May 2017 - Week 2
Letter to the Editor
Community policing must include community
by Rev. Winston M. Clarke
The term Community Policing is being touted as something that is going to be a cure all for the Afro-American and Latino Community. In this day and age the phrase is a misnomer.
Growing up in Harlem during the 1930's , 40's, 50's and 60's (prior to the drugs); community policing was the norm. The police knew the people in the community, the people in the community knew the police. There was a mutual respect between the police and the community.
With the introduction of drugs coming into the Black and Spanish communities, the respect has gone which has led to many shootings by the police of Blacks. In order to alleviate the apathy of the police towards the Black community and the community towards the police (locally and throughout the United States), the community has to band together with the police and patrol together their neighborhoods.
An example is the Williamsburg section in Brooklyn; the Jewish community has their own patrol protecting their turf. You don't have anyone in the Jewish community being shot by the police (This is true Community Policing).
One of the main reasons community policing is not going to work in the Black and Spanish communities is drugs. Those communities that have semblance of patrols do not patrol where they are selling drugs (neither do the police).
When I was pastoring in Mount Vernon, NY, I formed a patrol called "The Watchmen." Members of my church and myself patrolled 3rd Street where they were selling drugs with impunity. Mayor Davis gave me police every week and we prayed and went out on patrol. We had the police stay a short distance from us so that we could evangelize and talk to the people in the community regarding employment, housing, voter registration, etc.
The afore-mentioned made the community safe when we were patrolling. The other churches and community groups would not join us because of fear and apathy.
When you patrol your community, when you respect yourself, others respect you also. You then don't have shootings by your own people or law enforcement.
Rev. Winston M. Clarke, Jersey City, Retired Captain, NY Department of Correction
Few problems found in Aiken Public Safety complaints
by Michael Smith
Most of the 36 complaints filed against Aiken Public Safety officers since April 2016 were dismissed. A quick glance of the reports helps explain why.
In many cases, the person filing a complaint backpedaled when shown body cam footage or confronted with other convincing evidence exonerating the officer. Other times, tensions naturally simmered in the days following a heated complaint.
That's not to say all complaints are unfounded. Five were classified as "sustained," which means there was "evidence sufficient to prove the allegation," according to official Aiken police complaint forms.
In one case, an officer was found to be drinking in the City limits, a violation of Aiken Department of Public Safety policy. Another officer resigned shortly after a violation of the department's social media policies.
One case yielded evidence of an officer engaged in sexual activity with a woman with an active warrant, records show.
But most of the reports reviewed by the Aiken Standard found that officers were either exonerated or the complaint was deemed unfounded.
"Our ultimate job is to protect everybody, anybody we come into contact with," said Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco. "However, we can't do it ourselves. I'm thankful to anyone who comes in with an incident."
Policing the police
As technology has improved, so has the ability to record police activity. Police chases, excessive force and in some cases, officer-involved shootings, are being caught on camera with increasing frequency.
Aiken is no different.
An October 2014 police stop partially caught on camera is now the focus of an ongoing federal lawsuit against the City of Aiken, the Aiken Department of Public Safety, Chief Barranco and four current and former officers. Aiken County residents Elijah Pontoon and Lakeya Hicks filed the suit.
According to the litigation, Pontoon said he was subjected to an illegal roadside cavity search in broad daylight. Hicks claimed in court papers that her chest was exposed while police searched her.
Barranco said he couldn't discuss the Pontoon suit since it is a pending legal matter, though in court filings the City has denied the search occurred.
The chief did say the litigation impacted police morale to a degree, but noted it hasn't impeded overall law enforcement operations.
"Of course it affected this department, but the men and women here are committed to protecting this community," Barranco said. "It is an honor to serve. One incident can't define you unless you let it."
Since the Pontoon suit became publicized in April 2016, there have been and continue to be changes in department policy.
Officers have received diversity training. The City has started a complaint hotline. And police are equipped with personal body cams, which Barranco said greatly enhances law enforcement and likely reduces complaints.
"The men and women love wearing them. They can't go out without them," Barranco said. "It protects them and it protects the complainant."
Public Safety recently began working with the freshly formed Citizens Review Board, whose job is to review any appeals of police complaints.
The review board held its first meeting in April.
"Once a complaint is filed, the chief is to notify me and (co-chairman) Paul Bush of the complaint profile," Fr. Grant Wiseman, chairman of the review board, said during the inaugural meeting. "Then what happens is Public Safety does their own investigation to their own policies and procedures."
The Public Safety review process can take up to 45 days, though Barranco said most reviews don't take that long.
At its April meeting, the review board voted to uphold three exonerations and deferred action on a fourth complaint for further review. Five more will be reviewed at the board's May meeting, which as of press time hadn't been scheduled.
"There are things that we're learning,” Wiseman said. “We have a wide spectrum of people that bring a wide spectrum of understanding.”
Aiken complaint forms
Public Safety's commendation/complaint forms have been in use since 1998, though it wasn't until the Pontoon case that they became more widely publicized.
In addition to their lawsuit, Pontoon and Hicks filed a complaint with Public Safety alleging many of the same points contained in the litigation. The Citizens Review Board was not in existence when the original suit was filed.
Barranco noted the forms are not only for complaints, but also commendations or compliments. The chief said when a complaint is filed, he receives a copy and a supervisor is assigned to investigate. Where it goes from there depends on the severity.
If evidence of criminal activity exists, typically Public Safety would reach out to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, which would conduct an independent investigation. None of the 36 complaints filed since April 2016 have been referred to SLED, Barranco said.
Most are investigated internally and referred to the Citizens Review Board if the citizen filing the complaint appeals. There are four outcomes to a report – sustained, not sustained, exonerated and unfounded.
Not sustained means there's insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation. Exonerated means the incident occurred, but was lawful, while unfounded means the allegation is "false or not factual or the employee was not involved."
What the reports found
None of the 36 reports were classified as "not sustained." The vast majority of incidents were marked "exonerated."
Of the five reports that were sustained, two were for comparatively minor infractions.
In one instance, an officer was reprimanded for pointing at an agitated woman at an area McDonald's, telling her she would go to jail if she returned to the restaurant.
A Public Safety memo said the officer would receive remedial training on community relations training and have a counseling memo placed in his file.
Another report checked "sustained" concerned a woman upset that a trespassing complaint she filed wasn't handled properly.
The investigator noted in the report that when the complaint was filed, there was a high call volume. But the investigator also noted that the officer fielding the complaint was given additional training and counseled on how to better serve the community.
A third report deemed sustained involved a Facebook post that violated the department's social media policies. The officer resigned during the course of the investigation, the report said.
The most serious incident to be sustained was detailed in a complaint filed Sept. 26, 2016, accusing an officer of engaging in sex acts with a woman with an active arrest warrant.
According to the complaint, the officer knew about the warrant, but never arrested her. He promised the woman her charges would be dropped in exchange for providing information aiding in drug investigations.
The report further states the officer sent explicit Facebook messages to the woman. Investigators determined many of the messages were sent while the officer was on duty, the report said.
According to police records, the officer admitted to sending explicit messages, but denied to engaging in sex acts. The woman said in the report that she and the officer engaged in a sex act behind a local grocery store.
Both the officer and woman took polygraph exams, according to the report.
"PSO (name redacted) was offered and agreed to take two polygraphs. The polygraphs were given by Tommy Platt (ACSO) and he stated in his report that PSO (name redacted) showed deception," the report said. "(The woman) also agreed to take a polygraph ... she showed no deception."
The officer also refused to turn over his phone during the internal investigation, the report continues.
It's not clear from the report what the final disposition was. Barranco declined to discuss the officer's employment status, saying it's a personnel matter.
Looking to the future
Such incidents are rare in the complaint forms reviewed by the Aiken Standard.
The only other complaint of consequence involved an officer consuming alcohol at the bar of a local restaurant. Barranco said it's a violation of department policy to consume alcohol at businesses in the City limits, even when they're off duty.
Barranco said while the department doesn't want to see any complaints, he said the number of sustained cases is low.
"Out of 40,000 calls for service, you're looking at less than 40 complaints in a year's time," the chief said. "I think any athlete or numbers person would be ecstatic."
In the proposed budget for 2017-2018, Aiken City Council is proposing several funding initiatives aimed at further improving Public Safety operations.
The budget draft includes funding to establish a salary schedule and a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for all City employees. The City is also looking to hire two permanent and two temporary officers to plug staffing shortages.
There are additional plans to create a high-tech database to help officers better understand crime trends in the City limits.
First reading of the budget is scheduled for May 17.
Texas Public Safety Agencies Embracing Drone Use
by the Insurance Journal
Government use of aerial drones became much easier when the Federal Aviation Administration flipped the switch on new regulations last year.
The Austin American-Statesman reports since then, a number of Austin-area public safety agencies, including the Williamson County sheriff's office and San Marcos police, are jumping in.
Some of those agencies say their drone use is narrowly defined, but the programs are too young to have policies in place that satisfy critics who worry that drones would threaten privacy.
“When you put a very powerful tool like this in the hands of government, the first thought is about privacy,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Schwartz said concerns about drones and surveillance are far-reaching, and include fears that they could be used to monitor and photograph protesters.
Of the Central Texas law enforcement agencies recently contacted for this report, only Williamson County and San Marcos confirmed that they intend to use drones for law enforcement purposes. Round Rock police are considering drones, but a spokeswoman said that department is early in the process and that drones were being researched for community outreach efforts.
Austin police aren't pursuing a drone program in any official capacity. However, the Austin police union is researching the technology and pushing for drones to be used by the department.
The Williamson County sheriff's office plans to purchase three drones that could be used in SWAT situations, patrols and missing-person cases, spokeswoman Kristen Dark said.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody declined to comment because his agency also is too early in the decision-making process. But a spokeswoman said no policy has been created outlining when or where authorities can use drones, and that budget negotiations will likely determine which and how many drones they purchase.
Meanwhile, the San Marcos Police Department's lone drone, which it already has purchased, will be used for investigations into vehicle crashes involving serious injury or death.
“With any new technology, it makes sense for us to look at but also to deploy it intelligently,” San Marcos Assistant Police Chief Bob Klett said. “That is why we are delaying any other uses on it.”
The FAA projects that drone use will explode in the coming years, according to a report last month predicting the number of drones flown in the United States to triple to 3.5 million by 2021. Their popularity continues to drive down costs — one of the more popular models for use by public safety agencies retails for about $1,000 — allowing many departments to purchase drones without requiring the public's approval.
Schwartz said the public's input should be gathered before drones are used. In the case of San Marcos, the City Council did weigh in on the purchase of the DJI Phantom 3 drone, giving its approval. Williamson County commissioners could provide input during budget negotiations later this year. Round Rock hasn't purchased any drones.
Schwartz said public and political input is key to the use of government-operated drones. But even with public approval, he said, people need to remain vigilant about policies. Without a clear policy, nothing is in place to stop a police department from using drones for court-approved surveillance.
Concerns similar to Schwartz's had a role in ending an attempt by Austin police in 2012 to get their own drone.
“We didn't feel like the council or community supported it, so it got dropped,” said Ken Casaday, president of the Austin police union. “Some were afraid that officers would abuse it in spying. It was silly, but people are concerned about that.”
The union's research has an emphasis on search and rescue operations. Casaday said drones could be a “force multiplier” — a low-cost purchase that would increase the Austin Police Department's capabilities. But Casaday said he would want their use limited to life-saving operations.
“It should be used for very specific circumstances,” he said. “I don't want to use it for surveillance, even though I think we might get to that one day.”
Before the FAA created new regulations last summer, the Austin Fire Department had already been operating drones for more than a year under a rare exemption that made it one of the first public safety agencies in the country allowed to use drones.
The fire department had recognized their value in responding to wildfires in Bastrop.
“I noticed the devastation and the distance, and I thought, `how can one cover this much distance?”‘ said Assistant Chief Richard Daviscq, who helped spearhead the acquisition of drones for Fire Department's Robotics Emergency Deployment Team.
Even with a skeptical public, the fire department got City Council approval for a program. They have since purchased three drones — a now largely decommissioned Leptroncq, a DJI Inspirecq and a DJI Maviccq, which is used in a “dog and pony show” for recruits and to tape promotional materials, Davis said.
Today, the drones are used in wildfire situations, for search and rescue missions and during floods.
“In my mind, without question, they are very beneficial,” Davis said. “It gives us immediate feedback, better situational awareness. It is just a smart way of operating.”
At a recent drone demonstration, firefighters in a concrete training tower paused to watch the buzzing quadcopters hover above the parking lot of the Southeast Austin training center.
“It's still viewed as a novelty,” Davis said. “Then people see it being used and it is an `ah-ha' moment.”
But even a fire department's use of a drone raised concerns for Schwartz.
“Once the fire department owns the drone, with the flip of a switch or a stroke of a pen that can be applied to the police,” he said. “Given the ease of the transference of all this equipment, it needs to be talked about.”
Texas Search and Rescue, a volunteer group that assists public safety agencies around the state, also has a burgeoning drone program, said Brandon Goering, a founding member and a planning section chief of the group.
“We have purchased our first drone,” Goering said. “That was the first step. Right now we are training with it, getting our ducks in a row to know what we can and can't do.”
Texas Search and Rescue purchased a DJI Mavic, a nimble quadcopter that can fold up to about the size of a VHS tape. Austin firefighters already can essentially “holster” their DJI Mavic drone in a small pack, and one civilian fire official who operates the same model said he could see the drone easily being clipped to a belt loop.
Goering said he sees a lot of potential for the drone, especially with current camera technology. It already has a high-resolution 4K camera, but infrared cameras can be easily installed and some video software already has the capability to spot certain colors. For example, Goering said, a drone seeking a person wearing a yellow shirt could use a camera that pinpoint spots where that color is detected, possibly leading to faster discovery.
In disasters, such as floods, a drone can give quickly provide a map of the terrain. Eventually, authorities might be able to fly a drone capable of delivering a life vest to someone stranded in floodwaters.
“I feel like we are just scratching the surface,” Goering said. “We have no lack of ideas. Each time we take it out, we come up with something new.”
Here's why COs are a vital part of public safety
To the person who would still question the role that prisons play in public safety, I'd like them to imagine our country without them
by Rusty Ringler
Historically, correctional officers have been viewed as ‘guards,' occupying isolated and misunderstood positions in prisons and jails. In recent years, the duties of these officers have become increasingly complex and demanding. They are called upon to fill, simultaneously, custodial, supervisory and counseling roles. The professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited by these officers throughout the performance of these demanding and often conflicting roles deserve our utmost respect. The important work of correctional officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves. It is appropriate that we honor the many contributions and accomplishments of these men and women who are a vital component of the field of corrections.”
-President Ronald Reagan, Corrections Week Proclamation 5187, May 5, 1984
During Corrections Week it's important to recognize the contribution made by correctional workers across the country. Corrections may be the most underappreciated of all professions within the public safety field. This is our opportunity to send the message to corrections staff and to the public that the profession of corrections is important and the service that they provide is vital to creating and maintaining safe communities.
