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Mistaken assumptions and lessons learned during rescue task force training

3 hours 29 min ago

Author: Dan Danaher

The need to integrate fire/EMS personnel alongside law enforcement officers during response to mass casualty incidents (MCIs) is critical. Whether the incident is an active shooter, a bombing, an edged-weapon attack or even a vehicular attack, first responders must work together to effectively mitigate such events.

I was recently involved in conducting a Rescue Task Force (RTF) training pilot program primarily for fire and EMS personnel. This 2-day course covered tactical casualty care and an introduction to RTF training integrated with law enforcement officers within a designated warm zone.

For this training, the warm zone was defined as an area that had been visually cleared and was not under a direct threat, although the potential for harm did exist. The mission for fire/EMS personnel was to render aid to those who had received life-threatening injuries. The role of the law enforcement officers was to provide security in the event that a threat emerged in the area of operation.

Once all of the isolation drills had been completed, students were exposed to reality-based scenarios in a stress-induced environment. As we began to conduct the training, issues came to light that surprised both students and instructors alike. We had mistakenly made assumptions related to student training and equipment, as well as identified key lessons that we are sharing here to assist other agencies in preparing for similar programs.

Training highlighted mistaken assumptions

Fire/EMS personnel are currently trained to deal with mass casualty injuries.

It became apparent fairly quickly that these responders were neither familiar with treating massive hemorrhage injuries, nor did they have the equipment. Although some had been provided with a tourniquet, they had not trained with them.

Fire/EMS personnel have the necessary equipment to intervene when they encounter victims with life-threatening injuries in an austere environment.

Most of the attendees lacked personal protective equipment to operate in a warm zone while trying to render aid to victims. It is recommended that fire/EMS agencies acquire ballistic vests and helmets for personnel who would be working in the warm zone.

Providers must carry equipment on their person that includes tourniquets, blood clotting gauze, occlusive dressings (chest seals), pressure dressings and tape (duct tape) and triage markings – enough to treat a minimum of 10 victims.

A portable litter is advisable. After just one or two extractions, students were becoming visibly exhausted. Many started to improvise by using rolling chairs, carts and blankets to assist with extractions of patients back to a casualty collection point.

Training highlighted lessons learned

Fire/EMS personnel have been trained since day one to check the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation) during their initial patient assessment.

Based on injuries sustained in mass casualty incidents, the MARCH assessment approach is now recommended: Massive hemorrhage, Airway, Respiration, Circulation, Hypothermia/head injury. Based on statistical data, we have learned that massive hemorrhage is the leading cause of fatalities and therefore should be addressed before establishing a viable airway.

Conduct training in a reality-based setting under stressful conditions.

Most of the students were able to grasp the concepts of RTF care, conduct their initial assessments and apply the appropriate treatments during isolation drills in a classroom (non-stress) environment. It was apparent that once stress was induced into the same applications, performance levels noticeably decreased. However, after a progression of scenarios, the performance level rose to the same level it had been during the isolation drills in the non-stressed environment.

The benefits of exposing students to the stimulus they will encounter will, to some degree, inoculate them from stress overload if they were to ever experience an MCI firsthand.

The importance of conducting Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) training for police, fire and EMS

As stated previously, neither fire/EMS personnel nor police officers are properly trained or equipped to handle a MCI. Responding to an MCI is a unique situation and is rarely, if ever, encountered. All first responders need to be able to respond in a proactive and cohesive manner to mitigate the effects of an MCI.

TECC addresses injuries that are consistent not only with MCIs, but also injuries a first responder could encounter in the field. First responders need to be able to attend to the injuries of others, but also themselves if they were to become injured performing their duties. TECC teaches both self-aid and buddy-aid.

If all first responders are trained in TECC, they can better assist one another during their response. Although law enforcement’s role is to provide security during an MCI, all first responders can be trained in life-saving techniques and rescue carries, and carry life-saving equipment that can be shared among personnel.

Emphasis of RTF is to stop the bleeding – not tactics.

The purpose of RTF training is to get treatment to victims who have been seriously injured but whose wounds, if treated quickly, are survivable. Due to the austere conditions under which these types of incidents occur, it is necessary to assume a significant amount of risk, within reason, when it is likely a life can be saved. For that reason, law enforcement officers are integrated with fire/EMS as a security escort.

Law enforcement operates in the hot zone in order to eliminate the threat, or at least contain it to a specific area. The RTF should operate only in warm and cold zones and should be restricted from entering the hot zone. Because the direct threat has been either eliminated or isolated, the RTF can focus on its primary mission, which is to stop the bleeding. If for any reason the warm zone is compromised, it is now a hot zone and the RTF should evacuate or shelter in place.

The only “tactics” that are addressed during the integration of the RTF, comprised of law enforcement and fire/EMS, is how to merge into a single unit and move “tactically” into the area of operation. Several drills are conducted to establish movement and communications amongst the RTF team. This usually consists of two or three law enforcement officers positioning themselves to shield the two fire/EMS personnel from potential threat areas as they move from point to point.

Conclusion

The October 2017 Las Vegas shooting was an education under fire for many first responders and numerous lessons were learned. First responders need to open lines of communication and share knowledge, experience and resources so we can coalesce all of our assets toward separate, yet mutually compatible, objectives through the combined efforts of a RTF response.

These are just a few of the lessons learned from our RTF training. Hopefully this will aid other agencies as they go forward with their initiatives to train for and prepare their response to mass casualty incidents.


Categories: Law Enforcement

10 SWAT lessons to live by

3 hours 29 min ago

Author: Mike Wood

At the 2017 California Association of Tactical Officers (CATO) Conference, Don Kester of the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) hosted a thought-provoking session on the challenges faced by tactical teams, and the lessons we should be learning from our mistakes.

Sadly, it seems that agencies and tactical teams continue to repeat the same mistakes, indicating we’re not learning from our own experiences or those of our peers. Don identified several reasons for this, and challenged the officers in attendance to remove the obstacles that prevent us from learning and improving our teams, capabilities and operational success.

As a starting point, Don suggested tactical teams focus on the following lessons identified from critical incidents around the nation:

1. Learn to ask “why?”

Don suggested tactical teams need to ask, “Why are we at this call?”

In the current environment, SWAT is frequently called out for situations where it may be inappropriate to deploy, so every callout must begin with an assessment of whether SWAT intervention is justified.

For example, Don addressed the complicated issue of dealing with barricaded, suicidal subjects who have committed no criminal act, and are not a risk to anybody else. In these situations, intervention from a team of mental health and medical professionals may be more appropriate than deploying a SWAT team.

Learning to ask, “Why are we here?” will help to begin the process of risk mitigation, and prevent an inappropriate deployment of a tactical team.

Sometimes the best course of action is recognizing SWAT is not the best solution, and demobilizing the team, but this is only possible with strong communication and leadership skills.

2. Learn to be smarter.

Don discussed how tactical teams need to focus on the best ways of doing business, that is, the best tactics. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, so tactical teams need to challenge their practices, and seek improved ways of getting the job done. Leaders also need to listen to members of the team, because sometimes the best ideas come from the bottom up, not the top down.

3. Learn other ways of doing business.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of following habit patterns without thinking critically, and Don challenged the audience to continuously ask themselves if there is a better way of doing things.

For example, calling out SWAT to raid a house is one way of doing business, but is it the best way? SWAT officers should ask:

Can the suspect be apprehended in a less dangerous manner in another location or at another time? Are there other options to flashbangs that could be safer? Does a particular operation justify a full team deployment, or are there other options to calling out SWAT? Are there new technologies that we can use to reduce exposing our people to unnecessary risk? 4. Learn to stick with the basics, and apply them.

Tactical teams often make bad decisions when they stray from basic principles, or fail to apply them properly. For example, are a team’s actions guided by the “safety priorities” model? When the safety priorities are reversed, tactical leaders can unwittingly risk the safety of innocents or officers to protect the suspect, which is obviously undesirable.

