March, 2017 - Week 3
Deputy who delivered baby on side of road dies on child's 1st birthday
by Scott Flynn
BATON ROUGE - A Louisiana family who just one year ago praised a sheriff's deputy for delivering their child along the side of the road, is now mourning that deputy's death.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Sgt. Shawn T. Anderson, 43, was shot Saturday night while conducting an investigation with a fellow deputy.
"Sgt. Shawn Anderson died following a struggle in which shots were fired," a statement from the department read. "He and another deputy had responded to a business as part of a rape investigation."
Anderson was conducting the investigation near a barber shop in East Baton Rouge, and struggled with the shooting suspect before being killed, police said.
The Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page Sunday that it was one year to the day that Anderson had helped deliver a baby on the side of a road.
“Seeing Declan celebrate his birthday today is a poignant reminder that Sgt. Anderson lives on in the countless ways he has positively impacted so many. Happy birthday Declan! We are blessed to have such a reminder of Sgt. Anderson's service to his community!” the post said.
Anderson began working at the Sheriff's Office in 1999. He was presented the Life Saving Award in 2010 for saving the life of a woman on Old Mississippi River Bridge and recognized for serving more than 60 high-risk warrants in 2013 as part of a SWAT team with no injuries or shots fired.
"Our hearts are broken as we grieve for one of our brothers," East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said.
A suspect was shot and injured during the incident. The condition of the suspect was unavailable. Authorities have not released the identity of the suspect.
"I think we are a very praying community and I think that thoughts and prayers are needed here and we come together just like we always do and always have," Baton Rouge police Chief Carl Dabadie added. "There's no doubt we won't here, also."
'Big changes' needed at Secret Service
by Jason Chaffetz
Rep. Jason Chaffetz thinks the U.S. Secret Service needs to figure out why people are able to jump the fence onto the White House grounds and how one intruder was recently able to wander around for almost 20 minutes.
Chaffetz said on Fox News Monday that the Secret Service has a lot of self-examination to do after another fence jumper got onto the White House grounds over the weekend.
That news came on the heels of a bad week for the Secret Service. Two agents are under investigation for taking selfies with President Trump's sleeping grandson, another agent had a laptop with sensitive information stolen from her vehicle, and reports that surfaced that a fence jumper from two weeks ago made it all the way to the White House's backdoor before being arrested.
"I don't know why it keeps happening," said Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. "You're going to see some big changes. We're also looking at some major structural changes."
Chaffetz's committee is investigating the Secret Service's problems, and he said Congress could react by voting to move the agency out of the Department of Homeland Security and into the Department of Treasury.
The agency is also about 1,000 agents short of where it should be due to recruiting and retaining issues, Chaffetz said.
However, Chaffetz said he is encouraged by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly's personal interest in improving the Secret Service. Kelly reportedly walked the White House grounds to familiarize himself with the security system, Chaffetz said.
"I just don't see the leadership in [the Secret Service]," he said. "I've got great optimism about Secretary Kelly though."
Cops are building relationships with the community, one cup of coffee at a time
by Traci Gallian
This probably won't be much of a surprise to anyone, but I am a peace officer and yes, I love coffee. Police work and coffee go together like sausage rolled in pancakes, aka pigs in a blanket. Yes, I am ware of the pun on pork and the police, but that sort of thing doesn't concern me. What concerns me, and the rest of the members of the CHP, is focusing on building public trust.
We want to have a connection with the community we serve. And since we like coffee, one way the CHP can connect with the public is through national program called “Coffee with a Cop.” It is a simple concept: officers and community members come together in an informal, neutral space like a local coffee shop, to discuss issues, have coffee, and build relationships.
Removing the barriers between uniformed police officers and the public, eliminating an agenda, and meeting on mutual turf is why the Coffee with a Cop concept works. The CHP wants to build this trust one cup at a time.
In over 80 cities across 24 states, Coffee with a Cop has done wonders for community trust and partnership building. One of the keys to the program's success is it removes barriers that routinely exist between officers and citizens. This allows for relaxed, one-on-one interactions, which are the necessary foundation of partnerships.
During Coffee with a Cop, we can talk about whatever you want. Topics are unlimited. I don't know about you, but if this program would have been around before I was an officer, I would have definitely taken advantage of the different questions I could have asked. Like, “Is it really illegal to drive while barefoot?” “Am I required to have gloves in a glove box?” Come to Coffee with a Cop to find out the answers.
As law enforcement officers, it is important for us to focus our community interaction on the 90 percent of people in society who do not have regular police contact. These are people who have based their perception of policing on stories they have heard from friends or have seen on television. Many people, just like yourselves, seldom get stopped by law enforcement and rarely call for assistance. When asked specifically about their last contact with the police, many will have to go back years to that one time when they were pulled over. This is why every contact we can make with the public is important. We want to share the community's concerns and make every effort to address them. You don't need to be pulled over by an officer in order to speak with the CHP. As CHP officers, one of our top priorities is engaging our community in public safety efforts. That doesn't have to be done through enforcement. The CHP will happily install your child's car seat and ensure you kids are safe. We are members of the public just like you.
If you are interested in hosting a Coffee with a Cop event, please let me know and we will make every effort to set one up. One of my favorite things to do is socialize. I am very excited to hear the community response and to get started on the incredible conversations we, as officers, can have with our community. Let's talk and I can learn about you, and you can learn about what is actually behind the badge, building trust along the way and enjoying one cup of coffee at a time.
Coffee with a Cop is being hosted by several of our offices throughout the Central Valley. If you are interested in having a Coffee with a Cop event, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 559-277-7250 and we will get started on hosting one at your favorite spot.
We spend $100 billion on policing. We have no idea what works.
Police are more likely to adopt new technology because another department has it than because of reasoned cost-benefit analysis.
by Barry Friedman
Barry Friedman is a professor at New York University School of Law and the director of its policing project. His latest book is “Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission.”
Watching the debate in this country over public safety, you'd think some people wish to live securely, while others welcome Armageddon. Conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly recently went after “liberal politicians” in Chicago and San Francisco, noting crime in those cities and saying, “The situation is out of control and a disgrace, and that's what happens when incompetent politicians demand the police stop enforcing laws.”
The truth is, we all want to be safe. The struggle isn't about outcomes, it's about methods. Should law enforcement have ready access to everyone's phone location-tracking data? Should police be required to undergo deescalation training before being authorized to use force?
These aren't questions to be resolved by free-for-alls on cable news channels. They require facts and analysis. And yet, although the United States shells out well over $100 billion each year for public safety, we have remarkably little idea whether that money is well spent. It's possible that any given policing tactic or technology — from Tasers to facial-recognition systems to body cameras — is a fine or poor idea. But we really don't have much sense of which tactics and tools work, or whether they are worth the cost. We don't know how much money we may be wasting, or whether we are compromising civil liberties, or harming people or property, without good reason.
Throughout the rest of government, we use cost-benefit analysis to answer these sorts of questions. (Many economists prefer to call it benefit-cost analysis, or BCA, rightly asking: Why worry about the costs until we know if there are any benefits?) Whether it is environmental regulation, workplace safety, financial rules or the provision of health care, BCA is pervasive. But as a 2014 report by the Vera Institute of Justice pointed out, BCA has not been widely taught or used in criminal justice. That's a stark understatement when it comes to policing.
Take ShotSpotter, a technology that uses sound waves to pinpoint where a gun has been fired. The product is marketed as allowing police to know about gunshots and respond quickly, especially in neighborhoods where people aren't inclined to call the cops. ShotSpotter leases the technology to cities at a cost of $65,000 to $95,000 per square mile per year. (The District of Columbia is one of ShotSpotter's major clients; it installed sensors in 2005 with the help of a $2 million federal grant and spent $3.5 million maintaining and expanding the system through 2013, according to a Washington Post investigation published that year.) This is serious money for cash-strapped cities, so the question naturally is: Is it worth it? To answer this, we'd want to see good data on whether the technology is helping cops nab shooters, whether there are fewer shots fired when it is in place or whether gun violence is down. And we'd then want to know if the technology is more effective than an alternative, such as hiring more officers.
Unfortunately, it is harder than it should be even to get data for BCA around policing. The reasons for this are many. An unnecessary cloak of secrecy envelops too much policing. Law enforcement's instinct is to give no information beyond what is necessary, making democratic engagement with policing extremely difficult. Additionally, the technologies for police data collection are in many ways primitive, as anyone who has watched a police officer filling out incident reports in duplicate on the back of a cruiser knows. There are about 18,000 departments, and aggregated data would be useful, but we often don't have it.
In ShotSpotter's case, though, the problem is different. Much of policing technology is being privatized, and private vendors — claiming trade secret protection — shield data from the public and researchers. The Post investigation obtained data from the D.C. police department through a public-records request and found that ShotSpotter sensors logged 39,000 incidents of gunfire in the District over eight years. Yet while D.C. police say that ShotSpotter is “a valuable tool,” helping to establish crime trends, the department told The Post that it didn't track arrests made as a result of ShotSpotter alerts. We can't evaluate policing technologies unless we can connect the use of those technologies with results.
In the modern era of deterrent-based policing, assessing the benefits of law enforcement has become both more important and more difficult. Rather than simply chasing bad guys, policing has put more focus on discouraging crime in the first place. Take airport security: Anyone who carries a bomb through a checkpoint will be arrested. But the point of the fortune we spend on airport security is to prevent people from even contemplating such an attack. The same may be said of closed-circuit TV cameras that peer down at us all over our cities and the deployment of many other technologies. The goal is to deter crime entirely.
It is one thing to count crimes that did happen; it is quite another to count crimes that didn't. We can, of course, compare crime rates before and after a new technology or tactic is put in place, but it is hard to establish the cause of any trends. Did crime go down because of that new tactic, or did it decline for other reasons? For low-incident crimes such as terrorism, we can't measure a meaningful before-and-after anyway.
Law enforcement agencies often are unclear about the specific crime-fighting benefits they hope to achieve when adopting technologies. Those technologies tend to spread by word of mouth: If Department A has a new tool, then Agency B wants it, too — officials don't always put much thought into the precise purpose of a tool or whether something else (maybe something they already have or something cheaper) could achieve the same thing.
A good example is the curious case of automatic license plate readers: fixed cameras, or cameras installed on police cars, that capture and digitize images of license plates. Initially, LPR technology was sold as a way to reduce car theft. But with auto theft declining anyway, and at $10,000 or more for each mobile unit and $100,000 per fixed unit — not including maintenance, upgrades, and data storage and retrieval systems — it was hard to justify the cost. Then it occurred to departments that they could store the data and call it up in investigations; if they are looking for a van with a certain plate number, stored records may indicate where that van travels frequently or even where it parks. One hears anecdotes about LPR helpfully deployed this way. And yet, success stories tend to rely on randomness: A police car happened to drive by the van at some point and dumped that data into the system. The benefits of what is basically random enforcement are likely to be small.
The latest emerging justification for LPR is as part of policing for profit. A private vendor, Vigilant Solutions, gives LPR technology to departments for “free” and incorporates all plate captures into its database. Vigilant then uses that data to create an extensive “hot list,” composed, in particular, of vehicles with outstanding traffic fines. When cops get a ping they can pull a car over; police cruisers in some jurisdictions even are being equipped with credit card machines for instant payment. What's in this for Vigilant? It gets a 25 percent “processing fee.”
Even if the benefits of certain policing tactics can be assessed, figuring out the full costs of any given tactic or technology is essential, albeit difficult. We can calculate the price tag of the technology itself, or perhaps the cost of more officers or new training. But what about the curtailing of civil liberties? What about the social costs? How do you put a price on public dissatisfaction with the way the police are doing their jobs? What about a potential loss of community trust?
Use of stop-and-frisk has been on the decline in some major cities, in part because of litigation (a cost in and of itself), but Donald Trump revived the debate with a shout-out during his presidential campaign. The evidence on whether stop-and-frisk works is thin. A 2008 study found that more police stops led to fewer robberies, burglaries, vehicle thefts and homicides — but did not reduce assaults, rapes or grand larceny. A 2014 study took the earlier study's methodology to task and called into question the robbery and burglary results. One review of the empirical evidence suggested that during the height of stop-and-frisk in New York, fewer youth were carrying guns. Still, that study's author conceded that the “strongest argument that New York City's aggressive policing strategies .?.?. contributed to its plummeting crime rate ” was “the absence of alternative explanations.” That's not social science, it's conjecture. And, of course, New York has since dramatically reduced stop-and-frisk, and crime continues to fall.
Even if stop-and-frisk were effective in curtailing gun violence (putting constitutional arguments to one side), we would still have to look at the social costs of the practice. We'd want to put a value on a loss of trust in the police, contributing to an environment in which some people in some neighborhoods don't call the cops when shots are fired. That's why ShotSpotter is appealing in the first place. We should also consider the physical violation, the loss of time and liberty, the psychological costs of stop-and-frisk. Suppose the cost of being stopped out of the blue, put against a wall and having hands run over your body is equivalent to $100, which does not seem entirely unreasonable. In New York in 2011 there were more than 300,000 stop-and-frisks, at a cost of more than $30,000,000, using this estimate. That gives a sense of what the benefits would have to be in order to justify those costs.
The challenges of calculating the costs and benefits of policing should not dissuade us. If BCA can be applied to complicated and controversial subjects such as environmental regulation, such calculations can be applied to public safety.
It would help if public safety agencies and contractors were more forthcoming with their data. When trade secrets are a concern, private companies such as ShotSpotter and Vigilant could make their data available for researchers but require nondisclosure agreements. A ShotSpotter board member was quoted in Forbes as saying it would be beneficial to have an independent study. Companies that believe in their products should be willing to undergo outside testing. Tech companies could also lend their expertise to help police departments modernize their data collection and analysis efforts.
Government could play a big role here. Indeed, although there is debate and confusion over the role of the federal government in local law enforcement, dollars spent by the federal government in assessing what keeps us safe, and what is plain wasteful, are likely to be dollars well spent.
Not-for-profits have a part, too. They can team up with policing agencies to run BCA evaluations on tactics and tools, such as vehicle pursuits and deescalation training.
Public safety is foundational in society. We spend a fortune on it. It seems that it's not too much to ask that we devote resources to figuring out what works and what does not, and whether we could do better.
