October, 2016 - Week 4
Officer dies after hunch he'd be shot
An Alaska police officer shot in the line of duty two weeks ago has died of complications after surgery.
Sgt. Allen Brandt was shot on patrol after responding to reports of gunfire in Fairbanks early October 16.
Brandt was wearing body armor, but was struck by bullets in a leg and shrapnel in an eye. The father-of-four had been well enough to speak at a community council meeting earlier this week, at which he said that he had predicted to his family that he would be shot.
Announcing his colleague's death Friday, Fairbanks' Acting Police Chief Brad Johnson said the city had lost a hero.
“I'm sorry to have to let you know that earlier this afternoon, Sgt. Allen Brandt lost the fight. He had surgery yesterday and suffered complications afterward, which continued to deteriorate through the day and from which he was unable to recover,” Johnson said. The surgery was related to the injuries Brandt suffered in the shooting, according to a police statement.
“Our community, this department, our families, our friends are hurting. We thank you for all the support you've given us so far and we ask for more for his family for your department and for yourselves, let's help each other heal and work through this together.”
‘I think I'm going to get shot'
Brandt had worked with the Fairbanks Police Department since 2005.
Addressing the city council after a resolution honoring him Monday, Brandt said that he was humbled. “We have many fine officers that are far greater and have done better things than I have.”
He described living with the danger associated with police work.
“I travel everywhere armed, always vigilant , always watching — and the other officers over there, they're the same way,” he said.
“The night that I was shot I had my four kids and my wife on my bed and I read them a story, like I do.
“After the story I told them ‘I think I'm going to get shot tonight.' And in the middle of a gun battle that's all I could think about.”
Brandt said his wife thought the first two people to call her about the shooting were playing a cruel practical joke on her.
“But can you imagine telling your kids before you go to work that you're going to get shot? Well that's what our police officers deal with every day. And I'm not complaining, but I just want you to know what it's like — the life of a police officer.”
Brandt said a bullet had been fired at his heart and that his body armor had saved him — but that he had seen the “hand of the Lord” during the attack.
“Can you believe I was shot five times in the legs and I walked into this room,” he asked the meeting.
In a statement issued October 16, Fairbanks Police said police had responded to reports of shots fired shortly after midnight that day.
“As multiple calls came into the Dispatch Center, Sgt. Brandt radioed that he had been shot.
“After shooting Sgt. Brandt, the suspect fled the scene in Brandt's patrol car. A few blocks away the patrol car was recovered.
” Police released dashcam footage of the incident. It appears to show a man brandishing a firearm approaching the patrol car and later walking away from the car in what appears to be a different location.
Anthony George Jenkins-Alexie, aged 29, was arrested October 19 and subsequently charged with attempted murder, assault, vehicle theft, firearm theft and tampering with physical evidence.
Announcing the charges at a media conference last week, Johnson said Jenkins-Alexie had a lengthy criminal history and had previously made threats against law enforcement.
“After interviewing him and based on his own admissions and significant corroborating evidence. I can assure the community that he acted alone and that there is no continuing threat to my fellow police officers or citizens.”
A candlelit vigil was held at the Fairbanks Police Department Friday following the news that Brandt had died.
NAACP files lawsuit against El Cajon police
The lawsuit alleges the police violated the protesters' right to free speech and assembly and the right protecting them from search and seizure without probable cause
by Kristina Davis
SAN DIEGO — U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino heard arguments on the issue Wednesday and will rule on the matter in the coming days.
Ever since Alfred Olango was killed by an El Cajon police officer at the Broadway Village Shopping Center on Sept. 27, the parking lot has been the site of frequent protests and vigils.
Olango was shot after he pointed a cylindrical object at the officer; the object turned out to be a vaping device.
Several times, sheriff's deputies in riot gear have broken up the protests after El Cajon police officers have declared them “unlawful assemblies.” Protesters who did not disband were arrested.
The San Diego branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, along with 11 protesters and three children, filed a request for the injunction in San Diego federal court. They contend the Sheriff's Department and police violated the protesters' right to free speech and assembly and their right protecting them from search and seizure without probable cause.
They point to an incident on Oct. 1, when about 200 people had gathered at the shooting site, near Los Panchos taco shop, according to the lawsuit. By midnight, about 80 people remained.
Police said a fight broke out among a few of the protesters and an officer heard someone say he was going to get a gun.
“Sensing this shift in the demeanor of the crowd, and out of concern for community safety, officers declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the group to disperse, ” police Lt. Rob Ransweiler said in a statement on Oct. 2.
Two lines of deputies in riot gear, some with dogs, blocked two of three exits in the parking lot, telling the crowd to disperse, witnesses said.
About half of the demonstrators left. The others refused to leave, including several who were praying, and they were arrested.
According to California law, an unlawful assembly is when two or more people gather to do an unlawful act, or do a lawful act in a “violent, boisterous or tumultuous manner.” Anyone who takes part in this activity, or who does not leave when ordered to do so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
More arrests occurred on Oct. 16 as law enforcement tried to break up what they declared was an unlawful assembly, according to the lawsuit. Earlier that evening at a nearby location, protesters had blocked traffic and someone slashed a vehicle's tires, authorities said.
Attorney Bryan Pease questioned why police didn't just arrest the people causing the problems instead of making everyone leave. He said the law should be interpreted to mean that once the unlawful conduct is taken care of, the assembly should be allowed to continue.
Chief Deputy County Counsel George Brewster said the idea that deputies can “cherrypick agitators while leaving everyone else alone is a very difficult test for law enforcement. How do you decide? … It's an impossible task.”
Pease also accused law enforcement of arbitrarily declaring unlawful assemblies after midnight so the officers can go home.
“It almost seems like there's a defacto midnight curfew on these assemblies,” Pease said.
Attorney Steven Boehmer, who is representing the city of El Cajon, told the judge the police were following the law, and that the protesters want to rewrite the law. He pointed to other peaceful protests at the site and around the city that were not declared unlawful assemblies.
“There is no pattern or practice by officers … to quell peaceful protests,” Boehmer said.
El Cajon police said the shopping center's business owners and property manager complained the demonstrations were hurting business, and police asked people on Oct. 15 to stop gathering there. At the order of police, demonstrators removed the memorial that included a shade tent, chairs, photographs, mementos, candles and barbecues that had been erected at the spot.
Police cars continue to stake out the area and anyone who is not a patron is threatened with arrest, Pease said.
Pease said that according to the state constitution, shopping centers open to the general public must allow free speech under reasonable guidelines.
Carl Box, who was arrested on Oct. 17 after he and a friend went to pay their respects at the shooting site, accused police of using intimidation tactics. He said he'd like to see the police and community come together.
“There is stigma on both sides. Sometimes they look at us one way, and we only see the badge. … We just want to be treated as humans,” Box said.
The protesters are asking the Sheriff's Department and El Cajon police to pay damages to plaintiffs “in an amount to make them whole,” as well as punitive damages of $1 million or an amount sufficient to make an example of them and discourage similar arrests.
From the FBI
National Cyber Security Awareness Month
FBI Deploys Cyber Experts to Work Directly with Foreign Partners
Last month, FBI Director James Comey told a congressional committee that “the pervasiveness of the cyber threat is such that the FBI and other intelligence, military, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies across the government view cyber security and cyber attacks as a top priority.”
Operationally, the Bureau is responding to this global threat in a variety of ways—including through our Cyber Threat Team model, the FBI-led National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, our Cyber Action Team, and regional cyber task forces in all 56 field offices.
Another way we're working to combat the cyber threat is by placing Bureau cyber experts in FBI legal attaché (legat) offices in strategic locations around the globe—a critical step because cyber threat actors can and do operate virtually anywhere in the world, crossing national and international borders with a few strokes of a keyboard to reach their victims.
Our experts are called cyber assistant legal attachés, or ALATs, and they work on a daily basis with law enforcement in host countries, sharing information, cooperating on investigations, and enhancing our relationships overall. Sometimes, they even work in the same physical space alongside their foreign counterparts.
The cyber ALAT program began in 2011, when several FBI Cyber Division personnel were deployed to a handful of legat offices to address significant cyber threats in those regions impacting U.S. interests and FBI investigations.
Five years later, there are eight permanent cyber ALAT positions—two in London and one each Bucharest, Romania; Canberra, Australia; The Hague, Netherlands; Tallinn, Estonia; Kyiv, Ukraine; and Ottawa, Canada. And currently, the Bureau maintains nearly a dozen temporary duty (TDY) cyber ALAT positions—their locations determined by the cyber threat environment and the host nation's capabilities in working with the FBI in identifying, disrupting, and dismantling cyber threat actors and organizations.
Observed each October, National Cyber Security Awareness Month is the perfect time of year for individuals, businesses, and other organizations to reflect on the universe of cyber threats and to do their part to protect their networks, their devices, and their data from those threats.
The work of cyber ALATs provides a number of benefits for the Bureau, including improved working relationships with our partners to further FBI investigations and initiatives; assistance with the differences in countries' jurisdictional issues, cyber laws, and legal processes; and a fuller picture of particular cyber threats.
The host nation also benefits from the presence of a cyber ALAT in the way of technical assistance offered in support of cyber investigations as well as information-sharing efforts that often eliminate the duplication of resources expended to investigate the same threat actor groups. Cyber ALATs can also facilitate requests from our foreign partners for cyber training.
Because of the nature of the work, cyber ALAT positions are highly competitive. Only those FBI agents with proven leadership skills, a wealth of task force and liaison experience, plenty of initiative, and top-notch computer intrusion knowledge are selected for the permanent and TDY jobs.
When all is said and done, what impact can cyber ALATs actually have on the overall cyber threat picture? “By building relationships, cyber ALATs can identify common threats and find unique opportunities to mitigate those threats with our international partners,” said one recent cyber ALAT. “Historically, law enforcement agencies ask each other to provide specific information to forward domestic investigations. But the global nature of cyber threats requires that the FBI and its foreign partners learn each other's strengths, priorities, and gaps. Cyber ALATs create the bridge that allows the Bureau and its partners to address both individual cyber cases and global cyber threats with the most impact.”
Our cyber ALAT program is one more tool the FBI is using to protect the nation from sophisticated cyber threats coming from state-sponsored hackers, hackers for hire, organized cyber syndicates, and terrorists.
For Real Community Policing, Let Officers Do Their Jobs
by Patrick J. Lynch
All policing should be community policing. Police officers and residents work together every day, because it's the only way to keep the streets safe. Over the past 30 years, though, whenever there has been a need to heal a rift between the police and the public, this basic principle has gotten watchword status.
We face such a rift today, particularly in New York City's African-American and Hispanic communities, largely because of Police Department policies that inhibit true community policing and set harmful quotas for arrests and other police activities, like “stop, question and frisk.”
Police officers have recognized for decades that the department was driving a wedge between officers and the people we serve by making our jobs dependent on meeting these mandates — reducing public safety to a numbers game. As far back as 2004, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association warned that quotas were harming residents and police officers alike, and we filed grievances and fought for expanded state anti-quota legislation to stop it.
Unfortunately, our elected leaders and the courts have too often ignored these failed management policies, focusing instead on saddling police officers on the street with additional burdens and scrutiny. In doing so, they have advanced the false narrative that New York City police officers are, as a group, bad actors motivated by personal racial prejudice. This narrative has made our jobs far more difficult, and has further damaged the relationship with the New Yorkers we serve.
Now the city is once again calling for community policing as a means of repairing the damage, and once again some officers on the street and community members are skeptical. We have seen similar strategies, such as the Community Patrol Officer Program from the 1980s, tried out and eventually abandoned. In order for the current iteration of community policing to succeed, it must be given the proper staffing resources. It must also treat police officers as professionals and allow them the discretion to effectively carry out the strategy in the real world.
But our head count has dropped by approximately 6,000. Many precincts face a serious backlog of radio calls, and officers on patrol are routinely assigned multiple jobs at once. Meanwhile, officers are pulled from local precincts to staff specialized units or to cover special events.
