Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.
State of Ohio, State of Emergency: The Heroin Epidemic
by Arrow Passage Recovery
Ohio is an awesome place. It's the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One of the highest rated amusement parks in the world, Cedar Point, is in Ohio. People who call Ohio home include Dave Chappelle, George Clooney, Macy Gray and Machine Gun Kelly. The movie Tommy Boy took place in Ohio, eight US presidents are from Ohio, and where else can you find the world's largest basket ? Ohio may not be the biggest state in the country, and it may not have an ocean-side coastline, but it is one of the most inexpensive places to live, and the tourism business is doing just fine.
Sadly, the state of Ohio is currently facing a heroin epidemic that qualifies as an emergency.
Of the ten cities in America with the highest heroin overdose rates last year, only one state is home to more than one city. Not two but three of the cities are in Ohio. The analyst who compiled this information, Jennifer McDonald, was quoted as saying: “Communities large and small are being torn apart, and this map and data really shows how bad it is.” McDonald says “large and small” because while Dayton and Cleveland made the list (at #1 and #6 respectively), last on the list is Toledo, one of the smaller cities in the state.
What is really happening regarding heroin in Ohio? Let's examine some recent episodes on a personal level that exemplify the state's heroin crisis. Some eye-opening statistics and what they mean will follow these stories. After this, we will discuss what is causing this terrible trend and what's being done to combat the issue. Our attention will then focus on how we at Arrow Passage Recovery in Massillon, Ohio are working extra hard to help curb this heroin epidemic.
You may remember from recent news a couple from Ohio that overdosed on heroin with a 4-year-old boy in the backseat. The picture of the two of them passed out in the front with the child in the back has since become viral after East Liverpool police posted it online to their city's Facebook page. The idea was to show the rest of the world how immense the heroin problem is in Ohio.
Earlier this month, James Acord was driving his girlfriend Rhonda Pasek and her grandson apparently to the local hospital. Pasek had overdosed on heroin. An officer pulled Acord over because he was driving erratically, and shortly after beginning to explain where he was going, Acord himself overdosed on heroin. When the officer turned the ignition off, he noticed the 4-year-old child. Both Acord and Pasek face multiple charges.
As shocking as this story is to those of us outside Ohio, it's even more shocking to realize how common things like this are inside Ohio. Consider this heartbreaking quote from a Stat article about heroin in Ohio:
“Unconscious addicts are so frequently dumped in the hospital parking lot that administrators developed a special alert system to treat them. Paramedics have plucked overdose victims from roadside ditches, from the Walmart parking lot, and from living rooms across town. It has become routine for children to see a passed-out parent jolted to life with a dose of Narcan.”
Last week, another grandmother from Ohio overdosed with a child in her vehicle. Debra Hyde , 56, was found passed out from a heroin overdose behind the steering wheel of her pickup truck. Her eight-month-old grandson was inside. To make matters worse, the truck was locked, in drive, the engine running, and in front of a propane tank storage shed at a gas station. An emergency rescue crew had to break two windows to safely remove both of them. Debra Hyde later said: “One time. Do you want to take that chance? No. It's not worth it. It's not worth it. It doesn't solve your problems. It's just gonna make loved ones hurt in the end.”
On September 2 nd , Jason Hess of Crestville died from a heroin overdose. He was 35 and had been addicted to heroin for fifteen years. Just weeks before his death, Hess suffered a non-fatal overdose and his father, John Hess, had to revive him. John was quoted as saying, “I did two tours in Vietnam. I've seen a lot of stuff. You can't describe it. I literally had to breathe life into him.” A few hours after Jason's mother, Barbara Fultz, found out about his death, she committed suicide. It was her 60 th birthday. “Life is no longer enjoyable; I have been like Samson holding up the pillars too long,” read part of her suicide note.
In 2014, Laura Bagot of Westerville tried heroin for her first time and died of an overdose.
In 2012, also in Westerville, 25-year-old Emily Thacker was charged with manslaughter after fatally injecting Russell Ronske with heroin.
A Growing Problem
Regrettably, every day in Ohio there is another story that unfolds like these. Starting in 2007 and true for every year since, the leading cause of death among Ohioans is unintentional drug overdose. More people in Ohio die because of drugs than because of car accidents.
Take in this graph published by the Ohio Department of Health recently:
The state saw a 20% increase in the number of fatal drug overdoses from 2013 to 2014, and another 20% increase from 2014 to 2015. Last year 3,050 Ohio residents died from drug overdoses. Approximately half of these deaths were from heroin. Every single day over three people die from heroin in Ohio. Nationally, this number is 29. Of all fifty states, Ohio accounts for over 10% of daily heroin deaths.
Before we discuss possible reasons for why the American heroin epidemic has hit Ohio particularly hard, let's reflect on some more startling statistics. Published by the Columbus Dispatch, an Ohio newspaper for residents in the Columbus area, these facts are less numerical than percentages and death tolls, but equally as revealing.
Child protection services in Ohio currently have nearly 14,000 children in custody.
The infant hospitalization rate due to drug dependency has soared in Ohio recently.
The majority of Ohio law enforcement officers now carry Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug.
Ohio reported more drug overdose deaths than all states except California in 2014.
Only about 13% of those seeking heroin addiction recovery in Ohio find it, due to overcrowded facilities.
Between 2011 and 2015, over 3.8 billion doses of opioid medication were prescribed in Ohio alone.
This last fact raises an important question: Why Ohio? Why is this state being pummeled by the heroin epidemic seemingly worse than any other state? Is it this astoundingly large number of opioid prescriptions? Evidence suggests maybe. However, heroin having the presence of Fentanyl, a narcotic 100x stronger than morphine, has played a major role in Ohio's problem. So too has Fentanyl's much much stronger cousin, Carfentanil (an elephant sedative). Evidence also suggests geographic reasons as to why Ohio is caught in the grip of a heroin epidemic. There is truth to all these theories.
The entire country faces a heroin epidemic. Fatal heroin overdoses in America have increased by 286% in fourteen years. However, Ohio seems to be getting hit especially hard. Are there explicit reasons why?
In the beginning of the millennium, the US saw the existence of ‘pill mills,' or medical clinics that over-prescribed opioid medication. Before an epidemic was reached, doctors would prescribe opioids regularly, often because they do work for pain. However, doctors would prescribe them also for insurance purposes, and due to doctor shopping, a practice where patients visit multiple doctors to receive multiple prescriptions. The later 2000s saw a crackdown on pill mills, and therefore an increase in the street value of prescription drugs. Heroin proved a cheaper alternative, and has since become America's newest epidemic. Says Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic , “Ohio is really the center of this whole problem.”
Ohio is the seventh most populated state, and ranks fifth on the list of states with the most opioid prescriptions. There are as many opioid prescriptions as there are people in the state. According to the Ohio Department of Health, over 20% of Ohio high-schoolers have taken a prescription drug that was not theirs. Of these kids, half took narcotics. Eight out of ten kids who abuse these drugs get them from a friend or a relative.
It all adds up. Ohio has an abnormally large number of opioid prescriptions. Of the 2,700 Ohioan kids a day who take a prescription pill recreationally for the first time, 2,160 of them got it from the person it was prescribed to. It's almost like a breeding ground of opioid addiction. Many heroin addicts say the addiction began with opioid medication.
As sad as it may be, every state has heroin addicts who will tell you they began using due to an opioid addiction. Ohio is no exception. Yes, there are more prescriptions issued in Ohio than in many other states, but still two questions must be asked: 1. Why is heroin killing more people in Ohio than elsewhere? 2. Where did all the heroin in Ohio come from?
Fentanyl & Carfentanil
Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It's what killed Prince. It's also what killed 1,155 people in Ohio last year. Only 30 of these people who died of Fentanyl had a prescription for it. The majority of the deaths are from heroin being spiked. Batches of heroin containing Fentanyl have been seized in Ohio plenty of times before, most notably this summer when a string of overdoses occurred in a very short period of time.
Even worse, some heroin batches have contained Carfentanil, a large mammal tranquilizer, 2 mg of which can knock an African elephant unconscious. Carfentanil is not approved for human consumption whatsoever. It is a much stronger version of Fentanyl, which itself can kill a human being.
Fentanyl can be obtained via prescription, and Carfentanil can be obtained through a veterinarian. However, drug dealers are synthetically reproducing these drugs as well. Marcie Siedel, director of the Drug Free Action Alliance, said to the Columbus Dispatch, “The surge of heroin laced with street-made fentanyl is a deadly new factor.”
What's Being Done
Three years ago, the Ohio Attorney General's Office established a Heroin Unit for prosecution support and extending education. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was subsequently formed, as well as the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
A plethora of laws have been passed recently to further criminalize heroin dealers. Ohio “is mounting a vigorous fight against heroin.” Casey's Law was passed in 2012, strengthening the rehabilitation process for heroin addicts by allowing for court-ordered involuntary drug treatment by request. The Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System requires those receiving opioid-based prescriptions to undergo a patient review process. Under this system, minors cannot be issued controlled substances without parental consent.
Of the 88 counties in Ohio, over half have specialty courts designed to address the state's drug epidemic. Many of these courts use medically-assisted treatment. Franklin County was the first to introduce a court specifically for heroin, called the Opiate Extension Program (OEP). For those arrested on non-violent drug charges, completing the OEP can significantly reduce the charge. Two years of sobriety is required for OEP completion.
