Law Enforcement

Can Estimates From Forensic Handwriting Experts Be Trusted in Court?

Forensic Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 15:46
NewsScientific and forensic institutions increasingly ask handwriting experts to state the likelihood that a specific handwriting feature will occur in handwriting in the general public. Following a new study, researchers are now advising courts to take a cautionary approach when using experience-based likelihood ratios as evidence.Contributed Author: SpringerTopics: Witness Testimony
Categories: Law Enforcement

Why NY's investment in dismantling MS-13 has national implications

Police One - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 15:11

By Joseph J. Kolb, MA P1 Contributor

On April 11, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged $18.5 million to Long Island communities besieged by MS-13 violence as part of his FY 2019 Enacted Budget. The funding is part of an aggressive strategy to dry up the pipeline of recruits and victims who are mostly from Central American immigrant communities.

Cuomo’s strategy recognizes, and rightfully so, that in order to dismantle MS-13 – not only on Long Island, which has seen more than 25 MS-13-related homicides over the past two years, but around the country – requires a holistic approach. His proactive strategy includes:

Expansion of after-school programs; Case management services; Job opportunities for vulnerable youth; Community and local law enforcement initiatives to prevent gang involvement.

“The launch of this comprehensive plan invests in critical programming to help stomp out gang recruitment, engage young men and women during and after school, and help protect New Yorkers from being victimized, as we work to eliminate MS-13's presence in this state for good," Cuomo said.

This is not just a Long Island issue. Communities large and small from Massachusetts to farm country in central California have seen a rise in MS-13 violence, with more than 10,000 gang members in over 100 communities in 40 states. The gang strictly and successfully adheres to their motto, “Murder – Rape - Control” through extortion, intimidation to recruit new members, violence against adversaries and trafficking of female victims.

The link between unaccompanied children and MS-13

Among the youth that need to be targeted are those who come to the U.S. unaccompanied. There is an inextricable link between unaccompanied children (UAC) from Central America and MS-13 recruitment and victimization.

Between October 2014 and December 2017, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, placed 130,027 children from Central America’s Northern Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – across the U.S. Areas hardest hit by MS-13 violence in the past year include Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, N.Y.; Fairfax County, Virginia: Montgomery County in Maryland; and Houston in Harris County, Texas. These areas have received the bulk of UACs in recent years.

How the UACs arrive in communities far removed from the Southwest border is reflective of a policy designed to address legitimate victims of human trafficking, incidentally, a standard the majority of UACs fail to reach.

Pursuant to guidelines set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, each child referred to ORR from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after being apprehended at the border receives a comprehensive evaluation that includes criminal history, prior acts of violence and gang involvement. ORR should not release children considered to be a threat to the community, but current gang members have fallen through bureaucratic cracks.

ORR also uses enhanced safety protocols when determining whether to release a child to a qualified sponsor. It has been revealed that 80 percent of these sponsors are themselves in the U.S. illegally. Potential sponsors require extensive background checks and, in some cases, mandatory home studies, before a child is released to the sponsor. This too has proven ineffective on occasion. Based on the law and the court’s interpretation of the law, the first preference for placement would be with a parent of the child. If a parent is not available, the preference is for placement with the child’s legal guardian, and then to various adult family members.

In the latter cases, investigations have been frustrated because of a literal in the front door and out the back for many criminal UACs who are not supervised by their sponsors. Investigators have chased UACs around communities in and out of their jurisdictions. The gang’s interstate clique system makes it convenient for suspects to abscond to a brother clique on the other side of the country.

A source of deep frustration among law enforcement officials is that ORR will not, by policy, communicate the number of UACs they are placing in a community. It is usually not until the children register for school that there is an inkling of individuals at risk in the community. And even with this information available, schools – especially given the prevailing immigration tensions – will be unlikely to disclose to law enforcement the numbers of newly registered Central American students they have accepted.

Threat assessment strategies

So how can law enforcement conduct a threat assessment through predictive analysis of potential MS-13 recruitment and victimization in lieu of no cooperation from ORR or schools?

The most basic approach is strategic use of a department’s school resource officers or school security guards who are trained by the local agency and have established an information-sharing mechanism. Many times, it isn’t until a crime is committed that schools incorporate these strategies.