Police employ drones for search-and-rescue, suspect pursuit
Officers are undergoing training on how to operate drones for a variety of purposes, including locating missing people, search-and-rescue and finding suspects
by Tony Holt
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla — A remote-controlled aircraft took less than two hours to survey an entire city after a Category 3 storm ripped through town in October.
By comparison, someone with a handheld camera going up and down various high-rise elevators and stairs within the city limits of Daytona Beach Shores would've needed all day — and possibly several days — to get an idea of the full damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Once city leaders noticed the efficiency and effectiveness of a drone, they put their heads together to think of other ways that technology could benefit them. The list kept growing, so the decision to invest in it was easy to make, said Stephan Dembinsky, the director of public safety for Daytona Beach Shores.
"We all thought, 'You know, this is a big thing. Why not use it for police use?'" Dembinsky said. "It's cheaper than a search dog. It's cheaper than a helicopter."
As a result, Daytona Beach Shores is training eight of its police officers on how to operate a drone for a variety of purposes, including locating missing people, search-and-rescue and finding suspects.
The drone guru in the city's police department is Sgt. Michael Uleski. He trains police officers and others across the country on how to operate drones. He is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration and he has obtained an airspace waiver for the city.
Uleski recalled the reaction from city leaders when he showed them videos of roof damage from the storm.
"The speed in which I was able to do it is what really impressed them," he said. "I did the entire city in about two hours."
It was like having a heavy-duty digital single-lens reflex camera in the sky and steering it to the precise place you want it to go, said Uleski.
City Manager Michael Booker said the City Council is on board with the idea to purchase a drone, which would cost up to $4,000.
"I think we're more poised to use this technology compared to other cities because of Sgt. Uleski," said Booker, but he added there are significant restrictions associated with the use of drones.
"There are definitely privacy issues that have to be adhered to."
Dembinsky said he is aware that civil libertarians are leery of any law enforcement agency using drones because there is a fine line between proper use and abuse.
"We won't be looking into people's windows or anything like that," he said, referring to the fact that the city that is made up largely of condominium residents. State law restricts what law enforcement can do with drones. For instance, in most cases, evidence obtained by a drone video can only be used if it was collected after a warrant was issued.
The drone the city will buy can carry items no heavier than a few pounds, but Ulenski said that is just right for the device to carry a life preserver in the event someone is in the ocean and needs help. It is easy to fly a drone out into the water at 45 mph and drop a life vest onto the distressed swimmer so that person can remain afloat until a lifeguard can reach him or her.
Drones can also help with fire rescue. With a bird's eye view, it can locate hot spots in a building and provide that intelligence to responding firefighters, said Uleski.
The maximum height limit allowed under the license obtained by Daytona Beach Shores is 400 feet above the operator, he said. Some drones have the capability of going as high as 19,000 feet. The restrictions are in place because the city is within the the airspace of the Daytona Beach International Airport.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told the News-Journal that a deputy in his agency is licensed to fly drones. That deputy will undergo more training so that he may train other deputies on how to use it, the sheriff said.
Chief Mark Strobridge, a spokesman with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, said drones could be used by deputies in the future, especially considering their cost-effectiveness versus a helicopter.
"As of today, we don't have a solid plan but we're looking at all options," he said.
Strobridge also emphasized the importance of using the devices with residents' rights to privacy firmly in mind.
"We have to do it right 100 percent of the time," he said.
New faces appear in community policing
by Kim Lamoreaux
Three new officers hired by the Village of DeForest Police Department all share the same goal: to help enhance the essence of community policing in the area.
All three were hired fresh out of various academies, and two of them are DeForest High School graduates who chose to stay in their hometown, becoming even more enmeshed in their community.
Jaclyn Sommers, 25 and Haley Loughran, 22, are both DeForest natives. Claire LaBahn, 24, is from Naperville, Illinois, but has moved to the Madison area.
Two of the positions were replacements, and one was an additional new position.
It's merely a coincidence that all three officers are women, according to DeForest Police Chief Robert Henze.
“We're always looking to provide diversity,” Henze said. “It is unusual, but we were awe struck by all three of them. These three happened to fit the bill. All the stars were falling in the right place for us. For two to be from the area, that in itself is rare.”
Both Loughran and and Sommers say working in their hometowns is an advantage, if not a pleasure.
“I enjoy working in my hometown because I know the area and some of the community members,” Loughran said. “If I was policing somewhere new to me, it would take a longer time to know the village and the community members.”
Sommers said working in her hometown for and with people she already knows has helped her grow, just like the time she has spent volunteering for the DeForest Fire and EMS department.
“I was very shy growing up but volunteered with the fire department and got to know many officers that way,” Sommers said. “Doing public safety work has allowed me to talk to people and break out of my shell.”
LaBahn said Naperville is a much larger metro area, and working as a police officer in a smaller community is exactly what she was hoping for.
“I saw DeForest was hiring, and when I researched the community I thought it was great,” LaBahn said. “The values of the police department really matched up with how I wanted to police. I wanted to down size and be more well known in my community and make a difference. Being in a smaller community I would be able to have that impact.”
All three share the same goals and philosophies about neighborhood policing based on similar training and backgrounds, and all three say that's why they wanted to work in DeForest.
The three joined the department at a time when what's commonly called community policing is a growing trend in law enforcement across the country. They all share virtually mirror feelings and approaches to their view of community policing, and all said their training took a great degree of focus on that concept.
“It's a tough time for law enforcement right now,” LaBahn said. “But a lot of that comes with the relationships you build, and I feel DeForest officers have made a wonderful relationship with the community and I just want to be a part of that.
“The police department models itself around community policing which is getting in with the community, knowing the neighborhoods and having an open communication with the public,” she said. “That's mostly why I wanted to get into law enforcement—to have those relationships with people. I like just knowing that people can trust me and I can make that bridge.”
Sommers, who works third shift, said one example of outreach are nighttime bar checks. She said it's not what one might think.
“It builds the relationship and shows we're not always here for a bad reason,” Sommers said. “It puts people at ease and they can enjoy themselves in the bar knowing we're not there to harass anybody. People start to realize that's a positive thing.”
LaBahn, who also works third shift, said she enjoys bar check just as much.
“Going into the bars on a Friday or Saturday night, people are awesome,” LaBahn said. “We just go in to check it out, and that's where the proactive policing comes in.”
Loughran said she has ideas about expanding outreach opportunities in the community.
“I would like to someday create a couple week-long summer programs that would allow those interested in criminal justice to explore the different fields in the criminal justice,” Loughran said.
Henze said learning the officers' philosophies and training in current community policing trends gave them all a major plus.
“Every patrol officer here is a community policing officer,” Henze said. “Larger deparments have community policing officers and basically that's all they do. In view of what's happened in Ferguson and other places, you can come out with the assessment they were lacking community interaction there. Its' no longer a luxury. Community policing and interaction is crucial. Community is the police, and the police is the community.”
As job candidates, all three officers recognized how important the concept of community policing is in DeForest.
“I chose to go into law enforcement because I enjoy helping people, and I wanted to make a difference in the community,” Loughran said.
“DeForest is good about community policing,” Sommers said. “We live in this community and care about it just as much as they do.”
Contact the DeForest Police Department at (608) 846-6756
The (high) cost of public safety
by Marcus Wolf, Steve Virkler and Elizabeth Lewis
Across Northern New York, local governments cumulatively spend millions of dollars to maintain police forces and provide safety and security for their residents.
The overlapping layers of law enforcement range from villages like Dexter, population 1,063, to the New York State Police.
While some municipalities nationwide chose to eliminate their police departments during the recession of 2009, David Bugg, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at SUNY Potsdam, said north country municipal officials decided to keep their departments and pay their increasing expenses.
After the recession, Mr. Bugg said, he saw a return of municipal spending in police departments, which resulted in an increase in officer activity.
Municipalities statewide and in the north country have raised their police department budgets an average of 1.5 percent since 2013-14, he said, covering the cost by either re-evaluating other expenses, applying for state or federal funding, or increasing taxes.
“Our budgets aren't growing too sort of big, but it does reflect public concern for a timely response (from police),” he said.
County legislatures in the north country spend millions of dollars for their sheriff's departments' personnel and equipment.
The Jefferson County Legislature allocated $5,416,600 for the sheriff's civil and criminal divisions, which include a 45-member road patrol, in its 2016 budget. That includes $3,161,950 for personnel, $749,880 for equipment and contractual expenses and $1,504,770 for benefits.
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said other expenses for the road patrol include vehicle operation and maintenance, technology, weapons and protective armor.
The legislature also pursues grant funding to pay for overtime and special details with other agencies such as state police, border patrol and municipal agencies, Mr. Gray said.
The Lewis County Sheriff's Department's 2016 budget set aside $1,830,065 for its road patrol, with 91 percent of that for salary and benefits.
However, Undersheriff James M. Monnat said the road patrol in 2016 ran relatively lean on manpower due to resignations and other circumstances.
Deputies handled 9,769 service calls in 2016, resulting in a relatively low cost per call of $187.33.
“The numbers are definitely down because of the limited personnel and the additional duties,” Mr. Monnat said.
While additional deputies would have allowed for more proactive enforcement, the undersheriff commended his group for what they did accomplish.
“The guys are doing a great job for the time they have,” he said.
Along with the sheriff and undersheriff, the patrol consisted of one investigator, three supervising sergeants, one juvenile aid sergeant, nine full-time deputies and two part-time deputies, according to Mr. Monnat. That was three fewer positions than it had for most of 2015, he said.
Non-sergeants had salaries between $44,078 and $53,330. The sheriff had a salary of $70,662, followed by the undersheriff at $63,240, the investigator at $58,702 and the sergeants around $54,000.
To help bolster its ranks, the department now has five people attending police academy, Mr. Monnat said. However, one deputy position is to be used for a planned school resource officer at South Lewis Central School and there may be some retirements or movement within the department during the coming year.
Jefferson County goes through a constant review of its staffing.
“When a staff position becomes available, we decide if it's needed, and that's for all departments,” Mr. Gray said. “We get requests for more, frankly, and it gets turned down a lot. We're very stingy about adding staff.”
Undersheriff Brian R. McDermott said the department prepares the budget a year in advance, and every item must be justified. The department also must receive legislative approval for any equipment needed for unusual circumstances.
Mr. McDermott said the time deputies spend in each municipality varies; he said the department provides countywide coverage 24 hours each day, seven days each week.
Lewis County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin noted the Sheriff's Department, including the county jail, has the largest departmental budget in the county.
As such, department officials should attempt to deploy road patrols as effectively as possible based on probability of incidents and optimize coverage through coordination with other agencies, she said.
Mrs. Swearingin acknowledged that both are difficult to quantify, making it hard to say exactly how efficient it is running and what improvements could be made.
The Bonadio Group is conducting a staffing study of the department that may prove helpful in that regard, but Mrs. Swearingin said she wasn't certain of that as she hadn't yet read the initial report.
Meanwhile, St. Lawrence County funds allocated to the Sheriff's Department have decreased by hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years.
The Legislature allocated $3,216,626 to the criminal division of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department in 2016.
In 2015, the criminal division was allocated $3,420,630, and $3,438,270 in 2014, dropping funding by 6.5 percent since 2014.
Legislature Chairman Kevin D. Acres said the reason for the decrease in allocated funds is because the legislature has asked all of the departments to make cuts where available.
“Sales tax revenue is down, health revenues continue to decrease and the two-percent tax cap is actually less than two percent,” Mr. Acres said. “Many of the departments have done a pretty good job minimizing overtime and cutting back on expenses that maybe we can get by without. The longer they can do this, the more we can keep the programs running at the same level.”
St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said the cuts have affected the Sheriff's Department, but he and the department understand why the cuts are being made.
“(We're) always doing more with less,” Mr. Wells said. “We struggle at times and try to always do things as efficiently as possible.”
The Massena Police Department has also had its budget cut significantly in recent years.
According to the 2016-17 budget, personnel services for the police department, which employees 19 police officers, was cut by $303,599, or 16.2 percent, from the prior year. Equipment costs did increase from $85,508 during the 2015-16 fiscal year to $104,882 in 2016-17, however.
In 2016, Police Chief Adam J. Love made approximately $121,000, while sergeants made between $87,000 and $110,000, investigators made between $65,100 and $77,100 and patrol officers made between $60,000 and $80,000, dependent upon experience.
Chief of Police Adam J. Love was unavailable for comment.
With state police and the Lewis County Sheriff's Department having offices in or near the village of Lowville, elimination of the village department has been floated in the past as a cost-cutting measure.
However, such discussions never got too serious, and village officials say that's a good thing, as the department provides an invaluable service to village residents.
“With our crime increasing and drugs increasing, this isn't the time to cut police departments,” Mayor Donna M. Smith said.
The village has seen a spike in drug abuse and related crimes, like burglaries, that require more attention and investigation, Mrs. Smith said.
The Lowville Police Department has a 2016-17 budget of $488,999, with $419,499, or 86 percent, set aside for personal services. That represents about 13 percent of the village's $3.85 million budget.
The department has a chief, a sergeant, four full-time officers and eight part-time officers, with full-time officers having annual salaries between $48,298 and $49,608 and the sergeant's salary at $52,832.
The department handled 1,065 calls, leading to a cost per call of $459.15 that would rank as one of the highest in the north country.
However, Chief Randy J. Roggie said his department doesn't include most traffic stops as incidents in its call log, so that may have skewed the numbers. And its 734 traffic tickets issued and 243 criminal arrests are similar to the number posted by the 18-member county Sheriff's Department.
Village officers also spend time on ongoing investigations, like a string of burglaries in the village around Christmas, and are working with the other two departments to combat the growing drug problem, Mr. Roggie said.
Factoring in all the time required for some investigations, “I think you would find we are a very efficient department,” Mrs. Smith said.
SMALL DEPARTMENT, SMALL COST
With Route 11 as its main access point, and the village providing pathways to Fort Drum, Antwerp Mayor Robert J. DeSantis said military members and dump trucks speeding through town are a problem reduced by having a police department.
Jonathan R. Walker, the officer in charge of the part-time Antwerp village Police Department, which consists of him and officer Heidy Tharrett, responded to 187 calls in 2016.
“We do more traffic stops than anything else,” Mr. DeSantis said.
In addition to ticketing speeders, Mr. DeSantis said, the two officers enforce the village's traffic laws.
“I want my police officers writing tickets for people who park on the corners, park on the fire plugs,” he said.
