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North Korea has shown us its new missile, and it's scarier than we thought
by Anna Fifield
(Picture on site)
TOKYO — A day after its latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch, North Korea released photos of what it's calling the “Hwasong-15.” And the collective response from missile experts was — not to get too technical — whoa.
The missile and its launcher truck do, at first blush, appear to support North Korea's claim that this missile is much more technologically advanced than previous iterations.
Although there is still much that can't be gleaned from the photos and North Korea does have an inglorious record of exaggeration, analysts generally agree that the Hwasong-15 marks a significant leap forward in North Korea's missile development.
“This is a really big missile, much larger than I expected,” said Scott LaFoy, an imagery analyst for the specialist website NK News. “I believe one of my professors would have referred to it as a big honking missile.”
Several analysts noted that the missile looked like the American Titan II, which was initially an ICBM but was then later used by the U.S. Air Force and NASA as a space launch vehicle.
So, to break down what the initial pictures show:
The transporter erecter launcher, or TEL, has nine axles, making it one axle longer than the TEL used to launch the previous iteration of the intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea claims to have made these trucks itself but analysts believe they are modified versions or based on the Chinese lumber truck, the WS51200.
For some perspective, this is what it looks like next to Kim Jong Un. The tires are nearly as tall as he is.
“We've seen heavy vehicle extensions before but this would this would be a very large step forward for their heavy vehicles industry,” said LaFoy, estimating that the truck was about twice as long as an American school bus. “We know that this is pretty difficult. It took China a while to figure this out.”
The nose cone
The nose cone of the Hwasong-15 is much blunter than of the previous iteration, the Hwasong-14. This is likely an effort to slow down the missile slightly as it screams through the atmosphere, which lowers the heat inside the missile and means that the warhead doesn't have to withstand quite as much variation in temperature during flight.
This might be an effort to overcome issues with the reentry vehicle — the part of the missile that protects the warhead during launch and brings it back into the Earth's atmosphere. This is one of the parts of the missile that North Korea has not yet proven it has mastered.
The size of the nose cone and re-entry vehicle on the Hwasong-15 supports North Korea's claim that the missile can carry a “super large heavy warhead.” But experts think the missile tested this week was carrying a light, mock warhead.
The Hwasong-14 and 15 missiles are likely to have carried only very small payloads, which exaggerate the range that a North Korean missile can fly, said Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Basically, the heavier the warhead, the shorter the distance it can travel.
If the Hwasong-15 was fitted with a half-ton payload and flown on a standard trajectory, it could probably fly about 5,300 miles, Elleman wrote for 38 North, a website devoted to North Korea, meaning that a 600 kilogram (1,320 pound) payload “barely reaches Seattle.”
Still, with its publication of this huge reentry vehicle, Kim's regime is clearly signaling that this is their ultimate goal.
The first stage of the Hwasong-15 — the bottom part that propels it off the launcher, sometimes called the “booster” — has two engines. “We're trying to figure out what those may be and how powerful they are,” said David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
But the second stage looks like it can carry more than twice as much propellant as the Hwasong-14, since it is longer and has a larger diameter, Wright said. “The combination of those two things means it really is a new, more capable missile.”
The addition of two engines doubled the second stage thrust and allows the missile to reach a higher peak altitude, Elleman said. This missile reached a height of about 2,800 miles — or ten times as high as the International Space Station.
The Hwasong-14 had only one nozzle and it used four vernier engines to steer the missile. But the newly unveiled Hwasong-15 has two nozzles and no verniers. That suggests the missile is steered by gimbaling, a more advanced way to control the missile.
“This is a sort of maneuvering which is pretty fancy. You lose the least thrust that way,” LaFoy said. “We knew they'd get there eventually but we didn't think the North Koreans were there yet.”
Hawaii brings back Cold War-era nuclear warning sirens amid fears of North Korea strike
by Brittany Lyte and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
KILAUEA, Hawaii — As nuclear tensions between North Korea and the United States grow, officials in Hawaii are walking a delicate line — planning for a catastrophe while assuring residents and tourists alike that they can keep sipping beverages from coconuts without alarm.
The “without alarm” part gets harder Friday.
That is when the government is set to bring back a statewide nuclear attack siren, a relic of the Cold War that will notify islanders that a missile is headed toward them. Officials will test the system for the first time just before lunchtime Friday, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
If the alarm goes off at any other time, by the way, it means that residents have 15 minutes before a nuclear bomb destroys Hawaii as we know it. The tests will be conducted on the first business day of every month for the foreseeable future.
The siren tests will be an audible example of the growing strife with North Korea, which has spooked other communities in the still-hypothetical line of fire. Guam distributed a pamphlet on nuclear attack preparedness that encouraged people to avoid using conditioner, “as it will bind the toxins to your hair.” A 16-page bulletin released by emergency management authorities in California warned people to beware of radioactive pets.
Judith and Bill Fernandez, who live on Kauai, the oldest and northernmost island in the archipelago, told The Post they believe Hawaii's siren test is prudent. They've already stocked up on canned goods and bottled water.
“Hearing a siren go off like that will scare the living daylights out of you,” said Judith Fernandez, who is 79. Both she and her husband, who is 86, lived through World War II. “But you don't want to be sitting around waiting, thinking, ‘Why the heck isn't there any plan?
“Being not prepared is foolish,” she said, but added, “this is probably as unsettling as the Cold War era.”
Hawaii's warnings about a possible nuclear attack have been understandably grim.
“There will be no time to call our loved ones, pick up our kids and find a designated shelter,” Vern Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview with the Star-Advertiser. “We should all prepare and exercise a plan ahead of time so we can take some comfort in knowing what our loved ones are doing.”
Miyagi is a mainstay in many emergency management videos, including the latest one about the nuclear siren. He wears an Aloha shirt, speaks in a soft, even tone and is accompanied by the gentle strumming of a ukulele as he essentially describes the last sound Hawaiians will hear as a ballistic missile streaks toward the 50th state.
The video isn't the only one that has tried to balance a message of calm with a message about a worst-case scenario.
In October, the University of Hawaii sent an email to 50,000 students and 10,000 employees that detailed growing tensions between the United States and North Korea, and the rogue nation's nuclear ambitions, according to The Washington Post's Nick Anderson.
“In light of concerns about North Korea missile tests, state and federal agencies are providing information about nuclear threats and what to do in the unlikely event of a nuclear attack and radiation emergency,” the email said.
After hitting “send” on the apocalyptic-sounding message, the communications official responsible for it was immediately wishing for a do-over, saying, “It was a mistake on my part.”
Of course, terrifying and totally on-purpose anecdotes abound.
In September, North Korea's foreign minister warned that a strike against the U.S. mainland is “inevitable” after President Trump mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with the nickname “little Rocket Man.” Trump, meanwhile, has said that the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea, warning Pyongyang that it would be met with “fire and fury” if threats continue.
As Sam Kim and Kanga Kong reported for Bloomberg this month, North Korea's nuclear program escalated this year:
It test-fired long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles twice and said the entire U.S. was now in range; it fired missiles over Japan twice; it threatened the U.S. territory of Guam; and it carried out its sixth nuclear test, detonating what it said was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto an ICBM .?.?.
North Korea, which is thought to have six to 20 nuclear warheads, describes its weapons as a “precious sword of justice” against invaders and points out the demise of Iraqi and Libyan regimes after they gave up on nuclear arms.
Hawaii has previously been depicted as a target by North Korea. Oahu is home to the Navy's U.S. Pacific Command. Hawaii is about 4,600 miles from North Korea. The U.S. mainland is 6,680 miles from North Korea.
Emergency management officials' theories about what would happen during an attack are horrifyingly detailed. The state estimated that a 150-kiloton-yield nuclear warhead detonated over Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam would kill 18,000 people and injure up to 120,000, according to the Star-Advertiser.
