Latest News

Puerto Rico police officer dies from gunshot wounds

PoliceOne - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 07:10

By PoliceOne Staff

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rican police officer died Wednesday from a gunshot wound he sustained during a suspect pursuit.

According to ODMP, Agent Benjamin De los Santos-Barbosa and three other officers attempted to pull over a vehicle April 16 with an illegal window tint when the driver, who was on parole for narcotics charges, fled.

The driver backed into a patrol car when he couldn’t get around a car blocking the roadway and opened fire as he exited the car, hitting De los Santos-Barbosa in the head. ODMP reported that the other officers and a bystander returned fire and wounded the suspect. He was treated and released to police custody.

De los Santos-Barbosa, an almost six-year veteran of the department, was transported to a hospital where he died from his injuries four days after he was shot.

De los Santos-Barbosa’s sister was also an officer with the department and was slain off-duty in 2010. De los Santos-Barbosa is survived by his nephew.

The suspect is facing 15 charges, including murder, narcotics violations and weapons violations.


Categories: Latest News

Federal judge denies request to halt NYPD bodycam program

PoliceOne - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 06:37

By Mark Morales Newsday

NEW YORK — A federal judge denied a request by a coalition of police-reform groups that the NYPD’s body camera pilot program, set to begin next week, should be stopped and reviewed, claiming the plan has numerous problems that need to be fixed.

The decision, made by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres on Friday, clears a path to begin the program that aims to outfit about 1,200 NYPD officers with cameras.

Advocates have said the program is flawed because it doesn’t require cops to record enough encounters with the public. The advocates also objected, among other things, to officers having the right to view their recordings before making statements or writing reports.

“Structurally, it provides mechanisms to protect abusive police officers and not the public,” said Joo-Hyun Kang, director for Communities United for Police Reform.

A 2013 federal court decision in a class action suit brought against New York City over stop-and-frisk, which found that the police unconstitutionally targeted minorities, required the NYPD to create the camera plan.

The plan was approved by special monitor Peter Zimroth, who said in court filings that no further proceedings were necessary to start the program.

But attorneys for plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk lawsuit filed legal papers late Wednesday asking Torres to overrule Zimroth’s approval of the camera program and delay the NYPD’s implementation of it. Advocates with Communities United For Police Reform said they also were filing briefs.

Torres said in her decision that certain aspects of the pilot program were not final recommendations and the reform groups’ claims were premature.

The cameras are expected to reach officers in the 34th Precinct, which covers Washington Heights, officials said.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and we will move forward with deploying body cameras later next week,” said NYPD spokesman J. Peter Donald.

———

©2017 Newsday


Categories: Latest News

Police pick up adorable intruders: A pair of pygmy goats

PoliceOne - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 02:00

Associated Press

BELFAST, Maine — Police in Maine have picked up some adorable intruders after two miniature goats escaped from their home and wandered the streets.

A Belfast police officer responded Sunday morning to find the pygmy goats in a woman's garage. They had been snacking on cat food. Officer Daniel Fitzpatrick used a cat leash to lead them into his squad car.

The trio drove around looking for the goats' owner as Fitzpatrick fed them carrots and celery. Belfast is a seaport town about 45 miles east of Augusta.

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***UPDATE*** The goats have been returned home. Louis and Mowgli enjoyed their day trip with Sgt. Fitzpatrick but alas,...

Posted by BELFAST (MAINE) POLICE DEPARTMENT on Sunday, April 23, 2017

The daughter of the goats' owner saw Fitzpatrick's Facebook post and picked up the pair, named Louis and Mowgli — but not before Fitzpatrick snapped a selfie with the duo.

Fitzpatrick called the runaways "good company" and joked about adding patrol goats to the next police budget.


Categories: Latest News

Inspectors: Problems at ICE will slow deportations

PoliceOne - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 02:00

By Joseph Tanfani Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, hampered by poor organization and an overworked staff, will have trouble keeping up with the Trump administration’s plans to ramp up deportations of people in the country illegally, government inspectors have concluded.

ICE has “overwhelming caseloads,” its records are “likely inaccurate” and its deportation policies and procedures “are outdated and unclear,” said a report released Thursday by the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department.

“ICE is almost certainly not deporting all the aliens who could be deported and will likely not be able to keep up with the growing number of deportable aliens,” the 19-page report concludes.

The harsh assessment is the latest dash of cold reality for Trump, who was swept into Washington promising vastly tougher enforcement of immigration laws, including more removals, thousands more Border Patrol agents and deportation officers, and construction of a formidable wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congress faces a looming deadline to fund the federal government after members return next week, and the proposed wall and other new border security measures probably won’t get anything extra in this round of spending. Trump had asked Congress to provide an additional $5 billion this year.

A vast surge of new hiring is also problematic. Although Trump has signed an executive order directing the Border Patrol and ICE to hire 15,000 more agents and officers to boost enforcement, that goal will be nearly impossible to achieve anytime soon.

An internal memo in February from Kevin McAleenan, acting director of Customs and Border Protection, revealed that Border Patrol was able to vet and hire only about 40 agents a month last year despite aggressive efforts to streamline the hiring process.

Reports this year that Customs and Border Patrol might stop using polygraph tests, intended to ferret out unqualified agents, drew a storm of criticism. So did the reason: Two out of three new applicants had failed the lie detector.

The agency first required polygraph tests for prospective employees in 2012 after an Obama-era hiring surge led to a sharp increase in agents getting charged or arrested for bribery, drug smuggling and other crimes on or near the border.

