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San Francisco police chief 'sorry' for raid on journalist

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 08:40

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco's police chief apologized on Friday for raiding a freelance journalist's home and office to find out who leaked a police report into the unexpected death of the city's former public defender.

Chief William Scott told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday the searches were probably illegal and said "I'm sorry that this happened."

California's shield law protects journalists from search warrants and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that journalists are free to report on newsworthy information contained in stolen documents.

Because the warrants are under seal, it's not known what information police provided to support the searches or to what extent they disclosed that Bryan Carmody is a journalist.

Scott said he has reviewed all material related to the searches and he was concerned the initial warrants didn't adequately identify Carmody as a journalist.

"The description of what his role entails as a journalist — there should have been more clarity there," Scott said. "That is going to be a concern that has to be explored further."

Carmody was handcuffed for six hours on May 10 while police armed with a sledgehammer searched for evidence to determine who provided a confidential police report on the death of the late public defender, Jeff Adachi, after he refused to reveal his source.

The case alarmed journalism advocates and put pressure on elected leaders in the politically liberal city to defend the press.

Scott initially defended the raid, telling the city Police Commission his department went through the appropriate legal process.

On Tuesday, Scott said Carmody "crossed the line" and suspected the journalist took part in a criminal conspiracy to steal an internal police report, motivated by profit or animosity toward Adachi.

Carmody said he did not pay for the report or conspire to steal it but simply acquired it as part of his work as a journalist.

Mayor London Breed had requested the independent probe into the way police handled the investigation into the leak and the internal affairs investigation, which could lead to discipline for officers.

Scott said the department will not use any evidence seized in the raids.

Reporters and other First Amendment organizations want a judge to revoke search warrants that authorized the raids and to unseal the materials submitted in support of them.

"We're encouraged by the chief's apology but we think there needs to be real reform here," Carmody's attorney, Ben Berkowitz, said. "The city needs to take steps to make sure nothing like this happens again to journalists."

Categories: Law Enforcement

Conn. police defend social media deal with fugitive

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 08:32

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Police in a Connecticut city were still searching Friday for a fugitive who failed to honor an agreement and surrender once enough people responded positively to his wanted poster on social media.

Jose Simms, 29, has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on charges that range from breach of peace to risk of injury to a child.

He is believed to be somewhere in New York.

Torrington police Lt. Brett Johnson posted on the department's Facebook page Wednesday that Simms had contacted him through the social media site and agreed to turn himself in if the post containing his poster received 15,000 likes.

The page has far surpassed that number, but still no sign of Simms.

Police said despite the no-show, they are satisfied with their decision to enter into the agreement.

"It's generated phone calls and tips and leads that we otherwise may not have been able to get," Lt. Bart Barown said. "We've got all kinds of information and tips that will help us."

Barown said the Facebook post, was just one of many tools being used to try and get Simms into custody. He noted that national media publicity — including a country song parody about the case by the band Dixie Jade — has made it harder for Simms to hide.

"We're going to get him," Barown said.

The deal led to some criticism. Maki Haberfeld, an expert in police ethics and procedure at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Simms is using social media to manipulate both the news media and police, who she said have no business negotiating a deal with a suspect, never mind one that involves likes on Facebook.

"It turns this into a joke," she said. "People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game."

Simms did not respond Friday to a Facebook message seeking comment and took down his Facebook page. On Wednesday, he had written that he was a "man of my word" and said he had decided to negotiate his surrender because "looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress."

He also responded to the original Torrington Police post, complaining about his mug shot on the site, calling it a "trash pic."

"Jose, it's the only one we had.hopefully we will get a 'good' one soon," the department replied.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Virtual reality helps police in dealing with autistic people

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 08:20

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — An autistic man walks out of a store without paying for a toy he picked up. He's followed by a storekeeper demanding he come back inside. The situation quickly escalates, and police are called.

Officers arrive, their patrol car's lights flashing and sirens blaring, to find the man in the parking lot, yelling and not responding to their commands. They have a choice: confront the man and risk having the situation turn violent or regroup to figure out a different approach.

The scenario is part of a virtual reality simulation for police that's being developed by Axon — the company known best for developing the Taser — so officers can learn how to interact with people who have autism and de-escalate situations that could quickly turn awry. The developmental disorder that can involve varying degrees of language and social impairments, often including repetitive behaviors. In 2018, the U.S. government estimated about 1 in 40 kids is diagnosed with autism.

This week, the company announced a partnership with Chicago police to train officers by using virtual reality headsets. It will be making the program, developed with the help of mental health and autism experts, available to police departments across the U.S.

For now, they offer two training modules: one for autism and another for dealing with people who have schizophrenia.

"The ability to tell the difference between someone who's acting in an unusual way that may be due to their autism versus someone who could be a risk to you can be a really fine line," said David Kearon of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. "When you're trying to make that judgment very quickly, that's where we see mistakes made."

The officers don headsets similar to those used for video games and are immediately immersed in a virtual reality training ground. With a small remote, they can pick the scenario and go through each training scenario in just about five minutes.

In the autism scenario, officers experience it first from the point-of-view of the autistic person, watching as the storekeeper approaches somewhat angrily and pulls the toy robot away, telling the man he needs to pay for it. Police are called and officers arrive and confront him.

They can then play it from the perspective of the police officers, observing tell-tale signs that someone could be autistic.

A crackling call on the radio reports an aggressive male suspect shoplifting and fighting with an employee. The officers pull up to find the man in the parking lot, holding the toy and flailing his arms. They introduce themselves and ask the man what's happening. He doesn't respond.

"We need you to calm down!" an officer tells the man, who is hitting himself in the head and speaking incoherently.

The officers can then choose to either talk to their partner or close in and confront the man.

The officers are taught that flashing lights and sirens can be overstimulating and just turning them off could ease the situation. They are also encouraged to remain calm, avoid physically confronting the person and to engage specially trained officers from a mental health crisis team, if their department has one.

The training can also create "a sense of empathy" and emphasizes that other methods like shouting or grabbing a suspect, "can hyper-escalate someone who is autistic," Rick Smith, Axon's founder and CEO, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Rather than just training police how to use a Taser, maybe we should train them how to avoid using it," he said.

Police departments large and small have had difficulties responding to calls involving autistic people.

In Graham, Texas, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west of Dallas, a 19-year-old man was throwing rocks at his neighbor's fence. The autistic teenager, Michael Moore, had difficulty communicating with the responding police officers, so they guessed he might have been drunk or high. They tried to give him a field sobriety test and when he failed the test, they moved in to arrest him. A struggle ensued. Body camera video shows the teen, whose mother says he has a "high functioning" form of autism, being shot with a Taser and thrown to the ground.

"When the officers approached him, he tried to maintain contact," his mother, Tracie Brown, said. "It's very hard for people with autism."

"His hands were visible at all times and he kept saying over and over, 'My mama is inside. Let me go get my mom' and for whatever reason the police officers refused to come and verify," she said.

Brent Bullock, Graham's interim chief, said all of his 25 officers underwent autism training after the incident and were given field guides to identify whether someone may have autism or be suffering from a mental health crisis.

"I believe it was a positive thing," he said. Since then, his officers have encountered similar situations and managed to de-escalate them, Bullock said.

Axon plans to provide autism training free with the purchase of Taser devices. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies already use the company's other products, like Tasers and body camera.

