliance. State officials in October told DHS that laws related to driver's license security prohibit the state from complying with the act.
Homeland Security in December warned the state that if it wasn't in compliance by Jan. 10, Missouri driver's licenses would no longer be accepted at federal facilities.
But on Thursday, U.S. marshals in St. Louis and Kansas City said they are not changing identification and security procedures at federal courthouses in response to the REAL ID Act requirements.
Spokesmen for Kansas City International Airport and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport issued news releases on Thursday assuring passengers that Missouri driver's licenses would still be accepted at those facilities, adding that residents will be given roughly four months' notice before any changes to that policy are made.
"The situation with Real ID can be confusing," KCI spokesman Joe McBride said in a release. "Bottom line, Missourians need not worry about what forms of ID to show at a security checkpoint for months to come."
Charlie Cook, spokesman for the General Services Administration in Kansas City, said policies vary at federal buildings across the state and are determined by tenants of those buildings.
"Beginning next week, visitors using a Missouri-issued driver's license or identification card seeking access to federal facilities should contact the agency they're visiting to determine if identification is required and what kind of identification will be accepted," Cook said.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who signed a measure in 2009 barring Missouri from complying with the REAL ID Act, said the state's law needs to change.
He said he was encouraged Republican leadership has signaled that the issue will be brought up during the current legislative session.
Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base already have implemented more stringent security requirements for visitors, and officials there said the REAL ID Act won't result in any additional changes.
Since Nov. 15, Fort Leonard Wood has required adult visitors without a Department of Defense photo identification card to undergo a criminal background check before entering the Army post.
The background checks can be waived at the discretion of the senior commander for special events open to the public, such as concerts or an Independence Day celebration. Whiteman uses a similar procedure.
New York Police Sergeant to Face Internal Charges in Eric Garner Confrontation
by Al Baker
A New York City police sergeant was served with departmental disciplinary charges on Friday for her role in the confrontation that led to the death of Eric Garner in 2014.
The sergeant, Kizzy Adonis, was one of two Police Department supervisors to initially respond to the scene of the encounter. The charges are the first official accusations of misconduct against any of the officers involved in the case.
Mr. Garner, 43, died after being grabbed from behind by one officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who threw an arm around Mr. Garner's neck as he and several colleagues tried to arrest him on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes.
The death of Mr. Garner, which the Justice Department is investigating, illuminated the aggressive tactics employed by officers in New York when confronting people suspected of minor offenses. A grand jury's decision not to charge the officers involved fueled protests in the city and elsewhere and, along with several other police-involved deaths around the country, led to calls for criminal-justice reforms.
Mr. Garner, who was unarmed, died after repeatedly saying he was having difficulty breathing. Representatives of his family, civil rights lawyers and others, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, called for changes to the secretive grand jury process.
The Police Department had said that it was waiting for the results of the federal investigation before proceeding with its own actions with regard to Mr. Garner's death. But police officials were forced to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Sergeant Adonis because of an 18-month statute of limitations dictated by the state's Civil Service law, said Stephen Davis, the department's chief spokesman. Mr. Davis said the department had filed the internal charges after consulting with the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
The statute does not apply to Officer Pantaleo, Mr. Davis said, because federal authorities were reviewing his conduct and a “criminal aspect exception applies.” The department has completed its internal inquiry into Officer Pantaleo, he said.
Sergeant Adonis, 38, joined the Police Department in 2002. She was assigned to the 120th Precinct on the North Shore of Staten Island at the time of the confrontation with Mr. Garner, on July 17, 2014, in the Tompkinsville neighborhood. She had been promoted to sergeant less than a month earlier, on June 25. Her yearlong probation was extended by six months last year.
On Friday, she was placed on modified duty, stripped of her gun and badge, and barred from doing street enforcement, Mr. Davis said.
Portions of the officers' encounter with Mr. Garner were caught on video. That footage showed Sergeant Adonis entering the frame as Officer Pantaleo and his colleagues pressed Mr. Garner onto the sidewalk after taking him to the ground. A second sergeant, Dhanan Saminath, arrived, though it is not clear when. He was the anticrime team supervisor.
The encounter occurred on Bay Street, outside Bay Beauty Supply. The store manager said he heard the female sergeant say to the officers, “Let up, you got him already.” An officer looked up but did not let go, the manager said.
At a news conference on Friday, Sergeant Adonis stood silently with Edward D. Mullins, the head of the sergeants' union, as he criticized Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, calling the charges “political pandering” at the expense of an officer with an “unblemished record.”
In an interview earlier in the day, Mr. Mullins said: “Commissioner Bratton bears the full responsibility for what occurred on Staten Island in the Garner case. He was the commissioner in charge of a policy, a failed policy, that should never have been. And that policy being the enforcement of untaxed cigarettes. And if anyone should be put on modified assignment, it should be him.”
Mr. Mullins said the charges against Sergeant Adonis were four counts of “failure to supervise” the situation.
“We don't hear about the duty captain,” added Mr. Mullins, who said Sergeant Adonis was assigned to be at a meeting, not on patrol, and responded at her own initiative, at the time of the confrontation. “We don't hear about a borough commander, a zone commander.”
As a practical matter, the internal case against Sergeant Adonis will be delayed until the federal inquiry is complete. While the deadline for filing internal charges against other officers has not passed, Mr. Davis said that none beyond Sergeant Adonis were “subject to department charges in connection with this at this point.”
Ultimately, a departmental judge will make a recommendation to Mr. Bratton about how to address the sergeant's actions. Punishment could involve termination. As commissioner, Mr. Bratton is the final arbiter.
In November, the state's highest court declined to order the release of transcripts from the grand jury that considered evidence in the death of Mr. Garner.
Christopher T. Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that sought the transcripts, questioned why the federal inquiry was still open. The matter, he said, is “not a tough call under the federal statute.”
“This is fine and good, but the much bigger issue is what is happening with Officer Pantaleo,” he said. “There is ample basis for a federal prosecution, and we see no reason why the Justice Department needs more time to decide whether to proceed.”
The Justice Department opened its investigation in December 2014, and it is not unusual for such inquiries to stretch past a year. Federal law enforcement officials in New York and Washington said the investigation remained active.
Police: Gunman said he shot Philly cop 13 times for ISIS
The shooting of Officer Jesse Hartnett was an attempted assassination
by The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — A man using a gun stolen from police said he was acting in the name of Islam when he ambushed an officer sitting in his marked cruiser at an intersection, firing more than a dozen shots at point-blank range, authorities said Friday. Both the officer and suspect were wounded during the barrage of gunfire.
The suspect, 30-year-old Edward Archer, also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group when he was questioned after his arrest in the shooting late Thursday, police said.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross described the attack on Officer Jesse Hartnett, captured on a police surveillance camera, as an attempted assassination.
"He just came out of nowhere and started firing on him," Ross said. "He just started firing with one aim and one aim only, to kill him."
Ross said Archer told police he believed the department defends laws that are contrary to Islam. Police said there was no indication anyone else was involved. But Ross also said "it stands to reason there is more unknown than known."
Though Archer "clearly gave us a motive," Ross said it is now up to police to see what the evidence shows. "It wasn't like laying it out completely, chapter and verse for us. We're left to say, 'OK, he's leaving a trail for us. Where's it going to lead us, if anywhere?'"
Federal agents joined local police in searching two Philadelphia area properties associated with Archer, including the home where his mother lives in the suburb of Yeadon, authorities said.
Capt. James Clark, head of the homicide unit, said Archer told investigators: "I follow Allah. I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic State and that's why I did what I did."
Archer's mother, Valerie Holliday, told The Philadelphia Inquirer he has been hearing voices recently and that family asked him to get help. She also said her son felt targeted by police.
She described him as devout Muslim. Jacob Bender, the executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group, said he contacted about five inner-city mosques and found no one who knew of Archer. He said at this point, the motive still appears to be conjecture.
"I think the important point is not to lay the blame for this on the entire Islamic community," he said.
The gunman fired at least 13 shots toward Hartnett and eventually got up next to the car and reached through the driver's-side window, investigators said.
Despite being seriously wounded, Hartnett got out of his car, chased the suspect and returned fire, wounding his attacker in the buttocks, police said. Other officers chased Archer and apprehended him.
Hartnett, 33, was shot three times in the arm and will require multiple surgeries, but was listed in stable condition. Archer was treated and released into police custody.
Ross called it "absolutely amazing" that Harnett survived. "It's nothing short of miraculous and we're thankful for that," he said.
Last March, Archer pleaded guilty to firearms and assault charges stemming from a 2012 case but was immediately released and placed on probation, court records show. Records also show he was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in suburban Philadelphia in a traffic and forgery case.
The attorney who represented him in the firearms case was unavailable to comment Thursday afternoon because he was in court, his office said. A message to his lawyer in the forgery case was not immediately returned.
Surveillance footage of the attack showed Archer dressed in a white, long-sleeved tunic. When asked if the robe was considered Muslim garb, Ross said he didn't know and didn't think it mattered.