What We're Doing
We are helping to combat the growing heroin epidemic in Ohio. Arrow Passage Recovery, located in Massillon, about 50 miles south of Cleveland, offers state-of-the-art addiction rehabilitation services for Ohio residents. A private facility with less than 50 employees, Arrow Passage can guarantee a personal feel. We guarantee an easy enrollment process, a customized treatment process, and the most updated technologies. Both alcohol and drug addiction can be treated.
Take the first step and Call us at 888-802-7769 . We offer both residential and outpatient treatment, as well as partial hospitalization. Regardless of which level of care you opt for, there is a three-part process for Arrow Passage patients: detox, treatment, and aftercare.
Arrow Passage creates the safest and most comfortable detoxification process possible. A slow detoxification process with a focus on minimal withdrawal is implemented. Alongside detoxification is a customized treatment plan that includes therapy, guidance, advice, and support on many levels. At Arrow Passage, we know that suddenly stopping use of a substance can cause more damage than good so we make sure you're in the best care.
Your standard one-on-one discussions and group discussions are offered at Arrow Passage Recovery. Also offered is swimming, music, art, acupuncture, and plenty of other positive activities. We help you enjoy life free from the mental obsessions created by drugs and alcohol.
The process of recovery is not over once your stay is up. Aftercare programs are designed to assist those who have ‘graduated' from Arrow Passage and are transitioning back into everyday life.
Continuing with being technologically advanced, every patient of Arrow Passage receives a tablet “to make the learning delivery in treatment fun and interactive.” The tablet gives patients access to their individual treatments, marking progress and offering further resources for recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction don't hesitate to call us. We're available 24/7/365. Help yourself and help Ohio.
Police need us to help keep our streets safe
by Benjamin C. Glassman
All federal prosecutors remember their first opportunity to tell the court they are appearing “on behalf of the United States.” It's a statement that carries significant weight. For me as United States Attorney, that opportunity has been especially meaningful when I tell the loved ones of fallen peace officers that, on behalf of the United States, I and America grieve with them.
Police put their lives on the line on a daily basis not for anything small, but for something really big – the shared enterprise of trying to make our communities better places to live. Their profession exemplifies citizenship. Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, and all of the other police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice this year, did so for nothing less.
Observance of National Police Week this week makes us pause to realize we all share a peace officer's mission to keep our streets safe. We all speak and act on behalf of the United States. The police can't do it all alone.
Officers patrolling our communities today face more demanding challenges than they did when President John Kennedy declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in the 1960s. The fundamental feature of policing – that officers put their lives on the line every day in performance of their duty to protect and serve all of us – remains the same. But the challenges that police face are significantly different, and meeting those challenges will require all of us working together. Now more than ever, the police and the public they serve must be engaged together.
Today, not only must officers attend to all the crime problems that they faced during Kennedy's presidency, they are also called on to be first responders for addiction and mental-health issues. Law enforcement officers here have become adept at administering Naloxone, holding down the tragic toll of our opioid epidemic. Being a police officer today means everything from knowing how criminals in their own homes use the internet to commit crimes to patrolling streets in which deadly weapons are far more readily accessible than in the past. On top of all of this, several narratives are bubbling through the culture that corrosively pit the police and the public they serve against each other.
Accomplishing all that we ask of the police today requires us to unite in making our communities safer and fairer places.
Police across the Southern District of Ohio recognize this, and they are reaching out. Many of our police departments have developed innovative community-policing models. Increasingly, agencies are implementing or participating in citizen review boards, thus inviting civilian scrutiny of their conduct. They are also using technology to connect and to increase transparency – from officers wearing body cameras to departments communicating through social media.
We the public need to reach back out to the police, too, and do what we can as citizens to reduce crime, improve public health, and make our communities fairer.
Last fall, for example, a group of students in one Cincinnati school took part in a national day of concern for gun violence. They pledged never to bring a gun to school, never to use a gun to settle a dispute, and to encourage their friends to do the same. I want students throughout our district to learn about that pledge and to take it.
Other examples abound. Healthcare and treatment providers can look for even more opportunities to share information and ideas with law enforcement about addressing overdoses effectively. From the very old to the very young, we can educate each other about perils lurking on the internet. And we can build relationships with police officers outside the contexts of emergencies and crimes.
During National Police Week and every week, it's appropriate to thank our police officers, to recognize them, and to honor them. Even more than that, though, let's engage with the police and join them. Their mission is also ours.
Benjamin C. Glassman is the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Columbia to host seven public meetings on community policing
by Madison McVan
Columbia residents will soon be able to provide input for the City of Columbia's community policing plan at seven public meetings throughout May and June.
The meetings are a way for Sgt. Robert Fox, the community oriented policing project manager for Columbia, to gather feedback from residents before presenting a transition plan, timeline and budget in a report to the Columbia City Council in August.
The Missourian reported in February that City Manager Mike Matthes selected Fox to create the report in part because of his existing community-oriented approach to policing within the Columbia Police Department. According to Missourian reports, the city had called for a public review of community policing in February 2017 and passed a resolution to bring about a public conversation.
At the meetings, residents will help Fox figure out what community policing should look like in Columbia and give feedback on the work the police department is doing now. The discussions will occur as a whole group and in smaller breakout sessions, where a scribe will document the conversations.
“It's an opportunity for people to be involved in the future of policing in Columbia,” Fox said.
While there's no single definition of community policing, Fox said the department's philosophy “supports and encourages working with communities.”
There will be one meeting in each ward, but residents can attend any of the meetings. Childcare and food will be provided.
Ward 4: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 23 at Columbia Public Library Friends Room, 100 W. Broadway.
Ward 5: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 24 at Gentry Middle School Cafeteria, 4200 Bethel St.
Ward 1: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 30 at Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, Health Training Room, 1005 W. Worley St.
Ward 6 : 6 to 7:30 p.m. on May 31 at Boone County Historical Society, Montminy Art Gallery, 3801 Ponderosa St.
Ward 3: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on June 14 at Hanover Village Apartments Community Room, 1601 Hanover Blvd.
Citywide: 10 to 11:30 a.m. on June 23 at City Hall Room 1A/1B, 701 E. Broadway.
Ward 2: 6 to 7:30 p.m. on June 28 at Sunrise Optimist Club, 2410 Parker St.
Texas lieutenant governor calls for 'hardening' of schools
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said more needs to be done to keep shooters away from students
by Paul J. Weber and Juan A. Lozanzo
SANTA FE, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called Sunday for a "hardening" of the nation's school buildings in the wake of the attack by a 17-year-old student who killed 10 people at a high school near Houston .
Patrick, a Republican, blamed a "culture of violence" and said more needs to be done to keep shooters away from students, such as restricting school entrances and arming teachers.
"When you're facing someone who's an active shooter, the best way to take that shooter down is with a gun. But even better than that is four to five guns to one," he told CNN's "State of the Union."
On ABC's "The Week," Patrick said he supports background checks for gun purchasers but stressed that "gun regulation starts at home."
Meanwhile, congregations in the community of Santa Fe, population 13,000, gathered for the first church services since the assault.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hugged grieving parishioners at Arcadia First Baptist Church. Among them was Monica Bracknell, an 18-year-old senior who survived the shooting. She stopped to tell the governor that the attack should not be turned into a political battle over gun control.
Surrounded by television cameras, photographers and reporters, she told Abbott guns were not to blame.
"People are making this into a political issue," she said she told him. "This is not a political issue. It's not a gun-law issue."
Elsewhere, the first funeral for a shooting victim was set for later Sunday. Services for 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh were to take place at a mosque in suburban Houston.
Her father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, described his daughter as a hard-working and accomplished student who aspired to work in civil service and hoped one day to join Pakistan's foreign office. Her body is to be returned to her family in Karachi.
The suspect in Friday's attack began by firing a shotgun through an art classroom door, shattering a glass pane and sending panicked students to the entryway to block him from getting inside, witnesses said.
Dmitrios Pagourtzis fired again through the wooden part of the door and fatally hit a student in the chest. He then lingered for about 30 minutes in a warren of four rooms, killing seven more students and two teachers before exchanging gunfire with police and surrendering, officials said.
Freshman Abel San Miguel saw his friend Chris Stone killed at the door. San Miguel was grazed on his left shoulder by another volley of shots. He and others survived by playing dead.
"We were on the ground, all piled up in random positions," he said.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, the county's chief administrator, said he did not think Friday's attack was 30 minutes of constant shooting, and that assessment was consistent with other officials who said law enforcement contained the shooter quickly. But authorities did not release a detailed timeline to explain precisely how events unfolded.
Junior Breanna Quintanilla was in art class when she heard the shots and someone say, "If you all move, I'm going to shoot you all."
Pagourtzis walked in, pointed at one person and declared, "I'm going to kill you." Then he fired.
"He then said that if the rest of us moved, he was going to shoot us," Quintanilla said.
When Quintanilla tried to run out a back door, she realized Pagourtzis was aiming at her. He fired in her direction.
"He missed me," she said. "But it went ahead and ricocheted and hit me in my right leg." She was treated at a hospital and spoke with a brown bandage wrapped around her wound.