Similarly, are tactical teams operating with an understanding of “good time and bad time?” Do they continuously assess who benefits or who suffers from the actions being taken or contemplated? Are they looking to take advantage of opportunity, or change the operational tempo as required to successfully resolve the situation?

5. Training matters.

Tactical teams are constantly challenged by a lack of time, staff, resources, or budget, so leaders need to ensure they are getting the most out of training.

Are teams focusing on the core skills needed for mission accomplishment, or wasting time and resources on irrelevant – but entertaining – training activities? Is there a true process in place to analyze what training needs to focus on? Is there a good plan to manage the training program, assess its effectiveness and modify it to meet operational needs?

6. Education matters.

Education expands knowledge, and introduces a team to skills, tactics and concepts they may not have been aware of. Does the agency and the team encourage professional development?

7. Documentation matters.

Tactical teams need to document everything. They need to document training, lesson plans, policies, procedures, missions, equipment status . . . everything! In today’s environment, a tactical team that fails to document these areas of concern will not fare well in the courtroom.

8. The importance of After Action Reports (AARs).

Tactical teams must analyze their operations and document them to ensure continuous improvement and to be prepared for legal challenges. In the wake of an operation, teams need to determine if there are policy, personnel, equipment, leadership, tactics, or training issues that positively or negatively influenced the incident. Don cautioned against trying to make all AARs look as if everything went perfectly – be honest in your self-criticism, and ferret out those areas where the team can improve its performance.

9. The importance of interagency teamwork.

Tactical teams obviously need to encourage teamwork within the team, but they also need to learn how to work effectively with neighboring teams or other agencies, such as fire-EMS. In an age where terrorism, active shooters, and complex, coordinated attacks are becoming more commonplace, even the best tactical teams are incapable of doing it all by themselves. Teams need to be able to effectively combine resources when the job demands it.

10. Promoting emotional intelligence.

Don strongly advises that tactical teams and their leaders must promote the development of “emotional intelligence” in officers. Emotional intelligence deals with how we respond to challenges and stress. How do we control ourselves, process information and make decisions during critical incidents? What do we do, and how do we react under stress?

Don suggests emotional intelligence is an attribute we need to groom in our tactical team members and leaders, and it’s best done via a purposeful process that includes continuous training and education. The military – and even corporate America – offer good models for how law enforcement can develop emotional intelligence in police officers, and Don advises we need to spend more time and effort on this area to enhance success in tactical operations.

Going Forward

Don provided the CATO Conference attendees excellent guidance on how to evaluate their teams’ strengths and weaknesses with an eye toward improvement.

His briefing is part of the larger effort from CATO and NTOA to “professionalize” SWAT, and raise the bar on training and standards for this critical area of law enforcement. Both CATO and NTOA provide world-class training and education through seminars, agency-hosted training schools and programs like the NTOA Academy Command College.

Visit http://catonews.org/ and http://www.ntoa.org/ for more information about training opportunities that will take you and your SWAT team to the next level.


Categories: Law Enforcement

10 crowd control myths

3 hours 30 min ago

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

As a career-long trainer and practitioner of crowd control tactics, I would like to share with you 10 myths about police crowd control embraced by many unenlightened folks both outside and inside law enforcement.

Myth 1: Crowd control team tactics are “confrontational.”

The opposite is true.

Crowd control training teaches crowd dynamics to help police officers better facilitate lawful speech and peaceful assemblies. In most cases, these efforts are successful.

However, when determined individuals intent on inciting violence foment a confrontation there are five available options. Officers can fight, flee, submit, negotiate or posture. Submitting and fleeing are rarely viable options for peace-keepers.

Crowd control-trained police officers will communicate constantly (negotiate) to prevent/diffuse confrontation. Once an assembly turns unlawful, communication will continue via individual interaction, PA, LRAD or bullhorn. Trained officers are equipped with effective crowd control “team tactics,” also known as posturing, which have proved effective in holding, separating, moving and dispersing belligerent crowds without a fight.

Myth 2: Police equipment is militaristic.

Myth two is often used in conjunction with myth one as a talking point by some media. Some police commanders may also have these misperceptions, resulting in officers being placed in harm’s way through being ill-prepared and ill-equipped.

The truth is, when officers don helmets they are not looking for a street fight any more than wearing body armor translates to a desire for a gun fight. Helmets, vests and BearCats are protective equipment designed to keep officers safe in unsafe environments.

Myth 3: All speech is constitutionally protected.

Not true!

Nationwide, statutes like “Disorderly Conduct” and “Inciting to Riot” exist prohibiting unlawful speech/actions. If shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is unprotected speech it is reasonable to believe, “Let’s burn this city down,” shouted in a crowded demonstration is also unprotected. Courts also recognize that “opprobrious words,” (fighting words) are not protected.

Clarify in advance what your district attorney will prosecute since it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Myth 4: Use of chemical munitions needs to be prohibited.

Many police administrators and mayors disallow the use of chemical munitions, in spite of the fact that proper use of them has been proven to send most violent crowds packing.

Chemical munitions are prohibited by default simply by failing to maintain certifications or failure to replace old chemical munitions. These certifications and munitions have a limited shelf life.

Myth 5: As police officers have TASERs, police batons are no longer are needed.

All street officers should have access to expandable batons on a daily basis, and a wooden baton in a ring/holster, while working a crowd. The properly displayed baton re-enforces lawful verbal commands at close quarters like no other tool.

Formations of officers uniformly displaying batons in a trained manner can more effectively hold, separate or move a crowd than officers without batons.

Myth 6: When working a crowd, you ignore the small stuff and wait for something major to happen.

Not so much.

If you want small problems to snowball into a big problem then continually ignore deliberate acts of defiance and violence. Both everything done and not done by officers will be noticed by the crowd. It is especially important for police officers to identify efforts early of those individuals want to lead a crowd down a violent path. Immediately recruit the help you need and address the problem, because one person can lead many toward violence.

In a crowd if you intervene in an argument, you prevent a fight. When you prevent a fight, you prevent a brawl. If you prevent a brawl, you avoid a riot. In other words it’s easier to put out a cigarette butt then a forest fire.

Myth 7: Mayors should take control during violent civil unrest.

Are you kidding?

This makes as much sense as an untrained mayor climbing into a snowplow when it snows.

If a mayor wants the best results for his or her city, they should see to it that their police department is properly led, trained and equipped. Then let them do their job.

Myth 8: Crowds can assemble anywhere, anytime they want and this is constitutionally protected.

False!

For example crowds that decide on a whim to march onto an interstate and suddenly shut down traffic are dangerous to others and themselves. This is a perfect example of an unlawful assembly. Your state’s statutes will describe what constitutes an unlawful assembly.

Most local jurisdictions also have a permit procedure to follow if a group wants to hold a legal demonstration on a public street or in a park. In most cities, pitching a tent on a city street is prohibited by ordinance. Police can choose to ignore one tent illegally pitched, but the next thing you know you will have to figure out what to do with the tent-city choking off your business district.

Myth 9: Cameras are the enemy of the police.

On the contrary, crowd control situations are an opportunity for well-trained police professionals to shine on camera in front of a national and international audience. When necessary, your own cameras can counteract inaccurate media reporting with your unedited recordings. Your cameras will also greatly assist in prosecution of offenders.

Myth 10: Crowd control training is for teams only.

Wrong again!

Every entry level officers should be taught crowd control since these skills will be invaluable throughout their career for preventing/surviving large disturbances. Sadly, however, most academies do not yet offer crowd control training.

Now is a good time to train every officer in the nation, or lament later.

Conclusion

Civil unrest has reared its angry head as cyclically as the seasons. Yet law enforcement is continually caught off guard by its arrival. There will also always be spontaneous crowds that are fueled by passion and/or alcohol that suddenly form to do great harm.

However, nothing has gotten more of these crowds to disperse like a thin blue line of well-trained officers calmly approaching a crowd while politely proclaiming, “Time to go home folks. The party’s over.” And that’s no myth.