"We've already established why he believes he did it, and that's probably enough," Ross said.
The 9 mm pistol used by Archer was recovered at the scene of the shooting, police said. It had been stolen from an officer's home in October 2013, investigators said. Officials said they were trying to figure how Archer got the weapon and whether it passed through other people's hands in the time since the theft.
The officer's father, Robert Hartnett, said his son was in good spirits.
"He's a tough guy," he said.
Hartnett served in the Coast Guard and has been on the Philadelphia force for four years. He always wanted to be a police officer, his father said.
When Hartnett called in to report shots fired, he shouted, "I'm bleeding heavily!" into his police radio.
Jim Kenney, in his first week as mayor of the nation's fifth-largest city, called Archer's actions "abhorrent" and "terrible" and said they have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.
"This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers," he said. "It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith."
In December 2014, a gunman announced online that he was planning to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the chokehold death of Eric Garner and ambushed two New York City police officers in a patrol car, fatally shooting them before running to a subway station and killing himself. Investigators said he had no connection to terrorism.
Bill would make videotaping police an Ariz. crime if too close
Republican state Sen. John Kavanagh's bill would bar videotaping police from 20 feet or closer
by Bob Christie
PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker wants to bar the public from videotaping law enforcement officers from close-range, saying groups that rush in to film police interactions are routinely endangering officers by distracting them while they're engaged with suspects.
Republican state Sen. John Kavanagh's bill would bar videotaping police from 20 feet or closer. The proposed legislation filed for consideration in the session that begins Monday would make it a petty offense to violate the law, or a misdemeanor if the person keeps taping after being warned or has a previous conviction.
Kavanagh said Thursday that Senate Bill 1064 is needed to keep police from being endangered while investigating crimes.
"Basically what this law says is if the officer is engaged in law enforcement activity, so he's making an arrest or he's questioning a suspicious person, you can film, but you've got to stay back 20 feet," Kavanagh said. "The reason being when you get closer, you become a distraction, the officer doesn't know if you're a threat, and that jeopardizes everybody's safety, including the officer."
Attorney Dan Pochoda of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona calls the proposal unconstitutional, saying courts have ruled people have a First Amendment right to videotape police.
"There's now a clearly established right in the (9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) and most circuits in this country to observe and record the activity of law enforcement in public spaces," Pochoda said. "Limiting that to when you're further away than 20 feet obviously infringes on that established First Amendment right. I know my camera doesn't work as well when I'm 21 feet away than when I'm 10 feet away, nor do I hear it as well."
Kavanagh disagreed, saying his proposal doesn't infringe on rights.
"The First Amendment is subject to reasonable restriction," he said. "And asking somebody to simply stay back 20 feet so you don't interject yourself into the scene and become a distraction to me seems reasonable."
The proposal is the latest to emerge in legislatures across the nation as they try to grapple with increased scrutiny of officers after shootings. Various pieces of police shooting legislation were considered last year, including proposals requiring police to wear body cameras or mandating that shooting investigations be done by outside agencies.
Arizona's Legislature passed a GOP-championed law last year that would have kept the names of officers involved in shootings secret for two months to protect their safety. That law was vetoed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey amid pressure from police chiefs who told him that an arbitrary hold on releasing the names of officers would limit their ability to manage complex community-police relations.
Pochoda called Kavanagh's proposal unnecessary, especially because current law allows police to order people to move back or face arrest if they are actually interfering with an officer.
"But interfering doesn't mean the fact of recording, but because you're in the way, literally," Pochoda said.
Ind. State sergeant prays with distressed driver
The driver had just visited his daughter after she received bad news about cancer
by Laura Lane
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Rodney Gibson was sailing along Ind. 37 in Monroe County Monday afternoon in his 2016 Freightliner, hauling 40,000 pounds of recycled cardboard from Kentucky to Michigan, when he saw the flashing red-and-blue lights of the state police cruiser.
Not happy, he pulled to the side of the highway.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Durnil approached the driver's side window. Gibson handed over his commercial driver's license and truck registration. He didn't think he had been speeding or broken any traffic laws, and he was upset, even contentious, with the officer.
On his mind was his 35-year-old daughter, Jenica Hand; he had left her a few hours earlier after a stop in Evansville. She has been fighting breast cancer for years, and the prognosis is not the best. He was worried and sad. “That state trooper, he saw my eyes well up,” Gibson said.
Durnil noticed an angel pin stuck into the semi's sun visor and mentioned that he had the same pin in his car. Gibson said he had just left from a visit with his daughter, and she had given him the angel to watch over him on the road, to keep him safe.
The 60-year-old trucker said Durnil conducted a vehicle inspection while he stewed in the cab, distressed with the delay. “It took a while, and I thought he was coming back to give me a ticket, but when he handed me the paperwork, it said no violations were discovered.”
He signed his name, “and at that point, to be honest, I was crying.”
Durnil asked if he had any questions, and Gibson, upset about his daughter, shot one back: “I sarcastically asked him if he knew how to pray. It was about my daughter at this point.”
Yes, Durnil knows how to pray.
“He reached for my hand, and this man sent up a prayer, for my daughter and for my family, that sent chills all over my body,” Gibson said by phone from the road Tuesday afternoon. “I will never, ever forget this, nor will my family.”
He said that in an age when police officers are becoming less trusted and are feared by some, he wanted to point out one cop's act of grace.
“I know there have been a lot of negative things said about police officers and law enforcement, and I want people to know what this officer did for me,” Gibson said. “He helped get me down the road, because I had so much on my mind and was having a pretty rough day.”
Officer ambushed, wounded in West Philly shooting
A police officer in a patrol car was wounded overnight in a blazing ambush in West Philadelphia during which a gunman fired at least 13 shots from semiautomatic pistol into the cruiser, authorities said.
The officer, identified as Jesse Hartnett, 33, was hit three times in the arm and taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition but faces a long recovery, authorities said.
The gunman also was wounded by return fire from Hartnett and taken into custody after attempting to flee, police said. Officers also recovered a black, 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Richard Ross, both only in their first week in their jobs, rushed to the hospital after the shooting around 11:30 p.m. at 60th and Spruce Streets.
The officer was driving north on 60th Street when he was flagged down by a man in the street who was wearing multiple layers of clothing, police said.
The man opened fire 13 times, riddling the cruiser with bullets before firing into the driver's side window, hitting the officer's arm three times, Ross said.
Hartnett squeezed off three rounds before radioing for help.
"I can't even believe that he was able to survive this," said Ross, who called the ambush "absolutely evil."
"This guy tried to execute the police officer," the commissioner said.
The officer was undergoing surgery for a broken arm and nerve damage and faces "a lot of recovery ahead of him," Ross said.
The commissioner said the shooting appeared unprovoked and the suspect's motives weren't known. Police have video of the attack.
Kenney said the shooting showed the sacrifices officers make and highlighted the city's gun-violence problem.
"There are too many guns on our streets," putting both police and civilians in harm's way, he said.
Feds Say Terrorism-Related Arrests Made in 2 States
by PETE WILLIAMS, ANDREW BLANKSTEIN, SHELBY HANSEN and ERIK ORTIZ
Federal authorities have arrested two men with ties to ISIS on terrorism-related charges in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria who is charged with lying to federal investigators about his travels to the civil war in that country.
There was no plot to carry out attacks within the United States, one law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday, while another federal official added that there was never any real danger to people.
A criminal complaint unsealed Thursday accuses Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento, of traveling to Syria to fight and lying to investigators about it.
Prosecutors say he assisted a group that allied with ISIS only after he had returned to the United States. They added that he earlier said he wouldn't join the terror group himself because it was killing fellow Muslims.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's Office based in Houston, Texas, said late Thursday that Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, of Houston, was indicted Wednesday on three charges that he tried to provide material support to extremists.
Both men are Palestinians born in Iraq, authorities said. The complaint in federal court in Sacramento said Al-Jayab came to the United States from Syria as a refugee in October 2012.
There is no indication from prosecutors that Al Hardan was a threat in the United States, but his arrest sparked immediate criticism of the Obama administration's refugee policies from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
"This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists," Abbott said in a statement. "I once again urge the President to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans."
While living in Arizona and Wisconsin, Al-Jayab communicated on social media about his intent to return to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations and discussed his previous experience fighting against the regime in Syria, starting shortly after he turned 16.
When he was interviewed by citizenship officials, he lied about his travels and ties, the complaint alleges.
In 2013, investigators say Al-Jayab wrote online that he was "eager to see blood."
He left the United States in November of that year, but he came to Sacramento in January 2014, the FBI said in a 20-page affidavit.
Social media and other accounts say that as soon as he arrived in the United States, he began saying he wanted to return to Syria to "work," which the FBI says is believed to be a reference "to assisting in and supporting violent jihad."
Authorities said he eventually fought with various terrorist organizations, including Ansar al-Islam, which in 2014 merged with ISIS after Al-Jayab had returned to the United States.