Now, under the current plan for community policing, a handful of neighborhood coordination officers would have dedicated time off their radios to address community policing issues. But if that forces others to double up or keeps them from responding to potentially critical calls, we'll be making things worse and could even prevent the development of strong ties with the community.
The department may want officers at every precinct community council meeting, participating in pickup basketball games, and stopping by local cookouts. But attending these structured activities goes only so far to address what the community needs. What most New Yorkers want from the police are not photo ops for the department's social media channels, but for officers to listen and respond to their concerns when they have them.
Officers want to have those types of conversations. They let us resolve some situations without resorting to enforcement action while also learning who the truly bad actors are. It's not enough for those conversations to happen only at formalized community policing activities.
Unfortunately, like the numerically driven enforcement model, the formal community policing strategy implies that officers cannot be treated as professionals, trusted to exercise proper judgment in any situation without micromanagement. It pressures them to produce documentable “activity,” paralyzes them with bureaucratic second-guessing and threatens to turn “community engagement” into just another box to check.
If this approach continues the department will lose smart, highly qualified officers to other police departments that provide competitive wages, respect and fairer treatment. Stronger community relationships require keeping our best police officers and being able to recruit the best. They also mean giving them incentives to remain in roles that work directly with the community, instead of jumping at the first opportunity to get off the street and into a specialized unit.
If city neighborhoods lose these officers and cannot attract new ones of the same caliber, the impact will be significant, especially in the areas that need them most.
New York City police officers don't want to look elsewhere, because the communities we protect are our communities, too. Sixty percent of New York City police officers live in the five boroughs. We want the same as our fellow New Yorkers: safe and livable streets. If we work together, with the tools, support and the right strategy, we will make sure our communities are safer and stronger for years to come.
Top Cop Announces New Panel To Reinvigorate Community Policing
by Stephen Gossett
Chicago was once a pioneer in community policing efforts, but such programs have seen a precipitous decline in effectiveness in recent years. Now, the Chicago Police Department is looking to reinvigorate the concept. Supt. Eddie Johnson announced on Thursday the creation of the Community Policing Advisory Panel, a 12-person panel of police officials, academics and community representatives.
The panel is tasked with formulating recommendations and streamlining a new strategy, which it will develop by the end of the first quarter of 2017. Chief of Patrol Fred Waller will chair the panel—which is made up of two other police officials along with four community leaders, three professors and two city officials, including Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward).
“Chicago was the birthplace and, at one time, a national model for community policing and we need to build upon this history to develop a community policing strategy for the 21st Century. I am grateful to have such a qualified group of individuals helping us develop these recommendations,” Johnson said in a press release. “To have an effective influence on reducing crime and building public trust, our strategy must give every Chicagoan equal treatment and respect.”
Among the panel's duties are making an “an acknowledgement that Community Policing is the Department's core philosophy” and devising strategy to reduce conflict between youth and CPD.
Chicago's most prominent community policing program was the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), but it now pales in comparison to its heyday in the '80s and '90s due to underfunding.
As the Chicago Reader reported in September: "In 2016, CAPS has a budget of $3.9 million, less than a third of the funding it had in 1999 and 17 percent less than when Emanuel took office. The police department's overall budget has ballooned to $1.45 billion today; CAPS funding represents just 0.3 percent of CPD's overall budget."
“When you go to a CAPS meeting, it's basically face-to-face 911. Neighbor has a complaint. Gives it to the cop. The sergeant waits 30 days and gets a report back. ... Face-to-face 911 is not authentic." Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward) said on Thursday, according to the Sun-Times.
500 New Officers To Be Part Of Renewed Community Policing Push: Top Cop
by Heather Cherone
CITY HALL — Supt. Eddie Johnson told the City Council Thursday that the approximately 500 new police officers set to be hired during the next two years will be assigned to patrol the city — and partner with residents as part of a renewed focus on community policing.
Johnson said he had asked a panel of experts, department leaders and residents to develop a new "strategic plan" for how to collaborate with communities to fight crime and restore trust between the department and residents.
Johnson, who was handpicked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in March to lead the department in the wake of outcry prompted by the release of dashcam video of the police officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times, said he took office "at a time of unparalleled challenge."
"The public did not believe we were willing to listen and work with the community," Johnson said, but after a "top-to-bottom" review, "significant progress" has been made in restoring the trust between the department and Chicagoans.
Noting that Chicago was once hailed as nationwide role model for its efforts to change the way police officers tackled their jobs, Johnson said the renewed emphasis on community policing would "better embrace the critical role the community can and should play in addressing issues of crime."
"We can achieve that again," Johnson said, adding that community policing is his "core philosophy."
"The job of every officer is to reduce crime and help restore trust," Johnson said.
Johnson's seven-month tenure drew high marks from several aldermen, who praised him for revamping the department's command structure to make it the most diverse in the city's history.
"I couldn't be more proud of the department," said Ald. Ariel Reyboras (31st), the chairman of the council's public safety committee.
Community policing efforts throughout the city had been stretched thin after years of budget cuts and a greater emphasis on arrests and violence suppression.
In addition to using data — like frequent calls for service at one address — more efficiently to head off problems that can "create an environment for violence."
Coupled with an increase in the size of the police force — and a "solid foundation for reform" — Johnson told the City Council reviewing the department's $1.5 billion budget that the force was on much firmer footing than a year ago, when it was rocked by the video showing McDonald's death. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was fired by the department, has been charged in connection with McDonald's death.
In total, the department is set to grow by 970 positions: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers.
To meet Johnson's goal, the city must enroll 100 new recruits per month through 2018 in its six-month training academy, city officials said.
Johnson pledged to make those new officers as diverse as the city they will be charged with policing.
The department will also fill 500 vacant positions, Johnson said.
With the training academy churning out rookie officers, the police department will move its training for veteran officers to facilities operated by the City Colleges of Chicago and DeVry University.
Veteran officers must be trained on the department's de-escalation tactics and a new use-of-force policy.
Plans are in the works to eventually replace the training facility at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd. with a new location somewhere on the south or west sides, Johnson said.
The new officers would be deployed based on a statistical analysis being complied by a consultant based on crime data, calls for services and district geography, Johnson said.
In response to a question from Ald. James Cappleman (46th), Johnson said the department had not done an adequate job of staffing all districts while struggling to cope with a wave of violence that has swept the city.
That left a "back door open in good neighborhoods to property crime," Johnson said.
In September, Johnson agreed to send more officers to the Far Northwest Side after four aldermen complained.
Under questioning from Cappelman, who noted that he has been roundly criticized for police staffing levels in Uptown and Andersonville, Johnson said the officers will be deployed based on the analysis — along with "common sense" and in consultation with aldermen.
The city's 2017 budget includes approximately $60 million for 250 new officers, 92 new field-training officers, 100 new detectives, 37 new sergeants and 50 new lieutenants.
The cost for the the new officers will be covered by increased revenue from an improving economy, along with revenue from a 7-cent tax on shopping bags as well as an end to free parking in Downtown loading zones and doubling the cost to park around Wrigley Field during special events.
City officials expect the plastic bag fee to generate $9.2 million in revenue.
Cars and trucks making deliveries and pickups in Downtown loading zones are expected to feed the new meters $13 million, officials said.
In previous budgets, the mayor has resisted calls from aldermen to hire new police personnel, instead reshuffling officers and expanding overtime shifts, prompting criticism from aldermen.
Community Policing in a Wary Community
by Annette Kelechukwu Ejiofor
The disconnect between the NYPD and Bed-Stuy challenges a plan for reform
It was 1 p.m. on a sunny afternoon in Herbert Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant. To the left sat 63-year-old Country, a longtime Bed-Stuy resident. “I'm Country,” he said. “Call me Country.”
Country and his three friends sat on a park picnic table playing cards. He is from North Carolina but Randy, one of his friends, said, in between laughs, “You deal like you from Iowa.” The friends sat slapping cards on the table at a park across the street from the New York Police Department's 79th precinct. It was a short physical distance but the gap between the police and the community often seems large.
Country moved to Bed-Stuy in 1966 and said he has seen little improvement in the relationship between the NYPD and the Bed-Stuy community: “They treat the community badly. They don't want to listen. They just jump to the offensive whenever something in the community goes bad. They don't police right. It's the same bullshit.”
As he thought back to his more youthful days, Country said he recalled finer times with the police. “It was better years ago. There was a police officer at every school and every kid knew the police by name. Kids would respect the police because we knew them and they knew us.”
The recently appointed New York City Police Commissioner, James P. O'Neill, has instituted a “Community Policing” policy that aims to try to bring back some of that familiarity between the police officers and citizens. O'Neill's philosophy of community policing is detailed on the NYPD website, where it says he believes that “Fighting crime is what we get paid to do…But we can't do that unless we achieve full partnership with the community. Unless we have that connectivity, it's not going to work.”
Officer Dennis Walsh of the 79th precinct, working in community affairs, highlighted some of the ongoing efforts in the NYPD, notably the introduction of a new police role called the Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs), who are part of a larger plan called “The Way Forward,” on the NYC.Gov official website.
Walsh explained the NCOs role this way: “Two cops are assigned to neighborhoods and are supposed to be familiar with what's going on inside their sector. They are assigned to the same sector always. They get comfortable, know what's going on there, pay more attention to it, closely, and get more personal with what's going on.” If something happens, he said, “Instead of calling 911, they are able to go in.”
In short, he said The NCOs are in place to ensure a more personal approach to policing. “We are still getting into it,” he said, “Its new.”
Some members of the Bed-Stuy community believe the program's goals will prove difficult because so many people remain reluctant to trust officers.
Country, for example, said that when a citizen gets out of hand, locals are afraid to call the police for fear that they will make things worse. “Now, the police do whatever they want. There's no shooting to wound, it's shooting to kill. If there's a problem at home and we call the police for help they don't even help. When situations get tense for us, we don't want them dead we want them detained.”
Randy chimed in, “Make sure you write that down—that we don't call the police because we're scared of them! Write that down!”
Alfonso Mays, another Bed-Stuy resident in the group, said, “There should be a better solution than us ending up in the precinct. We'll be sitting here socializing and someone from over there,” he said, pointing to the 79th precinct, “will come over here.” Mays lifts up his water bottle. “You see this clear as day is water. They'll come here and wanna smell it, and its just nonsense. If I'm drinking beer they'll be here in one minute. But if I get shot they'll be here in a half hour.”
The racialization of crime as Mays describes is mirrored in statistics. In its 2015 90%: The Harm Continues report, the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP), a New York City based organization that aims to “expose and correct abusive police tactics that routinely and disproportionately do harm to [the] city's low-income communities and people of color,” found that of the 524 criminal court cases in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, from May 22, 2015 to August 11, 2015, “484, or 90%, of the defendants were people of color.” PROP reports that, “According to NYPD statistics, 94.4% of juvenile arrests in 2014 involved African-American or Latino young people.”
One police tactic that has caused tensions between the police and members of the community in the past is what is called stop-and-frisk, which is still used a “tool,” as described by Walsh, by the NYPD today. According to the NYPD 2015 Stop, Question and Frisk data reports, “The most frequent race/ethnic group within the Stop Question and Frisk subject population is Black, accounting for (54.2%). Hispanic subjects account for an additional (29.2%) while White and Asian/Pacific Islanders account for (11.2%) and (5.1%) of total Stops respectively.”
The numbers of people affected by stop and frisk operations, however, have decreased drastically. The New York Daily News reported in June 2015 that, “Stop-and-frisk encounters are on pace to plunge by 42% this year, with 20,000 fewer street stops.… 11,652 stops across the city through June 3 — projecting to roughly 28,000 for the year.” On August 12, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled against the “stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department,” stating that they “violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city,” as reported by The New York Times .
Rulings like these and the welcoming of new leaders in policing, such as Commissioner O'Neill, leave some Bed-Stuy residents hopeful. “I have hopes in it getting better,” said Country. “Different leaders are coming in.”
Mayor quickly vetoes community policing legislation
by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
Only a day after legislation to create neighborhood property crime units in the San Francisco Police Department passed at the Board of Supervisors, Mayor Ed Lee has vetoed it.