The virtual reality experience may be more effective for officers than conventional training, Smith said, because officers can feel what it would be like to be on the other side of the encounter and may be more likely to remember it.

"By putting them through this training, we're giving the officers a chance to learn through experience, which we know is a much more effective way than just trying to remember some checklist they may have been taught in the academy," Smith said.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Photo of the Week: Train them young

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 12:26
Author: PoliceOne Members

This week's photo comes from Officer Ali Khan of the Oroville Police Department in California. Pictured is him and his 3-year-old daughter who already wants to be an officer. Thank you for your service!

Calling all police photographers! PoliceOne needs pictures of you in action or training. Submit a photo — it could be selected as our Photo of the Week! Be sure to include your name, department information and address (including city, state and ZIP code) where we can reach you — Photo of the Week winners have a chance to win a PoliceOne.com T-shirt!

Categories: Law Enforcement

Fugitive missing after making deal with PD to surrender if wanted poster got 15K likes

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 12:12
Author: PoliceOne Members

Associated Press

TORRINGTON, Conn. — Police in a Connecticut city were still searching Friday for a fugitive who failed to honor an agreement and surrender once enough people responded positively to his wanted poster on social media.

Jose Simms has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on charges that range from breach of peace to risk of injury to a child.

He is believed to be somewhere in New York.

Torrington police Lt. Brett Johnson posted on the department's Facebook page Wednesday that Simms had contacted him through the social media site and agreed to turn himself in if the post containing his poster received 15,000 likes.

The page has far surpassed that number, but still no sign of Simms or another fugitive, Kristopher Waananen, who has outstanding motor vehicle and failure to appear warrants. He was mentioned in the same post, but without a similar agreement to surrender.

"Regardless of the number of "Likes" this post receives, we will continue to utilize the resources we have available to us to locate both suspects and take them into custody," wrote Police Lt. Bart Barown.

The deal led to some criticism. Maki Haberfeld, an expert in police ethics and procedure at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Simms is using social media to manipulate both the news media and police, who she said have no business negotiating a deal with a suspect, never mind one that involves likes on Facebook.

"It turns this into a joke," she said. "People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game."

Simms did not respond Friday to a Facebook message seeking comment. On Wednesday, he had written that he was a "man of my word" and said he had decided to negotiate his surrender because "looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress."

He also responded to the original Torrington Police post, complaining about his mug shot on the site, calling it a "trash pic."

"Jose, it's the only one we had.hopefully we will get a 'good' one soon," the department replied.

Regardless of the number of "Likes" this post receives, we will continue to utilize the resources we have available to...

Posted by City of Torrington Police Department on Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Categories: Law Enforcement

Fugitive missing after making deal with PD to surrender if his wanted poster got 15K Facebook likes

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 12:12
Author: PoliceOne Members

Associated Press

TORRINGTON, Conn. — Police in a Connecticut city were still searching Friday for a fugitive who failed to honor an agreement and surrender once enough people responded positively to his wanted poster on social media.

Jose Simms has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on charges that range from breach of peace to risk of injury to a child.

He is believed to be somewhere in New York.

Torrington police Lt. Brett Johnson posted on the department's Facebook page Wednesday that Simms had contacted him through the social media site and agreed to turn himself in if the post containing his poster received 15,000 likes.

The page has far surpassed that number, but still no sign of Simms or another fugitive, Kristopher Waananen, who has outstanding motor vehicle and failure to appear warrants. He was mentioned in the same post, but without a similar agreement to surrender.

"Regardless of the number of "Likes" this post receives, we will continue to utilize the resources we have available to us to locate both suspects and take them into custody," wrote Police Lt. Bart Barown.

The deal led to some criticism. Maki Haberfeld, an expert in police ethics and procedure at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Simms is using social media to manipulate both the news media and police, who she said have no business negotiating a deal with a suspect, never mind one that involves likes on Facebook.

"It turns this into a joke," she said. "People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game."

Simms did not respond Friday to a Facebook message seeking comment. On Wednesday, he had written that he was a "man of my word" and said he had decided to negotiate his surrender because "looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress."

He also responded to the original Torrington Police post, complaining about his mug shot on the site, calling it a "trash pic."

"Jose, it's the only one we had.hopefully we will get a 'good' one soon," the department replied.

Regardless of the number of "Likes" this post receives, we will continue to utilize the resources we have available to...

Posted by City of Torrington Police Department on Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Categories: Law Enforcement

Miss. mayor will pay drug dealers, gang members $10K to leave city

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 11:54
Author: PoliceOne Members

By PoliceOne Staff

CLARKSDALE, Miss. — A mayor is ready to spend thousands of his own money to help move criminals out of his city.

According to Newsweek, Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy will give funds starting at around $10,000 to persuade people committing crimes to relocate and start new lives.

The move is a part of a five-point plan to reduce crime that will be reviewed by the Clarksdale Police department.

“We are talking directly to three groups of people. Drug dealers, gang members, and any wannabe criminals in the city of Clarksdale,” Espy said.

Espy told reporters during a press conference that these criminals may be in the wrong environment and they may not have the good opportunities they need in the city.

For those who want to turn their lives around, etiquette classes and job assistance will be put in place. But for those who don’t want to be model citizens, Espy and the city’s police department are giving them the option to get out.

Efforts to fight crime in the city have been working, the mayor reported. More personnel have been added to the police department to handle felony cases. Twelve homicides were committed in 2018, but with the new efforts, there has only been one homicide this year to date.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Man charged in crash that killed Tenn. officer

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 10:59

Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Tennessee man already convicted three times for driving under the influence now faces a vehicular homicide charge, accused of fatally rear-ending a police officer.

Shelby County prosecutors said Thursday that Marquell Griffin was intoxicated and speeding when he slammed into the car of Lt. Myron Fair, a 25-year veteran of the Memphis Police.

Authorities say Fair was stopped at a traffic light, headed home from work, when his Nissan Altima was hit from behind by Griffin's Dodge Durango just after midnight on March 21 in Memphis.

Police said Griffin walked away but was arrested later. Online court records didn't show a lawyer for him in this case late Thursday.

Today, the men and women of the Memphis Police Department are heartbroken by the loss of a dear friend, coworker, and an...

Posted by Memphis Police Department est.1827 on Thursday, March 21, 2019

Categories: Law Enforcement

Slain NC student gets Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 10:39

Associated Press

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. — A University of North Carolina-Charlotte student who was killed when he tackled a gunman who opened fire inside a classroom has been posthumously awarded military honors.

Twenty-one-year-old Army ROTC cadet Riley Howell was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

The Charlotte Observer reports Waynesville Police Chief William Hollingsed and Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher on Wednesday presented Howell's family with the medals. They were provided by Thomas Matteo, president of the Purple Heart Society.

Riley is credited with saving lives during the April 30 attack on the Charlotte campus that also killed 19-year-old student Ellis R. Parlier and wounded four others.

Authorities have charged 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell with murder, attempted murder and other offenses.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Man found guilty in officer's 2010 fatal shooting

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 08:35

Associated Press

CHICAGO — A man who bragged about killing an off-duty Chicago police officer during an armed robbery was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder.

Antwon Carter, flanked by sheriff's deputies, shuffled calmly out of Cook County Circuit Court after he was convicted of the 2010 murder of Officer Michael Bailey.