But Al-Jayab also criticized ISIS in several messages for killing Muslims.
"If it weren't for the State's bloodletting, I would have been the first one to join it," he said, according to the FBI, although he later described fighting alongside the group.
The documents did not indicate how Al-Jayab and Al Hardan are connected.
However, the affidavit says Al-Jayab communicated with an unnamed individual living in Texas in April 2013 to see if he could receive training in various weapons.
A few days later, he described, during earlier fighting, emptying seven ammunition magazines from his assault rifle during a battle and executing three Syrian government soldiers.
"Seven magazines in one breath ... Just shooting, spraying, spraying," Al-Jayab wrote to someone online, investigators added.
One Iraqi refugee who knew Al-Jayab told NBC affiliate KCRA that he was surprised by the arrest.
"Maybe he would get angry at times but he would never say anything related to terrorism. He was a nice decent person to me," the refugee said.
Ben Galloway of the federal defender's office is Al-Jayab's attorney. He did not return telephone and emailed messages Thursday to The Associated Press.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento said Al-Jayab was arrested Thursday morning in Sacramento.
Federal officials say three separate arrests in Milwaukee on Thursday grew out of the Sacramento investigation but are not related to national security.
The suspects in Wisconsin are relatives of the man arrested in Sacramento, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento.
NYPD: We'll be clear on how we gather terror intel
by Lorenzo Ferrigno
New York (CNN) With civil lawsuits on behalf of Muslims now behind it, the NYPD says it's going to be clear how it gets information on potential terror threats.
The department has agreed to spell out its practices of intelligence gathering and appoint an independent, civilian lawyer to an oversight committee, according to a legal filing of the settlement Thursday.
This comes after the department settled lawsuits accusing the police force of "suspicionless surveillance and investigation" of Muslims.
The original suit, filed in 2013, accused the New York Police Department of violating the Constitution by "singling out and stigmatizing entire communities of New Yorkers based on their religion," according to a statement by the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs.
The NYPD did not admit to engaging in any improper practices, and the plaintiffs agreed to drop any claim of fault or wrongdoing by the NYPD, according to the settlement.
Under the agreement, the NYPD guidelines will now explicitly include language that advises authorities on practices including: basis for investigations, investigation duration and techniques and protection of constitutional rights.
Guidelines were modified after 9/11
The guidelines, known as Handschu guidelines, were modified following the September 11 attacks in 2001 to give authorities more leeway in investigating potential threats, former NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in 2012.
The Associated Press obtained a report in 2012 that showed Police Department maps of Newark, New Jersey, and photographs of Muslim residences and mosques. Other reports revealed that authorities had tracked websites and on at least one occasion placed an undercover officer among university students.
"For the first time, this watershed settlement puts much needed constraints on law enforcement's discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims," said Hina Shamsi, ACLU representative and counsel for the plaintiffs.
"At a time of rampant anti-Muslim hysteria and prejudice nationwide, this agreement with the country's largest police force sends a forceful message that bias-based policing is unlawful, harmful and unnecessary."
"We hope the NYPD's reforms help make clear that effective policing can and must be achieved without unconstitutional religious profiling of Muslims or any other communities," she added.
Mayor: NYC Muslims are partners
"New York City's Muslim residents are strong partners in the fight against terrorism, and this settlement represents another important step toward building our relationship with the Muslim community," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Our city's counterterrorism forces are the best in the world, and the NYPD will continue working tirelessly to keep our city safe in the fight against terror while respecting our residents' constitutional rights."
John J. Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence, said that while the language will change, most of the practices now codified have already been in place and are simply being "memorialized" in the guidelines.
One example of the language change in the current guideline for basis for investigation says "allegation or information indicating possibility of unlawful activity," will now be modified to include "inquiry requires an allegation or information that is articulable and factual," according to a release from the NYPD.
NYPD guidelines will also say that authorities must account for "the potential effect on the political or religious activity of individuals, groups or organizations and the potential effect on persons who, although not a target of the investigations, are affected by or subject to the technique," according to the settlement.
Biggest change: Civilian input
The biggest change for the NYPD will be the independent civilian included in already-existing advisory meetings.
The civilian, who must be a lawyer who can pass background checks and will be bound by a confidentiality order, will be appointed by the mayor in consultation with the police commissioner. He or she will serve a five-year-term, according to a news release from the NYPD.
"We have somebody who is independent, who has no dog in that fight, who sits at that table-- and if they are seeing a pattern of untoward activity, it is their job and obligation, to blow the whistle," Miller said.
While the deputy commissioner of intelligence will "retain sole authority over all intelligence investigations and decisions," the appointed, independent outsider has the ability to raise concerns with higher powers in the Police Department and the judicial system if he or she notices patterns or instances of unlawful abuses, according to Miller.
City, Mercy hospital police partner in neighborhood
Joint unit has 1 officer from each
by Ryan Dunn
Toledo police and Mercy hospital officials on Thursday announced a joint law enforcement unit that aims to reduce crime in the area.
An officer from both the city and hospital police departments are patrolling neighborhoods around Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.
Much of the beat focuses on Lagrange Street to Collingwood Boulevard, including Mercy College of Ohio.
During a news conference at the hospital, Toledo police Chief George Kral said he's confident this team will reach out to citizens.
“The residents of this part of town now know that they have two officers that are going to be in their neighborhood. This is community policing at its best,” Chief Kral said.
Residents in the area will learn to contact these officers with their concerns, the chief said. He expects the area will record a reduction in crime a year from now.
Toledo police have recorded about 20 reported assaults and a dozen burglaries in the past month within a half-mile radius of the hospital, according to the department's online crime map.
This partnership is a natural extension of the departments' ongoing cooperation, said Peter D'Amore, chief of Mercy police.
“The entire district will be well in hand,” he said of the officers involved.
Officers Adam Eilerts of Toledo police and Eric Draper of Mercy police have been part of the joint unit for about a week. They will patrol the area in a vehicle marked with the symbols of both agencies.
Their goal is to do proactive, community policing in an area where officers stay busy from call to call, Officer Eilerts said.
The two officers spent the first week meeting residents and listening to their concerns. A main problem is the recurrence of crime and too few police officers available to reduce it, Officer Eilerts said.
Officer Draper said he too hopes their joint efforts can slow the area's crime rate, as well as maintaining safety for hospital patients and visitors.
“We want to really get the community to trust us,” Officer Draper said.
Police stop Pa. man planning 'massive attack' on officers
The man wanted to use homemade guns and bombs to murder his girlfriend then all the troopers who showed up to arrest him
by Sean Philip Cotter
YORK, Pa. — A man who had lived just a few minutes away from the state police barracks in Loganville had been in his final planning stages of a massive attack in which he would have used homemade guns and bombs to kill as many state troopers as he could, authorities said in a news conference Wednesday.
“He was going to war with police,” said state police Capt. Adam Kosheba.
“Disgruntled” by court rulings against him, Howard Timothy Cofflin Jr., 56, most recently of Dundalk, Maryland, had been building improvised explosive devices from propane tanks and, piece by piece with parts bought online, an AR-15 rifle, according to police. He was aiming to use those to murder his ex-girlfriend and then all the state troopers who showed up to arrest him, police allege.
In a news conference Wednesday morning inside the Loganville state police barracks, which allegedly would have been a target of Cofflin's, several members of the York County District Attorney's Office and the state police detailed what they say Cofflin had planned — and how the investigation to stop him worked.
The narrative police lay out about Cofflin starts on Aug. 14, 2015, when a "domestic argument" between Cofflin and his then-girlfriend of 20 years, Tina Snyder, led Snyder to seek and be granted a temporary protection-from-abuse order that day, forbidding Cofflin from having contact with her or coming near her. In the petition for the PFA, Snyder said he'd previously hit her, thrown hot water on her and threatened her in the Highland Road home they shared. On Aug. 27, the PFA was then extended to three years.
The PFA rulings enraged Cofflin, Kosheba said. On Sept. 2, Someone Cofflin knows told police he'd been texting her that he was going to “take care of” Snyder — that he was “looking for a gun, but an ax would be faster,” according to charging documents filed Wednesday.
Police say he later told them he planned to cut off Snyder's head and put it on a stick out on her front lawn to make a point to the York County government that “they need to change these policies,” referring to the PFA.
Terrorism: Among the long list of serious charges filed against him Wednesday after the full investigation, Cofflin faces two counts of terrorism. York County District Attorney Tom Kearney stressed Cofflin wasn't affiliated with any particular ideology or larger cause; nonetheless, authorities said what Coffin was doing fit the definition of terrorism, as he allegedly was planning acts of violence with the intention of influencing policy and the justice system.
In September, Coffin was only charged with misdemeanor counts of making terroristic threats, according to authorities. In October, the lawyer he'd hired to represent him on these charges called state police, telling them Cofflin had mentioned to him such serious and immediate threats that he'd called the state Bar Ethics Hotline, and they'd told him he could waive attorney-client privilege and report what Cofflin had told him, Kosheba said.