The Antwerp Board of Trustees allocated $28,500 for its police department in its 2016-17 budget, the fourth smallest police budget in the county, said Amy Cole, village clerk. Mr. DeSantis said the cost of policing accounted for 9 percent of the municipal budget.
Mr. DeSantis said that amount is worth spending to keep the peace in the village. The board might also increase police funding for its 2017-18 budget in order to raise his officers' wages — to $17 per hour from the current $12 to $15 per hour. He said he hopes this will also allow the department to hire a third officer.
To compensate for the increase, Mr. DeSantis said, the board intends to reduce its budget for police equipment, adding that the board purchased a new vehicle and received a $2,500 grant for new equipment secured by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, last year.
“We were paying our officers on the very low end compared to what other villages pay,” he said. “We hate increases of any kind because we're a small village trying to watch our tax line.”
While Antwerp's budget is small, village officials frequently pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their police departments to provide protection and a familiar face to quickly solve local problems, a service several officials said deputies and troopers would not be able to provide.
Mr. Bugg said that during the recession, when village officials nationwide considered eliminating their police forces, county sheriff's departments claimed they did not have enough staff or resources to provide each nearby municipality the coverage it wanted.
“They had financial issues, too,” he said. “Sheriffs said they can't absorb the responsibilities because they did not have enough manpower.”
The Dexter and Brownville-Glen Park police departments have a unique cooperative relationship, with separate units that coordinate patrols.
Dexter Mayor James R. Eves said the village police department's two part-time officers, senior officer James M. Gould and Officer in Charge William K. Rafferty, “stops speeders,” while patrolling the streets and schools.
He said Mr. Gould and Mr. Rafferty also work with part-time officer Larry M. Jobson, the sole officer working for the Brownville-Glen Park Police Department, to monitor all three villages at no extra cost to any of the villages.
“We have them cover the schools, all three villages and the surrounding areas,” Mr. Eves said.
The department's 2016-17 budget is $29,200.
The Brownville-Glen Park Police Department, operated solely by part-time officer Larry M. Jobson, had a combined 2016-17 budget of $36,698. Brownville paid $19,040 and Glen Park paid $17,658 for police costs.
Glen Park Mayor Stephen E. Macaulay said sharing a police department between the two villages and its officer, vehicle and ammunition expenses helps reduce costs while providing both villages with an officer that can deal with any of his 502 residents' issues.
Brownville Mayor Patrick C. Connor said the shared expenses are worth having a police presence to provide security for his 1,200 residents.
“We're right next to each other and trying to save the communities some money,” Mr. Connor said, adding that Brownville paid more because its coverage area is larger than Glen Park.
Despite being the sole part-time police officer, former county undersheriff Mr. Jobson has responded to more than 200 service calls in both villages last year.
Both mayors said Mr. Jobson also deals with several speeding violations within their municipalities by issuing tickets and giving warnings.
“He keeps our children safe,” Mr. Macaulay said. “We've had a speeding problem in Glen Park. Having him has certainly reduced that.”
Despite Brownville, Glen Park and Dexter being within 7½ miles of the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, Mr. Conner said some residents in the three villages would rather have Mr. Jobson, Mr. Rafferty or Mr. Gould deal with their local concerns than a sheriff's deputy because those residents are more familiar with their three officers.
“It's a community,” he said.
For Evans Mills Mayor Michael L. Cocco, sharing a police department with Black River not only allows his village to afford a police department, but also provides his 600 residents a sense of security.
Kristin L. Burroughs, the Black River village clerk and treasurer, said the villages split the $41,160 police budget.
Stephen C. Wood, chief of the joint department, said that in 2016, the combined Black River-Evans Mills Police Department — he and Officer Dennis O'Brien — responded to 529 service calls and made 11 arrests.
Mr. Wood said responding to traffic violations in both villages make up the majority of his department's calls.
Mr. Bugg said many officers follow a model established by Sir Robert Peel, a British prime minister in 16th-century England, who believed police officers should be community members and resolve local issues.
“(Those ideas) are still taught by police officers in police academies across the United States,” he said.
Mr. Patenaude said the Clayton Village Board of Trustees allocated $228,803 in its 2016-17 budget, for its police department — the fourth largest police budget in Jefferson County.
Clayton Village Police Chief Kevin J. Patenaude said his department, which consists of three full-time and three part-time police officers, follow the Peel model of policing, communicating with the public to solve problems first before making arrests.
“We'll use every possible means of solving problems and use arrests as a last resort,” he said. “It's a more personal touch in solving problems.”
Despite the effect on village taxes, Clayton Deputy Mayor Anthony P. Randazzo said the department's annual cost of $228,803 is worth providing the village's 2,500 residents security.
“I like the idea of having village municipal law enforcement,” Mr. Randazzo said. “(It provides) a personal connection.”
Unlike Brownville, Glen Park, Black River and Evans Mills, the villages of Carthage and West Carthage have their own police departments despite being linked by the 470-foot-long bridge over the Black River.
West Carthage Mayor Scott M. Burto said if both villages combined their populations, they would make the second largest municipal population in Jefferson County, and consolidating both departments would not provide enough coverage for both populations. Both departments also provide support for each other, particularly late at night.
In 2010, the villages contracted Center for Government Research, Rochester, to assess and report options for changing their police forces, including an option for consolidation.
Mr. Burto said the boards decided not to consolidate or make any changes to their departments.
“We feel the services provided by both departments are effective and efficient for our residents,” Mr. Burto said. “(Our residents) made it clear it's a service they wanted to receive as taxpayers.”
In West Carthage, Mr. Burto said the village board allocated $108,000 for its police department, which currently consists of eight part-time officers, in its 2016-17 budget, which makes up less than 5 percent of the municipal budget.
Mr. Burto said the department has a “good record” for closing burglary and home invasion cases and helped catch three murderers involved in statewide pursuits in the past six years.
In Carthage, the Village Board allocated $330,000, third highest amount in the county, in the 2016-17 budget for its police department, which currently consists of three full-time officers and six part-time officers, said Police Chief Reginald Huber Jr.
Carthage Village President G. Wayne McIlroy could not be reached for comment.
AN OVERTIME ISSUE
In Potsdam, a manpower shortage has resulted in a lot of overtime for village police officers in the past year.
According to the 2017-18 budget that has yet to be approved by the Village Board, patrolmen in Potsdam will make between $43,192 and $59,113, depending on experience. The two sergeants' salaries will be $65,250, Lt. Michael Ames's salary will be $71,698 and Chief Mark R. Murray's salary will be $84,500.
According to SeeThroughNY.net, a website that shares the salaries of those employed by governments throughout the state, the lowest-paid patrolman in 2016 made over $67,000, when the same patrolman is set to make $58,656 during the next fiscal year, according to the 2017-18 budget. The difference is in overtime pay.
Mayor Reinhold J. Tischler said officers will see a 2-percent increase in their salaries in the next fiscal year.
The website's numbers were skewed largely due to the overtime pay officers received in 2016.
“We don't really have control over that,” Mr. Tischler said.
Mr. Tischler said the police department was short-staffed in 2016 and a few officers were out on medical leave. The remaining officers had to cover shifts, resulting in a higher-than-normal amount of overtime.
Two new policemen have been hired in the department, according to Mr. Murray, which he said should help reduce the amount of overtime pay officers receive.
The village and Teamsters Local 687, the union representing the Potsdam Police Department, ratified a contract in September for June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2019. This contract, which covers all Potsdam Police Department staff except for the police chief, will reduce the starting pay for new employees, reduce legacy costs, increase the stratification for steps for a police officer and dispatcher and raise salaries two percent for this year.
Although the Potsdam officer shortage problem is being solved, a similar problem remains in Gouverneur.
There are six police officers in the village of Gouverneur — which equates to one officer for every 658 people in the village, according to 2010 census data.
Chief Laurina M. Greenhill said she does not believe the department has an adequate number of police officers.
“I think, in general, the average good taxpaying citizen is unaware of what their local police truly do or the challenges they are confronted with every day,” Ms. Greenhill said. “The village of Gouverneur is still providing direct police services but there are arguments to be made about the adequacy of the current number of officers.”
The department issued 256 traffic tickets, answered 4,910 calls for service and complaints and made 705 arrests in 2016. Despite budget woes, the productivity of the Gouverneur Police Department is comparable to other village departments of its size, such as Canton's, which has nine officers and issued 337 traffic tickets, answered 3,322 calls for service and complaints and made 458 arrests in 2016.
“In general, (people are) not cognizant of how many officers are available to them if they were in need of police services,” Ms. Greenhill said. “They do not consider how many are available on weekends, nights or holidays. Their opinions (are) skewed by the presence of other outside law enforcement agencies they may see traveling Monday through Friday in the daytime hours in this county ... not knowing that these other outside agencies have different missions and jurisdictional limitations.”
CITY POLICE ARE ACTIVE
According to Watertown Mayor Joseph M. Butler, spending millions of dollars for the city Police Department ensures that his officers have the resources they need to protect the city.
In the 2016-17 budget, the City Council spent $8,292,440 on the 65-member department last year, the largest police budget in Jefferson County. Mr. Butler said that equates to about 20 percent of the city budget.
Mr. Butler said the city has raised the Police Department budget consecutively for three years, from $7,802,721 in 2014 to pay for higher wages negotiated by the officers' union and increasing pension and health insurance costs. Other major costs for providing city police coverage for 27,000 residents include purchasing new vehicles each year and occasionally hiring new officers.
“That's part of running a municipality,” Mr. Butler said. “You want people to feel safe and secure in their homes. It takes a lot of money to do to that.”
Justin C. Spaulding, a criminal justice instructor at SUNY Canton, said typically personnel, technology, equipment, bullets, gasoline and training and certifying officers make up the majority of police department expenses. Paying for firearm qualifications, training classes outside of their coverage area and updated policy manuals also require significant investments.
“You want police departments to be prepared for the worst day and hope for the best day,” he said.
While taxpayer money funds most of the budget, Mr. Butler said, the city applies for federal grants to pay for certain expenses, adding that he wishes there was as much federal funding for police departments as for fire departments.
“It's an ongoing challenge,” he said. “I am committed to having a strong police force. Public safety is one of the most important responsibilities we have.”
Police Chief Charles P. “Chip” Donoghue said one trend he noticed in 2016 was an increased number of drug overdose cases. To combat the opioid epidemic, he said, all officers were equipped with and trained to use Narcan nasal spray, a goal that was listed in City Council's budget.
“If we get called to the scene on time, we might be able to revive am opioid overdose victim,” he said. “We have revived a good number of victims.”
The department also has a detective unit, which investigates felony cases and participates in the joint Metro-Jefferson Drug Task Force.
St. Lawrence County's lone city spent the most money on their police department in the county last year.
In 2016, the Ogdensburg City Council allocated $3,714,396 to the Ogdensburg Police Department for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which is approximately 19 percent of the city's $19.5 million 2016-17 budget.
The Ogdensburg Police Department employs 29 police officers. A chief of police, two lieutenants, five sergeants and 21 patrol officers comprise the department, which served 730 uniform traffic tickets, answered 10,612 calls for service and complaints and made 1,139 arrests in 2016.
In 2016, Chief Andrew D. Kennedy made $86,034, while lieutenants made approximately $71,000, sergeants made approximately $64,000 and patrol officers made between $43,300 and $58,000, dependent upon experience.
Mr. Kennedy was unavailable for comment.
Does Indiana need its 'duty-to-warn' law on HIV?
Criminal cases in Indiana are rare
by Christian Sheckler
Court documents offer an alarming look at how 37-year-old Travis Spoor allegedly hid his identify from sexual partners, leaving them exposed to HIV without their knowledge.
Since 2016, Spoor has been charged with 10 counts of malicious mischief for allegedly exposing women in three different northern Indiana counties to the virus that causes AIDS. In the latest case, Kosciusko County prosecutors say Spoor used a false name to meet a woman online, then had sex with her several times but never told her he carried the disease.
Cases such as Spoor's are far from common, however, and some health care workers who specialize in HIV and advocates for people with the disease say such extreme cases do not justify laws that single out people with the virus for potential criminal charges.
Spoor was charged under an Indiana law against placing another person in involuntary contact with bodily fluids or matter infected with HIV, hepatitis or tuberculosis. Another law makes it a crime for a person with HIV to fail to disclose their status to a sex or needle-sharing partner.
"It definitely stigmatizes those with HIV, and the law isn't really needed because most of those who have HIV have learned how to disclose their status or protect against spreading it," said Leeah Hopper, executive director of AIDS Ministries/AIDS Assist of Northern Indiana.
"This man in Warsaw was just being deceptive, and that's rare — very rare."
In Spoor's previous cases, some women told police they had sex with him and only later learned from mutual acquaintances that he was HIV-positive. In the most recent case, the woman Spoor met on Match.com said he used the name "Ray Hildeman," and she learned his real identify only because he left his wallet and driver's license at her home.
Under Indiana's "duty-to-warn" law, any person who tests positive for HIV must sign a consent form agreeing to disclose the information to any person engaged in "high-risk" behavior, such as sex or injection drug use.
If a person with HIV fails to warn others, state officials may intervene to warn any "at-risk" person and order counseling aimed at helping the person to share such sensitive information. Often, Hopper said, a person with HIV does not intend to harm a partner or other person, but may struggle with feelings of denial or embarrassment.
Each year, the Indiana State Department of Health receives about 120 complaints that someone violated the duty-to-warn law, said Jeni O'Malley, a spokeswoman for the department. But few, if any, of those reports become criminal cases.
In most cases when state health officials find evidence to support a complaint, they remind the person with HIV of the duty-to-warn law and require the person to undergo counseling. If they fail to participate, the attorney general's office may sue to force the person to get the counseling, O'Malley said.
If a person brings a complaint to police, the case may become a criminal matter. However, examples of such cases are rare. St. Joseph County prosecutors have no known records of a criminal case involving exposure to HIV since at least January 2013, said Jessica McBrier, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.
Hopper, with AIDS Ministries/AIDS Assist, also said she was unaware of any local criminal cases involving the state's HIV laws. Across the state, only those cases that involve allegations of deceitful or malicious actions, such as Spoor's case, tend to draw criminal charges, she said.
Some advocacy groups have pushed for the repeal of duty-to-warn laws, arguing the laws may be counterproductive to public health because they stigmatize people with HIV at a time when many people are learning to manage the disease without transmitting it to others.
For example, Hopper said, modern HIV medicine can reduce a person's viral load to the point that the infection cannot spread to another person.
