Law Enforcement

Bemus Point resident charged with Harassment

State - NY Police - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:58
On December 11th, 2017, the New York State Police arrested Nancie Gerrish, 39, of Bemus Point, for Harassment 2nd Degree.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

State - NY Police - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:44
On December 8th, 2017, the New York State Police arrested Malcolm Strutchen, 26, of Buffalo, for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.
Categories: Law Enforcement

FBI Agent, MD State Fire Official Killed in Crash

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:09

An FBI agent and a state fire marshal's office official died Friday night after they were struck by a car at the scene of a crash on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, Maryland State Police said.

State police said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Sander Cohen, 33, called the Rockville barrack around 10 p.m. to report a single-vehicle crash in the fast lane of southbound I-270 near Gude Drive. Cohen blocked the crash scene with his personal vehicle and activated his emergency flashers, reports WBAL.

The driver of the damaged car was FBI Supervisory Special Agent Carlos Wolff, 36. Both men moved to stand in the shoulder while waiting for assistance to arrive, state police said.

State police said an oncoming car swerved to the left, apparently to avoid the stopped vehicles, and struck both men on the shoulder of the highway. Both men were thrown over the jersey wall onto the northbound side of I-270, where Cohen was struck by another car.

"They were standing there when a southbound vehicle swerved onto the shoulder and struck both of them and propelled both of their bodies over the jersey wall into the northbound lanes of I-270," Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. William Pallozzi said.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Shot on duty: Reflections on faith, family and being a cop one year after I nearly died

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:05

On June 9, 2016, my unit was dispatched to assist the York City Police Department in the apprehension of a man with an arrest warrant named James Nickol. He was wanted for felony escape and had prior burglary charges. Our team met up with the city police and developed a plan of action. However, none of us could have predicted what was going to happen next. I would soon find myself face to face with an armed gunman, fighting for my life. It was vicious. It was bloody. It was a close-quarters gun battle; as close as it gets. This is my story as seen through my eyes.

When I reached the end of that narrow breezeway, I was the first to make contact with the individual we were looking for. He was about three feet away from me, standing on a small wooden deck of the residence. I immediately gave him commands, in full-duty uniform and at gun point, to show me his hands.

I could tell by the look on his face that he was shocked to see me. I expected him to give up and allow me to handcuff him, but instead, he ignored my commands, and turned away from me. I held my position and continued to repeatedly shout, “Police! Let me see your hands!”

He kept his back turned to me, bent down and started doing something with his hands, but I couldn’t see what that something was.

At this point, my instincts kicked in and something was telling me to move in and grab him, and that’s exactly what I did. I brought my pistol down to my right hip, stepped up onto the deck, and grabbed ahold of him with my left hand. My intent was to bring him down, handcuff him and end the situation peacefully. Instead, he quickly turned into me, and fired a revolver directly into my face.

My head got rocked from the impact as the bullet struck me through the nose, shattering the bones in my right cheek. It continued to bore its way through my face, striking my jaw and finally deflecting out the right side. Blood started pouring out of my face and both of my ears started ringing loudly.

Though an incredibly hard hit, it didn’t knock me down. My feet didn’t move, and I came right back into the fight. I immediately placed my finger into the trigger-well of my pistol and returned fire, striking him with two rounds. I stopped firing, punched out with my left hand and grabbed his gun in an attempt to disarm him, but he again pulled the trigger. The bullet struck my left thumb and the force of the blast caused me to lose the grip on his weapon, and my left arm flew back into my chest. His bullet sheared off the top of my thumb, and now I was bleeding from the face and hand.

I knew at that moment I had no choice but to put him down to stop his violent actions. It was fight or flight, but flight was not an option.

Bleeding profusely, I fired two more rounds again from the hip as he continued to fire at me. Our gunfire exchange sounded muffled as if we were fighting inside of a tunnel. I started bringing my gun up, firing two right-handed shots. I then used every ounce of strength left in me to put my hands together. I zeroed in, seeing my front sight post and my left thumb, which was spewing blood like a geyser. I was able to get one last round off, striking him. His eyes widened, he turned and fell face down onto the deck.

‘Watching my blood pour out onto the pavement’

I felt like the fight was finally over. I started stumbling backwards trying to make my way off the deck while blood continued to pour out of my face. It felt like a warm shower. I had lost so much blood that I was too weak to hold onto my pistol anymore, and it slipped out of my hands.

Though dizzy and disoriented, I stayed on my feet, staggering towards the back yard. I started taking off my gloves to assess my hand injury and that’s when I looked up and saw my partner, Deputy Nate Payne, coming to my aid. I remember telling him, “He got me good bro! He got me good!” I was mumbling my words as it was difficult to speak. It felt like the entire right side of my face was missing.

