Latest News

Policing Matters Podcast: Riveting new book explores crime, race, gangs and the death penalty

PoliceOne - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:25
Author: Jim Dudley and Doug Wyllie


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

A new non-fiction book entitled "The Valley of the Shadow of Death — A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption" is a riveting read about crime, race, gangs, the death penalty, and African American victims of violent crime. It was co-authored by former NFL defensive back Kermit Alexander, with Criminal Justice Professors Alex Gerould and Jeff Snipes. Alexander’s mother, sister, and two nephews were brutally murdered on August 31, 1984. Publisher’s Weekly called the book a “compelling narrative that rivals a first-rate thriller,” and that description is completely accurate. In this podcast segment, Jim and Doug sit down with Professor Gerould to discuss how the book came to be and what lessons it offers for readers.

Categories: Latest News

EU law enforcement step up efforts to protect the environment – 48 arrested for trafficking endangered species

EUROPOL - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 00:26
In 2015, with the support of the European Commission within the framework of the European Union Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, Europol initiated Operation LAKE, alongside several law enforcement agencies from France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, as well as Eurojust.
Categories: Latest News

ACLU sues over police actions in DC on Inauguration Day

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 13:29

By Jessica Gresko Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing over the actions of District of Columbia police on Inauguration Day, saying police acted improperly by using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades without warning or justification and holding demonstrators without food, water or access to toilets, among other actions.

More than 200 people were charged with rioting after protesters broke windows and set fire to a limousine on the day of President Donald Trump's inauguration. But ACLU attorney Scott Michelman said during a press conference Wednesday that police attacked peaceful demonstrators without justification and used the actions of a few to "punish a great many law-abiding demonstrators."

The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington on behalf of four people, says the actions of police violated city law and the Constitution. Michelman said prosecutors' charging decisions in the case also seem "awfully excessive."

"It sends a chilling message to people who want to come to the nation's capital and express their views. We can expect, in this political climate, a lot of protests. But a lot of protesters may well look to what happened on January 20 and think twice about coming here to express their views," Michelman said.

The lawsuit also says police used excessive force, including refusing to remove zip-tie handcuffs despite knowing they were too tight, and conducted invasive bodily searches that amounted to assault and battery.

The Metropolitan Police Department responded in a statement that police ensure the safety of thousands of people who come to Washington to demonstrate every year. The statement pointed out that some Inauguration Day demonstrators chose to "engage in criminal acts, destroying property and hurling projectiles, injuring at least six officers." The statement said those demonstrators were arrested.

"As with any pending criminal or civil matter, we will continue to support and respect the formal legal process. Moreover, all instances of use of force by officers and allegations of misconduct will be fully investigated," the statement said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, which does not typically comment on pending cases, had no comment.

The ACLU's lawsuit was filed on behalf of four people, including three who were arrested on Inauguration Day: Shay Horse, Elizabeth Lagesse and Milo Gonzalez. Lagesse and Gonzalez still face charges while charges against Horse, who was photographing the march as a photojournalist, have been dropped. The lawsuit also includes Judah Ariel, who was at the demonstration as a legal observer. Despite wearing a green hat identifying him as a legal observer, he was pepper-sprayed, the lawsuit said. Additional plaintiffs could be added at a later date, Michelman said.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages but does not specify an amount.

Horse said Wednesday that police were indiscriminate in rounding up demonstrators and "targeting everyone in the area that wasn't them." Horse said that though he was working as a journalist he was arrested and subjected to an invasive search.

"I feel like I was raped," he said.

Horse said police could clearly see that he was a photographer.

"I was just doing my job," Horse said.

Categories: Latest News

Minneapolis police asked to limit presence at pride parade

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 13:23

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis' first openly gay police chief responded sharply Thursday to a decision by organizers of the Twin Cities Pride Parade to ask her department to minimize its participation in Sunday's annual event due to tensions over the police shooting of Philando Castile.

They said in a statement that they're trying to respect the pain that many people are feeling following last week's acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed the black school cafeteria worker during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July.

But Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who is lesbian, sent a letter to Twin Cities Pride executive director Dot Belstler calling the decision "divisive" and saying it "really hurt so many in our community," including LGBT officers and their families.

Harteau said she was "beyond disappointed" that she wasn't consulted before the group went public with its request, and she pointed out that she was the parade's grand marshal three years ago.

"Despite your decision, I assure you that as we have in the past, our team of officers assigned to work the parade will do all they can to ensure it is a safe and successful event," the chief wrote.

Amy Brockman, a spokeswoman for Twin Cities Pride, said the group was preparing a response.

The organizers said they're required to have a police car lead the parade to make sure the route is clear, so this year it will be a lone unmarked squad car and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself. The parade, which draws about 350,000 people, has started in previous years with several marked squad cars with lights and sirens, as well as officers marching.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, called the decision shameful and disturbing.

"For an organization that prides itself on being accepting and inclusive, the hypocrisy amazes me," he said.

St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Mary Nash, the department's LGBTQ liaison, said 12 to 25 St. Paul officers have taken part in previous parades. Some are LGBTQ officers, while others walked as supporters, Nash said.