It's understandable that the contribution and role of corrections staff goes largely unnoticed, especially considering that there is confusion even within the correctional community about the role they fill. Within some states, correctional officers have full peace officer status. In other states, correctional officers have limited peace officer status. Yet in others, there is no designated peace officer status for correctional officers. There are even those working within corrections who deny that correctional officers have any role in law enforcement. With this in mind, it's no wonder the corrections industry continues to suffer an identity crisis within the field of public safety.
Denying that correctional officers have a law enforcement role reveals a lack of knowledge with regard to the duties of correctional officers and to the laws of the land. Each day correctional officers break up fights; stop physical assaults and sexual assaults. Each day correctional officers are tasked with preventing escapes and contraband trafficking within correctional facilities. So each day correctional officers enforce laws within our nation's correctional facilities. Again, denying the law enforcement role of correctional officers reveals a lack of knowledge with regard to the duties of correctional officers and to the laws of the land.
Those working within community corrections also suffer the same identity crisis. Their roles and value within law enforcement are largely diminished even as they enforce laws and orders of the court. Like their brothers and sisters working within prison facilities, probation and parole officers are consistently asked to do more with less. All of this takes place as they deal with an increasingly dangerous population, as prisons are asked to make space and release offenders who would have previously served longer sentences.
In harm's way
Most importantly, all corrections staff, whether working in correctional facilities or in a community corrections role, in a security role or in a support services role, place themselves in harm's way each day in the name of public safety.
The statistics revealing the dangers of working in corrections are not indicative of what really happens each day in correctional facilities across our country. A criminal who harms or assaults a police officer on the street is generally sure to face criminal charges. These numbers are reflected in law enforcement reports and are indicative of the dangers of street policing.
Unfortunately, thousands of assaults take place each year within correctional institutions across the United States that are never reflected in these same reports. Why? Because many staff assaults occurring in jails and correctional institutions are handled internally through an administrative disciplinary process rather than through a formal criminal process. The result is an unrealistic and diminished view of the actual dangers inherent in corrections.
In what is perhaps the most challenging task for corrections professionals, they are expected to return offenders back to the communities better than when they left. In most cases they are successful, as a majority offenders never return to prison.
You service is important
Unfortunately, we don't hear the success stories as they don't seem to make good news stories. Instead, we hear only of those offenders who violated again, harmed society again. The fault and blame is often placed on the correctional departments rather than on those who make the laws and allocate money (or fail to allocate money) for rehabilitation efforts.
I'd like to remind correctional professionals across the country that the service you provide is important. The role that you provide to public safety is vital, and what you do matters.
To the person who would still question the role that prisons play in public safety, I'd like them to imagine our country without them.
About the author
Rusty is a corrections academy Training Specialist. He began his career in 1997 working as a Correctional Officer at a men's medium security prison. While working in the prison he also served as K-9 Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. He was a member of the Correctional Emergency Response Team for 15 years and holds current law enforcement instructor certifications in Defensive Tactics, Chemical Agents, and Firearms. In 2013 he moved to his current position where he instructs courses in several topics within the field of corrections. Rusty received his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Bellevue University and completed graduate work at Fort Hayes State University. Rusty can be contacted by by email .
Criminal justice system balance of public safety, justice
by Jesse Cook
The dual goals of our criminal justice system are to maximize public safety and to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice.
The system operates with five components — law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the judiciary and corrections. Each plays a key role in the process.
Law enforcement agencies investigate allegations of acts determined to be illegal by Congress or state legislatures. Investigations begin when an agency or officer suspects that a crime has been committed or when the agency receives a citizen's complaint or a report from a crime victim.
After receiving investigative reports, prosecuting attorneys determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Proposed charges may be submitted to a grand jury or to a judge who then determines whether there is sufficient probable cause to proceed with prosecution.
Prosecutors are not simply responsible for obtaining convictions. Their job is to obtain justice for the accused, the community and the victim.
A person accused of a crime is arrested or summoned to appear in court. He has the right to be considered for release before trial. He should be released pre-trial unless the state convinces a judge that he is a flight risk or a danger to the community. A person should not be held in jail simply because he lacks the money to post bail.
Everyone accused of a crime has the right to be represented by an attorney and, if the accused is facing a jail or prison sentence and is without funds, he has the right to a court-appointed attorney. It is the job of the defense attorney to ensure that the defendant's constitutional rights are protected and to represent him zealously within the bounds of the law.
A defendant chooses to have a jury trial or a trial before a judge. In either case, he is presumed to be innocent.
Benjamin Franklin said that “it is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer.” That belief — translated into the “presumption of innocence” — is one of the most important foundations of our constitutionally-based criminal justice system.
The presumption of innocence is not overcome unless a judge or jury concludes that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” after a trial at which he need not testify nor present any evidence, but is entitled to a face-to-face confrontation and a right to question his accusers.
Even if convicted, the defendant has a right to appeal to a higher court — again, with the assistance of an attorney.
Nearly three-fourths of Indiana's criminal cases are resolved with plea agreements and another 18 percent are dismissed, according to Indiana Judicial Service. Plea negotiations allow the state and the defendant to settle cases without the expense and risk of trial and by negotiating outcomes that are fair and just for each party.
Judges preside over trials, consider whether to accept or reject plea agreements and sentence defendants who are convicted. In deciding what penalty should be imposed, judges have discretion within a range of penalties established by the legislature. Judges consider the severity of the offense, the character and history of the defendant and the statement of any victim in sentencing.
Criminal convictions carry serious consequences. The judge may require a period of imprisonment served in a jail, prison, work-release facility or in home with electronic surveillance. Probation can include mental health or substance abuse treatment, community service, fines and payment of restitution to a victim.
Criminal convictions may also result in the loss of valuable civil rights and make it difficult for offenders to obtain employment, housing, licensing or student loans. Indiana permits some persons to expunge old convictions, lessening the impact of those convictions in the future.
All of the components of our criminal justice system must constantly work to improve the administration of justice. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Jessie Cook is a Terre Haute criminal defense attorney and a volunteer for the Indiana Bar Foundation.
NY eyes 'textalyzer' to combat distracted driving
Efforts to discourage drivers from texting have increased in recent years, but the consensus is that the problem is only getting worse
by Anna Gronewold
ALBANY, N.Y. — Ben Lieberman just wanted to find out what may have caused the head-on collision that killed his 19-year-old son, Evan, on a highway north of New York City. It took a lawsuit and six months in court to get the cellphone records showing the driver of the car his son was in had been texting behind the wheel.
Lieberman doesn't believe getting that information should be so hard.
He's channeling his grief over the 2011 accident into a proposal that would allow police at accident scenes in New York to immediately examine drivers' cellphones with a device to determine if they'd been tapping, swiping or clicking. It's been called a Breathalyzer for texting.
"You think people are already looking at phones and it just doesn't happen," said Lieberman, who is partnering with the Israel-based tech company Cellebrite to develop the plug-in device that's been nicknamed the "textalyzer."
The idea already faces obstacles from constitutional and privacy advocates who are quick to note that police need the owner's consent and a warrant to get cellphone records. They're also concerned such technology would be used to access all of the personal information people may have on their cellphones.
"Every fender bender would become a pretense for gobbling up people's private cellphone information, and we know that cellphones typically contain our entire lives," said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, who is no relation to Ben Lieberman.
At least 46 states have laws barring texting while driving and 14 ban all hand-held devices, but some safety advocates say more needs to be done to enforce the laws.
Deborah Hersman, the CEO of the National Safety Council and a supporter of the "textalyzer" legislation, noted that in 2016, 40,000 people died on the road, a 14 percent jump from 2014 and the biggest two-year jump in 50 years.
"There can't be a more compelling reason than life or death for saying why we should have access to this information," Hersman said.
Cellebrite said its technology, which is about nine months away from being finished, sidesteps privacy concerns because it's designed only to determine usage, not access data. Company officials said the device would only be able to tell if someone physically clicked or swiped the phone during the time of the accident, and then investigators could use that to determine if they should get a warrant for more detailed information.
"For this device, the whole purpose is not to get any data," said Jim Grady, the chief executive officer of Cellebrite USA. "So no, police won't be able to, unless they rewrite our code."
Under the bill, which has been approved in one Senate committee and is pending in another, a person would not be criminalized for refusing to have their phone checked, but they could get their license suspended. The idea is that a person implies consent to drive without distractions when they receive a license, said Jay Shapiro, a New York attorney and former deputy district attorney.
Sponsors say they expect the Republican-led Senate to approve the bill, but anticipate opposition from the Democratic-led Assembly.
Similar legislation is being considered in Tennessee, New Jersey and the city of Chicago.
After Ben Lieberman obtained the cellphone records, the driver of the car carrying Evan had his license revoked for a year. He was never charged with a crime.
Lieberman said he hopes the "textalyzer" will serve as a deterrent and a way for law enforcement to begin tracking the scope of the problem.
"The last thing I want to do is be responsible for legislation that is going to infringe on someone's privacy," he said, "but I also don't want to bury another child."
Cyberattack hit more than 100,000 groups in at least 150 countries, Europol says
by CBS News
LONDON -- The international "ransomware" cyberattack has so far hit more than 100,000 organizations in at least 150 countries, says Europol, the European Union's police agency.
Spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth said Sunday that the number of individuals who have fallen victim to the cyberextortion attack could be much higher.
He said it was too early to say who is behind the onslaught and what their motivation was. He said the main challenge was the fast-spreading capabilities of the malware, but added that, so far, not many people have paid the ransoms that the virus demands.
He warned that more people may be hit by the virus Monday when they return to work and switch on their computers.
The attack, which began Friday, is believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, with victims including Britain's hospital network and Germany's national railway.
Chinese media reported Sunday that the "ransomware" virus attacked many university networks in China. The Beijing News said that students at several universities around the country reported being hit by the virus, which blocked access to their thesis papers and dissertation presentations.
The cyberattack was stemmed by a young British researcher and an inexpensive domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the U.S.
Britain's National Cyber Security Center and others were hailing the cybersecurity researcher, a 22-year-old identified online only as MalwareTech, who -- unintentionally at first -- discovered a "kill switch" that halted the unprecedented outbreak.
By then, the "ransomware" attack had hobbled Britain's hospital network and computer systems in several countries, in an effort to extort money from computer users. It disrupted computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems. It crippled the British health care system for a day, infecting nearly 20 percent of its health care groups, forcing medical treatments to be canceled or postponed for thousands of people.
Spain's telephone system was among the first targeted, CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti reported. Russia's largest mobile phone company was hit, and FedEx announced it was also infected.
Hackers tricked victims into opening corrupt links in emails disguised as invoices and security warnings. The attack held entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments. By encrypting files, hackers rendered them unreadable, and demanded $300 in ransom to decode them. The amount would double after three days. If ignored, hackers warned, the data would be destroyed, Vigliotti reported.
As terrifying as the unprecedented global "ransomware" attack was, cybersecurity experts say it's nothing compared to what might be coming -- especially if companies and governments don't make major fixes.
City reviewing cost of adding 12 officers to expand community policing
by Amy Biolchini
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Grand Rapids city commission is asking city staff to evaluate the cost of adding 12 officers to the police force in order to expand the community policing program.
During the department's budget presentation to the commission Tuesday, May 9, First Ward Commissioners Dave Shaffer and Jon O'Connor asked Chief David Rahinsky what it would take to fully expand the community policing program to include nights and weekends.
Rahinsky said models that have been reviewed in previous budget years would require 12 additional police officers to expand the community policing specialists to cover seven days a week.
The city commission is just starting to review budget proposals for the coming fiscal year, and must approve a balanced budget by June 30.
The police department is the largest city department, and proposed Tuesday a more than $58 million budget that would add one sworn officer position: a sergeant to help police the downtown area. Two other grant-funded officers would be added as well.
That would bring the department to 295 sworn officers.
National ratios for a city of Grand Rapids' size suggest the department should have as many as 380 police officers, Rahinsky said. Rahinsky said he doesn't think that many officers are necessary - but noted that it's hard to find other cities of 200,000 people with fewer than 300 officers.
"We are extremely lean but as the discussion has moved to involve additional things - community engagement, relationship building, and being seen in the neighborhoods and having opportunities to interact - those are all very resource intensive," Rahinsky said. "As our mandate continues to expand and be modified, it's going to require more personnel than the positions that we currently have."
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss asked the city manager to determine the five-year financial impact of adding 12 officers, which aren't included in the budget proposal the city manager introduced to the commission earlier this spring.
The proposed budget includes plans to add a net gain of 11.5 city employees.
The addition of 12 officers would double the number of positions the manager has proposed to add. The manager's $527 million budget proposes a net gain of 11.5 full-time equivalent employees.
"There will have to be push and pull from other places in the budget," O'Connor said. "I'd like to know where that money will come from so I can create a value statement - I need to be able to weigh those needs against one another so I can weigh whether cops are more important than A, B or C."
Third Ward Commissioner Joe Jones questioned whether effective community policing would require more sworn officers, or non-sworn personnel.
Bliss said community policing is a priority as the commission develops a response to evidence of racial bias in the police department -- and emphasis is high on police-community relations this spring.
"I feel a real sense of urgency to do next steps," Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said.
There are 20 officers assigned as community policing specialists, which make up the bulk of the department's annual $2.5 million commitment to the relationship-based policing style.
Of the department's community policing group, three are stationed at the Boys & Girls clubs full-time. The other 17 are assigned to day shifts throughout specific geographical areas of the city.
The current structure has community policing specialists assigned to specific geographic locations, allowing them to build relationships with residents, neighborhood associations and organizations in that area. That allows them to address deeper problems that affect the community.
These specialists aren't tied strictly to service calls, though they act as a safety net on days in which high call volume requires their assistance -- sometimes multiple times a week.
Grand Rapids has seen significant decreases in gun-related offenses, street-robberies, residential burglaries and larcenies from vehicles over the last three years.
Lawrence City Commission to review proposal to give police review board more oversight
by Rochelle Valverde
At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will vote on whether to adopt a new process for handling complaints against the Lawrence Police Department.
The draft ordinance would authorize a community advisory board to formally accept complaints against the police department from the public and review investigations under certain circumstances. Currently, residents are generally instructed to make complaints about the police department to the police department itself, and the board receives only summaries from the police department at the end of the investigation.
Changes to the board have been in the works for months. Mayor Leslie Soden said that when the changes were being discussed, that one thing that was really important to people was that the investigations were done objectively.
“Making sure that whoever does the investigation is completely objective was a concern for people,” Soden said. “So, I would just need to make sure that however investigations are set up with these complaints, that they are done objectively in a way that people feel confident and trusting in the final determination.”
Under the proposed changes, the board also would be allowed to fully review the results of investigations related to accusations of racially bias or other types of bias if the person making the complaint does not agree with the finding. That review would take place in executive session, said Assistant City Attorney Maria Garcia.