Bailey, 62, was wiping down an automobile he purchased ahead of a planned retirement, when he was shot three times during a shootout with Carter. Bailey was wearing a baseball jersey over his uniform at the time. He had just finished a shift on then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's security detail.

In closing arguments Thursday, Assistant State's Attorney Natosha Toller held up the blood-stained uniform shirt Bailey was wearing the morning he was killed.

"The wounds show that the gunshots pierced through his uniform shirt above the jersey" that Bailey wore over his blue top after finishing his shift.

Carter, 32, was arrested a year later, based largely on statements he made to friends and prison inmates, bragging about killing Bailey. The informants testified Carter confessed to them in separate conversations after he was sent to prison on a parole violation about two months after the shooting.

One of the informants, Floyd Payne, testified he heard Carter bragging in December 2010 when both were in a lockup at a suburban courthouse.

"The dark-skinned skinny guy said something like he killed a police officer," said Payne, who went on to allege Carter also mentioned the shooting occurred early in the morning.

Assistant Public Defender Ed Koziboski, told the jury the incriminating boasts of Carter didn't match with the facts of the crime.

"Antwon Carter is telling these stories because that's how you build your cred on the street, making you bigger than you are, making you more than just a stick-up kid," Koziboski said to the jury. "How do you get respect? By being the crazy guy who killed that officer."

Carter wasn't charged with the murder until a year after Bailey's death. His trial was delayed by the prosecutors' trying him first on carjacking charges, for which Carter was convicted.

Bailey was among five Chicago police officers killed in 2010, one of the department's deadliest in its 164-year history. Prosecutors also obtained convictions in the other slayings.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Ga. K-9 dies tracking suspect in 90-degree weather

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 08:07

Associated Press

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — A police K9 in Georgia suddenly fell ill while chasing a suspect and died.

News outlets report the Gwinnett County police dog named Eli was working with his handler in Snellville on Thursday when he began to show symptoms believed to be heat-related. A police statement says the eight-year department veteran had been tracking the suspect for about 30 minutes in 90-degree weather.

It says the 9-year-old dog was quickly taken to a local veterinarian for treatment but didn't recover.

Details surrounding the chase and suspect are unclear.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Police won't fight Calif. use-of-force bill

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 07:55

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Major law enforcement organizations dropped their opposition Thursday to California legislation that strengthens standards for when officers can use deadly force, a shift that followed changes to the measure.

The measure would bar police from using lethal force unless it is "necessary" to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or bystanders. It was prompted by public outrage over fatal police shootings, including the killing of unarmed vandalism suspect Stephon Clark in Sacramento last year.

The current standard lets officers kill if they have "reasonable" fear they or others are in imminent danger, a threshold that makes it rare for officers to be charged following a shooting and rarer still for them to be convicted.

"With so many unnecessary deaths, I think everyone agrees that we need to change how deadly force is used in California," said Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego, who wrote the measure. "We can now move a policy forward that will save lives and change the culture of policing in California."

The issue has spawned emotional testimony from those who have lost loved ones in confrontations with police and from officers who have been involved in shootings on the job.

Law enforcement officials did not explain their decision. But a revised version of the bill filed Thursday drops an explicit definition of "necessary" that was in the original. The deleted language said officers could open fire when there is "no reasonable alternative."

The amended measure also makes clear that officers are not required to retreat or back down in the face of a suspect's resistance and officers don't lose their right to self-defense if they use "objectively reasonable force."

Amendments also strip out a specific requirement that officers try to de-escalate confrontations before using deadly force but allow the courts to consider officers' actions leading up to fatal shootings, said Peter Bibring, police practices director for the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which proposed the bill and negotiated the changes.

"The courts can still consider whether officers needlessly escalated a situation or failed to use de-escalation tactics that could have avoided a shooting," he said.

The ACLU considers the revised measure to still have the strongest language of any in the U.S., though legal experts split on the significance of Thursday's changes.

"This is so watered down," said Ed Obayashi, a use-of-force consultant to law enforcement agencies and a Plumas County deputy sheriff. "The language is virtually legally synonymous with current constitutional standards for use of force. It really is a distinction without a legal difference."

But University of South Carolina law professor and former Tallahassee, Florida, police officer Seth Stoughton called it a significant change to current state law.

The revised bill "does a better job than any law that I'm aware of in defining what is an imminent threat," he said.

"It doesn't do everything the original bill had in it, but it brings California from the lowest tier in the country in to the highest tier in the country and you're left with a feasible, reasonable standard that I think is going to go a long way to protecting officers and community members," Stoughton said.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders in the Legislature backed the revised version, which is set for an Assembly vote next week. Newsom called it "an important bill, one that will help restore community trust in our criminal justice system."

Law enforcement opponents blocked passage of a similar measure introduced last year after police killed Clark, an unarmed black man. The death set off intense protests.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents rank-and-file officers, and the California Police Chiefs Association both removed their opposition and moved to neutral positions. The groups were the key law enforcement negotiators with Weber's office and the ACLU.

Six other associations representing state, county and local law enforcement officers and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association all also withdrew their opposition.

Law enforcement organizations are backing a related Senate measure that would require that every officer be trained in ways to avoid opening fire.

Categories: Law Enforcement

How the FTO's teaching role differs from academy instruction

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 03:54
Author: Policing Matters Podcast

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

During the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) in St. Louis, Policing Matters podcast co-host Doug Wyllie roamed the hallways and ran into countless law enforcement trainers and experts, some of whom were willing to sit down and talk about what they're teaching and what they're learning.

In this podcast segment, Doug sits down with Dan Green to discuss the importance of the Field Training Officer and how the FTO's teaching role differs from academy instruction.


Why the FTO is one of the most important police employees

How to survive field training and keep your FTO happy

How 'FTO shopping' can lower quality and raise liability for police agencies

Categories: Law Enforcement

Book Excerpt: Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 20:25

On May 9, 1980, five heavily armed men led by a born-again Christian with apocalyptic beliefs attempted a takeover robbery of the Security Pacific Bank in Norco, California, just outside of Los Angeles. What followed was one of the most violent events in law enforcement history.

After their getaway driver was killed during a ferocious firefight with Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies in the middle of a busy Southern California intersection, the four surviving bank robbers commandeered a heavy-utility pickup truck and began a running gun battle with police through the streets of Riverside County.

One of the first law enforcement officers to encounter the fleeing bank robbers was Riverside Deputy Rolf Parkes. He would become the third of seven responding officers hit by gunfire in the first 20 minutes of a pursuit that raged through suburban neighborhoods, onto a busy freeway, and ended an hour later in a deadly ambush on a rugged mountainside high above Los Angeles.

The following is excerpted from Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan, available on June 11, 2019.

With a name that belied his true heritage, Rolf Parkes was of mostly Hawaiian descent, born on the island of Oahu and adopted at birth by a Caucasian, non-native “haole” couple who lived there. When his parents divorced, Rolf and his mother left the beaches of Waikiki for the beaches of Southern California where Rolf grew up the only child of a single mother just blocks off the water in the Belmont Shores area of Long Beach. He was a good-looking kid with black hair and dark eyes who, by virtue of local demographics, was assumed to be Hispanic. But once teachers and friends learned he was Hawaiian by blood, it all made perfect sense: the Islander’s smile, the smoky complexion, his love of sun and water. It also explained his middle name: Napunako.