"It was a very scary thing," Quintanilla said. "I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to make it back to my family."
In their first statement since the massacre, Pagourtzis' family said Saturday that the bloodshed "seems incompatible with the boy we love."
"We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events," said the statement, which offered prayers and condolences to the victims.
Relatives said they remained "mostly in the dark about the specifics" of the attack and shared "the public's hunger for answers."
Pagourtzis' attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said he was investigating whether the suspect endured any "teacher-on-student" bullying after reading reports of his client being mistreated by football coaches.
In an online statement, the school district said it investigated the accusations and "confirmed that these reports were untrue."
Poehl said that there was no history of mental health issues with his client, though there may be "some indications of family history." He said it was too early to elaborate.
The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from Pagourtzi, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter's best friend.
Sadie Rodriguez said her 16-year-old daughter, Shana Fisher, repeatedly told him no, and he "continued to get more aggressive." The week before the shooting, Fisher "stood up to him" by embarrassing him in class, Rodriguez said.
In addition to a shotgun and a handgun, Pagourtzis also had several kinds of homemade explosive devices, but they were not capable of detonating, Henry said.
Investigators found a cluster of carbon dioxide canisters taped together, and a pressure cooker with an alarm clock and nails inside. But the canisters had no detonation device, and the pressure cooker had no explosive material, Henry said.
New details reveal how police ended deadly firefight with Texas school shooter
by Karma Allen
"Heroes" inside Santa Fe High School last week cornered the mass shooter within four minutes, keeping him contained until additional officers arrived to evacuate teachers and students, the Galveston County Sheriff said.
"Four minutes is about the only timeline that we need to key in on," Sheriff Henry Trochesset said Monday evening, offering new details on how police managed to stop the gunman in Friday's deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.
"The heroes from that [Independent School District] engaged this individual in approximately four minutes and stayed engaged with him, keeping him contained and engaged," Trochesset said, "so the other heroes -- that continued to arrive -- could evacuate the teachers administrators in the students from this school."
Speaking at a press conference, Trochesset revealed that his children and grandchildren are students at Santa Fe High School and his wife attended the school.
"My granddaughter was three doors down from where this occurred in that school," Trochesset said. "Her best friend that spent the night at my house, swam in my pool, is dead."
"This tragedy in this community touches home more than you'd imagine," he added.
The sheriff said the deadly shooting ended with the suspect being trapped in a room, with police in a hallway. By the end, about 200 law enforcement officers descended on the scene to help school district officers apprehend the suspect, Trochesset said, adding that the entire ordeal lasted about 25 minutes.
Trochesset also said he doesn't believe that any students were killed in law enforcement's crossfire, but they would need to wait on autopsy reports to confirm.
"From what I've seen, I don't believe any of the individuals that were killed were from the law enforcement," he said.
Alleged gunman Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, was arrested Friday morning after he opened fire on two art classrooms at the school, killing 10 and wounding 13 others. He's currently being held at the Galveston County Jail where he's under suicide watch, Trochesset said.
Pagourtzis, who's been charged with capital murder, allegedly was armed with a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver, both of which were legally owned by his father.
Pagourtzis' attorney, Nick Poehl, told ABC News on Monday that other students told him that his client had been bullied by students and adults at Santa Fe High School.
"It's something that we're looking into," Poehl said. "This weekend Santa Fe ISD released a statement saying they had investigated the claims of bullying and found them to be not true."
"That was released less than 24 hours after the incident occurred," Poehl added. "It's not clear what the nature of that investigation was except that it is clear that they didn't reach out to any of the kids that were on TV claiming that it occurred, so we have some questions about that investigation."
The suspect's father, Antonios Pagourtzis, referred to his son as a "good boy" who was "bullied at school" in an interview on Monday.
"He never got into a fight with anyone. I don't know what happened," the elder Pagourtzis told the Wall Street Journal in a phone interview on Monday. "I hope God helps me and my family understand. We are all devastated."
"It would have been better," he added, "if he shot me than all those kids."
National Law Enforcement Officers Museum set to open this fall
The museum will house more than 21,000 artifacts from every era of American law enforcement
by Megan Guza
WASHINGTON — After nearly two decades of planing, fundraising and construction, the National Law Enforcement Museum will open in October in Washington, D.C., officials with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said Wednesday.
The museum, which will sit in Judiciary Square across from the National Law Enforcement Memorial, has been under construction for more than eight years.
Already, the museum will house more than 21,000 artifacts from every era of American law enforcement, and there are plans for interactive exhibits, according to a release from the organization.
“Over the last decade, the National Law Enforcement Museum has worked with dozens of law enforcement experts, historians, academics and community leaders to develop the core of the Museum's exhibitions and programming to ensure an accurate, unbiased portrayal of American law enforcement,” Executive Director David Brant said in a statement.
The announcement comes in the midst of National Police Week and one day after National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Congress authorized the project in 2000, but crews did not break ground until 2010. The museum was originally set to open in 2013.
The museum will include exhibits such as “Take the Case,” in which visitors will learn law enforcement techniques and solve simulated crimes, as well as “911 Emergency Ops,” where visitors hear scripted 911 calls and dispatch responders to the scene, according to the release.
The aim, Brant said, is to strengthen relations and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“We have built a museum that encourages everyone to learn about, share and even debate every facet of the profession,” he said. “This museum is not just about the men and women of law enforcement, but about the citizens and communities they serve as well.”
Connecting cops to community
The Buffalo Police Department's Strike Force initiative was well-intentioned, but it didn't work out as planned. Now, the department is shifting its emphasis to community policing – a smart and welcome development.
The department's Strike Force was formed in 2012 to work with state troopers and Erie County Sheriff's investigators, focusing on crime enforcement and traffic checkpoints in areas identified as crime hot spots.
There's nothing wrong with going where the crime is, but police work is not as simple as looking for perpetrators to lock up.
Black Lives Matter Buffalo and other community groups last summer filed a complaint with the state Attorney General's office, asserting that the Strike Force's tactics – the use of traffic checkpoints and enforcement sweeps inside public housing developments – were unfairly targeting people of color and were unconstitutional.
The office of then Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in December began an investigation of the Strike Force and the complaints against it. In February, the department disbanded the Strike Force unit. Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, who took over the post this year, said the BPD would put its focus on community policing.
“Every officer is going to be a community police officer,” Lockwood told The News in February.
There were seven shootings in Buffalo within a five-day span over last weekend, one of them fatal. A department spokesman pointed out that the number of homicides and shootings is down this year compared to last, which is cold comfort to those who were shot.
Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo pointed out an uptick in crime such as the city saw in the past week is seasonal. There's also an anti-snitching culture in parts of Buffalo, where people involved in gangs refuse to inform on each other or to help police.
While the Strike Force units have been abandoned, Rinaldo said the department is putting a greater emphasis on community policing, which amounts to officers walking their beats and getting to know the people in their districts.
Rinaldo said that Lockwood in the next few weeks will unveil a department-wide community policing initiative. The goal is to have more engagement between the police and the people they protect and serve, rather than relying on what's often disparaged as drive-by work by officers in patrol cars.
Officers will still “flood the zone” in problem areas of the city, or in areas attracting large crowds, with an emphasis on listening to residents about what's needed, rather than a heavy-handed enforcement approach.
Kudos to the Buffalo Police Department for realizing the Strike Force approach wasn't the answer to preventing crime and for turning to something different.
Community policing has been given other names, including guardian policing, relationship-based policing and partnership policing. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, in a New York Times opinion column , described the goal as developing “humane, compassionate, culturally fluent cops who have a mind-set of respect, do not fear black men, and serve long enough to know residents' names, speak their languages and help improve the neighborhood.”
Those are worthy goals in any city; we hope they inform the policing program that Commissioner Lockwood will soon unveil.
Teen charged in slaying of Md. police officer
Police said three other suspects are still being sought
by David McFadden and Sarah Rankin
PERRY HALL, Md. — A 16-year-old boy has been charged in the slaying of a Baltimore County, Maryland, police officer , and three other suspects are still being sought, authorities said Tuesday.
Scott Shellenberger, the state's attorney for Baltimore County, told The Associated Press that the teen has been charged with murder as an adult.
"And police are looking for other suspects as we speak," Shellenberger said by phone.
The Baltimore County Police and Fire Department tweeted Tuesday that the teen was arrested shortly after the female officer was fatally injured Monday. The police tweet did not explain the delay in announcing the teen's apprehension. The teen's name was not immediately released. Police said he is awaiting a bail hearing.
The teenage suspect was scheduled to appear before a judge at a Towson courthouse at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Meanwhile, police continued scouring a greater Baltimore suburb for three other suspects.
The enormous manhunt was continuing unabated in the suburban community of Perry Hall, Maryland, where witnesses reported hearing a pop before seeing a Jeep run over the officer Monday afternoon.
The officer, who wasn't immediately identified, was bleeding badly from significant injuries and was pronounced dead after being rushed to a hospital. Baltimore County Police Cpl. Shawn Vinson said investigators have recovered the suspects' abandoned Jeep, but police declined to confirm whether it was used to injure the officer.
Relatives of the officer, who would have been on the force four years by July, have been notified.
