Latest News

Good Samaritan who shot cop's attacker faces lawsuit

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:49

By PoliceOne Staff

RISING SUN, Ind. — A Good Samaritan who feared for a police officer’s life when she shot and killed his attacker is now being sued by the deceased’s family.

In February 2017, an off-duty conservation officer responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle and encountered 25-year-old Justin Holland, according to Holland then attacked the officer, overpowering him as bystander Kystie Jaehnen rushed to the LEO’s aid.

Jaehnen, who said she feared for the officer’s life, shot Holland in the shoulder. Holland later died from his injuries. Meth, benzodiazepines, marijuana, methadone, and dextromethorphan were later found in his system. Jaehnen was not charged in the shooting.

Holland’s family is now suing Jaehnen, the officer, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, claiming that Jaehnen used unjustified deadly force in the shooting.

“If the officer was truly in harm’s way and he was going to die, she had the right to defend him,” Blake Maislin, the family’s attorney, said. “But over and over what we have is a story of somebody engaging somebody else and claiming self-defense."

A gofundme in support of Jaehnen has been set up to help with her legal fees.

Categories: Latest News

Ariz. K-9 killed, suspect in custody after pursuit

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:47

By PoliceOne Staff

PHOENIX – A K-9 died Tuesday during the arrest of a suspect who led officers on a pursuit in a stolen vehicle.

According to AZ Central, officers surrounded a home where the suspect, who had bailed from the carjacked vehicle, was hiding. Officer deployed K-9 Bane, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois who had served with the department for nearly two years, into the home.

When officers entered the residence, they found the suspect, who was not immediately identified, on top of Bane. The suspect was taken into custody and treated for injuries.

Police said Bane was not shot, but it’s unclear how he died. A passenger who was in the stolen vehicle with the suspect was also taken into custody. No other officers were harmed during the incident.

"Bane died heroically helping apprehend a suspect to keep our community safe,'' Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

Categories: Latest News

Are you a minimalist or a maximalist? What cops need to know about footwear trends

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 14:40

By Joseph J. Kolb, MA P1 Contributor

A police officer’s feet endure many stresses, aches and pains associated with prolonged standing and walking as might be seen on a patrol beat, parade duty or traffic accident, as well as the explosive multi-directional bursts of speed required in a suspect foot chase.

Just like athletic shoes, manufacturers have been taking a close look at the demands of public safety, offering a variety of utility shoes and police duty boots in an attempt to make policing a little more comfortable and functional while mitigating acute and chronic lower extremity injuries.

Minimalist and maximalist sound like terms associated with art. In fact, they are associated with a growing trend in footgear that started about a decade ago, and something all patrol officers should consider when selecting a shoe to hit the streets with.

Before buying a minimalist or maximalist shoe or boot, review the following factors in order to choose what is best for you.

How to pick the right fit

After decades of research on running shoes, experts agree that one style of shoe does not fit all. Picking the right fit is dependent on a variety of factors:

Foot type: Are the feet or high arched, rigid or flexible? The foot is comprised of 26 bones that are connected by a vulnerable network of tendons and ligaments. Weight: The heavier one is the more pressure is put on foot structures. Just walking increases forces through the lower extremities and spine that is 2-3 times your body weight. Running increases these forces tenfold. Length of time on feet: “Oh, my aching feet!” is a phrase heard all too often among police officers who walk a beat. Activities associated with policing: Typically short bursts of quick multi-directional speed executed to apprehend a suspect. Minimalist vs. maximalist design differences

Basically speaking the two terms relate to the amount and location of padding and support a shoe possess. As the names imply, one has very little, while the other has more.

Minimalist shoes are designed to be light, thin and flexible, which translates to no motion control, cushioning or stability, but an increase in functionality. For an officer chasing a suspect running in different directions over a short distance this may serve them well. Minimalist shoe manufacturers theorize that by running with less cushioning, your muscles will be strengthened by the impact loading on the foot and lower leg muscles. Buyers must be aware however that these shoes require a gradual break-in period for the feet and lower leg muscles to adjust and develop.

One manufacturer recommends a very gradual transition from regular foot gear to the minimalist brand to allow the calf and foot muscles to adjust and strengthen. It is recommended to wear the minimalist gear for one to two hours per day for a few weeks then gradually increase the time as the lower extremity muscles strengthen.