“It would be a private meeting where the police department would present the investigation and their findings and conclusion,” Garcia said. “And the board would be able to hear all of that and then deliberate and then afterwards they would come up with their conclusion on whether they thought the police department's final conclusion was correct or not.”
If the board disagreed with the police department's findings, it would forward an alternative finding to the city manager's office for additional review. Currently, the board is not privy to details of the complaints or the investigations of racial profiling complaints.
If the commission votes to adopt the changes, the previous ordinance establishing the board would be replaced and the name of the board would be changed from the Citizen Advisory Board for Fair and Impartial Policing to the Community Police Review Board. The complaints, review and deliberations involving the board would be confidential and not open to the public.
Commissioners first received the proposed changes in December and at that time suggested there be a formal way to accept more feedback. Since then, a resident survey has been conducted. About 70 percent of those who completed the survey indicated that the advisory board should be allowed to confidentially receive complaints directly from the public. About 73 percent said the board should be allowed to review police bias complaints and investigations upon request.
The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.
Politics impact ICE agents' jobs in LA
Arrests of immigrants without criminal pasts have remained low in the LA area, as agents do little, if anything, differently from what they were under the previous administration
by Joel Rubin
LOS ANGELES — The immigration agents surrounded the small home on a quiet street in East Los Angeles. One trained his rifle on the back door. Another knocked loudly out front, shouting for the people inside to open up. Someone else barked the commands in Spanish.
Their target was a 47-year-old Mexican man who they suspected had crossed into the United States illegally and later done time for felony assault and battery.
The man's wife came to the door after a few minutes with her own demands: Did the agents have a warrant?
Told that they didn't, she refused to allow the agents in the house and said her husband would not speak with them.
Thwarted, at least for that day, the agents departed. As they walked to their SUVs, a neighbor stood in the street recording them on his phone.
As that recent stalemate suggests, President Trump's calls for a dramatic increase in deportations has brought changes for ICE agents on the ground. A determined push by immigrant groups has led to more encounters with people aware of their rights.
And, after receiving relatively little attention for years, agents acknowledge the atmosphere and politics of the job has become more fraught as they work under increased scrutiny from politicians and activists.
“That's just the climate that we're in,” said Dave Marin, director of enforcement and removal operations for ICE in Los Angeles, “because this issue has brought up such heated concerns on both sides.”
But while arrests by ICE are up 35 percent nationwide since Trump took office, they remain relatively flat in Southern California. Arrests of immigrants without criminal pasts have remained low in the L.A. region as well, as agents do little, if anything, differently from what they were under the previous administration, Marin said.
The charged dynamics were evident when the Los Angeles Times accompanied a team of ICE agents as they carried out a series of early-morning arrests late last month.
Hours before dawn, agents gathered in a shopping mall parking lot in Compton. A supervisor handed out paperwork with photos, immigration history and criminal rap sheets of the six men slated for arrest.
Two of the targeted men were arrested without incident in traffic stops shortly after leaving their homes to begin the drive to work — one as a tree trimmer, the other a chimney repairman. A third man hid inside his apartment when agents knocked, but was nabbed when he walked out to the street an hour later.
Next on the list was Sergio Rodriguez, who sneaked into the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1980s and managed to became a legal resident a few years later.
For years, he worked and raised five children with his wife without attracting the attention of immigration officers; but a conviction in 2014 on a felony charge of making criminal threats and a few earlier burglary and theft convictions had made him eligible for deportation.
Rodriguez stepped out from his small, dilapidated house in El Monte, east of downtown Los Angeles, shortly after 7:30 a.m. to begin the short walk to his job at a nearby meat market.
Agents had been secretly watching him make the same walk at the same time for days and now were waiting for him. One agent slipped out of an unmarked SUV and followed behind, while a few others positioned themselves up ahead.
“Why are you doing this? What did I do?” Rodriguez shouted repeatedly in English and Spanish as the agents intercepted him, cuffed his hands and, after a quick pat down, put him in the back of a car. “I go to work! You guys have no heart. You have no heart!”
The agents' presence did not go unnoticed. Seeing a live television report about the arrest, the mayor of El Monte called his police chief demanding answers. The chief, in turn, called Jorge Field, ICE's assistant field office director for the L.A. region.
Field has grown accustomed to such calls. Elected officials in immigrant communities, where anger and fear has been stoked by frequent — and often inaccurate — reports spread on social media of ICE sweeps, have grown particularly sensitive to the agency's presence on their streets.
Field took the call while driving to make the next arrest and calmly explained Rodriguez's criminal past to the police chief. An aide to Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, emailed at the same time, demanding to know, “Are you in El Monte?”
Marin said he spends a considerable amount of his time meeting with local politicians, police and church officials in an effort to tamp down claims of ICE running amok in L.A.
It has, at times, been a hard message to sell in the current climate.
“As one of my bosses put it, ‘Fifty percent of the country is mad at us 100 percent of the time,'” he said. “Half the country wants us to do more, and the other half wants us to do less.”
After Trump dramatically broadened ICE agents' authority, essentially giving them clearance to arrest anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, immigrant rights groups have pushed to educate immigrants — in particular, noting their right to deny ICE agents permission to enter their homes.
The effort has had a noticeable effect on arrest operations, Marin said, as agents increasingly have been stymied, as they were by the Mexican man's wife, who did not try to hide the fact that her husband was inside the house.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of several immigrant advocacy groups that ramped up “Know Your Rights” campaigns in the wake of Trump's election, estimates it has reached 25,000 people through various outreach programs over the past three months, the group's spokesman said.
Agents arrested four of the targeted men on the recent morning. Along with the man whose wife refused to cooperate, a sixth person was not found.
The men were brought to a federal building downtown. They were frisked and fingerprinted in a brightly lit hallway and then led into a room where agents seated at computer terminals booked the men into custody.
Afterward, they were put into large, spare holding cells with old TVs mounted to the ceilings. The telephone numbers for many countries' embassies or consulates were posted on the wall above pay phones.
Juan Vega, 23, whose criminal history includes a 2014 gun possession conviction, seemed despondent and shell shocked as he sat on a bench with his head in his hands.
Brought to the country by his mother when he was 4, he said he had no idea what he would do if he was returned to Mexico. He cried thinking about his 6-year-old son.
If deported, he said, he wouldn't return to the U.S. “I just want to get this over with,” he said.
Nearby sat Rodriguez, the meat market worker picked up in El Monte.
“In my head, I knew this day would come,” he said in Spanish. “This president that we have now has a lot of people scared. Anything you do, the police will arrest you and deport you.”
Like Vega, he worried about what would happen to his family. Who would take care of his wife, who has lung cancer? How will he see his adult children and grandchildren?
He said he wanted to send a message to others.
“Don't make mistakes like I made,” he said. “It's very sad.”
ICE's Los Angeles office covers a vast region that stretches from San Luis Obispo to San Clemente and from the coast to the Nevada border. There are nine teams of agents like the one that made the recent arrests, and at least one of them is active each day.
Other agents are assigned to arrest people as they are released from local jails. In counties where the sheriff allows it, including Los Angeles, Marin posts agents inside the jails to identify inmates in the country illegally.
When deciding whom to target for arrest, Marin said his agents have kept their focus on serious criminals, as they were instructed to do in the final years of the Obama administration. (Obama made criminals the priority for deportation late in 2014 following years of tough immigration policies that earned him the nickname the “Deporter in Chief” from critics.)
Each of the men whom agents pursued on the recent morning had been convicted of at least one felony. Along with Vega, Rodriguez and the man whose wife blocked agents, one man had been caught driving drunk three times and convicted of burglary, while another served time in jail for drug sales after being deported four times.
The reason for staying the course, Marin said, is rooted in the realities of California, where court decisions and state laws have left all of the state's 58 county sheriffs unwilling and unable to fully cooperate with ICE's requests to detain and hand over criminals thought to be in the country illegally. Instead, Marin said, his agents are often forced to track down people after they are released from custody.
Marin added that his agents are stretched thin as it is. “We're already doing everything we can with what we have,” he said.
In the three months after Trump took office, agents in the L.A. field office made 2,273 arrests — marking little change from the 2,166 arrests during the same period last year and a decline from the 2,719 arrests in 2015, according to ICE figures.
Ninety percent of the people arrested this year had criminal records, the highest percentage among all ICE offices in the U.S., the numbers show.
The L.A. figures differ starkly from those in Atlanta, Dallas and elsewhere, where the number of people without criminal records arrested by ICE jumped dramatically in the months since Trump took office. In Atlanta, for example, non-criminal arrests rose more than five fold over last year and accounted for a third of all ICE arrests.
While the number of non-criminals arrested in the L.A. region remains low, Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants' rights for the ACLU of California, noted it had more than doubled over last year to 224 people.
“To the extent that Marin is continuing to follow the priorities set out by the Obama administration and is exercising restraint in immigration enforcement, that's a good thing,” she said. “But I am concerned about the increase in arrests, especially of people who have never been convicted of any crime. It is too soon to tell what will happen.”
Administrative review of Baltimore police custody death complete
Baltimore police announced that the investigation into the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray has been turned over for review
by the Associated Press
BALTIMORE — The Montgomery County Police Department has completed an administrative investigation into the in-custody death of a 25-year-old black man in Baltimore.
Baltimore police announced Friday that the investigation into the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died a week after his neck was broken while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained in the back of a police transport wagon, has been turned over for review.
Six officers were charged in connection to Gray's death, which prompted civil unrest throughout Baltimore. Three officers were acquitted at trial, and the remaining cases were dropped.
The administrative review was conducted by Montgomery and Howard county police departments to avoid any conflicts of interest.
The results of the investigation are not being publicly released as they are considered personnel records.
Fallen police officers to be honored during vigil in nation's capitol
The names of 394 officers added to the memorial this year include 143 who made the ultimate sacrifice during 2016
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
WASHINGTON — The names of 394 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty will be formally dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, during the 29th Annual Candlelight Vigil held on the national Mall between 4th and 7th streets in Washington, DC on the evening of May 13.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John Kelly will deliver special remarks and lead in candle lighting and reading the names of the fallen officers. The names of 394 officers added to the Memorial this year include 143 who made the ultimate sacrifice during 2016, in addition to 251 officers who died earlier in history but whose sacrifice had not been previously documented. Included in the 251 historical cases are the names of 72 law enforcement officers who died as a result of performing rescue and recovery work after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York.
With these additions, there are 21,183 officers' names engraved on the Memorial, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, federal law enforcement, and military police agencies.
Each May 13, an estimated 30,000 people assemble for the Memorial Fund's annual Candlelight Vigil, a signature event of National Police Week. For the ninth year, the ceremony will be streamed live so that people across the country can witness this annual tribute to America's law enforcement officers. Individuals interested in the free webcast can register online at www.UnitedByLight.org.
“Our annual Candlelight Vigil is a moving tribute to the brave men and women of law enforcement who put the safety and protection of others ahead of their own—especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the process,” said Craig W. Floyd, President & CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. “Attending the ceremony in person or viewing it online is a meaningful way for all Americans to show their appreciation and respect for these heroes,” he shared.
The names of the 394 officers added to the National Memorial this year can be found at www.LawMemorial.org/2017RollCall. For a complete schedule of National Police Week events in Washington, DC, visit www.LawMemorial.org/PoliceWeek.
From the Department of Homeland Security
DHS Statement on Ongoing Ransomware Attacks
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security is aware of reports of ransomware known as WannaCry affecting multiple global entities. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. Microsoft released a patch in March that addresses this specific vulnerability, and installing this patch will help secure your systems from the threat. Individual users are often the first line of defense against this and other threats, and we encourage all Americans to update your operating systems and implement vigorous cybersecurity practices at home, work, and school. These practices include:
Update your systems to include the latest patches and software updates.
Do not click on or download unfamiliar links or files in emails.
Back up your data to prevent possible loss, whether you are at a home, work, or school computer.
We are actively sharing information related to this event and stand ready to lend technical support and assistance as needed to our partners, both in the United States and internationally. DHS has a cadre of cybersecurity professionals that can provide expertise and support to critical infrastructure entities.
DHS also leads the federal government's efforts to protect civilian executive branch agency systems and networks. In partnership with each agency's Chief Information Officer we are ensuring our own networks are protected against the threat.
For more information, DHS has previously released information on best practices to address ransomware. That information is available on our website at https://www.us-cert.gov/security-publications/Ransomware.
President's Executive Order Will Strengthen Cybersecurity for Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure
WASHINGTON – The Executive Order signed by the president today, Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure , follows through on a key campaign promise made to the American people. It reaffirms the important role the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays in strengthening the security and resilience of federal networks and the nation's critical infrastructure.
“Our nation's economic and national security rely on a safe, secure, and reliable cyber space,” said Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. “DHS has long been a leader in protecting our nation against cyber threats and this executive order reaffirms our central role in ongoing cybersecurity efforts. We have developed strong operational relationships with our government partners to protect federal civilian networks and have established trusted partnerships with the private sector to improve the cybersecurity of the nation's critical infrastructure.”
The Executive Order, which builds on DHS's legal authorities, directs the department to assess and report on a number of key actions in order to secure federal networks. While each department or agency is responsible for the cybersecurity of its networks, DHS leads these efforts and ensures a baseline level of security across the civilian executive branch. The Executive Order bolsters this work by:
Directing agency heads to immediately use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework for risk management, and to provide within 90 days a risk management report to DHS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the implementation of the framework and risk management strategies employed by the department or agency.
Directing DHS and OMB to assess federal agencies' cybersecurity risk management strategies in order to determine the adequacy of cyber protections across federal networks and identify any unmet budgetary or policy needs.
Directing DHS and OMB to provide a plan to the president, within 60 days of receiving the agency reports, on how to protect the executive branch enterprise.
Directing DHS and other agencies to provide the president with a report within 90 days on the technical feasibility to transition all agencies to one or more consolidated network architectures and shared IT services.
The Executive Order also enhances the department's ability to support the cybersecurity efforts of the nation's critical infrastructure owners and operators. This includes:
Directing DHS to lead the coordination with other departments and agencies to identify federal resources and capabilities best suited to protect critical infrastructure where a cyber incident could have catastrophic effects.
Directing DHS and the Department of Commerce to provide a report within 90 days to the president on how best to promote market transparency of cyber risk management practices by critical infrastructure entities.
Directing DHS and the Department of Commerce to lead efforts to improve the resilience of the nation's core communications infrastructure; providing a preliminary report within 240 days and a final report within one year.
Enhancing DHS' partnership with the Department of Energy to assess the resilience of the electric grid and provide an assessment within 90 days of any gaps in the security of the nation's electric subsector.
Directing DHS, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide a report within 90 days to the president assessing the cybersecurity of the defense industrial base.
The Internet is part of the underpinning of the American economy, and the Executive Order affirms that it is the policy of the United States to promote an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet. In furtherance of this policy, the Executive Order:
Directs an interagency team, including DHS, to submit a report within 90 days to the president on the nation's strategic options for deterring adversaries and better protecting the American people from threats in cyberspace.