But that's a worst case, Miyagi said. Authorities believe North Korea would attack closer targets, such as South Korea or Japan — or instead aim for the U.S. mainland.
Kim “has a limited amount of missiles, and there are many, many closer-in targets that he is guaranteed of hitting, such as Japan and South Korea,” Miyagi said, noting that “Hawaii is a very tiny target.”
John Wooten, an organic tropical fruit and vegetable farmer from Anahola, told The Post he felt that if a nuclear weapon was streaking toward his island, there'd probably be too little time to react anyway.
“By the time a real warning would be necessary, I think it's going to be too late,” he told The Post.
“If it gets to that point, we've really missed all the opportunities that we could have used to defuse the situation.”
'I did it to kill people,' 10-year-old allegedly tells police after driving truck through home
by Jeffrey Caplan
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A 10-year-old girl got behind the wheel of a pickup truck and crashed it into a family's Kentucky home, according to police. When police arrived and questioned the child, she allegedly told them, “I wanted to kill people,” WDRB reported.
There's no clear indication of how the little girl got the keys to the truck.
Joshua Pate, the father of the family whose home was struck, had just returned home from work Friday afternoon when the truck came plowing into his home. Pate, who said five children were sitting in the living room, believes a piece of furniture may have saved the children's lives by taking the brunt of the blow.
“The loveseat slid around and made kind of like a barrier ... The back of it is kind of high, and I think the kids just slid with the loveseat,” he told WDRB.
The girl who was driving the truck was uninjured, police said.
Pate said he heard the girl talking to police, and he said he was shocked by the words that came out of her mouth.
“(The officer) couldn't believe what she said. He was like, ‘Excuse me?' and she said, ‘I wanted to kill people,' and he said, ‘I'm sorry, what did you say?' and she said, ‘I wanted to kill people,” Pate told WDRB.
Moments before the girl crashed the truck into the home, she collided with driver Kristina Bryan, police said. According to WDRB, Bryan's vehicle was hit so hard that it spun several times, leaving gashes in the pavement and Bryan's vehicle totaled.
“When I heard it was a 10-year-old girl, my first reaction should have been, ‘Is she OK?' but when I looked down, there she was, walking from the truck to get into the back of a cop car. I knew she was OK,” said Bryan, who has minor scrapes and bruises. “Where was the parents when this little girl even got into the car? How did this little girl even get access to the keys?”
That question remains unanswered, and the case is still under investigation.
Pate's family is renting the damaged home, and they'll be forced to live elsewhere for at least a month while the house gets repaired. Pate said he has forgiven the girl, but he is still waiting to hear from someone from her family.
“All we want is an apology from the family, pretty much,” Pate told WDRB. “We haven't heard from them and haven't heard from anybody.”
The girl's family, when identified, will likely soon be hearing from Pate and Bryan. Both said that they plan to take legal action against the girl's parents.
Hometown Heroes: Seeing cops in a different light
APD officer: Cops & Kids program has several benefits
by Andy Knight
ANDERSON — Many of the children who will participate in this year's Cops & Kids program have, through a variety of circumstances, had less than positive experiences with police officers.
Mike Lee looks forward to changing that.
Lee, in his 24th year as a member of the Anderson Police Department, is coordinating this year's Cops & Kids event. He and more than 60 other officers — many of them fellow members of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 48 — are in the midst of raising funds for this year's program. They're hoping to exceed the $7,600 they raised last year, when 70 kids shopped for their own Christmas presents.
The department works with the Indiana Department of Child Services to select children to enjoy a shopping experience with an officer. In many cases, Lee says, those children have ended up in the care of DCS through police-involved incidents that may have been traumatic for them. The goal of Cops & Kids, he says, is to begin to replace those bad memories with better ones as the holiday approaches.
The Herald Bulletin met recently with Lee to learn more about the program and how Lee thinks its benefits extend beyond the children it helps.
THB: How did you get involved with the Cops & Kids program?
ML: “Initially it was just as an officer who helped and participated in the actual event itself. Since that time I've really gained a fondness for the program and have volunteered in the past to help with the actual fundraising committee.”
THB: The police department teams up with the Indiana Department of Child Services to select children to pair with officers for the shopping experience. Why is this approach important?
ML: “First of all, obviously we're in a lot of people's homes throughout our daily shifts, and we see a tremendous amount of need. However, it's difficult for us to, in a brief encounter, truly know who's the neediest in the community. In partnering with the Department of Child Services, we feel that they are in the best position to bring us the neediest in the community, and they spend quite a bit of time with these families and the children, so we use them exclusively to select the participants in the project.
“The other benefit that we see is unfortunately sometimes these children have been in an environment where there was possibly a less-than-positive interaction with police, possibly with a parent. It's possible a police officer had to take a parent to jail for some type of incident — that's an unfortunate byproduct of the job that we're asked to do. So this is an opportunity for the children to see police officers in a different light, which is very important to us.”
THB: Is it fair to say that the participating children aren't the only ones who enjoy the experience?
ML: “We hope that it's very beneficial for the participating children. I can speak from experience to tell you it's very beneficial for the officers. We have officers that are very active in community policing programs, with activities where they get that positive interaction. Your average police officer, however, has very limited opportunities for that. The Cops and Kids program is special to us because it's our program — we raise the funds, we facilitate it happening, and we get to see it through, so it's a very positive experience. Sometimes we'll have some officers who you'd normally describe as maybe a little gruff or grumpy come out to the Cops and Kids program and have a really, really good time. It's good for us.”
Police: Suspect shot after pointing fake gun at cop in Texas mall
A man suspected of stealing from a store in an Arlington mall was shot after he pulled an imitation gun on an officer
by Claire Z. Cardona
ARLINGTON, Texas — A police officer shot and wounded a man suspected of stealing from a store at The Parks at Arlington mall Sunday afternoon.
Two on-duty Arlington officers, who were in uniform, responded to a report of a theft about 4:30 p.m. at the Sunglass Hut at the mall in the 3800 block of South Cooper Street, near Interstate 20, police Lt. Christopher Cook said.
One uniformed officer stayed on the upper deck of the mall and the second was on the lower floor. Mall security staff also reported on a two-way radio that they were following the man, who had reportedly stolen two pairs of sunglasses, police said.
Police said the man fled from security and got on the escalator to the second floor, near the food court. He pulled out what police said was later found to be an imitation weapon and pointed it at the police officer on the first floor. Believing that it was a real gun, the officer fired at the man, striking him, Cook said.
The suspect, who is in his early 20s, was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unavailable Sunday evening and authorities released no additional information.
No other injuries were reported.
The name of the officer was not released.
Despite initial reports on social media, the incident was not an active shooter situation, police said. But Cook indicated that the situation could have been worse.
"This happened when the mall was extremely busy, there were a lot of bystanders," Cook told KXAS-TV (NBC5). "You saw a lot of people that were upset, crying, kids misplaced from their parents, people sheltering in place, because you don't know nowadays."
Cook also cautioned against the use of imitation firearms.
"Officers cannot make a distinction between the two, especially ... in a split second decision," he said. "You have an officer trying to detain an individual for a legitimate offense ... and then he makes a decision to pull an imitation firearm out. You can't do that. You'll get this type of response."
The mall, which had been scheduled to close at 6 p.m. Sunday, was evacuated early as police conducted their crime scene investigation.
Off-duty Kan. officer fatally shoots man who brandished gun at Costco
The off-duty officer just happened to be in the store shopping when a man suddenly brandished a gun
by the Associated Press
LENEXA, Kan. — An off-duty police officer shot and killed a man who brandished a gun inside a Costco Wholesale store in a Kansas City suburb.
The Kansas City Star reports the shooting was reported around 11 a.m. Sunday at the store in Lenexa, Kansas, near Interstate 35 and 95th Street.