Consider the value of these officials who see emerging trends and behaviors daily such as MS-13 graffiti and who’s congregating with whom in the halls, and who have contact with courageous students willing to pass along information (which is rare given the risks involved).

Likely the most empirical way to ascertain the potential recruitment/victimization population base is to determine how many UACs have entered a community. This data is readily accessible on the ORR website by state and county.

For instance, on Long Island, MS-13 strongholds are consistent with the Central American enclaves in Brentwood, Freeport, Hempstead, Huntington and Uniondale. Many in law enforcement, politics and these respective communities may be surprised to learn that between October and December 2017, 200 UACs were placed in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This doesn’t account for the 102 placed in nearby Brooklyn, and 165 in Queens. Harris County, Texas, received 364 UACs during the same period.

As law enforcement conducts multiple suspect arrests – typical in MS-13 because rarely is just one suspect involved in the commission of a violent crime – the UACs provide a fertile MS13 recruitment opportunity that can’t be ignored and is best calculated through ORR’s published data.

Next steps

UACs have and continue to endure severe hardships. These children may have left the threat of gang violence or economic depression, but they often lack the social and cultural skills in the U.S. to continue the survival process.

Because of this unique dynamic, addressing this exclusively as a law enforcement issue is doomed for failure. When UACs are placed in a community by ORR they have little to no resources, are placed in a foreign environment with people they may have never met, and are likely suffering some symptoms of PTSD.

This supports the need for immediate intervention. Whether communities or politicians like it or not, strategies need to be employed to divert children away from MS-13, or we will be dealing with increasing violence and homicides.

Successfully assimilating UACs into U.S. society requires a multi-pronged approach:

Provide an atmosphere for UACs based on cultural pride moderated by Central American former UACs who have assimilated into American society, completed their education and are now gainfully employed. These children will not relate to any other group, especially in the early stages. Officials need to realize that not all Hispanics are the same and there needs to be an immediate sense of cultural identity and relatability. Foster resistance and resilience against gang membership and delinquency. Tangible options and strategies must be provided. A “Just say no” campaign will not work. Foster an atmosphere that provides behavioral and educational expectations around assimilation into U.S. culture. Many of these children come from a society where violence is a means of conflict resolution. El Salvador, in particular, is still evolving after the civil war that ended in 1992, which was known for child soldiers and government assassination squads. Provide a safe zone for UACs after school to mitigate gang recruitment/victimization. Provide education on employment opportunities/counseling. Provide education on public safety options such as various visas associated with victimization or cooperation with law enforcement Provide access to sport/recreation/employment opportunities.

Successful deployment of these initiatives will require use of Spanish media, churches, schools and social organizations. No consequence communication with law enforcement should be emphasized.

About the Author Joseph J. Kolb, MA, is the executive director for the Southwest Gang Information Center, master instructor for the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and instructor in the Criminal Justice program at Western New Mexico University.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Horseheads Troopers Arrest Connecticut Man on Drug and Weapon Charges

State - NY Police - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:04
On April 17, 2018, Troopers out of SP Horseheads arrested a Connecticut man for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, unlawful possession of marihuana and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Tornado Damage Being Assessed to Determine Possible Assistance for Survivors

State - NC Police - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:46
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Following severe storms that swept through North Carolina on Sunday, damage assessments are currently underway in Guilford and Rockingham counties to determine if any state or federal aid may be available to help individuals and communities recover.

North Carolina City Prohibits Police Training Exchanges with Israel

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

The Durham City Council voted Monday night to bar the city’s police department from engaging in international exchanges where officers receive “military-style training.” The Council voted 6-0 to adopt the statement of policy, which explains “such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham.”

The statement is the result of a petition created by the group Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine, which called on the City Council to “immediately halt any partnerships that the Durham Police Department has or might enter into with the Israeli Defense Forces and/or the Israel Police.”

Proponents of the petition claim that Israeli tactics promote racial bias and militarization of police. Its opponents, including the group Voice for Israel, call those claims false, politically-motivated, and antisemitic, WRAL reports.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Video: Pittsburgh Police Gearing Up for Riots If Trump Fires Mueller

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

VIDEO: Pittsburgh Police Gearing Up for Riots If Trump Fires Mueller

Pittsburgh Police are gearing up for possible riots in the event President Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller.

A memo went out to the police department from Victor Joseph, commander of the Pittsburgh Bureau of police.