Tony Kurek told The Associated Press his adult son was outside in the family's yard Monday afternoon in the northeast Baltimore County community when the son saw the officer with her gun drawn, confronting the occupants of a Jeep.
"The next thing he heard was a pop, and he saw the Jeep take off and run right over her," said Kurek. The car left skid marks behind, he said, leaving the officer down and bleeding.
Logan Kurek, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he heard his younger brother "frantically screaming" and ran outside to perform CPR.
Vinson said the officer went to investigate a call about a suspicious vehicle when she encountered at least one suspect and was "critically injured." He added that the confrontation may have stemmed from a burglary in progress, noting one home on the block had damage to a patio door.
"What exactly happened, we are not sure yet until an autopsy is performed," Vinson said at a news conference Monday. He said he had no information about whether she had fired her own weapon.
He added that a homicide investigation has been opened. Officers were searching for suspects "who we believe are armed and dangerous," Police Chief Terrence Sheridan said.
Events began unfolding Monday afternoon in the leafy neighborhood of single-family homes. It was then that Kurek's neighbor, Dahle Amendt, said he had just settled into his recliner for a rest when he heard a woman's voice outside his house.
"I heard, 'Get out of the car!' 'Get out of the car!' Get out of the car!' at least three times, and then a pop," Amendt said.
Amendt said his wife also ran outside and tried to revive the officer.
"This is a shock. It's a quiet community. It's just so sad," Amendt said.
Investigators urged residents in a sizable swath of Perry Hall to stay hunkered down inside their homes and lock all doors and windows as officers search the community fringed with woodlands. Three elementary schools were kept on alert status for hours, with students and teachers told to stay in their school buildings as police continued a search for the suspects. By Monday evening, parents were allowed to come to the schools to pick up their youngsters.
School officials tweeted overnight that all Baltimore County public schools would open on time Tuesday.
Three more teens charged with murder in death of Baltimore County police officer; all held without bail
by Jessica Anderson and Sarah Meehan
Baltimore County police charged three more teenage boys as adults in the death of police Officer Amy S. Caprio, who was killed Monday while responding to a call in Perry Hall.
Darrell Jaymar Ward, 15, Derrick Eugene Matthews, 16, and Eugene Robert Genius IV, 17 — all of East Baltimore — were each charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. They were apprehended Tuesday morning, hours after police arrested 16-year-old Dawnta Harris and charged him with murder.
Harris, of West Baltimore, is accused of striking Caprio with a stolen Jeep while police say Ward, Matthews and Genius were robbing a nearby home.
Caprio, 29, died at an area hospital a short time later.
Distirict Judge Barbara Jung ordered Matthews and Ward held without bail in adult facilities. Matthews and Ward waived their right to appear at the bail review hearing, public defender Gayle Robinson said.
Jung granted a request by Genius to postpone his bail review hearing because his private attorney wasn't present. She scheduled a new hearing for Thursday.
Prosecutors argued that Matthews be held without bail. They cited multiple previous charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy to commit a felony, and a car theft from March for which he was placed on probation.
Relatives of at least one of the teens attended the bail review, but declined to comment to reporters afterward. Several police officers, some in suits and some in uniform, also attended.
Ward, Matthews, Genius and Harris are all being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson. None of the teens' familes could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Charging documents for the four defendants outline the series of events that police say led to Caprio's death, and how they identified and located the suspects.
Police say Caprio was called Monday afternoon to investigate a suspicious Jeep on Linwen Way in Perry Hall. A 911 caller reported that three people had left the Jeep and broken into a home, police say in the documents. They say Caprio came upon the Jeep and pursued the teen driver, whom they later identified as Harris, down the cul-de-sac.
Police say Caprio got out of her patrol car, drew her gun and ordered Harris out. Police say Harris ran over Caprio as she opened fire.
Caprio was pronounced dead shortly before 3 p.m. Monday. Medical examiners said she died of head and chest trauma.
Police launched a massive manhunt for the suspects. A 911 caller reported seeing the Jeep abandoned nearby in the 9500 block of Dawnvale Road. A description of the driver was broadcast over police radio, and police say officers found Harris and stopped him about a block away. He was taken into custory.
Police say they identified Harris as the driver who struck Caprio by using footage from the officer's body camera. The department declined to release the footage. They say it will be withheld pending the trials of the four defendants.
Police continued to search for the remaining suspects Monday night. County officers from specialized tactical, K-9 and helicopter units, joined by officers from Baltimore, the FBI and other agencies, combed the Perry Hall area.
Police cordoned off the neighborhood surrounding the scene and locked down nearby schools, keeping students long past dismissal. Residents returning home from work Monday afternoon were turned away.
Police say Harris identified Genius, Matthews and Ward as the three suspects commiting a burglary at Linwen Way while Harris waited in the Jeep. The three shattered a rear sliding door in one home, entered and stole “numerous items,” police said in charging documents.
Genius, Matthews and Ward were arrested in Baltimore on Tuesday morning.
Police say Matthews and Ward admitted to committing the burglary. They say Genius initially declined to give a statement, and later objected to being charged with murder. He told officers he was in the house when Caprio was struck, police say. He said he knew only two of the others involved, not all three, police say.
State law permits authorities to file murder charges against co-defendants in a crime in which someone is killed. Felony murder refers to a killing that occurs during the commission of a felony.
“All those committing the felony are responsible for the death,” Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said.
Warren Brown, an attorney respresenting Harris, said Wednesday that his client did not intend to harm the officer, but that he panicked and attempted to drive away from the officer.
Brown said Harris was boxed in by the officer's car. Brown said Harris attempted to veer around the car when he stuck the officer.
Defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who is not involved in the case, said Harris' defense is similar to a 2001 case in which he represented a teenager who stuck and killed a Baltimore police officer.
“That's practically the same defense we had,” Pettit said. “How do you get intentional premeditated murder when the person is fleeing? History repeats itself.”
In that case, Baltimore jurors aquitted the teen on all charges.
Columbia to hold first in series of community policing meetings
by Sierra Morris
COLUMBIA- The city of Columbia will hold the first of seven community policing meetings Wednesday evening. Each meeting is set in a different city ward in an effort to make the meetings accessible to all residents. Wednesday's meeting will be at Daniel Boone Regional Library.
The meetings are supposed to gather the community's input on the new community policing plans. Columbia Police Sgt. Robert Fox said it is important for residents to attend the meetings.
“This is an opportunity to give input on policing in Columbia for the next 20 years. The meetings are an opportunity for the kind of policing that they want in their neighborhoods or communities,” Fox said.
City Manager Mike Mathis appointed Sgt. Fox in February, as the head of Columbia's community policing efforts. Fox said he will use the community's input in the plan he presents to the city council in August.
“The plan is going to be a collection of the input from people in the community and all stakeholders,” Fox said.
Fourth ward Council member, Ian Thomas, is anxious to see what Fox has planned.
“This is a midpoint of a big cultural transition,“ Thomas said.
The meetings will start with group discussion on the current state of Columbia's policing. The room will then break into smaller table discussions. Each table will have an officer there to hear ideas.
Residents are asked to define what community policing means for Columbia. President of Columbia's NAACP, Mary Ratliff, already has her own definition of the term.
“Community policing says to me that the people who are in the area have established a relationship with the people that they serve. So, that when crimes happen or when things happen that people will feel comfortable contacting that officer,” Ratliff said.
For information on upcoming meetings head to Como.gov.
Social media helps law enforcement agencies fight crime
by Angela Christoforos
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - "I can't imagine what it was like to not have it. But it was just a short 10 years ago we didn't really use social media," said Trooper James O'Callaghan, New York State Police.
Once upon a time agencies like New York State Police had to get information out the old fashioned way. Now in the case of an amber alert or critical incident it's almost instantaneous.
"We would update the public and the media probably using Twitter at this point, that's kind of the direction a lot of law enforcement agencies are going because it's quick, it's appropriate, and it gets the message out there," said Trooper O'Callaghan.
Social media is a daily part of the job for New York State Trooper James O'Callaghan. He often shares information about things like traffic alerts, but sometimes things are shared just for fun - like a funny post on May 4th.
"What it does is it breaks down a wall, a perception of law enforcement," said Trooper O'Callaghan.
He says they may not meet people in person day to day, but they still have a connection through social media.
This connection applies to local police departments as well.
A joke involving a groundhog posted to the Depew Police department's Facebook page got more than 982 likes and it was shared nearly 1500 times!
The Amherst Police department also runs multiple social media platforms from Twitter to Pinterest - but the one that sees the most interaction?
"Facebook, absolutely Facebook. We get the most comments, the most likes, we have people send us pictures, send us comics," said Craig Johnson, Amherst Police Field Intelligence Officer.
The downside? Staying plugged in is time consuming.
"There's so many different platforms that I have to keep track of and view and watch. I actually have another job here during the day so the social media is a small part of what I do,' said Officer Johnson.
But it is paying off. Officer Johnson says of 120 unknown suspects that were posted to social media in 2016, they were able to identify or arrest at least 43% of them - thanks to tips from the public on social media.
"And those were cases that had nothing else, we didn't have anything else to go on. No other leads, there was just a photograph from a shoplifting maybe or a photograph of a bank robbery," said Officer Johnson.
