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8 ways to prevent blue-on-blue shootings

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 11:01

Author: David Blake

In 2010, the New York State Task Force on Police-on-Police Shootings published an in-depth analysis of blue-on-blue shootings. The report provides details of 26 police officer fatalities that occurred between 1981 and 2009, and indicates near-miss situations occur more frequently than we realize.

The report contains a compelling statement that should be visible in all police stations and training facilities: “Most police-on-police shootings are preventable, but only if supervisors, trainers and officers themselves understand how they have happened in the past.”

The question is have police leaders and police trainers summarily ignored this report and other research evidence that could mitigate “blue-on-blue” fatalities? Contemporary evidence indicates that may be the case based on police-on-police shooting incidents occurring within the last several years:

In 2016, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, supervisor shot an undercover officer during a narcotics operation. Media reports state the supervisor did not attend the operational briefing, but interjected himself at the last moment. In 2016, an Oakland, California, supervisor was shot by his partner during a residential search. Reports indicate the officers were not sufficiently trained for the task. In 2012, a Lakewood, Colorado, officer was shot by a SWAT member. An intensive after-action review attributed blame to supervisory control and communication among other factors.

We should also include the November 2017 “gun displaying” brawl that recently broke out between two Detroit undercover narcotics units and consider how it happened, how it could have been prevented and how bad the outcome could have been.

What the research evidence says

Each of these cases provides evidence of organizational (latent conditions) and individual human error (active conditions) as causal factors.

Human error is a fact of life; however, the rate of human error can be reduced through protective measures at the organizational, supervisory, training and individual levels.

Protective measures should be evidence-based and combine what laboratory research tells us with findings derived from the review of real-world incidents.

Therefore, let’s look at the evidence.

The NY State Task Force found several trends in blue-on-blue shootings:

No agency is immune as blue-on-blue shootings have occurred all over the country in both small and large agencies; Almost all the victim officers had firearms displayed, and many reportedly failed to comply with commands when they were shot; A portion of the officers shot had some type of police identification displayed upon their person; There is an indication that black officers are at a higher risk when off-duty and engaging in armed enforcement.

A 2016 Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Study evaluated the interaction between “on-duty” and “plain-clothes” officers using the Force Options Simulator (FOS).

The plain-clothes officer in the simulation had several different badge configurations (e.g., neck and waist) and used different verbal responses to on-duty officer challenges. The results provided important information for policy, procedure and training that may reduce these types of incidents.

The FLETC study findings matched the real-world events reviewed by the NY State Task Force:

Many plain-clothes officers engage in a “reflexive-spin” when confronted by a uniformed officer; A portion of the plainclothes officers failed to comply with commands while providing varied verbal responses such as “police,” “friendly,” or giving their agency name; Eye tracking data found that on-duty officers always looked at the plainclothes officer’s gun/face, but often did not look at their waist or chest (where badges are sometimes displayed).

The Kansas City Police Department conducted research regarding “badge placement” for undercover and off-duty officers. The department placed the badge at waist and neck levels on no-shoot targets while exposing officers to decision-making training in full and low light conditions (live fire). No-shoot targets (mimicking undercover officer) were shot more often in low light conditions and no-shoot targets with badges at the waistline were shot more often than those with neck-level badges.

In summarizing the research and real-world evidence, we must all consider how the plainclothes officer appears to responding patrol officers in the context of a chaotic and dangerous environment.

Plainclothes officers may be armed and facing away or at an angle from responding patrol officers. Angles, movement, lighting and concealing clothing ensure any position of badges or other police-related markings typically utilized by plainclothes officers may be difficult or impossible to see.

Plainclothes officers operating in the moment may not respond to commands as they see themselves as law enforcement officers and not potential suspects. Plainclothes officers may also reach for their badge or turn toward responding officers (or both) reflexively when confronted.

Responding officers may not hear announcements of “police” by plainclothes officers or may not see a three-inch badge when responding to a stressful and rapidly evolving incident.

Any of these conditions occurring within the context of split-second decision making and reasonable perception may result in a blue-on-blue shooting.