Nate grabbed hold of me and pulled me to safety in the alleyway. He got me behind the cover of a fence and started applying pressure to my face to stop the bleeding.

I was standing there slumped over, holding myself up by my knees, looking down at the ground, watching my blood pour out onto the pavement. I was completely soaked from my face down to my boots in my own blood.

I could hear Nate telling me to “get down on the ground,” but I didn’t want to. If I was going to die, I wanted to die on my feet! I figured that it would only be a matter of seconds until I’d go out. I felt certain I was about to die. Nate had to force me down to the ground.

I heard him call out to my partner, Deputy Rich Drum, for help. I felt more pressure against my face as Rich had placed his hand over Nate’s, but the blood still needed somewhere to go. It started running down the back of my throat. I began swallowing and spitting it out.

I told Nate, “I’m swallowing too much blood, brother; I’m swallowing too much blood!”

I started desperately reaching for my phone in my right cargo pants pocket because I wanted to be able to talk to my wife one last time, but it was still plugged into the charger of my patrol car. That’s when I looked up at Nate and gave him what I thought was going to be my final request before I died. I asked him to promise me he’d tell my wife and boys that I love them and would always be with them.

Nate responded, “Stay with me, Lutz, you’re going to make it, the ambulance is on the way!”

He wouldn’t let me give up, as I started to choke on all the blood I’d been swallowing. I felt him take my injured and bloodied left hand and place it on his uniform. He said, “Grab onto me and don’t you let go!”

I began to pray. I was praying to Jesus, preparing myself to meet Him. I asked that my wife and children would always be watched over and protected, and that my partners would be kept safe from harm.

Transported to hospital

The next thing I remember was being placed into the back of an ambulance. Nate never left my side; he was still with me, applying pressure to my face. The medic had to forcefully remove my hand from the grip I had on Nate so he could start an IV in my arm.

Hearing Nate’s voice, knowing he was there, gave me great comfort as I hung on to life. The ambulance was moving, but I was getting weaker by the moment. I continued to pray. I prayed for the man that I had just exchanged gunfire with. I prayed that he would be OK, and I prayed for his family.

In and out of consciousness, I don’t remember much after that until the doors of the ambulance swung open and I was being carted into the trauma room at the York Hospital.

They started cutting off my uniform and were preparing me for a CAT scan. One of the nurses held my right hand. I looked up at her. She told me that they were working on saving the other guy. That’s when I remember first starting to cry as if the whirlwind of my emotions and adrenaline had just collided.

I told her, “I didn’t want to have to shoot him, but he gave me no choice.”

While tears rolled down my face, she let go of my hand as I started moving into the machine. Inside, it felt like an eternity. I was crying, bleeding and in pain. All I could hear was the loud sound of the machine running and the ringing in my ears.

Later, in recovery, a doctor entered the room. He told me he had been working on Mr. Nickol. I remember seeing blood on his scrubs. He took off his gloves, grasped my right hand and told me he was sorry. He said, “We did everything we could, but he didn’t make it.” I took this news very hard, but thanked him for all he did to try and save him.

The events of that day have been very difficult to process. Every time I think about the gun battle, though everything happened so quickly, I see it all, every detail, replaying over and over again in slow motion. One moment in particular was especially hard for me to accept for the longest time, when I had that grip on his gun. I would think to myself, if only my thumb hadn’t been covering his barrel. I might have been able to disarm him, and the outcome may have been different. Instead, he fired at me five times, emptying his weapon. I was somehow able to avoid being struck by three additional rounds. I wasn’t wearing eye protection, my ballistic sunglasses were up on top of my head, but yet everything but my eyes got peppered with gun powder.

Psalm 91:11 tells us, “For He will command his Angels to protect you in all you do.” God did just that; He sent angels to protect me, and I now understand it was Nickol’s decision to pull the trigger. There was nothing I could do to stop him.

Some people have told me how lucky I am to have survived such a shot to the face and they are amazed that it didn’t knock me off my feet. But I do not believe in luck. I am a man of faith, as I have been my entire life. I believe that when he fired that first shot directly into my face, my Guardian Angel rose up a shield and deflected his bullet causing it to take the path that it did. If it had been just a fraction of an inch one way or the other, it could have killed me instantly. This was truly a miracle and divine intervention at its finest.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” God gave me strength that day. The strength to stand and not fall! The strength to fight back and survive! He protected me, and my partners – Deputies Nate Payne and Rich Drum – saved me. If it weren’t for their actions to slow the bleeding, I may not be here today. They are true examples of “I got your six.” I will always be indebted to them for this, and they will forever be my brothers.