The HIV Modernization Movement is among the groups that has pushed Indiana lawmakers, with little success, to revise several state laws that criminalize certain behavior involving HIV.
David Powell, director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said the rarity of criminal cases involving HIV could also suggest that such complaints are underreported. Although only the state legislature can change the laws, Powell said he sympathized with the reasoning behind the laws.
"If I personally care about someone enough to be their sexual partner, I would hope they would care enough about me to tell me they have a disease that's incurable," Powell said. "That could be a life sentence you pass on to your partner."
Dallas offers cautionary tale as it moves to fix 911 woes
Dallas has been experiencing disruptions in its 911 service that began in October and at one point last week resulted in 360 calls being placed on hold
by David Warren
DALLAS — Dallas has been experiencing disruptions in its 911 service that began in October and at one point last week resulted in 360 calls being placed on hold. More dispatchers have been assigned to field 911 calls and technological glitches have been fixed, which should smooth operations, a city spokeswoman said Friday.
But the problems plaguing Dallas can be found with other 911 systems that rely on increasingly obsolete networks that are incompatible with new technologies and protocols.
Here are some of the issues at play:
WHAT HAPPENED IN DALLAS?
It was initially believed that the city's 911 center was bedeviled by T-Mobile phones making "ghost calls," which are automatically generated by a phone unbeknownst to its owner. Spikes in calls would periodically overwhelm 911 dispatchers. City Manager T.C. Broadnax said it appeared the problem was fixed in January, but it later returned and may have contributed to a delayed response to emergency situations in which two people recently died in separate incidents, including a 6-month-old boy whose baby sitter was on hold for a half-hour after the child fell from a bed.
On Thursday, the city instead blamed the problem on abandoned calls. Callers would hang up after dialing 911 and dispatchers were then obligated to return the call to determine if there was an emergency. But that created a long backlog of calls.
On Friday, Deputy Police Chief Jesse Reyes said the call center received 5,352 calls between 3 and 11 p.m. on March 11, a period that might average about 2,800 calls. It was during that period that a Bridget Alex and her baby sitter were unable to reach a 911 operator after an accident involving Alex's 6-month-old son. Brandon Alex later died of his injury. On March 6, the night David Taffet said he couldn't reach 911 operators for help after husband Brian Cross collapsed at their home, the call center received 4,802 calls between 3 and 11 p.m. Reyes provided no average number for such a weeknight, but said it would have been less than the 2,800 calls seen on a weekend evening.
Reyes said no totals for the number of abandoned calls during those periods were available. He said 911 operators answer 90 percent of their calls within 10 seconds, the industry standard. He said, however, there is no industry standard for getting back to calls placed on hold during high volumes, and he has no totals of how many calls on the evenings of March 6 and March 11 were abandoned.
WHAT IS THE FIX?
More dispatchers are now fielding calls and city spokeswoman Sana Syed said T-Mobile has made modifications to its network. For example, T-Mobile engineers have disabled a function where if a person calls 911 and doesn't make contact with a dispatcher, then the phone will automatically generate a follow-up call, she said. Disabling that function will help reduce the backlog of calls. Also complicating matters were phones that would not accept any incoming calls if a person was on the line with 911. That means a dispatcher would be unable to return a call if a person was making another attempt to reach 911.
Syed said an ongoing complication is that come components of the city's 911 network are outdated and need to be replaced.
A BIGGER PROBLEM
Some of the challenges Dallas is facing are playing out nationally. Landline systems are largely incompatible with next generation 911 systems, which use mapping services to locate callers and can support text, video and other forms of communication.
"We have got to make the transition quickly because the longer we stay in this transitional state with one foot in the landline world and one foot in the IP, or internet, world the more vulnerable we're going to be," said Trey Forgety, director of government affairs for the National Emergency Number Association.
He said a new national perspective must take root. In the past, not much could be done to impede 911 service. But now ransomware, "denial of service" attacks and other cyber threats are undermining 911 operations. Forgety mentioned a case investigated by Phoenix police in which a teenager tweeted a link that contained coding that caused iPhones to repeatedly dial 911. Retweets and reposts by others would automatically generate more calls, inundating 911 centers in many parts of the country.
HOW OFTEN IS 911 SERVICE DISRUPTED?
The Federal Communications Commission doesn't release tallies on how often 911 service is interrupted. But large-scale disruptions occur with some regularity. Just last week, AT&T cellphone customers were unable to call 911 in several states. Law enforcement and government agencies in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and other states reported the problem and provided alternate numbers for people to call during emergencies.
In August 2014, 911 connections for millions of T-Mobile customers were interrupted. The FCC said it stemmed from a software upgrade that interfered with call routing and a $17.5 million fine later was imposed.
That same year, service was lost for some 11 million people in seven states because of what the FCC described as a software coding error by a company that provides 911 communications services.
From the FBI
Charges Announced in Massive Cyber Intrusion Case
Two of the Perpetrators Believed to be Russian Intelligence Officers
Four individuals—two Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and two criminal hackers—have been charged by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California in connection with one of the largest cyber intrusions in U.S. history, which compromised the information of at least 500 million Yahoo accounts.
One of the criminal hackers was arrested yesterday by Canadian authorities. The two FSB officers and the second hacker, last known to have been in Russia, are currently fugitives wanted by the FBI.
The indictments were announced today by U.S. Department of Justice Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, FBI Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate, and Northern District of California U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch during a press conference in Washington, D.C.
The FSB is an intelligence and law enforcement agency of the Russian Federation, and it's believed that the two FSB officers work in an FSB unit that serves as the FBI's point of contact in Moscow on cyber crime matters. According to McCord, “The involvement and direction of FSB officers with law enforcement responsibilities make this conduct that much more egregious—there are no free passes for foreign state-sponsored criminal behavior.”
According to the indictment, from about April 2014 up to at least December 2016, FSB officers Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin directed this cyber intrusion conspiracy—which involved malicious files and software tools being downloaded onto Yahoo's network—that resulted in the compromise of that network and the theft of subscriber information from at least 500 million accounts. This stolen information was then used to obtain unauthorized access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google, and other webmail providers.
The indictment says that Dokuchaev and Sushchin paid, directed, and protected two known criminal hackers who took part in the scheme—Alexsey Belan, a Russian national and resident, and Karim Baratov, born in Kazakhstan and a naturalized Canadian citizen and resident. Belan, who has been indicted twice in the U.S. in the past for cyber-related crimes, is currently on the FBI's Cyber's Most Wanted list and is the subject of a Red Notice for Interpol nations, which includes Russia.
The information stolen from the 500 million user accounts came from Yahoo's proprietary user data base, which contained information such as users' names, recovery e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and certain information needed to manually create account authentication web browser cookies.
What were the alleged perpetrators after? In part, they used access to Yahoo's networks to identify and access accounts of possible interest to the FSB, including those of Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials, and employees of U.S., Russian, and other providers whose networks the conspirators sought to exploit. Additional victim accounts belonged to private sector employees of financial, transportation, and other types of companies.
However, the co-conspirators were not above using the information they stole for personal financial gain. For example, Belan allegedly searched Yahoo user communications for credit card and gift card account numbers. He also leveraged the contact lists obtained from at least 30 million Yahoo accounts to perpetrate his own spam scheme.
Computer intrusions, by their very nature, are international in scope, so they require an international effort to unmask the worldwide hacking networks responsible for them. And this case was no different. Abbate expressed the Bureau's gratitude to our international partners for their assistance and support leading up to these criminal charges today—specifically mentioning the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Toronto Police Service, and the United Kingdom's MI5.
Another important aspect of this case involved the victim companies—including Yahoo and Google—coming forward and working with law enforcement. This collaboration ultimately resulted in countering the malicious activities of state actors and bringing criminals to justice. It also illustrates that the FBI can successfully work these kinds of investigations with victim companies while respecting the various concerns and considerations businesses might have about the impact of going public.
“This is a highly complicated investigation of a very complex threat,” said Abbate. “It underscores the value of early, proactive engagement and cooperation between the private sector and the government.”
Among the FBI's major investigative priorities are to protect the U.S. against foreign intelligence operations and espionage and to protect the U.S. against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes. This case involved both. And it doesn't matter to us whether the perpetrators of such crimes are run-of-the-mill criminals or sophisticated foreign states and their agents. With the help of our partners here and/or abroad, we will identify those responsible and hold them accountable for their actions.
Search underway at home on property where Delphi teens Abby & Libby found dead
by Jordan Fisher
(Picture and audio of suspect on site)
DELPHI, Ind. -- State and federal authorities are executing a search warrant at the home of the Carroll County man who owns the property where two teenage girls were found murdered last month.
The property owner, Ron Logan, has been in custody since last week on an unrelated probation violation for a previous DUI conviction.
On Friday, the Carroll County Sheriff's Department said they had developed more information that led them to requesting a new search warrant at the property.
Police had previously searched the property, and were not calling Logan a suspect in the murders of 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams last month.
Despite weeks of intensive effort by local, state and federal authorities – and thousands of tips from around the country – the girls' murderer has yet to be caught.
Logan told RTV6 in February that he's owned the property where the girls were found for 53 years, and that the discovery of their bodies on his land is something he still hasn't been able to come to terms with.
“To have something like this in your own house, your own home - I just can't get my mind around it yet, it's really difficult,” Logan said. “I can't comprehend it.”
Indiana State Police released a picture of a suspect, which was taken by Liberty on her cell phone. She also captured a man's voice saying "down the hill" during what police call "criminal activity." You can listen to that recording and see the photo below.
Anyone with information can call the tip line at (844) 459-5786.
Indiana State Police ask anyone who recognizes the man or the voice, or who may have any other information, to call the Tip Line at (844) 459-5786 or 1-800-225-5324 (800-Call FBI). Tips can also be emailed to Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com. Information can be reported anonymously.
Community policing at its best
During the heart of this week's snowstorm, Sunbury — and because of social media's reach — some far outside the Valley were able to get a glimpse at the personification of community policing. Sunbury officers — including Chief Tim Miller, Cpl. Brad Hare and Patrolman Brad Slack — took time out of their day to have some fun and, more important, break barriers.
The officers visited city residents who gathered on Line Street, a hotspot for sledding in the city for a generation or more, to offer some safety tips, observe and simply interact with the crowd gathered. Some even took time to glide down the hill themselves.
Videos on The Daily Item's Facebook page and website captured the moments perfectly, offering a unique perspective into the interaction between police and the public that is sorely missed around the nation, particularly in today's climate nationally.
One of the videos was viewed more 71,000 times on Facebook, reaching more than 126,000 individuals across social media and was shared nearly 1,200 times. Another video was seen 18,000 times with nearly 700 reactions. Those are significant numbers in terms of reader engagement online.
The overwhelming majority of the reaction was positive. Of course some were negative, wondering why police were sledding instead of stopping crime?
Moments like this do stop crime, while perhaps not directly. Rather it is a preventative policing policy that can have long-lasting impacts. It was a slow day, very few Valley residents even left their homes, where the safety of those on Line Street was one of their more important duties that day for officers.
Those families — parents, children, friends — are unquestionably more comfortable and familiar with city police officers today than they were this time last week. Miller, Hare and Slack aren't just men with a badge anymore, they are more approachable. Children who had even a brief interaction may go and tell their friends, who pass the message on to their friends. There is a potential for an old-school viral impact.
Watch the videos. They remain on our website. You can hear the excitement in the voices, children and police. The true impact of that cannot be measured on an arrest database or police report.
Kudos to the Sunbury Police Department.
Video link... http://www.dailyitem.com/multimedia/video-sunbury-police-join-the-fun/html_b1536a78-0976-11e7-b5f1-fb4e670db4cd.html
No prosecution for La. deputies in fatal 2016 shooting
Officials "determined it (the shooting) did not involve a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statute"
by Kevin McGill
NEW ORLEANS — Two Louisiana sheriff's deputies won't face prosecution in the shooting death of a man they pursued from a suburb into New Orleans last year, state and federal officials said Thursday.
The FBI office and Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's Office each issued statements saying there would be no criminal charges in the death of 22-year-old Eric Harris.
Both said the decision was made after attorneys reviewed an investigation by the FBI-led Greater New Orleans Civil Rights Task Force.
The statement from Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet, who heads the New Orleans FBI office, said career attorneys in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans "determined it (the shooting) did not involve a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statute."
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman issued a similar statement.
Jefferson Parish deputies said they chased Harris because he pointed a gun at people at a mall.
Harris was black. Authorities last year said the two deputies — one white and one black — told investigators they shot because they feared for their safety when Harris put his car in reverse.
The shooting sparked protests.
One in July coincided with protests in Baton Rouge over the videotaped fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. The New Orleans protest began on a side street where Harris was shot and included a march by more than 150 people to a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Wash. police fatally shoot knife-wielding felon
Police said Manuel Gonzalez advanced toward an officer with the knife in hand
by PoliceOne Staff
(Video on site)
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Police released video of an officer-involved shooting of a knife-wielding suspect who allegedly stabbed a man in the neck.
Police told Q13 Fox that Manuel Gonzalez, 28, stabbed a 20-year-old man in the neck and fled on foot. Witnesses pursued him until Officer Jeremiah Leland got to the scene.
Leland approached Gonzalez and commanded him to drop the knife, but Gonzalez refused.
Gonzalez advanced toward Leland with the knife, and Gonzalez can be heard saying, “Don't step any closer, I'll kill you. Drop the knife!” Gonzalez can be heard saying “Shoot me.”
He was pronounced dead at the scene, the news station reported.
According to the Seattle Times, Gonzalez had a criminal history including a felony assault arrest for threatening a police officer with a knife during a shoplifting incident last March.
The man who was stabbed in the neck is in serious condition at a local hospital, Q13 reported.
An investigation is ongoing.
Miss. 'Back the Badge' bill heads to governor
The bill, which would stiffen penalties for attacks on cops, would become law on July 1 if signed by the governor
by Emily Wagster Pettus
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi could double the penalties against people who intentionally harm law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency workers, under a bill headed to the governor.
Supporters said they filed the "Back the Badge Act" in response to the killings of police officers last year in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The House passed the final version of House Bill 645 with no debate Thursday, sending it to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.
The action came a day after two volunteer firefighters were struck by a vehicle and killed in the south Mississippi town of Sumrall. Several uniformed Mississippi Highway Patrol officers watched from a balcony in the House chamber during the vote.