Lenexa Police Capt. Wade Borchers said the off-duty officer just happened to be in the store shopping when the incident happened. Investigators are still trying to determine what the armed man did before the shooting.
Borchers says he's thankful the officer was there although he didn't say which agency the officer works for.
Nikki Lotia of Olathe was shopping in the store during the shooting, and she hid back in the pharmacy. Lotia says the just kept praying during the shooting.
Houston officers help rebuild Puerto Rico on Thanksgiving
The Houston PD said they are thankful to help people on the island and "bring hope and smiles to the community"
by PoliceOne Staff
HOUSTON — Several Houston police officers spent this Thanksgiving holiday away from their families to give a helping hand to the people of Puerto Rico.
The Houston Police Department tweeted out several photos of officers helping out communities in Puerto Rico as they recover from the effects of Hurricane Maria.
The department said they are thankful to “bring hope and smiles to the community.”
The officers are part of multiple teams of Houston cops who volunteered to head to the island earlier this month after a nationwide request from FEMA, The New Haven Register reports.
Pharmacies using GPS devices in pill bottles to track criminals
Police were able to catch two suspects who held up a Walgreens in Nebraska thanks to the GPS device in the pill bottle
by PoliceOne Staff
OMAHA, Neb. — Several pharmacies are putting GPS tracking devices in pill bottles in an effort to deter and prevent robberies at their stores.
KETV reports that with the rise in opioid-related crimes, insurance companies said pharmacies need to protect their employees and their products. The devices were successful in catching two armed robbers recently in Nebraska.
In October, the two suspects held up a Walgreens and demanded cash and painkillers. Police were able to catch them at a nearby apartment complex thanks to the GPS device in the pill bottle. Michael Warren, Risk Manager with Pharmacy Mutual Insurance, said criminals cannot tell if a bottle is rigged with the device.
From the FBI
IC3 a Virtual Complaint Desk for Online Fraud
That holiday card in your inbox? Think twice before clicking. That deep discount in your newsfeed on the season's hot gadget? Does it seem too good to be true?
The FBI's authority on Internet scams suggests keeping your guard up as holiday shopping season kicks in. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, is the Bureau's virtual complaint desk for people who believe they have been victimized or defrauded online. The unit, established in 2000 in the FBI's Cyber Division, receives about 800 complaints every day through its website, www.ic3.gov.
“The scams that we get all year long are the same scams that happen around the holiday season,” said Donna Gregory, head of the IC3 unit, which is based in West Virginia. “It's just that people are more apt to maybe fall for them during the holidays—especially for non-delivery scams or clicking on links for greeting cards that are actually malware.”
Non-delivery scams—ordering and paying for goods or services online that are not delivered—were by far the most prolific complaint in 2016, accounting for 81,029 victims and $138 million in losses, according to the IC3's most recent annual report. Business e-mail compromise (BEC) scams—which dupe company representatives into wiring money to fraudsters—and romance scams accounted for the biggest financial losses last year: more than $579 million.
The IC3 consists of special agents, technical experts, and analysts who look for patterns and trends in the complaints. Some, but not all, complaints are referred to law enforcement agencies for investigation.
“We're looking at the complaint for other potential victims,” said Gregory, “We might find that the same e-mail address is being used in 15 other complaints. And then we can start seeing a pattern and put information together.”
Gregory said social media platforms are being used more often to advance online schemes, given their access to networks and freely shared personal information. Social media played a role in more than $66 million in losses last year.
While victims reported more than $1.3 billion in losses last year to IC3, the problem is believed to be much larger, since only about 15 percent of fraud victims report the crimes to law enforcement, according to FBI estimates.
If you think you might be the victim of Internet fraud, go to www.ic3.gov to file a complaint. If you think that letter from the Nigerian prince is going to make your holiday dreams come true, think again.
Can police track you through your cellphone without a warrant?
by Nina Totenberg
The U.S. Supreme Court confronts the digital age again on Wednesday when it hears oral arguments in a case that promises to have major repercussions for law enforcement and personal privacy.
At issue is whether police have to get a search warrant in order to obtain cellphone location information that is routinely collected and stored by wireless providers.
Cellphone thieves caught because they used ... cellphones
The irony of the case before the court, Carpenter v. United States , is that it involves massive cellphone thefts and a string of armed robberies at Radio Shacks in Michigan and Ohio. The robbers entered the stores, guns drawn, herded patrons to the back, loaded up laundry bags with new smartphones, and then later sold their booty to fences for tens of thousands of dollars per haul.
In April of 2011, police arrested four men, one of whom confessed that he and a shifting group of 15 others had robbed nine different stores over the previous year. The suspect identified Timothy Carpenter as one of the ringleaders. The thieves all pleaded guilty, except for Carpenter and his half-brother.
At their trial, the icing on the prosecution's case was the cellphone location information recorded by Carpenter's wireless provider for each of the calls he placed or received on the dates of the robberies.
This was seven years ago, and several smartphone generations ago, too. The information used at Carpenter's trial was not exactly precise. It did not record where he was when he texted, or where he was when his phone was not in use. But when he made or received calls, the cellphone towers nearby recorded his general location, with an accuracy range of about a half mile to two miles. And those calls matched up rather nicely with the vicinity of the robberies.
While there was also eyewitness and video evidence against Carpenter, the painfully irrefutable evidence was the cell-site location information, according to Carpenter's trial lawyer, Harold Gurewitz.
The cellphone location data, he says, is "the kind of evidence that, in the end, is the most difficult to argue to a jury that they shouldn't credit, because the records are what they are."
Does the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches require a warrant?
The question before the Supreme Court is whether the cops should have gotten a search warrant in order to obtain the cell location information. A warrant would have required them to show a judge that they had probable cause to believe those records contained evidence of a crime. What the police did instead was obtain a court order under the federal Stored Communications Act, which is easier.
In this case, as in others, prosecutors argue that the Supreme Court has long viewed information shared by a consumer as fair game without a warrant. Even before the Stored Communications law was enacted, the high court ruled that you lose your Fourth Amendment right to privacy when you share information with a third party, like the phone company.
Fourth Amendment scholar Orin Kerr contends that the idea of tracking someone's movements in public is not new. The police, for instance, tail a suspect, or check on his alibi. Only when they search the suspect's home or person do they have to get a court-approved warrant.
Kerr contends that the cell-cite location records at issue in this case "are basically the network equivalent of public observation that traditionally would not be protected" by a warrant requirement.
After all, he notes, the cell-site location information is not maintained by government decree. Rather, wireless providers keep the data recorded by cell towers in order to monitor and improve their service.
Nathan Freed Wessler of the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging that argument in the Supreme Court. This kind of cellphone technology "really changes the game and threatens to upend our expectation of privacy in the digital age," he says. After all, he argues, this wasn't a case of the police following a shady person.
"They decided after the fact they wanted to try to tie him [Carpenter] to a crime," Wessler says, "and never before in the history of this country has the government had the power to press rewind on someone's life and chart out where they were going over the course of four months."
Four months and nearly 13,000 calls, to be precise.
Technological advancements and the Fourth Amendment
The mere fact that the phone data used to convict Carpenter was held by his service provider does not change the equation, the ACLU's Wessler maintains. Indeed, he notes that tracking a smartphone gets more and more precise by the day, and in some cases, law enforcement is able to pinpoint the building or the office a suspect is standing in.
Wessler concedes that the government may be able to secure that information without a warrant for a short time, and under certain conditions. He thinks the limit for warrantless tracking should be 24 hours. But after that, he argues, it is an unconstitutional search unless the police obtain a search warrant.
Professor Kerr counters that the path between the government's law-enforcement power and privacy rights is not a one-way street.
"This is a technology that can be used to facilitate crime, and also can be used by the government to help solve the crime," Kerr says, "and those, I think, roughly balance each other out."