Rolf developed a passion for flight at an early age and was soloing a Cessna in the skies above Long Beach by age seventeen. He wanted to be a professional pilot, but with all the veterans returning home from Vietnam in the mid-1970s, the labor market was glutted with experienced fliers. Parkes earned a four-year degree from Long Beach State, worked for a while as an EMT, and then decided to enter police work at the encouragement of some cop friends.

At twenty-seven with under two years on the Riverside force, Parkes was highly regarded by his fellow officers. Andy Delgado considered Parkes one of the “Lions” on the force: a quiet, brave cop who would be there when you needed him. Reserved by nature, Rolf kept a few close friends on the force but did not fraternize much after work because of the ninety-minute commute back to Long Beach. Rolf liked the ocean, the beach, and his childhood friends too much to move to the landlocked smog belt of Riverside County.

It was Rolf’s desire to be closer to Long Beach that led him to accept a lateral move to the Irvine Police Department. He was headed into his final week at the RSO when he arrived for the cover shift the afternoon of May 9, 1980. At the shift briefing, Parkes had tried to grab the Norco beat ahead of Glyn Bolasky to avoid working in Rubidoux, but Bolasky was having none of it, pulling rank on Parkes with a sly smile. Bolasky kept his Norco shift while Rolf hit the streets that day with the call sign 3-Edward-13—“3” for the three shift, “Edward” for Riverside station, “13” for Rubidoux.

When the 1199 went out, Parkes responded in the direction of Fourth and Hamner by way of Mira Loma. Trying to follow reports of the suspects’ location over the increasingly cluttered radio traffic, Rolf listened as every one of his fellow deputies who encountered the bank robbers took fire or had been wounded, maybe even killed. He heard Doug Borden report being fired on at Schleisman. The next transmission put the suspects on 68th Street headed in the direction of Holmes Avenue. Turning off Etiwanda onto Holmes, a two-lane road lined with ramshackle houses, doublewides, and animal pens, it suddenly occurred to Rolf that he might be seconds away from a battle in which he would be outgunned, outmanned, and utterly alone.

Rolf abruptly slowed and pulled his cruiser onto the dirt beside the metal fencing of a horse corral to give him time to consider his options. Before he could make any decisions, the yellow truck appeared, traveling at an ominously slow speed. To Parkes, it did not look like a vehicle fleeing police as much as it did one daring anyone to get close to it. And now it was 150 feet away, headed directly at him.

At once, three men with rifles simultaneously turned their weapons on Rolf. Bullets ricocheted off the pavement in front of him with a singing sound as they fragmented. Others cracked like bullwhips overhead as they shattered the sound barrier on their way to God knows where. There was the tearing sound of rounds striking his vehicle, ripping through multiple layers of metal, plastic, and glass with a guttural, three-dimensional quality. Fragments lacerated the interior and seats while heavier rounds from George Smith’s .308 passed through one side of the vehicle and out the other. Rolf had been around plenty of guns, but this was like nothing he had ever heard before.

Closing in on him, the truck methodically crossed the dotted line, veering into his lane like a trapper walking up to a snared animal to blow its brains out. The fucking thing seemed to amble, in no hurry at all. These sons of bitches are not trying to get away from me, he thought, they are trying to kill me. He was out of options. In the move of a desperate man willing to put anything between himself and death, Rolf Parkes did the only thing he could think of: he rolled up his side window.

A calm resignation came over him. He wondered if he would die slowly or quickly and how much it would hurt. He lay across the bench seat on his right side, all the shit mounted on his dashboard preventing him from getting down on the floorboard. Rounds were already tearing through the interior of the Monaco. He reflexively lifted his left arm up to shield his head, peering out from underneath his elbow.

The truck slowly rolled into his field of view no more than a yard away from his window, drifting by like a pirate ship pulling broadsides on some helpless, wallowing frigate. Time seemed to slow down as they appeared one by one, looking like pirates themselves. The wild eyes of Christopher Harven stared out at him from the two holes of a black ski mask. With one hand on the steering wheel, Harven reached out with the other and fired the .45 Long Colt revolver at point blank range, the bullets striking the quarter panel and door. Manny Delgado managed to get off a few shots over the top of the cab, gouging ruts in the roof of Parkes’s unit. There was an explosion of gunfire coming from multiple weapons and then the face of Russell Harven appeared above him, looming like some sort of insane hillbilly while aiming his rifle down at a violent angle, shooting fish in a barrel. Broken glass sprayed Rolf in the face. He shut his eyes against it. Something whizzed by, cleaving his scalp right down the middle, just above the hairline. Finally, it was George Smith’s turn, firing over the edge of the tailgate into the body of the Monaco as they pulled away, the last round from the .308 exploding the back window of the patrol unit.

Rolf could hear the truck accelerate away. He opened his eyes and felt his head. There was only a spotting of blood from a flesh wound on his scalp. A few inches lower and it would have been the proverbial bullet right between the eyes. There was glass all through his hair and a stinging in his right eye, but Rolf Parkes knew the impossible had just happened: He was still alive.

Copyright © 2019 by Peter Houlahan, from Norco '80. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Fla. fire lieutenant, retired police detective, dies during fire training

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:07

By FireRescue1 Staff

PLANTATION, Fla. — A fire lieutenant died earlier this month, after he collapsed during a drill.

Officials with the Plantation Fire Department said Lt. Barry Boulton Sr. was at a Rapid Intervention Team drill on May 7 when he fell ill. His colleagues immediatly began resucitation efforts.

Boulton, 67, was rushed to a local hospital where he died from cardiac arrest.

Boulton was a retired U.S. Marine colonel and retired detective with the Hollywood (Florida) Police Department.

“I had the privilege of serving in the Criminal Investigations Division with Barry and saw his dedication and professionalism first hand. No matter how difficult the case, Barry treated everyone with dignity and respect. His smile was infectious and you will not find anyone from HPD who hasn’t said Barry was one of the nicest people they ever met," said Hollywood Police Assistant Chief Manny Marino at Boulton's funeral services.

Boulton had served 30 years with the Hollywood Police Department from 1983 to his retirement in 2013. During his career with the PD, he served in the Criminal Investigations Division, on the SWAT Team and as a member of the HPD Dive Team

"While Colonel, Detective and Lieutenant were his official titles, his true role was to be a husband, father and family man. God speed brother, we will forever be grateful and thank for your service," Hollywood Police officials posted on their Facebook page.

The PFD family announces the sudden and tragic loss of Lt. Barry Boulton. Lt. Boulton served as Basic Training Lead...

Posted by City of Plantation Fire Department on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Thank you to all those who helped make the funeral procession for Lt. Barry Boulton a true tribute to his life and...

Posted by City of Plantation Fire Department on Thursday, May 16, 2019

Today HPD, along with fellow colleagues, friends and family, remembered Detective Barry Boulton. Assistant Chief Manny...

Posted by Hollywood Police Department on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Categories: Law Enforcement

Integrating laser scanning and UAV data gives investigators a new 3D view

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:00

By Mary Jo Wagner

No one would dispute that courage is at the core of any police officer. It takes a certain braveness to dress for a job in which every day is a mystery – people could go missing, be hurt, be fatally wounded – and one’s own life could be at risk of injury or worse.