Directs an interagency team, including DHS, to submit a report within 45 days on international cybersecurity priorities; and within 90 days of the submission of the priorities report, develop an international cybersecurity engagement strategy.
Directs DHS and Department of Commerce to lead coordination with other agencies and submit a report within 120 days the findings and recommendations to support the growth and sustainment of the Nation's cybersecurity workforce.
Strengthening the security and resilience of cyberspace is an important part of the homeland security mission. The president's Executive Order builds upon existing capabilities and authorities while strengthening the department's ability to carry out its mission of protecting federal networks, supporting critical infrastructure owners and operators, and ensuring an open and reliable Internet for all Americans.
Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Sentence to 3 Years in Federal Prison for Leading Scheme to Obstruct Investigation into Jails
LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who was convicted of overseeing a scheme designed to obstruct a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities, was sentenced today to 36 months in federal prison.
Baca, 74, who also was found guilty of lying to federal investigators, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Percy Anderson.
Judge Anderson, who presided over a series of trials that led to the conviction of 10 former members of the Sheriff's Department involved in the scheme to obstruct justice, said Baca “knew what he was doing was wrong, and he had no problem using his office to further his own agenda.”
Judge Anderson ordered Baca to begin serving his sentence by July 25. In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered Baca to pay a $7,500 fine.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” Judge Anderson said.
Today's sentencing follows a trial that ended in March when a federal jury convicted Baca on three felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators. The evidence presented at trial showed that Baca was the top figure in the conspiracy, which also involved his right-hand man and deputies who implemented orders from the Sheriff.
“Rather than fulfill his sworn duty to uphold the law and protect the public, Lee Baca made a decision to protect what he viewed as his empire, and then he took actions in an effort to simply protect himself,” said Acting United States United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “He wore the badge, but ultimately, he failed the department and the public's trust. Today's sentence demonstrates that no one is above the law – not even the leader of the largest municipal police agency in the nation.”
“As Sheriff, Mr. Baca should have held himself accountable. He should have corrected the actions of others, rather than shift blame and obstruct a federal investigation,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office. “I'm proud of the team of agents and prosecutors who persevered throughout this lengthy and challenging investigation, and grateful to the victims and witnesses who came forward.”
The obstruction scheme 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 had 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 scheme to obstruct justice, Baca ordered a criminal investigation of the FBI agents conducting the investigation, and he directed his underlings to conceal the informant from federal investigators. Over the course of approximately six weeks, members of the conspiracy then took a series of steps that successfully 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. When Baca watched a recording of his deputies confronting the FBI agent, he reacted by stating “it was the best laugh he had in some time,” prosecutors noted in their sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
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 directed 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 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.
Baca was the tenth member of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department convicted in the obstruction scheme. Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was also found guilty by a federal jury, was sentenced last year to five years in federal prison. At today's sentencing hearing, Judge Anderson said Baca would have received a sentence as long as Tanaka's, except for his medical condition and the former sheriff's lengthy history of public service.
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 matter 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)
Police chief, 3 others killed in shooting at Kirkersville nursing home
by NBC 4
KIRKERSVILLE, OH (WCMH) — Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric Disario was shot and killed at a nursing home in Kirkersville.
Three people were also found dead inside the nursing home. Investigators believe one of those deceased was the shooter.
Chief Disario was 36-years-old. He had only been chief of the police department for about three weeks. He had six children and was expecting the birth of a seventh.
The active shooter situation was first reported around 7:30am Friday in the 200 block East Main Street in Kirkersville at Pine Kirk Care Center.
Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp says Disario was found outside the Pine Kirk Care Center. Thorp says two employees of the center and the suspected gunman were found dead inside the nursing home.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers says Friday that the situation has ended and there is no threat to the public.Remaining residents at the nursing home were taken to area hospitals.
Lt. Sellers says the sheriff has requested assistance from the Ohio BCI who is on the way now. Roads in the area are expected to remain closed all day.
Cyberattack in U.K. Hits 16 Health Institutions
by Dan Bilefsky and Raphael Minder
LONDON — An extensive cyberattack hit Britain's National Health Service on Friday, blocking doctors from gaining access to patient files, causing emergency rooms to divert patients and stoking fears about hackers' ability to wreak havoc on vital public services.
Spanish and Portuguese companies, including Telefónica, Spain's largest telecom operator, experienced a similar attack on Friday, and there were reports of so-called ransomware attacks in a number of countries, including Italy and Ukraine. It was not immediately clear if the attacks were coordinated or related.
The attack on the National Health Service seemed the most serious, since it had life-or-death implications for hospitals and ambulance services. Reuters reported that employees had been warned about the ransomware threat earlier on Friday.
Tom Donnelly, a spokesman for N.H.S. Digital, the arm of the health service that handles technology, said in a phone interview that 16 organizations, including “hospitals and other kinds of clinician services,” had been hit by a cyberattack.
“It is still ongoing,” he said. “We were made aware of it this afternoon.”
The service's digital arm said in a statement that the attack involved a variant of ransomware known as Wanna Decryptor.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts data and locks out the user. The user is then asked to pay a ransom to unblock the computer. It has become an increasingly prevalent problem. Last year, a Los Angeles hospital paid $17,000 after such an attack; earlier this year, hackers shut down the electronic key system at a hotel in Austria.
On social media, several images circulated showing computer screens bearing a message that the user could not enter without first paying a $300 ransom in Bitcoin. Many doctors reported that they could not retrieve their patients' files.
N.H.S. Digital added, “At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed.”
It said that the N.H.S. did not appear to have been the target of the attack.
The National Cyber Security Center, an arm of the GCHQ, the British electronic surveillance agency, said it was investigating the attack. “We are aware of a cyber incident, and we are working with N.H.S. Digital and the National Crime Agency to investigate,” it said in a statement.
As of 3:30 p.m., 16 organizations within N.H.S. England had reported being affected, the statement said. (It did not immediately appear that the N.H.S. systems in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland had been hit.)
According to the BBC, hospitals in the cities of London and Nottingham, the town of Blackburn, and the counties of Cumbria and Hertfordshire had been affected.
In the northwestern seaside town of Blackpool, doctors had resorted to pen and paper, with phone and computer systems having shut down, according to the local newspaper, The Blackpool Gazette.
A bit to the south, in the seaside town of Southport, images on Twitter showed ambulances backed up outside the town's hospital.
In Stevenage, a town in Hertfordshire, north of London, the health service postponed all non-urgent activity and asked people not to come to the accident and emergencies ward at the Lister Hospital.
The National Health Service, which is an institution that Britons both revere and love to complain about, said it was “working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and N.H.S. England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations.”
Less was known about the scope of the attacks in Spain and Portugal, which affected companies like Telefónica.
Spain's national cryptology center said it was dealing with “a massive ransomware attack” affecting Windows systems used by various organizations, without naming them.
Later on Friday, Portugal reported a similar attack. Carlos Cabreiro, the director of a police unit that fights cybercrime, told the newspaper Público that the country was facing “computer attacks on a large scale against different Portuguese companies, especially communication operators.”
Spain's industry ministry said in a separate statement that the attack did not affect networks or end users of services offered by the companies targeted. Telefónica also indicated that the attack targeted its internal network rather than its millions of customers. On Twitter, Chema Alonso, Telefónica's chief data officer, called initial news reports “exaggerated.”
ICE announces largest anti-gang crackdown in agency history
by Maria Sacchetti
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that its investigative branch, along with other law enforcement agencies, has arrested 1,378 people across the United States in recent weeks in what officials called the largest anti-gang crackdown in the agency's history.
More than two-thirds of the people arrested are U.S. citizens, and all but two of those were born in this country, ICE officials said.
The arrests were part of a six-week initiative, from March 26 to May 6, led by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit, which focuses on combating gangs and other criminal activity in the United States and overseas.
Unlike the agency's immigration section, HSI has broad powers to enforce hundreds of federal laws on crimes such as child exploitation, human smuggling, and drug and weapons trafficking.Its agents routinely arrest U.S. citizens.
Federal officials released the names of only four of the people arrested in the operation, which the agency dubbed Project New Dawn. ICE said it worked with San Antonio police to arrest Gilbert Vasquez III, an alleged associate of the Tango Orejon Gang, on April 5. A search of the house where Vasquez was arrested turned up cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, four handguns, and over $48,000 in cash, officials said. Three others were arrested at the house, including Brent Reum, an alleged member of the same gang.
Olufemi Odeyemi and Brenda Jackson were arrested on April 7 in New Jersey in connection with possession and distribution of heroin, ICE officials said.
ICE acting director Thomas D. Homan and Derek Benner, deputy executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, said a total of 1,098 people were arrested on criminal charges as part of the operation. Half were federal offenses. The rest involved state crimes investigated in cooperation with local police, mainly in the Houston, New York, Atlanta and Newark areas.
“Let me be clear that these violent criminal street gangs are the biggest threat facing our communities,” Homan said. “We are not done.”
Of the people arrested on criminal charges, 21 face “murder-related” allegations, and seven were arrested on charges of rape and sexual assault.
An additional 280 people face prosecution for alleged civil immigration violations, meaning they were in the United States without permission, and will be processed for deportation, officials said. Of them, 112 are gang affiliates, meaning that ICE had verifiable information that the person was associated with a gang. Sixty-two had no gang ties, officials said.
ICE classifies people as gang members if they admit gang membership or violate federal or state anti-gang laws, or if they meet other criteria “such as having tattoos identifying a specific gang or being identified as a gang member by a reliable source.”
Nationwide, the biggest gangs targeted were the Bloods, Sureños, the Crips and MS-13, an international gang with thousands of members in El Salvador, its command center.
Fifty-two people were arrested in the District, Virginia and Maryland. Twenty-nine of them allegedly belong to the MS-13 gang.
On April 26, ICE said, it worked with Fairfax County, Va., police to arrest 11 MS-13 gang members at a “stash house” in the Falls Church area. One was arrested on a criminal charge. Two had outstanding deportation orders. The rest were detained for alleged civil immigration violations.
Three of those arrested nationwide had obtained temporary reprieves from deportation under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offered protection to illegal immigrants brought here as children.
ICE did not specify the charges the DACA arrestees face, if any. DACA recipients who pose a threat to national security or public safety can lose protected status. One of the three recipients arrested had already lost their status because of a prior criminal conviction, and two are in the process of having it revoked, officials said.
Ten of those arrested nationwide crossed the U.S.-Mexico border as unaccompanied minors. Of these, nine were gang members, all but one belonging to MS-13, officials said.
ICE's anti-gang initiative has led to more than 47,000 gang-related arrests since it began in 2005, officials said.
North Port PD takes community policing seriously
by Fox 13
NORTH PORT (FOX 13) - Reports of illegal activity along South San Mateo Drive in North Port have led the North Port Police Department's Special Enforcement Team to take drastic action.
Officers were photographed Thursday after they set up an elaborate enforcement effort - including a tent, grill, and cornhole boards.
In a Facebook post, the North Port Police Department said, "In an effort to get to get to know everybody, our Special Enforcement Team (SET) is doing some 'Community Policing' activities along the stretch."
You read that right. North Port police decided everyone would benefit if officers got to know the people who live, work, and frequent the area. What better way to accomplish their goal than with food and games?
"We want to let everyone who lives there know were here for ya," the department's Facebook post continued. "We also want to let those who frequent the area know that we're gonna be around…a lot, so let's get to know each other!"
So if you are in the area, stop and say hello to the officers under the white tent. Maybe you'll get a free lunch and round of bags in, while you're there.
Bucks County District Attorney joins police chiefs from throughout the county in launching new crime-fighting tool
by Bucks Local News
DOYLESTOWN >> District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub, accompanied by police chiefs from throughout Bucks County on May 11 announced the countywide launch of CRIMEWATCH, a new online tool designed to give the public direct access to information about crime and public safety issues in their communities.
As of May 11, 28 Bucks County police departments have active CRIMEWATCH portals as a result of initial funding approved by the Bucks County Commissioners. Members of the public are able to view and interact with those sites through free online subscriptions on their computers and tablets, or on their smartphones through a free downloadable app.
The goal of the CRIMEWATCH digital platform is to enable the Bucks County law enforcement community to quickly organize and disseminate public safety information, and to allow the public to report suspected criminal activity.
“We live in a great community here in Bucks County. CRIMEWATCH reinforces that police / public partnership, and just made it a lot tougher to be a criminal in Bucks County,” Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown.
Police can use CRIMEWATCH portals to disseminate news about crimes their departments are investigating, arrests that have been made, suspects and fugitives being sought, public service announcements, missing-person alerts, court-case outcomes and other law enforcement-related information.
Citizens, in turn, can use an interactive tips function to help identify suspects, locate fugitives, report criminal activity or provide other information to police that could help solve crimes. Tipsters have the option, through CRIMEWATCH, of submitting this information anonymously, or to provide their contact information so that police can follow up with them.
“One of the key hallmarks of CRIMEWATCH is transparency,” Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown. “CRIMEWATCH enables police to operate with more transparency while allowing us to have a dialogue directly with our residents.”
CRIMEWATCH allows the public to do the following:
- Sign up for a free account to receive e-mail alerts about criminal activity, public safety announcement and breaking criminal justice-related news
- Safely and anonymously submit tips to local law enforcement by clicking a button on the CRIMEWATCH site
- Easily find and connect with their local police on social media
- View recent arrests and lists of “most wanted” suspects and fugitives
- Share public-safety and crime-related information with others through social media
- Get connected with other law enforcement and public safety resources and services
The value of these law enforcement / public connections was demonstrated in December, after the Bensalem Township Police Department became the first police agency in Bucks County to use the CRIMEWATCH technology.
Within 10 days of launching their CRIMEWATCH portal in late November, Bensalem police made six arrests based on tips submitted by citizens through CRIMEWATCH. Among them were suspects in a home-invasion sexual assault, a hit-and-run that critically injured a bicyclist, and a theft and fraud case involving credit cards.
“Police have always had to work with the community to solve crime. That's not changing,” Weintraub said. “Through the CRIMEWATCH network, the community can take a more active role in public safety.
“We're not asking people to become vigilantes; quite the opposite. If you have a tip, or information that could help solve a crime, you can now submit that tip anonymously through the CRIMEWATCH platform,” Weintraub said. “ … This is the end of the `snitches get stitches' culture. No one should ever feel scared or threatened or intimidated when they have information that they want to share with police.”
Weintraub thanked Scott Forster, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency, for his role in obtaining a homeland security grant to fund CRIMEWATCH for all county police departments for at least one year.
He said that local police departments have been eager to use the new technology.
“Nearly three-quarters of our police departments are already enrolled and actively using CRIMEWATCH as we stand here today,” Weintraub said. Most of the rest are expected to be using the platform in the near future.
CRIMEWATCH Technologies, Inc., is a strategic partner of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The information collected and shared via CRIMEWATCH is owned and managed by Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies.
Matt Bloom, founder and CEO of CRIMEWATCH Technologies, presented a demonstration of the platform at the news conference.