"I understand that people are angry and we can respect their feelings, but ... if we can't work together, it gets more challenging to become better as a community, as a police department."

Darcie Baumann, the board chairwoman of Twin Cities Pride, said the group didn't intend to make anyone feel excluded.

"Unfortunately, we have hurt and offended the LGBTQ police officers, and that was not at all our intent," Baumann said. "But in the wake of the verdict, we want to be sensitive to the population that is grieving ... and seeing those uniforms brings angst and tension and the feeling of unrest."

Categories: Latest News

Cop wounded in baseball shooting throws 1st pitch at congressional women's game

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:57

By PoliceOne Staff

WASHINGTON — An agent wounded during the mass shooting at a practice round for the annual congressional baseball game threw out the first pitch at the Congressional Women’s softball game Wednesday.

Special Agent Crystal Griner was hospitalized for an ankle gunshot wound after a gunman opened fire last week on the Republican baseball team’s practice, Fox 5 reported. Griner was feeling well enough to come throw out the first pitch from her wheelchair.

Griner was one of the five injured in the shooting. Rep. Steve Scalise’s condition has been updated from critical to serious condition, the news station reported. The suspect was killed in the gunfire.

AWESOME: Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner, injured in the baseball practice shooting, throws 1st pitch at the @CWSoftballGame:

— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) June 21, 2017

Special Agent Crystal Griner throws out the 1st pitch at the @CWSoftballGame. Griner was injured in last week's shooting. #pbsnews

— Amber Partida (@pressbox_32) June 21, 2017

Inspired by the bravery & resilience of Special Agent Crystal Griner, who threw out the 1st pitch at @CWSoftballGame. Go Congress!

— Katherine Clark (@KatherineClark) June 21, 2017

Categories: Latest News

Texas cop sues Ford, dealership alleging carbon monoxide poisoning

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:44

By Ali Linan Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin police officer is suing Ford Motor Company and Leif Johnson Ford for more than $1 million in damages, claiming he was poisoned by carbon monoxide while driving his patrol car.

According to the lawsuit, police Sgt. Zachary T. LaHood was driving in a marked police vehicle on March 18 around 1:30 a.m. when he began to feel nauseous, light-headed, and got headaches and blurred vision.

LaHood also lost consciousness while driving the car, which almost caused him to collide with an oncoming bus, the lawsuit said.

LaHood then pulled into a parking lot where he called for help, the lawsuit said. Austin police officers arrived and an ambulance took LaHood to a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning, the lawsuit said.

The patrol car LaHood was driving was a 2011 Ford Explorer, the lawsuit said. After receiving complaints in 2011 and 2012, Ford formally acknowledged potential issues with exhaust fumes in the car, but only informed authorized Ford dealers, the lawsuit said.

Unnamed companies, who are also being sued, serviced the vehicle in an “attempt to remedy the defects,” but failed as the solutions given to them by Ford did not work, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also claims that at the time the vehicle was sold, safer alternative designs could have “prevented or significantly reduced” the risk of injury without impairing the car’s ability to work.

The issues were especially dangerous to LaHood and police vehicles because patrol cars typically continuously run throughout a shift, the lawsuit said.

The incident has caused LaHood to suffer “severe neurological injuries” which have required him to continue to seek medical care, the lawsuit said. LaHood and his wife, Kelly, are seeking damages of more than $1 million for medical expenses, lost income, and physical and mental pain, the lawsuit said.

The American-Statesman reached out to Ford Motor Co. and Leif Johnson Ford for comment but they had not responded by press time.


In a statement to KHOU, Ford Motor Company said:

"We take the safety of our customers very seriously. In rare circumstances, there have been instances where customers detected an exhaust odor in Explorers and Police Interceptor Utilities. We have thoroughly investigated reports of exhaust odor and do not believe this odor condition poses a safety risk. If customers have a concern with their vehicles, they are encouraged to contact their local Ford dealership. In the case of Police Interceptors, odors can be caused by non-Ford modifications or repairs that were not properly sealed."


©2017 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

Categories: Latest News

Ill. man charged with threatening to assassinate Trump

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:39

Associated Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — An Illinois man has been charged after posting online several times that he wants to assassinate President Donald Trump.

Joseph Lynn Pickett of Edwardsville was charged June 15 with threatening the president of the United States, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Vincent Pescitelli said in a criminal complaint that Pickett "did knowingly and willfully make a threat to take the life of, to kidnap, and to inflict bodily harm" against Trump on Facebook.

The posts included frequent profanity as well as detailed death threats to the president.

After making the online threats, Pickett also posted several times that he was "still waiting" for the Secret Service to come arrest him.

“Guess what Trump? I’m waiting for the right time..."

— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 22, 2017

The complaint said two of Pickett's co-workers at Lowes contacted the Secret Service indicating that Pickett had posted threatening messages against Trump on Facebook.

Pickett also bragged about having weapons.