For Detective Eric Gunderson of the Washington State Patrol (WSP), that fearlessness extends to his department’s adoption and use of technology, where WSP officers regularly move beyond spec sheets to discover new and innovative ways to make technology work for them. For example, they once hung a laser scanner upside down through a sun roof to scan the inside of a car. (It worked). This level of comfort with advanced technological tools has come from years of asking “What if,” and the willingness – from the chief down – to embrace technology that can benefit both the WSP and the citizens the department serves.

Integrated forensics

Laser scanners have been in the field for the past four years and, in 2017, WSP began adding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to its technology arsenal.

“Whenever we acquire new equipment, my captain always says that this technology is another tool in your toolbox,’” Gunderson said, who serves as the WSP's technology liaison. “So, if you need a Phillips [screwdriver], you've got one. If you need a flat head, you've got one. No one tool will solve all your needs. It’s important to get comfortable with many different tools both in the field and back in the office.”

Indeed, Gunderson’s penchant for experimentation has been key to becoming at ease with technology. Case in point: soon after acquiring his first UAV, Gunderson tested the possibility of merging scan and UAV data of the same scene into one, integrated point cloud. It was not only a success, but the integrated forensics view has become a formidable tool for accident reconstruction cases, which make up 65% of their responses.

“Individually, both laser scanning and UAVs have their strengths and benefits in the field,” Gunderson said. “But the ability to seamlessly combine the two different data sources into one point cloud gives us a complete 3D view from all sides of a crime scene. That is an additional and powerful forensics tool. The technological versatility we have makes us confident that we’ll be able to respond to any incident and investigate it thoroughly.”

It was that same level of comfort with technology that gave WSP responders the confidence to answer the call to the 2017 DuPont train derailment outside Tacoma, Washington, which was an accident so unpredictable and massive that no training drill could have adequately prepared them. It not only put the WSP to the test, it provided the opportunity for Gunderson to push the limits of the integrated scanning/UAV point cloud approach and display it on a national scale.

Responding from all sides

On the morning of December 18, 2017, an Amtrak passenger train was making its inaugural run between Tacoma and Portland, Oregon. As it neared a curve leading to an Interstate-5 overpass near DuPont, the train was traveling at 78 mph – 50 mph over the speed limit – and the lead locomotive, along with 11 of its 14 rail cars, derailed. It was 7:33 a.m. and I-5 was already teeming with commuters. The lead locomotive and three rail cars landed on I-5, causing a 14-vehicle pile-up. Three of the 77 passengers onboard the train were killed, and 62 passengers and 6 crew members were injured. The initial damage was estimated to be $40 million.

“Where this happened couldn’t have been a worse spot as far as impact to the region,” Gunderson said. “I-5 is the major artery between Tacoma, Olympia, Portland and Seattle. With Puget Sound to the west, the Nisqually River to the south and a military base to the east, your only driving option is I-5.”

WSP troopers were on scene within five minutes of the crash. By 8:30 a.m. the scene was swarming with hundreds of officers, detectives, firefighters and paramedics, all with one thing on their mind: rescue.

“For that kind of incident, the last thing you’re thinking of is preserving evidence,” Gunderson said. “If I need to move a train or car to get someone out, that’s what’s going to happen. Our first hour was consumed by lifesaving, but once we cleared the scene, everything began to slow down, and we could start investigating. Then we owned the scene.”

Accident reconstruction

Working in collaboration with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the lead investigating organization, Gunderson led the accident reconstruction phase, bringing in four Trimble TX5 scanners and one DJI Matrice 200 UAV. Although he had been merging scan and UAV data into point clouds, he had never applied the approach to an incident of this magnitude.

Teams of WSP collision investigation detectives first walked through the debris-riddled scene, taking photographs, painting the footprints of important objects such as cars and tire marks, and documenting them. In parallel, Gunderson dispatched two teams per each of the four scanners and split them into two groups, one to work on the overpass section and one to manage the roadway section.

Setting up on each end of the tracks, the railway teams methodically moved toward each other, scanning all four sides of the individual rail cars and any strewn debris, and recording each object as it was found. The ground crew followed the same process. Starting at each end of the I-5 scene, the teams collected data points of the rail cars, vehicles, roadway, tire marks, paint marks and anything within the boundaries of the accident. In total, the four teams collected 82 scans and more than one billion data points in five hours.

“What’s awesome about scanning is that it ensures you don’t miss anything,” Gunderson said. “At the accident scene, you only get one shot to get what you need. You can’t put the trains back where they used to be, so you need to be right the first time. Scanning captures everything incredibly quickly and often captures something you didn’t know you’d need.”

While the teams were scanning the tracks and roadway, Gunderson flew the 920-ft-long by 340-ft-wide scene with the UAV. After a 10-minute set-up, he flew an overall pass at 200 ft. at roughly 70% front lap and 50% side lap to establish a base. He flew a second pass at 100 ft. and a final flight at altitudes between 15 ft. and 50 ft. to acquire some oblique photos. In 89 minutes, Gunderson collected 682 photos with the unit’s 20MP camera.

“I could have handled the accident with just one technology, but given its scale, I wanted to have data redundancy,” Gunderson said. “The drone would provide different view angles since the scanner can’t get the top of the train. In addition, with the volumes of data I’d collect, it would be a great opportunity to test how well I could merge the two massive datasets together.”

By 2 p.m., Gunderson was able to pack up the gear and head back to the office to process the data.

Creating a 3D picture

For efficiency, Gunderson loaded the UAV photos into the department’s photogrammetry software for batch processing overnight, so when he returned to the office the next morning, the data would be ready.

Preparing the 3D point cloud began by importing the 82 scans into Trimble RealWorks Forensic software, which allows investigators to quickly register, segment and classify 3D laser scan data for analysis and reconstruction. As there was data from four different scanners, Gunderson had to first group and register, or stitch together, all scans from each scanner to produce four scan-data groups. Then he merged each of the four groups to create one overall point cloud.

With the laser scan point cloud complete, Gunderson focused on importing the processed UAV point cloud into the RealWorks point cloud. Once imported, he used the automated extraction tool to clean up and remove any superfluous points and then combined the dataset with the master point cloud to produce the final 3D model of the train derailment. The two came together perfectly, he says.

In total, it took Gunderson about nine hours to create the finished incident model. In less than 36 hours after the initial derailment, he was able to provide a 3D view of the entire accident scene and any object in it to the NTSB.

The NTSB is expected to issue its final report on the accident in 2019.

Value for money

The final point cloud result of the DuPont train derailment not only demonstrated the success of Gunderson’s multi-pronged approach on a large scale, it helped cement these technologies as core data sources for the WSP.

“The benefits of the laser scanner and the UAV are unparalleled, both individually and together,” Gunderson said. “I can’t fly the UAV in a house, but I can definitely scan it. But if I have a mile-long accident scene, I can fly that in five minutes, and I can supplement with the scanner. I can capture great scanning data at each end of the scene and then connect the two. Having these choices allows us to tackle any scene.”

Last summer, the department upgraded its scanners. The new units give them 500,000 points per second, better intensity detail, which makes objects stand out more clearly, faster scanning and the ability to scan in the rain – an important feature for the Pacific Northwest.