Janet Simon, a podiatrist based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, says that while this design is light, it does require a breaking-in period.

The maximalist shoe is designed with extra cushioning, especially in the midsole area to mitigate lower extremity and spinal shock that could alleviate leg and back fatigue in prolonged standing. The extra cushioning also adds more than 50 percent shock absorption that a standard utility boot affords. It may appear heavy and clunky, but lightweight material keeps the shoes only a few ounces more than the minimalist shoe. The style design of the maximalist boot also allows for a smooth heel-toe rocker motion, which can improve gait.


The functional differences between minimalist and maximalist shoes can be profound in policing duties and preferences. The maximalist shoe is built for cushioning, especially for officers with pronated or flat feet where stress is generated through the lower extremities and spine during prolonged standing and activity. Conversely, a minimalist shoe has essentially no structural support, but in time can develop feet and leg muscles while increasing functionality.

“The answer as to which shoe to go with is based on specific foot types that function a specific way,” says Simon. “If an individual is biomechanically sound, they should alternate between a minimalist shoe and one with greater support.”

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

Categories: Latest News

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

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:11

By Joseph J. Kolb, MA P1 Contributor

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

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

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

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

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

The link between unaccompanied children and MS-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Threat assessment strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Latest News

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

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:10

By Adam Ferrise Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New policy enacted in 2014

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

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

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

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

Union reacts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shootings

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

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

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

The officers did not give chase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

Categories: Latest News

Special prosecutor appointed to defend Joe Arpaio case ruling

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:54

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Latest News

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

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Diego County heard from both sides Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Latest News

Chicago body armor ban criticized as too restrictive

PoliceOne - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Latest News

Focus on Lithuanian crime: 19 arrests in a two-year investigation

EUROPOL - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:32
Today the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau and the Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office led one of the largest covert police operations the country has seen in recent years, with the support of Europol and different Lithuanian authorities.
Categories: Latest News

The evolution of online terrorist propaganda

EUROPOL - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:21
Terrorist propaganda constantly shifts on to new and diverse platforms and the quantity of information exchanged, either publicly or in private spaces, is increasing. In order to face these evolving threats, Europol hosted the second conference of the European Counter Terrorism Centre Advisory Group on 17 and 18 April 2018. During the conference several academic research papers were discussed, relevant to ECTC’s complex tasks in a way that is effective and in compliance with Europol’s high data protection standards.
Categories: Latest News

Europol’s New Executive Director signs employment contract in Tallinn

EUROPOL - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 05:41
Today, the newly appointed Executive Director of Europol Catherine De Bolle visited Tallinn (Estonia) and met with Deputy Director General Priit Pärkna, the current chairman of Europol’s Management Board. On the occasion of this visit, Ms De Bolle signed her employment contract for the next four years.
Categories: Latest News

Velkommen Norway and Wilkommen Switzerland - two new countries join the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce under new Chairmanship

EUROPOL - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 04:42
Launched in September 2014, the J-CAT (Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce) is dedicated to fighting international cybercrime threats within the EU and beyond in a pro-active manner.
Categories: Latest News

Video shows officer taking down knife-wielding man

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 15:49

By PoliceOne Staff

GWENT, Wales — Body cam footage shows an officer in Wales taking down a man who tried to stab him with two knives.

On October 2, Gwent officers encountered 36-year-old Tony Buttigieg, who appeared to be intoxicated, the Express & Star reports. Officers found that Buttigieg was armed with two knives and attempted to negotiate with him.

“Despite officers’ negotiations, he tried to gain entry to another flat and then began to push the knife into his stomach area in a self-harm action,” a police statement said.

Police used a TASER on the man, but it was ineffective. Buttigieg then attempted to stab Officer Rhydian Jones on “at least three occasions” before being overpowered by police.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wilkie, who led the investigation, said while the encounter didn’t end fatally, “it was traumatic for all those involved.”

“The body-worn video footage is particularly harrowing to watch and reminds us of the risks officers face every day, when officers are simply carrying out their duty.”

In March, Jones along with Officers Gareth Marsh and Ashley Cotton received a Chief Constable’s Commendation for their bravery during the incident.

Buttigieg was initially charged with attempted murder but later pleaded guilty in February to attempted grievous bodily harm to Jones.