The York County 911 dispatchers sent out the call, and law enforcement, medics and firefighters answered it. The medics got me to the hospital as quickly as they could. Gifted nurses and doctors at the York Hospital kept me alive and took great care of me. They all deserve the utmost admiration for the heroic, selfless work that they do.

I found out later about the vast police response that took place after the officer down call went out over the radio. All they knew was that a fellow officer had been shot and came to my aid. This is true bravery, how law enforcement looks out for each other, and what the thin blue line is all about. I may never know everyone who responded, but I want them all to know how grateful I am for what they did.

I want to thank my sheriff, chiefs and leadership, and all my fellow deputies for their unwavering support.

A long recovery

The recovery process is long and hasn’t been easy. The nerve damage in my face continues to heal. I have seven pieces of bullet shrapnel in my face, each piece encapsulated with scar tissue, five small fragments and two larger ones. The largest piece is so deeply imbedded between the bone of my sinus cavity and nerve endings in my right eye that surgeons are unable to remove it. I was told that if attempted, it could cause both loss of vision and loss of strength in the entire right side of my face.

In late October 2017, I underwent face surgery. The surgeon attempted to remove the second largest piece of bullet shrapnel. Unfortunately, he was unable to remove it because it too was embedded in bone. Instead, he scraped out some of the smaller fragments and smoothed out scar tissue.

The medications for pain management and therapies designed to help me with these discomforts are ongoing as my body continues to heal. The concussion from the gun blast causes me to suffer from headaches and other neurological complications. I lost 60 percent of the hearing in my left ear. The ringing in my right ear stopped, but my left, which was closest to the gun blast, continues to ring. I was told that I will have permanent tinnitus in this ear and have been trying to deal with it the best I can.

Though I suffer these afflictions, I am working hard to retrain my body and mind to accept them for what they are. All the support from my doctors, family, and friends has been a big help in pushing me onward.

People have asked me if I would still have attempted that warrant not knowing how it was going to happen but knowing I’d be severely injured. My reply without question is yes, as I have always been prepared to put my life on the line to save someone in trouble. It’s all I’ve known my entire life, protecting and saving people no matter what the cost, and without regard for my own personal safety.

I am comforted in knowing that my actions that day saved innocent civilian lives by stopping a man who had, among other items found at the scene, additional weapons, ammunition, and the intent to kill. I am glad that it was me who took the bullets that day. I was able to stop the threat and keep my partners and York City officers safe from harm.

Saved by the Spartan mindset

My prior military and police training instilled in me what I call the Spartan mindset. Modeled after the ancient Spartan warrior, it is best described as never give up, never let anything stop you and never accept defeat. This is not something you are born with; it is what you learn by overcoming the most difficult situations in both training and real life.

That first shot I took to the face should have knocked me down, but it didn’t. That’s the Spartan mindset. It’s about courage, self-discipline, teamwork, strength and perseverance. You cannot let fear control you. From my experiences, if you go into a dangerous situation afraid, you are more likely to make a mistake. You must be confident in everything you do and have a sense of fearlessness about you. You have to train your mind to channel that fear into positive energy. Once you’ve learned to do this, you will be prepared to face whatever comes your way.

As a staff sergeant in the United States Army, I taught this to my soldiers. I also taught them that just because you are wounded, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight. You pick up your weapon, and you get back in the fight. You fight until the battle is won or you die trying, and that’s it. No retreat. No surrender. I hope that they are proud of me for leading by example.

I turned 35 three days before the shooting. I had a 2-month-old son, a 2-year-old son and a loving wife at home that morning. I thank God every day that I am still here to continue to be a husband and father.

Mothers and fathers, hold your children close. Hug them, kiss them and tell them every day how much you love them. Husbands, tell your wives every day that you love them. You never know just how short life really is until it’s almost taken away from you.

About the author Michael Lutz is a deputy sheriff with the York County (Pa.) Sheriff’s Office.


Categories: Law Enforcement

How one child abuse call changed a cop's life

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:00

Author: Cole Zercoe

Officer Jody Thompson knew it was bad. Sometimes the reality of a call wasn’t as awful as it sounded over the radio. Not this one. After 16 years in law enforcement, he could tell the difference. He heard the distress in the dispatcher’s voice. The follow up call affirmed his belief: the child said his parents were trying to kill him.

Thompson was en route to a law enforcement training conference in Oklahoma City, about three hour’s drive from Poteau – the small rural town in Le Flore County he calls his beat. He turned the car around; his colleagues would need his expertise in child abuse cases, built from years of prior work as a general assignment investigator for a district attorney’s office. Despite his extensive background, nothing could have prepared him for the horror he was about to witness that day in April 2015.