Due to the many possibilities for human error resulting in a mistake of fact blue-on-blue shooting, law enforcement should consider the following evidence-based recommendations:

    Do not take enforcement action off duty if there is an alternative; be a witness unless someone’s safety is at stake. If you must intervene off-duty, notify the local jurisdiction (e.g., 911) and provide your description, that you are armed and in plain clothes (if possible). Display your badge prominently and frequently communicate that you are a police officer in a loud and clear voice. An outer garment with 360-degree police markings is recommended. If you are confronted by on-duty law enforcement officer: Assume commands such as “Police, don’t move” or “Drop the weapon” are meant for you. Resist quickly spinning to face the officer, or reaching toward your badge to identify yourself. Identify yourself as a police officer (loudly) and obey all commands – to include dropping your weapon. Training: Officers should receive evidence-based training on how to conduct themselves when engaged in law enforcement activities while in plain clothes. FLETC indicates that the Undercover Investigations Training Program contains training based on its research findings. Officers should receive reality-based scenario training in which they are both the off-duty officer and the responding officer.

Unfortunately, after-action findings and research related to blue-on-blue shootings are not consolidated and distributed nationally as the foundation for standard practices. The concepts are rarely trained to patrol officers in a scenario environment and may not even make it in to the briefing room.

Some may disagree, but I feel knowledge of a safety issue without action indicates a level of leadership culpability when something goes wrong. The information and links within this article provide a foundation for evidence-based policy, practice and training that I hope each of you will consider.

Categories: Latest News

Fla. officer found guilty of shooting into home

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 10:38
Author: David Blake

By Gal Tziperman Lotan and Krista Torralva Orlando Sentinel

OCOEE, Fla. — An Ocoee police officer was not justified in shooting into a home in the middle of the night after a dispatcher sent him to the wrong address for a domestic disturbance in 2016, an Orange County jury ruled Thursday.

Officer Carlos Anglero was found guilty of shooting into a building, a second-degree felony. Jurors deliberated for about 2½ hours after a two-day trial, during which he testified in his own defense. He declined to comment about the verdict.

It was about 1 a.m. when Anglero was dispatched to a domestic disturbance call Feb. 6, 2016.

The dispatcher mistakenly entered the street name — Bent Grass Avenue — as “Bend Grass” and sent Anglero and three other officers to a home about half a mile away, on Belhaven Falls Drive. The house Anglero got to was dark, and nobody was waiting for him outside like the dispatcher said.

“I was in fear for my life,” he testified Thursday.

The Winter Garden police dispatcher told Anglero that a mother and daughter were arguing — the daughter wanted to leave the house on Bent Grass Avenue, and her mother told her she was too drunk to drive and wouldn’t give her the car keys. The daughter called police and said she would wait for officers in the driveway.

Anglero got to Belhaven Falls Drive and turned off his headlights as he neared the house, he said. He rang the doorbell and didn’t get an answer when two other officers and a trainee arrived, he said. Officer Stephanie Roberts rang the bell again and banged on the door.

Homeowner Christopher Lewis woke up after hearing the noise, he testified Wednesday. The retired electrical engineer’s wife and their son, who is now 14, were in the home, too. He did not know who the people outside his door were and did not hear an answer when he asked who was there. He got his Glock 19 handgun, which he had never fired before, and walked back toward the door with it down by his side.

Roberts shined her flashlight through the pane of glass in the front door. She and Anglero said they saw him, and Roberts realized he was holding a gun.

“Oh, [expletive], gun,” Roberts called, she said Thursday. She fired about two shots through the glass and retreated. Lewis said Wednesday that he could feel a bullet as it went past his left ear, and that he dove to the ground in the room next to the foyer and yelled for his wife to call 911.

Anglero said he did not realize Roberts had fired the shots and thought they might be coming from inside the house. He said he yelled “Ocoee police” — though Lewis said he never heard that — called for the others to take cover, and pointed a flashlight through the glass.

He saw Lewis “moving like a well-trained solider,” he said, and saw a black object in his hand.

“He dropped, the gun came up to his chest, and he started moving, going cover to cover, never staying too long in one place,” Anglero said.

The officer fired through the door four more times, he said Thursday.

Lewis said Wednesday that he did not point the gun at anyone, and that he had no idea that the people outside his house were police officers.

A police dispatcher called Lewis’ wife back and told her to have everyone come out of the house with their hands up. Officers handcuffed Lewis and his wife and searched the house, looking for the woman who called 911 half a mile away, Anglero said.

It took about 20 minutes for the dispatcher to radio them and say they were sent to the wrong place, he said.