"Please call the Cops on me now so I have an excuse to use my firepower .... AR 15, AK 47, s and w 40, Sig sauer 9 mm. Oh I'm so afraid of the police now..," he wrote.

Pickett will be detained until a trial because the court can't ensure the safety of other people in community due to "mental instability," according to court documents.

A phone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Public Defender Thomas Gabel was not immediately returned.

Categories: Latest News

Cop-turned-pastor tackles suspect attacking CHP officer

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 10:05

By Robert Salonga The Mercury News

AMERICAN CANYON, Calif. — Pastor Joel Jones was traveling on Interstate 80 with his wife, AnnaLisa, when a startling sight unfolded in front of them: A pickup truck was pinballing down the freeway, causing crashes and spin-outs and terrifying other motorists as the driver coolly smoked a cigarette.

At one point, Jones said, he had to swerve around a wreck left in the truck’s wake Saturday morning, and his instincts as a former Oakland cop and San Francisco Sheriff’s sergeant kicked in.

“I thought, ‘This guy’s going to kill somebody.’ Somebody should at least put this on the radio and call 911,” Jones said. “We called 911 but couldn’t make out the (license) plate. But I could keep the truck in sight, because I felt at that point he might try to get off the freeway, and he should be held accountable.”

But the 61-year-old Jones, a Fairfield resident in his second calling as a pastor at Spirit of Truth Church Worldwide in Crockett alongside his pastor wife, ended up doing much more to hold the driver accountable. He is being praised for fighting off the driver, a San Jose man, who authorities say savagely assaulted a California Highway Patrol officer responding to the trail of freeway demolition.

“We are very appreciative and thankful for his assistance,” said CHP Sgt. Kevin Duncan of the Solano area field office.

Duncan added that the injured female officer is “doing okay, still sore and recovering.”

From eyewitness accounts, it could be easily argued that Jones made the difference in preventing the encounter from turning deadly.

Keeping people safe, an instinct refined by his previous law-enforcement career, was definitely on his mind as he tried to keep pace with the wayward pickup. For a few stretches he found himself driving parallel with the suspect, who he said seemed eerily calm.

“He didn’t seem drunk. He was smoking a cigarette. There’s a mass of destruction behind him. He’s a wrecking crew smoking a cigarette,” Jones said. “I thought, ‘He must be out of his mind.’ ”

At some point, the truck slowed to a coast and then a crawl, apparently damaged by at least two crashes. A CHP officer caught up to the truck, which came to a stop in the far-left lane of westbound I-80 in American Canyon.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Pastors Joel and AnnaLisa Jones

Posted by AnnaLisa Jones on Friday, June 3, 2016

Jones remembers the officer shouting orders over a loudspeaker, telling the driver to get out of his vehicle.

“When he stepped out of the car, as soon as he saw it was a female officer, he started moving swiftly toward her,” Jones said. “She told him to stay back. He rushed her.”

With the officer still partially in her vehicle’s door well, both Jones and CHP accounts say, the man punched her and knocked her to the ground, where he proceeded to kick her.

“He was pummeling her and stomping her,” Jones said. “I thought the next thing he’s going to do is get (her) gun. I rushed him. What I got to do is get him away from the gun.”

The surge of adrenaline helped the former college football player — in Iowa in the 1970s — who said, “The Lord put his strength in me.”

“I don’t know if I hit him with my forearm or grabbed him by the neck, but we both flew off her. When we flew, his feet were in the air, and I felt good about that because he’s away from her,” Jones said. “I got him on his face and held him down, then other people came.”

Jones, 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, soon was helped with subduing the similarly sized suspect by other good Samaritans. One man helped secure the suspect’s torso, and another held his arms.

All the while, his wife tended to the dazed officer, who Jones described as being “very in shock.”

A second CHP officer arrived at the scene to handcuff the suspect, identified as 49-year-old San Jose resident Gary Emil Coslovich, who is jailed in Solano County on suspicion of offenses including assaulting a police officer and attempted murder.

As Coslovich was hauled off, Jones said he heard the man mutter out an odd remark.

“He said, ‘We’re all works in progress,’ ” Jones said.

As a man who now trades in forgiveness, Jones said he was sympathetic but also recognized the danger to which he and others were exposed.

“Yeah, but that’s not the way to progress. You could have killed two people. This officer could have been killed,” Jones recalls telling Coslovich.

Since the encounter, Jones said he has been shown appreciation by the injured officer’s colleagues and even her brother. When contacted by this news organization, the Chicago native — who claims growing up not far from a pre-celebrity Mr. T. in the 1960s — voiced a preference to stay under the radar before agreeing to tell his story. He called it a simple case of doing what he would have wanted someone to do for him.

“Nobody would want to be in that position and not receive help. If we don’t help, what good are we being here?” Jones said. “God put us on that road on that time for that purpose.”


©2017 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Categories: Latest News

Wife sought revenge on cop husband by tipping off drug dealers

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 09:50

By Paula McMahon Sun Sentinel

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — A Broward County elementary school teacher who tried to get revenge against her husband by tipping off drug dealers that they were under investigation should spend the next eight years in federal prison because the consequences of her actions were so serious, prosecutors say.