John had escaped to a neighbor’s house. The 8-year-old boy was the first thing Thompson saw when he walked in. His hands were bound. He was soaking wet – his abusers had submerged him in a trash can full of icy water. He was shaking so violently from the shock and the cold that he couldn’t speak – his teeth audibly chattering. Of all the disturbing signs of trauma, what stuck out to Thompson most was a purple knot the size of a tennis ball on the boy’s forehead – an image that still haunts him to this day. It was the most severe case of abuse Thompson had ever seen.

On the way to the children’s advocacy center, Thompson tried to steer John away from recounting what he’d suffered through; he knew the boy would soon undergo a forensic interview.

“I promised him ‘Nobody’s gonna hurt you anymore, you’re with me,’” Thompson said. “And he kept saying, ‘They’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me.’”

As the boy was photographed at the advocacy center, Thompson could see his collarbones and every one of his ribs. His shoulders were pronounced. His face was sunken in. He was bruised and cut from head to toe. He weighed only 61 pounds.

When the emergency room doctor later appeared in court, he testified that he couldn’t find a one-inch square on the boy’s body that didn’t have a bruise or an abrasion.

GUARDIAN IN THE ER

As Thompson spent the night checking on John, speaking with his doctors, and moving the various components of the investigation along, his emotions started flooding in. He thought about his own two kids – particularly his youngest, who was just six weeks apart in age from John.

“I was wondering how in the world a human being could treat a child like this,” Thompson said.

Almost 700,000 kids are abused every year in the United States. Many of those children end up in foster care, where they may remain for years or age out without permanent families. Thompson knew the statistics – in Le Flore County alone, hundreds of children are looking for a forever home. By the time the long night in the ER ended, Thompson knew what he needed to do. Around twenty-four hours after he had met the boy, Thompson made the decision to adopt him.

“I knew there was no way to not wonder about him. And the only way to stop that feeling was to bring him home,” Thompson said.

For an act so selfless and sudden, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Thompson faced pushback.

“For about a day and a half they thought I was kidding,” Thompson said. “I was getting frustrated, didn’t know who to call, so I finally called the assistant DA and said, ‘Listen, what do I have to do? I’m telling these people what I want and they think I’m joking around.’”

By that time, John had been released from the hospital and placed in a foster home.

“That made me even madder because I didn’t want him to get in the carousel of what some of these foster children experience,” Thompson said. “I thought he was still at the ICU – when I found out he was at a traditional foster home, that’s when I really started yelling at people. I said, ‘Hey listen, I can’t concentrate, I can’t know that he’s safe unless he’s with me.’ Finally, they started going through the motions and got us certified as foster parents.”

Thompson took John home – his family had no idea they were about to have a new member.

FOREVER HOME

John and Thompson were playing in the front yard when the officer’s wife came home that day. When she pulled up and spotted the pair, she didn’t say a word. As the manager of the local women’s crisis center and an advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, she knew trauma. She knew what it meant when a strange kid was playing in the yard. She got out of her car, tears in her eyes, and gave John a hug before she even knew his name. Thompson’s two children had a similar response; John was welcomed into his new home with open arms.

Much has happened since that day a little over two years ago. The family welcomed a fourth child – Thompson found out his wife was pregnant only days after he brought John home. And, incredibly, a fifth child was added to the family shortly after that – John’s blood sister, Paisley, who the Thompsons received full custody of after a lengthy court battle with John’s former parents.

Two kids to five in seven months.

“I used to kid my mom and dad and tell them they were crazy for having six of us. Our plan was to have two,” Thompson said. “When I told John we were going to adopt his sister, I’ll never forget as long as I live what he said. He looked right at us, dead serious, and said ‘Finally, a person with my same blood that’ll love me.’”

HEALING AND THRIVING

John has made a lot of progress in his battle to overcome the trauma he suffered at the hands of his former parents. Thompson credits much of it to a form of counseling he wishes more people knew about: trauma-informed cognitive-based counseling, a form of treatment specifically tailored to kids impacted by trauma.

Since undergoing treatment, John struggles less with food. When Thompson first brought him home, he discovered he had a problem with overeating and sneaking food home from school - a result of his abusers withholding meals from him.

He’s also gotten better at showing affection towards his new family.

“He’ll sit down and absolutely tear your heart out with a letter. Just out of the blue he’ll make my wife a card or me a card just to say thanks and I love you,” Thompson said. “He’s very articulate for his age.”

In fact, John, now 10 and going into the fifth grade, is a straight-A student, on the superintendent’s honor roll, and is one of the handful of kids in the gifted and talented program.