So he did, telling police on Oct. 22 that Cofflin had said he'd acquired body armor and was building an assault rifle, and when he was done, he was planning on taking back by force the house he'd lived in with Snyder, documents state.
Troopers tracked him down and brought him in the next day for questioning, documents state. Kosheba and the charging documents say that at that one point in a recorded conversation he “freely” laid out to troopers more or less the highlights of his plan: he was going to build the gun, build the bombs, get explosives, kill police and Snyder.
“When I'm out I'm gonna buy a gun as easily as you can go to the corner store and buy milk,” he later told his mother in a recorded call from jail, documents state.
Weapons: The way he'd come by what was almost his weapon hadn't been quite that easy, but it had been possible, according to authorities.
Thanks to a previous conviction, Cofflin wasn't able to pass a background check to buy a gun, Kosheba said. So he'd drawn on both the Internet and his former training as a machinist to buy part after part online and put them together, the captain said.
He'd only needed another piece or two to finish it, said Kosheba, whose Troop H covers central Pennsylvania and includes what state police call the York barracks, which is in Loganville.
“(I'm) not an expert in weapons,” police said he told them, but “I am trying to make myself that now.”
He said he'd also bought a gas mask, body armor, night-vision goggles and more, according to police. He told police he'd been attempting to get tungsten bullets that he said could pierce riot shields and body armor, according to Kosheba.
And Cofflin had been working on what he himself had readily called IEDs — improvised explosive devices — made from propane tanks augmented by the binary explosive Tannerite, which he believed he'd be able to buy at a gun show, documents state. Police said he planned to put nails and bolts on the outside of the homemade bombs in an attempt to cause further damage with shrapnel.
Three of the eight propane tanks of various sizes sat immediately to Kosheba's right as he spoke from behind the podium inside the Loganville barracks, flanked by the members of the DA's office and other law enforcement personnel.
“He was moving forward with this murderous plot,” Kosheba said.
When police searched his phone, they found searches including “killing a state cop,” “killing with an ar 15” and “killing a state trooper,” documents state. Police say they also found bookmarks for topics including “plate armor on a budget” and “Murder-suicide: when killing yourself isn't enough.”
He told state police he'd been tracking the troopers, and “knew their habits” and the state police barracks itself, Kosheba said.
“It's a constant reminder we need to be vigilant,” the captain said.
What's next: Cofflin is currently in Baltimore County Detention Center; he was arrested and charged with firearm offenses after an Oct. 27 search of his mother's home on Westfield Road in Dundalk, the residence where he'd most recently been living, documents state. Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said he'll remain behind bars during the process to extradite him to York County.
In York County, he's charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, two first-degree felony counts of terrorism and three of aggravated assault and one misdemeanor count each of making terroristic threats and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.
In total, Barker said, doing the quick math behind the podium in the Loganville barracks' patrol room, Cofflin could be looking at a sentence as long as 120 years behind bars.
Father outraged by 'invasive' TSA pat-down of 10-year-old daughter
(Video on site)
MORRISVILLE, N.C. — A father is calling the pat-down Transportation Security Administration agents gave his 10-year-old daughter "inappropriate" and "invasive."
Kevin Payne, of San Diego, said it happened at the Raleigh-Durham International airport as he and his family were headed home to California. They were going through security when a juice box in his daughter's purse and a false positive for explosives put TSA agents on alert. The young girl was pulled aside and patted down by a female agent.
"They just kept doing it over and over," Payne's daughter, Vendela, added. "I felt very uncomfortable. I felt like screaming."
The TSA said a cellphone in the girl's bag required "additional resolution procedures." Payne recorded the 2 minute pat-down on his cellphone.
"I thought it was incredibly inappropriate, very invasive and it really violated my daughter," he said.
Payne said he planned to file a complaint.
The TSA said "the process by which the child was patted down followed approved procedures."
Man wearing body armor, taking photos of schools killed by cops
by The Associated Press
ZION, Ill. — Police in the Chicago suburb of Zion fatally shot a man authorities say was wearing a tactical-style vest, carrying a BB gun and taking photographs of schools.
Lake County Sheriff's Detective Christopher Covelli said the 38-year-old man was killed Wednesday morning after he led officers on a foot chase and a struggle ensued.
Officers responded early Wednesday to a report that a suspicious person was taking photographs of two local schools. Investigators found the suspect, who appeared to be wearing body armor, and the pursuit and shooting followed.
Covelli said the body armor was found to be a homemade tactical-style vest with metal inserts.
The man's name hasn't been released. Zion police said they obtained a warrant to search his home.
At least seven schools were locked down during the incident.
Barack Obama praised for seeking gun safety technology that could reduce crime, accidental shootings
by Larry McShane
It would cut down on the illegal trade of stolen weapons. Bring an end to accidental shootings by toddlers. Lead to a drop in teenage suicides.
No wonder they're called smart guns.
President Obama's embrace of 21st century weapons technology was hailed by advocates of the high-tech guns as a breakthrough after two decades of opposition from the powerful pro-gun lobby.
“In each of the three categories of gun deaths — accidental, suicide and homicide — there would be a reduction in the number if personalized guns were widely available,” said Stephen Teret, founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
Smart guns would also dramatically cut down on the illegal trade of stolen weapons — which accounts for 25% of shootings nationally — and hurt the bottom line of gun makers, which is why they oppose the move.
BARACK OBAMA CAN SAVE LIVES WITH PUSH FOR 'SMART GUNS'
“No one can tell you with any precision exactly how many lives are going to be saved,” said Teret, noting there were 33,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2013. “But it would be a substantial enough number. Enough to make it well worth it to put smart guns on the market.”
The James Bond-like technology won't let guns fire unless activated by biometric readers, like a fingerprint scanner or radio frequency identification (RFID) — typically a device, like a ring, bracelet or watch that needs to be within a certain range to activate the weapon.
The smart guns are not available in the United States at this point, although the weapons have been in development for years.
BARACK OBAMA KEEPS HIS PROMISE ON GUN LAWS, BUT NOW STATES MUST DO THEIR PART
The National Rifle Association's support of the new technology is tepid: “The NRA doesn't oppose the development of ‘smart' guns, nor the ability of Americans to voluntarily acquire them. However, NRA opposes any law prohibiting Americans from acquiring or possessing firearms that don't possess 'smart' gun technology.”
But the pro-gun lobby brought gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson to its financial knees when the company moved to manufacture smart guns during the Clinton Administration. A boycott of the business immediately followed, crippling the venerable gun maker.
NRA REJECTS INVITE TO TALK GUN LAWS WITH BARACK OBAMA AT TOWN HALL
“Smith and Wesson went in alone,” recalled John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence, “and they got crushed alone.”
For many gun manufacturers, there's a Catch .22-caliber in modern weaponry: They're already profiting from selling weapons created as along as a century ago.
And they won't manufacture the new guns unless they know there's a market — and nobody wants to relive the horrors of the Smith & Wesson boycott.
Obama has ordered federal agencies to “conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.”
“Millions of dollars have already been invested to support research into a broad range of concepts for improving gun safety. We must all do our part to advance this research,” Obama said. “The federal government has a unique opportunity to do so, as it is the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country.”
The Department of Defense has an upcoming contract for $480 million in guns — a figure that could change minds in the gun industry, said Rosenthal.
“We've had personalized cars and cellphones for how long now?” asked Rosenthal. “And these are benign consumer products. You'd think there would be a huge market for smart gun technology.”
Teret said the biggest criticism of smart guns — that would fail at a moment of crisis, like a home invasion — are unfounded.
Professor who doubted mass killings is fired
by The Columbus Dispatch
BOCA RATON, FLA. — Florida Atlantic University this week officially fired associate professor James Tracy, best known for his claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre might have been staged.
Tracy was served an official notice of termination on Tuesday, according to a statement from university officials. His last day will be Friday.
Tracy was fired for failing to submit paperwork detailing his activities outside the university, according to his termination letter.
Tracy, who for years taught a course titled “Culture of Conspiracy,” claimed in posts three years ago on his private blog, MemoryHole, that the Sandy Hook massacre — which left 26 people dead in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012 — was a hoax.
The notice of proposed termination was served six days after the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale published a letter from Lenny and Veronique Pozner, the parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, who was killed in the Newtown shooting. The couple alleged that Tracy was harassing them.
In 2013, Tracy claimed that the Boston Marathon bombing may have been “a mass-casualty drill” with “play actors” posing as victims.
Will CMPD return to community policing?
by Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney wants his department to be strongly rooted in community policing.
Finding community-based solutions to crime problems is something political leaders and criminologists have pushed for years. But it comes with a big question: Are we willing to endure the longer wait for results that community policing entails, especially as crime ticks up?
Last week, I talked with Putney and other police leaders for the Observer's annual year-end homicide story, which looks at patterns and trends among the city's killings.