The undercover investigation was compromised and an insider informant who was secretly working with federal authorities was “outed.” He died of a gunshot wound a short time later under suspicious circumstances that were officially ruled a suicide, prosecutors said.

The defense for Porsha Session, 31, of Boynton Beach, says she acted naively to retaliate against her then-husband — a Lauderhill police detective who was involved in the investigation — because he was cheating on her.

Session told prosecutors she wanted “revenge against her philandering police officer spouse,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She said she snooped in her now ex-husband’s work email and found memos containing sensitive law enforcement information about the investigation, the suspects and the fact that agents had an informant working inside the group.

Session admitted earlier this year that she made six phone calls to one of the suspected drug dealers and convinced him that an insider was helping law enforcement. She pleaded guilty to federal obstruction of an official proceeding, a grand jury investigation.

Session was a teacher at Cypress Elementary School in Pompano Beach at the time of the crime in March 2013, according to Broward County school district and court records. Authorities said she borrowed a co-worker’s cellphone to make the warning calls, also putting that teacher in potential danger.

Session was working as a fourth-grade teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary this until April 25, a few weeks after she pleaded guilty. She was reassigned, with pay, to a position that does not involve students, district officials said late Tuesday.

Session has worked for the school district for nine years and her annual salary is $49,000, records show.

Session was arrested in February and remains free on $260,000 bond pending her June 28 sentencing in federal court in West Palm Beach. The maximum punishment is 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000, but the defense is recommending she be sentenced to house arrest.

“Ms. Session has been a law-abiding person her entire life. She has no criminal history and her only involvement with the law was due to a bad marriage,” her attorney Fred Haddad wrote in court records.

Prosecutors said Session’s actions were so egregious — and dangerous — that she should receive a much harsher punishment than the 15 to 21 months in prison recommended by sentencing guidelines.

The undercover investigation began in October 2012 and was focused on a “crew” of seven Jamaican-born men suspected of operating a “significant” drug-dealing business in the Lauderhill and Fort Lauderdale areas, prosecutors Jeffrey Kaplan and Paul Schwartz wrote in court records.

The group, who grew up together, were so tight-knit that inserting an outsider was virtually impossible, prosecutors said. The confidential informant, who has not been publicly identified, was in a unique position to provide credible, useful information, they said.

The informant told investigators that the crew members were violent, carried guns at all times and robbed other drug dealers. Some of the home invasions involved dealers being shot and injured, investigators said.

The group was also involved in smuggling weapons from Covington, Ga., and Orlando to Broward County that were then illegally sent to Jamaica, prosecutors said. The suspects had assault rifles and other guns, they said.

The suspects were also involved in dealing drugs, including marijuana from Arizona and California that was shipped by FedEx to houses in South Florida, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the informant had previously been unconcerned about his safety and had confronted one of the suspects who called him a “snitch” a week or two before Session told the suspects they were under scrutiny. He convinced the suspect that he was not a snitch.

“By contrast, after defendant Session told [the suspect] that someone close to him within their group was providing information to law enforcement about their criminal activities, the [informant] was terrified and in tears,” prosecutors wrote. “[He] believed that he was going to be killed.”

Investigators decided it was too dangerous to leave the informant in Broward County, and he and his girlfriend were moved to southern Miami-Dade County.

Two months after Session made her phone calls to the suspects, the informant was dead.

“In May 2013, according to the [informant’s] girlfriend, [he] was visited by someone who his girlfriend did not know. After the person left, the [informant] was found dead pursuant to a gunshot wound. The death was ruled a suicide,” prosecutors wrote.

“There is no evidence that the ‘outing’ of the [informant] directly caused bodily harm to [him]. However, the actions of defendant Session did set off a chain of events that certainly have to be considered as a factor in the death of the [informant], which was ruled a suicide,” they wrote.

Lauderhill police have said that no officers were disciplined in connection with the investigation, which involved other local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Dozens of Session’s relatives, friends and colleagues have written letters to U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks to tell him what a talented, dedicated mom and teacher she is. The former couple have a 5-year-old daughter, records show.

“Her dedication to her profession and the children she taught is nothing short of remarkable,” Haddad wrote. “[Her] lack of criminal record and her conduct after this unfortunate offense several years ago demonstrate that she does not pose a threat of re-offending or otherwise endangering the public.”


©2017 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Categories: Latest News

Off-duty cop dressed as Batman thwarts suspected shoplifter

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 09:44

By Claire Z. Cardona The Dallas Morning News

FORT WORTH, Texas — A few thousand miles from Gotham City, the Caped Crusader leapt into action Saturday.

Fort Worth police Officer Damon Cole was dressed as Batman, doing community outreach at a Wal-Mart, when employees saw a man they said was shoplifting four movies. So they threw up the Bat Signal.

Batman — ahem, Cole — went into the store to apprehend the man.

"Batman says, 'I want you to know I have this Batman costume on but I'm an off-duty police officer," Anthony Drake, a community involvement member at Wal-Mart, told KDFW-TV (Channel 4).