Indeed, he notes that with private service providers increasingly encrypting data content , it may soon be impossible for the law enforcement to obtain the content of calls and texts even with a search warrant.
With encryption on the rise, Kerr says it could well be that the only smartphone data the government will have ready access to will be records like those at issue in this case — cell-site records, or automatic license-plate reader records, or video taken by surveillance cameras installed in public places.
New rules for a digital age
In the meantime, the Supreme Court has in recent years laid down some new rules for the digital age. In 2012, the court ruled that if the police use a GPS tracking device to monitor a person's life, they need a search warrant. And in 2014 it ruled that if they seize a smartphone at the time of an arrest, in order to view its contents, they need a warrant for that, too.
So the Carpenter case argued on Wednesday is just the latest battle in what promises to be a long technological and legal war.
Later this term, the justices will hear another case testing whether an email provider, in this case Microsoft, must comply with a search warrant and turn over email that is stored outside the country.
Up until now, the Supreme Court has stuck with the framework it adopted nearly 40 years ago that distinguishes between material in one's home or car, and material that is out in the open, or shared with others. But as Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested in a case five years ago, the entire framework used in the past may well be "ill-suited to the digital age."
She said that because people now "reveal a great deal of information about themselves in order to carry out mundane tasks," it may be time to reconsider past decisions that allow police to get information without a warrant from third parties like phone companies or banks or e-mail providers.
Neither Justice Sotomayor nor the rest of the court was willing then to reshape the framework it has long used in these cases. The question is whether it is more willing to do so now. And if so, what would the new framework be?
Empower Richmond community to police the police
by Michael Paul Williams
Community policing arrived in Richmond shortly after the 1989 hiring of Marty Tapscott as the city's first African-American police chief.
The new chief repeatedly stressed the need for community support and involvement in fighting crime.
“I like to relate to the community. I like to talk to the community,” Tapscott said. “I get better results if I let people know I care.”
Community policing was a national trend launched during an era of high crime (see “crack epidemic”) and declining trust in the police. It sought to place more authority in the hands of patrolmen and patrolwomen who would gain the trust and cooperation of community members.
Community policing has not been without its success in Richmond. But here and elsewhere, it has proved to have its limits, with accountability as a glaring example. Police departments — in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary — are guided by the utter conviction that they can fairly police themselves.
As such, they have typically rejected proposals such as a recent one in Richmond that seeks more citizen oversight over the police.
More than 500 community members — 40 percent of whom are registered city voters — have signed a petition circulated by New Virginia Majority, a grass-roots organization focused on social, racial and economic justice. The petition calls for Richmond leaders to “establish an elected, independent Citizens Accountability Board with subpoena-like power and the authority to hold RPD personnel accountable for misconduct and mistreatment of citizens.”
Mayor Levar Stoney and Police Chief Alfred Durham see no need for such a board.
“I have the utmost confidence in myself, first of all, and the staff that when we get these complaints that we do a thorough and fair investigation,” Durham said in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article Friday. “I think that we have a professional police department. Like I always say, we're not perfect; no police department is. But when those complaints come in, we investigate those complaints thoroughly.”
Earlier this year, with violent crime surging in Richmond, Durham did not project the utmost confidence. He projected exasperation that his department was not receiving greater cooperation from the community in solving murders.
“It's very disheartening,” he said. “This problem that we're experiencing in the city, especially with the violent crime overall, is bigger than the police department. Everyone has a shared responsibility in ensuring their own safety.”
But shouldn't that be a shared responsibility to ensure their safety from criminals and abusive police officers?
Civilian review boards have been established in Virginia Beach and Fairfax County. Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, is not impressed with the result.
“Neither of the two civilian review boards that have been established in Virginia have any hope of being effective because they don't have the power, staffing or money that they need,” she said Monday.
Gastañaga said local elected officials need to stop allowing their lawyers to use the Dillon Rule as an excuse not to empower civilian review boards, “and start demanding that their lawyers — and, if need be, their elected representatives in the legislature — help them solve the legal problems they keep finding as reasons not to do the right thing.
“Finally, police officers and leaders need to accept that they work for the people and should be accountable to them for misconduct,” which means accepting civilian review of policies and discipline, she said.
The ACLU of Virginia, as part of its police reform agenda, calls for independent investigators and prosecutors in cases involving law enforcement or correctional officers in which a person in custody is seriously injured or killed. It also would require the collection and release of data on policing activities such as “stop and frisk,” use of force and arrests, with demographic breakdowns.
Indeed, something is wrong when an FBI director complains about a dearth of police-related statistics. “It's ridiculous that I can't tell you how many people were shot by the police last week, last month, last year,” then-director James B. Comey said in a February 2015 speech.
Currently in Richmond, incidents involving use of force that don't go to a prosecutor are examined by an existing review board composed of four police officers and two citizens handpicked by the department from its Citizen Police Academy. This panel can make recommendations, but the chief has final say on discipline.
Needless to say, this is not an independent panel.
We've been hearing about community policing in Richmond for decades. But if the mayor and police chief do not trust the community to hold police accountable, the community has less reason to trust the police.
Police, residents share stake in safety
by Kevin Corvo
Everyone -- not just police officers -- can make Whitehall safer.
That's the belief of Whitehall police Chief Mike Crispen, who said he is pleased with the success of this year's town-hall concept that he will carry into next year.
The first meeting was held in June at Victory Ministries Center of Hope; a second followed in October at Westphal Avenue Baptist Church.
Last month, Crispen showcased the department's K-9 units and school resource officers; in June, the spotlight was on its strategic plan.
“My intent is to have a focus for each one,” Crispen said.
A third town hall is planned for February or March, he said, and might center on human trafficking, but no decision has been made yet on a date, location or agenda.
The goal of the meetings is to educate residents about how the department deploys its resources and how they can observe and help policy in myriad ways.
“Every day there are opportunities to help make Whitehall even safer,” Crispen said.
At each town hall meeting, Crispen uses the opportunity to inform residents about the department's mission and policing practices.
“We have found our town-hall meetings are a very effective way to communicate,” he said.
Crispen told residents who attended the most recent town-hall meeting that a short-term increase in arrests should not be viewed exclusively as a negative, nor does it equate to an increase in crime, but rather is the result of effective community policing.
The number of arrests, he said, is expected to decrease in the long term along with criminal activity as would-be criminals begin to recognize the dividends of breaking the law are no longer worth the risk.
During the third quarter of 2017, Crispen reported 1,029 people were arrested in Whitehall -- a 14 percent increase compared to the number of arrestees in the third quarter of 2016.
Theft arrests increased by 24 percent and drug-related arrests increased by 41 percent during the same time period.
Whitehall police have units dedicated to surveillance and investigation of both crimes.
Police conducted several retail-theft “blitzes” this year, cracking down on shoplifters and associated thefts at the city's largest retailers.
“It gets the message out to the bad guys that the risk outweighs the reward,” Crispen said.
The town-hall meetings also are an opportunity for police to learn what is important and concerning to residents.
“We hear a lot about traffic and a lot about youth violence,” Crispen said, the latter of which school resource officers are addressing this year.
In 2017, for the first time, full-time school resource officers are stationed at Whitehall-Yearling High School and Rosemore Middle School, with a third officer splitting time among the district's three elementary schools.
Crispen said he expects further progress in allaying such concerns if the city is successful in obtaining a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for a new juvenile diversion program.
Mayor Kim Maggard said she is happy with the direction of the department under Crispen's leadership.
?(Crispen) knows the importance of community involvement and communication,” Maggard said.
“These town-hall meetings are a way to inform the citizens regarding their safety concerns and to demonstrate how the police department is addressing those concerns.”
When residents are involved in the safety of the community, “we have more eyes on the street (and) our citizens are proactive members of our safety community,” Maggard said.