Categories: Law Enforcement

NYPD Special Victims hunting for rapist of 12-year-old

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:50

By Colleen Long Associated Press

NEW YORK — The 12-year-old girl was in her school uniform, wearing pigtails. She clutched her princess lunch box as she got off the Bronx bus after tutoring, and that's when the rapist grabbed her by the arm.

"If you scream, I'm gonna kill you," he said, according to police. The stranger dragged her roughly, turning down an alley where he brutally attacked her.

The crime took place on Feb. 24, 2015. And, despite DNA evidence and surveillance footage of the attack, no arrests have been made. As the anniversary nears, the Special Victims Division detective on the case is pleading for anyone with information to send a tip through the CrimeStoppers website or call the hotline.

"She was just a baby," said Det. Diane Crowley. "This is the worst of the worst."

Surveillance footage shows a young man in tan cargo pants, wearing a blue jacket with a hood and a hat. His face is blurry, but it's not impossible to recognize. Part of the problem, Crowley thinks, is the suspect was also young, probably 14 to 16 years old. She thinks people are afraid of being wrong and turning in an innocent kid.

"Obviously with the forensic evidence, there's no way the wrong kid will go to jail for this," she said. "I just think after three years, you told somebody, you told part of it to somebody. A mom saw it. Someone knows something."

There's a reward of more than $22,000 for any tips leading to an arrest.

Crowley is haunted by the case. She said when she arrived to the hospital, the little girl in a bed, still in her uniform, but it was ripped and dirty. Her glasses were askew.

She had a hard time explaining the attack to police.

"She had to describe things that happened to her that she didn't even have the vocabulary for," Crowley said. "She'd never seen a male body before."

She was on the BX 19 bus to East Tremont, where she transfers to another bus to go home. She said he grabbed her when she got off, then walked her into an alley at 2064 Daley Avenue, the first building off 179th Street.

The alley is sunken — not something easily seen from the street, but there's turf covering one of the walls.

After the attack, she ran and called her mother and they went to the hospital, which collected forensic evidence. Crowley set to work. It took police days to find the crime location because the little girl didn't know where she was.

They followed up on hundreds of leads, talked to any gang members in the possibility it was some sort of initiation. They combed through bus footage. The victim didn't remember seeing him at school, but it looked like he might have also have been wearing a uniform.

"I think most sex crimes are about opportunity. She happened to be an easy target," Crowley said. "But when you find a 12 year old and you saw I'm going to kill you ... it's a real cowardly attack," she said.

Crowley said the girl has had ups and downs. She's anxious and can't sleep, struggles in school, but she's growing into a smart young woman and is doing her best.

"But, her innocence was taken. The twinkle in her eye dimmed out," she said. "I would love nothing more than to bring her and her family justice."


Categories: Law Enforcement

ICE dials up pressure on work sites

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:47

By Adam Elmahrek Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents put on their navy blue jackets and walked into a trucking company’s office in Carson this week, sending waves of anxiety rippling through the building.

In the lobby, a nervous office manager greeted the team from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, twisting a black pen in her hands like a wet towel. A second manager joined them.

“I see people with vests and cameras,” he said with an anxious chuckle. “That’s not good.”

The visit is part of a renewed wave in ICE’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration in the Trump era. Federal authorities are stepping up audits of businesses, hoping to catch employers who hired those here illegally. The agency’s acting director wants to increase work-site enforcement 400 percent, part of a much larger effort to identify and deport those here without proper papers.

During a five-day operation in the Los Angeles area that ended Thursday, more than 120 businesses were issued audit notices.

Officials said the purpose of the audits is twofold: to punish employers and employees breaking the rules as well as to discourage people from coming into the U.S. illegally for work, which critics have long said takes away job opportunities from citizens and legal residents.

“It’s a deterrent to somebody who is thinking about crossing the border, paying a smuggler and taking that perilous journey,” said Dani Bennett, an ICE spokeswoman. “If there isn’t that pull factor or perceived easy employment on the other side, there isn’t that incentive to cross in the first place.”

The aggressive actions are the latest in the continued standoff between the Trump administration, which has vowed to crack down hard on illegal immigration, and California, which in October declared itself a “sanctuary state” for immigrants.

After Gov. Jerry Brown signed the sanctuary state bill into law, ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, warned that California “better hold on tight.”

But the audits are not new, and according to statistics provided by ICE, they hit their peak in 2013 under President Barack Obama, with more than 3,100 such audits conducted that fiscal year. The Obama administration then shifted focus to deporting those convicted of serious crimes. In fiscal year 2017, ICE said it completed 1,360 audits in the U.S.

The audits can lead to civil fines and even criminal prosecutions if they find employers knowingly violated the law, ICE officials said.

For years, federal law did not bar the hiring of people in the country illegally. That changed in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, commonly called IRCA. It granted residency to 3 million people in the country without legal status, bolstered border enforcement and for the first time established penalties for hiring people in the country illegally.

But experts said the employer sanctions were watered down to win the support of industry, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and agricultural delegations from the Midwest. IRCA set relatively low fines, and the law said that, to be convicted, employers had to have “knowingly employed” a person who was in the country without documentation.

That made it easier for employers armed with documents that could be fraudulent to claim that they didn’t know, experts said. And it made convicting employers more difficult.

When ICE descended on Bee Sweet Citrus in the town of Fowler as part of broader audits in the Central Valley, the business was told it was being audited for I-9 compliance, and dozens of employees reportedly lost their jobs. The I-9 forms, filled out when employees are first hired, attest to their status to work legally in the country.

As rumors spread in January about an ICE sweep across California, a new state law went into effect prohibiting employers from allowing ICE access to private areas of their businesses without a warrant. It also required businesses to notify employees within 72 hours if they have been given notice of an inspection.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned businesses that not obeying the state law could result in a $10,000 fine.

Betty Jo Toccoli, president of the California Small Business Association, said operations like recent sweeps of 7-Eleven stores unfairly target one type of business while giving others a pass. One of the group’s members, a tortilla factory, also received notice about an ICE visit, and 15 employees did not show up to work, she said.

“Why would you target a tortilla manufacturer? Because you think you’re going to find more people to deport,” Toccoli said.

The Los Angeles Times accompanied ICE agents on an audit operation around Los Angeles this week to see the process firsthand. The Times was allowed to ride along with ICE on the condition that the names of the businesses and employees would not be published.

At the Carson trucking company, an ICE auditor explained what was happening. ICE wanted to see the company’s I-9 forms, and the auditor showed company officials what the document looks like.

As the minutes ticked by and the managers realized this was not a raid, their moods relaxed. But they expressed ignorance of I-9 forms, and the operations manager said he had never seen any of his employees fill one out.

The ICE auditor said the agency wanted the most recent payroll and all employee I-9s in seven days. The law allows them to demand those documents within three days, the auditor explained, but the extra four days were being given as a courtesy.

Outside the building, the agents debated how bad a sign it was that the company’s managers had no idea what an I-9 form is. The auditor reasoned that it was not a big deal and that the company’s human resources manager — who was away from the office — probably was acquainted with the forms.

On the ride to the next business, Jennifer Reyes, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, talked about how ICE is blamed for people losing their jobs as a result of the audits. She argued that it was the employers’ fault for hiring people in the country illegally in the first place.

ICE is trying to strike a balance with these audits, she said. The agency was levying fines on businesses that violate the law that are stiff enough to deprive them of some of the profits gained by hiring people in the country illegally, but not so harsh that the companies are put in danger of having to close.

At another trucking company, in Compton, the owner invited the ICE squad into his office. The room was decorated in memorabilia, including a signed Kobe Bryant jersey and an Elvis cardboard cutout.

This time, the owner, who said he was happy to give them a whole box full of I-9 forms, was well-versed in what the agents were looking for.

“You have seven days,” the ICE auditor said.