I was at Wal-Mart as Batman for kids day. This male attempted to steal 4 DVD's,I stopped him as Batman. He asked me for a selfie as Batman.

— Officer Damon Cole (@HeroesandCops) June 18, 2017

The man was given a citation because the DVDs were valued at less than $100. He wasn't identified, but he did want a selfie after the incident, Cole said on Twitter.

Cole dresses up as the Dark Knight as well as other superheroes and travels around the country visiting children with illnesses.

So what did the Dark Knight stop the man from taking? One of the DVDs was The LEGO Batman Movie.

"You cannot steal my movie," Cole told KDFW. "Come on."


©2017 The Dallas Morning News

Categories: Latest News

Inmate who killed La. deputy as a teen now eligible for parole

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 07:36

By R.J. Rico Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — A 71-year-old prisoner who was 17 when he killed a sheriff's deputy learned Wednesday that he will get a chance at parole, 54 years after the killing and a year after winning his appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Calling Henry Montgomery a "model prisoner" who had been rehabilitated behind bars, District Judge Richard D. Anderson resentenced Montgomery to life with the possibility of parole.

Anderson changed Montgomery's life-without-parole sentence after the nation's high court ruled in Montgomery's favor in January 2016. The high court said its prior ruling against automatic juvenile no-parole sentences should be applied retroactively.

"The court understands the defendant's (prior) sentence was fair, however ... the court has to follow the current law," Anderson said. "He does not appear to be someone who the Supreme Court would classify as 'irreparably corrupt.' ... He's been a mentor, he's helped others and, from all indications, he does appear to be rehabilitated."

Montgomery was in chains inside the courtroom as Anderson gave his ruling. He was then quickly escorted out.

"Mr. Montgomery is certainly happy with the judge's ruling, but he very much still grieves for the victim's family and the impact this has had on them," defense attorney Lindsay Blouin said.

Montgomery fatally shot East Baton Rouge Parish Deputy Charles Hurt in a Baton Rouge park in 1963. Montgomery was playing hooky from school and Hurt was on truant patrol. Montgomery's attorneys' called their client's action a "terrible, split-second decision made a by a scared 17-year-old boy."

He originally received a death sentence, but it was overturned in 1966. He was re-tried, convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 1969.

Montgomery's immediate relatives have since died, but his younger cousin Debra Ephraim was in the hearing and tearfully thanked Blouin outside the courtroom.

Ephraim was around 11 when her cousin was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. For decades, she's visited him frequently. She remembers him as a "big brother" who would show her around their grandparents' farm.

Montgomery's defense attorneys had argued that their client was far from the "worst of the worst" and could actually be considered the "best of the best." Montgomery has had a near-spotless disciplinary record inside Angola and has been a mentor for others, especially those involved in the boxing program, his attorneys said.

"For the last 54 years he did all of these things without any thought that it would ever change the fact that he would die in Angola one day," Blouin said.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in Montgomery v. Louisiana to extend a 2012 ruling that struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers. The ruling meant that even those convicted long ago must be considered for parole or given a new sentence.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, said "prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored."

Because of the court's decision, the Louisiana Legislature this month changed the law to give some inmates who committed murder as teenagers a chance for parole after 25 years.

Categories: Latest News

Joint operation targeting firearms and explosives at the Ukrainian/Moldovan border

EUROPOL - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 07:08
Over 578 firearms and 776 pieces of ammunitions were seized as part as a joint operation targeting the illegal movement of firearms, explosives, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material through the Ukraine/Republic of Moldova border. 5 pieces of explosives and 1 package of radioactive material were also seized at the border as part of this operation.
Categories: Latest News

Oakland officials renew pledge to improve police department

PoliceOne - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 06:52

By Paul Elias Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Oakland city leaders renewed their pledges to straighten out the troubled police department after a court-appointed investigator concluded they mishandled a teenager's allegations that she was sexually exploited by officers.

Mayor Libby Schaaf agreed Wednesday with the investigator's conclusions that she didn't pay enough attention to the investigation of the police department. She said her focus shifted in December and January to a warehouse fire that killed three dozen people and to finding a new police chief.

In a court filing, investigator Ed Swanson put most of the blame for the bungled probe on former Police Chief Sean Whent, who resigned under pressure last year.

Swanson said Whent appeared disinterested in the case from the start and his attitude set the tone for the rest of the department.

Whent told investigators he "misread" O'Brien's suicide note and a lieutenant's email message that the case was being sent to internal affairs. Whent said he did not grasp the importance of the note and email, an excuse Swanson called "not credible" in his report.

Whent failed to notify the mayor, district attorney and the federal judge about the suicide note and internal affairs investigation. Swanson said it is unclear why Whent downplayed the case.

The chief retired under pressure in June 2016 after news of the scandal emerged. His phone rang unanswered Wednesday after the report was released.

Swanson also said investigators dismissed the victim's claims because she worked as a prostitute.

"We agree that tone comes from the top," said Schaaf, who recently announced plans to seek a second 4-year term as mayor in 2018. "That's why we set out to find a new chief."