Man arrested, to be charged in string of Tampa murders
by CBS News
Tampa police said Tuesday night they had arrested a 24-year-old man and that he would be charged with murder in four shooting deaths in the Seminole Heights neighborhood that had stoked fears of a serial killer in the area.
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, will be charged with four counts of first degree, premeditated murder in the killings of Benjamin Edward Mitchell, Monica Caridad Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton, Tampa police chief Brian Dugan said in a press conference Tuesday.
Donaldson was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at a McDonald's after another employee said he handed a gun to a manager, who then reached out to an officer in the building, CBS affiliate WTSP reports.
"When I think I found out there was a gun, and when we looked at his description, it was a little more than what we really had," Dugan said. "It just felt right. I kinda had a feeling that we were going to get a break."
Investigators are still determining Donaldson's connection to the neighborhood, Dugan said.
"We're not sure why he was in this neighborhood," he said. "We're not aware what he ties are and we don't know what his motive is. But there is a lot more to go."
CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports that Donaldson is from the Tampa area, but also has connections to New York. The New York Police Department confirmed overnight that he was arrested in Manhattan in 2014, but they wouldn't say for what. He also attended Saint John's University in Queens.
Police have been searching for the person - or people - responsible for shooting and killing four in the Seminole Heights neighborhood since Oct. 9. Police have said the shootings happened within close proximity to one another, aren't robberies and could be the work of a serial killer.
Police had increased patrols in the neighborhood and released surveillance videos of a hooded suspect. In a security video taken moments after 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell became the first victim on Oct. 9, the suspect is running from the scene.
"I've come up with four reasons why this person is running," Dugan said last month. "One, they may be late for dinner. Two, they're out exercising. Three, they heard gunshots. And number four, they just murdered Benjamin Mitchell."
Two days after Mitchell was shot, Monica Hoffa, 32, was gunned down. And on Oct. 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. Police patrolling nearby heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene to find Naiboa dead.
Police found the body of Ronald Felton, 60, in the street on Nov. 14. Police said Felton had been walking across the street to meet someone when the gunman came up behind him and fired.
Seminole Heights is a working-class neighborhood northeast of downtown Tampa that's slowly becoming gentrified. Run-down homes sit next to renovated, historic bungalows, and trendy restaurants have sprung up near auto body shops.
Residents and business owners have said there are car burglaries and fights between kids, but nothing like this.
The department has received more than 5,000 tips. Dugan says he's optimistic but acknowledged previous leads have led to nothing.
Donaldson's arrest happened during the kick off for the first annual "Light the Heights" event, WTSP reports.
The holiday-themed effort to light every home with Christmas lights is the latest to brighten up the area with light – as well as some holiday cheer.
"We have a goal of having every house in our neighborhood lit up to bring a positive light to our neighborhood," organizer Courtney Bumgarnar told WTSP.
Complaints of excessive police force plummet in Camden
by Aaron Moselle
The number of excessive force complaints against police officers in Camden, New Jersey has ebbed in the last few years.
With about a month left in 2017, 15 complaints are on the books, roughly half of last year's total.
In 2014, the total was 65 – the highest in a state that has its share of crime-ridden cities.
“Our relationship with the community has never been stronger,” said Lt. Kevin Lutz, a 15-year police veteran.
Lutz, who serves as deputy director of the Camden County College Police Academy, said the department began undergoing an important culture change in 2013 after budget cuts led to the county taking over operation of the city force.
At the heart of that change was a renewed focus on community policing. The goal: to improve residents' perceptions of the department and how officers interact with people on a day-to-day basis.
The shift has been widely touted. In 2015, President Barack Obama praised Camden's police department as a “symbol of promise for the nation.”
De-escalation training – training aimed at avoiding negative interactions that could make national headlines – has been a big part of that, said Lutz.
“First and foremost, placing a value on the sanctity of human life and really dialing in that moral compass of the officers from the onset,” Lutz explained. “And then providing them with the skills — verbal and physical and tactical — that they need to be successful.”
And the department's use of body cameras has provided another layer of responsibility and accountability, he said.
In 2015, excessive force complaints dropped to 44. The following year, there were 31 complaints.
Barring a turbulent end to 2017, the year could end with fewer than 20 complaints.
John MacDonald, who teaches criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, said the decline is dramatic – a sign of systematic change.
Still, excessive force is not the best or only barometer of police-community relations because most “very rarely” involve use of force – excessive or otherwise.
“It doesn't tell you the common day-to-day interactions and how the community feels about those interactions with the police,” said MacDonald.
LAPD launches paid training program for high school grads
The students will work part-time for the LAPD and get paid as part of a new program that aims to recruit and train the next generation of cops
by Brenda Gazzar
LOS ANGELES — Eric Estrada is eagerly awaiting the day that he'll be old enough to apply to become a Los Angeles police officer.
In the meantime, the 20-year-old Pacoima resident is one of more than two dozen high school graduates who will be working part-time for the Los Angeles Police Department and getting paid as part of a new program that aims to recruit and train the next generation of police officers.
“I've already experienced a lot with the (LAPD) cadet program” — which aims to provide the building blocks to becoming a better student and adult — “but this will open many more doors,” Estrada said during a program orientation at LAPD headquarters.
Through the Pledge to Patrol program – also known as the Associate Community Officer Program or A-COP – participants spend up to 20 hours a week working in civilian roles such as at the front desk – where they will take crime reports and assist the watch commander – performing minor evidence collection, and observing and assisting with patrol functions. They also assist detectives with investigations and enter and retrieve data.
The program, in which participants earn between $15 and $20 an hour depending on education level, allows them to continue their college studies at the same time.
“This is a tough moment for policing nationwide, where a lot of young people don't think about becoming a police officer because of what they see in the news or the divisions that are sometimes showing in other cities,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an interview.
It's also a chance to further diversify the police force by recruiting participants from every city zip code, he said, while retaining talent that might be otherwise drift away from the department.
Garcetti first announced the initiative for young adults who have participated in LAPD youth programs at the Mayor's 2017 State of the City address in April. The Mayor's Innovation Team designed the program with LAPD and the city's personnel department. It is expected to cost the city about $1 million in its first year.
The inaugural class of 28 participants is more than half female, according to the mayor's office.
Nationwide in 2013, about 88 percent of full-time law enforcement officers were male, according to the FBI.
“There's no reason we can't get those numbers up as well,” Garcetti told the inaugural class on Monday.
Women make great detectives and Senior Lead Officers and have tackled roles in LAPD's elite Metro Division as well as in the department's mounted units, the mayor said.
“They are naturally better listeners, naturally better communicators sometimes than even men,” he said.
Adriana Cervantes, 20, of Arleta is among the young women who is part of the inaugural class. She is a former LAPD cadet and is also taking part in the Police Orientation and Preparation (Popp) program, a two-year Associate's Degree program for students who aspire to join LAPD ranks.
“I just want to be able to serve my community properly and take the proper training – make sure I serve them right,” said Cervantes, who owns three Toy Poodles and aspires to work for LAPD's K-9 unit one day.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the new program will serve to fill the gap for young adults who graduate from high school but are too young to enter the Police Academy.
But it's also “an opportunity for each of you to become wise beyond your years in this profession,” he told them.
The public will benefit greatly from having officers who underwent this program as civilians, said LAPD Officer Johnny Gil, who is helping to launch the program. That's because it will help them become even better trained and polished when they do enter and make it through the Academy, he said.
And because many of these participants will go on to get college degrees through Cal State Los Angeles, “once they graduate from the full-time Academy, they will be super cops,” he said.
Nev. gunman killed after firing shots from high-rise condo
Police said the gunman who took a woman hostage and fired shots from a condominium may have had mental issues
by Scott Sonner
RENO, Nevada — A gunman who was killed by a SWAT team after he took a woman hostage and opened fire on a downtown Reno street from the eighth-floor of a condominium may have been suffering from mental issues, police said.