WSP also launched a UAV pilot program last July and outfitted 15 collision-technology specialists across the state with smaller UAV units. The aim was to assess whether the technology could help them map straightforward accident scenes more efficiently and accurately. Soon after the pilot began, a team responded to a one-car pedestrian accident on I-5. Prior to the UAV, they would have worked the scene for a few hours with traditional baseline methods. Using the UAV, they cleared the scene in 18 minutes.

“Someone from the state DOT (Department of Transportation) once told me that any time the I-5 is shutdown, the cost to the region is about $350-$400 a minute,” Gunderson said. “That adds up to a big number really quickly.”

Based on the success of the pilot, the WSP is adding 75 smaller UAVs to its force this summer and more than 50 WSP detectives have been issued the smaller UAVs – each criminal investigation division has a Matrice UAV.

It’s clear the WSP’s commitment to asking, “What if” and investing in technology tools is not abating. In a job that demands that officers and investigators are ready for any possible scenario at any time, enabling technology is a welcome tool.

“Pushing the envelope with our technology is having a huge impact,” Gunderson said. “We could never have trained for an incident like the derailment. But when it happened, we didn’t hesitate to respond because we knew we had the technology and tools we needed. You’re going to have victims who want answers and investigators who must give those answers. Our ability to provide information that will help people find the answers feels good. And that’s real value for money.”

About the author Mary Jo Wagner is a freelance writer who has been covering the geospatial industry for 25 years. Contact her at mj_wagner@shaw.ca.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Graham v. Connor: Three decades of guidance and controversy

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:59

By Lance J. LoRusso, Esq.

Cited over 54,000 times and the subject of nearly 1,200 law review articles, [1] one cannot overstate the profound effect of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Connor on American law enforcement.

Often equally praised and maligned, the relatively short decision issued on May 15, 1989, held that the use of force by law enforcement officers (LEOs) must be judged by an objective standard of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, the rationale of that decision, and the statements made during the discussion, still spur controversy 30 years later.

The excessive force case behind Graham v. Connor

Graham v. Connor is an excessive force case arising from the detention and release of a suspicious person by City of Charlotte officer M.S. Connor.

On November 12, 1984, diabetic Dethorne Graham asked his friend to drive him to a convenience store so he could purchase some orange juice as he believed he was about to have an insulin reaction. Facing a long line upon entering the store, Graham quickly exited, got back into his friend’s car and asked him to drive to a friend’s house.

Graham’s short stay and rapid exit attracted the attention of City of Charlotte (N.C.) police officer M.S. Connor who stopped the car. He detained Graham and the driver until he could establish that nothing untoward occurred at the convenience store.

During the stop, Graham exited his friend’s car, ran around it and passed out. He was handcuffed and placed onto Connor’s hood. At that point, he came to and pleaded with the officers to get him some sugar. Graham’s friend came to the scene with orange juice, but the officers refused to allow Graham access.

The officers put Graham into a patrol car but released him after an officer confirmed the convenience store was secure.

During the encounter, officers reportedly made comments indicating they believed Graham was drunk and cursed at him. Graham reportedly suffered multiple injuries and sued the city and several officers, including Connor, for violating his constitutional rights.

After the federal trial court granted a directed verdict [2] dismissing all defendants, plaintiff Dethorne Graham appealed to the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the dismissal. The United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration of the case under a new standard for interpreting law enforcement use of force that would change the legal landscape.

A standard to analyze police use of force

The Graham court focused on “unreasonable seizures” and decided all LE use of force must be examined under the Fourth Amendment not the Eighth Amendment, as the latter required some inquiry into the subjective beliefs of the LEO.

The Fourth Amendment provides, in relevant part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” This was consistent with the Court’s holding three years prior in Tennessee v. Garner, which relied primarily on the Fourth Amendment to review a LEO’s use of force on a fleeing suspect.

The Court set out a simple standard for courts to analyze law enforcement use of force. The desired standard would be objective as the Eighth Amendment “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibition necessitated too much focus on the subjective beliefs and intentions of the involved LEOs, which may or may not have had any effect on the outcome of the encounter: [3]

“As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the ‘reasonableness’ inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers' actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation…An officer's evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officer's good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional.”

The principle is rather straightforward and generally not controversial. However, the remaining analysis sparked a fire of controversy that continues today.

First, the Court held that the actions of a LEO must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable LEO and not a responsible person. This is significant as most criminal and civil standards incorporate and rely upon a reasonable person or “reasonable man” standard as the law once described it.

Law enforcement critics found the seeds for their discontent in Justice Rehnquist’s rationale for this standard:

“The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.”

Justice Rehnquist elaborated on the need to perform an objective analysis of the LEO’s actions that poured accelerant on the flames of controversy. Relying upon Terry v. Ohio, the Court stated:

“Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it.”

Recognizing this would necessitate a fact-based inquiry, the Court provided this instruction:

“The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

Finally, the Court unequivocally advised all courts reviewing a LEO’s use of force to consider the imperfect and uncontrolled reality of the environment in which LEOs use force:

“The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”

The Graham court retained one key rationale from the now overruled Johnson v. Glick case stating:

“With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: ‘Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers,’ Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d, at 1033, violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Graham has long been criticized as dismissing the rights of the subject of LE action. I believe the “reasonable LEO” standard is a thorn in the side of most LE critics who look at videos and apply an untrained, ill-informed analysis to advocate for sanctions against the LEO. Recent critics of Graham have argued that the Supreme Court’s rationale and guidance from this civil case cannot be applied to a criminal analysis of a LEO’s use of force. For those critics, I have a question: How can a reasonable use of force under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution violate a state criminal statute? I have yet to hear a coherent or rationale answer.

Graham v. Connor considers the interests of three key stakeholders – the law-abiding public who has a right to move about unrestricted, the government that has a right to enforce its laws, and the LEO who has an obligation to enforce the law and the right to do so without suffering injury. LEOs should know and embrace Graham. Time and again, the United States Supreme Court has demonstrated a clear recognition of the dangers inherent in the LEO’s duties, as well as their role in a peaceful society.

Critics may scream louder than our supporters. Recent efforts in California and other states to change the analysis of a LEO’s use of force to apply a hindsight analysis are prime examples. However, the solid bedrock of Graham v. Connor provides a strong foundation for LEOs doing the work few in society are willing to do.


1. A law review article is a scholarly piece typically authored by law professors and law students intended to intensely examine a particularly important decision, area of law, or legal trend.

2. A directed verdict dismisses the case after the Plaintiff’s presentation of evidence.

3. This was essential to the previous test set forth in Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028 (2nd Cir. 1973).

About the author Lance LoRusso is a litigator with a law enforcement background. Lance focuses his practice on cases involving LEOs, responds to critical incidents and shootings, and handles catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of injured LEOs, their families and friends. Lance serves as General Counsel to the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police. He is a trainer at heart and speaks to law enforcement groups around the United States and internationally. He has been a firearms instructor for over 25 years and was a member of the Georgia Governor’s Twenty, the top 20 police marksmen in Georgia, for six years. He is the author of “When Cops Kill: the aftermath of a critical incident,” “Peacemaking” and “Blue News.” All profits from the books benefit law enforcement charities. The books are available on lancelorussobooks.com and Amazon. For more information, visit http://www.lorussolawfirm.com.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Initial response to an officer-involved shooting: A checklist for supervisors

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:39

By Mark Kollar

The critical first minutes following an officer-involved shooting are chaotic, commonly characterized by confusion, conflicting information and sensory overload ­– not only for the involved officers, but also for the initial supervisors responding to the scene.