Categories: Latest News

Ore. police department gets speed enforcement grant

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 15:11

By Tyler Jones KEZI-TV

SUTHERLIN, Ore. — The Sutherlin Police Department recently received a speed enforcement grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, allowing officers to work more overtime.

The grant from ODOT gives the police department 50 hours of overtime to work with.

Captain Kurt Sorenson with the Sutherlin Police Department said this means officers can come in any time they choose, before or after shifts or even on their days off, and only focus on speeding drivers.

Full Story: Sutherlin police receive speed enforcement grant

Categories: Latest News

Chicago mayor's plan to get police to buy homes in violent areas not netting many sales

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 14:32

By John Byrne Chicago Tribune

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

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

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

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

The proposal set aside $3 million to pay for the loans and passed the City Council easily last year, but not without skepticism from some aldermen about whether it would spur investment in areas that need it most.

The program was organized to promote homebuying by police, firefighters and paramedics in parts of Chicago’s six most statistically violent police districts, which include portions of several neighborhoods beset by crime and disinvestment like South Lawndale and Englewood. The districts, though, also include less violent parts of the city, notably Chatham.

During a debate over the program last summer, South Side Ald. David Moore, 17th, said the city needed to spread out the incentives through different neighborhoods, lest the vast majority of the public safety officers use the $30,000 to buy houses in middle-class areas.

“It’s very important to me that we go back and try to designate certain percentages for certain areas for that encouragement,” Moore said at the time. “If all 100 move into Chatham ... because if I’m a police officer, I’m picking Chatham over Englewood every day of the week."

And West Side Ald. Michael Scott Jr., 24th, also worried last year that police would just buy “on the better end of these districts,” saying that “would be doing a disservice to this program.”

Now both aldermen said they are troubled by the early results, but each suggested ways to fix the program.

Scott pointed out that the rules don’t allow people who make more than about $90,000 to get the loans. That disqualifies many cops who have been on the job for more than a few years.

“I know they’re looking at enticing some of the younger officers, but maybe we could look at raising those caps a little bit,” Scott said.

And Moore said it might make sense to let Chicago public school teachers and other city workers qualify. Both said the home loan program deserves more time to take hold.

“If there were eight, nine, 10 officers who had gotten the loans and they were all moving to Chatham I would be more frustrated,” Moore said. “But just two, I really want to see the city do more outreach and see if we can get people moving into some of these other neighborhoods in the coming months.”

Anthony Simpkins, the deputy commissioner for housing in the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said the administration will keep trying to get the proposal on police and fire recruits’ radar as they come out of the academy. And he ascribed the slow start in part to the timing of the launch.

“It’s been operating for six months starting last October, which isn’t exactly the time of year when people are looking to buy homes,” Simpkins said. “We’re just getting into the spring homebuying season, so that could help it pick up.”

As more officers get involved, Simpkins predicted people with roots in different neighborhoods will look to use the money to buy homes in more areas.

This isn’t the first time City Hall has tried to nudge police officers into living in rougher parts of the city.

Daley launched his own small-scale police homebuying program in 1995, setting aside $100,000 and offering cops $5,000 forgivable home loans if they moved into parts of the city where at least half of the residents made no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

Starting in the mid-2000s, police officers and firefighters qualified for $3,000 loans for moving into certain neighborhoods and another $7,500 if they bought residences in designated areas Daley was trying to redevelop after tearing down Chicago Housing Authority buildings.

In all, 550 public safety officers availed themselves of $2.4 million in forgivable loans through the Daley-era programs between 1995 and 2010, according to Department of Planning and Development spokesman Peter Strazzabosco. He did not provide geographic information on where they bought their houses.

Like other city workers, Chicago police and firefighters are required to live in the city limits, and they have long clustered in a handful of neighborhoods. Chatham has for decades been a South Side focal point for African-American city employees, and home to lots of cops. Beverly, Garfield Ridge, Bridgeport, Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Edison Park are also among the neighborhoods with more than their fair share of municipal workers.

Police, firefighters and teachers unions in particular have long chafed at the residency restrictions and periodically called for them to be lifted. But Daley was adamant about the role they play as community anchors around the city, saying Chicago could lose its middle class if they were allowed to decamp to the suburbs.

Emanuel himself was noncommittal about the residency rules during his 2011 mayoral run as he tried to avoid needlessly angering the unions. But shortly after he won, he proclaimed the requirement too important to the fabric of Chicago neighborhoods to lift it.