In the memo the department’s detectives are instructed to begin wearing a full uniform and carrying riot gear with them in anticipation of massive protests, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

Police believe the protest would happen within 24 hours of Mueller’s firing.

The emails states:

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District. The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice,” the email says. “Beginning Thursday, all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice.”

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Chicago Mayor Learning You Can't Pay Police to Live in High-Crime Neighborhoods

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s latest attempt to get Chicago police officers and firefighters to spread out into the city’s struggling neighborhoods has yet to draw much interest.

Six months after the mayor dangled a monetary carrot to try to get public safety professionals to purchase homes in high-crime parts of the South and West sides, just two police officers have taken advantage, according to the city Department of Planning and Development. And both closed on houses in the South Side Chatham neighborhood that’s already known as a favorite landing spot for first responders and other city workers, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Emanuel’s program offers $30,000 loans to police officers and firefighters to buy a home in certain more violent areas of the city. If they stay for at least 10 years, they don’t have to pay the city back. It’s an idea employed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley in previous decades that Emanuel restarted last year.

Because of the low participation so far, some aldermen are suggesting changes. But the mayor’s administration wants to see if the program gains steam as the weather warms up and more young officers enter the homebuying market.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Cleveland's Restrictive Pursuit Policy Endangering Officers

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

Embed from Getty Images

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams on Tuesday addressed growing concerns that the department's policy regarding chasing violent suspects is preventing officers from doing their jobs and emboldening criminals.

The chief's sharply worded memo comes less than a week after officers were shot at during two separate incidents and supervisors would not allow officers to give chase.

Both incidents, and three others involving officers who had their cars rammed by suspects but were not allowed to pursue them, led the police union and other city officials to question how Cleveland police officials are applying the policy on when officers are allowed to chase suspects.

The policy allows officers to chase people suspected of violent crimes or drunken driving. The officers are not allowed to give chase unless they get permission from a supervisor. If the supervisor calls off the chase at any point, they must stop or face discipline, Cleveland.com reports.

The policy is at some points intentionally vague, leaving room for supervisors to take into account a myriad of factors -- including road conditions, how fast the chase is going and how many others cars are on the road -- when deciding whether to authorize a chase.

"Officers shall err on the side of caution and interpret this policy in the most restrictive manner if, for any reason, this directive does not offer clear guidance for a specific set of circumstances," the policy says in bold type-face.  

"These criminals now feel empowered to do whatever they want because they know they're not going to be chased," Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek said. "When you shoot at a cop, you're shooting at every one of us."

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Massachusetts' Top Court Strikes Down Ban on Civilians Owning Stun Guns

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

Embed from Getty Images

The top court in Massachusetts on Tuesday struck down a state law that banned civilians from possessing stun guns, ruling unanimously that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects Americans’ right to bear arms.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the case of a man who was criminally charged for possessing a stun gun, holding that such weapons constitute “arms” as protected by the Constitution, Reuters reports.

“Therefore, under the Second Amendment, the possession of stun guns may be regulated, but not absolutely banned,” Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the 6-0 court.

The court dismissed a criminal stun gun possession charge against Jorge Ramirez, who was arrested in 2015 after police discovered one in his pants pocket following a traffic stop. He also was charged with firearms offenses.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Agencies Engage in "Wage War" to Fill Recruit Ranks

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

Like many law enforcement agencies, the Utah Highway Patrol has lots of vacancies to fill as officers leave for higher-paying jobs. It also has a lot of competition. Salt Lake City recently announced plans to hire 50 additional officers for its police force. This prompted the city council in nearby Ogden to approve pay raises and extra bonuses for many of its officers as a preemptive measure to thwart departures to the larger department in Salt Lake.

Highway Patrol Col. Mike Rapich has observed what he calls a “wage war” among agencies competing for personnel. “We’re in a really aggressive recruiting effort,” he says, “probably more so than I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been with the agency.”