Ken Gallop, a police officer in neighboring Sparks, said Wednesday his department is leading the investigation into Tuesday night's officer-involved shooting.
A preliminary investigation indicates the shooter was acting alone, he said in a statement. He said the female hostage escaped injury and no one else was seriously hurt.
"This case is actively being investigated, and no additional information will be released at this time," Gallop said. The name of the gunman has not been released.
Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson told reporters that officers on the scene indicated the suspect who appeared to be in his mid- to late-20s may have been seeing things.
It's not clear if he or the hostage lived in the Montage apartment building a block off the main casino drag.
Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel-casino, had owned a unit at the Montage. Records show he sold the property in December 2016.
Robinson said police don't know if the shooting may have been a copycat.
The building was once a casino itself before it was converted into luxury condos.
Trooper Chris Kelley of the Nevada Highway Patrol told the Reno Gazette-Journal that shots were heard from the building for at least 20 minutes, and TV news reporters said they heard several shots after arriving, though the shots were sporadic, not constant.
Karl Fiebiger, a seventh-floor resident of The Montage, quickly evacuated his condominium after police told him they had secured the seventh, ninth and ground floor of the tower. Police told him the shooter was on the eighth floor and they worried stray bullets could penetrate windows and floors.
"Honestly I knew the shooter was close, I could feel the windows vibrate, I could hear things falling from walls," Fiebiger told the Gazette-Journal. "So I was pretty glad to evacuate because I knew I wasn't in the safest situation if bullets started flying."
Police said one of the phone calls they received about the shooting was from the woman inside the room with the suspect. Police negotiators eventually were able to make contact with him while he continued to fire shots out the window.
"He was holding her against her will and wouldn't let her leave, so we were able to get in there and get her to safety," Robinson said.
The suspect was alive when he was taken into custody but later died at a Reno hospital.
Police shut down several streets and evacuated the surrounding area when the gunman opened fire shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"When you heard it's coming from above it reminds you of the guy shooting from Mandalay Bay," said Mike Pavicich, who was in town on business from Las Vegas and was standing atop a parking garage at the neighboring Eldorado Resort Casino when the shots rang out.
"It's scary, you know?" Pavicich told the Review-Journal. "This is the same kind of town."
Study: Police body cams reduce use-of-force incidents in Nev.
A yearlong study of police body-worn camers shows Metro Police officers were less likely to use force while wearing the recording devices
by Jessee Granger
LAS VEGAS — A yearlong study of police body-worn cameras shows Metro Police officers were less likely to use force while wearing the recording devices.
The study was conducted by UNLV and the Center for Naval Analyses in conjunction with Metro from September 2014 to October 2015. It placed body-worn cameras on 200 Metro patrol officers, while tracking 200 other officers without cameras.
Among those wearing cameras, the study showed a 37 percent reduction in the number of officers involved in at least one use-of-force incident and a 30 percent reduction in the number of officers with at least one complaint filed against them.
The study estimated the cameras could save Metro $4 million a year as the result of fewer complaints and the quicker resolution of complaints.
“Our research supports the notion that body-worn cameras produce positive benefits for police departments and the communities that they serve,” said James Coldren, managing director for justice programs with the Center for Naval Analyses.
“They contribute to safety, produce significant efficiencies for police departments and enhance accountability for officers and civilians alike,” Coldren said.
Officers wearing the cameras issued 6.8 percent more citations and made 5.2 percent more arrests than officers without cameras, the study found.
The demographics of the two study groups were similar in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, length of service and the number of previous complaints filed against them.
“This gives us great confidence in the findings and allows us to assume that what we found regarding the officers in the study applies to the entire patrol division,” Coldren said.
Each body-worn camera costs between $828 and $1,097 a year, which includes one-time and recurring costs. The study estimates each camera will have a net annual savings to the department of $2,909 to $3,178.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in law enforcement, that picture — or video in this case — is often the only thing that can prove or disprove something happening,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.
“Body-worn cameras are now a standard piece of equipment for our patrol officers,” said Lombardo, noting that Metro has deployed 1,950 cameras.
“What is unique is how we are using the information to inform our public about the most controversial incidents we deal with, such as officer-involved shootings,” the sheriff said. “Footage from body-worn cameras is also being used to find training weaknesses and strengthen our tactics.”
Some officers were initially skeptical about the cameras, fearing they would be too intrusive, but most have come to embrace the technology, Lombardo said.
Over the last year, body-camera footage has cleared 462 officers of alleged wrongdoing. There were 42 incidents that required further investigation, some of which required discipline, and one officer was terminated as the result of video evidence.
“They quickly found out they became their best eyewitness,” Lombardo said. “The fear shouldn't be what happens if you release the footage; it should be what will happen if you don't.”
Metro has routinely released body-camera footage from high-profile and controversial incidents, including officers responding to the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Some of the general public has never had any insight on law enforcement, other than being arrested or dealing with them in a negative way,” Lombardo said. “Body-worn cameras have brought out the positive in law enforcement and the professionalism of this department.”
“The more important piece for me is the accountability associated with body-worn cameras, bringing transparency to the department and public trust,” he said. “I think we have achieved that with the project, and we will continue into the future.”
Charlottesville response to white supremicist rally sharply criticized in new report
by Jim Heim
The Charlottesville Police Department was ill-prepared, lacked proper training and devised a flawed plan for responding to the white supremacist rally that rocked the city in August, according to an independent report commissioned by the city that was released Friday.
The report, prepared by Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia hired by Charlottesville to assess the city's response, also criticized the response by the Virginia State Police and the lack of coordination between the two agencies.
“The planning and coordination breakdowns prior to Aug. 12 produced disastrous results,” the report states. “Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park.”
The Unite the Right rally was canceled before it began as opposing factions clashed on Market Street in front of Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville — while police made little effort to intervene. Later that day, a Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters on Fourth Street NE, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
At a press conference Friday morning, Heaphy said he heard from a couple of officers in the police command center that Charlottesville police chief Al Thomas said, “Let them fight for a little. It will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”
But Heaphy said police were not given a “stand-down” order. Instead, they were told not to intervene except in cases of extreme violence or when there was a risk of serious injury or worse. The Virginia state troopers, Heaphy said, were under orders to protect Emancipation Park and not to go beyond the park into “the mess on Market Street.”
Heaphy said he talked with more than a dozen police officers who said they wanted to act, but the plan constrained them. Heaphy said officers told him: “We let the community down.”
There was, Heaphy said, “a lack of unified command. Good intentions, but lack of coordination between state and city police.”
In the report, Heaphy called Heyer's death “the most tragic manifestation of the failure to protect public safety after the event,” and pointed to police decisions that left the section of the city where she was struck abandoned by law enforcement.
San Francisco pier killing trial focused on shooting instead of immigration
The judge barred any mention of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate's immigration status of the five times he was arrested and deported to Mexico
by Paul Elias
SAN FRANCISCO — Though the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle became a flashpoint in an intense national debate over immigration, the issue was never addressed inside the courtroom where a jury acquitted a Mexican national of murder and manslaughter — a verdict President Donald Trump called a "complete travesty of justice."
From the outset, the judge barred any mention of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate's immigration status or the five times he was arrested and deported to Mexico before he came back across the border. The judge said the jury should consider only Garcia Zarate's intentions on the July evening when Steinle was shot.
"His immigration status had no bearing on whether he purposely pulled the trigger or not," legal analyst and defense attorney Dan Horowitz said of the immigration issue.
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia argued the shooting was murder. The jury sided with the defense, which argued that the shooting was an accident, and found him guilty only of being a felon in possession of a firearm. That charge carries a maximum of three years in jail.
Steinle was shot while walking with her father and a family friend on a San Francisco pier popular with tourists. Garcia Zarate said he was sitting on the pier when he found a gun under a chair. He said the gun was wrapped in a T-shirt and accidentally fired when he picked it up.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco's jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.