Moreover, the Border Patrol — the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency — has more than 2,000 jobs empty even before a Trump-led hiring surge. The force fell below 20,000 agents this year for the first time since 2009, when President Barack Obama came to office.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said Sunday that Customs and Border Protection would continue to use the polygraph as a hiring tool, although he added that the agency was considering changes to make the process less “arduous.”

Kelly, a retired Marine general, took the offensive in a speech at George Washington University on Tuesday, blaming poor morale in his department on what he called “pointless bureaucracy” and “disrespect and contempt” from political leaders.

“If lawmakers do not like the laws that we enforce … then they should have the courage and the skill to change those laws,” he said. “Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.”

Under the Trump administration, the Border Patrol and ICE have ramped up arrests of people in the country illegally — 21,362 from mid-January to mid-March, compared with about 16,100 for the same period last year.

Removals by ICE reached a peak of 409,000 a year under Obama before plummeting to 235,000 in 2015 and 240,000 last year.

In the first three months of this year, ICE has deported 54,936 people, a rate that appears to put the Trump administration on track to remove fewer people than the Obama administration.

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions boasted during a visit to El Paso, Texas, of making progress, saying the number of people trying to cross the border illegally had fallen to the lowest in 17 years.

“For those that still seek to violate our laws and enter the country illegally, let me be very clear: Don’t come. When you are caught, you will be detained, adjudicated and deported,” he said.

Sessions said he had ordered each of the 94 U.S. attorneys offices to make criminal immigration enforcement a priority, and said each now has a “border security coordinator” who is personally responsible for overseeing immigration enforcement.

After taking office, Sessions ordered nearly every U.S. attorney in the country to resign. He has yet to nominate any replacements to the Senate, which must confirm each one, so it’s unclear when federal prosecutors will start to change their focus.

Sessions also said he had streamlined the hiring of immigration judges, and that the Justice Department would add 50 such judges this year and 75 next year to help adjudicate asylum claims, deportation orders and other disputes.

That will help but hardly solve the problem. There are now 250 immigration judges, and a backlog of 542,000 cases in immigration courts.

Moreover, the latest report from the inspector general’s office at Homeland Security said ICE agents, who are supposed to identify, detain and deport people in the country illegally, are ill-equipped to monitor those on their caseloads.

ICE tries to keep track of about 2.2 million foreigners who are not in jail, including more than 368,000 convicted criminals, the report said. Some officers have more than 10,000 cases, the report said, criticizing agency officials for not managing the problem.

“Although many ICE deportation officers … reported overwhelming caseloads and difficulty fulfilling their responsibilities, ICE does not collect and analyze data” that could be used to ease the pressure.

In one office, according to the report, officers complained that they had to manage so many thousands of cases that they couldn’t keep track of some migrants who had been flagged as risks to national security.

The report faulted ICE for insufficient training and failing to issue “up-to-date, comprehensive and accessible” guidelines on deportation. Resolving the failures, it said, “may require significant time and resources.”

“These management deficiencies and unresolved obstacles make it difficult for ICE to deport aliens expeditiously,” it said.

The inspector general’s office launched the review last year after Jean Jacques, a Haitian national, was released from ICE custody in 2015 even though he had been convicted of attempted murder and given a final order of deportation. While on the street, he killed another man.

———

©2017 Tribune Co.


Categories: Latest News

2 groups arrested in Coachella cellphone thefts

PoliceOne - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 11:59

Author: Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor at Large

Associated Press

INDIO, Calif. — Police have arrested five people in the theft of more than 40 cellphones, cash and credit cards at the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert.

Indio police say multiple festival-goers reported the thefts, and investigators identified two separate groups of suspects who had multiple phones on them Saturday.

The Desert Sun reports that five people were booked into Riverside County jail on theft and conspiracy charges.

Police believe two women, 35-year-old Angela Trivino of New York City and 38-year-old Viviana Hernandez of Los Angeles, were working together. They identified the other group as 29-year-old Brenda Cansino of Miami, 27-year-old Marco Leon of Los Angeles and 25-year-old Sharon Ruiz of Van Nuys.

It's unclear whether they have attorneys.

One man was arrested at Coachella with more than 100 cellphones in his backpack on April 14.


Categories: Latest News

Family of slain Mass. officer thanks Tom Brady for support

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 06:00

By Jeff Howe The Boston Herald

AUBURN, Mass. — Through unimaginable tragedy, quarterback Tom Brady and his Patriots teammates rallied to help the family of a slain Massachusetts police officer pull itself back together.

Tricia Tarentino's husband, Ronald, was shot and killed in the line of duty last May 22 while on patrol in Auburn, leaving her with their three boys to raise alone.

That's when Brady stepped in.

Brady and his Patriots pals rallied to help a cause that raised $86,000 for the fallen officer's family. Brady donated a signed home-game jersey that sold for $6,000 at a fundraiser, with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski also pitching in gear.

But it was Brady who started the goodwill flowing.

"That immediate response shows where his heart is at, and that Ron's death has made an impact on him as well," Tricia Tarentino told the Herald yesterday. "Ron was just that kind of person. He had an amazing personality and wanted to reach out to help others. I think that's why so many people have responded to this tragedy. It's just a great loss."

Tarentino said Brady's generosity also lifted her boys' spirits when they needed it most.

"They've grown up watching Tom Brady and looking up to him," Tarentino said of her sons, Ronald III, 21; Spenser, 18; and Kyle, 15. "I can't even tell you how great their response was. They were blown away. They were so excited. He is a role model that my boys will now, because they have that personal connection, will always look up to more than they already did."