Law enforcement officials across the country say they’re struggling to fill vacancies, largely due to retirements and moves to the private sector. A national survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found last year that governments are having more trouble hiring police than any other category of personnel. Agencies are scrambling to attract and retain talent, often by boosting compensation packages or ramping up recruitment, Governing reports.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Envisage Releases Feature-Rich Update of Acadis Readiness Suite

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

Envisage Technologies, a leading provider of law enforcement and public safety training and compliance solutions, recently launched a significant update to its Acadis Readiness Suite training management software. This update to Acadis enhances and adds new functionality that automates training assignments based on career roles, workflow support for training operations, and marks the launch of the new Acadis Accounting module, which adds new fiscal management functionality to the robust administrative management options already included in Acadis. . 

The new career role functionality assigns training to an individual in pursuit of a career trajectory. For example, if a police officer is pursuing the rank of Captain, Acadis will now assign all mandatory training required to fulfill that role. Assigned training will include the initial training required to hold the rank, ongoing annual in-service requirements to maintain certification, and applicable testing necessary to ensure initial and ongoing aptitude. This functionality, among the most highly requested by the Envisage customer base, streamlines the career paths for individuals across all first response and public safety disciplines. Career role automation features will be included in the Acadis Training, Acadis Compliance, and Acadis Workforce Portal modules.

The new Acadis Accounting module allows client agencies to create accounts and appropriations in order to track departmental funding and expenses. This provides an easy and effective method for accounting managers to track and manage fiscal accounts, including the allotment and allocation of funds. In addition, clients can now create expense categories to be included in Acadis List Management functionality. This provides accounting managers and budget analysts with an easy way to manage lists of expense categories and subcategories used for budgetary classification and/or to group expenses.

Acadis Conduct and Performance Reports now allows authorized users to perform comparative analysis for organization or person performance reports that have been configured to show an average score by group. Now, analysts can quickly assess performance trends for an organization or person over a specific range of dates.

The Acadis Training module now includes Workflow Management options, including a new Workflow Tasks Monitor that provides administrators with an easy method for viewing all current workflow tasks and assignments. Training administrators will appreciate being able to add Workflows in Acadis to support their business processes and the additional support of critical process management. In addition, the inclusion of new Workflow Templates provides administrators with the ability to ensure the tracking of all defined tasks and processes as part of the Class Record. Other new features of Acadis Training include single payer billing options for training academy classes, class date-based automated emails, support for international addresses and classes, and the ability to export and inactivate learning objectives.

Acadis Scheduling now includes options for adding Planned Events to a class schedule and assigning a coordinator to manage such events. This provides an easy, streamlined way to add events and their required resources directly through Acadis. In addition, now included in Acadis Scheduling is the ability to set Instructor-to-Student Ratio Scheduling rules allowing efficient utilization of available resources based on class size without compromising curricular goals.

Additions to the Acadis LMS module include the ability to add tests to online learning events, allowing learning managers and instructional designers to leverage the features, reporting and analytics available in Acadis Testing when publishing online coursework. Automated email functions for broadcasting new online training events are also now included in the Acadis LMS providing an automated way to confirm that online coursework is successfully completed while also supporting required accreditation goals.

Enhancements to the Acadis LMS Training Monitor include an easy-to-use dashboard to view key metrics and other important data for online training courses. Significant additions to Discussions features of Acadis LMS include the ability to view discussion forum metrics, add documents to discussions, and email discussion forum activity allowing moderators to stay current on discussion forums of interest in accordance with their preferred automated email notification schedule.

Other additions and enhancements to Acadis include viewing student survey results for multiple classes and expiring access to surveys in the Acadis Surveys module, help text for test questions containing multimedia in the Acadis Testing module, and filtering enrollment requests as part of the Acadis Registration module.

Additional information about Envisage and Acadis is available at www.envisagenow.com and www.acadis.com, or by calling (888) 313-8324.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

FLIR Provides Thermal Imaging for Next Generation Drone Camera

Police Magazine - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

FLIR Systems, Inc. has announced that DJI, a world leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging, will integrate a FLIR thermal imaging sensor technology into its new DJI Zenmuse XT2 drone camera. The DJI Zenmuse XT2, DJI’s first dual-sensor and its most advanced gimbal-stabilized camera for commercial drone applications, furthers the collaboration between FLIR and DJI. The Zenmuse XT2 also joins the ‘Thermal by FLIR’ partner program, which FLIR created to fuel thermal innovation.