©2018 Los Angeles Times


Categories: Law Enforcement

Cop killings up so far in 2018

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:42

By Josh Sweigart and Mark Gokavi Dayton Daily News, Ohio

Two Westerville police officers killed last weekend and another slain Tuesday in Chicago brought to 12 the number of cops gunned down in the line of duty this year, marking a dramatic increase in such tragedies compared to this time in previous years.

The last such incident locally was New Year’s Day 2011, when Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputy Suzanne Hopper was shot and killed at the Enon Beach campground. Since then, eight Ohio peace officers have had their watch ended by a deadly bullet.

“I hope it heightens the alert of everyone to pay attention more of your surroundings,” said Dayton Fraternal Order of Police president Rick Oakley, a detective with Dayton police.

“I put it out to my guys all the time. If you’re not on something and you hear your brother or sister out there on a traffic call, go back them up. If you’re not doing anything, just go there and sit and make sure that there’s an extra set of eyes to make sure nothing’s going on.”

While every situation is unique, the deadly theme that played out in Westerville has been repeated over and over again: police responding to a domestic disturbance faced someone whose criminal history should have kept him from having a gun.

Westerville officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, were gunned down in the Columbus suburb Feb. 10, allegedly by 30-year-old Quentin Smith, after responding to a 911 hang-up call.

A second 911 call came from Smith’s wife Candace from the bushes outside her house.

“Please help,” she pleaded, telling the dispatcher her daughter was still in the home. “He shot the police officers.”

Westerville police had responded to domestic disputes at the Smith’s home several times before. In November, Candace told them that her husband threatened to kill her, their daughter and himself, and she asked about a protection order.

‘You factor in the worst’

Domestic violence calls for police are both numerous and unpredictable.

Dayton police responded to 4,448 domestic violence calls last year and 5,356 the year before, for a two-year total of 9,804 — or more than 13 per day.

Sgt. Ted Jackson, the supervisor at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office regional training center, said departmental policy dictates a two-officer response to domestic violence and 911 hang-up calls because of the potential for a volatile situation.

“You don’t necessarily know what you’re getting yourself into,” Jackson said. “You factor in the worst. You do a risk-management situation where you expect the worst and hope for the best.”

Violence in such instances can erupt in an instance. In Kirkersville, Ohio, last May, a man with a protection order against him went to his girlfriend’s work and killed her, her co-worker and Kirkersville Police Chief Eric DiSario before turning a gun on himself. The shooter, Thomas Hartless, had a history of violence, including an assault conviction in the 1990s and serving eight months of a two-year prison sentence for abducting another girlfriend in 2009.

The only other Ohio police officer killed last year resulted from an incident similar to what confronted the two Westerville police officers. Girard Officer Justin Leo and his partner responded to a 911 call from a woman who said her boyfriend was drunk, had guns and was scaring her kids. The man, Jason Marble, allegedly shot Leo dead before getting killed by the return fire from Leo’s partner.

Training for deadly situations

A Chicago police commander Tuesday became the 12th law enforcement officer killed on duty this year when he was reportedly gunned down by a repeat felon while pursuing a suspect downtown.

During the same time period in 2017, four officers were killed in violent incidents, according to the FBI, which tracks shootings of police.

The FBI says 46 law enforcement officers were killed by criminals last year and 66 in 2016.

An annual report for 2017 isn’t out yet, but 17 of the deaths in 2016 came from an ambush and 13 while responding to a disturbance call.

“Ever since I started my career in 1978 we were well schooled on when you do a domestic violence call you are walking into a potential deadly situation,” said Pete Willis, training coordinator for the Sinclair Police Academy. “There’s a lot of emotions involved. People tend to become very protective of their home.”

The academy teaches the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy curriculum, which includes 12 hours of training in handling domestic violence. The training manual spells out the risk: “Domestic violence calls clearly pose a lethal risk to officers. If suspects are willing to kill their partner or family member, they would have no qualms killing a stranger (i.e., the responding officer).”

Willis has come under fire more than once during his 25 years with the Dayton police force.

“At the time you react with training,” he said. “After it’s all said and done, the adrenaline surge will kick you hard and you’ll shake for a little bit.”

Armor ‘not an end all be all’

Jackson, a 22-year vet who has had various roles that have placed him in dangerous situations, said loss of life can happen even when well-equipped officers undergo extensive training.

National statistics bear that out. Of the 62 police officers who died in shootings in 2016, 51 were wearing body armor.

While body armor can save a life, it’s “not an end-all, be-all,” Jackson said. “It covers primary body parts … you have weaponry and munitions out there that can defeat it or you can succumb to injuries out and around the ballistic vest.”

Hopper was killed while wearing a bulletproof vest, as was a Sandusky officer killed two months after her. The bullet that killed a Cincinnati officer in 2015 came just centimeters from hitting his vest. A Columbus SWAT team officer was shot in the head in 2016 while in the turret of an armored vehicle.

Common themes

Most cop-killers have previous criminal records, according to FBI statistics. In 2016, 35 of the people who killed police officers had a prior arrest for a violent crime – including four for murder – and 22 had a prior weapons violation.

Quentin Smith, the suspect in the Westerville shootings, always carried a gun, his wife told authorities, even though he was prohibited from having a firearm after spending four years in prison for felony burglary and misdemeanor domestic violence charges in 2009.

Gerald Lawson of Warrensville Heights was charged in federal court last week with providing Smith with the weapon he allegedly used to shoot the two Westerville officers.

“An undisclosed witness told investigators Smith provided Lawson money for the firearm and an extra $100 to compensate Lawson — who knew Smith had been convicted of a felony — for buying the gun for him,” a U.S. Department of Justice release says.

The Kirkersville shooter had more than 60 guns at his home, though his felony conviction barred him from purchasing, owning or carrying a firearm. His father told investigators he obtained most of his firearms from gun shows, where unlicensed dealers aren’t required to conduct background checks.

The shotgun Michael Ferryman used to kill Hopper at the Enon Beach campground was bought by his girlfriend, who was later sentenced to five years in state prison for providing him with the weapon. Multiple guns were found in his trailer, though Ferryman was prohibited from owning a gun because of his prior criminal history.

Hopper, a mother of two, was responding to a report of gunfire at the campground when Ferryman shot her at close range with the shotgun. When backup arrived, shots were exchanged and an officer, Jeremy Blum, was wounded. Ferryman was found dead in the trailer.

Stronger penalties sought

Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people is a timeless struggle for law enforcement.

Fewer than a third of offenders in Ohio charged with weapons offenses were convicted, according to a 2012 study by an Ohio State University professor, and many of the gun charges were dismissed during judicial proceedings.

In response to the study, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Violent Crimes with Guns Advisory Task Group recommended stronger penalties for repeat offenders.

There are currently 1,187 people in state prison in Ohio for charges that include illegally having a weapon.

Toby Hoover, director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the data underscores the need for universal background checks for gun sales. Currently, private owners and sellers are not required to conduct background checks, though they are forbidden from selling to someone they know is prohibited from having a gun.

“The first thing you can do is make sure every single gun sale — whether it’s at a store, gun show or between two people — has a background check,” she said.

Joe Eaton, southwest Ohio spokesman for the Buckeye Firearms Association, said weapons charges are often used as a chip in plea bargains.

He supports strong penalties for people who violate laws against providing weapons to convicted felons, and said the firearms industry backs public awareness campaigns like “Don’t lie for the other guy,” a national campaign to prevent the type of “straw man” purchases that allowed Smith to get his gun.

“The people who are committing this deception need to realize there are severe penalties,” he said.

‘We have to be constantly vigilant’

Last week, just as they do whenever someone in blue is killed, a procession of police officers from around the state came to Westerville to pay tribute to officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.

Jackson said the entire law enforcement community grieves for fallen officers. “This is a community, a sisterhood and a brotherhood,” he said.

But something else happens, too, when an officer is killed, he said: a search for answers.