It's a reminder of how Brady's commitment to the region goes beyond Sundays on the football field.

"We have the deepest gratitude for his kindness and generosity. Just reaching out to our family in our time of need is unbelievable," she said. "We're so fortunate that he is part of the greater New England family and was kind enough to donate his time to do this. To be there for us, it means a lot to us."

So here's how it all unfolded.

Ronald Tarentino Jr. and childhood friend Rob Bjorkgren grew up together in Tewksbury, where Bjorkgren is currently a police officer.

Tarentino worked for the Leicester Police Department before joining the Auburn force. A few days after Tarentino was killed during a routine traffic stop and his suspected shooter was gunned down, Bjorkgren's wife, Nicole, mustered up the courage to approach Brady at his annual Best Buddies bike ride.

Nicole asked Brady for 10 seconds of his time. He stopped and looked intently in her eyes as she explained the Tarentino tragedy.

"I really want to help," Brady told Nicole.

"I couldn't even believe it was coming out of my mouth," Nicole recalled. "I can't say enough about him as an individual."

A mutual friend -- Marc Ginsburg, owner of the Tewksbury Country Club -- then helped out and Brady's jersey was soon on the way.

"Nicole is such an amazing woman," Tarentino said. "She's got the biggest heart, and she was just trying to help us in any way that she could."

Three weeks later, Brady mailed them the home-game Patriots jersey, which he autographed on the back, to use for the auction. Edelman then found out and shipped over a signed football. Gronkowski caught wind of it and asked Rob Bjorkgren to come to his house to pick up his own signed jersey.

Brady's jersey was the most coveted item of the Aug. 11 event. Due to the overwhelming support, Tricia Tarentino has since reached out to the families of fallen first responders to assist.

She understands too well the pain of such a loss as well as the elation of a community that works selflessly to pick up a family in need.

Tarentino's emotions are wide-ranging 11 months after her husband's death, but the family simply wants to say thank you to Brady and the Patriots who came to their aid.

"It meant the world to my family and myself," she said. "I know they don't know us, but the fact that they did that to show support for another family in Massachusetts clearly shows they value family."

___ (c)2017 the Boston Herald


Categories: Latest News

LA Police Commission: Police must 'defuse tense encounters before firing guns'

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:30

By Kate Mather Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department’s manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.

Not everyone supported the new policy, however. The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday’s meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable.

Without such language, the letter said, the ACLU urged commissioners to “refuse to accept the proposed revisions as complete.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission’s inspector general said because commissioners can consider whether an officer’s actions before a shooting contributed to that shooting, the revisions do allow the panel to consider an officer’s de-escalation efforts — or lack of them — when deciding if a shooting was justified or not.

New training and directives from the LAPD reinforce the importance of de-escalation and the policy change, the inspector general, Alex Bustamante, added.

The revamped policy is the latest in a series of changes the five-person Police Commission has made in hopes of reducing shootings by officers. For almost two years, the civilian panel has pushed LAPD brass for more training and to provide officers with less-lethal devices, as well as a stronger emphasis on avoiding deadly force whenever possible.

Other law enforcement agencies have done the same. As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, officials looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, agencies have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

In Seattle, the Police Department’s manual requires that officers attempt de-escalation strategies and lists some examples, such as trying to calm someone down verbally, calling a mental health unit to the scene or asking for help from officers with less-lethal devices. Santa Monica, Calif., police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there’s an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. Just as some approaches increase the likelihood that force will be used, others will reduce those chances. The LAPD’s new policy reflects that, Walker said.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

The move comes after a year in which the Police Commission ruled eight shootings by LAPD officers were unjustified — the highest number in at least a decade, according to a Los Angeles Times review of nearly 440 shootings reviewed since 2007.

At the same time, the Times found, commissioners more often faulted the tactics officers used before a shooting, such as forgetting to carry a Taser or splitting from a partner during a foot chase. Last year, the panel decided there were tactical errors in 50 percent of the 46 shootings it reviewed, up from 32 percent the year before and 16 percent a decade ago.

Also on Tuesday, the LAPD released a 400-plus page report detailing how and when officers used force in 2016. It was the second year in a row that the department published such an analysis, another effort designed to help identify ways to reduce the amount of force officers use.

The number of shootings fell last year, down to 40 from 48 in 2015. Nineteen people were killed by police gunfire, a slight decrease from the 21 killed in 2015.

In more than half of the shootings last year, police shot at someone who had a gun, according to the LAPD’s report. Four more involved someone with a replica or pellet gun. Five others involved knives or some other type of edged weapon.

The number of incidents involving less-serious forms of force — such as when an officer grabs someone or uses a less-lethal device — rose by 100 last year, to 1,925. Officers used Tasers in 573 of those encounters — about 50 more times than last year.

The report outlined the efforts the LAPD has made in recent months to reduce shootings by officers: More Tasers have been deployed across the department, and more officers have been assigned to mental health units. Only four of the people shot at last year showed signs of mental illness, a significant drop from 2015, when nearly a third of the 48 people fired upon showed such signs.

In addition, the report said, LAPD brass issued a department-wide directive last fall outlining how officers should try to de-escalate confrontations. There is also a new policy in place requiring a supervisor and officers with a bean-bag shotgun or another less-lethal device that shoots foam rounds to respond to calls reporting people armed with edged weapons. Supervisors must also respond to calls involving people showing signs of mental illness.