©2018 the Chicago Tribune

Categories: Latest News

Photo: Va. trooper rescues stranded bear cubs

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:54

By Mark Price The Charlotte Observer

WAYNESBORO, Va. — A Virginia State Police Trooper who responded to a fatal traffic accident involving a bear is being credited with saving the cubs she left stranded along the side of the road.

A photograph of Senior Trooper D.H. Cepelnik trying to control the playful cubs has been shared nearly 30,000 times on social media in the past few days, with 1,600 comments.

Cepelnick became a temporary father to the pair Thursday, after their mother was killed crossing a highway in Franklin County. The cubs were taken the next day to Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, where they will live until they can be released into the wild.

Wildlife Center officials described the pair as "thin, dehydrated, and mildly anemic." They weighed about 4 pounds each, and one had a small chip fracture on the back of the head. The fracture was painful, but not life-threatening, center officials said.

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A glimmer of hope for these sweet, little guys who were rescued by Sr. Trooper D.H. Cepelnik after their mother was...

Posted by Virginia State Police on Friday, April 13, 2018

The cubs are shunning bottle feedings in favor of “mush bowls” – soft dog food with thickened formula designed for black bear cubs, officials said.

This is the time of the year when sows and cubs typically emerge from dens, and it has become increasingly common in the Southeast for cubs to be found orphaned or abandoned. Traffic accidents are often blamed for the separation from a parent.

In North Carolina, a black bear cub was found abandoned on April 1 in the town of Saluda, and is currently living at a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Caswell County. Last year, about seven cubs were found abandoned or orphaned in North Carolina, state officials said.

As for the pair rescued by Cepelnick, the wildlife center says they will eventually be allowed to mingle with other cubs in an outside enclosure, where they can be watched via a Cub Cam on the center's web site.

©2018 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Categories: Latest News

Bridging the gap between SWAT and patrol

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:45

Author: Mike Wood

The 2018 SHOT Show Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) was a hotbed of learning, and one of the most interesting presentations came from Chris Periatt, representing the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), on the subject of the Advanced Response Patrol Officer (ARPO) program.

The ARPO program has been on ongoing NTOA project. The genesis behind the program was the Tactical Patrol Officer (TPO) concept pioneered by Jeff Chudwin and the Illinois Tactical Officers Association (ITOA). The TPO concept was adopted by agencies in several states, and Periatt soon found himself working to stand up TPO programs for agencies in his home state of Michigan and beyond. As President of the Michigan Tactical Officers Association (MTOA), Periatt worked closely with experts in other states to improve and develop this concept, and turn it into a workable program for law enforcement. He brought that experience and knowledge to NTOA to help develop the ARPO program.

What is an Advanced Response Patrol Officer?

An ARPO is a patrol officer with enhanced training, equipment and skills that will allow a more effective response to serious tactical situations that could easily overwhelm the traditional capabilities of patrol. The focus is on providing an enhanced ability to deal with elevated threats such as active shooter attacks, terrorist attacks, snipers, or police ambushes, while awaiting assistance from a tactical team.

The ARPO is not meant to replace a tactical team, but merely to bridge the gap between patrol and SWAT, controlling the situation until more robust assets arrive to counter the threat.

How ARPO works

To begin with, the NTOA envisions that ARPOs will be drawn from a pool of volunteers. NTOA recognizes that not every patrol officer will want or be able to invest the additional time and effort required to achieve a higher level of skill in the ARPO focus areas.

The ARPO designation will only come after an officer successfully completes rigorous training and can demonstrate the ability to apply that knowledge. NTOA emphasizes that, “the focus is on practical application of skills learned,” and that, “training will occur mostly on the field or on the range.” The idea is to train the volunteers in a realistic and challenging environment that will enhance their ability to apply their skills during a crisis.

Designated officers will require continuation training to keep their skills sharp and maintain ARPO status.

ARPO training goals

The ARPO syllabus provides enhanced instruction in the following subject areas to improve the ability of patrol officers to deal with ever-increasing and challenging threats:

Fundamentals of tactical movement; Basic breaching techniques, using mechanical or ballistic means; Ballistic shield operations; Interior building clearing techniques for small teams (less than three personnel); Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) basics; Tactical movement in open air and urban environments; Officer or citizen down rescues; Counter-ambush survival tactics, especially around vehicles; Single officer response tactics; Leadership training.