“It’s a sad situation, but it’s also a learning and training situation,” Jackson said. “We have to be constantly vigilant of our environments and the situation can change very quickly. Complacency is no place for law enforcement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

©2018 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)


Categories: Law Enforcement

Trump backs efforts for improved FBI gun checks

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 13:38

By David Fleshler Sun Sentinel

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump on Monday announced willingness to consider a modest gun-control proposal introduced last year to strengthen the federal background-check system.

The White House said Trump would consider backing a bill, which had not been opposed by the National Rifle Association, that would require states and federal agencies to produce plans to improve the reporting of criminal offenses and other information to the national instant background check system. The lead sponsors are Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

“The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bi-partisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation,” the White House said in a statement Monday morning. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.”

This proposal falls far short of what many students, parents and gun-control advocates are seeking, such as bans on assault rifles or high-capacity magazines.

©2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)


Categories: Law Enforcement

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 11:56

By Curt Anderson Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect is so overwhelming, the only question left for the courts if he is convicted is whether he will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.

The fate of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who faces 17 counts of first-degree murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, will depend on his mental state and the wishes of the victims' families, which have a say in how the prosecution proceeds.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent that the death penalty might be going too far. Finkelstein said Cruz would likely plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.

"Because that's what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die," Finkelstein said. "He will never see the light of day again, nor should he. But I know personally I am very upset and angry that we all failed to spot a problem and do anything as a result."

Michael J. Satz, the state attorney for Broward County, said Saturday in an email that, "This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for." He called the slayings "absolutely horrific and tragic." However, he also said his office is working with law enforcement and will announce later what penalty it plans to seek.

The prosecution will likely take years. The sheriff's office said Cruz confessed, and they have his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, ammunition clips and video from the school. The FBI also said Friday it had gotten a call from someone close to Cruz who expressed concern that he had "a desire to kill people" and "the potential" to conduct a school shooting.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that the information was not properly investigated and promised to get to the bottom of it.

A major issue for the courts will be Cruz's mental state. Officials have said he underwent unspecified treatment at a mental facility but quit after his mother died in November. His father had died some years earlier. Without any living parents, he was taken in by a local family.

Cruz's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, told reporters after Cruz's initial court appearance that he had become unmoored from society and had no support network to lean on.

"When your brain is not fully developed, you don't know how to deal with these things," she said. "When you have the lack of impulse control that a 19-year-old has, that affects the behavior you exhibit."

McNeill also said of Cruz: "He's sad, he's mournful, he's remorseful. He's just a broken human being."

An initial decision will be whether Cruz is mentally competent to understand legal proceedings and assist in his own defense. Experts say it's a relatively high bar to clear to be declared incompetent and McNeill said Cruz is "fully aware of what is going on."

Cruz could try to plead innocent by reason of insanity, which also rarely works. James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people and wounded 70 in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, was convicted despite pleading insanity and was sentenced to life behind bars.

David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said the penalty phase of Cruz's case is likely to be where his background, family situation, mental condition and life history will play the biggest part. Even if he pleads guilty and prosecutors refuse to waive the death penalty, a jury must decide by a 12-0 vote that Cruz deserves to be executed.

The victims' families also have a legal right to participate in discussions over whether to seek the death penalty.

"I think among them there are many people who aren't going to want to go through this," Weinstein said. "That would save a lot of time and a lot of anguish for people. Some will say, 'we don't care, we want him put to death. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' They will want retribution."


Categories: Law Enforcement

Live ammo found in middle school restroom prompts lockdown

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 11:55

Associated Press

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Live ammunition was discovered by a custodian in a Rhode Island middle school boys' restroom, prompting a lockdown, police said.

Woonsocket Middle School at Hamlet, located outside of Providence, was put on lockdown Friday afternoon after the discovery. Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas F. Oates III said a custodian was checking the restroom around school dismissal time when she found small-caliber ammunition and brought it to the principal's office.

Several news outlets reported that around the same time, a 14-year-old girl said she saw a possible shooter but later recanted her story. The Providence Journal reported the girl was overheard by a teacher saying she saw someone on a footbridge reaching into a backpack. That also prompted the lockdown.

Oates estimated there were fewer than 50 people inside the school during the lockdown.

Officers could be seen around the school, including on the roof, wearing tactical gear and with their guns drawn.

"We did not find any weapons in the school. We did not find any weapons on anyone else," Oates told WPRI-TV.

A parent, Laura Beauregard, told the television station she learned about the lockdown on social media and drove to the school, where her daughter was attending a photography club meeting.

"With just what happened in Florida, they were really scared," said Beauregard, referring to Wednesday's mass shooting a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Oates said officers questioned the student who made the comment about a possible shooter and will determine whether she should be charged with a crime. Police are also still investigating who brought the bullets into the school.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Jury awards over $37M to family of armed woman slain in standoff

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 11:46

Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A jury has awarded more than $37 million in damages to the family of a Maryland woman who was fatally shot by police in 2016 after a six-hour standoff in her apartment.

The jury took several hours to reach its decision in a civil lawsuit filed against the Baltimore County government and police Cpl. Royce Ruby, who shot Korryn Gaines, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday .

The six-women jury found that the first shot, which killed Gaines and wounded her then 5-year-old son, was not reasonable and violated their civil rights under state and federal statutes, according to the newspaper. It said jurors awarded more than $32 million to Kodi in damages, and $4.5 million to his sister Karsyn. The panel awarded about $300,000 apiece to Gaines' father, mother and to her estate.

Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field issued a statement afterward saying the county was disappointed with the decision and was reviewing all options, including a possible appeal.

Ruby was previously cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the State's Attorney. He wasn't charged and has since been promoted.

Jurors heard nearly three weeks of testimony and arguments about the fatal shooting of Aug. 1, 2016.

Assistant County Attorney James S. Ruckle Jr. argued in closing for the defense Friday that Ruby had acted reasonably and out of fear that other officers could be hurt or killed.

He told jurors two officers had tried to serve arrest warrants on Gaines and her fiance that day. When no one would open the apartment door, officers eventually kicked it in, jurors heard. He said the first officer who entered the apartment was "confronted with Korryn Gaines with a shotgun pointed right at him."

Gaines' fiance left with their infant daughter. However, Gaines remained with the 5-year-old boy.

Ruckle said Ruby decided to shoot after he saw Gaines' braids and the barrel of her shotgun rise from behind a wall.

"What Cpl. Ruby was doing was attempting to end, terminate the threat," Ruckle said.

Kenneth Ravenell, the attorney for Kodi's father Corey Cunningham, said the youngster didn't deserve to be shot and then watch his mother die. Ravenell called Ruby's decision to fire "reckless."

The case garnered national attention, with some activists citing it as an instance of excessive police force, the newspaper reported.

Gaines' mother, Rhanda Dormeus, spoke to reporters through tears outside the courthouse.

"This win is for all of my sisters in the movement who have lost their children to police violence," she said. "Some of them have never received justice, either criminally or civil. I just want to tell them that this win is for them."

Gaines' family and attorneys expressed relief that the jury sided with them and found the shooting was wrong, though some said they were frustrated Ruby remains on the police force.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Fla. sheriff's deputy killed in crash

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 19:51

By Tom Alberts The Bradenton Herald

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - A sheriff’s deputy was killed Saturday morning after blown tire caused a semi tractor-trailer to crash into his patrol car on Interstate 95 in Brevard County.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office deputy Kevin Stanton, 32, of Titusville was killed in the crash at 5:10 a.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He was a training officer for sheriff’s office and had been with the department for more than a decade, officials said.

The right front tire of the semi, which was loaded with car parts, sustained a tread separation, and the truck veered into the path of the deputy’s cruiser. Both vehicles were southbound near mile marker 227.

A Brevard County sheriff’s deputy was killed in a collision with a semi-truck Saturday on Interstate 95, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened in the southbound lanes of I-95 near the intersection of State Road 50 and Garden Street.

During a news conference broadcast on WESH-TV, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said that Stanton was on his way to work.