She swore in Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on March. 1.

City administrator Sabrina Landreth said she agreed that investigation took too long to conclude, but she said city officials didn't want to interfere with the criminal prosecutions of the officers.

Four officers were fired and face criminal charges. Eight others were disciplined.

Swanson, the investigator, was appointed by a federal judge who oversees the troubled department as part of a 2002 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit. Swanson has no authority to order changes in the department, but the judge does. Swanson recommended a number of training reforms and policy changes, including involving the district attorney in internal investigations of officers under criminal suspicion and consulting the city attorney.

The department implemented many court-ordered reforms during Whent's three years as chief and was close to shedding the court oversight when officer Brendan O'Brien killed himself in 2015. O'Brien in his suicide note denied having sex with the victim despite her claims that he did. O'Brien also implicated several officers who he said had sex with the girl.

"It's a pretty devastating report," said lawyer John Burris, who represents the victim and is the lead attorney on the 2002 civil rights case that led to court oversight. "I thought the department was making real progress."

The court oversight began after the city settled with 119 plaintiffs, all but one African-American, who were paid $10.5 million after four rogue officers allegedly beat and planted evidence on them.

Criminal investigators initially closed their probe after a strained, two-hour interview with the victim, who gave muddled and conflicting accounts. During that interview, they watched her delete messages on her phone sent by officers.

Swanson's report also faulted police internal affairs investigators for lackluster work. The victim was interviewed once on the phone. And two officers implicated by the victim were considered witnesses, rather than targets.

One of those officers said he was mentoring the victim to get her out of prostitution, but then admitted he texted her a photograph of his penis.

The city paid the victim almost $1 million to settle her legal claims.

Categories: Latest News

Human trafficking ring dismantled by Romania and the UK with Europol support

EUROPOL - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 00:49
Europol has supported a major international operation on human trafficking led by Romania and carried out jointly with law enforcement agencies from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The operation aimed at disrupting a highly organised crime group active in trafficking young women for the purpose of sexual exploitation and money laundering.
Categories: Latest News

Canadian man charged in stabbing of Mich. airport officer

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 15:30

By Jeff Karoub and Mike Householder Associated Press

FLINT, Mich. — A police officer was stabbed in the neck at the Flint airport by a man with a knife Wednesday in what authorities are investigating as a possible act of terrorism.

The suspect was immediately taken into custody, and federal prosecutors hours later announced the Canadian man was charged with committing violence at an airport. They identified him as Amor Ftouhi of Quebec.

The criminal complaint says Ftouhi stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife and declared "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great." The FBI, which is leading the investigation, said Ftouhi said something similar to "you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die."

The FBI added in the criminal complaint that Ftouhi asked an officer who subdued him why he didn't kill him.

Neville was in stable condition after initially being in critical condition.

The attack just before 10 a.m. at Bishop International Airport prompted an evacuation and extra security elsewhere in the Michigan city about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump was briefed on the stabbing.

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said "everything is on the table" as far as a motive for the attack. He said the primarily regional airport was "shut down and secure" and that no other threats had been identified.

Witnesses described seeing the suspect led away in handcuffs by police, Neville bleeding and a knife on the ground.

"The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck," Ken Brown told The Flint Journal. "I said they need to get him a towel."

Cherie Carpenter, who was awaiting a flight to Texas to see her new grandchild, told Flint TV station WJRT she saw the attacker being led away in handcuffs. She described the man in custody as appearing "blank, just totally blank."

Genesee County Commissioner Mark Young, a friend of Neville's who retired from the Genesee County sheriff's office in 1997, said Neville left that department two years after him. He said Neville served in various capacities with the sheriff's office including in the jail, on road patrol and as a court officer. Neville retired from that department as a lieutenant.

Young said he headed to the airport when he learned about the stabbing Wednesday. He said once he got there, he "tried to assess and work with emergency management and emergency response teams from the sheriff's department, kind of trying to see what was going on."

"Things were chaotic, but very well organized and under control — how the sheriff's department was handling things and how Bishop International was handling things," he said.

A few miles away, officials stationed police officers at Flint City Hall after the incident. Mayor Karen Weaver said in a release the situation was "under control" but that officials sought to take "extra precautions."

Categories: Latest News

Belgium tightens security after failed Brussels bombing

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 14:50

By Raf Casert and Lori Hinnant Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The weapons are increasingly ordinary — rented vehicles, nails and canisters, store-bought knives. A series of small-scale attacks has left Europeans trying to balance their desire not to give in to extremism with a persistent anxiety that it could strike at any time.

Even though a nail bomb didn't fully go off in Brussels Central Station late Tuesday and failed to hit dozens of commuters close by, it didn't stop fear going up a further notch.

And across Western Europe where the summer tourism season is about to start, the challenge is how to deal with it without having a big impact on daily life.

"We have to see in what kind of society we want to live in," said Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon. "Today it is train stations. Tomorrow all subway stations and the day after all city halls. Will we have to arm, protect, control all that? Is that the type of society we want," he asked.

Still, for Wednesday at least, more security was the way to go.