Prosecutor Deborah Barra argued Anglero shot to protect Roberts, who is his girlfriend, and was not met with an actual threat.

“He does not get to decide whose life matters most ... and create actual harm to the Lewis family,” she said.

Defense lawyer James W. Smith III urged jurors to consider what Anglero knew and didn’t know as he was on the other side of the door.

“This man thought he was going to a domestic disturbance,” he said. “Mr. Lewis was, in his mind, a person not identifying himself with a gun.”

Anglero is on unpaid administrative leave from the department. Judge Kim Shepard scheduled his sentencing for March 27 at 10 a.m. and allowed him to go free until then.

Categories: Latest News

Suspect in Ga. murder was convicted in slaying of Tenn. cop in 1975

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 10:29
Author: David Blake

By Tim Chitwood Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The man charged in Columbus’ first homicide of 2018 was convicted of killing a Tennessee police officer in 1975 and has other felonies on his local court record, authorities said Thursday.

Police employed a SWAT squad Wednesday to capture Tommy McNeal, 65, at a home on Kendrick Avenue, charging him with the fatal Jan. 1 shooting of Nancy Johnson during a New Year’s Eve party on Colorado Street.

McNeal also is accused of wounding the woman’s 44-year-old daughter.

McNeal had known the family for about 25 years, relatives said. He was trying to get inside to join the party, but Johnson wouldn’t allow him in, so he fired through the door, police said. The gunfire mortally wounded Johnson, whose daughter was shot when she went outside to confront McNeal, investigators said. She was treated and released from the hospital.

McNeal’s criminal history includes the March 17, 1975, murder of Officer Hugh Everette Eubanks of Bolivar, Tenn., who was killed after being called to a domestic dispute.

Upon his arrival, Eubanks spoke with two men who told him nothing was wrong and no one had called police, authorities said. The officer was on the radio with a dispatcher when McNeal shot him three times in the chest with a .30-06 rifle, investigators said.

Eubanks, 53, had been on the police force for 12 years.

Though McNeal was sentenced to life in prison, he was paroled in 1982.

Columbus court records show McNeal was arrested for armed robbery, aggravated assault, being a convicted felon with a firearm and pointing a pistol at another person for an incident on Aug. 6, 2000.

He was accused of using a Lorcin .380 pistol to rob a man of his wallet and hit him over the head with the gun. He pleaded guilty Feb. 26, 2001, to aggravated assault and being a felon with a gun, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with five to serve and credit for 204 days he’d already spent in jail, according to court records.

His other charges were dismissed. He was paroled March 14, 2005.

His other convictions were traffic offenses:

On May 5, 1999, he was sentenced to three years’ probation as a habitual violator after police caught him driving on a suspended license Jan. 15, 1999, on Third Avenue, records showed. No previous traffic offenses leading to his habitual violator conviction were listed.

On April 14, 2009, police stopped him for running a red light at Wynnton Road and Buena Vista Road, and charged him with driving under the influence when a test showed his blood-alcohol content registered more than .10. He was sentenced to serve 18 days in jail and two years on probation.

©2018 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)

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Fla. sheriff's deputy beaten in 2016 found dead

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 10:12
Author: David Blake

Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A sheriff's deputy who was beaten on a Florida interstate more than a year ago has died.

The News-Press reports that Cape Coral police found 48-year-old Lee County Deputy Dean Bardes dead in his home Tuesday.

Police say no foul play is suspected in Bardes' death. A cause of death hasn't been released.

Authorities said that in November 2016, Bardes was confronted and slammed to the ground by 53-year-old Edward Strother after a pursuit. A man who police have described as a good Samaritan, Ashad Russell, shot and killed Strother. Russell was not charged in the shooting.

Lee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Schall said that Bardes had served for 14 years "with honor and dignity."

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This past Tuesday, we lost one of our own. Rest In Peace, Deputy Dean Bardes. You will be missed. Our thoughts, prayers and sincerest condolences go out to Dean’s family and friends.

Posted by Lee County Sheriff's Office on Friday, January 5, 2018

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Ohio trooper, nurse recognized for pulling man from burning car

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 09:39
Author: David Blake

By Jay Skebba The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

FREMONT, Ohio — A 21-year-old man likely owes his life to a state trooper and passerby who pulled him from a burning car on U.S. 20 in Fremont.