“It’s never easy when you get that phone call at 5:15 in the morning, telling you you lost one of your own,” Ivey said. “It appears it was an accident — appears it was God calling Kevin home, and we are left here trying to put the pieces together.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting an investigation.

©2018 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)


Categories: Law Enforcement

NH Senate OKs making court officers eligible for death benefit

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 14:05

Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire's court security officers who are killed in the line of duty would be eligible for the same death benefits as police officers and firefighters under a bill passed by the state Senate.

Under current law, families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty receive $100,000. A bill that would expand that to court security officers passed the Senate on Thursday.

Sen. John Reagan, a Republican from Deerfield, said court officers do everything police do, and in fact, three quarters of them are former police officers. Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro said courtrooms have become more violent as society has changed, and the state has a duty to protect its public servants.


Categories: Law Enforcement

State investigated after Fla. school shooting suspect cut himself

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 14:01

By Jason Dearen, Allen Breed and Tamara Lush Associated Press

PARKLAND, Fla. — Florida's child welfare agency investigated the suspect in a school shooting that killed 17 people after he cut himself in an online video but found him stable, according to state records.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida's Department of Children and Families investigated when Nikolas Cruz posted a video on the social media network Snapchat showing him cutting his arms in 2016.

The agency was called to investigate. Cruz, then 18, was listed as an "alleged victim" of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his adoptive mother, then-68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the "alleged perpetrator."

"Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms," the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016, the paper reported. "Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for."

According to the paper, DCF's investigation was completed that Nov. 12. The agency concluded that Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counselor and was attending school.

"Henderson came out and assessed the (victim and) found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized," the DCF report said.

Cruz had been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that often leads to social awkwardness and isolation, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

The documents provide further evidence that Cruz was a troubled teen before being charged with 17 counts of murder in the Wednesday attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On Friday, President Donald Trump visited Broward Health North Hospital, where he saw two victims and praised the doctors and nurses for their "incredible" job. With first lady Melania Trump, he also paid his respects to law enforcement officials in Fort Lauderdale, telling officers he hoped they were "getting the credit" they deserved.

Asked if he'd talked with victims, Trump added: "I did, indeed, and it's very sad something like that could happen."

Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the shooting scene.

Also Friday, an activist and teacher who wants gun control laws was removed from a Miami-area GOP fundraiser after confronting House Speaker Paul Ryan about this week's mass shooting.

The Miami Herald reports that Maria Thorne, a Key Biscayne fifth-grade teacher, said she and a friend dropped in on the fundraiser at the Ritz Hotel after she noticed motorcade traffic clogging up her commute home.

Thorne said she shook Ryan's hand and introduced herself but added, "You're here celebrating the death of 17 children."

She said Ryan told her he "didn't want to talk politics" or argue. When Thorne tried to continue, security escorted her out as she chanted "No more guns!"

The National Republican Congressional Committee lists a 2018 Winter Meeting in Key Biscayne this weekend. Ryan's spokesperson confirmed to the Herald that he attended it.

More funerals were scheduled Saturday. As families buried their dead, authorities questioned whether they could have prevented the attack

The FBI said it received a tip last month that Cruz had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate. The governor called for the FBI director to resign.

A person close to Cruz called the FBI's tip line on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz's weapons and his erratic behavior, including his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.

In a statement, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been shared with the FBI's Miami office and investigated, but it was not. The startling admission came as the agency was already facing criticism for its treatment of a tip about a YouTube comment posted last year. The comment posted by a "Nikolas Cruz" said, "Im going to be a professional school shooter."

The FBI investigated the remark but did not determine who made it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the shooting that killed 17 people Wednesday was a "tragic consequence" of the FBI's missteps and ordered a review of the Justice Department's processes. He said it's now clear that the nation's premier law enforcement agency missed warning signs.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office had received more than 20 calls about Cruz in the past few years.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Mourners: Slain Chicago officer was 'one of the good guys'

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 13:58

Associated Press

CHICAGO — Mourners remembered a slain Chicago Police commander Saturday as a model officer and "one of the good guys" who was uninterested in self-promotion, even as he moved up the department's ranks.

Of all of Commander Paul Bauer's responsibilities, the ones that mattered the most to him were being a good husband to his wife, Erin, and good father to his daughter, Grace, several speakers said during his funeral at the Nativity of Our Load Church.

"Erin and Grace were everything," said former First Deputy Superintendent John Escalante, who grew up with Bauer and served with him for most of Bauer's 31 years on the force.

Bauer, 53, was gunned down Tuesday near a government building in downtown Chicago.

Authorities say he was in a patrol car nearby when he heard a call that a man had run away from tactical officers who had approached to question him about recent drug dealing and a shooting in the area. They say Bauer spotted the man and chased him to an outer stairwell, where they struggled. Bauer was shot six times and was pronounced dead later that day at a hospital.

Prosecutors have charged Shomari Legghette, 44, with first-degree murder of a peace officer, armed violence, the unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and possession of a controlled substance. Legghette, whose criminal record includes a conviction for armed robbery, is being held without bond.

Scores of police officers from across the U.S. joined Bauer's family, friends and other mourners, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner and former Mayor Richard Daley, at Saturday's service.

The Rev. Dan Brandt, a Chicago Police chaplain, described Bauer as a man of faith who attended department Bible study sessions and sat in the front row with his family at Mass. Escalante said Bauer skipped his promotion ceremony when he became a captain because he had a family trip, and didn't want to reschedule the ceremony because he didn't need the public accolade.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson recalled Bauer taking time each day to practice English with a department custodian who was learning the language, and that he died doing what came naturally — helping other officers.

"He was a model police officer, and one of the good guys," Johnson said.


Categories: Law Enforcement

How police can justify a drone acquisition to the public

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:19

Author: Tim Dees

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are cheap enough that almost any law enforcement agency can afford one. Gaining the community’s approval for the purchase is a little harder.

Drones, or UAS (the current in-vogue terminology) are ubiquitous. Their size varies between a large insect and a medium military airplane, although most of the models used in public safety will be man-portable inside a Pelican™ case.

They usually run on rechargeable batteries, with an endurance of less than 30 minutes. Pilots are trained and licensed in a few weeks, for a few thousand dollars.

Peter DeLisa is a former law enforcement officer who operates an aviation business, including training UAS pilots and preparing them for certification.

“I saw drone training as a natural merging of my expertise,” said DeLisa, who cited instances where UAS have been helpful in locating lost children and seniors who had wandered from their homes.

Another business useful to public safety operations is CRG Plans, operated by a retired New Jersey State Police officer. The company develops layered photographic maps that show interior floor plans (among other things) superimposed onto aerial photographs. “The maps are then overlaid with a grid, so that officers can be directed to grid coordinates, rather than to something like ‘Loading Dock 2,’ when they are unfamiliar with the layout of the building,” DeLisa said.

The literary reference may be dated now, but some critics of public safety UAS cite a fear of “1984” style surveillance by police. In Orwell’s dystopian novel (written in 1948), the Thought Police used helicopters to spy into citizens’ windows, looking for seditious behavior. An aircraft with only a few minutes of available loiter time isn’t going to be especially useful for this, even if the police were inclined to do it. People should probably be more concerned about the data their smartphones and fitness bracelets are collecting about them.

Educating the public about how drones can assist police operations

While UAS in law enforcement applications are often compared to helicopters, there is a world of difference between the two. A helicopter is a multi-million-dollar purchase, costs hundreds of dollars an hour to operate, and requires at least one commercial pilot with years of expensive training. They have much more capability, as they can carry a lot more gear and travel hundreds of miles (beyond visual line of sight), where the payload on a UAS is typically limited to a few pounds and cannot be operated beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight.

While UAS aren’t meant to replace helicopters, these limitations don’t undercut the utility of a police UAS. There are many law enforcement situations where just being able to see the situation from a high vantage point is huge.