“That was his refuge when he was at home going through all this,” Thompson said. “He put all his energy into school. In his mind, he didn’t want to get in trouble in school for fear of not being able to go and being at home all the time. School was a safe place. He never got beat in school, he got fed in school, school was his safe zone. At home, he would make his own homework just to have something to do to release himself from the world he was living in.”

The boy is also a big fan of Pokémon, drama club, and Xbox.

“He’s a typical southeastern Oklahoma American kid,” Thompson said. “He understands he went through something really bad – really horrific. But he’s not gonna let that define who he is. He’s not going to use his past as a crutch or a reason why he can’t do something. He wants kids his age to know –be strong, you can do it. That day when John escaped out of that trash can full of icewater and called for help, he became a hero, because not only did he save himself, he saved his little sister and he didn’t even know it.”

HUMBLE HERO

In a small city like Poteau, everyone knows everyone. Yet Thompson managed to keep his incredible act of kindness out of the town gossip in his tight-knit community. The officer wanted it that way – both to protect John’s privacy as he adjusted to his new life and because Thompson didn’t need the recognition.

“It was kept pretty quiet. Jody wasn’t seeking recognition for it. He was happy to do the deed and receive nothing for it – just out of the kindness his heart,” Thompson’s co-worker, Corporal Brandon McDaniel, said.

But word finally got out this year, after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation honored Thompson for his extraordinary show of humanity.

“We figured it would hit a local news channel, maybe go regional, but it actually went international,” McDaniel said. “People on the other side of the world were looking up the Poteau Police Department. Before they’d probably never even given a thought to an Oklahoma police agency at all, and now they’re looking up this 26-person department and leaving a comment on our Facebook page. That’s pretty touching.”

Thompson’s apprehension over the spread of the story was quickly alleviated. What he thought would further complicate things instead brought his family closer together.

“My kids never knew the story – they just thought we brought John home one day because he needed a home,” Thompson said. “My other kids were in the room when that OSBI certificate was read, and it’s brought my kids closer than they’ve ever been. John has been more of a blessing to us than we have to him, I’m sure. He’s done so much – him and his sister – for our family.”

“Jody truly didn’t expect or even really want the attention that this has got. He’s humbled by it, and he’s appreciative of everything that’s happened for him and his family, but none of it has gone to his head,” McDaniel said. “For him, it was just something he needed to do to make John and his sister safe. He wanted nothing more than that.”

To this day, Thompson’s selflessness continues to inspire his department – and the city as a whole.

“We all kinda say that we would do something like that given the opportunity, but I don’t know very many people that actually would,” McDaniel said. “I’ve been around law enforcement my whole life. My dad was a cop. And I’ve never heard of something so remarkable.”

As for Thompson, his hope is that his story will shed a light on all of the good police officers do every day – and bring more awareness to the staggering number of children out there in need of a good home.

“We didn’t want the story out there. We didn’t put the story out there. But now that it’s out there and we’ve embraced it, we want the world to know that it’s not all doom and gloom. Especially in law enforcement, we’ve got such a black eye right now for whatever reason, but we’re not all out there just to put handcuffs on people. We really do care about the communities that we live in, and this just shows it,” Thompson said.

“We get that mentality as police officers that we want to save the world. Obviously, sometimes we can’t,” Thompson said. “I can’t fairly sit here and demand that every cop takes a kid home, that’s just not going to happen. But we can educate our communities. We need to get awareness out there on child abuse. It’s cliché, but if you see something, say something. If something’s not right, if you get that weird feeling in your stomach or your hair stands up – there’s probably something going on. We also need to bring awareness to foster and adoption. There’s so many kids out there that just want a forever home. Some of them are tough cases, especially in the teenage years when they’ve been in 40 or 50 foster homes, but they just want somebody to love them. If we can give one kid a forever home or save one life, then the story needs to be told.”


Categories: Law Enforcement

Video: FL Deputy Fatally Shoots Man Who Attacks, Drags Officer

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:39

VIDEO: FL Deputy Fatally Shoots Man Who Attacks, Drags Officer

Broward County, FL, Sheriff Scott Israel said Friday he wanted to share video of an officer-involved shooting last Wednesday to be transparent and to correct what he called "misinformation" about the fatal shooting of a man who attacked deputies.

On Friday afternoon, the sheriff's office took the unusual step of releasing video from surveillance cameras, two deputies' body cameras, and 911 recordings from the open investigation to defend the actions of Deputies Sean Youngward, 48, and Steven Briggs, 49, when they met Jean Pedro Pierre, 42, Wednesday at the Sunset Hills Condominium in Lauderdale Lakes, FL.