Two months after that heroic rescue, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Donte’ Hanns and nurse Ginger Havlin were presented with the highway patrol’s certificate of recognition Thursday at Terra State Community College. Many from the police, fire, and EMS community attended the ceremony.

“I’m still modest about it,” Trooper Hanns said. “I’m still in shock that I was able to do that.”

Dashcam footage, shown on a large projector screen prior to the two receiving their awards, revealed what happened that fateful day.

Jose Gonzalez was driving his Ford Mustang just before 9 a.m. Nov. 9, when he ran a stop sign near County Road 198 and collided with a Dodge Durango. The driver of the SUV was unharmed, but Mr. Gonzalez’s legs became trapped inside his vehicle.

Trooper Hanns approached the vehicle as Ms. Havlin — a nurse at AmeriCare in Fremont traveling in the same area — got out of her car to help. When Trooper Hanns realized he couldn’t free the driver, he called for EMS and waited for help to arrive.

After the Mustang suddenly caught fire, it was time for Plan B.

“I went over to Jose and did a quick neuro assessment on him and felt his legs to see if he had any feeling,” Ms. Havlin said. “As I was talking to him, I noticed the car was on fire. That’s when Trooper Hanns came up. We went to the other side of the car and [Trooper Hanns] busted out the window and took the driver’s upper body out. I went in the car and got his legs out.”

Seconds later as the three of them walked to an ambulance, Mr. Gonzalez’s vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.

Thursday was the first day Mr. Gonzalez was reunited with the people who helped save his life. He thanked them both, and also thanked Trooper Hanns’ parents who drove from Dayton for the ceremony.

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In November, Trooper Donte’ M. Hanns observed a car emitting smoke that had been involved in a crash near Fremont. Nurse...

Posted by Ohio State Highway Patrol on Thursday, January 4, 2018

“I’m just grateful they were there to help me,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “They’re good people.

“It’s definitely a lesson learned. Watch for stop signs and be a responsible driver.”

Lt. Brent Meredith and Capt. David Church from the highway patrol spoke during the proceedings.

“We greatly appreciate when people stop and assist,” Lt. Meredith said. “In this world when it seems some people don’t do that, it’s always refreshing and inspiring to see people like [Ms. Havlin].

“Hanns, you did your job and did it in a way that is what we’re about. You probably saved someone’s life that day. You’re the reason I’m still proud to wake up and put on this uniform every day.”

Trooper Hanns, 26, started his career on the road just eight months prior. He said it’s still tough to describe how he felt during the incident.

“Did that really just happen? I don’t know how else to put it,” Trooper Hanns said.

©2018 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Categories: Latest News

Police: Man breaks into evidence room undetected, takes back bike

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 08:35

Author: David Blake

Associated Press

PROVO, Utah — Provo police say a man broke into the department's evidence room undetected and took back his bike.

Deseret News reported Thursday that the burglary went unnoticed until the person who originally was found with the bike was arrested again and told officers David Elwin Snow was bragging that he "pulled off the crime of the century."

The 37-year-old Snow and his brother had gone to the department on Dec. 18 to retrieve the bike, but since they never reported it stolen they had a hard time verifying it was Snow's bike. Police accuse Snow of stealing it that same night after seeing where it was being stored.

The bike was found Wednesday at Snow's grandmother's house.

Police Sgt. Nisha King said such a heist has never happened at the department.

Categories: Latest News

Quiz: Are you ready to testify? How prepared are you for your next DUI case

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 15:55

By PoliceOne Staff

Driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases are frustrating for law enforcement. The impact on the community is apparent. DUI statistics show more than 300,000 people drive drunk every day, but only about 3,200 are arrested. As of 2017, there were 1,438 deaths caused by drunk driving in Texas alone.

Still, while officers continue to cite drunk drivers, court systems tend to be lenient and many cases are resolved without punishment.

Part of this lack of accountability is due to poor reporting and field notes during the incident. DUIs might not appear in court for months or years after the incident. How well you recall the scene will matter in the jury’s eyes.

Are you prepared to testify?

DUI laws differ by state. Details like what it means to actually be driving, or operating a vehicle, is a major rebuttal in the court system. To combat this, it’s important to understanding the intricacies of your state laws, and complete your reports clearly, accurately and with pertinent details.