Built with industrial and public safety applications in mind, the DJI Zenmuse XT2 expands upon the benefits in the first thermal-equipped camera jointly developed by FLIR and DJI, the DJI Zenmuse XT. The new drone camera includes both a high-definition 4K color video camera and a high-resolution radiometric thermal camera, allowing operators to switch between thermal and visible cameras in flight. The Zenmuse XT2 also uses FLIR’s patented MSX technology, or multispectral dynamic imaging, that embosses high-fidelity, visible-light details onto the thermal imagery to enhance image quality and perspective.

The Zenmuse XT2 is compatible with the DJI Matrice 600 and Matrice 200 Series platforms and integrates with DJI’s data transmission technology for live video display. Full integration gives drone operators plug-and-play installation, real-time control, and recording during flight in thermal, visible, or thermal/visible picture-in-picture. This flexibility allows operators to acquire double the data in a single camera and stay focused on mission-critical tasks.

“The arrival of the DJI Zenmuse XT2 with a FLIR sensor signifies an important technological advancement for drone operators who need both a visible camera and the superpower benefits of thermal imaging in one product,” said James Cannon, president and CEO of FLIR. “Now drone operators can capture data without landing—an important advantage for search-and-rescue operations—monitor the health of mechanical and electrical equipment remotely, and identify potential problems in buildings. Our collaboration with DJI perfectly aligns with our mission to use our thermal technology to help save lives and livelihoods.”

Roger Luo, president of DJI, says, “Since the introduction of our first FLIR camera in 2015 we have seen strong demand for thermal imaging-based products because they have helped transform DJI drones into essential and often lifesaving tools across a wide variety of industries. We are excited to introduce our next generation product together, the Zenmuse XT2, which is easier and more efficient to operate, and further demonstrates our commitment to innovation in the commercial drone industry.”

DJI is one of multiple partners involved with the new Thermal by FLIR program, which was created to support original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and product innovators interested in using the FLIR thermal imaging sensors to "deliver the benefits of the World’s Sixth Sense." The program ensures that original equipment manufacturers and entrepreneurs can carry the Thermal by FLIR brand and receive additional product development and marketing support from FLIR to build and market their respective products. Additional Thermal by FLIR partners include Cat Phones, Casio, Panasonic, ARSENZ, and TinkerForge.

To learn more about the Zenmuse XT2, visit www.flir.com/xt2. For device manufacturers interested in learning more about integrating FLIR sensors, please visit http://www.flir.com/thermalbyflir/.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Dispute leads to arrest

State - NY Police - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:35

On April 16, 2018 at approximately 11:45 p.m., New York State Police at Endwell arrested Stephen M. Hall, age 58, of Union, NY for the misdemeanors of Unlawful Possession of a Noxious Matter and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  He was also charged with three counts of the violation Harassment in the 2nd degree.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Cleveland policy called into question after LEOs take gunfire twice but told not to pursue

Police One - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:10

By Adam Ferrise Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams on Tuesday addressed growing concerns that the department's policy regarding chasing violent suspects is preventing officers from doing their jobs and emboldening criminals.

The chief's sharply worded memo comes less than a week after officers were shot at during two separate incidents and supervisors would not allow officers to give chase.

Both incidents, and three others involving officers who had their cars rammed by suspects but were not allowed to pursue them, led the police union and other city officials to question how Cleveland police officials are applying the policy on when officers are allowed to chase suspects.

"These criminals now feel empowered to do whatever they want because they know they're not going to be chased," Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek said. "When you shoot at a cop, you're shooting at every one of us."

Williams, who did not directly address the recent incidents, defended the department's policy by saying that his officers are authorized to chase suspects. He said he crafted the policy based on the best-practices for chases and that the policy gives the best chance at protecting both police officers and residents.

"Officers are authorized to conduct vehicle pursuits in order to take violent suspects or intoxicated drivers into custody," he wrote. "This most certainly includes suspects who have committed violence, including attempting to harm our police officers."

The city enacted the policy in 2014, two years after a deadly chase involving 62 police cars that ended with more than a dozen officers firing 137 shots and killing Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, who were unarmed.

An Ohio Attorney General investigation later determined the chase was a failure at all levels of the police department. This led Mayor Frank Jackson to invite the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the police department. The Justice Department's report, which uncovered decades of unconstitutional policing practices at almost every level of the department, led the city to enter into a reform agreement in 2015 known as a consent decree.