We talked a lot about those homicides (the city had 62 last year, a six-year high), but the conversation also encompassed policing strategy. Putney is a proponent of community policing but conceded that it will probably take time to find longstanding solutions to the city's crime problems.
“I realize we may not reap the seeds that we're sowing until after I am out of this office,” he told me.
Putney told City Council in November that the department needs more officers to combat rising crime and to keep pace with the city's growing population. And, he says, the city needs more officers if it wants to do community policing the right way.
“To really be more proactive, you need resources to do that and to get at the root causes,” he said. “It takes more work, it takes more time.”
The strategy seeks to forge partnerships with the community and bring in other government agencies to find long-term solutions. If there's a spike in youth crime, for example, a traditional policing strategy would flood the area with more officers. Community policing would look to see if the city or community could open a recreation center or park to give youths more productive outlets.
Most major city police chiefs use a mixture of traditional policing strategies and community policing, experts say.
The city's last two chiefs took different stances.
Former police chief Darrel Stephens, who promoted Putney to deputy chief before retiring in 2008, was one of the nation's biggest proponents of community policing but was criticized because crime increased on his watch. Crime went down under Rodney Monroe, who disbanded many of the units with special community focuses in order to put more officers on the street.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Julie Eiselt, the chair of City Council's community safety committee, said they would like to see more community-oriented solutions to the city's crime problems. But crime – and the public's perception of how safe Charlotte is – also factor into what officers do on a day-to-day basis.
In 2015, crime was up more than 10 percent through the third quarter, and will likely be up for all of 2015 when police release numbers later this month.
Putney says he'll make his case to city council for more officers – and for the community policing he wants them to do – later this month.
City leaders, police hold community anti-violence meeting
Event is first of several planned
by Andrew Setters
CINCINNATI —Cincinnati officials kicked off a discussion on Wednesday morning about ways to combat violence in the city.
The conversation focused a lot on the ways that Cincinnati has set the standard for police-community relations nationwide.
Reverend Damon Lynch III said Cincinnati's collaborative process, created after the 2001 riots, helped change the conversation.
“We did something here in Cincinnati that they've been yet able to do in Baltimore, in Cleveland, in Ferguson and all these other cities,” Lynch said.
Lynch and others who were intimately involved in the formation of the collaborative agreement on community policing now visit other cities to show how Cincinnati made progress.
“We wanted to send a message early and often with the new chief that we're very excited about that we remain committed to the community oriented policing that came out of the collaborative,” Mayor John Cranley said.
“Very excited about this opportunity to engage in a conversation about where we are, where we're going and use this to solicit feedback,” Chief Elliot Isaac said.
This conversation was a kick-off to a series of community meetings about reducing violence in the city, and one of the things that was made clear is that there is an on-going conversation between the city, the community and the police department – thanks to the framework put into place after the 2001 riots.
While there is pride in what Cincinnati has been able to accomplish, the work has to continue to make sure things don't slide backward.
“Where the nation is, is where we were – not where we can't be again, but it's where we were,” Lynch said.
There is a series of meetings scheduled to continue the conversation about fighting violence in the city. One will be held in each of the city's five police district between now and the end of February.
Authorities seek missing 18 minutes of San Bernardino terrorists' movements
by Fox News
The San Bernardino terror massacre was “an inspired attack” – not directed from abroad – and had nothing to do with workplace disagreements, FBI Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich said Tuesday as he appealed for information that would help investigators fill in the blanks.
The feds say they need the public's help to identify the Jihadi duo's actions during an 18-minute span after Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook opened fire and before the pair died during a car chase with police.
“No indications of a foreign-directed terror attack,” Bowdich said. “This seems to be an inspired attack.”
The married shooters killed 14 and wounded 22 during a rampage at a holiday party for Farook's county health department co-workers on Dec. 2.
When he was later asked about reports of a possible dispute between Farook and a co-worker, Bowdich said investigators had found “no legitimate accounts” and “do not see any indications of that.”
What authorities do see indications of, however, is a firm intent to commit the act when Farook walked into the holiday party at 8:47 a.m. By the time he left for the first time at 10:37 a.m., Farook had already planted a backpack full of pipe bombs at the venue. He returned with Malik 19 minutes later and began the attack.
Since the attack, authorities have been able to piece together much of the couple's movements on the day of the bloodbath.
Officials have conducted more than 550 interviews, collected more than 500 pieces of evidence and served 29 search warrants Bowdich said. Through a variety of techniques – including traffic cameras, surveillance cameras and witness statements – investigators said they've accounted for most of Malik and Farook's travels.
But there are 18 minutes during which authorities don't know what happened.
Bowdich urged anyone with information on Farook and Malik's movements between 12:59 p.m. and 1:17 p.m. to call 1-800-225-5324.
Teenage girl charged as an adult in alleged mass murder plot at Mountain Vista High School
by KDVR Web News
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Prosecutors charged a 16-year-old girl as an adult Tuesday, accusing her of conspiracy to commit murder in a plot at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch.
Prosecutors in court Tuesday afternoon said Sienna Johnson not only planned but took steps to carry out a mass murder at the school. Authorities found out about the threat, and Johnson and another girl were arrested in December.
They said she had maps and schedules to determine where students would be.
They also said she bought a BB gun to practice shooting and experimented with violent acts on her pets.
Prosecutors said she told a detective that if she was released she would continue her violent plans only she would be more secretive.
The other teenage girl arrested in the case appeared in court separately Tuesday morning. She has not been charged.
Chicago's law department under review after police scandal
by SOPHIA TAREEN AND DON BABWIN
CHICAGO -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on the defensive again, dealing with the fallout from a judge's opinion accusing a top city lawyer of hiding evidence in another case involving a fatal police shooting.
Unlike the earlier setbacks that dealt with the actions of police officers, though, this one involves the work of the city's law department, where attorneys map strategies for dealing with lawsuits against the police force.
At a news conference, Emanuel repeated his call for "zero tolerance" for a city employee not holding professional standards, "especially an individual representing the city in a courtroom." But attorneys for people who have accused the police department of wrongdoing allege that the case shows the city plays a role in covering up for police misconduct.
"It shows the city hasn't just fought to protect officers; it also fights tooth and nail to protect its lawyers," said Steve Greenberg, an attorney for the family of Darius Pinex, a black man shot and killed by police during a 2011 traffic stop in Chicago. "I don't think they cared that (Pinex) got killed, they didn't care what the truth was and they didn't care they cheated (with the evidence)."
Emanuel has been on his heels since the November release of video showing a police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, and has been trying to restore confidence in his leadership while quelling calls for him to resign.
Prosecutors charged the white officer with first-degree murder in the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald hours before dashcam video went out. But that, the ouster of the police superintendent and Emanuel's promises of reforms haven't quieted his critics.
In Pinex's case, the officers who stopped his car testified that they did so because it matched a car involved in a shooting they had heard about over their police radio. They said they shot Pinex after he refused their orders and put his car in reverse.
But records later emerged showing that the officers weren't listening to the channel broadcasting the radio traffic about the car involved in the earlier shooting. In his ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by Pinex's relatives, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang said a city attorney "intentionally concealed" that evidence.
Emanuel didn't specify Tuesday what steps he'll take in light of the accusations against the city attorney, Jordan Marsh, who resigned after Monday's opinion was handed down. Nor would he say whether he would order a full review of Marsh's work, noting that his top legal adviser, Stephen Patton "is going through the pieces right now in that area."
Torreya L. Hamilton, a private lawyer, said Chang also sanctioned the city's law department for not being forthcoming with evidence in a case in which she was helping represent a man who accused police of false arrest and an illegal search. She said the problem is bigger than a single city lawyer going astray.
"There is a culture there of, 'We are protecting the good guys, police, against bad guys and so we should be able to bend the rules to protect them," said Hamilton. "I have seen time and time again that (city lawyers) are not held to the same rules."
There is no indication that Emanuel's job is in immediate jeopardy, but he continues to face protests and criticism over the police issues. On Monday, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he was "very disappointed" with the way the Democratic mayor has handled police misconduct cases and that, if given the opportunity, he would sign off on legislation that would let voters try to recall the mayor.
Emanuel said he won't step down and currently there is no law that allows for him to be recalled. And the calls for his resignation have largely come from grassroots activists and residents, not from the city's political powerbrokers.
Trials set for deputies charged in La. boy's fatal shooting
Six-year-old Jeremy Mardis had five gunshot wounds
by The Associated Press
MARKSVILLE, La. — A Louisiana judge on Tuesday scheduled separate trials for two deputy city marshals charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy who was strapped into the front seat of his father's car.
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office said Derrick Stafford's trial is tentatively set to begin Sept. 26. Trial for the other deputy, Norris Greenhouse Jr., is scheduled to start Nov. 28.
Stafford and Greenhouse pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. State District Court Judge William Bennett set the trial dates during their arraignments.
Stafford and Greenhouse were arrested less than a week after the Nov. 3 shooting that killed Jeremy Mardis and critically wounded his father, Chris Few.