———

©2017 Los Angeles Times


Categories: Latest News

Justice Dept threatens sanctuary cities in immigration fight

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:30

By Sadie Gurman Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, warning nine jurisdictions Friday that they may lose coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.

It sent letters to officials in California and major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department's inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. But some of the localities remained defiant, despite risking the loss of funds that police agencies use to pay for everything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.

"We're not going to cave to these threats," Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic said, promising a legal fight if the money is pulled.

Playing off Sessions' recent comments that sanctuary cities undermine the fight against gangs, the Justice Department said the communities under financial threat are "crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime."

After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California's Bay Area "city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next," the department said in a statement.

The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person's immigration status with federal authorities.

The money could be withheld in the future, or terminated, if local officials fail to prove they are following the law, wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs. The grant program is the leading source of federal justice funding to states and local communities.

Kevin de Leon, leader of California's state Senate, rejected the administration's demand, saying its policies are based on "principles of white supremacy" and not American values.

"Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level," he said.

Leaders in Chicago and Cook County, which shared a grant of more than $2.3 million in 2016, dismissed the threat. So did the mayor's office in New York City, which received $4.3 million. The Justice Department singled out Chicago's rise in homicides and said New York's gang killings were the "predictable consequence of the city's soft-on-crime stance."

"This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality," said Seith Stein, a spokesman for the New York City mayor's office, calling the comments "alternative facts." Crime is low thanks to policies that encourage police cooperation with immigrant communities, he said.

The jurisdictions also include Clark County, Nevada; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

They were singled out in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found local policies or rules could interfere with providing information to immigration agents. Following the report, the Obama administration warned cities that they could miss out on grant money if they did not comply with the law, but it never actually withheld funds.

The report pointed to a Milwaukee County rule that immigration detention requests be honored only if the person has been convicted of one felony or two misdemeanors, has been charged with domestic violence or drunken driving, is a gang member, or is on a terrorist watch list, among other constraints.

It also took issue with a New Orleans Police Department policy that it said might hinder communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That city received nearly $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal year 2016. New Orleans has used Justice Department funding to pay for testing DNA kits, police body cameras, attorneys for domestic violence victims and other expenses.

Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials. It was reviewing the Justice Department's letter.

"We don't think there's a problem," he said.

Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department has seen a 28 percent drop in calls for service from people with limited English since November.

"People are scared, and because of that, they're less willing to report crime," Butterworth added.

Other places also insisted they were in compliance. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said the city and county were wrongly labeled sanctuary cities.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said that community is hardly succumbing to violence.

"Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration," he said in a statement. "My far greater concern is the proactive dissemination of misinformation, fear, and intolerance."


Categories: Latest News

LA Police Commission: Police must 'defuse tense counters before firing guns'

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:30

By Kate Mather Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

The new rules formally incorporate a decades-old concept called “de-escalation” into the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy outlining how and when officers can use deadly force. As a result, officers can now be judged specifically on whether they did all they could to reduce tensions before resorting to their firearms.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote caps a 13-month effort by the Police Commission to revise the policy. Two sentences will be added to the department’s manual, the first of which tells officers they must try to de-escalate a situation — “whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so” — by taking more time to let it unfold, moving away from the person and trying to talk to him or her, and calling in other resources.

Not everyone supported the new policy, however. The American Civil Liberties Union sent the commission a letter before Tuesday’s meeting expressing concern the revisions did not go far enough to explicitly state that de-escalation would be considered when determining whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable.

Without such language, the letter said, the ACLU urged commissioners to “refuse to accept the proposed revisions as complete.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission’s inspector general said because commissioners can consider whether an officer’s actions before a shooting contributed to that shooting, the revisions do allow the panel to consider an officer’s de-escalation efforts — or lack of them — when deciding if a shooting was justified or not.

New training and directives from the LAPD reinforce the importance of de-escalation and the policy change, the inspector general, Alex Bustamante, added.

The revamped policy is the latest in a series of changes the five-person Police Commission has made in hopes of reducing shootings by officers. For almost two years, the civilian panel has pushed LAPD brass for more training and to provide officers with less-lethal devices, as well as a stronger emphasis on avoiding deadly force whenever possible.

Other law enforcement agencies have done the same. As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, officials looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, agencies have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

In Seattle, the Police Department’s manual requires that officers attempt de-escalation strategies and lists some examples, such as trying to calm someone down verbally, calling a mental health unit to the scene or asking for help from officers with less-lethal devices. Santa Monica, Calif., police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there’s an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. Just as some approaches increase the likelihood that force will be used, others will reduce those chances. The LAPD’s new policy reflects that, Walker said.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

The move comes after a year in which the Police Commission ruled eight shootings by LAPD officers were unjustified — the highest number in at least a decade, according to a Los Angeles Times review of nearly 440 shootings reviewed since 2007.

At the same time, the Times found, commissioners more often faulted the tactics officers used before a shooting, such as forgetting to carry a Taser or splitting from a partner during a foot chase. Last year, the panel decided there were tactical errors in 50 percent of the 46 shootings it reviewed, up from 32 percent the year before and 16 percent a decade ago.

Also on Tuesday, the LAPD released a 400-plus page report detailing how and when officers used force in 2016. It was the second year in a row that the department published such an analysis, another effort designed to help identify ways to reduce the amount of force officers use.

The number of shootings fell last year, down to 40 from 48 in 2015. Nineteen people were killed by police gunfire, a slight decrease from the 21 killed in 2015.