UAS have been used to help locate lost children and seniors who have wondered from their homes. Crime scenes and accident investigation sites are another area where UAS are useful. A UAS can map a crime scene much faster and probably more accurately than a human on the ground can. The UAS may reveal evidence that is invisible to those on the ground because of terrain features or other obstructions. The UAS may also be able to fly in weather conditions that would ground conventional aircraft.

In a Florida case, a fugitive tried to hide in a swamp. A thermal camera mounted on a UAS revealed the suspect’s hidden location, as well as that of some other swamp-dwellers. The cops were able to tell him over a PA system, “Come to us, or four alligators are coming to you.” The suspect took the first option.

During a protest in Richmond, Virginia, an overhead UAS was flown to prevent any conflict between pedestrians and vehicles, and assisted the police to successfully direct motor officers to stop traffic before it got intermeshed with the protesters.

After the Santa Rosa (CA) wildfire, a UAS recorded this spectacular 360° high-resolution photo of the damage.

Charles Werner of the National Council on Public Safety UAS recounted a deployment by a California sheriff’s office during the raid of a drug house: “Search warrants were issued and the UAS was flying overhead maintaining an overwatch when the deputies made entry, and could see all sides of the house. It saw and recorded people coming out of windows, drugs thrown into the bushes, and guns thrown onto the roof. The suspects were a block away and thought they were home free when units rolled up and arrested them.”

How to overcome public objections about police drones

Werner offered these tips to overcome public objections to the acquisition and deployment of a UAS:

    Know what you are getting into, as a UAS program requires governance, policies/procedures, defining missions, selection of UAS and payloads, training/proficiency, maintenance and thorough documentation. Engage your jurisdiction’s administration and elected officials. Be up front and open (transparent). Provide success stories from other localities (there are plenty). Plan to use the UAS for multiple public safety missions and with other public safety agencies. Where possible, create a multi-discipline public safety UAS team. Where possible, create a regional team of public safety from multiple jurisdictions. Develop a clear policy as to when UAS will be used for surveillance and evidentiary purposes. Provide the safeguards that will be in place to ensure personal privacy. Explain recording policy and length of maintaining those video recordings. Explain the extent to maintain training and safety protocols. Consider involving the local ACLU in review of department UAS policies. Ensure your pilots are certified and licensed under the appropriate FAA regulations.

Follow these guidelines, and your agency may have its own unmanned aircraft ready to help keep the community safe.


Categories: Law Enforcement

How police can justify a drone acquisition to the public

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:19

Author: Tim Dees

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are cheap enough that almost any law enforcement agency can afford one. Gaining the community’s approval for the purchase is a little harder.

Drones, or UAS (the current in-vogue terminology) are ubiquitous. Their size varies between a large insect and a medium military airplane, although most of the models used in public safety will be man-portable inside a Pelican™ case.

They usually run on rechargeable batteries, with an endurance of less than 30 minutes. Pilots are trained and licensed in a few weeks, for a few thousand dollars.

Peter DeLisa is a former law enforcement officer who operates an aviation business, including training UAS pilots and preparing them for certification.

“I saw drone training as a natural merging of my expertise,” said DeLisa, who cited instances where UAS have been helpful in locating lost children and seniors who had wandered from their homes.

Another business useful to public safety operations is CRG Plans, operated by a retired New Jersey State Police officer. The company develops layered photographic maps that show interior floor plans (among other things) superimposed onto aerial photographs. “The maps are then overlaid with a grid, so that officers can be directed to grid coordinates, rather than to something like ‘Loading Dock 2,’ when they are unfamiliar with the layout of the building,” DeLisa said.

The literary reference may be dated now, but some critics of public safety UAS cite a fear of “1984” style surveillance by police. In Orwell’s dystopian novel (written in 1948), the Thought Police used helicopters to spy into citizens’ windows, looking for seditious behavior. An aircraft with only a few minutes of available loiter time isn’t going to be especially useful for this, even if the police were inclined to do it. People should probably be more concerned about the data their smartphones and fitness bracelets are collecting about them.

Educating the public about how drones can assist police operations

While UAS in law enforcement applications are often compared to helicopters, there is a world of difference between the two. A helicopter is a multi-million-dollar purchase, costs hundreds of dollars an hour to operate, and requires at least one commercial pilot with years of expensive training. They have much more capability, as they can carry a lot more gear and travel hundreds of miles (beyond visual line of sight), where the payload on a UAS is typically limited to a few pounds and cannot be operated beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight.

While UAS aren’t meant to replace helicopters, these limitations don’t undercut the utility of a police UAS. There are many law enforcement situations where just being able to see the situation from a high vantage point is huge.

UAS have been used to help locate lost children and seniors who have wondered from their homes. Crime scenes and accident investigation sites are another area where UAS are useful. A UAS can map a crime scene much faster and probably more accurately than a human on the ground can. The UAS may reveal evidence that is invisible to those on the ground because of terrain features or other obstructions. The UAS may also be able to fly in weather conditions that would ground conventional aircraft.

In a Florida case, a fugitive tried to hide in a swamp. A thermal camera mounted on a UAS revealed the suspect’s hidden location, as well as that of some other swamp-dwellers. The cops were able to tell him over a PA system, “Come to us, or four alligators are coming to you.” The suspect took the first option.

During a protest in Richmond, Virginia, an overhead UAS was flown to prevent any conflict between pedestrians and vehicles, and assisted the police to successfully direct motor officers to stop traffic before it got intermeshed with the protesters.

After the Santa Rosa (CA) wildfire, a UAS recorded this spectacular 360° high-resolution photo of the damage.

Charles Werner of the National Council on Public Safety UAS recounted a deployment by a California sheriff’s office during the raid of a drug house: “Search warrants were issued and the UAS was flying overhead maintaining an overwatch when the deputies made entry, and could see all sides of the house. It saw and recorded people coming out of windows, drugs thrown into the bushes, and guns thrown onto the roof. The suspects were a block away and thought they were home free when units rolled up and arrested them.”

How to overcome public objections about police drones

Werner offered these tips to overcome public objections to the acquisition and deployment of a UAS:

    Know what you are getting into, as a UAS program requires governance, policies/procedures, defining missions, selection of UAS and payloads, training/proficiency, maintenance and thorough documentation. Engage your jurisdiction’s administration and elected officials. Be up front and open (transparent). Provide success stories from other localities (there are plenty). Plan to use the UAS for multiple public safety missions and with other public safety agencies. Where possible, create a multi-discipline public safety UAS team. Where possible, create a regional team of public safety from multiple jurisdictions. Develop a clear policy as to when UAS will be used for surveillance and evidentiary purposes. Provide the safeguards that will be in place to ensure personal privacy. Explain recording policy and length of maintaining those video recordings. Explain the extent to maintain training and safety protocols. Consider involving the local ACLU in review of department UAS policies. Ensure your pilots are certified and licensed under the appropriate FAA regulations.

Follow these guidelines, and your agency may have its own unmanned aircraft ready to help keep the community safe.


Categories: Law Enforcement

5 steps toward achieving community support for police UAS programs

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:10

Author: Tim Dees

By Police Foundation

Technology is rapidly changing the face of policing today. One new technology is the unmanned aircraft system (UAS), a portable and easy-to-learn technology of increasing interest to law enforcement because of its potential to improve operational efficiency, as well as officer and community safety.

However, there is public concern about the potential for an invasion of privacy. While the UAS can provide immeasurable benefits, it also has the potential to drive a wedge between police and the community.

To avoid these risks, law enforcement agencies considering adopting a UAS should engage their communities in the decision to implement a program. Here are five steps police leaders should take as part of that process:

1. UNDERSTAND THE TECHNOLOGY AND CONCERNS ABOUT ITS USE

Law enforcement agencies considering deploying UAS must understand:

The technology; The benefits to public and officer safety; The legal limitations on its use; The regulatory environment in which it will operate; Privacy laws and expectations.

Some of the most important considerations are the needs, fears and concerns of the community regarding potential police surveillance of citizens.