The legislation was approved 7-4 at the board, with Supervisors Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, Mark Farrell and Katy Tang voting nay. That's one vote shy of a veto-proof majority.
The legislation, which was authored by Supervisor Norman Yee and also sponsored by Supervisor David Campos, would've amended administrative code to require the creation of property crime units in each district, through foot patrols and community crime prevention “among other tactics,” according to the legislative digest.
Apparently, the mayor thought the measure micromanaged police.
In his veto letter to the Board of Supervisors, issued Wednesday, the mayor wrote, “The San Francisco Civil Grand Just warns us about the perils of segmenting The City into small policing units, as this ordinance would have us do.”
But probably more salient to the current political climate, Lee also said Yee and Campos' measure would create “conflicting and duplicative” rules with Proposition R –– which Lee introduced with Supervisor Scott Wiener.
That “Safe Neighborhoods Ordinance” (yes, another wholly separate police ordinance) would create a minimum staffing requirement for neighborhood crime, like burglaries, automobile break-ins and auto thefts, among others.
Perhaps somewhat ironically, Lee also said Yee and Campos' measure is “motivated by ballot politics and not public safety” because it restricts the SFPD's ability to coordinate “internally.”
Lee's spokesperson, Deirdre Hussey, explained the mayor's Safe Neighborhoods Ordinance doesn't micromanage police because it's citywide.
Yee's legislation focuses on property crime in districts only, she said, “hamstringing the police from having a city-wide strategy for targeting crimes that impact our neighborhoods.”
Campos was pretty livid about the veto, and told On Guard, “Talk about playing politics with public safety. If he is willing to veto this while at the same time supporting what Wiener is doing, it's a clear indication of the mayor being unwilling to challenge the [police union].”
He added, “Community policing is bad? Hard to imagine a mayor would actually say that.”
Campos said this measure is needed. “People are coming into San Francisco and breaking into cars because they know they can get away with it,” he said.
Apparently, the mayor disagrees. Or, if we're being generous, he disagrees with how that problem should be solved.
How Kansas City Metropolitan Police Departments Are Tackling Community Policing
by Andrea Tudhope
It's a cloudy afternoon in Kansas City, Kansas. Officer Kevin Terry buckles up in his old, white cop car before heading out to visit a Head Start preschool. He recently met one of the coordinators at a neighborhood association meeting.
“I told her I would stop by today to talk about a possible ‘stranger danger' lesson she wants to give to her kids,” Terry says.
This is the kind of thing Terry is able to do as a community police officer for the Kansas City Kansas Police Department. KCK's community policing unit was formed in 1995, and Terry's been with the unit for 16 of those 21 years. He's one of 17 officers, each assigned to a geographic region. Terry's is the Argentine neighborhood.
Each day for Terry is a little different. In the mornings, he checks his email and voicemail.
“If we're gone for long periods at a time, the emails pile up,” Terry says.
People in the community contact him directly. Photos and cell phone numbers are listed for each community police officer on the KCKPD's website. He receives reports of abandoned vehicles, messages from residents concerned about vandalism, even calls from people outside of town, wanting to check out a neighborhood within Terry's service area where they're considering moving.
Mostly, he's out and about during his shifts, responding to calls with personal visits.
Generally speaking, ‘community policing' is an approach police departments take to encourage partnerships between police and the community.
But, UMKC criminology professor Ken Novak says, the “devil's in the details” when it comes to community policing. Every community has different needs, different issues.
“You have to create a reservoir of trust,” Novak says. “Then when there's a questionable shooting or a negative interaction between the police and the public, you've got this reservoir of trust you've built up over time to tap into.”
Building trust takes time, especially now, at a time when police-community relations have been strained throughout the country, particularly in urban areas.
Andre Thurman, director of 100 Men of Blue Hills, believes in a partnership with police. But of community police officers in particular, he says they have to know the community. If they don't have some connection to the community they're serving, it's detrimental.
"That's like me sending somebody to your house to come straighten [your] house up," he says. "I didn't give you no information he was coming, I didn't introduce you to him. He's just been sent. You don't know if this guy's going to clear your house out, you don't know if he's going to do something violent to you when he's in your house, so you don't want to open your door to him."
In KCK, the community police officers are given the time they feel they need to get to know their communities. But, their unit is an outlier, at least locally.
While many smaller local police departments say they embrace the concept of serving the community with programs and partnerships with community leaders, most do not have a community policing department, or any officers dedicated solely to that duty.
And, recently, the KCPD eliminated the community police positions, to redistribute the responsibility among all of the department's 1400 officers.
On the one hand, Novak says having specific officers designated to foster relationships with the public may give other officers the impression that they don't have to do it. On the other hand, he says, "if it's everyone's job, then it's really no one's job."
Officer Beth Clark runs the community policing unit in Gladstone, Missouri, a small town north of Kansas City. Along with ice cream socials, Trunk or Treat, and Pies with Police, Clark brought the national Coffee with a Cop program to her community — it was one of her first efforts.
"It was pretty laid back, people could come enjoy a cup of joe with some cops, talk about baseball, the latest movie they saw, there was no agenda," Clark says.
These one-on-one, non-confrontational interactions are paramount to the community policing strategy.
“It's just getting out there — the little things,” KCK officer Kevin Terry says. “Just showing them, ‘Hey, you know, I'm going to take care of this for you.'”
What he's talking about is simple in theory — it's having a presence in the community.
"I get so upset [when] I'm out in a uniform and kids say, 'If you act bad, I'm going to have this officer take you to jail,'" Terry says. "We're supposed to be their friends. You're supposed to call us for help."
Terry and other community police officers want to show the public that they're here to protect us.
But with homicides up in both Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, police departments need to decide whether to double down on community policing, redistribute the responsibility or give it up entirely.
Lakewood police hope to advance community policing efforts in 2017
Eight new officers in 2017 budget will help ease burdens
by Joe Vaccarelli
When Lakewood police agent Mary Munger heads out on a patrol on any given day she never knows exactly what will happen, but she does know that she'll see a lot of familiar faces along the way.
She spends most of her time in the corridor between Mississippi and Alameda avenues between Sheridan Boulevard and Garrison Street and has gotten to know many residents and business owners in that area.
Munger and many other Lakewood officers with similar beats are part of the department's ongoing community policing effort.
“It's really nice that people feel comfortable enough to come up and talk to you,” Munger said. “I'm on a first-name basis with a lot of business owners.”
Next year, Lakewood hopes to boost its community policing efforts with the help of eight new agents. Those agents would ease the strain on the current officers and allow for more time spent with business owners, at community meetings and schools instead of frequently respond to calls.
Lakewood City Council approved the additional officers when it passed its 2017 budget Monday. Lakewood police currently can employ 268 sworn officers and will increase to 276 next year.
The idea of community policing, something the department values, is something that hearkens back to times when police officers would walk a beat and patrol a few blocks in a city. The officer would establish relationships with residents, gaining trust within the community.
“Community policing is not new for us. I've always considered us a community policing agency,” interim Lakewood police chief Dan McCasky said. “We've always been focused on that. The thing is, it requires more personnel.”
As officers get more familiar with a particular area and get to know residents and business owners, McCasky said that those residents are more likely to report suspicious activity or feel comfortable calling a particular officer on their department-issued cellphone.
It also helps an officer notice a suspicious person in the area.
“That familiarity really helps out. You know who belongs in the neighborhood and who shouldn't be there,” he said.
In a time that has seen a series of clashes between the police and the public and shootings that have sparked protests around the nation, both McCasky and Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said community policing is even more important to build those community relationships.
Paul noted that it's especially important to make contact with kids and the younger generation.
“They see what's happening on TV and might assume worst when they see an officer,” Paul said. “To have police active in the high schools is really important to build that communication and trust.”
Munger said that when there have been incidents involving police that sparked protests, she and others in the department have been met with support in the form of cards and gift baskets sent to Lakewood police.
“Most of our community here has been very supportive of this department. When things have happened across the country, there's been outpouring of support,” said Munger, who has been with Lakewood police for 26 years.
Cindi Vergano, who owns property and a business in the 1100 block of South Pierce Street, said she has gotten to know Munger since she started on the beat and the believes the department's involvement with the community is very important.
“Mary and a couple other agents I've known a long time will drop by and stop by just to check when they can,” she said.
In addition to the increased community policing efforts, Lakewood will also be able to start a unit devoted to investigating crimes against at-risk adults. Lakewood officers will also get new cellphones in 2017, replacing the outdated flip phones they use now.
“We look seriously every year at what resources our agents need, beyond just adding officers,” Paul said.
Officers, activists help move department towards more community policing
Officers plan on using Facebook Live to stream community conversations
by Carolyn Blackburne
HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- One month ago, one conversation sparked change in both a department and a movement.
“It's about building relationships in our community to make us better,” Community advocate, Antoine Malone said.
Malone said he met Capt. Paul Kifer during a protest for police accountability after officers with the Hagerstown Police Department said a 15-year old girl was pepper sprayed for resisting arrest. Malone said meeting Capt. Kifer changed his life.
“This seems right… there's a spark with this one that I can't really describe but it's got a lot of energy going inside me,” Capt. Paul Kifer said.
Two years ago, Malone said he would only say four words to officers: I need my lawyer. But after hours of honest conversations with officers, he's opened up.
“You feel the genuineness, once you get to know a person outside of who they are in the police uniform and that's very much important,” Malone said.
Now, he's working alongside them to teach at-risk kids to trust officers through a mentorship program in local schools.
“I've been through it all. From prison, fights, shootings, I've done it all. I lost my hope from 18 to 25 [years old] and that's not something I want a young kid to do,” Malone said.
Their approach of community conversation is already having an immediate impact.
“I apologize to you, the mothers, the children, the fathers, everyone that was a part of this,” Aaron Gettel, a Hagerstown resident who coal-rolled protesters, said.
He said he smoked those at the protest because he thought it would be funny, but he's had a change of heart after speaking with Malone.
“I do want to help you guys, [I want to] help us,” Gettel said.
Officers are also working on using Facebook Live to stream their community conversations and open them up to everyone.
“The bigger community can see the conversation in real time, can comment, can be involved,” Capt. Kifer said.
But in order to have productive, effective conversations officers and organizers said it is a lot less about finding the right words and a lot more about hearing them.
“I have to be willing to go in first and listen and understand before demanding to be heard and understood,” Pastor of Lifehouse Church, Patrick Grach said.
For now, officers said they are policing our communities and preaching community involvement.
“We live in this community, we are from this community, and we serve this community, therefore we love this community,” Detective Nick Varner said.
Malone is working with police through his organization TRU, which stands for Teach, Reach, and Unite. They are meeting with principals across Washington County to see when Police and community activists can speak directly to students.
DOJ Reviewing Memphis Police Department
by Yolanda Jones
MEMPHIS -- The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday it will will examine over the next two years community policing and use of force by Memphis police as part of a federal review of the Memphis Police Department.
The "comprehensive review" was requested by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Director Michael Rallings.
"To improve, you have to go get a check up," Rallings said at a press conference where the collaborative review of the department was announced. "We are opening ourselves up. We know that there may be some things that we may not be happy with, but if you really want to improve, you have to open yourself up."
The review will be conducted by DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which promotes strengthening police ties with communities.
Officials pointed out that no recent event prompted the call for the review, but U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III mentioned a reform initiative last month after a federal review of the fatal shooting of Darrius Stewart concluded with insufficient evidence to support charges against former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling.
"During last month's announcement, I acknowledged the cries and concerns of this community have not been ignored nor fallen on deaf ears," Stanton said. "Not only in the Stewart matter, but other instances and issues expressed by the citizens of our city over the past number of months and recent years."
Stanton added that he recommended that the city participate in the DOJ review of its 189-year-old police department.
"I want to be clear, COPS as you will hear is not a quick fix, a magic wand or a panacea to the challenges that law enforcement face as it relates to community policing," Stanton said. "I believe it is a true collaborative reform premised upon the community being engaged and involved throughout the entire process as opposed to just on the back end."
Noble Wray, head of the DOJ's COPS program, said the review is designed to help police department's improve its operations, but it takes commitment from the officers, city leaders and citizens.