"One of the greatest tools with social media is community policing," said Trooper O'Callaghan.
CPD Implements New Crime Intelligence Technology in UChicago's District
The technology includes ShotSpotter gunshot sensors and Strategic Decision Support Centers, police station rooms where analysts develop crime prevention strategies.
by Elaine Chen
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) recently implemented new crime intelligence technology in its 2nd District, the police district that contains the University.
As of last Wednesday, ShotSpotter gunshot sensors and Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs), police station rooms where analysts develop crime prevention strategies, became fully operational in the district.
CPD made the announcement at a community meeting hosted by 4th Ward alderman Sophia King last Wednesday at St. Paul & the Redeemer Church.
Representatives from the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) and Eric Heath, Associate Vice President of Safety & Security at the University, were also in attendance to discuss how UCPD functions in collaboration with CPD. Heath briefly mentioned that the University is updating its security alert system to be “opt-in,” after receiving varied feedback on the type and amount of alerts that the University currently sends out.
King said that she convened the meeting to inform residents about new CPD technology and patrolling in response to recent shootings in Kenwood, and in anticipation that crime will increase during the summer.
The meeting is the fourth in a series of security meetings that King is hosting throughout her ward. She confirmed that it is unrelated to the recent shooting of UChicago student Charles Thomas by a UCPD officer.
During the meeting, 2nd District commander Crystal King-Smith announced that ShotSpotter gunshot sensors and SDSCs are now up and running in the 2nd District.
According to King-Smith, when a shot is fired, ShotSpotter sensors triangulate the shot and immediately send phone notifications to CPD officers. CPD captain Marc Moore told The Maroon that on the first day the sensors were installed in the 2nd District, they detected a shot on 57th Street and State Street, and CPD officers arrived on the scene before receiving a call about the shot.
Information from ShotSpotter sensors are also sent to SDSCs , which were developed by the Crime Lab of the University's Urban Labs. SDSCs are police station rooms that contain large TV screens that display surveillance footage and crime maps.
In the rooms, officers work with Crime Lab analysts to synthesize information from data analysis, human intelligence, and community input to produce crime reduction strategies.
ShotSpotter sensors and SDSCs were first introduced to Chicago last year in six police districts.
Last fall , CPD announced that the new technology would expand to the 2nd District and five other police districts by mid-2018. According to the Sun-Times , after the 7th and 11th Districts—two of the most violent districts in the city—implemented the technology, murder and nonfatal shooting rates dropped by double digits.
The technology has inspired substantial support, with billionaire Kenneth Griffin donating $10 million in early April to support further development of SDSCs.
However, community groups have also voiced critiques about the legality and ethics of the technology, South Side Weekly reported .
The American Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns that ShotSpotter sensors can potentially threaten individuals' Fourth Amendment rights, citing incidents in other cities in which gunshot sensors have picked up conversations that were later used in court cases. At the meeting, King-Smith stressed that the ShotSpotter sensors will pick up only gunshot sounds and not any other sounds or voices.
UCPD chief Kenton Rainey said that UCPD will be able to access all information from the 2nd District's ShotSpotter sensors and SDSCs.
“There is no separation between what CPD is doing and what UCPD is doing,” Rainey said.
Kevin Ryan, Area Central Deputy Chief, also announced that CPD will increase the frequency of bike patrol in the 2nd District in the summer. Rainey confirmed that the increased bike patrol will also run through UCPD jurisdiction.
At the end of the meeting, one resident expressed concerns that UChicago's security alerts are not comprehensive enough.
Heath responded that he has also received feedback that there are too many alerts, and his department is in the process of updating the security alert system into an “opt-in” system in which people choose how many and what type of alerts to receive. He said the goal is to introduce the new alert system by this summer.
Throughout the meeting, King repeatedly emphasized her goal of achieving good community policing.
“Everywhere I go, safety is the number one concern,” she said. “People don't say that they don't want police. People want police presence. They just want good community policing. It shouldn't be mutually exclusive.”
Security advocates challenge facial recognition in policing
Several privacy advocate organizations have penned a letter to Amazon, asking the corporation to stop marketing new facial recognition software to police stations. The group argues that the powerful technology equates to government surveillance.
by Gene Johnson
T he American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to "easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone."
The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency – the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon – to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.
But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.
The tech giant's entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally, or political protesters.
"People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the groups wrote in a letter to Amazon on Tuesday. "Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom."
Amazon released Rekognition in late 2016, and the sheriff's office in Washington County, west of Portland, became one of its first law enforcement agency customers. A year later, deputies were using it about 20 times per day – for example, to identify burglary suspects in store surveillance footage. Last month, the agency adopted policies governing its use, noting that officers in the field can use real-time face recognition to identify suspects who are unwilling or unable to provide their own ID, or if someone's life is in danger.
"We are not mass-collecting. We are not putting a camera out on a street corner," said Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. "We want our local community to be aware of what we're doing, how we're using it to solve crimes – what it is and, just as importantly, what it is not."
It cost the sheriff's office just $400 to load 305,000 booking photos into the system and $6 per month in fees to continue the service, according to an email obtained by the ACLU under a public records request.
Amazon Web Services did not answer emailed questions about how many law enforcement agencies are using Rekognition, but in a written statement the company said it requires all of its customers to comply with the law and to be responsible in the use of its products.
The statement said some agencies have used the program to find abducted people, and amusement parks have used it to find lost children. British broadcaster Sky News used Rekognition to help viewers identify celebrities at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last weekend.
Last year, the Police Department in Orlando, Fla. announced it would begin a pilot program relying on Amazon's technology to "use existing City resources to provide real-time detection and notification of persons-of-interest, further increasing public safety."
Orlando has a network of public safety cameras, and in a presentation posted to YouTube this month, Ranju Das, who leads Amazon Rekognition, said Amazon would receive feeds from the cameras, search them against photos of people being sought by law enforcement, and notify police of any hits.
"It's about recognizing people, it's about tracking people, and then it's about doing this in real time, so that the law enforcement officers ... can be then alerted in real time to events that are happening," he said.
The Orlando Police Department declined to make anyone available for an interview about the program, but said in an email to The Associated Press that the department "is not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time."
"The purpose of a pilot program such as this, is to address any concerns that arise as the new technology is tested," the statement said. "Any use of the system will be in accordance with current and applicable law. We are always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep the residents and visitors of Orlando safe."
The letter to Amazon followed public records requests from ACLU chapters in California, Oregon, and Florida. More than two dozen organizations signed it, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch.
Clare Garvie, an associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, said part of the problem with real-time face recognition is its potential impact on free-speech rights.
While police might be able to videotape public demonstrations, face recognition is not merely an extension of photography but a biometric measurement – more akin to police walking through a demonstration and demanding identification from everyone there.
Amazon's technology isn't that different from what face recognition companies are already selling to law enforcement agencies. But its vast reach and its interest in recruiting more police departments to take part raise concerns, she said.
"This raises very real questions about the ability to remain anonymous in public spaces," Ms. Garvie said.
50 members of 'sinister' biker gangs arrested; dozens of illegal guns, drugs, rocker launcher seized
by Stephen Sorace
Authorities in Rhode Island on Wednesday arrested 50 people associated with two rival motorcycle clubs believed to be involved in a turf war and seized 53 illegal guns, including a rocket launcher, and a large amount of marijuana, crack, cocaine and heroin.
State Police identified the two gangs as the Pagans and Kryptmen, who were dubbed “some of the most violent” gangs in the country, the Providence Journal reported. The gangs allegedly have a history of gun and drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder and robbery.
"These gang members are not recreational bikers organizing local charities,” Col. Ann Assumpico said. “These are violent criminals who belong to some of the most sinister motorcycle gangs in this country.”
Authorities arrested the members in a coordinated series of pre-dawn raids involving more than 150 state, federal and local law enforcement officers, used explosive devices to access fortified buildings, and an armored truck and battering ram to break down doors, the paper reported.
The year long investigation, called Operation Patch Out, began last May when authorities learned the gangs were trying to establish local chapters and gain territory in the state, police said.
"When I learned they were trying to establish a foothold here in Rhode Island, I ordered my detectives to use whatever means necessary to investigate and eradicate these gangs," Assumpico said.
Investigators intercepted thousands of phone conversations and text messages using electronic surveillance and court-ordered wiretaps, the paper reported. A 1,300-page affidavit detailed other evidence used to secure warrants for nearly 30 different searches.
The early morning raids didn't come as a surprise to some people in the communities.
"I kind of expected it on this street," John Patenaude of Woonsocket told WPRI-TV . "This street's hot."
Patenaude told the station he heard “screaming” and saw “people on the ground” as he stood on his porch watching police raid a neighboring house.
According to Assumpico, the operation was believed to be the “single largest take-down” in State Police history. At least a dozen additional suspects were still wanted by police.
"Today's arrests send a clear and convincing message: We will not allow motorcycle gangs and other criminals to sell guns and drugs on our streets and commit violent crimes in our communities,” Assumpico said.
NTSB: All New School Buses Need to Be Fitted With Seat Belts
by David McNew
For the first time, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new school buses in the U.S. be fitted with full seat belts, following two deadly 2016 crashes.