“People today spend more time on their smartphones, on their Facebook, than they often spend in the real world,” Bloom said. “For police who are charged with the task of community policing, engaging people in this space and getting in front of them requires a change of operation.
“The CRIMEWATCH platform is a national information-sharing, intelligence-gathering network. It utilizes the public to take part in public safety.”
The Bucks County CRIMEWATCH is now available to the public at www.buckscrimewatch.org
Ohio lawmakers want harsher 'move over' penalties for drivers
Under the proposal, drivers could be jailed up to 180 days and fined up to $1,000 if someone is hurt or killed
by the Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio state representatives are proposing legislation to increase penalties for drivers whose failure to move over for an emergency vehicle leads to injury or death.
Republican Tom Patton and Democrat Brigid Kelly plan to introduce their bill in the Ohio House in the next two weeks.
The "move over" law requires drivers to move for stopped emergency and public service vehicles with lights flashing, and slow down if they can't move over. The current penalty is a fine and possibly license suspension.
Under the proposal, drivers could be jailed up to 180 days and fined up to $1,000 if someone is hurt or killed.
The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police backs the proposal. Two Ohio officers were killed the past year while working on the side of a highway.
Fairfield Council Announces National Police Week and Other Police News
by Gail Botton
FAIRFIELD, NJ — Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini announced the celebration of National Police Week, which is from May 15 to 22, during Monday's council meeting. He explained that in 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week in which it falls as “Police Week.”
The week is an observance in the United States that pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. The memorial itself takes place on May 15, and citizens are encouraged to recognize and help commemorate the work of law enforcement officers in keeping citizens safe and honoring those who lost their lives in doing so.
May 9 also began the Police Unity Tour, a three-day bicycle ride of more than 300 miles that Sgt. Frank Tracey and Detective Ian Rasmussen are participating in. The ride began in Florham Park and will conclude at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“The ride helps to bring about awareness to all those law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty,” said Gasparini. “These two officers raised approximately $5,500 for the memorial fund, and the department would like to thank all of those who sponsored these officers.”
Gasparini went on to report that on Saturday, May 6, Sgt. Christopher Niemiec and Sgt. John McNish and members of the West Essex Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) joined several local, county, state and federal law enforcement officers in a community policing event at the Livingston Mall, where there were many crime-prevention displays and police equipment on display. Officers were there to answer any questions residents had.
Another event was the Special Olympic Games on May 3, when Lt. Daniel Dias, Sgt. Christopher Niemiec and Detective Robert Sanger joined other area law enforcement officers at Brookdale Park to present awards to special needs athletes.
Officer Steven D'Argenio, along with sixth grade Churchill School teacher Lisa McIntosh, organized a clothing drive in April called “Dress Our Vets for Success.” Students and D'Argenio intend to present the clothes to veterans at a homeless shelter in the future.
Other police department news includes the graduation of Class 2 Special Police Officers James Ciampi, Paul Cicchetti and Jayson Sickles from the Essex County Police Academy on April 27. The officers have begun their in-house and field training and will be assigned to provide security at the municipal court, the schools and at the many community events that occur throughout the year. They will also support other department initiatives.
“These dedicated men gave up their Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and every Saturday, for the last six and a half months and at their own expense, in order to serve our community and to begin their path to a full time law enforcement position,” said Chief Anthony G. Manna. “Our department members and I could not be more proud of their efforts and welcome them to our department family.”
This brings the total number of Class 2 special officers in the department to four.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 led those at the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance before Troop Leader Ray Stampone came to the podium to explain to the mayor and council why the troop was attending.
Stampone explained that every year the troop comes to a council meeting in order for the scouts to obtain their required Citizenship of the Community Eagle Scout badges. In addition to attending this meeting, he said, the boys must also write a report on what they heard. Stampone said that this is a “good experience for the scouts,” and thanked the mayor and council for their cooperation.
Howard police gear up for pilot body cameras
by Fatimah Waseem
The Howard County Police Department is finalizing an agreement with Axon, formerly known as Taser International, to equip 10 local police officers with body cameras as part of a pilot program.
A 19-member police department committee is working through a months-long process to finalize the structure of the pilot program, including policies, trainings, data, retention and internal logistics.
A draft policy detailing the program will be released once it is finalized, said Howard County Police Department Spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. Cameras will be in use over the next few months, most likely by July.
The agreement with Axon, which is at no cost to the police department, would initiate one of two 45-day trials with two vendors selected by the committee last year. Axon will provide a box-like, body-mounted camera and Axon Flex, a camera that is mounted on glasses or a head mount. A second trial with Utility, a company that provides body cameras run through cellphones, will begin after the first trial is completed.
Both patrol officers and community outreach officers will wear the cameras. Members of the committee have met with stakeholders like Howard County General Hospital, the Howard County Public Schools System, community groups and others to discuss the program.
"The intent for us is to be able to do an evaluation of the technology that's available, the costs associated to it and the ease of use to officers as well as the reaction we get from the community," said Maj. Ellsworth Jones, chairman of the committee and deputy chief of operations. "I don't have an expectation for the program itself. That's what the pilot is for."
Last year, Axon announced a free nationwide trial program for police body cameras, including one year of free data storage. Its cameras are used by at least 36 of the 68 major law enforcement agencies using body cameras nationwide, according to company statements. The company will also store data to its own server, an important consideration since the county is unlikely to use its own servers to handle data.
Once the 45-trial period is complete, the committee will review the program's success and best practices.
A citizen-led advisory group recommended exploring a pilot body camera program for Howard police in 2015. Deadly interactions between police and residents have brought conversations about the devices to the local level in an attempt to enhance community policing.
More than a dozen state law enforcement agencies are using or exploring using body-worn cameras, according to state data. The police department will handle public information requests as it handles any other requests, Jones said.
The committee, which represents county staff, police department representatives and the Howard County State's Attorney's office, expects to make a formal recommendation to Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman once the pilot program with the two vendors is completed.
Through a county spokesman, Kittleman said he is pleased to move forward with the pilot program and included funding in the county's budget to support the program.
The police department is working with a consultant from Loyola University to study the pilot program's effectiveness, capture data and help the committee formalize the program. The consultant will also design surveys for officers. Police department staff have also consulted with other jurisdictions that use the program, including the city of Laurel and Montgomery and Baltimore counties.
If the department makes the program permanent, roughly 250 police officers would be outfitted with cameras, costing between an estimated $250,000 to $350,000. The police department has roughly 475 officers. The cost estimate does not include costs to maintain the program, including additional staff needed to handle redactions to videos, data back-up, public information requests and back-end management.
Policies and guidelines addressing body cameras will need close monitoring, Jones said. Since the committee began looking into the program last year, the equipment and its technologies have already evolved.
Activists to L.A. lawmakers: Drop your support of measure to reshape discipline at LAPD
by David Zahniser and Kate Mather
City Council President Herb Wesson convened a group of community activists this week for what he billed as the first of many meetings devoted to finding ways of reforming the Los Angeles Police Department.
But Tuesday night's two-hour session provided a platform for community activists to rally opponents against Charter Amendment C, a proposal on Tuesday's ballot to rework LAPD disciplinary practices. Participants tried, without success, to persuade Wesson and his colleagues to drop their support for the measure, calling it a “bad bill.”
“The community wants me to ask you … will you join the people — and we want your response — in encouraging folks to vote no on Charter Amendment C?” said Melina Abdullah, an organizer with the activist group Black Lives Matter, seated before lawmakers.
As she and Wesson began talking over each other, Abdullah pressed again: “I'm asking politely, can you answer the question?”
The confrontation, which played out in front of an audience mostly opposed to Charter Amendment C, was unusual by City Hall standards. At committee meetings, those who are invited to sit at the council's front table to give their expertise usually speak in deferential ways.
Abdullah and her allies, by contrast, repeatedly informed members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Reform that community groups were cut out of the deliberations that led up to the announcement of a ballot measure. One panelist accused city lawmakers of failing to do their homework before sending the proposal to voters.
Wesson, who played a major role in shepherding Charter Amendment C onto the ballot, declined to answer Abdullah directly, saying he did not want to run afoul of rules barring public officials from using government resources to engage in election activity.
Instead, Wesson offered what he called a diplomatic statement on Charter Amendment C: “I am not of the mind to change action that I've done prior to the 16th” — the date of next week's election.
Wesson's answer to The Times on Wednesday was more straightforward. In an email, a spokeswoman said that he “definitely” supports the ballot proposal. In campaign mailers promoting Charter Amendment C, Wesson has called the ballot measure “critical to improving community and police relations.”
Wesson had described this week's committee meeting as the inauguration of a dialogue between city lawmakers and residents about the police. For the first meeting, he invited to the table some of L.A.'s most vocal organizations on policing issues.
Those groups — which include the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the South L.A.-based Community Coalition — contend that Charter Amendment C would result in less strict punishment for misbehaving officers. Opponents portray the measure as the product of a backroom deal between the city's elected officials and the LAPD's powerful police union.
Charter Amendment C would allow LAPD disciplinary panels, known as Boards of Rights, to be composed entirely of civilians. Under the current system, the panels are made up of two high-ranking officers and one civilian.
Union leaders say Charter Amendment C would address officer complaints that the disciplinary system is unfair because two of the three members on each board report to Police Chief Charlie Beck, who recommends punishment in those misconduct cases. Supporters have also said they believe the measure will bring more civilian participation to the LAPD.
Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, in an interview last week, disputed the idea that the measure is a backroom deal, saying voters will have the final say.
While Wesson worked to avoid explicitly mentioning Charter Amendment C at Tuesday's hearing, Councilman Paul Koretz expressed no such qualms.
Koretz told the audience that he supported Charter Amendment C and expects voters will approve it. But the councilman also voiced concern with the findings of a city report that civilians who serve on LAPD disciplinary panels have been “consistently more lenient” toward officers when compared with their sworn counterparts.
“I supported this [ballot measure] expecting it to be a positive. And then we find out that civilians actually, in this process, were more favorable to the officers than other officers,” said Koretz, whose recent reelection bid was bolstered by more than $56,000 from the police union. “That's not necessarily anybody's intent on the council.”
Koretz asked the activist panel for ways of selecting civilians who are tougher on officers. Pete White, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, responded by saying council members should have posed such questions before putting the plan on the ballot in January.
Melanie Ochoa, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California, told Koretz that the city's report on the leniency by civilians at the LAPD came out weeks before the council placed Charter Amendment C on the ballot. Opponents raised the issue as they tried, without success, to persuade council members not to put the measure up to a public election, she said.
“The record was before you when you voted,” she told the committee.
Supporters of Charter Amendment C dispute the idea that all-civilian panels would be more lenient, saying that over the six years studied by the city, civilians rarely reached a conclusion different from their sworn counterparts.
“We feel the claim that civilians are more lenient is just not supported by the data,” Dustin DeRollo, a union spokesman, said in a recent interview. “We're talking about a very small number of cases.”
Cop fired for not shooting armed, suicidal man sues city
Stephen Mader said he didn't shoot Ronald Williams because "he wasn't out here to harm anybody but himself"
by PoliceOne Staff
WEIRTON, W.Va. — An officer who was fired for not shooting an armed, suicidal man in 2016 filed a wrongful termination suit against the city of Weirton Wednesday.
Stephen Mader responded to reports of a domestic incident on May 6 and discovered Ronald Williams, 23, armed with a gun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Mader said his Marine and police training kicked in and he determined Williams was not a threat to anyone but himself. He decided not to shoot.
“He's like, ‘Just shoot me.' I told him, ‘I'm not going to shoot you brother,'” he said. “I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop situation.”
When two other officers arrived on the scene, Williams walked toward them waving the unloaded gun. One officer fired a shot, killing Williams. The shooting was found justified after an investigation, the publication reported.
The department fired Mader on June 7, 2016 for “failure to eliminate a threat.”
“I loved being a police officer,” Mader told NBC News. “For them to say because of this incident you're not going to continue here was heartbreaking.”
The ACLU of West Virginia filed the lawsuit on Mader's behalf, claiming that Mader's constitutional rights were violated and the city “engaged in a pattern of retaliation designed to destroy Mr. Mader's reputation.”
"When given the tragic, and, far too frequent unnecessary use of deadly force, such restraint should be praised not penalized,” attorney Timothy P. O'Brien told NBC. “To tell a police officer, when in doubt either shoot to kill, or get fired, is a choice that no police officer should ever have to make and is a message that is wrong and should never be sent.”
City Manager Travis Blosser said the city hadn't seen a copy of the lawsuit and it is “too premature to comment.”
Pa. Senate OKs bill to clear way for more police body cameras
The bill gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings
by Marc Levy
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday seeks to clear legal hurdles for police departments to expand their officers' use of body cameras, and it gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers.
The bill, which passed 47-1 after brief comments on the Senate floor, would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including body cameras and dashboard cameras.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect is the bill's treatment of public access.
It exempts recordings from requests under Pennsylvania's open-records law, although a court could still order the release of a police recording. The bill also sets limits on requests. In particular, it provides a window of just 20 days after the incident in which to submit a request for a copy of an officer's audio or video recording.
It is grounds for a denial if a police department or prosecutor's office decides the recording could contain evidence in a criminal matter or the identity of a confidential informant or victim, and that it cannot safely protect that information by removing or obscuring it. It also prevents public access to recordings made inside a law enforcement facility, such as a police department.
A similar bill died in the House last year after the Senate passed it in the legislative session's final days.
The sponsor, Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, said the measure would help promote the use of body cameras and transparency in incidents involving camera-wearing officers. Several Democrats who backed the measure for that reason also criticized some of its elements. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said he hoped the House would change the bill to make the recordings more publicly accessible, including recordings inside law enforcement facilities.
The bill initially gave a window of 60 days for public requests, before senators changed it Tuesday to 20 days at the request of Gov. Tom Wolf's office and the Pennsylvania State Police, Greenleaf's office said.
Wolf's office said he supports the use of body cameras to "promote transparency and increase public safety," although he did not offer an endorsement.
"We will continue to monitor the bill as it moves through the legislative process," Wolf's office said in a brief statement.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said his caucus had not had any in-depth discussions on the legislation, and that the first step would be left to the Judiciary Committee.
It is supported by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. But it is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the bill would make it nearly impossible for the public to obtain video.
The use of body cameras is limited in Pennsylvania, with law enforcement organizations unable to name more than a few departments that use them. The state police do not use body cameras, while departments in Pennsylvania's two largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, use body cameras on a limited basis.
The bill aims to remove a couple legal hurdles that police departments have cited as potential problems.
It clarifies that officers can gather body camera footage inside a private residence while on duty, an effort to address concerns about violating the state's surveillance law, and it makes clear that uniformed officers can legally record any conversation while using a state police-approved device in public.
The bill does not address when a police camera must be turned on and how long data must be stored before it is erased, although it tasks the Pennsylvania State Police with writing guidelines for the storage of the recordings.