The decision was made after a citizen's video of the incident appeared on social media, reports the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

"There is information on social media that is just untrue and are actual lies," Israel said. He said Pierre was shot three times, not seven, and he did not die at the complex, as was rumored. "He was given CPR, our firefighters transported him to Broward Health Medical Center and he died [there] hours later," Israel said.

Youngward was the first deputy to respond at 4:50 p.m. to a report of a disturbance at the complex. "It was a violent encounter," Israel said. When Youngward's Taser did not stop Pierre, the deputy falls on his back onto the ground, and Pierre kicks him multiple times. He also grabs the deputy's foot.

The cellphone video also recorded the voices of onlookers who were standing on an upper floor of the four-story complex. Youngward had called in a Code 3, signaling he was in great danger, and as approaching sirens grew louder, the bystanders urged Pierre to let go of the deputy.

Then Briggs arrived as backup. "Mr. Pierre chose the path of non-compliance," said Israel. Then, the sheriff said, Pierre "charged at Deputy Briggs. Deputy Briggs had his firearm. He shot three times."

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Video: Deputies Help CA Girl's Christmas Tree Wish Come True

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:14

VIDEO: Deputies Help CA Girl's Christmas Tree Wish Come True

An 11-year-old Lynwood, CA, girl wrote a letter asking only for a Christmas tree for her family. She waited outside her home for four days at the beginning of December, hoping for someone who could help. Her wish was eventually answered by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies, reports KNBC.

While on patrol, deputies were flagged down by a little girl.

"She started asking us about a program that the department has where they help a needy family during the holiday," Deputy Pedro Valencia said.

Andrea Rodriguez said her father is the only one working and they didn't have a lot of money. So she wrote a letter to police asking for a Christmas tree for her family.

"The fact that she said they have never had a Christmas tree kind of humbled us a little bit," Valencia said.

The deputies picked up a seven-foot Noble fir and stuffed it in a patrol car. They also put the ornaments and lights in the trunk, and asked other deputies to help them deliver the surprise.

Andrea said the house now smells like Christmas.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

5 changes LEOs would like to see in their agencies in 2018

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:13

By PoliceOne Staff

As 2017 comes to a close, many see the coming year as an opportunity for a fresh start and the beginning of making both professional and personal changes in their life. For some of those who work in law enforcement, they hope that the new year will also bring in some changes within their agencies.

Better leadership, pay raises and allowing officers to sport beards and tattoos were some of the answers that dominated the conversation when we asked our members to weigh in on the changes they’d like to see in their agencies next year.

Take a look at the top five responses and sound off in the comments section on the changes you’d like to see in your agency in the coming year.

1. COMBATING NEGATIVE PUBLIC PERCEPTION

In the age of social media, a police officer’s job is arguably more scrutinized than ever before. An officer’s actions can dominate news headlines and heavily impact public perception of police.

Some officers feel that pressure and negative attention from those outside of law enforcement can have an influence on how leadership handles certain situations. Many cops feel that leadership often makes decisions to quell public outrage instead of having an officer’s back.

“I would like to see my department take a stand against our local media and quell the plethora of inaccurate information broadcast to the public,” Bonny Kreed wrote.

One suggested solution for leadership to quell some common misconceptions is to let the public see what it’s like to be an officer in challenging situations.

“More opportunities for the public to try and sit in the officer’s shoes for a bit using simulations,” Calvin Zeilinski said.

2. INCREASED PAY AND BETTER BENEFITS

Police officers already have a challenging job, but it can be even more challenging if they are not adequately paid for the level of work they do. Many officers said that a pay increase will make them feel more appreciated and help with the current recruitment crisis in law enforcement.

“Raise pay so officers don’t have to work so much OT to make a living,” Steve Woodhousse wrote.

Offering great incentives can also go a long way. Officers said they would like to see better healthcare coverage both off and on the job, as well as after retirement. Events such as the Las Vegas shooting, where a number of on- and off-duty officers responded to the violence, highlight why cops should receive better protection when they’re injured.

“Better protection when injured on the job,” Jeanne Braasch said. “And since cops respond when off-duty (like Vegas) it would be nice to have maybe federal money cover injuries.”

3. A BELT ALTERNATIVE

Police officers have to carry a large amount of tools on their belt, which tends to get uncomfortable. Several officers expressed their desire to get vests that can carry their equipment.

For many, a vest would put less strain on the body compared to a belt and make all of their equipment easily accessible.

“Get rid of duty belts and go to vests that carry all the gear with a drop down holster. Will do wonders for the back, hip and knee health of officers. Much like departments in Florida have done. The country of Australia is a good example, too,” Michael Bouchard wrote.