It is during such incidents that the competence and leadership of first-line or mid-level supervisors are put to the test with lives and prosecutions hinging on the quality and speed of the decisions made. Creating order out of chaos, taking command and exerting a calming influence over an emotional, tense and uncertain situation necessitates a level of confidence that can only come from adequate preparation. Though it is hoped you will never have to experience such an event during your career, you must be prepared for this possibility. The appropriate time for planning your response is before an incident occurs, otherwise you do a great disservice to the officers you lead and the community you have sworn to serve.

The development and implementation of comprehensive policies specific to officer-involved shootings is key to successful response to an incident. Deliberate consideration and resultant procedures should be implemented in order to answer questions such as:

Who will you call to handle the criminal and internal investigations? Who will process the scene? Will the officers be mandated to submit to drug and alcohol testing? Will officers be physically and mentally evaluated at a hospital immediately afterwards? Who can be called if additional manpower is needed? Will officers be required to attend a critical incident stress debriefing? Will officers be interviewed immediately, or only after a specified “cooling off” period? Can officers view their body-worn camera or dash cam videos prior to being interviewed? Will the names of the involved officers be released to the media and if so, when?

These and a multitude of other factors should be addressed in your department’s policy. It is your responsibility as a supervisor to know these procedures inside out – you won’t have time to look them up during the immediate scene response. Your actions need to be steered by these processes with minimal deviation. Under the intense pressure, stress and confusion such an incident can cause, your policies, along with the following suggestions, should serve as your guide to navigating those crucial first minutes.

1. Approach cautiously.

As you arrive on the scene of a shooting, do so knowing that potential threats that led to the incident may still exist. Exercise great caution to ensure no additional injuries occur. Your leadership will be of little value to anyone if you become a victim. Be mindful of potential evidence, unsecured weapons and the possibility that additional suspects may be in the area or fleeing away. Consider the possibility for the presence of biological fluids and other hazards at the scene – the safety of all involved is paramount.

2. Take control.

Take a deep, calming breath and begin directing the activity of the scene. Remove unnecessary personnel, mitigate dangers and delegate activities. While the suggestions in this article are presented as a numbered list, many of the activities occur simultaneously, requiring communication, command and control. Though you may initially need the assistance of the involved officers to stabilize the situation, all attempts should be made to relieve them of scene responsibilities as quickly as practical so they can concentrate on their physical and mental well-being.

3. Render medical aid.

The preservation of life takes priority over the collection or preservation of evidence. That being said, be a good witness by making mental notes if, during the urgency of medical treatment, alterations to the scene are necessary to care for the injured. Officers should attempt life-saving efforts within their abilities and available equipment, with appropriate medical first responders being summoned without delay. If practical, clear an entry/egress route into the scene that is relatively free of obvious physical evidence and direct responding medical personnel to follow that path. If time permits without sacrificing the welfare of patients, photograph the positioning of injured persons and evidence prior to moving. Physically check involved officers for injuries; it is possible they are injured but may not realize due to increased levels of adrenaline.

4. Secure the scene and evidence.

Physical barriers, such as crime scene tape, should be established as quickly as possible in order to protect the integrity of the scene and evidence. Always start larger than you believe is needed – it is easier to collapse the size of the scene than to increase it. Designate officers to maintain security and a crime scene log with areas separate from the crime scene being established for a command post, equipment staging area and for the media. Attempts should be made to protect fragile or transient evidence from destruction by conditions such as adverse weather or rescue personnel. Await the arrival of appropriate crime scene processing staff to collect evidence, including any firearms, unless exigent circumstances dictate otherwise. If a weapon poses no hazard, it should be left untouched as it was found. If it becomes necessary to move or unload the firearm due to safety concerns, be mindful of fingerprint/DNA evidence. Do not attempt to reposition the weapon into the scene. Make detailed notes as to its location, positioning and status (e.g., if there was a live cartridge in the chamber or if there was an apparent malfunction/“stovepipe.”).

5. Identify and separate witnesses.

All witnesses to the incident, to include officers, should be identified and separated to avoid contamination of their memories. However, separate does not necessarily mean alone. It is a good practice to assign a companion/peer officer to be with the involved officers to serve as a liaison and resource, but not to actively discuss the incident unless the involved officer insists. The police department, command post, a hospital or their own residence (once positively identified) can serve as locations for staging witnesses while awaiting investigator arrival. Keep good notes as to where persons were sent or taken in order to provide to the arriving investigators. It generally is not practical or advisable to keep witnesses at the primary scene of the event longer than absolutely needed. A canvass of the area is typically necessary to identify all potential witnesses as many are willing to cooperate if asked but will not come forward on their own. Also note the presence of any possible recordings (e.g. surveillance systems, cell phone video, etc.) and make attempts to obtain and preserve them (or notify responding investigators of their existence).

6. Make necessary notifications.

The seriousness of the incident or injury tends to dictate the notifications required to be made. Calls for additional personnel or resources (e.g., investigators, crime scene staff, scene security and traffic/crowd control) are common, as well as notifications to the agency’s command staff and public information officer. In the event of a fatality, contact with the decedent’s next of kin, the coroner/medical examiner and the prosecutor/district attorney may also be warranted. Exercise great caution when briefing the criminal investigators who arrive on scene to avoid sharing any statements (or derivative information) made by the involved officers under potentially compelled circumstances (possible “Garrity” issues).

7. Comply with departmental policies.

A detailed agency protocol may include taking the involved officers to the hospital for medical and psychological evaluation, drug/alcohol testing and photographs of the officer as dressed at the time of incident and of any visible injuries. The collection of the officer’s firearm as evidence may be designated to be completed by a supervisor or crime scene personnel. Policy may also dictate replacing the officer’s weapon with a spare. Additionally, prescribed public safety questions and/or an initial walkthrough of the scene with investigators may be requested or required based upon agency protocol. In short, know your policies and comply with their mandates for a given situation.

8. Consider legal issues.

Though generally the responsibility of the criminal investigators, small agencies may rely upon supervisors to contemplate legal issues surrounding law enforcement’s continued presence and evidence collection at the scene absent a search warrant or other exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protections. Just because law enforcement was legally called to the scene and a shooting death resulted does not necessarily give you the right to conduct further searching once any life-threatening exigency has subsided. Consult with your local legal counsel to ensure any evidence collected is done so in a constitutionally appropriate manner.

9. Accurately document the scene.

Timely and accurate documentation of the scene and of your actions relative to the incident are critical for the investigations that are likely to follow (administrative, criminal, civil and training/tactical review). Small details, such as whether the lights were on or off in a situation where an officer mistook an object for a weapon, can become vitally important to the investigation. Use checklists to ensure every pertinent fact has been recorded and keep notes throughout regarding your observations, post-incident alterations to the scene, persons present and statements made. Photographs taken as soon as practical – and then progressively throughout the scene response – can also be useful in quickly documenting large amounts of information.