"Extra security measures have been decided for the coming hours and days," said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel after a 36-year-old Moroccan national shouting "Allahu akbar" set a bomb among commuters. The bomb didn't detonate in full and a soldier shot the man dead.

Those measures come on top of ones that have been in place under the second highest level of terror alert since twin bomb attacks killed 32 people in Brussels in March last year.

In sweltering heat, fans lined up early for security checks as they attended the first of two concerts by the band Coldplay at the 50,000-seater King Baudouin Stadium Wednesday night, with the concerts becoming another test of police security and public mettle.

In Paris, a day after a man with a bomb-rigged car tried to attack gendarmes on the Champs-Elysees, the iconic shopping avenue was filled with French and foreign visitors.

The succession of attacks in western European capitals like London, Paris and Brussels has become so numbing that Paris criminology Professor Alain Bauer is comparing it to living in London during World War II when German planes would relentlessly bomb the city in what became known as the Blitz.

During the Blitz, Bauer said in an interview. "The question that was asked was not to know whether there would be bombings, but how to endure them, resist against them, stand up against them with the idea that at the end, they would win," he said of the Londoners.

Even though the huge attacks like the November 2015 series in Paris that killed 130 have not returned, a different way to spread terror has come.

"We have gone from hyperterrorism or gigaterrorism to lumpenterrorism, low-intensity terrorism of proximity, with few victims but with a strong media amplification," Bauer said.

"A failed attack, a successful attack, an attack that has one victim or one that has 100, has the same media coverage," securing success for the attackers, Bauer said.

Still, people are starting to adapt to the attacks.

Remy Bonnaffe had just walked away from the timetable board at Brussels Central Station late Tuesday when he heard a loud bang and saw a flame. He took time to take a photo, thinking it could be useful to warn other commuters on Twitter about further delays.

"With all these events happening, at least for myself I have been thinking a lot 'what would I do if I would be in a situation like this'," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "There were a couple of things I was really thinking about doing, like looking for cover and finding the nearest exit and things like that."

It is a kind of way of life that Prime Minister Michel says more and more people have to adapt to. "In three years we have been confronted with several attacks or attempts and we say the zero risk does not exist."

Categories: Latest News

Going green: New Cincinnati police station is sustainable, solar-powered

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 14:28

By PoliceOne Staff

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati police are setting new sustainability standards for police stations across the country.

The District 3 headquarters, the first new station in 40 years, is the first of its kind in the United States to be certified net zero energy, Curbed reported. The certification means all the station’s power needs are met by the solar panels on the roof.

The station, which has been operating for a year, is 39,000 square feet and is used 24 hours a day. Because of the design, the building only uses half the power of other buildings its size.

The building was designed with the local community in mind.

“The initial design concept was the deconstruction of a civic building,” architect Jim Cheng told Curbed. “Think about a classic courthouse or police station, which has big, intimidating entrance. This project took apart those pieces and rearranged them in a more welcoming ways.”

The building features tons of natural daylighting, bullet-resistant windows, and drought-tolerant landscaping outside. The station is connected to bike lanes and streets designed with pedestrians in mind.

Cheng said the station reflects the neighborhood surrounding it and he hopes it can serve as a catalyst for development.

#SolarCincinnati. Roof top solar array at @CincinnatiMSD Mill Creek facility.

— Cincinnati OES (@CincyOES) December 21, 2016

#Microroofgarden @cincinnatipd District 3 LEED Platinum and Net-Zero Energy facility.

— Cincinnati OES (@CincyOES) December 21, 2016

#Solar panel covered carport at #Cincinnati Police District 3 Headquarters. #LEEDPlatinum and #NetZeroEnergy facility.

— Cincinnati OES (@CincyOES) December 28, 2016

Opening of Cincinnati Police District 3 - great work @CityOfCincy @messerwearebldg!

— Cincy Nhood Summit (@CincySummit) July 1, 2015

Categories: Latest News

Videos: Chicago police struggle to stop 1000-person gang party

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 14:26

By PoliceOne Staff

CHICAGO — Police sent to stop a street party struggled to shut it down because it was so out of control.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. told DNA Info that the 25 squad cars sent to the 1000-person gang party Sunday weren’t enough and police were outnumbered.

"It's not just an inconvenience, it's very dangerous," Burnett said. "When you have that many people drinking, getting high, anything can happen."

Neighbors living near the area have asked police and politicians for years to break up the gang parties, but said this weekend’s party was worse than the others.

"You had people who were boozing hardcore and were jacked up on drugs. By the time cops showed up it was just so far gone," a neighbor told DNA Info.

Another neighbor witnessed a fight break out on her lawn. She said she called 911 after five people stomped on a woman.

Multiple shootings were reported only blocks away, but police couldn’t confirm if the party and shootings were related. The police department did confirm that officers were sent to the scene, but didn’t say if there were any arrests.

According to the publication, the warm weather has brought people to Touhy-Herbert Park and the crowds have grown larger for the annual party that happens after a Father’s Day barbecue.