Okla. governor signs 'Blue Lives Matter' bill into law
Those convicted of killing a police officer will be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole
by PoliceOne Staff
OKLAHOMA CITY — Those convicted of killing a police officer or corrections officer will now faces capital crime charges in Oklahoma if convicted.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed the “Blue Lives Matter” legislation Tuesday, KTUL reported. The law sentences those convicted of killing a cop to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"That's a big part of the punishment is people have to understand what the outcomes are. Right now, it's a bit ambiguous in the law. Sometimes it is a capital offense to kill an officer in the line of duty, sometimes it's not," Jerad Lindsey, Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police chairman, said.
The law goes into effect in November.
McAuliffe, Hogan, Bowser call for sharing data on opioid prescribers
by Josh Hicks
The elected leaders of Maryland, Virginia and the District called Tuesday for sharing data on opioid prescriptions as part of a regional effort to combat a rapidly growing addiction crisis.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said they are committed to linking their prescription-monitoring systems to help prevent misuse of the drugs, which health experts have cited as the cause of surging overdose rates nationwide.
“We need to know when folks are doctor-shopping,” McAuliffe said at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Regional Opioid and Substance Abuse Summit in Linthicum, Md. “We need to have knowledge, and then we need to hold doctors accountable.”
McAuliffe touted his state's limits on prescribing opioid-based pain medications, noting that he signed a law this year prohibiting doctors from prescribing more than a seven-day supply of the drugs for acute pain.
Doctors in Virginia must reevaluate patients before refilling their prescriptions for treating acute pain, and write risk-assessment reports if the extensions continue beyond three months.
Hogan proposed a similar seven-day limit for Maryland, but his administration and the Democratic-majority legislature scaled back the bill after the state medical society raised concerns that it left physicians too little flexibility.
The revised legislation, which Hogan signed last month, requires doctors to follow best practices for prescribing opioids, such as standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and allows the Maryland Board of Physicians to take action against those who do not follow such guidelines.
Hogan said he will continue pressing for stricter prescription limits, playfully suggesting that he would lure his Democratic counterpart from Richmond to help make it happen.
“Maybe we'll send Governor McAuliffe down there to Annapolis to get some of his Democratic colleagues to go along with our proposal,” the first-term Republican quipped.
McAuliffe said he'd be “glad to assist” Hogan, and opined that “his legislature should go for it.”
Del. Eric M. Bromwell (D-Baltimore County), who chaired the bipartisan work group that ushered the Maryland legislation to passage, said the amendment that eliminated the seven-day limit came from the Hogan administration.
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor agreed to the scaled-back proposal as a “first step” toward addressing overprescribing.
McAuliffe, speaking to reporters after a panel discussion, said trusting physicians to follow best-practices is not an effective way to curb an addiction epidemic that included more than 1,400 overdose deaths in Virginia last year and more than 1,460 in Maryland in the first nine months of 2016.
“It is clear that way too many doctors are prescribing way too many pills, and they're getting folks addicted,” McAuliffe said. “I honestly don't think we can be strong enough. .?.?. We've had some trust before, and I now have a crisis on my hands.”
There were 198 opioid-related deaths in the District in the first 11 months of 2016. All three jurisdictions have seen steady increases in the number of opioid-related deaths. Hogan said Tuesday that six people die in Maryland each day, on average, as a result of overdosing on opioids — more than are killed by guns or in vehicle accidents.
Bowser, Hogan and McAuliffe noted that each of their jurisdictions have launched public-awareness campaigns, expanded access to overdose-reversal drugs, increased funding for treatment and taken steps to improve collaboration between agencies.
Bowser highlighted a D.C. pilot program in which city health officials partnered with fire and EMS personnel to offer immediate access to treatment for individuals who have overdosed.
She said the city has a new forensic chemistry unit that tests syringes found with overdose victims for traces of deadly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are significantly more powerful than heroin and have become increasingly common in recent years.
“As new synthetics emerge, this form of testing provides us with another tool that helps our law enforcement partners find out how these drugs are getting into our jurisdictions, which is critically important to their prosecutions,” Bowser said.
The leaders acknowledged that sharing data from their jurisdictions' prescription-monitoring programs could involve legal and technical challenges.
“We've all got different laws and different systems, so the concept of us working together and sharing information is a good one, but there's also legal issues we have to address,” Hogan said. “Sharing the information in general about what trends we're seeing and what kinds of things are working and where we're seeing upticks is helpful.”
Toledo Police cracking down on crime, connecting with community
by Jamie Innis
Every day, regular people are helping solve crimes due in large part to social media.
Police departments across the country are developing their online presences.
Toledo Police uses Facebook and Twitter to share what they're doing with the community.
Every day, regular people are helping solve crimes due in large part to social media.
Police departments across the country are developing their online presences.
Toledo Police uses Facebook and Twitter to share what they're doing with the community.
"We've got a little over 70,000-70,500 [followers] on Facebook and 14,200 on Twitter," said Sgt. Joe Heffernan. "When I put it out there, it's to almost 85,000 people right off the bat. That's pretty good for us. Since there's only 280,000 people in the city, to have that kind of reach is pretty impressive."
Sgt. Heffernan is in charge of TPD's social media. He spends around 3 hours every day updating the department's Facebook and Twitter.
"It is kind of time-consuming. It can take me several hours a day sometimes to answer messages, put up posts, go out and make sure we are following up on what we need to follow up on as far as the messages go," explained Heffernan.
Back in March, TPD put out an alert for suspected murderer DeShone Sykes. That post was shared more than a thousand times.
"It generated a lot of interest and a lot of people were tagging him in the pictures," said Heffernan. "He was actually responding back. I think he felt the overwhelming pressure and actually later that night turn himself in. So that was a win-win. We didn't have to go arrest that violent suspect that had just committed murder. The pressure of the social media was great enough for him to just come in on his own and he turned himself in."
Heffernan says it's not uncommon for criminals to turn themselves in to get out of the public spotlight.
Dr. Philip Stinson is a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University.
"Social media is a police officer's best friend in recent years, especially Facebook," said Stinson. "It's a huge tool for investigators. Crimes are being solved on a regular basis using Facebook. You can have a missing child and put the photograph out and it goes viral in a matter of minutes. You couldn't buy that kind of press coverage."
It's not just about getting the word out. The police department also receives about a dozen messages every day.
"I would say the majority of the messages I get every day from Facebook are people that probably would not have called police," stated Heffernan. "We follow up on every one of the messages. A lot of times it's a neighborhood dispute or somebody's getting bullied on Facebook. We get a lot of juveniles, students that send us a message saying, "I'm being bullied at school. I don't know what to do." So I get them in touch with the school resource officer to handle that situation. That's maybe somebody who wouldn't have called."
"A lot of people are really intimidated by dealing with officers they don't want to interact directly with an officer on the street," said Stinson. "They don't want to approach an officer. They don't want to be seen necessarily approaching an officer and don't want to call them on the phone. So it's very easy to send someone a message on Facebook."
For many departments, social media isn't all about catching criminals. A 2016 Urban Institute law enforcement study shows 85 percent of police departments use humor at least some of the time on their pages to interact with residents.
"They can have a page that's much more official and deals with more serious things," explained Stinson. "They can have accounts that deal with lighter things or ones that feature different officers or put more of a human face on officers that work there. Again it costs them nothing for the different accounts. So they really can craft their own image in that regard."
"It's been really beneficial for the police department," said Heffernan. "It's kind of changed the dynamics a little bit in how we are viewed by the public. Certainly I think people view us as being more accessible which is good. It allows us to put some of our messages out there that may be weren't being put out there before. There's a lot being done at the Toledo Police Department. There's a lot of juvenile programs we participate in and sponsor. There's a lot of community policing aspects to our department that I think a lot of people aren't aware of. So if I can put some of those out there every day and let everybody know the services we have and how we can assist them, it goes a long way to keeping a popular opinion of the police department and that's very important."
Gunfire unites neighbors
by Jon Brines
RACINE — Gun violence piercing the silence of the night and, in some cases residents' windows, has been a rallying cry for those living with the incidents in their Uptown neighborhood.
Boyd Avenue resident Joe Feil came to the Third District Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Watch group meeting Monday at the Polzin Community Policing house, 1900 16th St., after someone shot up his elderly neighbor's house.
“If the neighbors continue to get to know one another, I think the good is going to overwrite the bad we're having right now,” Feil said.
Feil wants to organize a block party to get more residents together to strengthen the ties and push out the violence.
Racine police Officer Bryant Petersen told the group that police have seen an uptick in shots-fired calls over the past month.
“April has been a very busy month,” Petersen said. “A lot of it is our hybrid street gangs shooting. They're not random. They are targeted at specific people and places. We're working on each one of these as they come.”
Police are considering deploying the department's sole mobile surveillance van to Packard or Boyd Avenues.
“It helps deter crime and captures anything that would happen. We want to get this location at the top of the list,” Petersen said.
Richard Bertelsen, who has lived in the 1600 block of Boyd Avenue for nearly five decades, is determined to carry on, even after he and his wife were awakened by 10 gunshots that riddled the front of his house April 26. One bullet went through his front window and landed on the couch.
“I think they got the house mixed up because I can't think of anything I've done would have caused anyone to do this to me,” Bertelsen said. “I think they made a mistake. I hope it is an isolated thing and we're not in any danger.”
The Racine police gang unit Friday teamed with the department's special operations and community policing to round up two teens police said lived nearby and were wanted for a shooting in the 400 block of North Memorial Drive on April 22.
Jordan Jones, 18, of the 1700 block of Boyd Avenue and Isaiah McGlorn, 18, of the 1200 block of Erie Street, are charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and additional felonies for recklessly endangering safety, after shooting another man in the leg; police said it was gang-related.
“Hopefully, they won't be seeing them for a while and, hopefully, alleviate some of the issues in the neighborhood,” Petersen said.
Just blocks away from the COP house, Packard Avenue has had a series of shots-fired incidents, including one Saturday night where the shooter is still at large.
Joann Reed, who watches her three young grandchildren in the family home they've had for decades, said she is fed up with the gunfire and doesn't want them hit. She said this year's incidents of gunfire began with three incidents in a row the week after Easter; she's concerned about a long summer.
“Summer is not even here yet,” Reed said. “Last year, my kids were cleaning up the block and someone came along and took a shot at them. Enough is enough.”
Reed said things will get better if they can control not only the gunfire but abandoned homes, loud music, kids out at night and the negative associations with her block found online.
Just down the street, on April 19, bullets hit two vehicles, which led officers to pursue and arrest William Henderson, 25, of Kenosha.
Henderson is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon — as a party to the crime, four counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and obstructing an officer. If convicted of the most serious charge, Henderson could be sentenced to five years in prison.
“I shouldn't have to send my grandchildren to the other's grandmother's house in the summertime,” Reed said. “I want my grandchildren to go outside and know that's it's OK.”
Susan Feehrer, program director for the Racine Neighborhood Watch Inc., said residents sticking together after the gun violence is why the program exists.
“The group is just one example of how block watches empower people who share the same neighborhood to be safe, strong and connected,” Feehrer said. “For the betterment of the neighborhood, they discuss what's going on, learn from each other and together problem-solve.”
Boyd Avenue resident Aaron Mortensen, who attended the meeting, said he's not concerned about the uptick in gunfire because of his block's camaraderie and the response from the Police Department.
“The Police Department has been phenomenal. The information, their response times to incidents ... you couldn't ask for anything better right now,” Mortensen said. “The night of the shooting it was rainy, miserable and cold and they were out there for hours looking and searching.”
Chicago logs its 200th homicide of the year
While the number of homicides this year are on the same pace as last year, the number of people shot and wounded is down by more than a hundred
by Elvia Malagon and Rosemary Regina Sobol
CHICAGO — The woman pleaded with police. Could they bring her the jacket of the man lying dead on the street so she could see if it was her brother?
A white sheet covered the body along Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park, and Chicago police cars blocked whatever view might have given her some clues.
Soon her phone rang. "It's him," she screamed.
Through sobs, the woman cried out that her family had been searching for him all day.
"This (expletive) has to stop," said another woman standing not far away as rain fell.
The man, whose name has not yet been released, was Chicago's 200th homicide this year, according to data kept by the Tribune. The city reached the grim milestone just four days later than last year, which was the most violent in decades.
The man, in his mid-20s, was in the 5400 block of South Indiana Avenue around 7:45 p.m. Monday when several people approached and shots were fired, police said. He was hit several times and died on the scene.
While the number of homicides this year are on the same pace as last year, the number of people shot and wounded is down by more than a hundred despite a violent weekend that saw 10 people shot at a memorial in the Brighton Park neighborhood Sunday.
As of Monday, at least 1,114 people have been shot in Chicago this year compared with 1,239 this time last year, according to Tribune data.
The Washington Park neighborhood, on the South Side, has logged at least four homicides this year. Last year, there were a total of 12 homicides, according to Tribune data.
At the scene of Monday night's homicide, a young man screamed when a white work van arrived to pick up the body.
Officers moved their cars, revealing the man's body on the sidewalk. Two workers placed the body in the van and drove off while officers began taking down red and yellow crime scene tape that zigzagged the crime scene.
Family and friends remained huddled together on Garfield Boulevard as more people arrived. A family member there declined to comment.
The shooting was one of three that happened within a two-hour period Monday on the South Side.
• In Gresham about 9:20 p.m., a 28-year-old man was shot in the legs while in the 1600 block of West 81st Street. He took himself to Roseland Community Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
• About 8:45 p.m. on the Far South Side, an 18-year-old man was shot in the 10100 block of South Avenue N in the East Side neighborhood. He was sitting in a vehicle when someone shot him in the head, police said. He was taken in serious condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, police said.
No arrests have been made in the shootings.
Man accused of killing 9 in Phoenix serial shootings
by Megan Cassidy
PHOENIX — A 23-year-old Arizona man has been arrested in connection with street shootings that terrorized the Phoenix area over four months in 2016, police said Monday.
Aaron Saucedo, initially arrested April 19 for a fatal shooting in 2015, was re-booked Monday into a Maricopa County jail and now is facing 26 charges related to the serial street shootings that occurred from March to July 2016.
In making the announcement Monday afternoon, Police Chief Jeri Williams said at least two additional murders have been linked to the serial shooter, bringing the death toll to nine. And investigators recently added to the series an incident in August 2015 when shots were fired into a house but no one was hurt, bringing the total shootings to 12.
The announcement comes after weeks of speculation and unconfirmed reports on the investigation. Tips from the community — about 3,300 in all — ultimately led police to Saucedo, Williams said.
"We hope that our community will rest a little easier and that our officers will get a little more sleep (knowing) that our wheels of justice are finally in motion at work," she said.
Last month Saucedo was arrested and held on a $750,000 bond on suspicion of murdering 61-year-old Raul Romero in August 2015. Romero had been dating Saucedo's mother at the time of his death.
Police on Monday linked Romero's death what were dubbed the "Serial Street Shootings" at the time, as well as the shooting death of Jesse Olivas, 22, killed in a drive-by shooting Jan. 1, 2016.