In more than half of the shootings last year, police shot at someone who had a gun, according to the LAPD’s report. Four more involved someone with a replica or pellet gun. Five others involved knives or some other type of edged weapon.

The number of incidents involving less-serious forms of force — such as when an officer grabs someone or uses a less-lethal device — rose by 100 last year, to 1,925. Officers used Tasers in 573 of those encounters — about 50 more times than last year.

The report outlined the efforts the LAPD has made in recent months to reduce shootings by officers: More Tasers have been deployed across the department, and more officers have been assigned to mental health units. Only four of the people shot at last year showed signs of mental illness, a significant drop from 2015, when nearly a third of the 48 people fired upon showed such signs.

In addition, the report said, LAPD brass issued a department-wide directive last fall outlining how officers should try to de-escalate confrontations. There is also a new policy in place requiring a supervisor and officers with a bean-bag shotgun or another less-lethal device that shoots foam rounds to respond to calls reporting people armed with edged weapons. Supervisors must also respond to calls involving people showing signs of mental illness.

———

©2017 Los Angeles Times


Categories: Latest News

First responders pay last respects to Okla. K-9

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:30

By Wendy Burton Muskogee Phoenix

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — K-9 Officer Bosco rode for the last time in the back of the Special Operations Unit truck he had served in during his service to the Muskogee Police Department on Friday. He rode side-by-side with his long-time partner, Lt. William Peters.

They were escorted by a multitude of law enforcement officers and first responders as the 11-year-old German shepherd was taken to be euthanized at the Eastside Veterinary Clinic.

Bosco looked around slowly, and barely stayed upright as he was gently laid on a Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service stretcher outside the clinic. Law enforcement officers from the police department, Special Investigations Unit, sheriff’s office, and MCEMS lined up outside, silently awaiting the news Bosco was gone.

“577. 577. 577. K-9 Officer Bosco served the Muskogee Police Department with honor, distinction and bravery from 2008 to 2014. End of watch April 20, 2017. Thank you for your service. You will be missed,” said a Muskogee E-911 dispatcher over the police radio a short time after Bosco was wheeled inside.

Bosco was a partner to Muskogee Police Department Lt. William Peters. The award-winning K-9 worked primarily with the Special Operations Unit, and the duo were named Oklahoma State Canine Team of the Year by the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers in 2013.

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K9 Bosco, though you may be gone, you are not forgotten. Your dedication, drive, courage, and friendship is what made you great. Thank you. You will be greatly missed. EOW- 4-20-2017.

Posted by Muskogee Officer on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Peters said Bosco has been living with his family since the K-9 retired from service in 2014. The dog had difficulty standing, and was suffering from hip dysplasia and a myriad of other health problems, he said.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to,” Peters said. “But he spent so much time taking care of us, I felt like we had to care of him so he’s not hurting anymore.”

Bosco’s last days were happy, though, Peters said, and after he is cremated, his remains will go back home with Peters.

“Living with me, that was the cool thing since he retired,” Peters said. “I have a 4-year-old daughter, and they played quite a bit.”

After the dispatcher announced Bosco had died to the assembled officers and emergency responders, Peters came outside and hugged each and every one.

Then, he brought out a folded American flag, badge and vest and laid it gently in the back of the special operations truck.

———

©2017 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)


Categories: Latest News

NC police board clears officer in fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:00

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina police department review board has cleared an officer in a fatal shooting that sparked several days of protests and riots last year.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Shooting Review Board determined that Officer Brentley Vinson followed proper procedure in last September's shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. The board met Monday.

The board's report said Vinson's use of deadly force was justified and his actions were consistent with North Carolina law.

In announcing in November that no charges would be filed against Vinson, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said Scott was armed with a handgun and Vinson feared Scott would shoot.

The Charlotte Observer reported an attorney for Scott's family criticized the police department, saying the decision shows, "it's darn near impossible to investigate yourself."


Categories: Latest News

Cops: 10 pounds of pot wrongly sent to Pa. pastor

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 04:00

Associated Press

YEADON, Pa. — Police are trying to determine who shipped 10 pounds of marijuana from California to a pastor in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Yeadon police tell WTXF-TV the drugs arrived Thursday, in bundles stuffed into a plastic bucket inside a cardboard box that was delivered by United Parcel Service.

The package was sent from Sacramento.

But the woman who received it is a church pastor who tells authorities it wasn't meant for her. Police believe someone else might have been instructed to watch for the package, but failed to pick it up.

Police Chief Donald Molineux says the pastor is "very upset and traumatized" and afraid someone might come to her home looking for the drugs.

Police are hoping surveillance video from a drop-off location will identify who shipped the package.


Categories: Latest News

Audit: Conn. police underreporting required racial profiling data

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 04:00

By Dave Collins Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — Police in Connecticut's capital city have failed to report thousands of traffic stops as required by a state law aimed to prevent racial profiling, data analysts said Friday.

Hartford police submitted records for about 2,000 traffic stops between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, but dispatch logs show there were about 6,500 stops during the same period, according to an audit by analysts at Central Connecticut State University.

Police brass said they are confident officers collected the required data and they're looking into why data from several thousand paper forms filled out by officers weren't submitted. They said there might have been a computer problem or a data-entry problem.

There also may be similar underreporting problems in Bridgeport and New London, but officials in those cities have not responded to requests to see their dispatch logs, said Ken Barone, an analyst with the university's Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy. The institute compiles the statewide traffic stop data, which officials say is the most comprehensive examination of police stops in any U.S. state.