Bryant started his career as a deputy sheriff and frequently speaks in support of law enforcement officers and other emergency responders. During his State of the State speech in January, he mentioned the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agent Lee Tartt, who was killed in a February 2016 shootout during a standoff with a man holed up in a house near Iuka. Three other officers were wounded.
"Across our nation, law enforcement is under attack," Bryant said then. "Here in Mississippi, most of our citizens continue to support and respect the men and women who wear the badge and protect and serve."
Bryant is expected to sign the bill, which would become law July 1.
The bill would expand the state's existing hate crimes law, which enhances penalties for crimes committed because of a victim's race, religion, national origin or gender. "Back the Badge" originally proposed tripling the penalties for attacks on law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency workers — in or out of uniform. Senators changed that to double penalties, and the House accepted that change. The final version also says the bill can't be interpreted to limit the constitutional right to free speech — an addition that addresses concerns about the possibility of people being punished for protesting police behavior.
During earlier debates, some members in both chambers raised concerns about harsh treatment of African-Americans by police officers.
Current law says aggravated assault — a broad crime that generally covers violent attacks that don't kill a victim — is punishable by up to 20 years in prison for most cases, or 30 years if the victim is on a list that includes law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency workers. It was not immediately clear whether the penalty would be 40 years or 60 years under "Back the Badge."
BPD body cam delays seen as 'troubling'
Some critics believe the department could launch the program, outfitting all beat cops with cameras, while also studying it and changing practices as needed
by Antonio Planas and Dan Atkinson
BOSTON — Boston police could spend as much as $200,000 to extend their initial six-month study of body cameras for another year, according to a request for proposals seeking bids.
Critics have blasted the department and Mayor Martin J. Walsh for not fully implementing the program, claiming the delay put the issue on the back burner until after the mayoral election.
Walsh's office released a statement earlier this week announcing the extension of the pilot program, begun last September, by another six months. The request for proposals, however, lays out a full additional year of study. A police spokesman said the testing of cameras by 100 officers would end in September, but the study of data would continue for another six months after that.
Rahsaan Hall with the ACLU of Massachusetts said the ongoing delays in implementation are troubling.
“We're very concerned that this does not become a trend in further delaying the full implementation of a body-worn camera program,” Hall said. “We appreciate the desire to have good and meaningful data to study. At the same time, roll it out.”
Hall said he believes the department could launch the program, outfitting all beat cops with cameras, while also studying it, then changing practices as needed.
BPD's request for proposal caps the spending at $200,000. The request was issued Monday and the bid deadline is March 31.
“The purpose of this evaluation is to assist in understanding how body-worn cameras influence the civility of police-citizen interactions, the lawfulness of police work, police officer proactivity and their attitudes towards the technology, and community perceptions. ... The Department is looking to learn if body cameras significantly reduce the number of complaints against police and incidents of police use of force,” the request states. “Funding will be provided for up to one year.”
There are 100 officers from the gang unit and five districts wearing cameras on duty.
Northeastern University researchers are studying BPD's pilot program.
Police spokesman Lt. Detective Michael McCarthy said in an email yesterday that those researchers “were given short initial funds or have worked pro-bono to help with the design and measurables for our on-going data collection and future analysis. Given our procurement laws, an official bid for research evaluation funding is required.”
6-month-old boy dies after babysitter's calls to 911 go unanswered
by Nicole Chavez
DALLAS (CNN/KTVT) -- "Ghost calls" to 911 from T-Mobile phones in Dallas are clogging the city's emergency dispatch system, the city said -- and a 6-month-old boy's mother blames the issue for her child's death.
Since November, when some T-Mobile customers have dialled 911 their phones have been spontaneously making multiple calls, clogging the system, city officials said.
Police are now investigating whether the issue led to the death of Brandon Alex on Saturday. His babysitter said that she dialed 911 multiple times without getting an answer. The 911 operators returned each of the babysitter's calls but could not reach her, city officials said.
"He was only 6 months," the boy's mother, Bridget Alex, told CNN affiliate KTVT. "It wasn't his time."
City officials confirmed the babysitter used a T-Mobile device. They said no other cell phone carriers seemed to be affected by the "ghost calls" issue.
T-Mobile did not respond to a CNN request for comment. T-Mobile CEO John Legere spoke with Dallas City manager T.C. Broadnax on Tuesday and said crews planned to work with the city until the issue was resolved, officials said.
Alex was attending a funeral when she received a call from her son's babysitter, she told KTVT. The sitter said that Brandon had fallen and was unconscious, but when she called 911, no one would answer.
"I just want y'all to tell me, why didn't you respond to my son? That's all I want to know," Alex said.
During that time, emergency operators received a surge in calls, city officials said in a statement. At one more than 400 calls came in, prompting them to bring in 10 additional call takers.
The boy's mother drove home and ended up rushing her son to the hospital, she said, finally getting him medical attention over an hour after the babysitter's first 911 call. The baby boy was transferred to a second Dallas-area hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to city officials. The boy's cause of death remains undetermined, the Collin County medical examiner's office said.
"It is outrageous that T-Mobile still has not resolved the ghost call issue that is putting Dallasites in danger by clogging our 911 system," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement.
While no other carriers appear to be experiencing the "ghost calls" issue, AT&T wireless customers also reported having trouble contacting 911 in Dallas and other Texas cities on March 8. Police departments posted alternative numbers to call in case of emergency. AT&T tweeted later that day that the issue had been resolved.
‘Just Say No': AG Sessions Cites Old School Anti-Drug Motto
by Jon Schuppe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sees answers to the nation's opioid epidemic and uptick in violent crime by looking at what's been used in the past, most notably law enforcement crackdowns that put more people in jail.
On Wednesday, he endorsed another vintage tactic.
"I think we have too much of a tolerance for drug use - psychologically, politically, morally," Sessions told law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia. "We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, 'Just say no.'"
Sessions invoked a phrase that was once central to President Ronald Reagan's 1980s war on drugs.
"Just Say No" was the marketing mantra behind a public-education campaign that complemented an offensive marked by aggressive policing and mandatory-minimum prison sentences. The zero-tolerance approach, a response to fears about crack cocaine, helped drive down crime rates but also fueled a dramatic increase in the American prison population.
Thirty-five years later, the iconic slogan, and the advertising campaigns it inspired ("This is your brain on drugs"), are now considered by many outdated and ineffective. The same thing goes for many of the resulting drug-education programs, which were based on the "Just Say No" model of lecturing resistance to peer pressure. Perhaps the best known of them is DARE, in which police officers warn kids about the dangers of drugs.
Sessions didn't mention any programs by name in his speech to law enforcement officials on Wednesday, but he recalled the effort fondly:
Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices by more people.
That philosophy is only half right, said Eric Sterling, who as a Congressional aide helped draft the tough-on-crime laws that marked the Reagan Era, now works to unwind their effects as executive director of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.
"He's right that this should be getting attention at the highest level, that parents should take action and find things that are effective," Sterling said. "But when he starts using rhetoric like 'just say no," he is identifying with the more superficial approach that is not effective with the target audience of teenagers you're trying to reach. It's an approach that is not evidence-based."
A Sessions spokesman declined to elaborate on Sessions' remarks.
Daniel Raymond, deputy director of planning and policy at the Harm Reduction Coalition, took issue with Sessions' premise that society is more tolerant of drug use. Sessions bemoaned in particular the growing acceptance of marijuana.
Despite more states legalizing pot, its use by young people hasn't changed much in recent years, and their use of other drugs has declined, Raymond said. Those conclusions are included in the latest findings by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Prevention efforts, Raymond said, "should not be about hammering that drugs are bad, but that some people have vulnerabilities, and need to be given skills to get through life without relying on illicit drugs."
Today, he and other advocates say, there is a new generation of programs based on scientific research on addiction.
Michael Hecht, a Penn State professor who developed a school program - keepin' it REAL - that the U.S. surgeon general endorsed in a landmark 2016 report on drug abuse, said he opposed a return to "scare campaigns" that focused on telling young people about drugs' effects. But he argued that many programs that emerged from that period did play a role in reducing drug use.
The most effective, he said, are programs known as "social influence interventions" that stress interactions among young people. Today's version of DARE, he said, has embraced that approach.
The opioid crisis, driven by people who get addicted to prescription painkillers then turn to cheaper heroin, is different from earlier crises in that they're tied to deeper problems within the health care system - and opens up a new landscape of potential prevention efforts.
"It's a different problem and may well require a different solution," Hecht said.
Newark Police Department to open community policing center on Main Street
by Karie Simmons
The Newark Police Department is turning a vacant Main Street storefront into a new community policing center.
The center will open later this month at 134 E. Main St., which was home to SAS Cupcakes until the eatery closed in 2015, and stay in the space at least through the end of December.
Lt. Dennis Aniunas told city council Monday night he came across a community policing center in Mystic, Conn., over the summer while on his way back from a family vacation and decided to bring the idea to Newark as a pilot program.
He approached Dannemann, LLC, which owns property on Main Street, about using one of the company's vacant storefronts. Aniunas said Dannemann offered the former SAS Cupcakes location to NPD rent free through the end of the year, and only minor effort is needed to make the space move-in ready, including painting and adding a repurposed conference table and desks to create a functional office setting.
“I think this is just a great hub of Main Street,” Aniunas said.
He explained the site, which will only be open to the public when staffed by a sworn police officer, will not operate as a satellite police station, but rather a place for the community to interact with police. NPD will be able to hold events like “Coffee with a Cop” in the new space, and it will be open during A New Night Downtown and other city events.
Aniunas is hoping the new center will increase NPD's communications and engagement with the community.
“We're trying to make the police approachable,” he said. “I think that's the problem with society today is people look at this uniform and they make a judgement for better or for worse.”
The community policing center will also increase police presence downtown, which will further serve as a crime deterrent and give residents, business owners and students a stronger sense of safety, Aniunas said. NPD's Special Operations Unit will be tasked with working exclusively out of the new center, and people will be able to report crimes there. However, no suspects will be detained at the location.
The only costs to open the community policing center include electric consumption, natural gas consumption (Delmarva has granted a $600 credit), approximately $150 each month for internet and a one-time $500 fee for an access point, and an estimated $1,200 to print a new awning for the storefront.
George Dannemann of Dannemann, LLC, said Tuesday he agreed to waive the rent for the space through 2017 because he is passionate about Newark having a community policing center. He said he has children of his own and wants them to grow up knowing police officers are people they can trust.
“I really am passionate about the idea and what it means for Newark long-term, and this is our way of investing in the idea and hoping it works out well,” Dannemann said. “There were some people who were pretty intent on the space, but we decided this was a pretty unique opportunity for the city long-term and it's what's best for the city and we're going to do our part to make it happen.”
Council is not required to vote on the proposal, but some members shared concerns Monday about the public not understanding what a community policing center is. Council members Jen Wallace and Mark Morehead suggested NPD post the proper signage and hours of operation in the new space as well as directions to the actual police department, located on South Main Street.
“So the public doesn't think of it as another police station, that this is something different,” Wallace said.
Aniunas said the lease contract with Dannemann, LLC, allows the city to walk away from everything by December; however, if the city desires to continue the arrangement then it needs to provide written notice by September. The city will then have through October to settle on a mutually agreed upon value for rent in 2018, at which point council will be able to vote.
from Dept of Justice
Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Found Guilty of Orchestrating Scheme to Obstruct Federal Investigation into Jails
LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty today of leading a conspiracy to obstruct justice by overseeing a scheme designed to impede a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities. Baca was also convicted of lying to federal investigators when he denied knowledge of key aspects of the obstruction plot.
After about two days of deliberations, a federal jury found that Baca authorized and condoned a scheme that now has resulted in the conviction of 10 former members of the Sheriff’s Department. During the trial, prosecutors described Baca as being the top figure in the conspiracy, which also involved his right-hand man and deputies who implemented orders from the Sheriff.
The jury convicted Baca on three felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators. As a result of today’s guilty verdicts, Baca, 74, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who has presided over several trials involving members of the conspiracy, is expected to schedule a sentencing hearing during a status conference on Monday.
The obstruction plot began in August 2011 after LASD officials discovered a cell phone in an inmate’s cell at the Men’s Central Jail, linked the phone to the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and learned that the inmate was an FBI informant. The cell phone had been smuggled into the jail by a corrupt deputy who took bribes. The FBI developed the informant as part of an investigation into the county jail system, which for years had been the subject of allegations of inmate abuse and subsequent cover-ups. The evidence presented at trial showed that the Sheriff wanted to avoid federal scrutiny of his troubled jails.
As part of the obstruction scheme, Baca ordered a criminal investigation of the FBI agents conducting an undercover investigation, and he directed that the informant be concealed from federal investigators. Members of the conspiracy then hid the informant from federal authorities, engaged in witness tampering in an effort to prevent information from being shared with federal authorities, and threatened to arrest the lead FBI agent on the case.
While Baca put his right-hand man, then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, in charge of the scheme, Baca participated in dozens of meetings and phone calls with members of the conspiracy and admitted directing his deputies to approach the FBI agent. Baca participated in the scheme after being warned by a top deputy that the actions would amount to obstruction of justice.
“The former sheriff has now been held accountable for overseeing a widespread scheme to obstruct justice by issuing orders designed to protect a corrupt culture,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “As the Sheriff for Los Angeles County, Mr. Baca had a duty to uphold the law, a duty he utterly failed when he played an active role in undermining a federal investigation into illegal conduct at the jails. Today’s verdict shows that no one is above the law.”
“By obstructing the rule of law, Mr. Baca failed both the dedicated men and women of the largest sheriff’s department in the country, as well as the community he swore to serve,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “As this dark chapter for the LASD nears to a close and the department embarks upon reform under new leadership, we owe a debt of gratitude to the agents and prosecutors who worked on this case over several years and, at times, under very difficult circumstances. Their unfailing commitment to this case and to rooting out corrupt officials can only restore faith in law enforcement going forward.”
The case against Baca is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is one in a series of cases resulting from the investigation into county jail facilities in downtown Los Angeles that has resulted in 21 convictions.
As a result of today’s verdicts, Baca becomes the tenth member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to be convicted in the obstruction scheme, including former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Eleven other former deputies have been convicted of federal charges, mostly related to unprovoked beatings of inmates and subsequent cover-ups.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Fox, Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section; Assistant United States Attorney Lizabeth A. Rhodes, Chief of the General Crimes Section; and Assistant United States Attorney Eddie A. Jauregui of the Major Frauds Section.