But police now say Saucedo is responsible, at least in part, for more carnage than any other serial killer in the Valley of the Sun in more than a decade.
Unlike Romero, the rest of the victims seemed to be picked at random. They were visiting family, returning home from work, or lounging in their yards when a phantom assailant gunned them down.
Witnesses and surviving victims described a slender, young Hispanic man but couldn't agree on a vehicle. Police said it was possible that the killer had access to multiple cars but circulated a stock photo of one vehicle a witness described in detail: a black BMW 5 series, late 1990s to early 2000s.
Police have not yet identified a motive but Sgt. Jonathan Howard, a Phoenix police spokesman, indicated that Saucedo has given at least some incriminating statements to police.
When asked why activity appeared to cease in July, Howard pointed to Phoenix police's push in getting the description of the shooter and his vehicle out to the public. Saucedo then decided to change his appearance and stop driving his BMW, Howard said Saucedo told investigators.
A “wide host of evidence" linked Saucedo to the series of shootings, including ballistics, surveillance, witnesses and other forensic evidence, Howard said.
“It goes on and on,” he said, but did not divulge more details because the investigation is ongoing.
A $75,000 reward offered in the case will be given to the tipster or tipsters who led police to Saucedo, Howard said. They will remain anonymous through the city's Silent Witness program.
The case is now in the hands of Maricopa County prosecutors, who will make the official charging decisions.
We will review all the evidence submitted to see which charges to charge the suspect with ... to make sure we have a case that we will prosecute successfully and hold the individuals accountable for the harm made to the community," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton commended the Phoenix Police Department for "carefully and methodically" working the case.
“Our officers didn't rest," Stanton said. "Investigators worked every lead. They followed the evidence. They had a clear mission: Get the killer to justice and get it right.”
At the time of his arrest, Saucedo was living in the 4600 block of north 10th Street in Phoenix, according to court records. Two investigators were outside the home when Arizona Republic reporters showed up last month but would not confirm the reason for their presence.
Joe Guzman, a neighbor across the street, spoke briefly to Republic reporters that same day. He said he didn't know Saucedo but was acquainted with his mother, Maria.
He remembered Aaron Saucedo speeding up and down the street and noted that, a few days earlier, police had seized Saucedo's car.
It was a black BMW, he said.
Police said Saucedo sold a Hi-Point 9mm handgun to a pawn shop Sept. 1, 2015, 16 days after Romero was murdered. A new owner purchased the gun June 28, 2016.
If the gun were in the pawn shop for almost eight months, it would have been unavailable for most of the incidents tied to the serial shooter.
Arizona has few records on Saucedo, criminal or otherwise.
Neighbors said he had been living at the North 10th Street residence since he was a boy, and yearbook photos show he attended North High School in Phoenix his freshman and sophomore years. The yearbooks give no indications Saucedo participated in any high school clubs or activities.
A Phoenix Union district representative confirmed that Saucedo transferred to Central High School by his junior year but the district has no records for him after that. This could mean he dropped out or transferred to another district.
Saucedo's lone footprint on the state's criminal justice system before the Romero charge — a red-light ticket in September 2015 — provides one piece of his work history.
At the time, Saucedo was a public bus driver. A red-light photo of the incident shows a relaxed, 20-year-old Saucedo wearing neon green sunglasses and gripping the bus' steering wheel.
The city of Phoenix does not directly employ bus drivers but instead contracts with two private companies, First Transit and Transdev.
In court records from Saucedo's initial arrest April 19, Saucedo reported that he was employed full time working in "labor" at a company called Re-Bath. A Re-Bath representative said Saucedo worked at one of the temp agencies the kitchen and bathroom remodeler uses.
One of two victims who survived the serial shooter said investigators visited him last month to show him a photo lineup.
The victim, who was 21 at the time, said he didn't really recognize anyone in the lineup but stressed that the shooting was more than a year ago. He said he "pointed out some things" that might help police.
"I really don't care anymore, to be honest with you," he said. The Arizona Republic is withholding this man's identity because he is a crime victim.
Another victim whose car was shot at said police also visited him to show him a lineup. He also seemed uncertain about the suspect's identity.
The victim said he pointed out more than one person in the photo lineup. But when The Republic showed him a picture of Saucedo, he said he didn't think he was one of the men he picked.
“They said they couldn't give me a lot of details as it's still an active case. ... I know that when the right time comes for them to share more details they will.”
Sylvia Ellis, Phoenix
Sylvia Ellis, the mother and grandmother of two of the victims, said just after Saucedo's arrest last month that police had not contacted her family but did come to her house Monday morning.
"My mind is all over the place. My body is in shock," Ellis said. "I'm trying to get myself together."
Ellis lost two loved ones to the serial shooter: her daughter Stefanie Ellis and 12-year-old granddaughter, Maleah. Ellis said she was walking home Monday when she saw a patrol vehicle parked outside her home.
She recognized the detectives as they approached. They told her an arrest had been made.
"They said they couldn't give me a lot of details as it's still an active case," Ellis said. "But they wanted me to find out from them and not the news. I know that when the right time comes for them to share more details they will."
Ellis said she had never heard of the suspect before now. Her family didn't know him either.
Frequents texts and calls came to the grieving mother and grandmother as family and friends quickly learned of the arrest. She was waiting for her husband, Dossie Ellis Sr., to get home to tell him the news.
"I'm not sure if he knows yet," Syliva Ellis said, her voice cracking. "I'm sure he'll be walking through the door any minute now."
She also planned to make a call to Nancy Pena, the mother of another victim.
Pena had reached out to her during the summer. The two women have yet to meet in person, but they grieve the loss of their children together, often speaking on the phone, Ellis said.
Right now, I've got to collect all my feelings first," she said, taking a deep breath.
The shooter struck 12 times between Aug. 12, 2015, and July 11, 2016, killing nine people and wounding two more. The first two shootings were within a 5-minute drive of Saucedo's home; seven of the attacks were in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale.
Three other attacks took place in east-central Phoenix. The third attack occurred south of Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix in a neighborhood just south of Interstate 10.
All of the shootings were in residential neighborhoods with predominantly Hispanic populations. Most residents of those neighborhoods speak Spanish as their first language.
Though police specifically underscored the BMW sedan, witnesses have described several cars, including a long white Cadillac or Lincoln; a dark Nissan Maxima or Chevrolet Malibu; a light-colored four-door car; and a dark car with "triangle-shaped" headlights.
Mass shooting at Brighton Park memorial claims lives of brother and sister
by Jeremy Gorner and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
Adriana Williams and her brother Michael stopped at a makeshift memorial on Sunday afternoon for a friend gunned down hours earlier on a street in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood.
On Monday, a new memorial went up — this one for the two Williams siblings after they were killed and eight others wounded when two gunmen armed with rifles stepped from an alley and opened fire at mourners at the friend's memorial.
The group had been celebrating the life of 26-year-old Daniel Cordova, who was shot and killed about 13 hours earlier, when the shots rang out.
"They were just coming to pay their respects," said Willie Glover Jr., an older brother of Adriana, 27, and Michael, 24. "You expect people to respect that."
Chicago's worst mass shooting in almost four years comes amid conflict by as many as four Hispanic gangs battling over turf in Brighton Park and neighboring Back of the Yards and less than a week after two plainclothes Chicago police officers — mistaken for rival gang members — were shot and wounded. Of particular concern to police is that in recent months the gangs have increasingly been using military-style weapons, including in the shooting of the two officers.
According to a law enforcement source, Chicago police are looking into whether rival gangs are trying to take advantage of the department's crackdown on the La Raza street gang because of its involvement in the officers' shooting. Police believe a rival gang, the Almighty Saints, was responsible for both shootings Sunday, the source said. Both Cordova and Michael Williams were affiliated with the Satan Disciples, police said.
Police are concerned about further bloodshed. In an alert broadcast Monday over police radio channels, officers were told to "use caution in Satan Disciple areas." With the shooting of multiple gang members, "a heightened level of activity from Satan Disciples is expected," the police alert warned.
The shootings led Ald. Raymond Lopez, whose 15th Ward covers Back of the Yards and Brighton Park, to pronounce Sunday that "no innocent lives were lost" in the afternoon shooting that killed the Williams siblings and wounded the eight others near 46th Place and Rockwell Street.
"If you are hanging out with people who are recruiting 12- and 13-year-olds to join gangs and sell drugs, then you are part of the problem in this community," Lopez told a Tribune reporter. "We need to stop beating around the bush on this, and we need the people who live here to stand up and help us stop what's going on."
By Monday, police were providing the alderman a security detail after he had received death threats, according to the law enforcement source.
Lopez declined to comment on the report, telling the Tribune, "I was elected to defend my residents and will continue to do so."
On Monday, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which offers after-school programs, violence prevention outreach and advocacy for immigration rights for the blue-collar, Latino neighborhood, sought to comfort students with the help of officials at Shields Elementary School and Shields Middle School, both located a few blocks from Sunday's shootings.
"The kids are afraid," said Patrick Brosnan, the council's executive director. "They feel nervous to go outside. They are scared in their own neighborhoods."
Just before 3 a.m. Sunday, with music blaring, Cordova posted a video to his Facebook page threatening the "opp" — short for opposition — and bragging about how he stays out on the street "day and night." He taunted that he was sitting in a parked car alone, according to the video.
About an hour and a half later, police found his body between two parked cars at 46th Place and Rockwell Street. He had been shot in the chest.
Word of Cordova's shooting spread on Facebook, and Lisa Vargas, who roomed with Adriana Williams, said Adriana was "freaking out" over the death.
"She was just like, 'Nah, it wasn't him. It can't be him,'" Vargas said. "And I said, 'Yeah, it was him.'"
As friends gathered at the memorial near where Cordova had been shot, police warned them they could be the targets of more gang gunfire. It wasn't long afterward that the gunmen appeared.
Michael Williams died at the scene, and Adriana died at Stroger Hospital, officials said.
According to a Tribune analysis of its shooting database, the killing of two and wounding of eight others, including two women, marked the single worst shooting incident in Chicago since September 2013, when 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy, were shot in Cornell Square Park near 51st and Wood streets in Back of the Yards by two gunmen, one armed with an AK-47-style rifle.
"It hits hard," said Vargas, noting one of her daughters was really close to Adriana Williams. "I was sitting here telling my daughter, 'You could have been right there with her.' Because she goes with her everywhere. She was always with her."
As she talked Monday, friends set up a makeshift memorial for the Williamses in front of the two-story brick home in Little Village where Adriana lived. That's where their friends tied yellow smiley-faced balloons on a wrought-iron fence across the sidewalk from the home.
They passed around a black marker and took turns scrawling messages on the balloons. "We Love You" and "R.I.P. Adriana." They lit religious candles near a small pot of roses.
Glover, the Williams' brother and the oldest of six siblings, said that he had moved out of Chicago about 15 years ago and that he and his siblings grew apart the way family sometimes does when everyone is grown and spread out.
He knew his family members lived in a tough neighborhood where gang violence was prevalent. But he didn't believe his siblings were in a gang, though he acknowledged, "I know they live around a lot of gangs."
Still, Glover never expected that two of his siblings would be gunned down, especially at a makeshift memorial for another homicide victim.
"The (guy) that got killed is close friends with my brother and sister," he said. "You know, it wasn't about who they are. It was more like just targeting anybody that was out there to gather for him. They trying to pay their respects, and they get murdered. That's crazy."
"They was real good people. They was very loved people. A lot of people really loved them," he said.
Glover said his sister was a small woman whose size belied her strength and huge personality. She left behind three kids, who have recently been in the custody of the state, he said. She was trying to get her kids back, he said.
His brother showed aptitude for math and reading and made good grades in school, said Glover, who said Michael had two kids of his own.
"Michael, he was just always a good kid. He liked to play basketball. He liked to dress in real nice clothes," Glover said. "When he was younger, I never thought him to be the type to be around this type of environment. He was just trying to be a good father to his kids."
Police said both shootings Sunday were carried out by suspects armed with rifles.
In February, the Tribune reported that four Hispanic gangs in Brighton Park and Back of the Yards on the South Side were increasingly using rifles. Police said this area was the only one in the city where rifles styled after AR-15s and AK-47s were regularly used, a menacing new development in the gang fights.
At the time, more than 30 shootings believed to have been tied to semi-automatic rifles occurred in the two neighborhoods over the previous nine months. At least 46 people were shot in those attacks, 13 fatally.
As of Monday evening, no one was reported in custody for the Sunday shootings, but Deputy Police Chief Kevin Ryan told reporters Sunday night that investigators "have a fairly good idea who we're looking for, we have a fairly good idea of the conflict involved and right now we're trying to saturate the area."
Vargas, the friend of both Williamses, said she found out about their killings when someone posted a video from the crime scene on Facebook Live.
"She's on the ground, and they're screaming, 'Help her! Help her!'" she recalled.
Vargas said the last time she saw Michael Williams, who worked in a cookie factory, was earlier Sunday when he was at a Cinco de Mayo parade along Cermak Road in Little Village.
Another friend, Roselee Lopez, spoke of Michael Williams' sense of humor.
"He loved to joke around," said Lopez, clutching a bouquet of roses, tears streaming down her face. "Whether you had a good or bad day, he always tried to make you smile."
Lopez said she, too, learned about the shooting from a Facebook Live video. She hopped on a CTA bus to head to the shooting scene.
"I kept on saying, 'No, it's not him. It's not him. It can't be him,'" she said. "I was just with him in the parade.
"But when I went over there and they uncovered him, that's when I really knew."
Our Nation Needs Community Policing
by Dr. Lee P. Brown
As someone who has made law enforcement his professional career, I was saddened and bewildered as I witnessed events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri.
Local law enforcement's initial response in that city was reminiscent of the 1960s when many police agencies responded to urban unrest, or the threat of it, by arming themselves with military equipment, not unlike that which our armed forces personnel uses when it engages an enemy in combat. Such tactics should not be used by American law enforcement agencies against citizens of our country.
Before making a judgment on whether or not the fatal shooting of young Michael Brown was warranted, all of us should wait on the outcome of the investigation by local and federal investigations as they attempt to determine what actually occurred in Ferguson.
I would, however, suggest that there is a philosophy of policing that would have prevented the events that have occurred in Ferguson. That philosophy is called Community Policing.
As Chief of Police in Houston, Texas, I implemented principles of the concept in a city in which the police and the citizens were at odds and were alienated from one another.
Community Policing is a philosophy of law enforcement that I pioneered while leading the force in Houston. The city's police had a national reputation for brutality and racism. The Community Policing concept transformed the police department into one of the most respected police agencies in the nation.
In 1990, I was appointed Police Commissioner of New York City. A crack-cocaine epidemic had engulfed the city, and crime was at an all-time high. Community Policing was implemented as the cornerstone of then Mayor David Dinkins' Safe Streets - Safe City program.
We utilized the principles of Community Policing as our style for the delivery of police services to the people of New York City. After one year, crime went down in every index category over the previous year. That was the first time that it had occurred in nearly 40 years.