The sheriff's department released him a few days after prosecutors dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation.
"San Francisco's decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Thursday night. "I urge the leaders of the nation's communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers."
San Francisco is known as a "sanctuary city" because its policies bar local police from helping federal authorities identify and deport immigrants that came to the U.S. illegally.
President Barack Obama continued his Republican predecessor's policy which allowed federal immigration officials to request local law enforcement detain for up to 48 hours people suspected of living in the country illegally. But, in 2014, a federal judge ruled the practice of holding them without a warrant was likely unconstitutional.
At the time of the shooting, then-candidate Trump and others pointed to Steinle's death as reasons why the country's immigration laws should be tightened.
In a pre-dawn tweet Friday, the president blamed Democrats, saying: "The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections." He was referring to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
He had called the verdict "disgraceful" on Thursday. And in Friday's social media messaging, Trump said that "the Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court."
"His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL," Trump tweeted.
Defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said: "From Day 1 this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a program of mass deportation. It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others." He called the verdict a "vindication for the rest of immigrants."
ICE also blamed San Francisco's policy for Steinle's death and said Thursday night it would "ultimately remove" Garcia Zarate from the country.
Jurors left the courtroom Thursday without comment and the judge sealed their identities.
Steinle's father, Jim, who was walking with her on the pier when she was killed, told the San Francisco Chronicle that "justice was rendered, but it was not served."
"We're just shocked — saddened and shocked ... that's about it," he said in an interview the family said would be its last.
Michael Cardoza, a longtime San Francisco Bay Area lawyer said the prosecutor made a mistake by asking the jury to convict Garcia Zarate of first-degree murder despite strong evidence that the bullet ricocheted around 90 feet (27 meters) before fatally striking Steinle on July 1, 2015. Cardoza said a better case could have been made to convince jurors Garcia Zarate had a "reckless disregard for human life" and convicted him of second-degree murder.
"The prosecutor got greedy," Cardoza said. "She lost credibility when she told jurors he pointed the gun at Kate Steinle."
Garcia declined comment afterward. Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney's office, said the verdict "was not the one we were hoping for" but said prosecutors respect the jury's decision.
Prosecutors initially charged Garcia Zarate with second-degree murder, which meant they had to show jurors he had a "willful disregard for human life" when he picked up the gun. But at the end of the trial, the judge agreed to the prosecutor's request that jurors could also consider convicting him of first-degree murder if they believed Garcia Zarate meant to kill Steinle.
Garcia Zarate's attorneys argued that the ricochet of the fatal bullet supported an accidental shooting theory. Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said told jurors he knows it's difficult to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon, which fired when he picked it up.
But he said Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as awful as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that."
A U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger reported the gun stolen from his SUV parked in San Francisco a few days before the shooting.
Kathryn Steinle shooting: Politics aside, experts say verdict based on reasonable doubt
by Daniel Arkin
The acquittal of an undocumented Mexican immigrant in the shooting death of a woman on a San Francisco pier shocked her family, outraged President Donald Trump and galvanized anti-immigration forces across the country.
But for the jury, the high-profile murder case apparently came down to a question of reasonable doubt, according to experts in criminal prosecution. The jurors were evidently not convinced that the defendant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, acted with intent — a bar prosecutors needed to clear to convict him of the most serious charges.
"As controversial and tragic as this case may be, and as political as it has become, my best guess is that this turned out to be a very conventional case in that ... the defense just cast doubt on the prosecution's theory," said Robert Weisberg, a criminal justice professor at Stanford Law School.
Kathryn Steinle, 32, was fatally shot in the back on July 1, 2015, while she and her father were strolling along Pier 14 in the tourist-friendly Embarcadero district of San Francisco. Defense attorneys argued that Garcia Zarate, 45, who has been deported five times, killed her in a freak accident after a bullet ricocheted off a concrete walkway. Prosecutors argued he meant to shoot and kill her.
Trump seized on the case during his presidential campaign as proof the United States needed his proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and the killing became a flashpoint in the national furor over illegal immigration. Amid the political debate, San Francisco was forced to defend its "sanctuary city" policy.
Garcia Zarate was found guilty on Thursday of being a felon in possession of a firearm. But he was acquitted on more grave charges — first-degree murder, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
"My general thought is that if it's fairly clear that he did not mean to shoot her, given that the bullet ricocheted off the pavement, you can't argue the most direct and obvious theory of murder — the intent to kill," said George Fisher, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general.
"It would be difficult under those circumstances to push a jury beyond a question of reasonable doubt," said Fisher, who is currently a professor at Stanford Law School.
But some observers have questioned why Garcia Zarate was not at least convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a charge that is generally applied to crimes that are unlawful but unintentional.
Weisberg, the criminal justice professor, who was not involved in the case, said he was "particularly surprised" that the jury did not convict Garcia Zarate of manslaughter. "It's not improbable to think that the shooting showed a gross kind of negligence," he said.
Weisberg said prosecutors may have had trouble reconciling the first- and second-degree murder charges with the involuntary manslaughter charge. "It could be that they were just in a situation where they couldn't make an argument that the shooting was both accidental and intentional," he said.
Legal experts who spoke to NBC News dismissed speculation that the jurors, culled from famously liberal San Francisco, might have been trying to send a message to the Trump administration.
"Whether you're a liberal or a conservative, everyone was horrified by the shooting of Kate Steinle," said Jim Hammer, a former San Francisco prosecutor. "I don't think liberals are more likely to let a murderer go if they're convinced he's guilty. I think that's nonsense."
Hammer, who once headed the homicide unit in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, added that in his experience San Franciscans were generally "more receptive" to arguments from defense attorneys. But the overriding political narrative around the case, he said, was surely not what motivated the jurors.
The judge during the trial prohibited discussion of Garcia Zarate's immigration status, including the fact that he was repeatedly deported to Mexico, only to return to the U.S. five times. Instead, the six-man, six-woman jury were told to focus on the events surrounding Steinle's death.
"The jury did not declare him innocent," Hammer said. "They said there are reasonable doubts about his guilt, and that's our system throughout the entire country: Twelve strangers went into the room, and they spent six days deliberating over what they saw. I think people should respect that."
"People may be disappointed," Hammer said, "but at the end of the day, this is the rule of law."
Suspect in Texas trooper killing was given plea deal in 2015 attack on another LEO
Footage from the 2015 incident shows Dabrett Black beathing a sheriff's deputy
by the Associated Press
DALLAS — The suspect in the fatal shooting of a Texas state trooper during a traffic stop on Thanksgiving Day had previously beaten a deputy and tried to take his gun, but had the charges dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor in a plea deal.
Police camera footage obtained by WFAA-TV from the 2015 incident in Smith County, about 95 miles east of Dallas, shows Dabrett Black beating a sheriff's deputy. The deputy, identified as Wesley Dean in court documents, no longer works at the department. The court documents say he suffered black eyes, a broken nose and lacerations above his eyes that required stitches to close. The footage also shows him talking to the in-car camera saying to imagine if he had had a weapon and talking about his belief that law enforcement officers target minorities.
A plea agreement filed in March 2016 shows a Smith County prosecutor recommended a one-year jail sentence on a misdemeanor charge in lieu of the two felony charges of assault against a public servant and trying to take an officer's weapon. A spokesman for the district attorney's office told WFAA that the deputy prosecutor who worked on the plea deal did not ask for permission from District Attorney Matt Bingham or his top assistant when the recommendation for reduced charges was made, which is a violation of the office's policy.
It was unclear from court records whether Black had an attorney as of Wednesday.
The district attorney's office did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
An arrest warrant in Thursday's fatal shooting of Texas Trooper Damon Allen said Allen initiated the traffic stop and after getting Black's driver's license and information went back to his patrol unit. The filing said troopers believe Allen had gotten back in his car when police allege Black stepped out of his vehicle, took out a rifle and began shooting at the patrol car.