FROM: Thom Mrozek, Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (Los Angeles)
NAASCA in the News
EDITOR'S NOTE: As NAASCA becomes more and more well known, I'm often asked by media to offer a perspective on topics related to issues child abuse and trauma. These requests are solicited from all over the globe. This one's from The United Kingdom. In this article I expressed my personal position on the recent FBI probe seeking to shut down child pornography web sites. As many know, I've an extensive law enforcement background resulting from being a community-policing advocate for some 25 years .. and was a victim of a lot of pre-pubescent child porn myself, starting at 11 years old. - Bill Murray, NAASCA / LACP
Playpen moral dilemma: Is FBI right to erode civil liberties or risk child porn suspects roaming free?
FBI hacked 8,000 computers in 120 countries to catch child porn site visitors – did it overstep the mark?
by Mary-Ann Russon, IBTimes UK
The FBI may have used hacking tools to catch people accessing child pornography, but should the Playpen cases be thrown out of court? IBTimes UK investigates. If you host a child pornography website for 15 days and approve new content uploaded to the site as part of an investigation, does this make you a distributor of child pornography? Is it okay for law enforcement to hack thousands of citizens using just one warrant in order to stop online crimes?
March 14, 2017 -- In 2015, the FBI brought down Playpen, the largest-ever child pornography website on the internet – which at its peak had almost 215,000 members.
Recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011 state that 42 million American adults have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The Playpen website was hidden on an unindexed part of the internet called the Dark Web, and the FBI located suspects by using a hacking tool known as a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) to discover 1,300 IP addresses they could trace back to actual individuals.
Over 1,500 cases arose from the investigation involving suspects from all over the US, who faced charges that included accessing the website, as well as intent to obtain, download and distribute child pornography. Many of the cases were heard in federal courts in 2016, but presently the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is still prosecuting 135 people involved in almost 200 cases.
A large number of the defendants have pleaded guilty to the charges, but in some cases attorneys have argued that the FBI needs to disclose how exactly it was able to hack Playpen visitors' computers, which were all protected by the Tor anonymising network.
Not all judges have agreed with this, but in the case involving suspect Jay Michaud, district Judge Robert Bryan ordered the US government to hand over the exploit's source code in May 2016. Instead of doing so, the government classified the source code, and after an eight-month-long legal battle, on 5 March Bryan decided to suppress the FBI's evidence and throw the case out.
This landmark judgement has the potential to unravel many of the other Playpen-related cases currently going through the US courts, which means that 135 people, whom are known to have accessed child pornography and may or may not be a potential risk to society, could soon walk free.
But where do you draw the line? What is more important – the risk of potential paedophiles roaming free when they are known to law enforcement, or the continued erosion of citizens' civil liberties? IBTimes UK has conducted exclusive interviews to get a sense of this key debate.
The FBI has gone too far this time
Michaud's state-appointed federal public defender Colin Fieman says there are significant issues arising from the case regarding the conduct of law enforcement that simply cannot be ignored, even when the issue involves potentially unsavoury issues.
"The FBI went so far beyond the pale of what's considered legal and appropriate, that at least in my view, remedial action by the courts is needed and necessary. As public defenders, our job is to defend the constitution and not just the rights of our individual clients, but more broadly we are an important check on executive powers. We're a frontline bulwark to protect the constitutional rights and privacy interests of the public in general," Fieman told IBTimes UK.
"While in this case we're narrowly talking about child porn allegations, the types of tactics used by the FBI have sweeping implications for privacy rights in general.
|"Of course the FBI did the right thing. If the child porn suspects want their civil rights, they should come out onto the open web. You don't have a right to hide criminal activity. -- Bill Murray, founder of National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
||As part of "Operation Pacifier", the FBI hacked into a total of 8,000 computers located in 120 countries on a single warrant. According to the federal public defenders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the magistrate judge from the Eastern District Court of Virginia didn't realise the scope of the warrant he was signing. In case you're wondering, it is illegal for anyone to hack computers outside the US, even if you're a law enforcement agency. You can't take a local warrant and turn it into a global one.
"Our goal is to get a decision from as many courts that are willing to look at it, that in order to hack into a citizen's computer, law enforcement needs to get a warrant and sufficient evidence to search only that specific user's computer. It's not enough for law enforcement to say there's criminal activity on the internet and get one single warrant to search 8,000, 100,000 or a million computers," the EFF's senior staff attorney Mark Rumold tells IBTimes UK.
Despite all that is being said in court by lawyers and activists, the DoJ is standing firmly behind the FBI, so it is unlikely that any internal investigation will arise to discipline the law enforcement agency for its actions.
"Yes, there is always a risk that offenders could go free when evidence is suppressed or the government is forced to drop charges. As we've said in numerous court filings in the hundreds of cases across the country, use of the Tor exploit was lawful and proper. Moreover, it resulted in the identification of 50 children who had been sexually abused and in the identification of hundreds of criminals," DoJ spokesperson Nicole Navas told IBTimes UK.
"The Justice Department is committed to the safety and well-being of our children and has placed a high priority on protecting and combating sexual exploitation of minors and to bringing offenders to justice."
Saviour, or the world's biggest distributor of child porn?
There's also another highly contentious issue about the investigation. During Operation Pacifier, the FBI seized the computer server running the Playpen website from a web host located in Lenoir, North Carolina. But instead of shutting the website down, the FBI continued to run the child pornography image board from its own servers for another 15 days in order to catch the people who sought to access the website.
"To catch those people, the FBI operated the world's largest child porn site and by conservative estimate, distributed at least one million illegal images and videos around the world. There were at least 100,000 visitors during that period," says Fieman.
"New child porn was posted by the FBI while operating the site. Other users submitted it, but the FBI were the ones who technically placed it on the website and made it available to the general public. The FBI could have investigated the Playpen website very effectively without resorting to these methods. They've even admitted it. When do the ends no longer justify the means?"
The problem with what the FBI did is that every time the child porn is viewed, downloaded or distributed, it is essentially a revictimisation of the person who was in the image or video, so essentially it can be argued that the FBI revictimised countless victims during its operation.
Bill Murray, 63, in Los Angeles, has a background in TV and film production. He is the founder of the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA), a volunteer-run organisation with tens of thousands of members from all over the world who offer support and at least 30 different services to help survivors heal from child abuse both online and offline.
"The FBI running the site – that's called a sting, a tactic that is used all the time. What about the 350 days in the year that weren't covered by the sting? The Dark Web is a haven for paedophiles. They might be in America but they host their websites offshore in countries where hosting registration can be sold to people who want to look at child pornography," Murray, a former victim himself, tells IBTimes UK.
"Of course the FBI did the right thing. If the child porn suspects want their civil rights, they should come out onto the open web. You don't have a right to hide criminal activity. Everywhere in our country, it's a criminal activity. They go host these websites in countries that don't have those laws, but as soon as they're on the internet, they're accessible from all over the world. We were delighted when the site was taken down."
A severe erosion in civil liberties
Fieman says that the FBI's tactics meant that many innocent users of the Dark Web had their computers hacked even before they could recognise that the site they were visiting was a child pornography site, and this is such a big problem that it cannot be ignored by the public.
To this end, Fieman and the public defenders' office set up a national defence working group and is now actively helping private attorneys across the country to strategise and share information on pleadings on the other cases.
"The cases are complex and the government has done its best to keep information and evidence under wraps. A coordinated effort is needed to defend against such a big operation with so many people being charged across the country," he stresses.
"Child porn is a scourge – I'm a parent myself. It's important these people are monitored, treated and if necessary prosecuted, but it's really important that people are made aware of what the government is doing. So many complicated issues and competing interests get caught up in criminal cases, but if you don't have a balance of advocacy and resources between defence and prosecution, then you're on a slippery slope to a police state."
But what about the fact that potential paedophiles could be released? Murray says that sadly the FBI's work is barely chipping the tip of the iceberg.
"I'd be upset if the suspects go free, but I'm more upset that it goes on and on in our societies. They captured a thousand people, but there are literally a million people doing this that they'll never catch. Every time the FBI comes up with a clever new piece of software, the criminals figure out how to block it, and they're winning by leaps and bounds," he says.
"Fighting child pornography is like climbing Mount Everest and standing at the bottom. We're never going to end it. Maybe it just helps that we even find them. But I don't hate the lawyers. I'm a huge supporter of the concept of civil liberties, it's very important."
North Charleston's police advisory group holds first meeting: 'We can make things better'
by Diane Knich
North Charleston's long-awaited Citizens' Advisory Commission on Community-Police Relations — believed to be the only one of its kind in the Lowcountry — met for the first time Tuesday night.
The inaugural gathering largely focused on how the 25-member commission will be organized. But in the future, its members will review citizens' complaints against the North Charleston Police Department and its officers. It also will work to improve communication between the department and the city's various communities, educate the public about how to bring issues to the police department, aid in recruiting new officers and make recommendations to the department about how to improve community policing.
The panel was formed partly as a response to the 2015 fatal shooting of Walter Scott by North Charleston officer Michael Slager. But some residents have questioned how effective it will be because it lacks subpoena powers.
North Charleston's commission is believed to be the most ambitious group in the area in terms of providing a degree of civilian oversight over a police department, although at least one other police department has sought the public's input.
Last year, the Charleston Police Department began its Illumination Project, an ongoing effort to strengthen relationships between the citizens and police.
And North Charleston also formed a Community and Police Panel in 2008, but it had different members than the new commission, and wasn't thought to be as focused or organized.
Ed Bryant, president of NAACP chapter in North Charleston, has said he doubted the new commission would have an impact because the former police panel was in place when Scott was shot.
But members of the new commission said they were positive about what the group might be able to do, and committed to working collaboratively.
"I'm excited because we can make things better," said commission member Dot Scott, president of the Charleston Branch of the NAACP. Scott was appointed by Mayor Keith Summey.
Keon Rhodan, who was appointed by City Councilman Kenny Skipper, said the group is diverse, and he's a little different than some other people in it. "I was a knucklehead when I was younger, on the wrong side of the law," he said.
But after serving time in federal prison, Rhodan talked about how he turned his life around. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees, and now owns a car dealership. He also is involved in several community groups.
Through his community work, he got to know several police officers, he said. And he thinks the commission can improve relationships between police and the community.
Former U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles facilitated Tuesday's meeting and suggested the group first learn more about how the police department operates before moving forward.
The group decided to spend the next several meetings going over lessons from the department on topics such as: community policing, search and seizure, traffic stops and biased-based profiling, use of force, and recruiting and training.
Members also decided it was important that they receive press releases from the police department so they stay as informed as possible on the issues.
The group will meet bimonthly at least until it completes its informational sessions on police department practices.
Community Survey Aims to Help Reform Newark Police Department
by Michael Hill
More than 100 Newark residents braved wind chills in the teens to come to Bethany Baptist Church to take a consent decree community survey.
“We used all of our normal channels of advertisement to get both our church members and local community members to come out as well,” said Rev. Timothy Jones, senior pastor at Bethany Baptist Church.
The survey takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete with a potential impact to reform the Newark Police Department for a generation or more. Three years ago, the Justice Department found — among other things — numerous constitutional violations in how some officers police the streets. A consent decree requires federal monitor Peter Harvey to survey residents about their suggestions for reform and their perceptions of and interactions with Newark police.
“I've had some interesting experiences with the police to say the least,” said Lynda Lloyd. “Both [positive and negative].”
National Urban Fellow Lloyd is a lifelong Newark resident.
“We have demands for the police and we talk a lot on the community level but we need to come out and participate officially so that our voices and opinions can be appropriately documented,” she said.
Lloyd is leery of officers wearing body cameras because she says on a national level recorded misdeeds have gone unpunished. She favors better and ongoing training, community policing and officers living where they serve.
“Unions will probably push back on that, but I think once you live amongst the population of people that you serve you would serve them a bit differently,” she said.
Lloyd says the federal court order protects the reform process underway here from any potential retreat by the new administration in Washington and she insists the power is in the people.
“There's certain things that we can say the federal government may not be fans of but the power of the people and the pressure from the people could help shift this paradigm,” Lloyd said.
Jones took the survey, too, hoping it leads to real reform.
“Reforms that would lead to better relationships pre-crisis, pre- arrests, pre-trauma, pre-crime would be the kinds of things I would love to see,” he said.
This is another step in a series of survey-taking Saturdays by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. The goal, of course, is to take the pulse of the people of Newark.
“And for five decades, city residents have been seeking to build a law enforcement department with whom they have trust and really seek to imagine what the relationship can look like between law enforcement officials and community members. And so today is an important step in understanding how community members view the relationship as it stands right now between law enforcement and community leaders,” said New Jersey Institute for Social Justice President and CEO Ryan Haygood.
The Institute for Social Justice has scheduled three more Saturdays for consent decree survey taking so Newark residents can help reform their police department.
Bill would allow police to electronically view vehicle registrations
Rep. Peter Lucido said drivers no longer have to be without such documents
by The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. — Legislation has been introduced in Lansing that would allow motorists to use smartphones to present copies of vehicle registrations when requested by law enforcement during traffic stops or accidents.
Republican Rep. Peter Lucido of Shelby Township in Macomb County says Tuesday that electronics are moving things toward the future and drivers no longer have to be without such documents.
Lucido also says that he hopes driver's licenses will someday be allowed on electronic devices, as well.
His bill passed in the House unanimously and now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate. It would accompany earlier legislation that allowed Michigan drivers to provide their vehicle insurance electronically.
Police officers only would be allowed to view registration and insurance information on the smartphones of drivers they pull over.
Officer buys bike for man who walked over 3 hours to work
Officers have given Nick Bonness rides when it's raining or snowing
by PoliceOne Staff
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — A local man's commute recently became a whole lot shorter thanks to the kindness of a Fairview Heights police officer.
Nick Bonness walks over three hours one-way to work the night shift as a security guard at a local golf course community, the department wrote on Facebook. Multiple officers have given rides to Bonness when the weather is bad, but rookie Officer Clay Mason wanted to give Bonness something to help him out with his daily travel.
Last Saturday night, Mason surprised Bonness with the bike - complete with lights he installed to keep Bonness safe during his night rides.
“We felt Officer Mason's generosity could not go ignored, although Officer Mason was reluctant to tell anyone about his gift or have his picture taken,” the Facebook post read. “Officer Mason is a true asset to the Fairview Heights Police Department and our community.”