“New uniform would be great. Would love to wear gear on a vest instead of the god forsaken duty belt,” ConJor Harris said.

4. MORE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Many officers are exposed to traumatic events on a regular basis. One of the challenges for some in the field is being able seek help when stressed or having to cope after experiencing a traumatic event.

Some officers may find themselves suffering the crippling effects of PTSD, anxiety and depression. While there is no simple solution, some readers said they want to see mandatory mental health services and PTSD policies to help officers who are struggling. Paul Jacobs weighed in:

“Better/mandatory mental health care for officers. The media and the brass have a tendency to dismiss officers who do things as rouge cops, when the reality is that the mind tends to make people do different things when it’s trying to cope with trauma, etc.

When you’re a rookie , everything is black or white and somewhere along the line it becomes gray. Dealing with bad all the time takes a toll on the brain. Officers then “misbehave” or turn to drinking , suicide, etc. I’d really like to see money spent on the mental health of officers and a program to help them throughout their career, not just when everything around them has fallen apart.”

Wesley Dickerson echoed this response.

“PTSD policy. Too many suicides happening across the country. I fear it will start getting closer to home,” Dickerson said.

5. BEARDS AND TATTOOS

A number of officers seem to agree that in this day and age, it’s time to allow officers to grow beards and have visible tattoos. With more departments across the U.S. allowing their officers to sport beards, many P1 readers would like to see their agency follow suit - and not just for No Shave November.

As far as the great tattoo debate goes, a Kansas Highway Patrol survey released last year found most civilians were not bothered by cops who sported ink.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Court asked to dismiss lawsuit against prosecutor in Freddie Gray case

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:56

By Denise Lavoie Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — A lawyer for Baltimore's top prosecutor asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit by five police officers who claim she maliciously prosecuted them in the death of a black man gravely injured in custody.

Assistant Attorney General Karl Pothier told the three-judge panel that as a prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby has immunity from the lawsuit filed by officers who were charged but later cleared in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Pothier urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a judge's decision to allow parts of the lawsuit to go to trial.

"A prosecutor's protective cloak of absolute immunity is not so easily removed," Pothier said.

Lawyers for the officers, however, said Mosby acted as an investigator — not simply as a prosecutor — and is therefore not immune from the lawsuit.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, 2015, from a fatal spinal injury suffered in a police van, prompting days of widespread protests and rioting. While tensions were still smoldering in Baltimore, Mosby charged six officers in Gray's arrest and death, an announcement that brought celebrations in the streets.

Three were ultimately acquitted and Mosby dropped the remaining cases.

On Wednesday, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III grilled the officers' lawyers about why they should be allowed to sue Mosby for bringing criminal charges against them and holding a news conference to announce the charges.

"What we're talking about here is muzzling prosecutors who have publicly expressed grounds for prosecuting police officers," said Wilkinson, who repeatedly raised his voice while questioning the officers' lawyers.

Five of the officers sued Mosby, alleging that she did not have enough evidence to charge them and that she omitted key information about a witness who had observed that Gray was conscious during much of the ride in the police van. They also said evidence was withheld about another witness who said Gray was banging his head against the wall of the van while he was in custody.

Attorney Andrew Toland III said Mosby acted as a police officer in doing an independent investigation of Gray's death and gave "incomplete or misleading" information to Major Samuel Cogen of the Baltimore City Sheriff's Office, who had said he signed the application for the officers' arrest based on the summary of events provided by Mosby. The officers also named Cogen as a defendant in their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit did not indicate when it would rule.

The U.S. Department of Justice in September declined to bring federal civil rights charges against the six officers — three white and three black — meaning none could be held criminally responsible for Gray's death. And in recent weeks, the police van driver and the highest-ranking officer in Gray's arrest also were cleared of any administrative wrongdoing by a police panel. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis subsequently decided to scrap a final trial board.


Categories: Law Enforcement

SC Highway Patrol Seeking to Equip Troopers With Rifles

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:53

A South Carolina law enforcement agency is seeking to purchase and arm personnel with semi-automatic rifles in the upcoming year.

Recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, said Col. Chris Williamson of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The need for an upgrade in weaponry has been overlooked in past years, he said. But as state legislators are expected to review its annual budget in January, Williamson said, he hopes they consider approving more than a half-million dollars to buy more than 600 semi-automatic rifles.

"From the highway patrol standpoint, we've already decided that this is a necessity," he said. "We're just hoping that the budget request is honored."