The Justice Department mentioned the chase in its report, but said that investigators did not look at the chase specifically and the consent decree does not address chase policy. Consent decree monitor Matthew Barge did not return several messages seeking comment.

New policy enacted in 2014

The policy allows officers to chase people suspected of violent crimes or drunken driving. The officers are not allowed to give chase unless they get permission from a supervisor. If the supervisor calls off the chase at any point, they must stop or face discipline.

The policy is at some points intentionally vague, leaving room for supervisors to take into account a myriad of factors -- including road conditions, how fast the chase is going and how many others cars are on the road -- when deciding whether to authorize a chase.

"Officers shall err on the side of caution and interpret this policy in the most restrictive manner if, for any reason, this directive does not offer clear guidance for a specific set of circumstances," the policy says in bold type-face.

Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said Williams plans to address during roll-calls at the beginning of each shift how the chase policy should be implemented, including when a chase should be authorized.

Union reacts

Lt. Brian Betley, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police union that represents Cleveland police supervisors, said the policy is vague because every situation that officers encounter has different criteria that supervisors must take into consideration.

The supervisors have to make real-time decisions using whatever information the officers involved are telling them over the radio. The policy sets the decision whether or not to authorize the chase squarely on the supervisor's shoulders.

"These supervisors have to make difficult decisions in the moment they're happening with the information they have," Betley said. "Then they have to live with the consequences."

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Jeff Follmer acknowledged that while supervisors have a difficult split-decision to make when authorizing chases, his officers feel stifled when supervisors call off chases for suspects, especially those involved in violent crimes.

"Violent crimes and shooting at police officers, those are at the top of the list for most serious offenses," Follmer said.

Follmer said he believes that some suspects may be aware that officers are not being authorized to chase suspects. He also said he believes that supervisors are afraid of being disciplined for making the wrong decision.

"I would say they do," Follmer said. "I think they do know. Especially if you try it once and you get away with it, you'll know you can do it again."

The shootings

Someone opened fire Saturday on a home on Decker Avenue, just south of Superior Avenue in the city's Hough neighborhood. The shooter fired at least a dozen shots from a van, according to police reports. The bullets ripped through the home, where a 69-year-old woman was inside with her grandchildren -- ages 14, 12, and 5 months.

Two people outside the home ducked for cover and several bullets struck cars parked on the street, according to police reports. No one was injured.

Four Cleveland police officers went to the home to investigate and were interviewing witnesses when the same van returned. Someone in the van fired several more shots at the home. The officers and the residents dove for cover against cars and the home, according to police reports.

The officers did not give chase.

Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones, a member of council's Safety Committee whose ward includes the neighborhood where the officers came under fire Saturday, said he's in favor of more aggressive police tactics in certain circumstances, including when officers take gunfire. He said he wishes more supervisors would allow officers to give chase.

He said this issue something he plans to bring up to the city's administration.

"I want our officers to be safe and our citizens to be safe. But if they're so reckless to shoot at police they should be able to get them off the street," Jones said. "If the word gets out that we're not chasing and apprehending them, I would hate to think that they think they can get away with this."

In another incident on April 12, a sergeant in the newly-created police NICE Unit, which is a hybrid community-policing and intelligence gathering unit, took gunfire from a suspect. He chased the car and called out the locations of the car he was following before a supervisor called off the chase.

No one was hurt in that shooting and no arrests have been made. Investigators later learned the same car was stolen from a Cleveland Heights car lot and used to ram a police cruiser on April 7. The city has not fulfilled a public records request for police dispatch audio that might shed light on why the supervisor called off the chase.

Ciaccia said that pursuit will be reviewed, as is all police pursuits, no matter how long or short they are.

Police are also investigating two other incidents when police cruisers were intentionally rammed in recent weeks, but officers were not allowed to chase the suspects.

"When there are people out there that shoot at police officers and think they can get away with it because they won't be chased, heaven help us," Polensek said. "If cops are fair game to be shot at, everyone's fair game."

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland


Categories: Law Enforcement

Special prosecutor appointed to defend Joe Arpaio case ruling

Police One - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:54

By Jacques Billeaud Associated Press PHOENIX — A special prosecutor will be appointed in an appeal over the pardon of former metro Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio's conviction for disobeying a court order because President Donald Trump's Justice Department is now refusing to handle the case, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The U.S. 9th Circuit of ordered the appointment because the Justice Department lawyers who won the conviction have since declined to defend a court ruling that dismissed the case but did not erase Arpaio's criminal record after Trump issued the pardon.