The Hartford audit was discussed Friday at a meeting of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board, which oversees the data collection and expressed concern that underreporting problems would damage public confidence.

Members said they were considering whether to warn Hartford and other cities that they could lose state funding for failing to submit accurate data. They also noted that the vast majority of the more than 100 police agencies in the state are complying with the reporting requirements.

"I think at the very least we need to put these departments on notice," said board member David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. "This is really troublesome."

Board Chairman William Dyson, a former state lawmaker, added, "The intent is not to smear any department. The intent is to have credible data."

Analysts also said there were a variety of errors on the Hartford forms they did receive.

Hartford is one of only a few departments in the state that has officers fill out paper forms after each traffic stop. Officers in nearly every other department enter information on their in-vehicle computers.

Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said there appeared to be problems with entering data from the paper forms into a computer system, or in sending the data to the institute.

Foley said police officials are investigating, and similar problems in the future should be avoided because officers will be entering the data into computers in their vehicles.

Police officials in Bridgeport and New London did not immediately return messages Friday.

The Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy has been compiling the data since October 2013 for reports analyzing the race and ethnicity of drivers stopped by police and why they were stopped.

The reports have said Connecticut police stop black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionately high rates.

The most recent data showed police statewide reported making about 586,000 traffic stops between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015.

About 14 percent of the stops involved black drivers, while black people of driving age comprise 9 percent of the state's population. Nearly 13 percent of traffic stops involved Hispanic drivers, while Hispanics of driving age comprise 12 percent of Connecticut residents.


Categories: Latest News

Textalyzer: NY distracted driving law advances

PoliceOne - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 04:00

By Andrea Fox, P1 Contributor

NEW YORK — Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, who introduced a proposed New York state law in 2016 that would enable law enforcement officers at the scene of an auto accident to use a device to determine when a driver's smartphone was last used, said authorizing police use of textalyzer technology is as important as the breathalyzer has been to reducing drunk driving deaths.

Proponents of the legislation, dubbed Evan's Law, are emboldened by new data and studies that show increased smartphone use while driving has a direct correlation to 2016 being the deadliest year for motor vehicle accidents in nine years. Last year more than 40,000 Americans died in automobile accidents -- an increase of 6 percent over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014, according to the National Safety Council.

The New York Senate version of the bill has advanced out of its transportation committee and moved forward to the finance committee on March 21st, while the New York Assembly legislation is in the transportation committee.

A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that in-car breathalyzers for previous drunk-driving offenders have curbed drunk-driving deaths by 15 percent. Proponents say the textalyzer technology could do the same thing for deaths caused by distracted driving -- while the proposed law ensures privacy.

Supportive Studies

According to data reviewed by the Alliance Combating Distracted Driving (ACDD), the increased 2016 fatalities happened despite continued reductions in drunk driving and increased use of seat belts. ACDD said that despite a 3.3 percent increase of the number of drivers on the road, an 18-year declining trend in crashes per vehicle miles traveled (VMT) should have continued.

This study looked at the relationship between yearly crashes and VMT since 1994, and found that new crash causes emerged in 2012, which they attribute to an increase in cellphone ownership:

"The introduction and dependence of smartphones trend is more in aligned with this spike than any other factor. Distracted driving information at crashes remains almost nonexistent so its impossible to pinpoint the exact cause. We can determine that the rate increase is more profound than can be explained by a more populated roadway," according to ACDD.

A new 90-day study by Zendrive, whose technology supports a General Motors and Life360 Driver Protect application that accesses smartphones to detect and illicit faster response to auto accidents and is racking up data on millions of miles driven for future use by insurance carriers, supports the claim that drivers distracted by smartphones are causing more accidents.

Zendrive calculated that drivers are handling their cell phones 88 percent of the time.

For its study, Zendrive tracked anonymized data from 3.1 million of its 5 million users, according to the executive summary. The company calculated the ratio between the average daily trip time and the average amount of time drivers used their phones. The rate is based on results showing cellphone use in 88 out of every 100 trips, which totaled 600 million trips with phone use in the United States during the study.

"By comparing duration to duration, i.e. apples to apples, Zendrive came up with the most direct and accurate measurement of driver distraction," according to the summary, which also noted that Vermont had the highest level of driver phone use, and Oregon had the lowest.

A 2015 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction occur even if drivers eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel. Distracted driving could last as long as 15 to 27 seconds after completing a voice-activated, hands-free task, which analyzed a range of the easiest to the most complex tasks in commercially available, voice-activated systems.

Textalyzer Technology

Ben Lieberman co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, whose son died as a result of terminal injuries sustained in an automobile accident where the driver's cellphone logs his family subpoenaed revealed texting throughout the trip, said police could not investigate the driver's phone in the 2011 crash due to privacy.

The result is a "nameless and faceless crime," Lieberman said.

James Grady, chief executive officer of Cellebrite, told EfficientGov in a recent press call that the textalyzer technology could be brought to market within six to nine months of a distracted driver law passing.

The Israeli company already works with law enforcement throughout the United States on mobile data forensics. In a proof of concept, Grady said Cellebrite demonstrated that the company's existing mobile data forensics technology could be modified. While ensuring privacy, a textalyzer device would give officers the ability to determine -- within 90 seconds -- if a smartphone's applications had been used -- but without revealing or reporting on any of the material content.