The affidavit said Allen died on scene from at least one gunshot wound and that his gun was holstered. It said he appeared to try to exit the vehicle and Black's license was found under his body.
Black was being held by the Freestone County Sheriff's Office in the nearby Limestone County jail on a charge of capital murder of a police officer. A judge has denied setting bond on that charge.
When the shooting occurred, Black was free on $15,500 bail in another Smith County incident where he was charged with assault on an officer and evading arrest after a police chase this summer ended with Black allegedly ramming a patrol car.
Probation officers had told staff to be careful of Black in internal emails after the 2015 attack, according to the material obtained by WFAA. In a July 2015 email, a probation officer told staff he believed Black was trying to provoke them into responding and encouraged them to be vigilant both inside and outside the office because he believed Black was the kind of guy who would ambush someone.
Calif. cop's wife hurt after package bomb explodes at officer's home
The officer's wife suffered non-threatening injuries after opening a package that was mailed to the officer's home
by Sophie Haigney
ALAMEDA, Calif. — A package mailed to the Alameda home of a police officer exploded and injured a woman who opened it, authorities said Tuesday, and U.S. Postal Service investigators are probing whether the incident is linked to a parcel bomb sent to an East Palo Alto residence in October.
The package bomb was delivered Friday to a home on Lilac Street in the Bay Farm Island neighborhood of Alameda and the intended recipient was a police officer, said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
He said the package detonated around 4:15 p.m. when a woman opened it and suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Kelly said that when bomb squad members arrived, they were told the woman who opened the package was the wife of the intended recipient. Kelly declined to release further details about the victim, whose name was not released.
The incident is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the USPS.
U.S. Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch said the agency is also investigating the explosion of another package in East Palo Alto on Oct. 19. The person who opened that parcel also suffered non-life threatening injuries.
“At this point, we're not speculating about a connection,” Fitch said.
He said evidence collected from the East Palo Alto incident was sent to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service lab in Washington, D.C., to be analyzed, and that remnants from the Alameda parcel bomb will be inspected at the same lab.
Fitch declined to release details on the Bay Area parcel bombings, but noted that there is a task force working full-time to investigate the incidents.
“These instances are very, very rare,” Fitch said. “But one instance is too many.”
He urged anyone who receives unexpected packages that appear suspicious to call 911.
“If it's anything you didn't order, or anything that looks not quite right, set it aside,” he said.
He declined to specify what security measures the Postal Service uses to prevent such packages from reaching homes, or how the parcels sent to the Alameda and East Palo Alto victims bypassed them.
Vermont senior tested ricin recipe on retirement community, feds say
by Steve Almasy
The cupboard above the stove in Betty Miller's retirement apartment contained bottles labeled "apple seed," "cherry seed," "castor beans," and "ricin," the FBI says.
The potentially deadly ricin, federal agents allege, was homemade by the 70-year-old to go into the food and drink of her neighbors at a Vermont continuing care retirement community.
Earlier this week, the FBI was asked to come to the Wake Robin life care community in Shelburne, Vermont, to investigate a potentially toxic substance.
When an agent interviewed Miller, she allegedly told him she was making ricin in her home and testing its effectiveness on other residents of Wake Robin.
"On at least three occasions, Miller exposed other residents to the ricin she had produced by placing it on food and/or in beverages she expected them to ingest," Special Agent Mark Emmons wrote in a criminal complaint.
Miller indicated she planned to take the ricin herself one day, Emmons wrote.
The FBI searched her home and in the kitchen found a wicker basket that had pill bottles with various writings on the labels. A bottle labeled "ricin" was half full with a yellowish white powder, which tests later confirmed was ricin, the complaint says.
Miller was arrested and charged with unregistered possession of a select agent. She made her initial court appearance Friday.
CNN was unable to reach the public defender who represented her. A spokesman for the US attorney's office told CNN she actually is not eligible for a public defender and will need new counsel for her probable cause and detention hearing on Wednesday. It is unclear whether Miller, who is in custody, has hired a new attorney.
No residents reported symptoms consistent with ricin poison, the complaint says. Authorities said the potential threat was limited to Miller's home and has been eliminated.
The retirement community owner said it notified local authorities when they were alerted to the situation. A statement from the president and chief executive officer of Wake Robin did not disclose how the community staff became aware of the potential threat.
"The safety and security of Wake Robin residents and staff are ALWAYS our highest priority," Patrick McKee said in a statement. "This was an isolated incident. The toxic substance was contained; no residents were evacuated."
Ricin is a deadly toxin derived from castor beans and has no known antidote.
It can be used in powder, pellet, mist or acid form.
If enough is ingested it can cause nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system.
Unsolved homicides pile up for Cleveland Police detectives
by Dawn Kendrick
CLEVELAND - It's been 5 years of wondering for Minerva Tripp's family.
5 years where, for them, she lived only on the Cleveland Police missing person's page.
On Friday, remains found in Lorain County in October were confirmed to be those of Minerva Tripp, who would have been 47 years old.
Tripp's older sister, Marcellette Love, told CNN in July of 2013, almost a year after she had been missing, "For months I would dream of her, seeing her in the mud, in trash bags soaked in the rain. I just want her back. I just want to see her."
Frustrated with police back then, she told CNN "On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give them a zero. They have not followed leads and have not done nearly enough."
"We are with you," is Cleveland Police Union President, Steve Loomis' response to families waiting for closure.
Loomis said Friday that detectives empathize with families like Tripp's and feel their frustration.
While the family buries Minerva's remains, Cleveland Police have yet another homicide case in a pile they dig through daily.
"You know, add it to the list. I have 12 homicide detectives working 250 homicide cases in just the last 2 years, " Loomis says. "To put that into perspective, Columbus had 99 homicides last year and they have 55 homicide detectives. It's insane."
Loomis believes there should be at least 25 to 30 homicide detectives.
"These homicides don't stop in this city, so everybody gets pushed down the priority scale and that is tragic when you are talking about the most heinous crimes known to man," says Loomis.
Gone are the days, he says, when more cases were solved.
"The homicide unit had the strike force units, community policing units, there were a lot of assets out there that they could rely on to bring them information and bring suspects and witnesses in. They aren't there now," Loomis says and adds, he believes it's a crime in and of itself.
"They are swimming in quicksand. It is an absolute dereliction of duty on the part of the administration," says Loomis.
NAACP seeks Tulsa police records on use-of-force, complaints
by the Associated Press
The NAACP has filed an open records request with the Tulsa police department seeking documents related to use-of-force incidents and complaints it's received from citizens.
The country's oldest civil rights organization announced the request Friday, and is also seeking copies of training manuals, community policing guidelines and records on stops and searches of suspects.
The nonprofit says it has been monitoring citizen concerns about excessive force since last September, when a white Tulsa police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man.
The officer, Betty Jo Shelby, was charged with manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher and was acquitted in May by a jury.
Prosecutors argued that Shelby overreacted. Videos from a patrol car dashboard and a police helicopter showed Crutcher had his hands in the air.
LAPD officers give family of woman with cancer an early 'Blue' Christmas to remember
LAPD officers brought some surprise holiday cheer to a woman battling cancer
by PoliceOne Staff
(Video on site)
LOS ANGELES — LAPD officers brought some surprise holiday cheer to a woman battling cancer.
KCBS-TV reports that as part of their “Operation Blue Christmas,” the officers showed up with presents to give an early Christmas to Angelina Lopez, 47, and her family of six. Lopez was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but her illness has become aggressive and spread to other parts of her body.
Lopez got to know Officers Yesenia Rodriguez and Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz through the department's youth crime prevention and community support program, where she volunteered.
The officers wanted to ease some her pain, at least emotionally.
“Yes, we're police officers, but people forget that behind the badge, we do care,” Rodriguez said.