He said two community "listening sessions" will be held Nov. 29 at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and Nov. 30 at Hickory Hill Community Center to get input form residents.
"In order for this process to work, the community needs to hold the department accountable," Wray said. "That's why we do it in the light of day."
Wray said currently 14 law enforcement agencies have been reviewed by COPS, including police departments in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Following the assessments, the COPS office issues a public report detailing the findings. They also evaluate progress made in implementing recommendations over an 18-month period following the initial assessment.
Officals said the review of Memphis is not like a review conducted by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division.
The Civil Right Division investigated police in Baltimore and Ferguson finding a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct. This division can force departments into court-monitored legal settlements if it finds constitutional violations like it did in Ferguson.
Americans adopted this South Korean man when he was 3. Now 41, he's being deported.
by Travis M. Andrews
Adam Crapser was born in South Korea, but, when he was 3 years old, an American couple adopted him.
Until recently, he lived in Vancouver, Wash., with his daughters and his pregnant wife. He has a son by an ex-girlfriend. He used to own a barbershop, but decided to become a stay-at-home dad, sometimes playing guitar and ukulele and watching a rescue dog.
But that will all soon change — Crapser is being deported back to South Korea, away from his family, away from the place he's spent 37 of his 41 years of life.
He's being held in an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash.
“He will be deported as soon as Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes the necessary arrangements,” Crapser's attorney Lori Walls told the Associated Press. “Adam, his family, and advocates are heartbroken at the outcome.”
Crapser's deportation is a sad denouement to a life in the United States that's been anything but easy.
After being abandoned near Seoul, Crapser and his older sister were adopted by an unnamed couple. All he brought with him across the ocean were a pair of green rubber shoes, a Korean-language Bible and a stuffed dog.
That couple, as the New York Times magazine noted in an extensive profile of Crapser, abandoned the children to the foster system after many episodes in which they forced Crapser to sit in the dark basement as punishment.
He and his sister were split up, and after several foster homes, he found himself adopted by Thomas and Dollar Crapser, who had adopted two other children and were also caring for several other foster children.
According to Crapser, that family was more abusive than the first. They would slam children's heads on door frames, tape their mouths shut with duct tape and hit them with 2-by-4s. Eventually, they would be convicted in 1992 of several counts of criminal mistreatment and assault.
Before that, though, they kicked Crapser out of the house after an argument. It happened so quickly, he left his Bible and rubber shoes — the last remnants of his birth country — in the house.
He was caught breaking into that house, trying to retrieve the items and pleaded guilty to burglary. Twenty-five months in prison followed.
In the years following, Crapser committed a number of infractions. He was found guilty of unlawful firearm possession and, later, assault after getting into a fight with his roommate. In 2013, he called his son by an ex-girlfriend despite a protection order she had taken out against him.
“I made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I'm not proud of it,” Crapser told the New York Times magazine. “I've learned a lot of lessons the hard way.”
In the past few years, he'd been working to put his life back on track by getting married and focusing on family.
Now, that's over.
Difficult as his life here has been, he followed the court's ordered punishment for his crimes. Returning to a country that the AP described as “completely alien to him” was not a punishment handed down from a judge.
But that's what's happening.
He ended up on the radar of federal immigration officials after he applied for a green card in 2012. They dug into his background and found a criminal record, which as the AP noted, makes him eligible for deportation.
In fact, it's a circumstance created by the very parents who adopted, then abandoned, him in the first place. No family that adopted him, nor the adoption agency, ever registered the boy for U.S. citizenship.
Simple paperwork left undone.
Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, told the AP this isn't uncommon — as many as 35,000 intercountry adoptees don't have U.S. citizenship, through no fault of their own but that of their parents and the agencies that handled their adoptions.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 fixed part of this problem by automatically granting citizenship to children adopted by U.S. citizens, but, as NBC noted, it only applied to those under the age of 18 at the time of its passing.
Crapser and many others, thus, were left in their strange limbo.
Currently Congress is considering the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015, which would grant citizenship to all children who have been adopted by U.S. citizens.
But it'll be too late for Crapser, who still hopes it will pass.
“While I am disappointed in the judge's ruling and worried about my family's future, I hope that what has happened to me will further demonstrate the importance of passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act,” Crapser said in a statement obtained by NBC.
Emily Kessel of the Adoptee Rights Campaign finds his deportation “appalling.”
“We do not choose our families,” Kessel told NBC. “But the U.S. does choose to bring adoptees into the U.S. with a promise of placing these children in safe homes to grow up like any other American … Adoptees are not disposable. We urge the community to call members of Congress and underline the need for a legislative fix now.”
Governor Brown's Statement in Support of Prop 57 Provide More Reasons to Vote "No!"
by Eric Siddall
Governor Brown is quoted in today's Los Angeles Times, providing his reasons why voters should support Prop 57, the early release of felons initiative. Every one of his statements lacks both merit and a basic understanding of the criminal justice system.
First, the governor claims that his act would restore "deliberative thought" to a process driven by district attorneys chasing headlines and seeking re-election with a "quiet parole board" making reasoned parole decisions.
The reality is that very few crimes make it into the newspaper or are featured on TV or radio. The vast majority of prosecutions result in prison sentences known only to judges, prosecutors, victims, police, and defendants. The cases that capture media attention are ones that involve murder-which carries a mandatory sentence. This "quiet" parole board the governor champions will become an unaccountable Kafkaesque prison release machine so "quiet" that victims won't even be aware that the felon who victimized them is back in the neighborhood.
Next, the governor claims that if prosecutors are upset that with his listing of crimes eligible for release, that's their own fault because prosecutors "created the damn violent list." False. The problem is not the list. The problem is your "damn amendment." The "damn violent list," as you call it, singles out certain violent crimes for harsher punishment; it didn't absolve other crimes of their violent nature or lessen their punishments. It was you, Governor Brown, who wrote Prop 57 and decided what crimes should be eligible for early release under its provisions. We are simply pointing out that your amendment is poorly drafted.
Further, Prop 57 gives state prison officials constitutional authority to invent early release credits for all inmates not serving life without parole or a death sentence. Governor Brown assured the Times that credits will be limited. How? Not by the state legislature, because it takes that power away from them. Not by judges, because it takes that power away from them. Instead, all credit making power goes to the Department of Corrections. In other words, it goes to the governor. Small comfort since Governor Brown will only be in office for two more years. The truth is the governor's deliberate failure to include in Prop 57 any restrictions on invention of new sentence credits means there can be no confidence this new power will be used wisely.
The real reason Governor Brown is pushing Prop 57 is because he wants to try something new. He wants to experiment with public safety and see what happens. He wants to turn back the clock to a time where sentences were short, victims had no rights, and the felon was king. We simply cannot afford this radical experiment.
We will continue to fight against Prop 57. Please like and share our video: https://www.laadda.com/no-on-prop-57
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. To contact a Board member, click here.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. To contact a Board member, click here
from Dept of Justice
Two Los Angeles-Area Men Among Those Charged in Scheme to Smuggle $3 Million in Military Aircraft Parts and Defense Items to Iran
LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles-area men have been arrested on federal charges for their alleged role in a scheme to smuggle military aircraft parts and other potential defense items to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).
Zavik Zargarian, 52, of Glendale, and Vache Nayirian, 57, of Lakeview Terrace, were taken into custody Wednesday morning by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The men are among five defendants charged in a nine-count federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that details a conspiracy to purchase and ship jet fighter aircraft parts worth more than $3 million to Iran.
Additionally, several of the defendants are accused of buying and illegally exporting fluorocarbon rubber O-rings to Iran. The O-rings in question have a variety of possible military applications including use in aircraft hydraulic systems and landing gear.
Also named in the indictment are Zargarian's Glendale-based company, ZNC Engineering, and two Iranian nationals, Hanri Terminassian, 55, and Hormoz Nowrouz, 56, both of whom are believed to be in Iran.
The charges stem from a lengthy undercover probe spearheaded by HSI, with substantial assistance provided by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“The crimes charged in this indictment are very serious threats to our national security,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As a nation it is vital that we protect our military technology and prevent it from getting into the hands of other countries without proper authorization.”
“Our commitment to prosecuting individuals who engage in the unlawful proliferation and export of items with military applications remains steadfast,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord. “The actions announced today are part of our ongoing effort to enforce export laws that continue to play a critical role in maintaining and protecting U.S. national security.”
According to the indictment, Terminassian originally contacted Zargarian from Iran for assistance with obtaining military aircraft parts from U.S.-based suppliers. Subsequently, Zargarian negotiated on Terminassian's behalf to purchase the desired items from an undercover HSI special agent who was posing as a parts supplier. The items included parts used in F-14, F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighter jets. Eventually, Terminassian traveled to the U.S. to meet with Zargarian and the undercover special agent to discuss the transaction. The indictment alleges the two men sought to purchase between 10 and 30 units of each item, with the total cost potentially exceeding $3.6 million.
“One of HSI's top enforcement priorities is preventing sensitive articles like those in this case from falling into the hands of individuals or nations that might seek to harm America or its interests,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “The illicit trade of these kinds of items to countries that have repeatedly violated our export laws must be controlled. Given what's at stake, HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to combat this threat and hold the perpetrators accountable for putting the U.S. at risk.”
The indictment also accuses Zargarian and Nayirian of conspiring with Terminassian and Nowrouz to export fluorocarbon rubber O-rings to Iran. The indictment alleges Terminassian contacted Nayirian and Zargarian on behalf of Nowrouz and sought their help to obtain the parts. Terminassian transferred funds for the purchase to Nayirian, who later provided the money to Zargarian. Through his company ZNC Engineering, Zargarian bought the O-rings from a California vendor and provided them to Nayirian. Nayirian then exported the O-rings to addresses in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait provided by Terminassian, who subsequently arranged for them to be transshipped to Iran. According to the indictment, the defendants exported more than 7,000 O-rings to Iran over the course of the conspiracy.
To reduce the likelihood of detection, the defendants falsely claimed on shipping documents that the O-rings were destined for countries other than Iran and substantially undervalued them to avoid having to file export forms that might prompt further inspection by CBP. As part of the investigation, authorities obtained evidence that the O-rings were delivered to the Iranian Air Force.
Zargarian and Nayirian were arraigned on the indictment in federal court on Wednesday afternoon. Both men entered not guilty pleas and were freed on bond. A trial in this case was set for December 20 before United States District Judge S. James Otero.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Zargarian would face a statutory maximum sentence of 115 years in federal prison and a $4,770,000 fine. Nayirian, if he is found guilty of all counts, would face a statutory maximum sentence of 95 years in federal prison and a $3,770,000 fine.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The U.S. embargo on Iran, which is enforced through the IEEPA and the ITSR, prohibits the export of goods, technology and services to Iran with very limited exceptions.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Takla of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and DOJ Trial Attorney Christian Ford from the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division.
FROM: Thom Mrozek, Spokesman/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced Today to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Hacking Apple and Google E-Mail Accounts Belonging to More Than 100 People, Including Many Celebrities
from Dept of Justice
LOS ANGELES – A Pennsylvania man was sentenced today on felony computer hacking charges related to his illegal access of over 100 Apple and Google e-mail accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.
Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in United States District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to 18 months in federal prison for a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was taken into custody immediately after sentencing.
Collins pled guilty in May to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Collins was originally charged in Los Angeles, but the parties agreed to transfer the case to Harrisburg in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, near Collins' home, for the entry of his guilty plea and sentencing.
The case against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014, known as “Celebgate.” Investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained, however.
“Hackers violate federal law whenever they access private information stored online and in digital devices,” said Eileen M. Decker, United States Attorney for the Central District of California. “Today people store important private information online and in their digital devices, which is why my office is deeply committed to holding hackers accountable, even when they do not sell or distribute the stolen data.”
From November 2012 until the beginning of September 2014, Collins engaged in a sophisticated phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims. He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google and asked victims to provide their usernames and passwords.
When the victims responded, Collins then had access to the victims' e-mail accounts. After illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins obtained personal information including nude photographs and videos. In some instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the victims' Apple iCloud backups. In addition, Collins ran a modeling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs.