10. Conduct a debrief/self-assessment.

We all make mistakes and there is always room for improvement. Conduct an honest self-assessment to identify areas where you can refine your leadership or better prepare for future incidents. Look for opportunities to enhance your policies and procedures and to train the staff to better accomplish the goals and objectives of a critical incident scene response. Question your officers about their perceptions of how the event was handled and solicit their constructive criticism on how things can be improved. Once the dust settles, it can also be useful to speak with the involved officers to gain their perspective on the aftermath and ways they could feel better supported during those initial minutes following a traumatic event.

About the author Mark Kollar is a special agent supervisor for the Major Crimes Division, Northeast Special Investigations Unit with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He can be reached at mark.kollar@ohioattorneygeneral.gov.

Categories: Law Enforcement

How to find the only knife you’ll ever need in law enforcement

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:04

Sponsored by Benchmade Knife Company

By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne BrandFocus

There’s one piece that police agencies don’t always address in official policy. While you’ll find them on nearly every peace officer from one end to the next, you also won’t find a supply sergeant issuing them out. Can you guess what that piece is?

That’s right. It’s a knife.

Secondary weapons for different departments can range from what’s in vogue or who is certified to carry what, but nearly every officer carries a blade. Next to the badge, uniform and gun, a knife is basically a practical tool that comes in handy for law enforcement officers (I’d say it’s right up there with handcuffs even.) Knives can be worn on the belt, clipped into a pocket, or stashed on a vest, ready to deploy. While keeping all this in mind, here are a few tips to consider before making a choice for your next tour of duty:

Tip 1: Be mission specific and find a knife to go with it

Let’s face it: we’re extremely fortunate to live in a time where there are innumerable blade styles, shapes and materials used to create different knives. But having too many options can also be a challenge, since depending on the mission you’re on, you’d want to pick and choose more carefully.

If you are a tactical operator, you may need something that will allow you to wedge a door, or sever a variety of materials with top-notch cutting ability. This often pushes knives to the extremes of their comfort zones (we all know SWAT breaks stuff). This is where a tactical multi-tool could be a great option. With Benchmade’s 365 Outlast, you can approach nearly any mission with confidence. Tactical officers have a wide range of mounting and carrying options because their uniform is less about command presence and more about utility. Therefore, the sky (or your commander) is the limit.

A patrol officer may want more of a knife that’s the jack of all trades. The roles the average duty officer fills on a daily basis never ceases to amaze me. They may be cutting seatbelts, removing flex-cuffs, or freeing an entangled animal. With proper training and policy support, officers can use their knives as defensive tools for weapons retention or as a backup when they’re disarmed. There are a number of wonderful options in this class and they range from classic folding knives to karambit style fixed blades like the Azeria or even punch-style knives (like those in the CBK Family) that are usually smaller than what SWAT may opt for. Keep in mind that uniformed or patrol officers have many mounting options like duty belts or boots that help them carry quite a few different sizes and weights of blades.

And finally, just because you’ve been promoted to wear a suit and tie doesn’t mean you suddenly lose the need for a cutting tool during your shift. Non-uniform personnel still have need of knives despite focus of their mission. Their clothes might be different, so this can often dictate the needs they have from their knife design. These types of officers still need a good cutting instrument, one that can be used in a wide array of scenarios, but one that doesn’t tear up their pants when they wear it every day. Lightweight utility is the paramount feature combination here, and it can also apply to patrol and tactical units. Find a blade like the 537 Bailout that’s so light, yet still strong enough to offer good cutting power and you are miles ahead.

Tip 2: Think about deployment when choosing your knife

Another critical factor to consider before placing any kind of blade on your uniform is thinking through how you plan on deploying your knife. Can you get to the knife and access it quickly? This may seem like a strange question, but the truth is that law enforcement officials often need knives during the most dire of situations. Whether it’s protecting yourself or cutting something down in a critically short amount of time, the ability to quickly deploy your knife into that situation is essential. Any folder that takes two hands to operate is a potential liability. Thumb stubs, autos, and training on single-handed deployment can make all the difference in the world. Find a blade that you can access and quickly insert to resolve your issue.

Tip 3: Ask yourself: will this knife stay on me?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting a knife that won’t stay on you. Do not select something that will clatter to the ground when you run. Do not pick a blade that tears off your vest when you climb over a chain link fence. And most certainly, do not choose a knife that will introduce itself into a hands-on situation when you have not called for it.

All the above are regrettable and avoidable with some applied wisdom. It’s a frightening thought to think about a case when you reach for your knife and it’s not there. No one wants to pay for a quality blade only to have its retention not serve you in your time of need. Finally, look for options such as secure sheaths, strong (reversible if needed) mounting clips, or MOLLE compatibility.

Lots of options, but few that last

Over the years I have learned that when it comes to buying something that might save your life or another’s, it’s better to look at these purchases as an investment. In other words? Don’t cut corners. There are too many times during your career when a knife could let you down if you decided to go the cheap route. Find a blade that is going to serve your needs during your shift. Once you have decided upon a type, purchase a quality blade made with reliable materials. Make sure you are able to quickly deploy that knife into whatever situation you may call upon it for, and make sure it stays where you placed it until you need it. Once these factors are settled, pick up a quality version of what checks all these boxes for your mission and you’ll never be disappointed. For some, that may mean picking up one of Benchmade’s knives.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Wild LA police pursuit involving stolen RV, dogs leaves 3 injured

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:10

Benjamin Oreskes Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A woman in a stolen recreational vehicle took off on a wild pursuit Tuesday evening with two dogs in tow, smashing into a palm tree and several cars as parts of the camper came flying off.

Three people, including the driver, were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The pursuit began at 7:05 p.m. near Towsley Canyon in Santa Clarita. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had been conducting patrol checks there since a man was seen exposing himself to a woman while she was practicing yoga, said sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Koerner.

Koerner said deputies learned the RV had been stolen out of Simi Valley. KABC-TV Channel 7 reported that the pursuit began after the RV failed to yield.

Two dogs were seen with the woman in the RV as she attempted to elude authorities. At times, the dogs were on her lap as she drove. At one point, one of the dogs jumped from the vehicle.

Video of the pursuit showed the RV hitting speeds of up to 60 mph, and as the driver made her way through the San Fernando Valley, the vehicle slammed into a black car coming through an intersection. TV helicopters zoomed in and showed the driver holding a dog by its harness as the animal attempted to jump from the vehicle.

At least six other vehicles were reportedly struck during the pursuit, which included a detour through a parking lot. As the driver made a wide left turn from the lot, the RV smashed into a palm tree. The impact sheared off part of the side of the RV and took out the front windshield.

The vehicle, with debris flying from it, finally stopped after rear-ending a car in Tarzana. The driver then made a run for it and attempted to scale a fence. She was tackled, handcuffed and eventually taken away by ambulance in a gurney.

Two other people hurt in the crash were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, the California Highway Patrol said.

Both dogs, which suffered non-life-threatening injuries, were taken in by animal control, authorities on the scene are reported as saying.

The suspect was identified as Julie Ann Rainbird, 52, of Winnetka. She was booked on suspicion of offenses including "evading a police officer causing injury or death," and was held in lieu of $100,000 bail, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Valley police chase

HAPPENING NOW: Suspect in RV leading police on chase through San Fernando Valley. https://abc7.la/2Was6xR

Posted by ABC7 on Tuesday, May 21, 2019


©2019 the Los Angeles Times

Categories: Law Enforcement