Although recommendations for seat belts have been made periodically over the years, there has been uncertainty about the actual benefit of seat belts due to evacuation concerns.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that seat belts are not absolutely necessary in large school buses, although they are required for small school buses due to the size and the weight of the vehicle.
The NTSB also recommended that “all new school buses to be equipped with collision avoidance systems and automatic emergency braking technologies” as well. Last week, a New Jersey fifth-grader and her teacher were killed, and 43 others injured, in a collision involving their school bus and a dump truck.
Mexican Mafia busted for running crime in LA County jails
by Brian Melley
—LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County jails are run by the sheriff, but the Mexican Mafia wielded the power in the underworld behind bars.
"The organization made up of leaders from various Latino gangs operated like an illegal government, collecting "taxes" on smuggled drugs, ordering hits on people who didn't follow their rules and even calling the shots on street crimes, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Their clout was diminished as 83 members and associates were charged in a pair of sweeping federal racketeering conspiracies that alleged drug dealing, extortion, violent assaults and even murders.
"We just delivered a blow to a cold-blooded prison gang and their associates," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said during a news conference.
""——The so-called "gang of gangs" — an organization of imprisoned Latino street gang leaders who control operations inside and outside California prisons and jails — started in the 1950s at a juvenile jail and grew to an international criminal organization that has controlled smuggling, drug sales and extortion inside the nation's largest jail system.
"These Mexican Mafia members and associates, working together to control criminal activity within (LA County jails), have become their own entity or enterprise and effectively function as an illegal government," an indictment said.
The gang was also able to control street crime by using wives, girlfriends and lawyers to help relay orders to be carried out by members who were not incarcerated, an indictment said.
In some instances, gang members would deliberately get arrested on low-level charges so they could smuggle drugs into the jail and be released days later.
Because the Mexican Mafia controlled drug trafficking in the jails, they got the first shot to sell their supply of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or marijuana, prosecutors said. Other groups had to wait and give a third of their contraband to the Mexican Mafia leadership.
The fee, known as a "thirds" tax, gave the name "Operation Dirty Thirds" to the investigation that led to the indictments and arrest of 32 people Wednesday. Another 35 defendants were in custody and 16 were fugitives.
The gang enriched itself through drug sales, taxes on drugs and even collected a share of purchases on candy bars, deodorant and other items at the jail commissary, the indictment said, adding that the gang was able to exert control by threatening and carrying out violence if people didn't pay up or follow the rules.
The gang members were accused of committing vicious beatings, stabbings, kidnappings and murders in retaliation, Hanna said.
The indictment alleges crimes between 2012 and 2016, when a grand jury was convened and before President Donald Trump took office.
Trump has focused on gang violence but has singled out MS-13, pointing to the gang's gruesome crimes in a push for stronger immigration policies.
While MS-13 is associated with the Mexican Mafia, the majority of the crimes listed in the indictments Wednesday are alleged to have been committed by members affiliated with other street gangs.
The jail indictment said Jose Landa-Rodriguez and two now-deceased members of the Mexican Mafia controlled operations in the jail between 2012 and 2016.
Landa-Rodriquez, 55, is accused of sanctioning murders, assaults and the kidnapping and planned murder of a relative of a gang member who defied him, prosecutors said.
Landa-Rodriguez is not a U.S. citizen, though nearly all of the other defendants charged in the indictment are citizens, Hanna said.
A second higher-up, Luis Vega, 33, ordered a murder and directed assaults against those who showed disrespect or didn't obey rules, the indictment said.
In an effort to disrupt the gang's stronghold, the suspects will be held in federal facilities, and those already in custody in state prisons will be moved, authorities said.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell acknowledged that others will follow in their wake, as leadership in the gang that operates in most prisons and jails in the state is always changing.
"There will be new leaders, that's kinda how the whole system works. It's hierarchical," McDonnell said. "When one goes to jail or passes away then someone else backfills their spot just like any multilevel organization."
One of the group's facilitators was attorney Gabriel Zendejas-Chavez, who was able to carry messages to the gang members while operating under the shield of attorney-client privilege, the indictment said. He is also accused of enabling a plot to extort $100,000 from the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang.
Zendejas-Chavez was arrested Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone at his office was unaware of the arrest and didn't comment.
Cops, Neighbors Walk The Talk Downtown
by Markeshia Ricks
New Haven -- Downtown top cop Lt. Mark O'Neil tapped the man stretched out on the Green. The man barely moved at first, then muttered incomprehensibly.
“I just want to make sure you're OK.” O'Neil said. “Can you stand for me?”
The man couldn't stand because he was intoxicated.
That was the beginning of the end of a Downtown District “community walk” Wednesday where neighbors and police got to not only talk about community policing but see it in action.
The walk was the latest in a series organized by community volunteer Daniel Hunt for New Haveners and police officers to get on neighborhood streets and engage people with the hope of strengthening police and community relations. Around a dozen cops and neighbors participated in the downtown walk Tuesday that started at the substation at 900 Chapel St.
Lt. O'Neil reminded the walkers, who included some of his fellow district managers, that downtown isn't a neighborhood in the traditional sense. Though increasingly people live in the city's downtown, it's also the commercial and transit epicenter of the city.
“We want more people to come downtown,” he said. “Our main goal is to stop the nonsense down here and bring more people into downtown—to make downtown and the city of New Haven thrive. This is your gateway into New Haven.”
Assistant Police Chief Racheal Cain said although downtown isn't a traditional neighborhood, the people they would meet would be typical of downtown's daily inhabitants, namely workers, bus riders, and yes, people like the intoxicated man they ultimately encountered.
“I think it's important to show them as well as the people in your normal neighborhood that the police and the community stand together and it is this type of relationship that is going to make the city better,” she said.
So they walked, stopping to chat up street vendors, shaking hands with people waiting at bus stops and flyering cars to let their owners know how to avoid break-ins, a crime of opportunity that is fairly common downtown, according to Lt. O'Neill.
O'Neill was going to flyer one car but noticed that the car had a parking ticket.
“He's already having a bad day,” O'Neill said.
Hunt bumped into people, including cops, he knew all throughout the tour. He said he's met a lot of them on these walks.
“Each neighborhood that we do, I make it a habit of going up to people, going up to kids, going up to different people and telling them about this specific event and trying to engage as many people as we can,” he said. “Letting them know that we're all out here together and that we're on one accord.”
Hunt said he got the idea to start the walks after 14-year-old Tyrick “Reese” Keyes was killed last summer . Hunt, who works in student support services at the Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS), is no stranger to the impact gun violence has had on the city's youth. His cousin, Marquell Banks, was shot and killed in 2011.
After Keyes was killed, Hunt said he contacted Police Chief Anthony Campbell and Assistant Chief Cain about doing the walks. A few months after the department had assigned new district managers, he began working with district managers to coordinate the walks. The first one was in Newhallville, then Hunt's Hill South neighborhood, then Dwight/Kensington, Fair Haven , Dixwell, and now Downtown.
He said the next walk is planned for June 1 in the Whalley/Edgewood Avenue/Beaver Hills section of the city with WEB District Manager Lt. Elisa Tuozzoli, who participated in the Downtown walk Wednesday. Hunt said once the walks make their way to every section of the city, they'll start over again.
“We'll just keep rotating them,” he said.
When the walkers got to the Green Wednesday and came upon the intoxicated man most just hung back and observed, while O'Neill took the lead. The man became belligerent when O'Neill asked him if he had been drinking. But ultimately showed O'Neill his nearly empty bottle of booze.
O'Neill took the bottle and the man demanded it back.
“I can't give it back,” he told the man. “It's illegal.”
He once again asked if the man could stand. He acknowledged that he couldn't.
“Would you like me to call you an ambulance?” O'Neill asked firmly but without raising his voice. After a few minutes of attempting to argue with O'Neill the man, who was already sporting an ID bracelet that appeared to have come from a medical facility, eventually acquiesced to the ambulance.
15 people injured after 2 men set off a bomb at a restaurant in Canada, police say
by David Choi, Kieran Corcoran and Alexandra Ma
Fifteen people have been injured after a bomb went off at a restaurant in Canada late on Thursday night.
Police say two hooded men planted a bomb in Bombay Bhel, an Indian restaurant in Mississauga, not far from Toronto.
They issued an image showing two figures walking out of the restaurant shortly before the blast hit, around 10:30 p.m. local time.
Three people were taken into critical condition immediately after the attack, but are now in stable condition. Twelve others were taken into hospital but have since been released.
The victims' ages ranged from 23 to 69 years old, police said on Friday.
Authorities also issued descriptions of the two men and appealed to the public to help identify them. Both had covered their faces.
So far it isn't clear why the attack took place. Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans told reporters on Friday morning there was no indication that it was a terrorist attack or a hate crime, but that officials were not ruling anything out at this point.
A witness who lives near the site of the explosion told the broadcaster CBC that he heard people screaming and that the victims of the blast were "bleeding so much."
Andre Larrivee said:
"Glass was broken in the street. There was a child's birthday party. Everything was destroyed. Lots of blood in the floor. Many people were screaming.
"They were trying to run out from the restaurant. There was a guy with glass inside his eyes. Many people were bleeding so much."