Organizers said permits are always issued for the barbeque. But after the sun sets and families leave the park, people come to party. A “gang-truce” in the area draws more people to the park.

The city has a plan to convert streets near the park to a permit-only parking area, allowing police to tow and ticket cars that don’t have resident stickers. The signs haven’t been installed yet, but police believe it could be a valuable tool to block partiers.

Categories: Latest News

Police chief fired after verbal exchange with mayor over budget cut leaks

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 13:55

By Joe Ferguson The Arizona Daily Star

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. — South Tucson Police Chief Michael Ford was fired Tuesday, a day after Mayor Ildefonso Green publicly blamed him for being a source in a series of negative news articles.

Green lashed out at the media during the City Council’s meeting Monday night, complaining recent articles focused too heavily on proposed cuts to police and fire staffing and not on other budget proposals.

He accused Ford, who has been chief since December 2014, and other staffers of leaking information after the city’s budget problems became widely known.

“All of sudden we had individuals running to the media,” Green said at the meeting. “They were saying to the media that we are going to lose our Fire Department, we are going to lose our Police Department.”

Green said eliminating the departments was never seriously considered.

Ford, who had been shaking his head “no” as Green was talking during the council meeting, was called on by the mayor to give his thoughts. Ford said the information in news stories came from public discussions, not leaks.

“That is not true. The only information we had to communicate (to the public) came at these meetings, and that is the same information that went out to the media,” Ford said.

The two argued back and forth for several minutes before Ford left the meeting room.

Green instructed staff that he wanted to talk to Ford, labeling his comments as “insubordination.”

The discussion was tabled during Monday’s meeting but resumed after the meeting ended.

Council members Oscar Patino and Anita Romero argued with Green for about 10 minutes from the floor of the council chambers about the issue. Councilman Robert Larribas listened nearby.

City Attorney Bobby Lu was present but did not speak or attempt to end the conversation.

With four members present discussing city business outside of a formal meeting, this is a violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law, said Dan Barr, attorney for the First Amendment Coalition.

On Tuesday morning, City Manager Sixto Molina told Ford he was being fired for poor work performance, Ford said.

Molina confirmed Ford had been fired, but said he could not discuss the reasons why.

Lt. Kevin Shonk will temporarily serve as the acting police chief, Molina said.

About two weeks ago, Molina announced that the city’s projected $500,000 budget crisis had been fixed.

The solution mostly came from a combination of cuts in staffing, particularly in the fire and police departments, and other measures.

During Monday’s meeting, Molina said without a significant influx of new revenues, the 1-square-mile town will be forced to declare bankruptcy and consider de-incorporation.


©2017 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.)

Categories: Latest News

Milwaukee jurors acquit ex-cop in fatal OIS

PoliceOne - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:34

By Ivan Moreno Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee jury on Wednesday acquitted a former police officer of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of a black man last year that ignited riots on the city's north side.

Jurors found that Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was justified when he shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a brief foot chase following a traffic stop Aug. 23. Smith had a gun when he ran, but the case hinged on whether he was a threat when Heaggan-Brown fired the shot that killed him.

Body-camera video showed Heaggan-Brown shooting Smith once in the arm as he appeared to be throwing the gun over a fence. The video showed the second shot — 1.69 seconds later — hit Smith in the chest as he lay on the ground.

Prosecutors argued Smith was defenseless at the time of the second shot because he had thrown the gun over the fence. Defense attorneys argued Heaggan-Brown had to act quickly to defend himself.

Heaggan-Brown was fired from the police force in October after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case. The sexual assault case was not mentioned during the trial because it is being handled separately and knowledge of it could prejudice the jury.

Smith's death brought to the surface long-simmering tensions between black Milwaukee residents and police, and demonstrators assembled near the site of the shooting in Sherman Park hours after it happened.

Two nights of riots followed, with protesters throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles at police officers. The protesters burned eight businesses and a police car and when it was over, 40 demonstrators had been arrested and a handful of officers hurt.

In the encounter with Smith, Heaggan-Brown and two other officers had approached Smith's rental car because it was parked more than a foot from the curb and they believed a drug deal was about to take place.

In Heaggan-Brown's bodycam video, he began chasing Smith immediately after stepping out of his patrol car.

Heaggan-Brown's camera shows him briefly pointing the gun at Smith as he begins the pursuit. He put his gun back in his holster as Smith turned into a path between two houses.

Smith slipped and fell near a fence, dropping his gun. He started reaching for it as he stood up, with his left hand holding the fence.

When the video is slowed frame-by-frame, Smith is seen holding the gun by the barrel to throw it over the fence. Prosecutors argued that Smith no longer posed a threat.

The two shots by Heaggan-Brown came in quick succession, striking Smith once in his right arm and then the fatal shot to the chest.

The 12-member jury included four African-Americans.

The acquittal comes less than a week after a Minnesota officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was cleared of manslaughter by a jury in the fatal shooting of a black motorist. Yanez testified the motorist, 32-year-old Philando Castile, disregarded his commands not to pull out a handgun Castile had informed him he was carrying.

Categories: Latest News