Investigators identified over 600 victims, many of whom were members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. By illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, many of which belonged to female celebrities.
"The defendant intruded into the online accounts of hundreds of victims and in doing so, intruded upon their lives, causing lasting distress," said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "The prison sentence received by Mr. Collins is proof that hacking into the accounts of others and stealing private information or images is a crime with serious consequences."
The case against Ryan Collins was investigated by FBI agents based in Los Angeles, and the plea agreement was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan White and Vicki Chou in the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania assisted in the prosecution by handling the guilty plea and sentencing.
Release No. 16-265
FROM: Tracy Webb, Director of External Affairs
United States Attorney's Office – Central District of California
Iraqi refugee living in Houston convicted of attempting to provide material support to ISIL
HOUSTON — A Houston resident pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to provide material support to ISIL — a designated foreign terrorist organization.
This guilty plea was announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas; Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord; Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI's Houston Division and Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston.
Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, a refugee born in Iraq, pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to one count of attempting to provide material support — specifically himself — to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Al Hardan entered the United States as a refugee on Nov. 2, 2009. Prior to entering the country, Al Hardan lived in at least two refugee camps in Jordan and Iraq. After being admitted into the United States as an Iraqi refugee, he was granted U.S. permanent residence status on Aug. 22, 2011, and had resided in Houston.
In April 2014, federal agents began investigating Al Hardan who had been communicating with a California man whom he understood was associated with Al-Nusrah front. In those communications, the individual told Al Hardan that he had previously traveled to Syria to fight for Al-Nusrah and discussed plans to return to Syria with Al Hardan to fight for Al-Nusrah.
Beginning in June 2014 and continuing through 2015, Al Hardan also developed a relationship with a confidential human source (CHS). During that time, they discussed traveling overseas to support ISIL in fighting jihad and various ways to assist ISIL. Al Hardan also said he wanted to be trained in building remote transmitter/receiver detonators for improvised explosive devices, wanted to learn to use cellphones as the remote detonators, and wanted to build remote detonators for ISIL. Al Hardan indicated he taught himself how to make remote detonators by accessing online training videos and other resources he found online, and showed the CHS a circuit board he built to be used as a transmitter for a detonator.
On Nov. 5, 2014, Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to ISIL, according to the plea agreement. Two days later, Al Hardan and the CHS participated in an hour of tactical weapons training with an AK-47 assault rifle that Al Hardan indicated he wanted.
During the investigation, Al Hardan had also posted many statements on social media in support of ISIL. One of those included a photo of a Humvee with an ISIL flag. Above the photo, Al Hardan posted, “ISIS yesterday in Iraq, today in Syria and Allah willing, tomorrow in Jerusalem.” He also made numerous statements about his plans to travel to Syria and fight alongside ISIL and become a martyr. In one instance he said: “I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin. I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America.”
Upon his arrest in January 2016, investigators discovered training CDs on how to build remote detonators, electronic circuitry components, tools used to build circuitry, multiple cellphones (that had not been activated), a prayer list for committing jihad and becoming a martyr, and the ISIL flag.
Al Hardan has been and will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which is set for Jan. 17, 2017. At that time, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and HSI conducted this investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Mark McIntyre and Ralph Imperato, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case with assistance of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.
ICE removes Romanian fugitive wanted for sex trafficking young women
PHOENIX – A Romanian national wanted in France for sex trafficking young women and forcing them into prostitution was turned over to Romanian authorities Wednesday at Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest, Romania, by deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Cosmin Diamant, 28, was transferred by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to the custody of the Romanian police. Diamant's repatriation follows his arrest at his Phoenix residence in April by officers with ERO and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). He was detained by ICE on administrative immigration violations after the agency learned through Interpol about an outstanding warrant issued by a French judge which charges him with human trafficking and forcing females into prostitution. In August, an immigration judge ordered Diamant removed from the U.S., paving the way for this week's repatriation.
According to that French warrant, issued Oct. 21, 2013, Diamant was involved in a large-scale international network that trafficked Romanian women to France where they were forced into prostitution. Convicted of the charges in absentia, Diamant was sentenced to five years in prison.
“Human traffickers who sexually exploit women for profit and believe they can evade justice by fleeing to the U.S. should heed this warning, ‘you'll find no refuge here,”' said Enrique Lucero, field office director for Phoenix. “ICE continues to work tirelessly to identify and repatriate fugitives like this individual to ensure they're made to answer for their alleged crimes.”
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,700 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with the HSI's Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the United States.
Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE tip line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE's online tip form.
LAPD Chief of Police, Charlie Beck
EDITOR's NOTE: Please also see article below about LAPD Police Commission's recent policy decisions
New use-of-force reforms are shift in focus, not disciplinary change
by Jacklyn Kim
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said a sweeping set of reforms approved by the Police Commission earlier this month won't have a huge impact on police training or policy, but will mean a new focus for both.
“I don't think there's gonna be a huge change,” Beck told Airtalk host Larry Mantle, “because we already do role-playing. We already do scenario-based training. We already have our fire arms trainings simulators. Much of this is in place, and it's a further refinement of things that we already do.”?
The reforms call for accountability in releasing video footage. They also require that officers favor non-lethal force and undergo de-escalation trainings. Beck said that would only serve to focus what the LAPD has already been doing in terms of training and protocol.
“We require an imminent threat of great bodily injury or death before we shoot," Beck said. "The chief of police can always discipline relative to not acting to your training or not acting to department policy — doesn't change that one bit."
Beck also spoke about the department's evolving policy on when to release officers' body camera footage, and a recent protest at an event featuring L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, among other issues.
You can hear the full interview above by clicking the blue playhead, or read more highlights below.
ON THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AS A “LAST RESORT”
Beck: Shooting is always a last resort, always has been. As a matter of fact, it's not the last resort, it's the only resort. We require an imminent threat of great bodily injury or death before we shoot…
The Police Commission is calling for de-escalation training, which we do, which we want to expand. They also want to move the wording of “last resort” into the policy piece on deadly force instead of in the training piece, and both of them control what officers' behavior is [...]
The chief of police can always discipline relative to not acting to your training or not acting to department policy, doesn't change that one bit […]
It is a focus, it is a highlighting, but is it a change? Did we ever have a shooting policy that wasn't last resort? Absolutely not. It's always the last resort […]
But I think what it does, and the importance of it and why the commission wants to do it is that it refocuses, or focuses, the police department on its core values regarding use of force. That deadly force is a last resort, that we should exhaust options before we use deadly force, and that we recognize the severity of that option.
ON WHEN TO RELEASE VIDEO FOOTAGE AND WHY
Beck: This is something that we're working on. This is something that's new to policing. It's being done about 100 different ways across the country right now, all of whom are looking for the right answer.
I think there is video that should not be released just because it's so graphic, it is so personal, it is so intrusive to the people involved. I think that there are many times that police officers are present when very, very bad things happen to people and I don't know that that should be part of the public conversation other than the fact that it happened. So we have to guard with that, guard for that.
One of the things that everybody agrees on, including me, is in those rare instances when police officers do violate the law in a use of force. It is extremely difficult to prosecute them, so the release of video does not make it easier. As a matter of fact all the prosecutors advise against it, [but] there are all of these competing desires.
ON THE TOWN HALL MEETING WITH LA COUNTY DA JACKIE LACEY
Beck: The problem is that whenever we shout somebody down, whenever we deny somebody else's right to express their point of view — first of all, we tear at the very fabric of democracy. We take away what is great about this country — that we can have a dialogue — and then we also stymie any attempt to move forward.
If all you're gonna do is yell at me then we are probably not gonna be able to build a bridge between us, and I think that is the tragedy of what's going on, and all of us see it...people not listening and just putting forth their opinion, where what we really need to get through these tough issues — like when to release video, like what kind of policing is legitimate, what kind of policing do we want — what we really need is dialogue.
We really need to hear each other, not talk at each other.
Interviews have been edited for clarity. Hear the full discussion by clicking the playhead above.
Guest: Charlie Beck, Chief, Los Angeles Police Department
LAPD Police Commission
LA Police Commission approves reforms designed to reduce police shootings, improve transparency at LAPD
by Frank Stoltze (written on October 11 2016 )
In a decision born out of the national uproar over police shooting at unarmed black men, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a sweeping set of reforms Tuesday aimed at getting officers to hold their fire.
One of the reforms requires officers to exhaust all non-lethal means before shooting, and practicing de-escalation during incidents. The department already teaches this in its academy for new recruits, but enacting it as policy means that officers could be disciplined for failing to see a reasonable alternative to shooting.
The package approved by the police commission also includes providing more training for officers to help them develop better de-escalation and verbal skills when confronted with a violent suspect.
Finally, the commission asked the department to come back in 90 days with specifics on how it can be more transparent after shootings. A report prepared by the Inspector General pointed to the Las Vegas Police Department as a model.
“Not only does that agency post a video statement regarding the incident on YouTube just hours after it happens, but the department also gives a comprehensive presentation to the media within the week summarizing the current information learned from the investigation up to that point,” the report said. “By contrast, information about an OIS incident provided by LAPD representatives at the scene and in subsequent press releases is generally limited.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck would not immediately endorse the Las Vegas approach, arguing his department releases a lot of information when it presents a shooting to the police commission. Critics say that's usually nearly a year later.
“Given the political climate…we are going to have to look at when it makes the most sense to release information,” Beck said. Last week, Beck violated his own guidelines and released video of a young man running around with a gun in his hand moments before he was shot by LAPD officers.
The reforms are a result of a directive from the police commission, which was issued several months ago. The commission asked the city's Inspector General to examine policing, training and transparency policies at other large city police departments around the county, particularly those with more progressive approaches. The Inspector General looked at policies in place at the San Diego, Las Vegas, Washington D.C. and Dallas police departments. After comparing those policies to LAPD policies, a report was submitted to the commission with reform recommendations.
Now that the commission has approved those recommendations, the chief and his staff have 90 days to develop specific language and policies to present to the police commission. That report will illuminate their level of support for these reforms.
A myriad of other policing issues were buried in the report, including how fast officers who shoot are returned to patrol. Commission President Matt Johnson noted the LAPD sometimes returns officers to the field within days after just one meeting with a department psychiatrist.
“Is that enough?” he asked.
Black Lives Matter activists were not in the room when the commission approved what some considered the panel's most important step toward reducing police shootings. Screaming activists had been thrown out of the meeting more than hour beforehand. They were invited to return but declined, according to the LAPD.
Police union leaders have denounced the proposals, worried it will make officers hesitant to shoot, thus endangering their own lives.
Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa said the commission wants to reduce shootings, but know it's impossible to have none.
Registered Sex Offender Accused of Killing California Deputy
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A sheriff's deputy shot dead in rural northern California was killed by a man listed in state records as a registered sex offender shortly after the deputy arrived at a home to investigate a domestic disturbance, authorities said Thursday.
Deputy Jack Hopkins, 31, died instantly Wednesday morning and the suspect, Jack Lee Breiner, was arrested after a chase and shootout with another officer that left both wounded, the Modoc County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
Hopkins was the fourth California law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty over the last two weeks.
Breiner is listed in California's sex offender registry as having committed lewd or lascivious acts with a child ages 14 or 15 and annoying or molesting a child under age 18. The sheriff's office did not return calls seeking additional comment about Breiner.
Modoc County District Attorney Jordan Funk told the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper that Breiner was still hospitalized Thursday and it was too early to say what charges he would face but that the intentional killing of an on-duty police officer is punishable by the death penalty.
The killing of Hopkins happened at a property about eight miles south of the town of Alturas, population 3,000, which bills itself as a place "where the west still lives" near California's border with Oregon.
The sheriff's office statement did not describe where on the property Hopkins was shot but said the deputy had "entered the property to investigate the call when he confronted the main suspect" and was killed.
It characterized the call Hopkins was responding to as a domestic disturbance but did not provide further details.
"The entire law enforcement community of our region and state grieves the irrevocable loss of deputy Hopkins," the sheriff's office said.