Currently, 600 of 800 troopers are armed with shotguns. Williamson said the budget approval will allow remaining personnel to upgrade to semi-automatic rifles, which provide longer range as well as coverage of a larger area, should an active shooting situation arise.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

NYC Bomber Was Inspired by ISIS Christmas Attacks, Officials Say

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:45

A would-be suicide bomber detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his body in the heart of Manhattan’s busiest subway corridor, rending the early Monday commute with a blast that reverberated up through the city’s sidewalks, caused transit chaos, and terrified thousands of travelers who fled headlong through tunnels choked with smoke.

He chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, recalling strikes in Europe against Christmas markets, he told investigators, and set off his bomb in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere, several law enforcement officials said.

But his makeshift weapon sputtered. The attacker himself was the only one seriously injured, reports the New York Times.

A suspect, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lived in Brooklyn, was in police custody. He suffered burns to his hands and abdomen, and was at Bellevue Hospital Center, according to Daniel A. Nigro, the commissioner of the New York Fire Department. Three other people had minor injuries, he said.

Ullah acted alone, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that no other devices had been found.

Related: http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/news/2017/12/11/suicide-bomber-attacks-ny-bus-terminal-paper-says.aspx

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Authorities: Calif. gunman who killed 5 died by suicide

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:41

Associated Press

RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE, Calif. — Authorities now say a gunman who killed five people in rural Northern California didn't die from a police bullet but by his own gun.

In a final report Friday, the Tehama County Sheriff's Department said an autopsy determined 44-year-old Kevin Neal shot himself in the head in his car after police forced it off a road.

Police say Neal killed his wife Nov. 13 and went on a shooting rampage in Rancho Tehama Reserve the next day that included firing at an elementary school. He killed four others, including two neighbors, and wounded eight people including a 6-year-old boy.

Authorities said neighbors had repeatedly complained about Neal firing hundreds of rounds from his house and engaging in other erratic, violent behavior.

Relatives say he suffered from delusions and mental problems.


Categories: Law Enforcement

NE Sheriff No Longer Required to Live in Courthouse Apartment

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:34

The sheriff of Adams County, NE, will no longer be required to live in an apartment inside the county courthouse, reports the Associated Press.

The Hasting Tribune reports that Adams County supervisors approved a measure earlier this week getting rid of the county's longtime requirement.

Beginning with the term in January 2019, the county will no longer provide living quarters for the sheriff. The new resolution says the county board should set the sheriff's salary accordingly.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

IL Officer Hit at Stop Light Eligible for Disability Benefits, Court Rules

Police Magazine - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:27

Ever since a Shiloh, IL, police officer was injured when another car hit him while sitting in his squad car, the village of Shiloh and the officer have been battling over whether he was injured in the line of duty, reports the Belleville News-Democrat.

Officer David Martin suffered cervical spine injuries in his back and neck in May 2012 while on duty when a car rear-ended the unmarked squad car he was a passenger in at a stop light, according to the appellate court decision that came down Nov. 29. Martin ended up with permanent disabilities that prevented him from returning to the field, which neither party disputes.

However, the Board of Trustees of the police pension fund of Shiloh maintained that Martin did not have a line-of-duty injury, which under the Illinois pension code is considered to be an injury suffered while on an assignment approved by the chief of police. At the time of the injury, Martin was returning from the St. Clair County courthouse where he got copies of subpoenas for an investigation and filed traffic tickets and other citations, according to the appellate court decision.

Because Martin was injured while performing his duties as a detective and had to direct his attention toward "being prepared to deal with any eventuality" from his squad car, he was injured in the line of duty, according to the appellate court.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Pa. officer suspended after going to church while on duty

Police One - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:23

By PoliceOne Staff

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania officer was suspended for 10 days after he attended a church service while on duty.

PennLive reports that the Middletown city council voted Tuesday 4-1 in favor of 20-year veteran officer Mark Hovan’s suspension, which was recommended by Chief George Mouchette. It was not specified if the suspension was with or without pay.

Hovan said he believes the suspension violates his religious freedom and he’s considering taking legal action. The officer added that he was always available for calls and doesn’t think he violated any procedures.

Mouchette disputes the claim that Hovan was suspended for going to church and said the officer was suspended for violating a direct order. The chief said Hovan was required to submit a request for time off if he needed to attend service, which he said Hovan failed to do.

"In fact, he was specifically told that if the needs of the community and the department allowed he could attend church. He was previously advised that if he was required to attend church services during his shift, he needed to request appropriate time off to attend. He never requested the time off," Mochette said in a statement.

Hovan went to mass twice while in uniform. The officer said he didn’t have time to attend service off duty. In January, Hovan received a letter of reprimand from the chief after going to service in uniform and was told he wasn’t allowed to do this again.

Hovan later went to church in uniform on a holy day Aug. 15, which led to an investigation and to the council’s vote last Tuesday.


Categories: Law Enforcement

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