State Police said the deputies opened fire on Few's car following a pursuit that a third deputy and a Marksville police sergeant also joined. A police report says video from the sergeant's body camera shows Few's empty hands were raised and visible inside the vehicle when gunfire erupted.
Mardis had five gunshot wounds and his father had two, according to police.
Greenhouse's attorney, George Higgins III, said he believes that a fair and impartial jury can be picked in Marksville and has no plans to request for the trial to be moved elsewhere.
"I think the case should be tried in Marksville. It's a Marksville case," he said.
Greenhouse, 24, of Marksville, has been freed from jail on $1 million bond. Stafford, 32, of Mansura, has remained jailed on $1 million bond since his arrest.
Stafford, a Marksville police lieutenant, and Greenhouse, a former Marksville police officer, were moonlighting as deputy marshals on the night of the shooting.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on Southwest Border Security
As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values.
In the spring and summer of 2014 we faced a significant spike in families and unaccompanied children from Central America attempting to cross our southern border illegally. In response, we took a number of actions in collaboration with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and the numbers declined dramatically. In Fiscal Year 2015, the number of apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol of those attempting to cross our southern border illegally -- an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally -- decreased to 331,333. With the exception of one year, this was the lowest number of apprehensions on our southern border since 1972. In recent months, however, the rate of apprehensions on our southern border has begun to climb again.
In November 2014, I issued new priorities for immigration enforcement as part of the President's immigration accountability executive actions. These new Department-wide priorities focus our enforcement resources on convicted criminals and threats to public safety. These new enforcement priorities also focus on border security, namely the removal of those apprehended at the border or who came here illegally after January 1, 2014.
We must enforce the law in accordance with these priorities, and secure our borders.
Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with our domestic and international partners, is undertaking the following actions:
Since the summer of 2014 we have removed and repatriated migrants to Central America at an increased rate, averaging about 14 flights a week. Most of those returned have been single adults.
This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children. This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed.
The focus of this weekend's operations were adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws. As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated. To effect removal, most families are first being transported to one of ICE's family residential centers for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries.
Given the sensitive nature of taking into custody and removing families with children, a number of precautions were taken as part of this weekend's operations. ICE deployed from around the country a number of female agents and medical personnel to take part in the operations, and, in the course of the operations, ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons.
This enforcement action was overseen by Sarah Saldaña, the Director of ICE, and supported and executed by Thomas Homan, a career law enforcement official who leads ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations.
At my direction, additional enforcement operations such as these will continue to occur as appropriate.
Increasing border security
We are continuing to enhance our border security resources and capabilities, working closely with state and local counterparts. As a result of our long-term investment in border security over the past 15 years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has greater capability to identify and interdict illegal crossings than at any time in our Nation's history. This includes the largest deployment of vehicles, aircraft, boats, and equipment along the southwest border in the 90-year history of the Border Patrol. And through the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan we launched in early 2015, we are for the first time putting to use in a combined and strategic way the assets and personnel of CBP, ICE, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Coast Guard to better protect the border.
In response to the recent increases in migrant flows along the southwest border, CBP has deployed additional permanent Border Patrol Agents to high-traffic areas, augmented operations in South Texas with Mobile Response Teams, and redirected support from other Border Patrol sectors including through remote interviewing technology. CBP has also increased surveillance capabilities by adding tethered aerostats (long-range radars) and other technology, along with additional aircraft. CBP will sustain these heightened border security efforts, along with the humanitarian aspects of its responsibilities, while the current migration levels persist.
As the number of unaccompanied children crossing our southern border has risen again in recent months, DHS has continued our close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as it increases its capacity to care for unaccompanied minors and place them with sponsors. Our goal is to ensure that CBP has the continued capability to quickly and efficiently transfer unaccompanied minors after they are apprehended to HHS custody, as is required by U.S. law. In the past month, HHS added over 1,000 beds for this purpose, and recently announced that another estimated 1,800 beds will be available soon. HHS is continuing to explore options for additional beds if necessary.
Cracking down on criminal smugglers
In the summer of 2014, the Deputy Attorney General and I announced “Operation Coyote” to crack down on those involved in the criminal smuggling of migrants from Central America and elsewhere. Since then, 1,022 smugglers and their associates have been arrested, and hundreds of bank accounts have been seized.
With the Department of Justice, we are now doubling down on these efforts. This will build on existing initiatives such as ICE's Human Smuggling Cell, which is working with the financial industry to target and disrupt the flow of funds to human smuggling organizations. DHS's recently formed Joint Task Forces, JTF-West and JTF-Investigations, will coordinate the deployment of additional DHS investigative and prosecutorial resources and their integration into the Department of Justice's ongoing law enforcement and prosecution operations.
Cooperation with Mexico
We are expanding our cooperation with Mexico in dealing with illicit migration. In particular, we are working with our Mexican partners to enhance joint efforts on our shared border, to support Mexico's efforts on its southern border, and to shut down the criminal groups and illegal support networks that exploit vulnerable migrants. DHS and the Department of State will also continue to support the Merida Initiative, the longstanding partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence.
Expanding the public messaging campaign
DHS and the Department of State are expanding our existing messaging campaign in Central America, Mexico, and the United States to educate those considering making the journey north, as well as their families abroad, about the dangerous realities of the journey. The messaging will also highlight the recent enforcement operations.
The Flores case
We continue to disagree with the District Court decision in the Flores case that a 1997 settlement of a case solely involving unaccompanied children now applies to children who arrive with a parent and their processing at today's family residential centers. The decision, and the resulting injunction, significantly constrains our ability to respond to an increasing flow of illegal migration into the United States. We have appealed the decision, and the appellate court has agreed to hear the appeal on an expedited basis. Meanwhile, we have implemented significant reforms to how we operate our family residential centers to transition them to temporary processing facilities for these individuals, and have taken steps to ensure compliance with the District Court's July 24 and August 21 orders.
Creating an alternative, safe and legal path
Finally, to effectively address this situation, we recognize that we must offer alternatives to those who are fleeing the poverty and violence in Central America. More border security and removals, by themselves, will not overcome the underlying conditions that currently exist in Central America. I am pleased that Congress, in the recently-enacted omnibus spending bill, included $750 million in aid for Central America.
In the meantime, DHS and the Department of State are accelerating the development of new mechanisms to process and screen Central American refugees in the region, about which we hope to make a more formal announcement soon. We will expand access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in the region and develop more legal alternatives to the dangerous and unlawful journey many are currently taking in the hands of human smugglers.
These new refugee processing mechanisms will build upon the existing Central American Minors Program, which is already providing an in-country refugee processing option for certain children with parents lawfully in the United States. Thus far, we have received more than 6,000 applications for the Program, some children have begun to arrive in the United States as part of the Program, and we expect the pace of arrivals to increase steadily moving forward. We are also engaging other countries in the region, encouraging them to join us in broadening access to protection for refugees from Central America.
I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh, while there will be others who say these actions don't go far enough. I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities. At all times, we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity.
Judge: Emanuel administration lawyer withheld evidence about a fatal police shooting in Chicago
by Sarah Kaplan
For four years, Officer Raoul Mosqueda offered the same account of the January night when he shot and killed a man during a traffic stop on Chicago's South Side.
Mosqueda and his partner, Gildardo Sierra, heard over their police car radio that officers were looking for an Oldsmobile Aurora involved in a shooting. A gun could be inside the car, the dispatcher warned. They saw a similar vehicle and instructed it to pull over; then the officers approached the two men inside, guns drawn. There was a confrontation, the car backed up and began to drive away, and Mosqueda opened fire, killing driver Darius Pinex.
For four years, the evidence that could have verified or refuted that account — a recording of the dispatch from that night — was nowhere to be found. Attorneys for the city said the recording didn't exist, even as a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Pinex's family went to trial.
Then, in late February, too late for attorneys for the Pinex family to adjust their case, it emerged that an attorney for the city had the recording after all but waited more than a week before telling the Pinex family. A federal jury ultimately found that Mosqueda and Sierra were justified in the shooting.
But on Monday, a federal judge ruled that the lawyer, senior attorney for the city Jordan Marsh, intentionally hid evidence that could have changed the outcome of the case. The Oldsmobile described by the dispatcher had a different temporary license plate number than the one driven by Pinex. And the dispatcher in the recording made no mention of a shooting or a gun in the vehicle — the reason Mosqueda gave for approaching the car with his gun drawn.
“After hiding that information, despite there being numerous times when the circumstances dictated he say something about it, Marsh said nothing and even made misleading statements to the Court when the issue arose,” U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang wrote, reversing the federal jury's decision and calling for a new trial in the case brought by Pinex's family.
Marsh resigned just hours later, according to the Associated Press.