Privacy Exchange

"We have to fight through some bad information," Lieberman said, noting that publications like the Washington Post and others frequently use the same erroneous quotes, such as:

"The technology may in fact be scanning through the content of people’s phones and collecting data, even if that is not apparent," which is a statement by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Lieberman said statements like these about the textalyzer prototype developed are absolutely not accurate.

Additional Resources

Access a National Safety Council Cell Phone Policy Kit for Employers.


Categories: Latest News

Police officer killed in Paris was on duty at Bataclan

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 13:55

By Samuel Petrequin Associated Press

PARIS — The Paris police officer who was shot to death while at work on the French capital's most famous boulevard had seen firsthand the horror that could be carried out in the name of the Islamic State group.

Xavier Jugele was one of the officers who raced to the Bataclan concert hall the night three armed men in suicide bombs stormed a show and slaughtered 90 people on Nov. 13, 2015.

In the latest attack, Jugele was the only person killed when an assailant opened fire with an assault rifle on a police van parked on the Champs-Elysees. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility, and authorities say the gunman had a note defending IS with him.

Paris police declined to give details about Jugele's career and life, saying his family had asked for privacy. Mickael Bucheron, president of a French association of LGBT police officers, told The Associated Press Jugele would have celebrated his 38th birthday at the beginning of May.

"He was a very simple man, with a big heart. A real nice guy," Flag! Vice President Alain Parmentier told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "And he really loved his job."

Jugele was in the van's driver's seat when he was shot dead. Two other officers were wounded. The attacker was shot and killed by officers at the scene.

Laurent, a police colleague and friend of Jugele's who also was deployed to the Bataclan attack, said Jugele was in a civil union and that his partner has a child. Laurent asked not to be identified by his last name because he does not represent the Paris police officially.

Both officers returned to the concert venue a year later when it reopened with a concert by Sting. Jugele told People magazine at the time how happy he was to be "here to defend our civic values."

"It's symbolic. We're here tonight as witnesses. This concert's to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists," he said.

Jugele had worked in the Paris area as a police officer since 2011. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Paris police department's public order and traffic division.

"It was one of his final missions, he was about to join another service," Parmentier said.

Jugele had received praised from his bosses earlier this year for his courage during the evacuation of a building ravaged by an accidental blast in the western Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Laurent said Jugele had also served in Greece for Frontex, the agency in charge of border control of Europe's 26-nation Schengen Area.

French president Francois Hollande said a national tribute will be paid to Jugele, "who was cowardly assassinated."


Categories: Latest News

Local Texas police deploy 'dirt bike' unit

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 13:09

By PoliceOne Staff

FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth police have a new tool for search and rescue efforts: dirt bikes.

The bikes will be used to help officers access hard-to-reach areas, NBC DFW reported.

“These bikes will go places nobody else can go,” Officer Walter May said. “We can cover the ground so much faster than officers walking.”

The eight dual-sport motorcycles were donated to the department by the Tarrant Regional Water District to help boost local search and rescue efforts, the news station reported.

“Just recently we had someone on the trail, they had a phone, they got hurt and they didn’t know where they were and there was a lot of manpower used most of it on foot,” May said. “We could cover that ground a whole lot quicker and find them quicker.”

The motor unit officers have been training on local trails, motocross tracks and Texas Motor Speedway. Each bike comes equipped with lights and sirens.

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Don’t be surprised if you see Fort Worth officers on dirt bikes. Read more --> http://on.nbcdfw.com/zkujWJq

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Categories: Latest News

Survey: Majority of first responders face workplace mental health challenges

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:45

By PoliceOne Staff

A recent survey published by the University of Phoenix found that 85 percent of first responders have experienced issues related to their mental health.

The survey was sent out to 2,000 United States police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and nurses over the age of 18. The report states that among the 27 percent who have been diagnosed with depression, close to half cited workplace incidents as the contributing cause.

While 84 percent of first responders report that they have experienced a traumatic event on the job, the stigma that comes with mental health treatment holds them back from seeking help even though the resources are available.

39 percent said there are negative repercussions for seeking mental health help at work, and 55 percent of first responders believe their supervisor will treat them differently if they bring up their mental health concerns.

Overall, half of the first responders surveyed have participated in pre-exposure mental health training, but 69 percent said mental health services are seldom or never utilized.

For more findings from the study, visit this page.


Categories: Latest News

Toronto officers who die by suicide eligible for inclusion on police memorial

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:39

By PoliceOne Staff

TORONTO — Under certain conditions, Toronto officers who die by suicide can be included on the on-duty death police memorial wall.

The Record reported that the change is the result of a settlement with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The commission filed a case stating that excluding names of those who died as a result of mental health issues experienced on duty was discriminatory.

The case was made on behalf Sgt. Eddie Adamson who took his own life in 2005. Four years after his suicide, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ruled Adamson’s death a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, classifying it as an on-duty death, CP24 reported.

"We hope this signals to officers that if they are suffering, they can and should get help and that doesn't mean they wouldn't be worthy of honour and respect as an officer," Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, told The Record.

The Toronto Police Service said it’s in the final stages of putting criteria in place for applications.

“Today’s agreement creates an opportunity for the service to respectfully recognize those who have died, regardless of cause of death, by appropriately commemorating those who, through their actions, demonstrated the noble qualities of policing and inspired those who continue to serve,” the Toronto Police Service said in a press release.