After Hopkins was killed, Breiner fled in a vehicle and was wounded in a shootout with Modoc County Sheriff Mike Poindexter, who was also responding to the disturbance call, the statement said. Poindexter suffered an unspecified minor wound.
Hopkins joined the sheriff's department last year, after working for the Alturas Police department, the sheriff's office said.
"He was a good friend, good law enforcement officer," Sgt. Mike Main told the Redding Record Searchlight. "He meant a lot to all of us, and we're all hurting."
His death comes after two Palm Springs police officers were shot and killed Oct. 8 responding a domestic disturbance call and after a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant was gunned down Oct. 6 in the high desert town of Lancaster while answering a burglary call.
The killings in California are the latest in a string of fatal attacks on officers that includes ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Modoc County is nestled between the Nevada and Oregon borders, in California's high desert region.
It spans about 4,000 square miles and its northern part is called the Modoc Plateau — a mile high expanse of lava flows, cinder cones, juniper flats, and pine forests.
Recreational enthusiasts flock to the nearly Modoc National Forest for hunting, hiking and fishing.
Hopkins body was being taken Thursday to relatives in Redding, California.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Report Released
41 Officers Feloniously Killed in 2015
Today, the FBI released its annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report—this one covering the 41 felonious deaths, the 45 accidental deaths, and the 50,212 line-of-duty assaults of officers during 2015.
Among the report's highlights:
- The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2015—41—decreased from the 2014 figure of 51. The average age of the officers killed feloniously in 2015 was 40, and the average length of service was 12 years.
- Of the 41 officers feloniously killed, 38 were male and three were female. More than half—29—were on vehicle patrol when the incidents happened. Thirty-eight of these 41 officers were killed with firearms, and 30 of those were wearing body armor at the time. For more details on each incident, read the summaries section of the report.
- Motor vehicles played a key role in the deaths of the 45 law enforcement officers accidentally killed in the line of duty—29 were involved in automobile accidents, four were killed in motorcycle accidents, and another seven were struck by vehicles while directing traffic, assisting motorists, executing traffic stops, etc.
- Of the 50,212 officers assaulted while performing their duties in 2015, 14,281 (or 28.4 percent) sustained injuries. And 79 percent of the officers who were assaulted in the line of duty were attacked with personal weapons (such as hands or feet).
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted also contains a separate section on federal law enforcement officers who were killed or assaulted in the line of duty during 2015.
Update to LEOKA Program data collection.
Effective March 23, 2016, the LEOKA Program expanded its data collection to include the data of military and civilian police and law enforcement officers of the Department of Defense (DoD) who are performing a law enforcement function/duty and who are not in a combat or deployed status (sent outside the U.S. to a specific military support role mission). This includes DoD police and law enforcement officers who perform policing and criminal investigative functions while stationed (not deployed) on overseas bases, just as if they were based in the United States. The new information will be contained in the 2016 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted , which will be released later in 2017. Read more on the criteria used to determine suitability for inclusion in the LEOKA report.
In addition to collecting details about the critical aspects of fatal confrontations and assaults—and sharing that information with our law enforcement partners, government and civic leaders, researchers, and the public in general—the FBI's LEOKA Program conducts extensive research on the data that eventually gets incorporated into officer safety awareness training the Bureau provides.
Los Angeles Region
Failure to prosecute officers for bad shootings underscores need for discipline disclosure
The LA Times Editorial Board
The important difference between the decision by Los Angeles County prosecutors not to criminally charge Long Beach Police Officer Jeffrey Meyer for his deadly shooting of a man in 2015 and their many previous decisions not to charge police in shootings is that they pointedly took Meyer to task for substantial “tactical deficiencies” that needlessly turned an investigation deadly.
As reported by The Times on Saturday, Meyer was responding to a trespassing call when he illuminated a dark apartment with a light mounted on his handgun, saw a crouching man, feared he was armed, and fired. His bullet killed 19-year-old Hector Morejon, who was unarmed. The critique of Meyer's actions came in a memo dated Sept. 22.
Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has been sharply criticized for failing to bring charges against officers at a time when high-profile police shootings have stoked public anger in Los Angeles and around the nation. Lacey has responded that her role is limited to demonstrating in court beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer broke the law. She has argued, correctly, that it is the job of police agencies themselves and not the criminal justice system to determine whether an officer used improper tactics, acted out of policy, needs to be retrained or deserves to fired.
So Lacey's decision to go beyond her official duties and criticize Meyer's conduct even though she opted not to file charges is noteworthy.
Some of the frustration felt by members of the public ... is beginning to be felt in police stations and district attorney's offices.
It also brings to mind the call early this year by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck that criminal charges were warranted in another 2015 shooting — the killing by LAPD Officer Clifford Proctor of Brendon Glenn, an unarmed homeless man. In both the Los Angeles shooting and the Long Beach case a public official found police wrongdoing and strongly suggested that action was called for — by another agency.
The statements hint that some of the frustration felt by members of the public at the many-layered and somewhat convoluted response to excessive police uses of force — the feeling that they are being given the runaround, that no official is ultimately accountable for bad police shootings and that the system is constructed to shield officers and leave the public wondering what happened and why — is beginning to be felt in police stations and district attorney's offices. It's as if law enforcement and justice leaders agree that something is amiss and someone must do something about it. But who? And, almost as important, when?
Lacey's office has had Glenn's case under review for the better part of a year but has yet to decide whether to bring charges against the officer.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Police Commission asked the LAPD to report back on a series of steps to make the responses to police shootings quicker and more transparent, similar to the public disclosure and presentation that generally occurs a week after police uses of force involving the Las Vegas Police Department.
LAPD officials have cautioned that they keep much of their investigation into police shootings out of the public eye to avoid undermining any concurrent criminal probe by Lacey's office. But there is a question about how much protection to give a district attorney process that has never, so far, resulted in any charges arising from any on-duty police shooting.
In the Long Beach case, the city has already paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Morejon's family, but it's not clear whether the official stance of the police department is that Meyer acted properly or improperly, that training and tactics are fine or flawed, or whether officers who find themselves in a similar position should act as Meyer did or behave differently. That's unclear because the department does not reveal the outcomes of its shooting review board.
At present, neither Long Beach nor Los Angeles, nor any California police agency, can fully embrace the Las Vegas model of transparency and responsiveness because of state laws adopted in the 1970s to protect officer privacy. Until a 2014 state Supreme Court ruling — arising from a Long Beach police shooting — law enforcement agencies in California seldom even released the names of the officers who pulled the trigger.
This year a bill to further restore some balance to the tug-of-war between officers' right to privacy and a public demanding accountability quietly died in Sacramento. That's a shame. A version of the bill that was floated a decade earlier received the loud support of L.A.'s then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton. As a new Legislature is elected and sets its agenda for 2017, it would be wise for lawmakers to dust off that bill — and for Lacey, Beck, Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and their counterparts in other cities and counties around California to support it.
Our relationship with cops is not one of equals. Nor should it be.
by William Choslovsky
Reading about the Chicago cop fearful of drawing her gun while being beaten by a convicted felon because she did not want to be judged on national news reminds me that it is time to talk straight about cops.
Cops are not our friends. Nor should they be.
To be sure, they are not our enemies either.
Rather, they are here to do a job. A tough job. A job that is, frankly, boring some of the time, but then can turn on a dime into a life-or-death encounter.
This was the case with the officer who arrived at the scene of a recent car accident on a weekday at midmorning. Normally a routine encounter, it instantly turned near deadly.
In contrast, for most of the rest of us at work, things don't change that quickly, and if they do, the consequences — a missed deadline, lost customer, blown commission, delayed promotion — are much different.
So all this talk about mending relations between the police and community — though good and well-intended — misses the basic premise that this is not a relationship of equals.
If anything we, the public, should be the police's friend, but they are not here to be our friend.
What some call the "Ferguson Effect" — meaning cops are reluctant to engage with civilians and criminals — I call common sense. Really, given today's climate, why would a cop get out of his or her squad car in a potentially dangerous situation?
Criminals — gang members especially — know cops have been neutered and made hesitant. And the criminals naturally react to "market conditions," which here means more crime, committed more brazenly.
The Tribune recently posted a video of cops being taunted and confronted by a group of young men at a crime scene. This occurred after a crime had been committed when police were securing the crime scene.
A group of young men approach police officers investigating a shooting in the 7100 block of South Paulina Street early on Aug. 26, 2016. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Think about that: young people taunting, if not threatening, police trying to solve a crime.
If you were one of those cops, besides being outraged, you would silently — and rightly — be thinking: "Who needs this?"
I actually think the "average" citizen in all communities — and especially crime-ridden, minority communities — wants cops to remain vigilant, engaged and aggressive. That is, citizens want an advocate looking out for, and when necessary fighting for, them.
Simply put, they want the cops to beat the bad guys.
I know, some argue the problem is that cops have, at times, become the proverbial bad guys.
But the rogue cop remains the rare exception. What's changed is the arrival of the ubiquitous video camera.
Yes, one "innocent" wronged is one too many, but some perspective sure would be nice amid all the hysteria.
Of course these problems did not occur in a vacuum. They have been long-brewing and reflect issues far bigger and deeper than police misconduct.
It's just that police, being on the front lines, are the first to see problems and the first to have to respond.
It is also true that, even if the relationship is necessarily imbalanced, it is still a relationship that — to work — must be based on trust. And in this regard the police must do better to rebuild trust.
All said, as we work — and struggle — to redefine the relationship between cops and community, we should not forget that the relationship is not, and should not be, one of equals.
William Choslovsky is a lawyer who works and lives in Chicago.
National - Dept of Justice
Justice Department Will Track Police Killings And Use Of Force
by BILL CHAPPELL
Promising information that is more standardized and complete than has previously been available, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Department of Justice will collect data on the police use of deadly force in the line of duty.
Lynch's announcement amplifies a statement by FBI Director James Comey at the end of September, when he told a congressional panel that the bureau is in the process of setting up a database that can track police killings and other use of force during interactions with the public.
The Justice Department plans to have a pilot program collecting data in early 2017.
"Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations," Lynch said today. "The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve."
In addition to collecting data, the FBI's pilot program will study the methodology used to collect that information. The agency's announcement of the pilot program also calls for public comment — "from all interested parties, including local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement, civil rights organizations and other community stakeholders."
A lack of a national database became a sticking point in recent years, particularly after a string of high-profile cases in which unarmed black men died at the hands of police. Attempts to fill that void have included the website Fatal Encounters, as well as a Washington Post database that tracks how many people are shot and killed by police. So far in 2016, the Post reports that law enforcement officers have killed 754 people.
According to the FBI, "The pilot study participants are expected to include the largest law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service."
The push for collecting such data has also brought legislative action. From the Justice Department announcement:
"In 2014, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA), which required states and federal law enforcement agencies to submit data to the department about civilians who died during interactions with law enforcement or in their custody (whether resulting from use of force or some other manner of death, such as suicide or natural causes) and authorized the Attorney General to impose a financial penalty on non-compliant states."
Noting that the law doesn't require the collection of nonlethal force, the Justice Department says it will also work to amass that data.
Law Enforcement: Prop. 57 Will Put 'Hard-Core Criminals' Back on Streets
(video on site)
by City News Service
A group of law enforcement officials gathered in downtown Los Angeles Thursday to blast a measure on the November ballot billed as an effort to keep "non-violent" convicts out of prison, saying the proposition will put dangerous people back on the streets.
"Do we really need more parolees and hard-core criminals on the streets? That's what Proposition 57 does," said Brian Moriguchi, president of the Professional Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles.
The proposition, backed heavily by Gov. Jerry Brown, would allow parole consideration for people convicted of "non-violent" felonies after serving the minimum amount of time required as part of their sentence and authorize the awarding of sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior and education.
It would also give judges the final say over whether juvenile offenders at least 14 years old should be prosecuted as adults. Brown and other backers of the measure insist it will put an emphasis on rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of felons to commit new crimes.
Southern California Images in the News
They also deny that it will put violent offenders back on the streets, and even non- violent offenders eligible under the proposition would have to prove they are rehabilitated and do not present a danger to the public before they are released.