Additionally, ARPOs may also receive enhanced patrol rifle training to allow them to serve as Designated Marksmen (DM), filling a critical gap between the capabilities of an average patrol rifle-equipped officer and a tactical team sniper. A DM is an officer who is equipped with a patrol rifle – which may include limited upgrades, such as magnified optics or enhanced ammunition, but still isn’t considered a precision rifle – and given advanced training, which will increase hit probability on more difficult targets (moving, distant, elevated, behind cover). DMs offer enhanced marksmanship ability to the patrol environment, providing the ability to quickly defeat or suppress threats in the absence of a tactical team.

Why do we need ARPO?

There will be people inside and outside of the law enforcement community who will question the need for this program. Why should agencies consider adding ARPO instruction to their already over-burdened training regimen?

The demands on patrol officers have steadily increased over the last several decades, particularly following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Patrol officers are increasingly required to deal with complex emergencies such as terrorist attacks or rapid mass murder attacks, and the tactics and weapons used by these aggressors have become more advanced. We have seen a notable increase in ambush attacks on police officers in the past few years, and there are no signs that the problem will abate.

We are fortunate we have not suffered any Complex, Coordinated Attacks (CCA) yet domestically, but we know our enemies are honing these tactics overseas so it is only a matter of time before they employ them here. The swarm-style tactics of a CCA will quickly disrupt our ability to respond effectively, and patrol assets will probably not have ready access to assistance from tactical teams to solve their tactical problems. Instead, patrol officers will increasingly find themselves tackling these more advanced tactics and attackers on their own, using whatever organic capabilities they have.

Our operating environment is becoming more dangerous, and the demands on patrol are becoming more rigorous. It’s time for us to consider programs like ARPO to fill the gaps in current LE training.

Additional resources

The NTOA has developed a standard for ARPO certification programs, and provides training in ARPO subject areas to individual officers and agencies. If you would like to learn more about NTOA training opportunities, visit Also mark your calendar for NTOA’s annual conference, September 16-21 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Chris Periatt and the Michigan Tactical Officers Association can provide additional resources available for you and your agency. Visit for more information.

God bless you all, and be safe out there.

Categories: Latest News

4 qualities every SWAT team member needs

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:09

Author: Mike Wood

By W. Thomas Smith Jr., P1 Contributor

In the current culture of mass violence as experienced in the U.S. and throughout the world – more specifically in the wake of the Parkland shooting – questions have arisen as to the thinking and reasoning capabilities, temperament, stress management and even physical courage of officers responding to inherently dangerous terrorist attacks or mass shootings.

How do law enforcement supervisors shape and refine these necessary mental attributes for responding officers? Moreover, how do supervisors and police trainers identify those attributes in candidates for SWAT teams?

Following are four innate qualities or potentially developable traits that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s (RCSD) elite Special Response Team (SRT) looks for in its new team members.

1. A de-escalation mindset

“Response begins for us with a mindset of de-escalation – of diffusing the threat – in any situation as opposed to a forceful hammer default,” said Richland County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chief Chris Cowan, who commands the department’s Special Teams Division, of which the elite Special Response Team (SRT) is one element. “We want our SRT operators to have the mindset of a guardian instead of a warrior. We want to preserve life, including that of the suspect, in every situation. This is what we look for in the hiring process, the training process and beyond. It’s truly a cultural thing.”

According to Cowan, saving lives as opposed to taking lives in any life-or-death situation requires a far deeper level of thought, selflessness and even physical conditioning.

“The old mentality of SWAT was the teams were manned by atypical people who were largely driven by the opportunity for direct action. That has changed. Today it is all about saving lives,” said Lieutenant Dominick Pagano, tactical commander of RCSD’s SRT.

2. The ability to reprogram the body

The SRT candidate or operator must demonstrate a total commitment to being a team player. Secondly, he or she must be able to think and physically function in a training environment that closely replicates what happens in the real world. Replicating that environment is the challenge for RCSD.

“We know that when your heart rate gets above 135 bpm, you move into a physiological zone where tunnel vision kicks in, fine and complex motor skills begin to degrade, and there is auditory exclusion,” said Pagano. “That’s why in a combat situation, combatants often report not hearing ‘yelled’ commands, or not knowing how many rounds have been fired, because the combatant in that physiological zone literally cannot hear them.”