Hope amidst the riots: How a cop, activist's hug sparked a movement
It was the hug seen ‘round the world – a moment of peace following two days of unrest in Charlotte
by Cole Zercoe
In a year dominated by a narrative of how strained police-community relations had become, one of the most iconic images of 2016 was a symbol of hope: Amidst a fog of tear gas and smoke in a city on fire, a white police officer outfitted in riot gear stepped off the line and embraced a young black activist.
It was the hug seen ‘round the world — a moment of peace following two days of unrest over the fatal officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. After months marred by tragedy on both sides, the embrace Ken Nwadike and Officer Chris Frunzi shared was a powerful sign that the damage to the relationship between police and the public was not irrevocable.
‘Anarchy and chaos'
The horrors of the Charlotte riots were unlike anything Frunzi had seen in his eight years as a law enforcement officer. Twelve-hour shifts over multiple nights were soundtracked by helicopters buzzing overhead, fireworks exploding, glass shattering, full-throated chants calling for violence against police and non-stop radio chatter. Frunzi carried many of his colleagues off the line after they were pelted with rocks, bottles and any other objects agitators could get their hands on. On the first night, Frunzi went down twice. The most severe of those attacks, a shot to the groin with what he described as a “railroad rock,” left him in nausea-inducing pain. He would later undergo four weeks of physical therapy as a result of his injuries. As he endured the hostile crowd, Frunzi found himself escorting bystanders, who had locked or barricaded themselves in shops, to safety.
“I've never seen that before in the United States of America,” Frunzi said. “That people are afraid to leave a business because they don't know what's going to happen. We were all tired and hurting. Our skin was burning from all the chemical munitions we'd used. It was just so stressful getting hit with all that stuff and the constant yelling and screaming — just anarchy and chaos. It was scary as hell. You can't see everyone in the crowd; you can't tell if somebody has a gun pointed at you. You can't tell if somebody is getting ready to shoot at you. You stand there and you just hope that everything's going to work out.”
Eye of the storm
Nwadike entered the streets of downtown Charlotte on the second day of riots just as protesters were running away — a demonstrator had been shot in the head. A false rumor that he had been shot by police quickly spread among protesters. Amid the crowd's shouts of “this means war,” Nwadike knew he needed to do everything in his power to de-escalate a scene that was spiraling out of control.
Over the course of the night, Nwadike stepped into volatile situations where he felt his calming presence was needed, often acting as a liaison between officers and protesters to get communication going when neither side was talking to the other.
Negotiating in such a pressure cooker was no small task, and breaking a protester out of their “zone of rage” took many different forms. Sometimes, it was as simple as reminding someone that they had kids they needed to return home to. In other instances, it required physically restraining someone until they cooled off. At one point, Nwadike stopped a crowd of protesters who had ripped out a concrete parking bumper and were planning to drop it on a line of officers below a highway overpass.
“It can be scary at times. Obviously there are protesters that show up with the intent to be destructive — not the majority — but there are some that show up with the intent of causing a ruckus,” Nwadike said. “Standing in the middle is not a safe place to be when bricks are flying and gunshots are going off. The police are trained for those things and they have gear that can protect them if something goes bad; I'm just out there as me. But I know that if I'm not out there trying to bring peace to those situations … I've seen in many cases where it could have gone terribly wrong if I wasn't there to talk sense into someone.”
With a camera in tow, Nwadike has served as the voice of reason in a number of emotionally-charged situations between police and the public. He traveled to Dallas in a show of support for law enforcement after the ambush attack that killed five officers. He was also on the front lines keeping the peace during the Women's March in D.C. following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
“I felt like there's something that we're missing here in the middle of all of this, and it's people seeing each other as human beings again on both sides,” Nwadike said. “So I set out to really try to change the hearts and minds and attitudes that people have towards one another. Being on the front lines of protest is a great stage to be able to broadcast that message to the world: Hey, we're better than this, why are we shouting at one another?”
His work as the “Free Hugs Project” began shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. A life-long runner who took up the sport as a way to overcome his childhood of living in homeless shelters, Nwadike watched in horror as those who participated in an activity he loved so much were maimed or killed in a devastating act of terror.
“I felt helpless; I needed to do something about the violence and hatred that was going on in the world,” Nwadike said.
The following year, Nwadike traveled to Boston to participate in the marathon. After he missed qualifying by just 23 seconds, he stayed at the event in a show of solidarity, cheered on participants, and handed out “Free Hugs” t-shirts. Video of his work quickly went viral, and his activism grew from there.
“It started out [in Boston] just to spread love; to be an example of love in the face of adversity, in the midst of chaos,” he said. “That mission has changed now because of the social climate we're in — there are so many protests and riots and social injustice. People are shooting back at police officers now. All of the things that are going on; I just want it all to stop.”
The hug seen ‘round the world
By the time Nwadike traveled to Charlotte, he was already a viral star. Frunzi, as it turned out, was familiar with his work. As he stopped for a breather late into the second night of protests, he spotted Nwadike in a “Free Hugs” t-shirt. He recognized it from a video he had seen of Nwadike's work in Dallas.
“I yelled out, ‘Hey man, where's my free hug at?' He turned and almost had this puzzled look on his face,” Frunzi said. “It kind of caught him off guard. He came over, gave me a hug, and I thanked him for keeping the peace and told him that I had seen the work he had done. Some of the other officers couldn't believe it.”
That moment was the lift Frunzi and his fellow officers needed after two exhausting nights in downtown Charlotte. The next morning, Frunzi woke up to a flood of missed calls and texts — he had no idea Nwadike had been filming.
“In all that chaos, destruction and violence, he captured a moment that was just amazing — that meant so much to me, my fellow officers, everybody,” Frunzi said. “I come to work every day hoping that I change at least one person's life for the better. Because of that video, we touched millions of people and showed them that there can be unity between the police and community.”
A healthy dialogue
Despite the challenge of presenting his message in environments of heightened emotion often tied to complex issues like racial disparity and police use of force, Nwadike says the vast majority of those he speaks to are receptive, even if they initially cast him off as “just the free hugs guy.”
“It's not just free hugs anymore — it's full-blown activism and social justice work and really trying to get people to humanize both sides — for both sides to be able to communicate to one another,” Nwadike said. “ Violence solves nothing. If an issue comes about that you want to discuss with your police department, set a meeting. Let's talk about it. You can meet with politicians — write letters to Congress and city council people. That's the way of really creating change."
He said his activism has taken on a new life recently with the rise of Black Lives Matter and other activist groups. While he doesn't have anything against those groups, he thinks there's a component of love that is missing in the protests.
“In trying to find justice for someone you want police to know is a human being, you can't forget that the very officers that you're talking to are human beings as well. That uniform doesn't make an officer a robot. There's still a person behind it,” Nwadike said.
It's that message — of love for one another, positive dialogue and building strong relationships on both sides — that Frunzi shares each day he spends on patrol, whether through connecting with kids on his beat or developing outreach events like a community barbeque. His hope is that this will encourage people to see officers in a new light and be more proactive in voicing their concerns to law enforcement before tragedy strikes.
“It's always a tragedy — including for the police — when a life is lost, whether it's taken by the police or it's taken by another citizen,” Frunzi said. “The best thing that can happen after a shooting is the community coming together. If you want to come together, the police will come together with you.”
Changing the world, one hug at a time
Since the video went viral, Nwadike and Frunzi have remained close friends. They've been working together to spread their message through speaking engagements and community-based projects. They're currently shopping around a TV show that's aimed at showing the positive side of law enforcement.
“I feel like the way that police are being portrayed in the media right now is hurting their image,” Nwadike said. “One of the longest running police shows on TV is 'Cops.' But when you watch it, all you're seeing is the officers kicking in doors and making arrests. You never see these cops constantly going in and doing good work in the community. A lot of people would say ‘controversy sells.' These days, there's enough controversy happening in real life. I think we're at a point where people want to see the good stuff now.”
Frunzi has also set up a Facebook page that he intends to use as a way to put a positive face to policing and reach out to people across the nation.
“No matter what the color of your skin is, the color of your clothes, the color of your uniform, we all have the same color blood. And at the end of the day, we have to realize that — we're all related in some way and we have the same genetic makeup. If we don't stand together, we're gonna end up as a nation falling apart. And I don't want that to happen,” Frunzi said.
Nwadike hopes that his work as the Free Hugs Project will continue to serve as a model for what can ber accomplished when the police and the public see each other, human-to-human.
"Even though it can seem like these days, with the media, that there's a lot of aggression comng from the underserved communities, it's not the majority of people from those communities that view police officers as bad," Nwadike said. "The dialogue that I have with a lot of people from those communities...they have the utmost respect for police officers. It's a tough time to be a cop-know that other people like myself are going to rise up to try to keep peace in these situations."
Homelessness Leads to Justice System and Vice Bersa, New Report Details
by John Holland
WASHINGTON — You're 16, homeless and sleeping on a park bench when police grab you at 3 in the morning. Vagrancy, trespassing or a host of minor offenses send you tumbling into the juvenile justice system.
Or you're 16, do something stupid with marijuana, get caught trespassing, missing curfews or skipping school. You have a home but no true family support system, and suddenly, with a criminal record, nobody's hiring, school expelled you and your family tossed you out of the house. You too wind up homeless.
The connection between youth homelessness and the juvenile system is the subject of a sweeping new study by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and several of its partners. The report makes recommendations for policymakers, law enforcement and youth advocates and provides broad insights into a problem that has plagued juveniles for decades.
“Each year, nearly 380,000 minors experience ‘unaccompanied' homelessness — meaning they are homeless and without a parent or guardian — for a period of longer than one week,” the report said. “These young people, much like their adult counterparts, are often cited, arrested, charged, and/or incarcerated instead of being provided with the supports they need. One million youth are also involved with law enforcement or the juvenile justice system each year, an experience that can increase their likelihood of becoming homeless.”
“It's an aspirational document because we realize different communities are at different places, so the goal was to create something broad enough and offer enough solutions so people can pick out what works for them,” said Naomi Smoot, executive director of the Coalition. “It can be very frustrating to communities if you outline a host of problems, but don't provide resources and ideas. The whole second half of the document was about providing those ideas.”
The study, “Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Principles for Change,” points to a form of double punishment many youth experience.
First they are abused, neglected or mistreated at home. The stress of living in such conditions or already being on the street most of the time create tensions and fear. The teen lashes out at a classmate, a fight ensues and assault charges funnel the youth into the juvenile justice system.
Homeless boys and girls often trade sex for shelter, or money to get shelter, and are charged with prostitution, even though in most states they would be classified as sexual abuse victims.
Authors of the study examined how more innocuous situations also lead to the justice system: A teen with a troubled home life stays with a friend's family, but it's a long way from his local school. Soon, truancy charges are filed, and another trip to the court system begins.
Citing a 2016 study by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families that interviewed 656 homeless youth, the report noted that 44 percent had been in a juvenile detention center, jail or prison. Nearly 62 percent had been arrested at some point, and more than half had been kicked out of their homes by the families.
To combat this, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice lists 10 Principles, recommendations and guidelines for those dealing with homeless youth who wind up in the justice system.
“Ensure that the laws and policies in your jurisdiction do not lead youth experiencing homelessness to be cited, arrested, or charged for survival acts or ‘quality of life' offenses,” the first principle states.
Other recommendations include having courts and law enforcement set up diversion and treatment programs that will help avoid a criminal record while providing needed services. It also recommends that communities strengthen family-related services, and have long- and short-term housing available for youth who wind up on the street.
Smoot said the report is part of a broader project called “Collaboration for Change” that includes CJJ and many other partners. The study itself was a collaboration: Lead author Lisa Pilnik, director of Child & Family Policy Associates, received input from more than two dozen experts and partner organizations while writing the study.
The study makes special mention of the challenges facing LGBT youth, who it says are disproportionately likely to become homeless and to enter the justice system. Many LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes by family members. The study cites estimates that about 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBT.
“Provide and require meaningful gender and cultural responsiveness staff training that increases knowledge and skills, with a particular focus on LGBTQ youth, youth of color, youth with disabilities, and the reasons they are more at risk for homelessness and justice involvement,” the study recommends.
The report's authors also warned against any efforts to make LGBT youth change their sexual orientation.
“Ensure that no young person will be subjected to or referred to programs that attempt to alter their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e., ‘conversion' therapy).”
Ferguson video about death of Michael Brown rekindles unrest, arrests
by Christine Byers and Joel Currier
FERGUSON -- St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch released unedited footage Monday from the Ferguson Market to try to settle questions raised by what he called a “pretty pathetic attempt at a video production” that led to a protest outside the Ferguson Market on Sunday.
McCulloch said the footage shown in the independent film “Stranger Fruit” was known to police and investigators when they looked into the police shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014. But it was deemed “not relevant or admissible” to the grand jury weighing charges against the officer, and therefore not released to the public.
The film's creator and narrator, Jason Pollock, and Brown's mother, Lezley McSpadden, allege that the video shows Brown trading a store clerk marijuana for Cigarillos about 11 hours before he was shot and killed by Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson. Pollock and Brown's mother claim that disproves the police notion that Brown was robbing the store shortly before he was killed.
McCulloch said the footage Pollock used had been altered, and the complete version shows Brown “attempting to barter” with store employees, who refused the package put on the counter. Brown returned the merchandise to the counter and took back the small package before leaving the store, McCulloch said. The footage then shows an employee putting the Cigarillos back on the shelves after Brown leaves, McCulloch said.
“It's not as though (this footage) was hidden away somewhere, as this fellow with his video project was trying to say,” McCulloch said. “Even his pathetic video shows the police report where he got the information. It's all there, and it's been there since 2014. It's all available and not edited.
“This is a clear attempt to distort this and turn it into something it isn't … There was no transaction, but there certainly was an attempt to barter for these goods, but the store employees had no involvement in that, and when he left, they put everything where it belonged … It's very clear there was no transaction between Mr. Brown and the store employees and to suggest he's coming back to get what he bartered for is just stupid.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Pollock said there was no deceptive editing done for his film.
“He's trying to make it seem like I did something that I didn't,” Pollock said of McCulloch. “He's a master at deception, I'll give him that, and he tricked the world for a long time, but he can't trick us now. Because anybody who sees that video knows exactly what they see.”
About 100 people gathered to protest outside the market Sunday night. Several gunshots were fired nearby shortly before midnight.