But Moriguchi and other officials -- including Sheriff Jim McDonnell, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich -- said the measure is essentially an effort by the state to relieve its prison- overcrowding problem at the expense of community safety.
Southern California Crimes Caught on Camera
Moriguchi said the recent killings of Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen and Palm Springs police Officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gilbert Vega were carried out by parolees. Antonovich said Proposition 57 will follow the path of legislation known as AB 109, which redirected some low-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons, often leading to them serving less time than they otherwise would.
He said that legislation was also expected to apply to only "non- violent" offenders. "What happened? Seventy percent are either high-risk or very high risk," Antonovich said. "It's time that we wake up and get realistic," he said. "We need to protect our communities, we need to protect our people. ... We need to unite to return this state to a Golden State where it's safe to walk the streets instead of having fear where people in the community are now having to buy private security to supplement the local law enforcement to protect their property and protect their lives and families."
Supporters of the measure deny allegations that the measure would result in felons being automatically released from prison or authorize parole for violent offenders.
"Overcrowded and unconstitutional conditions led the U.S. Supreme Court to order the state to reduce its prison population," Brown and other supporters wrote in its ballot argument in favor of the measure. "Now, without a common-sense, long-term solution, we will continue to waste billions and risk a court-ordered release of dangerous prisoners. This is an unacceptable outcome that puts Californians in danger -- and this is why we need Prop 57."
No on Prop 57: The increasing burden of crime
by TIM WARD and JASON SALAZAR
Ninety nine police officers have lost their lives this year, 44 of them from gunfire. There has been a 78% increase in shooting deaths compared to last year and ambush style attacks have increased as well.
In October alone, five officers have been killed, three here in California. The murderers of these police officers are exactly the types of criminals Proposition 57 seeks to release back into our communities. Who is going to interact with these criminals who benefit from an early release? That could be anyone, anywhere, at any time, but one thing is certain, our women and men in uniform will be face to face with these offenders.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen, Palm Springs Officers Jose Vega and Lesley Zerebny met their deaths from two criminals who had been in and out of prison.
How much crime is an average Californian expected to accept while we experiment at the ballot box? It is a basic human right not live under the siege and tyranny of criminals.
Over and over again, Californians are faced with ballot measures to improve the lives of convicted criminals disguised as ‘crime prevention and/or public safety.' This November is no different, in support of Proposition 57, the San Francisco Chronicle described it as an opportunity to “encourage nonviolent offenders to use their prison time to improve themselves.”
That sounds so simple, so idyllic, that non-violent offenders will now participate in rehabilitative programs because finally there is an incentive to do so. Proponents would have you believe that now misguided thieves, rapists, and burglars will get that missing message that will put them back on the straight and narrow.
The Los Angeles Times also recommends voting yes on Proposition 57, that it's a “much-needed check on prosecutorial power.” Make no mistake, California media has decided who the “bad guys” are and it is not the criminals, it is prosecutors and police officers. When decriminalization and shorter penalties are the goals, proponents must declare law enforcement the enemy since it is our responsibility to arrest and prosecute the very criminals our governor would like released.
Despite what the LA Times may print, our current system of criminal justice does have checks and balances. The U.S. Constitution, the State Constitution, along with numerous ethical restrictions and guidelines, provide a framework for criminal charges.
Victims of crime generally have two questions for a deputy district attorney, how many times will I have to come to court and when is he/she going to get out? If Prop 57 passes, no district attorney in the state will be able to answer that second question by relying on what sentence the judge has imposed. The answer will depend on how crowded the prison is, it will depend on what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recommends, and it will depend on the defendant's participation in programs. Yes, it will give the CDCR the constitutional authority to reduce sentences for “good behavior.”
Part of the bamboozling of the public is the packaging of this proposition as giving an opportunity for reform to non-violent offenders . Here are the crimes the governor believes are non-violent and therefore eligible for reduced sentences: rape by intoxication, rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving sex act with minors, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, taking a hostage, domestic violence involving trauma, supplying a firearm to a gang member, lewd acts with a child, hate crime causing physical injury, failing to register as sex offender, arson causing great bodily injury, felon obtaining a firearm, discharging a firearm on school grounds, and false imprisonment of an elder.
Read that list again and look for all the crimes that target vulnerable victims. The criminals who enslave and sell minors, who rape women and men after they're rendered helpless, criminals who harm children and the elderly – these are criminals who will be released back into our communities early, based on participation in a program. This proposition will also overturn key provisions of Marsy's Law, the Three-Strikes Law, the Victims' Bill of Rights, Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, and the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act, all of which were enacted by Californians to protect victims and prevent further victimization.
Proposition 57 will only compound the effects of Proposition 47 – The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which passed in November 2014. Proposition 47 reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, including theft and drug offenses, that directly affect the quality of life in a community. Prior to the passage of Proposition 47, California was experiencing a 10-year trend of decreasing crime, as was the rest of the nation. After the passage of Prop 47, California's crime rates have increased while the rest of the country has seen property crime reductions. Prop 47 has not lived up to its name, and neither will Prop 57.
Your local law enforcement partners have made great strides in the past few years to reduce gang-related violence, to reduce gun violence, and to address the human trafficking tragedy and sex crimes in our communities. Proposition 57 threatens public safety through the early release of violent criminals and straining resources that force us to become more reactive, rather than proactive to prevent crime and maintain our quality of life.
This act will not promote public safety. The very population the Governor is seeking to release has a return to prison rate of nearly 50%. This is according to CDCR's own statistics not partisan politics. This is yet another gamble on crime disguised as public safety, we don't think 50% is a safe bet.
Every single day, deputy district attorneys answer “ready for the people” and every day (and night) police officers start their shifts “clear for calls,” with the intent to make our community safe. Please join us in voting NO on Prop 57.
Tim Ward is district attorney of Tulare County; Jason Salazar is chief of police in Visalia. The concerns they cite affect Monterey County as well.
A proposition to legalize pot raises DUI concerns: 'We are going to start losing folks in astronomical numbers'
by Patrick McGreevy
The defendant told an LAPD officer he had smoked pot five hours before he was pulled over on Melrose Avenue for driving erratically. A blood test found a significant level of the chemical THC in his system, and a drug recognition expert ruled he was too impaired to drive safely.
But a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deadlocked on whether the young, off-duty valet had committed a crime by driving under the influence of marijuana, which he said he smokes for back pain and anxiety.
Similar outcomes are being seen all over California by law enforcement officials who say an initiative that would legalize recreational use of pot fails to properly address the issue of drugged driving.
In the Los Angeles case, 11 jurors voted to acquit. Only one juror voted to find the motorist guilty.
The jurors said they could not convict largely because there is no standard set in California law for what concentration of THC in the blood renders a driver unsafe, according to Josefina Frausto, the deputy public defender on the case.
“The jurors said that they needed a standard before they could figure out whether he was impaired or not,” she said.
As Californians prepare to vote next month on Proposition 64, which would allow recreational use of marijuana, many law enforcement leaders and prosecutors warn that the state is ill-prepared to handle an expected significant increase in people driving under the influence of pot.
Doug Villars, president of the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen, one of several criminal justice groups to oppose Proposition 64, said it's a big concern.
“We should get all the experts in a room before we ever enact the law and say, ‘This is what the standards should be,' so that we who enforce the laws are given the tools to be able to remove these people from the roadways when they are under the influence of marijuana,” Villars added.
Proposition 64 would allow Californians to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes, and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. The measure would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.
The tax would generate $1 billion annually, including $15 million during the first five years for the California Highway Patrol to train law enforcement officers in the techniques to detect impaired driving and to establish statewide protocols and standards for identifying impaired drivers, according to a review by the state's independent legislative analyst.
An additional $125 million would be provided through local law enforcement grants to provide additional training and technology for officers to better detect and arrest those who are driving under the influence of drugs.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the highest elected official in the state to support the initiative, said it would help develop standards for enforcing safe driving laws.
“Tens of millions will be set aside for research and development, also on research in partnership with the California Highway Patrol on driving under the influence of drugs, which is a concern that everyone should have now as it relates to our lack of any standards and protocols,” Newsom said last month.
Law enforcement groups that oppose Proposition 64, including the California Police Chiefs Assn., the California District Attorneys Assn., the California Narcotic Officers Assn., the California Peace Officers Assn. and the California State Sheriffs' Assn., argue that standards need to be in place before voters consider legalization.
“You are commercializing a product that is just going to put more impaired drivers on the road, worsening a problem that we already have,” said Newark Police Chief James Leal, a board member for the chiefs association.
But the initiative is also supported by some in law enforcement, including Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the National Latino Officers Assn. and Stephen Downing, a former LAPD deputy chief.
Downing, who is on the board of directors of a pot product marketing firm, Cannabis Sativa Inc., said marijuana has been used improperly by drivers for years and law enforcement could have asked for development of a blood-level standard at any time in the past. He noted Proposition 64 provides money to study the issue.
“The use of marijuana is already there,” he said. “If they are driving under the influence of marijuana, they are already doing it. My question is, why is this an issue now?”
Opponents point to a study last month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a group of law enforcement agencies that said marijuana-related traffic deaths in Colorado increased 48% since 2013, when that state legalized recreational use of marijuana.
Updates from Sacramento
An AAA report on Washington, where recreational use is legal, found that the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents who had recently used marijuana more than doubled to 17% between 2013 and 2014.
“In the state of California we are going to start losing folks in astronomical numbers before we finally realize maybe we didn't look at it thoroughly enough,” Villars said.
Marijuana activists point out that just because THC is in the system of a motorist involved in a fatal crash, there is no proof that it caused impairment that led to the accident.
Adding to the concern of opponents, law enforcement officers say new techniques by marijuana manufacturers and growers mean an increase in the potency of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects.
“What officers are seeing with THC levels being very high is they are seeing impairment being far worse than they have ever seen in the past,” Leal said.
But when officers make arrests, prosecutors can face a difficult time getting convictions. In the year that ended in September 2015, prosecutors in a special section of the Los Angeles city attorney's office reviewed 1,125 cases of alleged driving under the influence of drugs, filed charges in 675 of the cases, but won pleas or convictions in only 248 cases, or 36% of those filed.
“The conviction rate is significantly less in these cases than in [drunk driving] cases,” said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Droeger, whose agency prosecutes drugged driving cases in 78 cities in Los Angeles County, excluding the city of Los Angeles.
Juries want the same kind of scientific standard of impairment as exists with alcohol applied to marijuana, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles Chaiyarachta.
“It's definitely a little harder in a sense of with alcohol, there are scientific studies that have been done,” he said.
In marijuana cases, special drug recognition officers have to evaluate those arrested and make a finding that they are impaired, which is corroborated by a blood test showing active THC in the person's blood.
Alarmed by an increase in drugged driving cases, L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey launched a new program to train more drug recognition officers and provide more machines to the sheriff's crime lab to do THC tests on blood.
Still, many juries don't buy that those steps provide enough evidence that a motorist is impaired by marijuana.
“The problem we have in prosecuting cases now is that without a set THC limit, you are really rolling the dice with the juries,” Leal said. “You are finding district attorneys are having a hard time prosecuting cases or they are declining to prosecute because they are having a harder time winning.”
He said the police chiefs support the adoption of a “per se” drugged driving law, which makes the presence of marijuana above an established level in a motorist's body evidence of impaired driving. The chiefs support setting the standard at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, Leal said, which is the law in Washington, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The valet driver whose case was tossed because of a hung jury had 8.4 nanograms of THC per milliliter in his system.
Leal said the lack of such a standard in Proposition 64 is a fatal flaw. The proponents of the initiative disagree.
“The initiative does not include a ‘per se' standard because such standards have been shown to be ineffective in other states due to the fact that THC remains in a person's system long after the impairing effects have subsided,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the campaign.
He said proponents of the initiative consulted with the California Highway Patrol and decided to allow law enforcement experts to determine separately whether a THC limit should be established, based on research already authorized by the state.
The dispute has forced other groups concerned with traffic safety to pick sides. The Automobile Club of Southern California is among those that have decided to oppose Proposition 64.