Former President Bill Clinton understood the value of Community Policing when he incorporated it into his 1994 Crime Control Bill, and created the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
I am convinced that if the Ferguson Police Department had adopted and implemented Community Policing as their dominant style of delivering police services to the citizens of Ferguson, the recent events would not have occurred.
Under Community Policing every officer must demonstrate that they support the community. Residents become allies and not targets. Officers are hired in the "spirit of service," and not in the "spirit of adventure." The police agency should also mirror the racial composition of the community under the concept.
Community policing demands that officers interact with people who live or work in neighborhoods that they patrol. Officers are trained to communicate with people, solve community problems and develop an appreciation of cultural and ethnic differences.
In fact, under Community Policing officers are not just evaluated on the number of arrests that they make. They are also assessed on their ability to solve problems, and the absence of crime in their assigned areas. Equally important, under Community Policing officers are rewarded for their problem solving abilities and the absence of crime.
Community Policing is also value driven. For example, every police agency should have as its core value the importance of human life. They must understand that deadly force is only to be used when their lives or the life of a citizen is at risk.
While serving as Police Commissioner of New York City, I was invited in 1991, prior to the end of apartheid, to travel to South African to help establish policies of policing for a free society. While there, I introduced Community Policing. Subsequently, the South Africans incorporated the concept of Community Policing into their new constitution.
I believe that Community Policing is the most effective and prudent method of policing that will work in our country. If properly adopted and implemented Community will prevent events such as those that occurred in Ferguson.
**The former chief of police in New York City, Atlanta and Houston, Dr. Lee Brown, has recently authored a book entitled: Policing in the 21 st Century: Community Policing.
Data Crunchers Ask New Yorkers: How Are the Police Doing?
by Al Baker
It was a policing invention with a futuristic sounding name — CompStat — when the New York Police Department introduced it as a management system for fighting crime in an era of much higher violence in the 1990s. Police departments around the country, and the world, adapted its system of mapping muggings, robberies and other crimes; measuring police activity; and holding local commanders accountable.
Now, a quarter-century later, it is getting a broad reimagining and being brought into the mobile age. Moving away from simple stats and figures, CompStat is getting touchy-feely. It's going to ask New Yorkers — via thousands of questions on their phones — “How are you feeling?” and “How are we, the police, doing?”
Whether this new approach will be mimicked elsewhere is still unknown, but as is the case with almost all new tactics in the N.Y.P.D. — the largest municipal police force in the United States by far — it will be closely watched. Nor is it clear if New Yorkers will embrace this approach, reject it as intrusive or simply be annoyed by it.
The system, using location technology, sends out short sets of questions to smartphones along three themes: Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Do you trust the police? Are you confident in the New York Police Department?
The questions stream out every day, around the clock, on 50,000 different smartphone applications and present themselves on screens as eight-second surveys.
The department believes it will get a more diverse measure of community satisfaction, and allow it to further drive down crime. For now, Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill is calling the tool a “sentiment meter,” though he is open to suggestions for a better name.
People's answers stream back to a private firm the department has contracted, where they are bundled and funneled out to the front-line commanders of New York City's 77 police precincts. There, on desk computers in station houses, commanders can absorb the findings — presented like a credit score on a scale from 100 to 900 — and lay them up against the old metrics: their neighborhood's crime trends and their arsenal of police responses.
Tests have shown a high rate of responses and have yielded some preliminary findings: On the trust question, surveys show it at 680 citywide. Satisfaction with the Police Department is at 712, and people's sense of safety is at 692.
The initiative is being launched after several years of deeply strained relations between the police and mostly minority communities in several American cities, including New York, where a man selling cigarettes, Eric Garner, died after being placed in an illegal chokehold by a police officer. Commissioner O'Neill sees the new approach as partly a reaction to those strains, as well as a key element in the department's move toward more of a community policing model.
The department's plan is for the commanders to get the data each month so they can tweak block-by-block deployments or tailor their strategies to better answer the concerns of residents. (It might also factor into how commanders are evaluated.)
“Before this, it was anecdotal,” said Commissioner O'Neill, an avatar of CompStat for decades, explaining the system on a recent day in a conference room at 1 Police Plaza, surrounded by images of the multicolored city maps his commanders are getting.
“Now, we'll actually have real-time information, real-time feedback about how we're doing from the people in the community,” he said. “I think that, in the long run, it's going to help us build a safer city.”
The police do not have New Yorkers' individual phone numbers. But the goal is to try to ensure that the anonymous advertiser ID of a given device exists in the same New York neighborhood repeatedly, an indication that the person who owns it lives there.
The blasts will be going out to devices that are already open to advertisers, and responses come back anonymously. But some policing watchdogs and civil libertarians raised alarms, and will be watching to see that the tool is not abused.
“For me, it raises serious concerns for data access and data management and what they intend to do with that data,” said Charlene A. Carruthers, the national director of the Black Youth Project 100, a Chicago-based activist group, which has a chapter in New York City. “Particularly when we're talking about an agency that has the power to surveil, monitor and can inflict violence on people with impunity.”
Charles H. Ramsey, who began his career as an officer in Chicago and went on to lead the police departments of Philadelphia and Washington, supported the project.
“It's one thing for us to rely on crime stats to determine whether or not a neighborhood is safe or residents should feel good about the police,” he said. “But we need to hear directly from residents.”
Mr. Ramsey said it should capture the vicissitudes of public opinion.
“If you did a survey in the aftermath of Ferguson, for example, you would get one result,” he said, referring to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. By contrast, in periods without controversies over police use of force, “you'd get a totally different result, I would imagine.”
Commissioner O'Neill said he was curious to see commanders interact with the system, which was developed by three advisers from the private sector: a former data analyst for Obama for America, one of the first software engineers at Pinterest and a longtime pollster.
Commissioner O'Neill said lower levels of crime — New York experienced an all-time low of 998 shootings last year, which have fallen an additional 14 percent so far this year — allowed for experiments like the new meter.
“It's an evolution of policing,” he said.
The initiative has its roots in the most recent tenure of the former police commissioner William J. Bratton, who has been interested in tracking community sentiment since his days in Boston in the 1970s.
“Finally, we have a tool that can allow us to measure, in real time, in incredible geographic intimacy, ‘How are we doing? Why is this neighborhood policing initiative working well in this neighborhood, but not working well in another neighborhood?'” Mr. Bratton said. “This is taking Ed Koch's question, whenever he'd see somebody, ‘How am I doing?' Well, we're magnifying this.”
Some are critical. Advocates of policing reform say the idea of a digital survey by the police feels impersonal.
“It cheapens whatever the interaction is,” said Johnetta Elzie, a founder of Campaign Zero, an advocacy group, who participated in the protests over the killing of Mr. Brown, an unarmed black man shot by a white officer.
The commercial approach to gathering data might arouse suspicion in some, she said.
“How did you even get my phone number?” Ms. Elzie said, citing the kind of skepticism online questions about the police would raise in her mind. “Who feels safe to even reply back? And who, in the marginalized community, is going to trust the police and send an honest answer back?”
Two of the systems' creators from a company called Elucd, Michael Simon and Saul Shemesh, said in an interview that unlike traditional polling, which relies on smaller samples over a limited time, the surveys seek input from broad swaths of people on multiple platforms around the clock.
“In recent high-profile failures of polling, a common thread has been selection bias — that it's hard to reach a truly representative sample of the population in this day and age,” Mr. Simon said. “To get better data, we must reach across the entire population. To do that, we have to be where people's eyeballs are.”
Mr. Simon said such survey work was feasible because mobile devices were more universal than landline phones.
It works like this: Phone users are served with programmatic ads inviting them into a survey based on their sector location and the app they are using. Of course, they must first have their settings open to such targeting. Respondents can provide their sex, race and age range, but neither the company nor the police obtains their phone number. In this way, Mr. Simon said, a widely accepted practice, used globally by advertisers and publishers, is simply being used for a new purpose.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington think tank, predicts the meter will force chiefs to focus equally on trust building and crime-fighting.
“What's always been missing from CompStat is that connection,” he said. “Police are always surprised that you could have a reduction in crime, and it doesn't always translate to an increase in trust.”
Violence prevention program seeks trainers
by Esteban Parra
For about two years the violence prevention program, Just(ice) In Time, has been working to reduce potential escalations between young people and law enforcement through role-playing and open dialogue about real life experiences.
The program now enters a new phase in which organizers will train teens and young men in hopes that they take the message into their communities and find groups willing to host or attended the programs.
"The goal is to make this thing spread out so that we can touch as many lives as possible," said Tyrone Perry, the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware 's statewide coordinator of Just(ice) In Time.
As it looks to expand the number of trainers, the Boys & Girls Clubs, with their partners, will host statewide training from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club, located at 1683 New Burton Road, Dover. There will also be a training seminar for and young adult males of color from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Dover club.
While other programs address violence, not all involve young people in the development, organizers said.
Just(ice) In Time does that through role play where officers and youth act out "real-life" scenarios – teens pretend to be officers and police pretend to be teenagers at a crime scene. There is usually an audience watching the performance.
After the skit is over, police explain why certain things occurred the way they did. Audience members can ask questions and even make suggestions on why someone would act a certain way.
This creates a dialogue that gives both sides – police and people on the scene – some insight into how to act or behave during an incident.
Wilmington Police Cpl. Monet Cummings Cintron, one of two city officers trained in the program, said they were initially "very hesitant" to participate because over concern it would turn into a police-bashing session. But the concerns were shaken off as the class started and she saw an opportunity for a healthy discussion which led to an opportunity for both sides to better understanding each other.
It shows kids real-life scenarios of the things police do and why officers expect certain things from them, she said. The classes also help police understand what the community is experiencing.
"It reminds you when you are not an officer, how you would react to some of these scenarios as well," she said. "So it puts you back in that position of 'If I wasn't in this uniform, how would I have reacted or how would I have responded in a certain situation?' "
Wilmington police Chief Robert Tracy said teaching life skills and conflict resolution is key in reducing youth crime and youths being victims. So is getting officers to know the people in the community they serve.
"If we don't know each other, we can't get beyond the conversation," Tracy said. "It's my goal to make sure that my officers are getting into the meetings, getting into the youth programs – and it's not just one community policing officer from each area – I want all my officer to be community policing officers.
"They all have to be engaged if we're going to get passed this and build the trust, not only with the communities, but with the youth that we serve to make this a better and a safer place to live."
Don't look down: NYPD unit does its work at dizzying heights
The 400-officer Emergency Services Unit is among the most highly trained in the nation in both rescues and law enforcement
by Colleen Long
NEW YORK — Police Sgt. John Flynn didn't even flinch as he started his descent from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, briskly walking down a narrow suspension cable with only a safety harness between him and a possible 27-story fall to the glinting East River below.
"It becomes like second nature to you," he said of the dizzying height. "Three stories is no different from 30 stories."
Being part of the Manhattan skyline was just another day at the office for Flynn and other members of an elite unit that specializes in dangerous, often high-rise rescues. Training exercises like a recent climb up the iconic bridge are designed to get team members thinking beyond the risk to their own lives so they can help save someone else's.
Successful rescues over the years have included window washers dangling 17 stories up the side of a skyscraper, distraught people threatening suicide on the Manhattan Bridge and a young thrill-seeker who used suction cups to climb the glass walls of Trump Tower. They've even saved a paraglider who crashed into the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
"You're working from the minute you get the call," said Flynn, a rope rescue instructor. "You're thinking about how to best approach the climb, and how to approach the person even before you meet them, how to help them."
The New York Police Department's 400-officer Emergency Services Unit is among the most highly trained in the nation in both rescues and law enforcement, and it's one of the most coveted assignments at the 35,000-member department. Candidates must have at least five years on patrol and make it through an eight-month training program followed by rigorous testing. They go on to work as SWAT teams, jump out of helicopters, rappel down skyscrapers and dive into waters in full scuba gear.
"The officers are handling multiple different jobs all in the same tour," said Deputy Chief Vincent Giordano, the commanding officer of the unit. "They're prepared for anything, and they train for anything."
New York has the second-most skyscrapers in the world, just behind Hong Kong, with about 325 buildings over 500 feet. While the fire department also is trained to handle high-rise rescues, the NYPD unit is brought in on cases in which people are resisting help, suicidal or otherwise mentally unstable.
Most of the officers on the bridge drill had climbed taller structures and gone up the bridge under more stressful circumstances. Flynn, for instance, helped talk a jumper down from the top in 2013. The man stood at the very edge, and it took hours to get him down.
"It's very hard," Flynn said. "You've just convinced this person they should live, and then you've got to get them down."
But they don't save all of those who are intent on taking their own lives, and those cases haunt members of the unit. "You're just doing your best to try to save someone," said Detective Jose Otero.
Others resist help because they are trying to make a point. That was the case last August, when Detective Chris Williams, a 14-year member of the unit, was about to end his shift for the day and got a call that a protester was using suction cups and ropes to climb from the fifth floor to the 21st floor of Trump Tower.
Climber Stephen Rogata said he just wanted to talk to then-GOP nominee Donald Trump, and refused any help or efforts to get him to surrender for his own good.
"I explained to him that Trump was not at home," Williams said. "It's going to rain, and you don't want to be on the side of this glass building in the rain."
While Williams talked, police took out a window above Rogata and officers set up a rigging system. But Rogata refused to clip into the safety line.
Williams decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. "That's when I grabbed him by his arms and did a long drag and pulled him inside the window," he said.
The scene played out on national television, but the officers are used to an audience. During the bridge drill, crowds below gathered to watch, and 911 calls poured in. A local television helicopter circled as officers, accompanied by three journalists from The Associated Press , climbed the sloping suspension cable to the top of the southern stone tower.
Detective Williams dangled on the side of a vertical ladder at the very top, helping others ascend.
"It's all about trusting the equipment, and your partner," he said. "And yeah, I guess, yourself."
Fla. roads to be renamed after fallen LEOs
The legislation aims to rename parts of roads and bridges across Florida for 50 LEOs, including Lt. Debra Clayton and Deputy Norman Lewis
by Christal Hayes
ORLANDO, Fla. — Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that would rename two Central Florida roads after Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton and Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis.
The bill is now off to Gov. Rick Scott for final approval.
The legislation aims to rename parts of roads and bridges across Florida for 50 law-enforcement officers, including Clayton and Lewis, both of whom were killed in January.
A portion of Princeton Street between John Young Parkway and Pine Hills Road would be renamed “Lieutenant Debra Clayton Memorial Highway.”
That stretch of road includes the Wal-Mart where Clayton was killed Jan. 9. Authorities say Clayton was outside the store trying to arrest murder suspect Markeith Loyd when the felon shot and killed her execution style.A few hours later, Lewis was killed in a traffic crash during the manhunt for Loyd, who was found and arrested after an exhaustive nine-day search.
A portion of Pine Hills Road between Silver Star Road and State Road 50, the area where he crashed his patrol motorcycle, would be renamed to “First Class Deputy Norman Lewis Memorial Highway.”