Categories: Latest News

6 keys to coming home safely after every shift

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 10:31

Author: Chrystal Fletcher

Before leaving for every shift, whether it’s at 0400 or 1400 hours, my husband has always made a point of kissing me goodbye and saying “I love you.” Somewhere along the way I started saying, “Go get ‘em bad guys.” From then on, it kind of became our thing. What always went unsaid, but understood was, “then come home to me.” I was fortunate that I went into a law enforcement marriage with my eyes wide open. I understood the lifestyle and what to expect being the spouse of a cop. Not every spouse is in that situation.

So, as the cop, always remember that you chose your career, and your spouse did not choose the career; your spouse chose you. You owe it to them to do everything in your power to ensure you return home safe after every shift. The concepts of Below 100 are familiar to most police officers, but here is a firearms instructor and spouse’s perspective on what these concepts mean to those of us left at home.

Effective law enforcement officers are hunters. You seek out the parts of society that the rest of us try to avoid. What makes a hunter great is a strong prey drive. But it is important to keep a check on that prey drive. It is all too easy to let that primal instinct take over, and in a rush of adrenaline, your better judgement goes out the window. You are not really involved in a game of cat and mouse. Instead, it’s more like catch and release, and no matter how many bad guys you catch, there will always be another. You cannot always expect to get a sense of accomplishment because there is always another bad guy waiting in the wings. You must remember that unstated promise to return home after every shift.

1. Wear Your Seatbelt

Most of you will spend a great deal of your time in a vehicle, and you must always wear your seatbelt. This is non-negotiable. No matter how rushed you are, take that extra split second to buckle up. No excuses, no exceptions. Just the shear amount of time a patrol officer spends in a moving vehicle increases the likelihood of an accident. The best way to prevent an accident from becoming a tragedy is to wear your seatbelt.

2. Watch Your Speed

Watch your speed and obey all applicable traffic laws. You will not be able to help anyone if you are unable to make it to them. Even in the direst sounding circumstances, slow down and arrive alive. And when driving Code 3, drive or talk. It has been proven time and again that no matter what we think of our own abilities, no one is truly able to multi-task. As soon as your take your focus off of the road, especially at high speeds, the likelihood of an accident is increased. Do what you can to mitigate the necessity of multi-tasking. Just like cellphone use has caused an uptick in distracted driving accidents, your equipment is no different – it’s worse.

3. Wear Your Vest

It may sound over simplified, but make good decisions. This starts with wearing your vest. If you are armed and identifiable as a law enforcement officer, then you are a potential target. I know vests are hot, heavy and uncomfortable, but they are the best insurance against the unthinkable. New technology is being developed regularly that is helping to make body armor more functional and more comfortable. If your department is still issuing an older model, look into getting some new equipment to test and evaluate. You may be able to bring some better equipment to your agency.

4. What’s Important Now? – WIN

Perform regular maintenance on your equipment. You spark test your TASER and check your lights and siren before every shift, but when was the last time you had a qualified armorer go through your handgun and rifle? Springs and other wear parts should be changed on a regular basis. The loudest sound you never want to hear is silence from your firearm when you really need it to go bang.

Those good decisions need to go beyond your physical wellbeing. You also owe it to your family to protect their financial wellbeing. This means that you need to do your homework. You are in the law enforcement business, so you should probably know a lot about the law. You need to know more than just the statutes you are there to enforce. Every officer needs to be fluent in use-of-force case law as well as the use-of-force policies under which they work (regrettably, they may differ). Unfortunately, you can easily lose a career, or worse, due to a lack of information or understanding of the law.

Take responsibility for your own training. With increasingly tight budgets, training is often the first and deepest cut. This means you now may bear the responsibility to seek and fund the training that you require. Don’t settle for the minimum amount of training required by your state. You are the one on the street, so you are the one responsible for your own preparedness. Don’t be the one they’re talking about at the funeral when someone says, “The department should have provided more training.” It’s your life, your training and your responsibility. Think of it as an investment in your career, your wellbeing and your loved one’s piece of mind.

5. Complacency Kills

Don’t become complacent. Never think of it as a “routine” traffic stop or a “routine” contact. We all base our actions and reactions on our past experiences, and it is human nature to be lazy and take that short cut. Resist that urge with everything you have. That “routine” traffic stop can turn tragic in a heartbeat. And just because one of your regular contacts has always been cooperative doesn’t mean he will be this time. You need to treat every traffic stop and every contact like it is the most important thing. The bottom line is that at that time, it is.

6. Build a team dynamic

Finally, build a team dynamic. We like to say that those in law enforcement are like family. But, you are employed by a government agency. Don’t waste your love on a government agency because it is unable to reciprocate your love. However, the love and loyalty you feel for the people with which you work is not misplaced. Those are the folks that rely on you and you rely on to make sure you all make it home safe at the end of every shift. Building a team dynamic not only makes you safer, it will make you more productive and more satisfied with your job. Step up and be a leader. Build a cohesive work environment. It may even help extend your career. But you should never lose sight of the fact that the ones that truly love you are waiting at home.


Categories: Latest News

Policing Matters Podcast: Was LE response to the Berkeley riots the right approach?

PoliceOne - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 09:56
Author: Jim Dudley and Doug Wyllie

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

On April 15 (tax day) pro-Trump individuals wearing American Flags and “Make America Great Again” baseball hats held a rally in Berkeley, California. They had notified Berkeley Police in advance of their intention to rally. However, when anarchists clad in black masks and wielding various weapons showed up, officers from the Berkeley PD stood back and allowed the two sides to get involved in a prolonged violent confrontation. This is not what most police agencies would call crowd control. Jim and Doug talk about what should have happened but didn't.


Categories: Latest News

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