Arpaio is a Trump ally, is running for a U.S. Senate seat and wants the court records related to his conviction expunged.

Legal advocacy groups that focus on free speech, democracy and civil rights had asked for the prosecutor and have mounted a challenge to Trump's pardon of the former six-term sheriff, a Republican who lost to a little-known Democratic challenger in 2016.

A federal judge last summer found Arpaio guilty of contempt of court for intentionally defying a 2011 court order that barred his traffic patrols targeting immigrants.

Arpaio, now running for the Senate seat by the outgoing Jeff Flake, was accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months to boost his successful 2012 re-election campaign.

Jack Wilenchik, a lawyer representing Arpaio, accused the appeals court of appointing a special prosecutor because it did not like the outcome of the case.

"To be appointing a new lawyer is really the 9th Circuit taking a position on the case, which it shouldn't be doing," Wilenchik said.

Arpaio said the president made the right decision in issuing his pardon.

"I am not guilty," Arpaio said. "To this day, I will say that."

The retired sheriff is appealing the lower-court ruling that refused to expunge his criminal record.

The groups opposed to Arpaio's pardon are using the same appeals process to challenge clemency for him.

The pardon issued in late August spared the 85-year-old Arpaio a possible jail sentence.

Arpaio and his critics have complained that the case has been influenced by politics.

Arpaio maintains the criminal case was a political vendetta launched against him by the Obama administration over the sheriff's immigration crackdowns.

His critics have said the pardon was political repayment for Arpaio's endorsement of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ten days before Arpaio's 2016 primary election in his last race for sheriff of Maricopa County, a judge who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush had recommended the criminal charge as part of racial profiling lawsuit over the sheriff's immigration patrols.

Another federal judge who was nominated by President Bill Clinton then filed the criminal charge against Arpaio about three months before Obama left office.

Prosecutors from Trump's Justice Department brought the case to trial last summer and won the conviction.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Another Calif. county backs Trump's 'sanctuary' lawsuit

Police One - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:50

By Julie Watson Associated Press SAN DIEGO — Leaders of California's second-largest county voted Tuesday to officially support the Trump administration's lawsuit against the state's so-called sanctuary law that limits police cooperation with federal immigration agents.

The decision by San Diego County's all-Republican Board of Supervisors comes amid a growing conservative backlash in California against the Democratic governor's stance on immigration enforcement.

The region of 3 million residents that borders Mexico joins neighboring Orange County and at least nine other Orange County cities that have passed anti-sanctuary resolutions or voted to support the lawsuit filed last month by President Donald Trump's administration.

The board voted 3-1, with one member absent. It pledged to file an amicus brief supporting the federal lawsuit at the first available opportunity, chairwoman Kristin Gaspar said. She expects the Trump administration to win and California to appeal, at which point the county would be allowed to file its brief.

The board made the decision in closed session after hearing 45 minutes of public comment. Most of the more than two dozen speakers urged the supervisors not to support the lawsuit.

Supervisor Greg Cox, who cast the only dissenting vote, said in a statement afterward that "the board's vote is a largely symbolic move that will create fear and divisiveness in our region, waste taxpayer funds and create distrust of law enforcement and local government within many communities."

Gaspar held up a stack of printed emails and letters more than a foot high that she said the board had received from residents who wanted the county to stand up against the state policy. She held up a second stack of only a few inches that she said was correspondence from those opposed to supporting the lawsuit.

Gaspar is among a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa.

Citing the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Gaspar said the sanctuary law has allowed 284 criminal suspects to be released instead of handed over to immigration authorities since January. Before the law, San Diego had a close relationship with police, she said.

"San Diego was really a model of excellence before," said Gaspar said. "We were safer before SB54."

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that opponents like to overstate the law's restrictions. He said nothing prevents local officials from notifying federal immigration officials that suspects are about to be released.

"If you look at the law, it allows reasonable collaboration at all levels between state officials and federal officials," Brown told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. "We'll find out when the court rules, there's less there than meets the eye."

The governor said Washington's tough stance against immigrants in the country illegally is "just an inflammatory football that very low-life politicians like to exploit."