2. EMBRACE COMMUNITY POLICING PHILOSOPHIES WHEN ADOPTING NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Community policing embodies trust and mutual respect between police and the communities they serve as critical to public safety. It promotes organizational strategies that support the systemic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime.

When considering implementation of new, potentially controversial technology, it is important for police departments to rely on these practices, and engage the community in the process of deciding whether to implement or not.

3. DEVELOP POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR YOUR UAS PROGRAM

As with implementation of any new technology, developing and vetting detailed UAS policies and procedures is critical.

Departmental UAS policy should:

Clearly define how personnel are permitted to use UAS technology; Allay public fears of loss of privacy; Assure legal and ethical use of the technology; Provide a vehicle for accountability.

Share the draft of the policies and procedures with the community and accept their input where appropriate.

4. ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY IN CONVERSATION

A community engagement plan should be one of the first and most important elements of UAS program development.

Create opportunities to gain input from the community and explain how you will protect privacy and maintain safety. Partnerships with the media are a beneficial strategy for raising public awareness of the UAS program. Unwavering transparency, collaboration, proactive continued engagement, outreach and trust are essential to community understanding, acceptance and support.

5. IMPLEMENT MEASURES FOR ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability will assure your community that your department will use UAS in accordance with properly developed policies and procedures and is essential to obtaining and maintaining community support. The community must have confidence that complaints, or audits that reveal possible violations are thoroughly investigated and misuse is addressed. Accountability must be ensured at all levels, including sworn and civilian employees, contractors, subcontractors, and volunteers.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON UAS IN LAW ENFORCMENT

The Police Foundation’s Community Policing & Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Guidelines to Enhance Community Trust guidebook, funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

Police Foundation’s sUAS and Public Safety infographic provides an overview of operational, training and legal and regulatory compliance considerations in visual format for law enforcement agencies interested in using sUAS for public safety.

Forthcoming Police Foundation resources include:

The National Public Safety sUAS Flight Operations & Incident Reporting System, funded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

The Police Foundation Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Public Safety website, funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

About Police Foundation

The Police Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science. Established in 1970, the Foundation has conducted seminal research in police behavior, policy, and procedure, and works to transfer to local agencies the best new information about practices for dealing effectively with a range of important police operational and administrative concerns.


Categories: Law Enforcement

5 steps toward achieving community support for police UAS programs

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:10

Author: Tim Dees

By Police Foundation

Technology is rapidly changing the face of policing today. One new technology is the unmanned aircraft system (UAS), a portable and easy-to-learn technology of increasing interest to law enforcement because of its potential to improve operational efficiency, as well as officer and community safety.

However, there is public concern about the potential for an invasion of privacy. While the UAS can provide immeasurable benefits, it also has the potential to drive a wedge between police and the community.

To avoid these risks, law enforcement agencies considering adopting a UAS should engage their communities in the decision to implement a program. Here are five steps police leaders should take as part of that process:

1. UNDERSTAND THE TECHNOLOGY AND CONCERNS ABOUT ITS USE

Law enforcement agencies considering deploying UAS must understand:

The technology; The benefits to public and officer safety; The legal limitations on its use; The regulatory environment in which it will operate; Privacy laws and expectations.

Some of the most important considerations are the needs, fears and concerns of the community regarding potential police surveillance of citizens.

2. EMBRACE COMMUNITY POLICING PHILOSOPHIES WHEN ADOPTING NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Community policing embodies trust and mutual respect between police and the communities they serve as critical to public safety. It promotes organizational strategies that support the systemic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime.

When considering implementation of new, potentially controversial technology, it is important for police departments to rely on these practices, and engage the community in the process of deciding whether to implement or not.

3. DEVELOP POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR YOUR UAS PROGRAM

As with implementation of any new technology, developing and vetting detailed UAS policies and procedures is critical.

Departmental UAS policy should:

Clearly define how personnel are permitted to use UAS technology; Allay public fears of loss of privacy; Assure legal and ethical use of the technology; Provide a vehicle for accountability.

Share the draft of the policies and procedures with the community and accept their input where appropriate.

4. ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY IN CONVERSATION

A community engagement plan should be one of the first and most important elements of UAS program development.

Create opportunities to gain input from the community and explain how you will protect privacy and maintain safety. Partnerships with the media are a beneficial strategy for raising public awareness of the UAS program. Unwavering transparency, collaboration, proactive continued engagement, outreach and trust are essential to community understanding, acceptance and support.

5. IMPLEMENT MEASURES FOR ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability will assure your community that your department will use UAS in accordance with properly developed policies and procedures and is essential to obtaining and maintaining community support. The community must have confidence that complaints, or audits that reveal possible violations are thoroughly investigated and misuse is addressed. Accountability must be ensured at all levels, including sworn and civilian employees, contractors, subcontractors, and volunteers.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON UAS IN LAW ENFORCMENT

The Police Foundation’s Community Policing & Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Guidelines to Enhance Community Trust guidebook, funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

Police Foundation’s sUAS and Public Safety infographic provides an overview of operational, training and legal and regulatory compliance considerations in visual format for law enforcement agencies interested in using sUAS for public safety.

Forthcoming Police Foundation resources include:

The National Public Safety sUAS Flight Operations & Incident Reporting System, funded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

The Police Foundation Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Public Safety website, funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.

About Police Foundation

The Police Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science. Established in 1970, the Foundation has conducted seminal research in police behavior, policy, and procedure, and works to transfer to local agencies the best new information about practices for dealing effectively with a range of important police operational and administrative concerns.


Categories: Law Enforcement

Policing Matters Podcast: Tactical uses for drones

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:03

Author: Jim Dudley and Doug Wyllie

Editor's note: Law enforcement agencies nationwide are adopting unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – also known as drones – for operations as diverse as search and rescue, traffic accident reconstruction and SWAT response. PoliceOne’s special coverage series – 2018 Guide to Drones in Law Enforcement – takes an in-depth look at considerations for police departments looking to implement a UAS program.

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Download this week's episode on iTunes, SoundCloud or via RSS feed

Until fairly recently, FAA regulations seemed somewhat unclear about exactly when and how law enforcement agencies can use UAVs. Now that there is a little deeper understanding of the legal parameters, police agencies are beginning to adopt the technology. The most obvious use for a UAV in law enforcement is for search and rescue operations. Drones can get under the canopy of thickly wooded areas and see what officers in a helicopter could not. Further, this technology can be helpful in standoff situations and other incidents where getting “eyes on” from a distance provides a tactical advantage for police. In this podcast segment, Jim and Doug discuss the ways in which police can use UAVs.


Categories: Law Enforcement

SC K-9, off-duty cop killed in separate DUI crashes

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 15:57
Author: Jim Dudley and Doug Wyllie

By PoliceOne Staff

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – A K-9 and an off-duty police officer were killed in separate DUI crashes Thursday.

According to The Island Packet, Officer Ryan MacCluen, 31, was killed when suspect Whitney Danielle Brooks, 29, turned in front of the officer’s motorcycle.

Around an hour earlier, an officer was injured and his K-9 Mojo killed when suspect Richard Shore, 37, collided with their police vehicle.

Ryan MacCluen’s mother remembers her son as great kid. He was 31 yrs old. Loved sports. Spent 2 yrs at The Citadel. His funeral will be at Bethany United Methodist Church on Tuesday. @ABCNews4 #chsnews #sctweets pic.twitter.com/N3naXb5p5M

— Bill Burr (@BBonTV) February 16, 2018

North Charleston PD Chief Reggie Burgess described MacCluen as “a friendly person that always had a smile on his face” who “loved being a police officer.”

Mojo served with the department for five years. His handler, Officer Brandon VanAusdal, is currently being treated at a hospital.

Both Brooks and Shore have been charged with felony DUI.

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Our hearts are heavy this morning as we mourn the loss of our family members, Officer Ryan MacCluen and K9 MOJO. Both...

Posted by North Charleston Police Department on Friday, February 16, 2018


Categories: Law Enforcement

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