A Bellefontaine Neighbors man was charged Monday with trying to light a St. Louis County police car on fire during the protest. And a woman was charged with punching a Ferguson police officer in the face, breaking his nose.
In the first case, police say Henry L. Stokes, 45, of the 1500 block of Haviland Drive, was charged with felony counts of attempting to cause catastrophe and resisting arrest. Bail was set at $25,000.
During the protest, police say Stokes stuffed a napkin in the gas tank opening of a St. Louis County police car and tried to ignite it with a cigarette lighter.
Officers tried to stop him, chased him and arrested him.
In the second case, police say Alecia Rhone, 25, of the 3500 Derhart Place near St. Ann, punched a Ferguson police officer in the face. She was charged with third-degree assault and resisting arrest. Her bail was set at $15,000.
Chief Delrish Moss said the attack on the officer occurred as the officer was trying to arrest a man on the parking lot around 10 p.m.
Moss said despite his injuries, the officer wanted to come back to work.
Jay Kanzler, who represents the owners of the Ferguson Market, called Pollock's actions with the video “shameful.”
The encounter with Brown and the store clerks lasted almost four minutes, Kanzler said at a press conference Monday .
“What he did was took 20 seconds and then added this wild story and put it out there and opened up a whole kettle of fish that has been Ferguson that we thought we were starting to get over, that we were starting to heal from, and, as of last night, we took five steps backward,” Kanzler said.
Pollock's film alleges that Brown left the bag of Cigarillos with the store clerks during the early morning encounter with the intention of returning later to pick it up. Kanzler questioned why he would have left two cans of soda that he had just taken from the store's refrigerator in the same bag if he planned to come back for it later.
He called the storyline Pollock is promoting, “laughable and preposterous.”
“He's out there promoting a false narrative,” Kanzler said. “We just want this to end. Even if this were true, it had nothing to do with Michael Brown and that officer. That's documentary marketing 101, it's a way of generating publicity, he wants to stretch his 15 minutes of fame into 30 or 40 minutes.”
Allegations of a marijuana deal never surfaced during local and federal investigations.
But Brown's visit to the store and surveillance video were noted in parts of the St. Louis County police report that McCulloch released following the grand jury's decision in November 2014.
The report notes that at 1:13 a.m., a four-door passenger vehicle parked in front of the business, and a man, presumably Brown, entered the store, alone, and walked to the refrigerator section and appeared “to select several items,” according to the report.
“He approaches the counter, where he appears to put the items on the counter and have a conversation with the two employees behind the counter. At one point, he pulls an item out of his pocket and tosses it onto the counter. One of the employees picks the item up, examines it and places back on the counter. The individual in the red baseball hat then takes a white plastic bag off of the counter, starts to walk away, returns to the counter, leaves the bag and exits the business,” the report states.
Meanwhile, police in Ferguson are preparing for more unrest, Moss said.
“I understand people have frustrations, and I understand people being upset, people have every right to be upset, but one of the things missing here is that a lot has changed since 2014, including a lot of the personnel,” Moss said. “This officer who was hurt wasn't here in 2014. I wasn't here in 2014.”
A crowd of a few dozen gathered outside the Ferguson Market on Monday evening and urged people not to shop there. They even offered free cigarettes and candy bars to discourage would-be shoppers. One held a sign that said “No justice, no $$.”
The protest was monitored by a few Ferguson officers. At one point, the officers ordered the protesters off the store's lot and onto the sidewalk. Aside from some loud exchanges, the protest was peaceful.
Alton Committee to unveil Community Policing Strategic Plan
by The Alton Telegraph
ALTON — The Community Relations Commission of the City of Alton will hold a special meeting March 15 to unveil a Community Policing Strategic Plan in the works for six months.
The meeting, open to the public, will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Scott Bibb Center, 1004 E. 5th St.
Dan Isom, an endowed professor of policing and the community at University of Missouri-St. Louis, and his team will present the plan. Isom also is a retired chief of police for the Metropolitan Police
The process began with a community meeting and internal review of the police department in the fall of 2016, under Isom's leadership.
The strategic plan is the result of an in-depth three stage process. It culminated in leaders from the community and members of the Alton Police Department collaborating on the best ideas to move us forward.
All are invited to come so we can chart a course together to continue to improve the relationship between the community of Alton and its police department.
For more information call city attorney Megan Williams at (618) 463-3590.
Huntsville City Councilman says a solution is needed for community policing issue
by Sarah Macaluso
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville City Councilman, Devyn Keith, wants both citizens and law enforcement to come together to have a community conversation.
On March 20, the topic will be community policing.
After dealing with an encounter with police, Keith wants to start a conversation.
Keith represents District 1. He said that the encounter — where police apparently briefly questioned him as a potential robbery suspect based on his race and clothing — was resolved with “civility between myself and the officers on duty.”
He still wants the community to weigh in.
"After my incident, I had a number of calls from constituents who said that they had similar incidents and maybe they didn't go as positive as mine went," said Keith.
The recently-elected city councilman took to Facebook to shed light on the situation that happened a month ago in his neighborhood of Terry Heights. Weeks later, another Facebook post from Keith showing bullets found in a North Huntsville yard. One, he claims, was found in an 85-year-old's living room.
All of this is what prompted the meeting.
"Once you hear from your constituents, it is your duty to really try to assess what the problem is and try and create some level of solution," said Keith.
He adds, the problem is two-fold. "One can't be content as a police officer and believe that we're supposed to have some level, and I say we as the administration, of respect just because we wear the badge. That respect is to be earned," said Keith.
Although, on the other hand, people have to be willing and wanting to listen. "We have to have an engagement level that allows us to understand what a police officer goes through, the training that they go through and having an assessment really to create the bridge," said Keith.
He says he hopes this meeting will turn into a policy proposal when it comes to community policing.
The meeting will be held on Monday, March 20 from 6pm-8pm at the Academy for Academics and Arts School Auditorium.
NPD hopes to ‘get back to the basics' with community policing
by Paulina Pineda
Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez said his goal for the department is to focus on the core values of community policing, a strategy the U.S. Department of Justice says promotes creating partnerships with community members and organizations to proactively address issues in the community.
“Technology in law enforcement, especially for our department, has been a great enhancement. But we need to go back to the foundation and that's basic policing. The handshake, the eye-to-eye, having conversations with people,” Bermudez said. “It's very easy nowadays to send an email or comment whether it be good, bad or indifferent on Facebook.
“But we want to get out there and basically have a pulse on the community,” he continued. “Put a face with a name and a neighborhood and identify real issues that are happening so that we can provide that personalized service to every individual neighborhood, because every individual neighborhood has their wants and needs.”
As part of this strategy, NPD has created a Community Action Team, consisting of a group of officers who will go door to door and speak with residents about pressing issues in their neighborhoods. The group will work with beat officers who are already familiar with residents in the neighborhood and the area to identify areas of concerns.
“Maybe it's kids vandalizing or speeding vehicles. I'll take that information and then come up with a plan to address it,” said NPD Sgt. Robert Fierros, who is leading the team. “If it's speeders then more motorcycle presence in that area. If it's kids vandalizing then maybe we'll send in an undercover team.”
Bermudez said the department also hopes to launch a Coffee with Cop-like event at Nogales High School where officers can visit with students on a monthly basis in order to build a better relationship with area youths. The department, which is remodeling its lobby in an effort to make it more inviting, has also implemented a suggestion box in the lobby and everyone who comes in is asked to fill out a short questionnaire about NPD's service, he added.
After criticism, Ore. fire chief halts embedding EMTs with riot police
Fire Chief Mike Meyers suspended the operations after community members objected to firefighters and EMTs being dressed in police riot gear
by Allan Brettman
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Meyers, responding to citizen complaints, has suspended operations of an emergency medical team deployed with police at protests since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Meyers acted because of complaints that emergency medical technicians were dressed identically to Portland police riot officers with whom they were embedded — though the Fire Bureau employees were unarmed.
A member of a citizens group called Empower Portland spoke last week before the Portland City Council, telling commissioners the group objects to firefighters dressing in police riot gear, which it says sends a message that the Fire Bureau was not impartial at the event. Empower Portland spokesman Standard Schaefer also displayed a photograph of an embedded EMT who wore a patch associated with support of police on his uniform shirt.
Meyers said he disapproved of the specially trained technician wearing the patch - an American flag in black and white colors with a blue line as one of the stripes -- on his riot gear during a downtown Not My President's Day protest in February.
"That is unacceptable and not appropriate," Meyers said of the patch.
The Fire Bureau for years has deployed emergency medical technicians at public protests, typically keeping them stationed with a truck two blocks from the scene and sending in technicians when called on.
However, Empower Portland representatives have said EMTs took too long to reach the scene of an Oct. 12 clash between protesters and police at City Hall. The confrontation had nothing to do with Trump - demonstrators appeared in the council chambers Oct. 12 to protest approval of a police contract.
Using that incident as an example, Empower Portland representatives met Nov. 22 with fire and city officials to discuss finding a better way to deliver treatment at protest scenes.
That's how the bureau arrived at its decision to embed EMTs with riot officers, Meyers said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In doing so, the bureau was adopting a procedure used in other U.S. cities, Meyers said. In those cities, EMTs are dressed in protective gear similar to police uniforms, the chief said.
Since the embedded team was launched, 10 people have been treated at about a half dozen protests, fire officials said, for these reasons: laceration, tear gas, pepper spray, loss of consciousness, diabetic reaction, chest pain and asthma.
But Meyers this week acknowledged the combination of riot gear and a variety of pouches on the EMTs uniform might give the impression a medic is armed with weapons. He is not, the chief said of the all-male unit.
During the suspension of the Fire Bureau's team, Meyers said he wants to explore finding protective gear that is distinct from a riot officer's and has clear "medic" or "EMT" labels on the uniform.
Meyers in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive spoke at length about the inappropriateness of the EMT wearing the patch, commonly called the "Thin Blue Line Emblem" and associated by some with the "Blue Lives Matter" movement, saying it damages the bureau's reputation.
"That damage is extremely difficult to fix," said Meyers, who was selected as chief of the 700-employee bureau in May. "That sends the message that out of all the things we do - the do-no harm, the firefighters are always ready, we'll be there all the time - we put something like that on and you make a statement to another group that we're taking a side? That has a long-term damage for us. I just want to make absolutely sure we understand every step of the way how we're viewed."
Meyers also said he expected more protests, calling it "the new normal," and that Portland firefighters would need to be aware of "the political environment we're in today."
Meyers on Wednesday informed City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the bureau, of the decision to suspend operations of the embedded team. Saltzman told The Oregonian/OregonLive he supported the decision, adding that he would meet with Empower Portland representatives Monday.
"We don't want our paramedics dressed like police officers," Saltzman said.
Portland police have appreciated having a firefighter EMT in their rapid response units, spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said, noting that flares and other objects have been thrown at officers at protests.
Meyers said he does not have a timeline about resuming the practice of embedding a technician.
"As fire chief, my role is to make sure people are healthy and safe. Everyone," he said. "We're not taking sides here. We need to be able to treat everyone and treat quickly."
3 Mexican nationals who harbored teen and forced her to work to pay off smuggling debts sentenced to prison
SEATTLE – Three Mexican nationals from northwestern Washington were sentenced to multiyear prison terms in federal court Wednesday for violating immigration laws by harboring a teenager and forcing her to work to pay off her smuggling fees.
Miguel Arcef-Flores, 42, received a 40-month prison term; his brother-in-law, Angel Sandoval Mondragon, 37, was sentenced to 36 months in prison; and Arcef-Flores' wife, Marabella Sandoval Mondragon, 38, was sentenced to 34 months in prison. All of the defendants are in the U.S. illegally and each will likely face deportation upon completion of their prison terms.
The charges resulted from an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Seattle, Aberdeen and Federal Way police departments. The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division also provided substantial assistance. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Crisham and Bruce Miyake.
In imposing the sentences, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart stated that the “extreme and abusive conduct of the defendants” took the case “well outside the heartland of the typical alien smuggling case.”
According to court records, in December 2004 Angel Sandoval Mondragon, who had recently been repatriated to Mexico, began recruiting his then 14-year-old niece to travel with him when he attempted to return to the U.S. Angel Sandoval Mondragon and his family, including his sister, Marabella Sandoval Mondragon and her husband, Miguel Arcef-Flores, had been living illegally in the Aberdeen area. Angel Sandoval Mondragon promised the girl a better life with an education and a home with his family.
“The defendants promised the world, and then stole the childhood of a 14-year-old girl,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “They preyed on a vulnerable relative for their own selfish and depraved reasons. Victims should know that they can safely come forward and report human trafficking crimes and all of us in law enforcement will work to ensure the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice.”
In early 2005, Angel Sandoval Mondragon smuggled the teen into the U.S. with the help of a “coyote.” The defendants picked the teen up and transported her to Aberdeen, where the three defendants shared a home with their five children and another teenage niece who had also been smuggled into the United States. The young girl was then informed that she would not be enrolling in school, but working in order to pay off her smuggling debts.
Angel Sandoval Mondragon obtained false documents for the teen and assisted in her in obtaining low wage temporary jobs at local companies in the Seattle area, including Plush Pippin and Seattle Gourmet Food. In return, the teen was forced to give all the money she earned to the defendants to pay for rent, food and household expenses. The victim and her cousin were sexually molested, threatened with deportation if they told anyone about their situation and denied food and medical care.
“No one should be forced to live in a world of isolation, servitude and terror as this young victim was, particularly in a country that prides itself on its freedoms,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “It's a sad reflection on human greed and heartlessness that people believe they can engage in this kind of egregious exploitation with impunity. This sentence should send a message to those who traffic in human beings – that HSI and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”
In approximately May 2006, the victim's employment with the temporary staffing agency was terminated because she was physically unable to work, so the defendants sent the victim and her teenage cousin back to Mexico. The defendants continued to tell the victim that she owed them money for the costs incurred in bringing her to, and harboring her in the United States.
In 2009, Marabella Sandoval Mondragon recruited her two younger brothers - both of whom were juveniles - to travel from Mexico to live with her and Arcef-Flores in the Seattle area. After the juveniles arrived they were told they had incurred smuggling debts and had to repay her. Marbella Sandoval Mondragon took one of the juvenile brother's identification documents, telling him that he would not get the documents back until he had paid his debt in full.
The three defendants were arrested following their indictment in December 2015 and have remained in custody since that time.