If President Donald Trump "wants to round them up like some totalitarian government and ship them out, say that," Brown said. "But he doesn't say that because the American people would repudiate him and his party."

California's all-Democratic leadership has positioned the state as a national leader in battling the Trump administration, especially on immigration issues.

Government leaders at the state level and in big cities have condemned mass raids and deportation efforts, the president's call for a border wall with Mexico and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero tolerance" order to prosecute people caught illegally entering the United States for the first time.

Brown elicited rare praise from Trump last week for pledging to contribute 400 troops to the National Guard's deployment to the Mexican border. But Brown was clear that California troops will help go after drugs, guns and criminal gangs — not immigrants.

San Diego County heard from both sides Tuesday.

Margaret Baker, who lives near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego County, told officials that backing the lawsuit will "be a stain on your legacy." She said it will discourage immigrants from reporting crime.

"We see this lawsuit as an attack on our safety and the well-being of our community," she said.

Luis Reyes said the state law is unconstitutional, and California must do something about illegal immigration before it's too late.

"We're looking at something like what is happening in Europe coming this way," he said.

The board voted a day after the small town of Los Alamitos in neighboring Orange County declared itself legally exempt from the state policy.

The City Council approved the first ordinance of its kind late Monday in a 4-1 vote, which was followed by a peaceful but noisy confrontation with demonstrators on both sides of the issue.

Like San Diego County, the city of 12,000 argues that the federal government — not the state — has authority over immigration, the same argument made by the Trump administration.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Chicago body armor ban criticized as too restrictive

Police One - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:40

By Don Babwin Associated Press CHICAGO — Chicago's City Council is expected to water down its ban on most residents wearing body armor after criticism that it could put in danger people such as 7-Eleven store clerks in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The ban, which experts say is the most restrictive in the United States, was passed last month in the wake of the shooting death of a respected police commander, allegedly by a convicted felon wearing body armor.

"We are going to revisit it (because) we realize you have a guy working in a 7-Eleven in a tough neighborhood who might have a legitimate reason to want one," said Alderman Patrick O'Connor, one of the co-sponsors of the ban. "I mean, you have these companies selling kids' backpacks that have them (bulletproof plates) in them so if I am a law-abiding citizen and I want to wear body armor, why in the world shouldn't I be able to?"

The City Council on Wednesday is expected to add exemptions for journalists when they are out covering stories and actors who need body armor as props to a list of exemptions that already includes police officers, emergency responders, firefighters and a few others. The revised ordinance would also delay enforcement for 120 days to allow state lawmakers time to consider a bill that would toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while wearing body armor.

Though the expected revisions don't include the shopkeepers O'Connor said he was concerned about, he said the hope is the delay will give the state enough time to craft a bill that would protect them. If it does not, he said the council would once again discuss expanding the ordinance to allow more people to legally wear body armor in the city.

Almost immediately after the measure was passed last month, the blowback began.

"If there is a need for it somewhere, we don't want to be an obstacle for those peoples' safety," said Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was a close friend of Paul Bauer, the police commander fatally shot in February. Johnson said that there is proposed legislation before state lawmakers that "is addressing that exact issue."

The Chicago ordinance, which mentions Bauer by name, warns of "the "insurmountable threat" faced by city residents if "felons and others potential offenders continue to acquire such protection ..."

Mass shootings carried out by people wearing body armor have also made authorities increasingly worried about stopping heavily armed gunmen. The shooter in the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater wore body armor, and the man who killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub in 2016 had recently tried to buy it.

Like other cities, Chicago has been rattled by recent mass shootings, particularly after the news that the man who gunned down 58 people in Las Vegas last fall had months earlier booked a room — but never stayed — at a Chicago hotel that overlooks a park where a music festival is held that draws hundreds of thousands.

While the number of gun deaths has been dropping in Chicago over the last year, 2017 still ended with 650 homicides and in some neighborhoods there were more homicides than entire cities, including one on the West Side that saw more homicides than the entire city of San Francisco.

Chicago, which has been forced to weaken what were once among the toughest gun laws in the nation as courts have ruled against the city, is being watched closely by gun rights advocates.

"We've never dealt with body armor before and we are not sure what our strategy will be," said Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. "But we're always looking for people who might want to do a lawsuit. We're always open to that."


Categories: Law Enforcement

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