Pagano is referring to how the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) responds when a person is under varying physical threats.

According to Pagano, SRT training focuses on the old military adage – attention-to-detail – but not attention-to-detail as experienced in the relaxed realm of the resting heart rate. Both Cowan and Pagano are looking for operators – and looking to develop operators – who can measurably advance their attention-to-detail while functioning in that SNS zone when the heartrate reaches and exceeds 135 bpm.

In other words, the RCSD operator needs to look for a sub-calmness within the SNS zone, and to expand his or her situational awareness outside of the narrow “tunnel” view. How?

Unlike normal range training for police officers, SRT operators – like other SWAT team members from other law enforcement agencies – might be tasked with sprinting 100 yards to force the heart rate up to at least 135 bpm, and then shooting.

“We want to reprogram the body and the mind to better operate in conditions of extreme stress,” said Pagano. “We want our officers to learn to slow down their breathing, to breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose, and to keep their head always on a swivel.” Pagano says this is true for basic patrol officers, but even more so for SRT operators.

Constant training in an SNS performance zone helps to settle and manage the information overload and widen the tunneling view, not unlike the fledgling fighter pilot attempting to land his jet on an aircraft carrier. Continual practice conditions the body and the mind.

“Once our officers begin to get comfortable in that zone, they begin to take in the whole environment. And they learn and develop the ability to do it in a matter of seconds. It’s all about tactical awareness,” said Cowan.

Speed and attention-to-detail inside the zone are key.

“If, for instance, we enter a house and we have a bad guy who rushes out of the bedroom with a weapon aimed at our officers, do we have a justification for deadly force? Absolutely,” said Cowan. “But what are the other components of that environment that also have to be considered? Where is ‘she’ if there is a she? Where is the child or children? What is on the other side of that wall? What’s about to come through that side door? Is there a window?”

What else? It’s not all about shooting, physical training and being able to function in the SNS zone.

3. Mental flexibility

“We evaluate people based on humble servanthood, guardianship, desire and communication skills,” said Cowan.

Both Cowan and Pagano say they are far more impressed by the slowest SRT candidate who refuses to quit as opposed to whether or not they passed an initial PT test.

“If he or she doesn’t quit in training and continues to push forward, that tells me that if an operator is down that officer will do everything in their power to get that operator out,” said Pagano.

Natural fears also factor into the RCSD’s SRT assessment and training: Everything from determining if a potential operator has a fear of water, fire, tight spaces, or heights; all of which are interconnected in gauging someone’s physical courage.

In all training scenarios, surprise sub-situations are thrown in. As in the real world, not all training scenarios have a possible solution or a positive outcome.

“We can teach a guy to shoot and we can enhance his physical fitness to be able to operate in SNS,” said Cowan. “But we want people who have the mental and emotional well-being to recognize their weaknesses; not as an obstacle or an impediment to improvement, but something that drives them to excel.”

4. A will to work hard

When candidates are asked during the interview, assessment and selection phase why they want to be a full-time SRT operator, answers might range from “I have a military background” to “I want to be the best.”

The better answer, said Cowan, is, “I work hard. I don’t know everything. But I want to learn. We want people who use eyes and ears first, brain second, mouth third. We want people who listen, think and process information, and act and speak last.”

When asked if every patrol deputy has it within him or her to be an SRT operator, Pagano said, “The potential may be there, but the heart has to be there. Being an SRT operator is a huge commitment in terms of hours and training and all the other variables associated with the mission.”

“It takes a unique person to be a school resource officer. It takes a unique person to be an investigator who works child sex crimes. It takes a unique person to be an SRT operator. We have about 967 people in this department, and what the Sheriff has done so well is that he has put them where their desires are and what their goals are. More important, he has positioned to best serve the mission and the needs of the department,” said Cowan.

Creative training scenarios for SRT operators are based on after-action reports, reviews and evaluations of best practices and mistakes made during ongoing SWAT operations and counterterrorist-unit missions worldwide.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott also has SRT operators train with and learn from those outside of the department. Training has been conducted with other police SWAT teams, as well as U.S. Army Special Forces operators and U.S. Navy SEALs.

Many SRT operators have overseas military experience like Pagano, who prior to the RCSD deployed as a parachute infantryman with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Cowan, who has worked as an exchange officer with various foreign police departments, is a former U.S. Naval officer and graduate of the FBI National Academy.