Chang's ruling comes as the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel is roiled by outrage over its handling of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. For more than a year, the administration resisted efforts to have dash-cam video of the confrontation released. Meanwhile, emails between the mayor's office, police and the group that investigates police shootings that were released last week show close coordination between the agencies over how to deal with the public relations problem posed by the graphic footage, according to the Associated Press.
Emanuel has apologized for the shooting and fired Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy after video of the McDonald shooting was released. Emanuel also pledged to eliminate the “cone of silence” around police conduct.
“No officer should be allowed to behave as if they are above the law just because they are responsible for upholding the law,” he told the Chicago City Council in December. “Permitting and protecting even the smallest acts of abuse by a tiny fraction of our officers leads to a culture where extreme acts of abuse are more likely, just like what happened to Laquan McDonald.”
Even so, Emanuel and other city officials are now facing accusations of a coverup and calls for Emanuel to resign.
Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton — Chicago's top legal officer who handles civil claims against the city — told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that the city is doubling down on its efforts to train lawyers on producing records. He also challenged the notion that there are widespread accountability or transparency problems in how the city deals with such cases.
“To say this is a practice, a systemic abuse or part of a coverup, there's just no evidence of that,” Patton said. “There's nothing in the ruling to support it.”
But the ruling in the Pinex case is yet another blow to public trust in the city as it copes with the fallout from a series of fatal police shootings.
Marsh had admitted in the middle of the trial, away from a jury, that he failed to turn over a recording of the dispatch that the officers heard, according to Chang's ruling. He also gave conflicting stories to a judge about when he first learned of the recording's existence and why he didn't tell the plaintiffs about it sooner.
In addition to overturning the February decision in the case, Chang imposed sanctions against Marsh and the city, ordering that they pay the plaintiffs' legal fees.
“Attorneys who might be tempted to bury late-surfacing information need to know that, if discovered, any verdict they win will be forfeit and their clients will pay the price,” Chang wrote. “They need to know it is not worth it.”
Chang also found that Marsh's co-counsel, city attorney Thomas Aumann, failed to make a reasonable effort to find the dispatch recording; he blamed the law department, which defends city employees who are accused of wrongdoing, of poor oversight and lax training that contributes to problems like the one in case about Pinex's fatal shooting.
The law department announced that Marsh would be resigning Monday, saying that it “does not tolerate any action that would call into question the integrity of the lawyers who serve” Chicago and that it would be reviewing its training and evidence gathering procedures, according to the Associated Press.
The city has spent $460,000 on outside lawyers since the issue first came up, according to the Tribune.
This is the second time in the past year that Chang has sanctioned Chicago's law department for its handling of a police-misconduct case. In May, he ordered a new trial for Jonathan Hadnott, who alleged that plainclothes police officers falsely arrested him and illegally searched his parents' home in 2006. Officers said they had no recollection of stopping Hadnott and hadn't filled out a “contact card” about the incident, according to Salon.com. There was evidence that police had run Hadnott's name through a database that day, but city lawyers said it would have taken too long to do that and search his parents' home in the time described.
“It is physically — it is impossible in a space and time continuum to do this,” city lawyers argued, accusing Hadnott of engaging in “outrageous lies,” according to Salon.
But after Hadnott's trial, city lawyers revealed that it takes only a few seconds to search the police database, undermining their own argument in the case. Hadnott was granted a new trial.
Speaking to the Chicago Tribune about the Pinex case, Steve Greenberg, an attorney representing the slain man's family, said the ruling raises questions about how Chicago police officers are held accountable by the city.
“There's just a total disregard for the truth, and it runs to the highest levels,” Greenberg said. “There is a culture to cover up and win at all costs”
In his ruling, Chang said that he understood that the law department was pressed for time and resources to deal with discovery requests. But that's all the more reason to develop better policies for training lawyers on how to find and interpret records preserved by police, he said.
“Failing to do so will cost even more in the long run,” Chang wrote. “Not just in dollars.”
Cincinnati community policing roundtable now set for Wednesday; other meetings planned
by The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — City leaders plan a community policing roundtable discussion for Wednesday as part of efforts to reduce gun violence in Cincinnati.
The meeting was moved back a day after originally being scheduled for Tuesday. Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black and new Police Chief Eliot Isaac plan to participate with civic activists.
Officials plan to follow the roundtable with a series of five evening community meetings over the next two months. Those sessions will be in each of the five police districts around the city.
They say they are seeking input from citizens about the increase in shootings during the last year. Cranley says reducing shootings and violent crime is among his top priorities for 2016.
Panel studying policing standards to better police-community relations
by Randy Ludlow
While anger and cries for justice remain in Cleveland, a state task force will add a lesson from the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice to its to-do list.
Gov. John Kasich has asked a panel he appointed to craft ways to upgrade policing and police-community relations to recommend statewide standards for handling communication between dispatchers and officers on the street.
Rice, who was black and holding an empty pellet gun in a Cleveland park, was shot and killed by a white officer within two seconds after he and his partner arrived and exited their patrol car in late 2014.
A caller to police reported that Rice appeared to be a juvenile and that his gun possibly was a fake, but dispatchers did not relay that information to the officers. A grand jury declined this week to indict the officers in the youth's death.
Ensuring that officers receive all the information needed to help them best assess their response is critical, said former state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, a co-chairwoman of the task force created after Rice's death.
The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board will reconvene for a Jan. 26 meeting at which it also will begin addressing issues such as tracking use of force and deadly force to detect any troubling officer and agency trends.
The group also will begin exploring how the state will gather demographic information from traffic stops and other contacts with the public to determine whether police agencies are employing racial profiling.
The potential mandatory use of police body cameras to capture video of arrests and use of force also will be up for discussion, said Ohio Public Safety Director John Born, also a co-chairman of the panel.
On Friday, the advisory board's first set of statewide standards on police use of deadly force and officer recruitment and hiring — stressing racial diversity — took effect.
The standard on deadly force states that officers must use it only to protect themselves and others from serious injury or death. Police agencies will be given until March 2017 to demonstrate that they have adopted the standards.
Most of Ohio's approximately 1,000 police agencies, particularly bigger cities such as Columbus, already have standards exceeding the new minimum state standards, Born said. Smaller agencies now must follow their lead to ensure accountability and transparency and help improve community relations, he said.
The state also recently awarded a $47,000 contract to Warhol & WALL ST., a minority-owned Columbus firm, to develop an outreach and education campaign that police agencies and communities can employ to foster better understanding.
Both Turner and Born think the advisory group, and a predecessor panel, and their hearings helped play a role in Cleveland not descending into violence and civil unrest this week after the decision to not indict officers in the Rice shooting.
“I'm proud of Cleveland. We're not Baltimore. We showed class under pressure. We peaceably assembled,” said Turner, the mother of a police officer. “The community is hurt, has lost confidence in the system itself. We have been making great strides, but we have a problem that is not going to go away quickly.”
Born added that a foremost goal of the advisory panel is to help improve policing and foster more trust between officers and the communities they serve by stressing transparency and accountability.
“Despite the terrible tragedy that took place, the fact is, there is a path forward for peaceful protest and people to be heard — to not only have a voice, but a voice leading to change,” Born said.
Obama moves to require background checks for more gun sales
Although he can't unilaterally change gun laws, Obama hopes that beefing up enforcement of existing laws can prevent deaths
by Josh Lederman
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama moved Monday to expand background checks to cover more guns sold at gun shows, online and anywhere else, aiming to curb a scourge of gun violence despite unyielding opposition to new gun laws in Congress.
Obama's plan to broaden background checks forms the centerpiece of a broader package of measures the president plans to take on his own on gun control in his final year in office. Although Obama can't unilaterally change gun laws, the president is hoping that beefing up enforcement of existing laws can prevent at least some gun deaths in a country rife with them.
"This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country," Obama said. Still, he added, "It will potentially save lives and spare families the pain of these extraordinary losses."
Under current law, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers, but many who sell guns at flea markets, on websites or other informal settings don't register as dealers. Gun control advocates say that loophole is exploited to skirt the background check requirement.
Now, the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will issue updated guidance that says the government should deem anyone "in the business" of selling guns to be a dealer, regardless of where he or she sells the guns. To that end, the government will consider other factors, including how many guns a person sells and how frequently, and whether those guns are sold for a profit.
The executive actions on gun control fall far short of what he and likeminded lawmakers attempted to accomplish with legislation in 2013, after a massacre at a Connecticut elementary school that shook the nation's conscience. Even still, the more modest measures were sure to spark a confrontation with Republicans and gun rights groups that oppose new impediments to buying guns.
"We're very comfortable that the president can legally take these actions now," said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Far from mandating background checks for all gun sales, the new guidance still exempt collectors and gun hobbyists, and the exact definition of who must register as a dealer and conduct background checks remains exceedingly vague. The administration did not issue a number for how many guns someone must sell to be considered a dealer, instead saying it planned to remind people that courts have deemed people to be dealers in some cases even if they only sell a handful of guns.
And the background check provision rests in the murky realm of agency guidelines, which have less force than full-fledged federal regulations and can easily be rescinded. Many of the Republican presidential candidates running to succeed Obama have vowed to rip up his new gun restrictions upon taking office.