Jeremy Cohn, a video journalist for Global News Toronto, published this clip of emergency vehicles flooding the street near the restaurant.
The attack took place roughly 19 miles from downtown Toronto, which was hit by an attack only one month ago.
25-year-old Alek Minassian steered a van down a sidewalk in the city, killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen others.
Armed citizen kills shooter who opened fire in Oklahoma restaurant
by Ashley May
A gunman opened fire inside an Oklahoma City restaurant, leading to a bystander shooting him dead in the parking lot.
Oklahoma City Police said the gunman, who walked into Louie's Grill & Bar on the east side of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, wounded at least four people.
"A bystander with a pistol confronted the shooter outside the restaurant and fatally shot him," Oklahoma police tweeted Thursday night .
The shooter was the only person who died in the incident. His identity was not confirmed as of Thursday night and his motive was unknown. Police said the incident is under investigation.
A man told an Oklahoma TV station that his daughter and granddaughter, who were at the restaurant for a birthday party, were shot, and that he would like to thank the bystander who killed the shooter, The Oklahoman reports .
A woman and a girl were undergoing surgery for gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital, but were expected to make a full recovery, said police spokesperson Capt. Bo Matthews. Authorities have not yet named the victims.
Seized fentanyl enough to kill 26M people, Nebraska police say
by Bradford Betz
Nebraska authorities seized 118 pounds of fentanyl – a highly addictive opiate – during a routine truck stop last month. Nebraska State Patrol said Thursday that the seizure was the largest in the state's history, and “one of the largest ever in the U.S.”
The quantity was enough to kill more than 26 million people, the Kansas City Star reported .
A state trooper had observed a suspicious semi the morning of April 26 in Kearney, about 200 miles west of Omaha.
Authorities searched the truck and found a “false compartment” containing “42 foil-wrapped packages containing 73 pounds of cocaine and 44 pounds of unknown powder suspected to be fentanyl, a news release said.
The troopers waited to test the powder in a lab, due to the dangerous nature of the substance.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid that is “30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration .
Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid that is “30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration .
Authorities identified Felipe Genao-Minaya, 46, as the alleged driver of the truck and Nelson Nunez, 52, as the passenger. Both men were reportedly from New Jersey.
The men were arrested for “possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and no Drug Tax stamp,” and booked into the Buffalo County Jail, the news release said.
Fentanyl-related deaths have surged in the United States in recent years. California recorded 746 fatal overdoses from fentanyl in 2017 versus 237 in 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reported .
Report On Milwaukee PD Body Cams Show Fewer Complaints, Fewer Stops, But No Reduction In Use Of Force
by Tim Cushing
The Milwaukee PD is (or was ) staring down the barrel of a DOJ consent decree for its unconstitutional policing (mainly stop-and-frisk) and routine deployment of excessive force. This is among the many concerns brought to light last year by the DOJ's draft report on the department .
The Milwaukee Police Department fails the community and its own officers by not communicating clearly, making too many traffic stops and applying inconsistent standards when disciplining officers, according to a draft of a federal report obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The draft report offers a particularly damning critique of Chief Edward Flynn's reliance on data, a signature component of his strategy since he took over the department in 2008. Federal evaluators found this approach is having a damaging, if unintended, effect on police-community relations.
“MPD's attention to crime data has distracted the department from the primary tenet of modern policing: trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve,” the draft report states.
The DOJ also found officers had no idea what community policing entailed, suggesting it only applied to other officers officially designated as community liaisons. The DOJ highlighted the disconnection between the MPD's statements and actions on community policing using this depressing anecdote.
[T]he Milwaukee Police Department doesn't have a strategic plan for community policing or a set of guidelines regarding it, the draft report says. And department-wide training on how to implement the strategy has not been offered in years.
Federal evaluators highlighted one example of an attempt at community engagement that fell flat.
Officers held a roll-call, or shift change, outside a Milwaukee school. The stated purpose was to let kids know officers wanted them to have a safe summer. The problem? There were no kids in sight, not even student leaders.
The evaluators noted the event may even have sent the wrong message: That the students on summer break were a problem, and the police planned to deal with them.
This draft may never coalesce into an official report. AG Jeff Sessions' full-blooded support for law enforcement includes allowing them to be a law unto themselves by killing off DOJ investigations of misbehaving police forces. What's in the draft report is damning, but it will probably remain a draft in perpetuity.
The PD's responsiveness to community unhappiness did at least result in one change: a pilot program equipping officers with body cameras. Unfortunately, the cameras appear to have done little to address one community complaint .
Milwaukee police officers with body cameras made fewer stops and were less likely receive a citizen complaint, a new study has found.
But when it comes to use of force — the primary reason residents clamored for officers to use the cameras — it didn't matter if officers had the cameras or not. They used force at roughly the same rates.
The PD claims this report [PDF] vindicates officers and the department itself, at least in terms of accusations of excessive force deployment. According to the PD, the conclusions make it clear officers have applied force in accordance with policy. But that's stretching the findings a bit much. It could also mean the deterrent effect one assumes the cameras would have simply hasn't materialized. Officers may feel footage is at least as likely to clear them as damn them and are willing to roll the dice.
And the dice come pre-loaded: officers are given weeks or months to make statements when accused of deploying excessive force. And while statements from witnesses are recorded, those made by officers are not, allowing them to retcon narratives if body cam footage refuses to align with the official narrative. The body cam footage may be a new twist, but the internal investigation process has been an issue for a long time. It, too, receives criticism in the DOJ's draft report.
When it comes to officer-involved shootings, the cases reviewed by the Justice Department were inconsistent and the documentation was inadequate.
In both non-fatal shootings and other uses of force, information about officers' training, prior use of force, complaints and discipline were not included in internal affairs files.
That information also does not seem to have an effect on whether officers are promoted.
One number that did drop in the wake of camera deployment is street stops. Officers wearing cameras performed far fewer stops than officers without them. This suggests the stop-and-frisk program the PD is currently being sued over tends to make the Constitution an afterthought. Documentation of unconstitutional stops isn't going to help the PD emerge victorious in this lawsuit and the simplest solution is to leave those stops to officers without cameras.
It's not all negative, however. As noted above, officers with cameras received 50% fewer complaints, suggesting the presence of another "witness" causes both parties to treat each other with a little more respect. Camera use can result in de-escalation, which is something rarely willfully practiced by officers.
But we can't read too much into that either. The drop in complaints is tracked by a drop in stops, which may suggest the cameras aren't "civilizing" interactions so much as fewer of them are taking place.
Body cams are band-aids, at best. They can never be a panacea , but they're far from useless. Things do change when law enforcement operates under additional scrutiny. But they don't change as quickly or dramatically as proponents of cameras hope they will. A seismic cultural shift is needed in most departments and body cameras will only incrementally increase the speed in which bad apples are expunged from the barrel. But the barrel will still be filled with slightly-less-rotten apples. That being said, cameras should be a requirement as should the presumption that missing footage weighs against a cop's statements. Just because they're not working as well as many of us thought they would doesn't mean it's without its merits.
Three children under four have died from accidental shootings in Virginia this month
by Stephanie Harris
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) -- Two towns, two toddlers, one horrific day.
On Tuesday, police say a two-year-old Roanoke boy accidentally shot himself and died.
On the same day, a four-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old brother in Louisa County near Charlottesville.
He thought the gun was a toy.
As did Demetrius Jefferson. The four-year-old shot and killed himself on May 7 in Henrico.
"If there's a firearm in the home, the child is going to find it," Robert Marcus told WAVY.com.
Marcus teaches safety classes at his gun shop, Bob's Gun Shop, in Norfolk. He showed 10 On Your Side several ways to keep your guns locked and safe.
From large gun safes with large price tags (about $2,000), to a middle-of-the-road mini vault that you program with your own combination.
It costs about $125 for the least expensive safe.
"Tried and true ... gun locks fit practically every firearm in the world except lever action rifles."
Those locks cost less than $13, but their value can be priceless in protecting children and gun owners.
Attorney George Neskis from the Decker Law Firm explained that in Virginia it's against the law to recklessly leave a firearm so that it endangers the life of a child under 14.
The crime is punishable by a fine of up to $500, however, "there are reported cases
under Virginia law where a child has been injured seriously because of an unsecured weapon and the parent has been prosecuted for felony child neglect," according to Neskis.
That can land you behind bars for up to 10 years, and "if a child dies because of an unsecured firearm that was recklessly left in a way where a child could have access to it, it may even support a manslaughter charge and that is obviously as serious as it comes."
11 states now have laws addressing how guns must be specifically locked up and secured -- Virginia is not one of those states.
New Zealand's high rates of family violence being tackled by police
by Kirsty Lawrence
New Zealand has the highest rate of family violence in the developed world. The United Nations regularly expresses concerns over our levels of violence against women and children. But the figures remain daunting. Now, police are standing up and taking a different approach, Kirsty Lawrence reports.
Between 2009 and 2015, 92 people in New Zealand were killed by their partners.
In 98 per cent of these cases there was a recorded history of abuse, and women were the victim.
New Zealand's approach to domestic violence isn't working.
But police are ready for a change.
And nobody is more pleased to see a fresh approach then acting Superintendent Bronwyn Marshall.