“All of these officers bring a spirit of innovation and drive to the culture of our SRT, which frankly positively impacts every other element within the department,” said Lott who, years ago, served as a sniper on one of the RCSD’s earliest SWAT teams.

“This SRT is truly one of the best in the nation,” said Lott. “It is so for several reasons, not the least of which is we have uniquely experienced and very capable leaders. We have developed a culture of operational creativity. We have replaced the old warrior mentality with the mind and heart of a guardian. And no one man or woman serving on the SRT believes themselves to be better or superior to another: They see themselves as just differently skilled.”

About the Author W. Thomas Smith Jr. serves as a special deputy with the Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Dept. He is a formerly deployed U.S. Marine infantry leader and a former SWAT team officer in the nuclear industry. While in the Marine Corps, he developed and implemented a nuclear-security plan for shipboard sailors and Marines, and he directed training for repelling boarders and close-quarters combat tactics. He later founded and directed the counterterrorism advisory team for the S.C. Military Dept.’s Joint Services Det.

Categories: Latest News

Calif. city approves ordinance against sanctuary policy

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:08

Author: Mike Wood

By PoliceOne Staff

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — A California city has voted to declare itself exempt from the state’s sanctuary law.

On Monday, the Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 to give its final approval of the ordinance and exempt the city from the law on grounds that it’s unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports. The city said that the federal government, not the state, has authority when it comes to immigration.

Los Alamitos is the only city in the state that has passed this type of ordinance. Demonstrators on both side made their voices heard when the council began hearing public comments on the ordinance.

Two dozen officers in the city and other nearby departments were able to keep minor skirmishes from escalating as tensions grew between demonstrators. Mayor Troy Edgar said he spoke with a local ICE representative and told him he would welcome the agency.

"We would love to host you," he said.

The council gave its initial approval of the ordinance last month. Supervisor Shawn Nelson said in March that California’s sanctuary law “prevents law enforcement from removing criminals from our community and is a threat to public safety.”

Councilman Mark Chirco, an attorney who was the lone person who opposed the ordinance, said that the legislation is divisive, ineffective and unnecessary, according to the Orange County Register. He added that any costs associated with defending any lawsuit against the city “would bankrupt our city.”

The ACLU of Southern California told the council that it will file a lawsuit over the measure.

Categories: Latest News

Is it time to reinvent SWAT?

PoliceOne - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:05

Author: Mike Wood

By Nick Jacobellis, P1 Contributor

Before you read this article I want to be crystal clear about my position on specialized tactical teams known as SWAT, SRT or ESU. SWAT cops are some of the most dedicated and highly trained law enforcement officers in our profession. Any comments I make about the need to modify or change the way law enforcement provides tactical response are meant to encourage a healthy debate.

How cops used to handle enforcement actions

This may sound like a strange concept but every sworn/commissioned law enforcement officer should be capable of making any arrest under any set of circumstances without being “SWAT” qualified.

For a long time, police officers, deputy sheriffs, state troopers, highway patrol officers, detectives, special investigators and federal agents were responsible for making their own arrests. When you needed assistance, help was assigned in the form of other officers or investigative personnel. When you needed to go in heavy, your supervisor handed you a sledge hammer and a shotgun, and off you went. If extra personnel were unavailable and you had to take action or risk losing a subject, you went in with what you had, even if it meant you and your partner kicked in the door and made the arrest without help. This was how law enforcement conducted business.

Today, investigative personnel will participate in some enforcement actions, but often have a SWAT team handle certain activities. The same thing has happened in drug enforcement and other undercover operations. SWAT teams take the place of plainclothes personnel who once served in bust crews and back-up teams. What happened that made criminal investigators and other plainclothes personnel unable to “go tactical” when necessary? Why have we increased our reliance on SWAT teams to perform duties that for a long time were an integral part of a police officer’s job description?

While some may see this as progress, I believe the time has come to evaluate if the steady increase in the use of SWAT teams has caused a negative disruption in the vending of law enforcement services, where this overspecialization could cause some law enforcement officers to stop acting in a tactically aggressive manner when appropriate.

In order to keep this discussion fair, I admit that one reason to justify the formation of a SWAT team is because some law enforcement personnel lack the physical fitness, skill sets and motivation to perform certain tactical duties. Just because this is true does not mean we shouldn’t seek changes or improvements to the way law enforcement services are provided.