In an attempt to prevent gun purchases from falling through the cracks, the FBI will hire 230 more examiners to process background checks, the White House said. The FBI has a computerized system that can process background checks for many in seconds.
But in instances where the FBI needs more time, the government only has three days before prospective buyers can return and buy the gun without being cleared.
The White House also said it planned to ask Congress for $500 million to improve mental health care, and pledged to move forward with efforts to keep guns out of the hands with people deemed unsuitable because of mental illness. The Obama administration also plans to complete a rule long in the works to close a separate loophole that exempts guns purchased by trusts or corporations from background checks.
Obama planned to announce the new measures at an event at the White House on Tuesday as he continued a weeklong push to promote the gun effort and pushing back on its critics.
He met at the White House on Monday with Democratic lawmakers who have supported stricter gun control, and planned to take his argument to prime time on Thursday with a town hall discussion about gun violence on CNN. The initiative also promised to be prominent in Obama's final State of the Union address next week.
Cuomo Orders That Homeless Be Taken to Shelter in Freezing Weather
by Annie Correal
As an arctic front barreled toward the New York City region, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order on Sunday requiring local governments across the state to take homeless people off the streets to shelters in freezing temperatures.
The order, which goes into effect early Tuesday, requires local governments to remove homeless people by force, if necessary, once the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The governor's order says that to protect public safety, “the state can take appropriate steps, including involuntary placement.”
“It's about love. It's about compassion. It's about helping one another and basic human decency,” Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, told NY1.
News of the measure rippled across the state, eliciting a variety of responses from advocates even as it raised questions about how the order would be carried out. In New York City, the mayor's office said the order appeared to duplicate what the city was already doing to protect homeless people during cold weather and questioned the legality of forcible removal, signaling yet another rift in the tense relationship between Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat. “We support the intent of the executive order,” the mayor's press secretary, Karen Hinton, said in a statement, “but to forcibly remove all homeless individuals in freezing weather, as the governor has ordered, will require him to pass state law.”
Zachary W. Carter, Mr. de Blasio's corporation counsel, said in an internal city document that there were three ways to remove people from the street: voluntary entrance into shelter; arrest if a crime was being committed; and involuntary transfer for psychiatric evaluation or treatment if they posed a danger to themselves or others.
“Factors that do not support involuntary treatment include homelessness or mental illness alone; idiosyncratic behavior; conclusory assertions that person poses danger; mere fact that person would benefit from treatment,” the document said.
A similar effort by Mayor Edward I. Koch in the mid-1980s met significant legal obstacles.
Norman Siegel, the veteran civil rights lawyer who fought Mr. Koch's actions at the time, said he and other advocates would be closely monitoring the implementation of Mr. Cuomo's order. “The fact that it is below 32 degrees does not give the government permission to take someone off the street,” he said, noting that such action — under the state's Mental Hygiene Law — requires the police to interview and determine mental capacity before taking a person in custody. “The bottom line if they do the training, and they do the individual assessments, I've got no problem with that. But if they do a dragnet, then we'll have serious legal and policy problems.”
The Cuomo administration said the governor's executive order would force cities to abide by the state's Mental Hygiene Law and do the assessments. Alphonso B. David, the governor's chief counsel, said that police agencies “must comply regardless of what the local district's policy may or may not be or how well it is or is not managed by the locality.”
It initially seemed the governor was pushing for forcible removal, but Mr. David later clarified that while state law allowed authorities to involuntarily detain individuals deemed to be mentally unstable, “obviously, the order does not mandate involuntary commitment for competent individuals,” he said.
Mr. David suggested that the perceived homelessness crisis in New York City — and Mr. Cuomo's assertions that Mr. de Blasio has been slow to act — was a major impetus for the executive order.
“There are more than 4,000 homeless individuals living on the streets, with the majority in New York City,” Mr. David said. “State law mandates that safe and clean shelters are provided to both families and individuals.”
New York City's current policy when temperatures drop to freezing, known as Code Blue, is to increase the number of vans checking for homeless people on the streets and to allow them to forgo the usual intake procedure at shelters and other facilities. In compliance with the Mental Hygiene Law, the city also takes people to hospitals for mental health evaluation if they appear to be in imminent danger.
Temperatures are expected to plummet on Monday, dropping to 15 degrees overnight with wind chills around zero, Patrick Maloit, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said. Highs will be around 30 degrees on Tuesday, the day the measure goes into effect.
Mr. Cuomo's order follows significant actions by Mr. de Blasio to reduce homelessness by announcing an aggressive plan to move people off the street and into shelter.
Though there are discrepancies over the numbers, a few thousand people are estimated to live on the street, significantly less than the nearly 58,000 staying in shelters overseen by the Department of Homeless Services. But visible homelessness has been the most politically damaging issue to Mr. de Blasio as a mix of homeless people and sheltered panhandlers have filled the sidewalks and subways.
On Sunday, the governor's staff once again seemed to cast Mr. Cuomo's action as a forceful response to an unanswered challenge. “This order is only a part of the state's response to the homeless crisis,” Mr. David said, noting that the state would soon “announce our full plan.”
The Doe Fund, a New York City-based homeless services organization, said it supported the governor's move, noting its founder had created the fund after two homeless people he knew were denied lifesaving services or unable to gain access to them during the winter. “The governor's executive order will finally make stories like theirs lessons in history instead of continual, repeating tragedies,” a spokesman for the fund said.
Thomas J. Main, a professor at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College who studies homelessness, said the order raised administrative challenges. “We're talking about scooping people up who might be resistant,” he said. “And then what are you going to do? Restrain them at the shelter?”
“This has to be very carefully implemented,” Professor Main added. “It has to be thought through.”
Public trust a key casualty of shoot-first police policy
by Clarence Page
Before he announced the grand jury's decision regarding the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty warned that the outcome “will not cheer anyone.” He got that right.
The grand jury would not be indicting officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. Loehmann claimed he had no choice but to fire at Rice after he saw the lad pull a gun from his belt that turned out to be only a realistic-looking pellet gun.
“It would be irresponsible and unreasonable if the law required a police officer to wait and see if the gun was real,” McGinty said as he delivered a report that explained what the law demands of police officers who must make split-second decisions when they fear for their lives.
The ruling came as a shock to many folks like me who repeatedly have watched security camera video footage of the tragedy. The video, which is silent, shows a police squad car roar up to a screeching halt in front of Rice, who is standing alone in a public park. Loehmann immediately jumps out of the passenger side and without apparent hesitation fires the shots that kill the boy.
Loehmann claimed the tape, which has no sound, failed to pick up the sound of his yelling at the lad to drop his weapon. Still, Rice's family wasn't buying it.
“It has been clear for months,” the family said last Monday through attorneys, that McGinty the prosecutor “was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.”
The Department of Justice, which has been conducting its own investigation of systemic problems in the Cleveland cop shop, has sounded skeptical, too. It wrote last December that it found it “deeply troubling” that some of the city's special investigators of deadly force by officers “admitted to us that they conduct their investigations with the goal of casting the accused officer in the most positive light possible.”
The grand jury's decision also raises unsettling questions about another high-profile case: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, recently charged with murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald, 17, more than a year ago. Video was crucial in that case, too. After officers at the scene reported that McDonald had lunged at Van Dyke with a knife, a police dash-cam video shows McDonald moving away from Van Dyke.
But now, after the Tamir Rice decision, I find myself wondering whether clear video evidence is enough to bring justice. Van Dyke's lawyer, Daniel Herbert, began raising questions immediately after his client's arrest. “The video is clear, but there is a lot of stuff that the video doesn't show,” Herbert told WGN-TV.
Van Dyke, charged with first-degree murder, entered a not-guilty plea at his arraignment Tuesday morning. It sounds like Van Dyke's trial is about to present us with yet another new narrative to challenge what we think we have seen. Stay tuned.
McGinty made similar arguments and cited the Supreme Court's important 1989 Graham v. Connor decision. It held that an officer's use-of-force decisions “must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”
That's fair when it avoids judging an officer's actions based on information he or she did not have. But too often that fair and “reasonable” standard is used to avoid any obligation to take a more cautious, less deadly course of action.
What's “reasonable” in such circumstances? That can depend on what state you're in. Instead of bringing national clarity to that question, legal experts say, the Supreme Court has tended to give police the benefit of the doubt and let contradictory lower court decisions stand.
As recently as November, for example, the Supremes issued an unsigned summary decision that granted immunity to a Texas officer who shot and killed a fleeing driver, even though the officer lacked specific orders to open fire.
“By sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later' approach to policing,” Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote in her lone dissent, “the court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow.”
Indeed, a shoot-first-and-think-later policy also erodes public confidence in the police, which reduces their cooperation with police, and law enforcement suffers in communities that need it most. That's why modern police training emphasizes “de-escalation,” an effort to avoid violence instead of causing it.