She has been heading the safer whanu transformation for the past few years and knows the difficulties frontline officers have been facing.
"People were concerned they were leaving homes and they felt like they hadn't helped that person long-term because they were going back there," she says.
Forty per cent of police time is spent attending family harm incidents, and about 17 per cent of all priority jobs are family harm.
This has pushed police to devise a new strategy for dealing with what used to be "domestic" calls. Now they are known as "family harm investigations".
Marshall says four projects come under the safer whanau umbrella: an integrated safety response, the Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke Programme, victim video statements, and a change in police practice.
And this change starts at school.
The Royal New Zealand Police College has restructured its training so recruits are more readily being placed in scenarios of family harm incidents.
Training adviser Jude Simpson says recruits used to receive about two-to-four hours training on how to deal with family harm. Now they get 60.
They started the process 3½ years ago to make sure officers are graduating with the skills they need to deal with the turmoil and heartache behind families' front doors.
When Simpson started working with the college, only 13 per cent of police graduates said they felt prepared when leaving. That has now increased to 97 per cent.
"If they are coming from a home without family harm they aren't going to be understanding of how someone would put up with this."
The new training helps recruits understand that family violence is more than just physical abuse, and more complex than what a single bruise or broken window can betray.
"It creates empathy, which is one of our core values."
Technology is another major aspect being used to help tackle family violence and the changes are described as "world leading".
The FBI has even visited to take note of what New Zealand police are doing, head of mobility Superintendent Rob Cochrane says.
He says technology has come a long way since he first started in police 22 years ago.
"When I worked in Auckland in the 90s all my comms was radio. If I wanted to get information about a car I went through a check channel."
Police are now using their mobile OnDuty App, which provides instant up-to-date images and data.
Cochrane says they want to put more emphasis on police being out on the street, engaging with the community, and less on office-bound paperwork.
The OnDuty app has been developed with a family harm investigation tool, which can identify risks and provide a safety plan.
Officers can bring up a detailed history about the home they are heading to, which shows how many times police have been called there and what the outcome of those call-outs were.
It means officers can attend incidents with all the information they need, instead of only a snapshot of what they're facing.
Cochrane says the app is being developed further as they receive feedback from frontline staff.
Another technology advancement for helping combat family harm is around video interviews in family harm situations.
Video interviews are done at the home of the victim immediately after the event and lets them say in their own words what has happened to them.
After the officer has recorded the statement on their phone it's uploaded to a secure online website and can then be downloaded to be submitted as evidence in court.
In Counties Manukau, where the technique has been trialled, early guilty pleas increased from 22 per cent to 40 per cent in cases where video interviews were used as evidence.
Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Ellwood says video testimony is powerful for not only the court to see, but also the victims.
"When you go to court and play that back to victims, it's quite powerful."
Marshall says this is all part of police looking at family harm incidents as episodic events, not one-off incidents.
The Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke Programme is another branch of the project, bringing together police, iwi and community groups to work together. It is also being trialled in Counties Manukau.
With the work they are doing, Marshall says they expect to see an increase in calls about family harm, which will actually be a good thing as it means more people are reaching out for help.
However, what they also want to see is a reduction in the harm rates of repeat offenders, to show that what they are doing is making a change.
Suspect wounds teacher, fellow student in 23rd school shooting in 2018
by Reuters Staff
Indiana authorities on Saturday were yet to charge and identify the student who they say was responsible for wounding a teacher and student at a middle school in what media is reporting as the 23rd shooting on a United States campus in 2018.
The student, who was being held by police, was armed with two handguns when he shot a science teacher and another student in a science classroom at a Noblesville West Middle School on Friday morning, police in the community 25 miles (42 km) northeast of Indianapolis said.
Police said on Friday they were investigating the shooter's motive and how he obtained the guns. They did not detail how he was stopped, but witnesses told local media that the teacher knocked the guns away and wrestled the suspect to the floor despite being wounded.
As of early Saturday, authorities had not identified the student or filed charges against him.
The shooting, by CNN's count, was the 23rd in the United States this year and comes just a week after a high school student in Santa Fe, Texas, shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers.
The shooting incidents in 2018 on campuses across the nation have ranged from a teacher accidentally discharging a gun during a public safety class at a California high school, injuring a student, to a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that left 17 people dead, CNN reported.
The shootings have fueled debate about how to keep campuses safe.
“Here we go again ... I wish I had an answer,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said to reporters. “It's another sad day.”
The suspect in Friday's shooting had excused himself from class and came back armed with the pistols and opened fire in a science class, authorities said. Police apprehended him in the classroom.
A police guard at the school responded to the shooting, and other law enforcement officers arrived within minutes, police said in a statement.
The wounded teacher was identified as Jason Seaman, 29. The unidentified girl was in critical condition at an Indianapolis hospital, police said.
Seaman's mother, Kristi Seaman, said on Facebook that he was shot through the abdomen, in the hip and in the forearm and was doing well after surgery.
From the FBI
Think Before You Post
Hoax Threats are Serious Federal Crimes
In the aftermath of tragic shootings, such as the recent ones at Santa Fe High School in Texas and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, there is often an increase in hoax threats to schools and other public places. Safety is paramount, and the FBI and our state and local law enforcement partners always respond to each threat.
In recent months, the FBI and law enforcement around the country have investigated a number of hoax threats of targeted violence against schools and other public places. These threats—often issued via text message or posted on social media—are taken very seriously. Hoax threats are not a joke, and they can have devastating consequences—both for the public and for the perpetrators.
Issuing a threat—even over social media, via text message, or through e-mail—is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications). Those who post or send these threats can receive up to five years in federal prison, or they can face state or local charges.
With a thoughtless remark on social media, young people risk starting out their adult lives in prison and forever being labeled a felon.
“The Bureau and its law enforcement partners take each threat seriously. We investigate and fully analyze each threat to determine its credibility,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich. “Hoax threats disrupt school, waste limited law enforcement resources, and put first responders in unnecessary danger. We also don't want to see a young person start out adulthood with a felony record over an impulsive social media post. It's not a joke; always think before you post.”
In addition to consequences for individuals who issue threats, there is also a significant societal cost. Law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and responding to hoax threats diverts officers and costs taxpayers. The threats can also cause severe emotional distress to students, school personnel, and parents.
Here are a few examples of serious threats that the FBI and our partners have investigated:
A young man in Texas used social media and a phone to issue threats against schools in Minnesota. He also called in fake hostage situations, known as “swatting.” He was arrested, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. He was 19 at the time of sentencing.
A 21-year-old South Carolina man was sentenced to one year in federal prison after he sent text messages claiming there was a bomb in the parking lot of a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the state.
An 18-year-old North Carolina man was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay restitution after he broadcast himself on the Internet calling in bomb threats to various public places, including schools, colleges, and FBI offices.
What Should I Do?
Don't ever post or send any hoax threats online…period.
If you are a target of an online threat, alert your local law enforcement immediately.
If you see a threat of violence posted on social media, immediately contact local law enforcement or your local FBI office. Members of the public can always submit a tip to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov .
Notify authorities but don't share or forward the threat until law enforcement has had a chance to investigate—this can spread misinformation and cause panic.
If you are a parent or family member, know that some young people post these threats online as a cry for attention or as a way to get revenge or exert control. Talk to your child about the proper outlet for their stress or other emotions, and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.
Community helps investigators in Fort Pierce catch accused child rapist
by Will Greenlee
FORT PIERCE — With the help of a civilian, Fort Pierce police and investigators worked to arrest a 35-year-old man accused of raping a 7-year-old girl, a detective said Thursday.
Police learned of the case May 4 and, with assistance from the community, tracked down the person they say is responsible, Jose Ortiz, in Missouri, police Detective Jeff Wachendorfer said.
Wachendorfer said a statement from the girl and a forensic exam helped police get a capital sexual battery warrant.
Capital sexual battery is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. When a person is 18 or older and commits or tries to commit sexual battery on and injuries the organs of a person younger than 12, it constitutes a capital felony.
Ortiz is from Honduras and not in the country legally, Wachendorfer said.
Wachendorfer said the case shows the importance of the community and law enforcement working together.
“We don't have magic wizard hats to go and investigate these cases,” Wachendorfer said. “If the community comes forward with information as a witness or with information, that's how your cases get solved.”
Wachendorfer said a family member of the girl confronted Ortiz before Ortiz fled the area.
“That night we had the chopper up looking for him, we had the dog tracking, we had our whole shift looking for him … all of our undercover narcotics detectives,” he said. “Full blown trying to locate this guy.”
Wachendorfer said the community assisted with “everybody kind of putting ears to the ground and trying to locate him.”
Wachendorfer credited a civilian, whom he declined to identify, as being crucial to the case.
Wachendorfer doesn't know how Ortiz got to Missouri, noting reports he was in Jacksonville or with family in Honduras.
“The one civilian … he actually made contact with him for legitimate reasons, and he found out about the case later and then came to us,” Wachendorfer said. “He just learned about the case through other citizens that we were contacting, and he really stepped up.”
Wachendorfer said Ortiz was tracked to Missouri, where U.S. Marshals this week helped take him into custody.
He said Ortiz had no prior criminal history.
He said Ortiz is expected to be brought back to St. Lucie County.