We need higher standards across the board

SWAT cops are required to complete a rigorous tactical training program, while also maintaining their proficiency during a regular course of scheduled training. This includes requiring a SWAT candidate and a certified SWAT operator to qualify with a much higher firearms qualification score than “regular” law enforcement officers.

Why does a SWAT cop or a firearms instructor need to qualify with a higher score – such as a minimum of a 240 out of 250 points – but a regular street cop who is a first responder can be a less proficient marksman? Who is more likely to initially respond to a robbery in progress or an active shooter: a uniformed patrol officer or a fully trained and equipped SWAT cop?

My next comment is not politically correct but it’s true. While SWAT doesn’t accept mediocrity, other units do. In fact, SWAT screens personnel as if they were applying to serve in a Special Forces unit. This means that SWAT takes the cream of the crop, while patrol and investigative units can have a wider variety of personnel with varying degrees of capabilities. In other words, LE agencies have allowed SWAT to become an elite unit, while patrol and investigative units include all kinds of people, from the hard chargers to those who are less capable. Who allowed this to happen?

How a SWAT lite program would work

One concept worth considering is to create a tactical officer program aka SWAT lite. This program would establish condensed versions of SWAT training and equip qualified patrol and investigative personnel to perform tactical operations as required during any enforcement action that is considered time critical. (Even though every LEO is technically supposed to be “all that they can be,” the reality is that not all LEOs are as capable as others.)

At the very least, establishing such a program would increase officer safety and potentially save lives because the designated tactical officers on scene would not have to wait for a “traditional” SWAT team to be mobilized. In fact, even agencies that can afford to maintain a full-time SWAT team should create a SWAT lite program to ensure a larger number of first responders and investigative personnel can effectively handle high-risk situations.

If this means training and equipping first responders to use flashbangs, Kevlar helmets and breaching tools, then so be it. It doesn’t take a fortune to make some critical SWAT equipment available to every first responder, or at least have some of this gear secured in a patrol supervisor’s vehicle. Investigative units are no different and must be trained and equipped to handle any situation that comes up.

I feel strongly about this for the following reason: If LE agencies believe it is important to be highly trained to perform certain high risk enforcement actions then the time has come to provide some form of advanced tactical training to all first responders and all investigative personnel. Otherwise, we will continue to encourage our first responders and investigators to do what any civilian witness can do: call 911 for help.

Criminals were just as violent when SWAT didn’t exist and somehow the job got done. By merging the “can-do” mentality that existed in the past, with all that we have learned about providing tactical operations in “modern times,” we should be able to vend a much better product, while also increasing officer safety.

In a SWAT lite program, fully trained SWAT operators serving as tactical field training officers (TFTOs) would help train and increase the tactical capabilities of patrol and investigative personnel. Having fully trained SWAT personnel integrated in patrol and investigative units would also ensure that some number of the most highly trained sworn personnel would always be available to respond to high threat situations.

Regardless of their actual rank, fully trained TFTOs should also be given tactical command of any high-risk incidents that occur in the field to ensure that the right tactical response is provided in the most dangerous situations. This should especially be the case when an agency does not have a full-time SWAT team that can respond in a timely fashion.

LE agencies should also formally consider the title of tactical officer to be a promotion that warrants some form of additional compensation. This could include hazardous duty pay for hours spent in training and serving on higher-risk missions, an actual raise in pay and/or additional vacation time being awarded to anyone designated as a tactical commander, a tactical field training officer, a tactical investigator or a tactical officer.


Creating a SWAT lite tactical officer program would serve as a force multiplier, as it would eventually create larger numbers of qualified cross-trained tactical operators and tactical support specialists who could perform on their own during a serious incident, or in conjunction with a traditional fully trained SWAT Team.

While variations of this concept exist, I believe the time has come for a more broad-based acceptance of the need to expand the tactical capabilities of sworn personnel.

Every time SWAT is given more missions to perform, other members of the law enforcement profession tend to lose a mission, which degrades their tactical capabilities. My point is not to get rid of the SWAT mentality, but to spread this tactical mindset throughout the ranks, so it is pervasive throughout the department and not something that can only be found in the weight room or at the firing range.

About the Author Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. During his career with the U.S. Customs Service, the author participated in numerous enforcement actions, air, marine and ground-based interdiction missions and high risk undercover operations.

Categories: Latest News