“It has taken generations to educate the driving public about driving and to strengthen laws to reduce drunk driving,” the group said in a statement last month. “Proposition 64 would create new traffic-safety issues and increase the problem of impaired driving.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey Walks Out of Heated Town Hall Meeting
(video on site)
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey tried to hold a town hall meeting, but things got so heated, she ended up walking out.
Lacey thought the meeting could offer a chance to explain how her office operates and also explain the law, especially as it pertains to officer-involved shootings.
"I think that the district attorney's office and the role is misunderstood," Lacey said at the meeting, to which community members in the crowd yelled back, "No it's not."
Lacey attempted to explain herself, but the crowd yelled over her. Community members from various groups and people whose loved ones were shot and killed by police voiced their anger and frustration at Lacey.
One person asked, "How long are you going to let these rogue officers keep killing our kids?"
"You are an elected official. You serve the people who elected you," yelled another woman, holding up a sign.
Eventually, some people in the audience were able to address Lacey with their concerns.
"When this city burns, it will be your fault," said one audience member. After that comment, Lacey walked out.
The district attorney told Eyewitness News that people were exercising their First Amendment rights, but she wasn't able to have a dialogue.
"Sometimes there's confusion between our jurisdiction and other jurisdictions," Lacey said. "For instance in Baltimore, you can file a case based on probable cause, but in our jurisdiction, it's got to be you can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt."
Although she did very little speaking at the meeting, Lacey says she was listening.
"All loss of life is painful, and I want them to know that while they may disagree with me, I'm a DA who care."
from Dept of Homeland Security / ICE
ICE Investigators Expose Darknet Criminals to the Light
The stark, white walls of the Cyber Crimes Center are a direct contradiction to the work that takes place within them. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Cyber Crimes Unit investigators submerge themselves in the world of illicit criminal activity that takes place in the shadows of the Darknet.
The Darknet, a subset of the darkweb, or deepweb, is a place where illegal activity thrives and criminals function in perceived anonymity. The Darknet requires specialized software and permission to gain access. Cyber Crimes Center Deputy Assistant Director (DAD), Patrick Lechleitner said,
“The Darknet is not a very sophisticated or special place; it just requires specific permission or access to get into it.”
ICE HSI takes a straightforward role in combating illegal activity on the Darknet. Their workload has increased in recent years as criminal activity has infiltrated the cyber environment. As a criminal investigative unit, HSI and its agents combat criminal activity on the Darknet the same way they do offline: one step at a time.
The Darknet contains shopping-focused websites similar to what is found on the Internet. The sites are called ‘marketplaces,' and their size can change quickly depending on the attention paid to them says DAD Lechleitner - “Various factors can drive the popularity and size of a marketplace; for example, proprietors will change them or move them around to avoid law enforcement and the scrutiny will drive marketplaces to change.”
Investigators see familiar crimes taking place on the Darknet. Cyber investigations sometimes begin as traditional in nature then progress into the cyber environment. HSI was one of the primary agencies on the Silk Road investigation that revealed large-scale illegal drug and contraband smuggling through the U.S. Postal Service. The investigation eventually led to activity taking place on Darknet marketplaces. “This case, along with Black Market Reloaded, represented a new and evolving area, cyber investigation, for law enforcement that continues to this day,” said DAD Lechleitner.
Investigators discovered a plethora of black market goods available on Silk Road. There were various illegal drugs including heroin, Ecstasy, LSD, marijuana and steroids. Also, illegal weapons, books on how to construct bombs, counterfeit identification and counterfeit merchandise.
Many criminals believe they are operating under a cloak of anonymity when transacting illicit business on the Darknet. This could not be further from the truth. ICE, along with its domestic and foreign partners, is actively engaged in countering Darknet activity. DAD Lechleitner warned; “If you're conducting illicit activities on the Darknet, there are a lot of risks associated with that and you are not totally anonymous. You shouldn't be doing anything illicit on the darkweb or the open web for that matter. If you are conducting any illicit activity on the darkweb, there are consequences and federal law enforcement is watching.”
Illegal drugs are one of the most dangerous categories of goods marketed on the Darknet. The anonymous nature of the Darknet lends itself to the illegal trafficking of controlled substances. The criminals who market and sell illegal drugs online do not have to work hard to find customers. Illegal drug users are drawn to the convenience and anonymity of buying on the Darknet. These customers are risking their lives by ordering substances that come from an anonymous source. The perceived anonymity of the transaction only heightens the risk. ICE continues to do what it can. DAD Lechleitner explained: “HSI has a major role in combating the transnational smuggling of illicit drugs. We go after those substances in the dark marketplaces just as we would in the real world.”
HSI Special Agent Jared DerYeghiayan, Chicago, Illinois, has firsthand, extensive knowledge of the Silk Road investigation and Operation Dime Store. He served as the case agent for the operation, analyzed drugs that were seized, compiled evidence, conducted interviews with suspects and participated in arrests.
Operation Dime Store started as a HSI Chicago RAC/O'Hare investigation in summer, 2011. The operation was in response to small drug seizures taking place at the Chicago mail hub. The seizures were unusual, as shipments of that kind were not usually received through letter mail, were coming from international sources in abundance, and were being shipped all over the United States. ICE HSI opened an investigation to look into the specific source of the drugs. Operation Dime Store led agents to the Darknet site Silk Road. Once the breadth and influence of the site was ascertained, HSI's goals were to find a way to shut down the site, intercept packages to identify vendors, identify the recipients of the shipments and make the drug seizures stop. There was much information to disseminate; in almost three years of operation, more than 1.5 million transactions took place.
The investigators employed a number of different investigative techniques to track drug shipments that were being seized in Chicago. SA DerYeghiayan explained: “We analyzed the fingerprints on packaging, analyzed seized drugs, looked for trends and clues that could lead us to where the site was hosted and made undercover purchases to infiltrate the website. We wanted to identify the vendors.”
As the investigation progressed, SA DerYeghiayan went undercover and eventually became a top lieutenant for the Silk Road website. The work of HSI investigators resulted in the shut down of Silk Road and the arrest of its owner and operator, Ross W. Ulbricht.
In January 2015, the case went to trial in the Southern District of New York and exposed many ways the Silk Road site facilitated the illegal drug trade all over the world and how Ulbricht ran his criminal organization. SA DerYeghiayan served as the lead witness for the government in the Silk Road trial. The result for Ulbricht was a guilty verdict on all counts, including continuing criminal enterprise, hacking, drug smuggling, money laundering and document fraud. He was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.
SA DerYeghiayan said, “The most satisfying part of this investigation was shutting down the website and stopping the dangerous flow of drugs and weapons across the world; it was very important for me to shut down that website.”
HSI is fully committed to stopping cybercrime and protecting U.S. citizens. DAD Lechleitner warned: “The average American is at risk from Darknet activity in many ways. The illicit nature of the Darknet relates itself to unscrupulous behavior including the theft of personal identification and the existence of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. What people really need to know is when you are conducting what you think is a lawful transaction on the Darknet, you can't be sure it is lawful. You are putting yourself at a huge risk.”
Cyber Crimes Center
Combating Criminal Activity Conducted or Facilitated by the Internet
One of HSI's top priorities is to combat criminal activity conducted on or facilitated by the Internet.
HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3) delivers computer-based technical services to support domestic and international investigations into cross-border crime.
C3 is made up of the Cyber Crimes Unit, the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit and the Computer Forensics Unit. This state-of-the-art center offers cyber-crime support and training to federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies. C3 also operates a fully equipped computer forensics laboratory, which specializes in digital evidence recovery, and offers training in computer investigative and forensic skills.
Computer Forensics Unit
As the use of computers and digital devices has become widespread, C3's Computer Forensics Unit has grown to address the investigative challenges of a digital world. These devices have greatly increased the volume of data that HSI special agents must examine during the course of an investigation. In addition, HSI investigators now must manage digital evidence that is highly volatile, mobile and subject to encryption by any user. This makes recovery and stewardship of evidence challenging.
Computer forensics agents/analysts are HSI investigators or analysts trained to perform forensic examinations of seized digital storage devices, such as computer hard drives, flash drives, PDAs, mobile phones, DVDs, CDs and tape media. They use all available digital evidence recovery techniques to preserve an item's authenticity and integrity while maintaining a strict chain of custody.
Computer forensics agents are located in HSI field offices throughout the world to provide expertise on investigative strategies and to assist case agents in preparing search warrants targeting digital evidence. They are also called upon to furnish expert computer forensic testimony in criminal trials and to provide support to state and local law enforcement.
Child Exploitation Investigations Unit
C3's Child Exploitation Investigations Unit is a powerful tool in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children; the production, advertisement and distribution of child pornography; and child sex tourism.
This unit uses sophisticated investigative techniques to target violators who operate on the Internet, including the use of websites, email, chat rooms and file-sharing applications.
Major initiatives include the following:
- Operation Predator: HSI's flagship investigative initiative for targeting sexual predators, child pornographers and child sex tourists.
- The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT): An international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private-sector partners working together to fight online child sexual exploitation and abuse. HSI is a founding member and current chair of the VGT.
- The National Child Victim Identification System (NCVIS): This system was developed to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of child sexual exploitation.
- Victim Identification Program (VIP): The use of technological and investigative capabilities and resources to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation. The VIP focuses on identifying and rescuing children who have been depicted in child abuse material.
- In addition, ICE has partnered with other agencies (including the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces), foreign law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations (such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children). These partnerships have enabled C3 to successfully investigate leads and assist in identifying violators and associates all over the world.
Cyber Crimes Unit
C3's Cyber Crimes Unit provides the management and oversight of the agency's cyber related investigations by focusing on the transnational criminal organizations that use cyber capabilities to further their criminal enterprise.
This unit provides training, investigative support and guidance to HSI field offices in emerging cyber technologies as well as subject matter expertise in cyber related investigations related to the following areas:
- Identity and benefit document fraud;
- Money laundering;
- Financial fraud (including e-payment fraud and Internet gambling);
- Commercial fraud;
- Counter-proliferation investigations;
- Narcotics trafficking; and
- Illegal exports.
The Cyber Crimes Unit is also involved in the investigation of national and international cyber criminals and coordinates the dissemination of investigative leads worldwide.
- HSI special agents also have the authority to investigate the illegal movement of people and goods across U.S. borders, and because the Internet is borderless, the sharing of contraband online is an international crime.
- With 200 U.S. offices and more than 70 offices overseas, HSI has the ability to follow a case wherever in the world it may lead. HSI special agents stationed internationally work with foreign governments, Interpol and others to enhance coordination and cooperation on crimes that cross borders.
- HSI has 278 computer forensics agents and analysts assigned to various field offices.
- In fiscal year 2014, HSI processed more than 5,200 terabytes (or 5.2 petabytes) of data. That is the equivalent of 83 billion pages of images or 95 billion pages of Powerpoint files.
- The volume of data that HSI field offices have presented for computer forensic examination has increased by more than 4,000% from 2004 to 2012.
- In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,300 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under Operation Predator and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
- HSI participates on all 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces across the United States, which are led by state and local law enforcement agencies.
- ICE is the current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private sector partners dedicated to combating online child sexual abuse.
Recent examples of the types of cases investigated and supported by C3 include:
- Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0 – a darknet underground marketplace selling controlled substances and illegal services like computer hacking, creation of fraudulent identification documents and money laundering.
- Black Market Reloaded – another underground online marketplace selling a variety of illegal goods, including poisons, firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items.
- Scams Are Us – an ongoing investigation into more than 200 transnational criminals in 17 countries using advanced internet proxy services, malware, and spamming to steal identity information and financial data.
- The Expendables 3 – an investigation into the cyber theft of intellectual property conducted by HSI Los Angeles when hackers obtained access to the cloud storage of Lions Gate Entertainment and stole a copy of the yet unaired movie. As a result of the Los Angeles investigation and with assistance from HSI Attaché London, City of London Police executed search warrants and arrested three suspects.
- Operation Round Table – one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in the history of ICE, involving more than 200 victims in 39 states and five countries and the operation of a child pornography website on the dark net with more than 27,000 subscribers.