Categories: Latest News

Mich. deputy in critical condition after being struck by car

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 12:12

Associated Press

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. — Authorities say a suburban Detroit sheriff’s deputy has been critically injured after being struck by a car while policing a crash.

Oakland County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike McCabe identified the officer injured Thursday morning as 50-year-old David Hack, a 17-year veteran who’s a school liaison officer at Rochester Adams High School in Rochester Hills.

McCabe says Hack was out of his vehicle working a crash when he was struck in front of the school.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the collision threw Hack into the windshield of the car. He says Hack had activated emergency lights on his vehicle before he was struck.

Authorities say the driver of the car is a 24-year-old Oakland Township resident.

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**UPDATE** Deputy David Hack is still in critical condition in ICU. He was struck while directing traffic for an...

Posted by Oakland County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, January 4, 2018

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Mass. state police helicopter makes 'daring' rescue of distraught man

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:55

By O'Ryan Johnson Boston Herald

LOWELL, Mass. — A state police helicopter pilot lowered the skids of his aircraft into the icy waters of the Merrimack River last night during the “daring” rescue of an emotionally distraught man, a department spokesman said.

Lowell police and firefighters responded about 7 p.m. to a report of a person screaming in the river in the area of the Aiken Street Bridge, state police spokesman David Procopio said. There, firefighters located an emotionally distraught man who was sitting in “waist-deep, icy water,” Procopio said.

Although police and fire crews launched two boats to rescue the man, Procopio said they became disabled when their propellers were damaged by ice.

By the time a state police helicopter piloted by Trooper John Hazelrigg and carrying Tactical Flight Officer Russ Phippen arrived on scene, Procopio said, they could see that the man “was now neck high” and “was becoming immobile and likely hypothermic.”

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State Police Air Wing, Lowell Firefighters and Police, Rescue Man from Merrimack River A joint effort by Lowell...

Posted by Massachusetts State Police on Thursday, January 4, 2018

Procopio said the troopers flew to nearby LeLacheur Park, where they landed, allowing Phippen to move to a rear seat for a “daring” rescue attempt.

After flying back to the victim, Procopio said, Hazelrigg flew so low that “the aircraft’s skids were in the water” and Phippen “opened the door and, strapped in, hung outside the helicopter and grabbed the hypothermic victim, who was not moving on his own.”

Procopio said the man was pulled aboard and flown to Lowell Hospital, where he received emergency care and was expected to survive.

In a statement, Procopio said, “State Police Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin applauded the heroic work of Troopers Hazelrigg and Phippen and expressed gratitude to Lowell Fire and Police, and all other responders, for their assistance.”

©2018 the Boston Herald

Categories: Latest News

Baltimore judge rules city violated contracts by cutting police, fire pension benefits

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:49

By Luke Broadwater The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore circuit judge has ruled that city officials broke their contract with many police officers, firefighters and retirees in 2010 by cutting a key pension provision that has cost retirees millions in pension benefits.

Judge Julie R. Rubin ruled Tuesday that former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s overhaul of pension benefits “unlawfully withdrew” a variable pension benefit that paid out more money to retirees when the stock market improved.

“The city breached its contract,” she wrote in an opinion that handed several victories to the unions and others to the city.

The partial ruling in favor of the police and fire unions — who have battled the city in court for years — was hailed by retirees.

“The city is going to owe a lot of money,” predicted Lt. Victor Gearhart, the former first vice president of the Baltimore police union. “Justice will be done for the retirees since [Rawlings-Blake] illegally cut our benefits. A contract is still a contract and the city will learn to respect that.”

In her ruling, Rubin did not state what damages — if any — the city would have to pay. But council members said they are bracing for a potential impact of being forced to pay out tens of millions of dollars in pension benefits dating back to the law’s passage.

An actuary has estimated the city could be liable for as much as $57 million in payments should the unions ultimately prevail in court.

The next court date in the matter has not been set.

City Councilman Eric T. Costello, chairman of the council’s budget committee, said city officials have set aside $24.3 million to pay out in case they lose the lawsuit.

“This has been ongoing for seven years,” Costello said of the legal battle. “I’d like to see it resolved as quickly as a humanly possible. This is something that’s outstanding that public safety officers are upset about and rightfully so. We want to get it resolved as quickly as possible.”

Rawlings-Blake overhauled the city’s police and fire pension system to prevent an imminent fiscal crisis, she said. The city’s pension fund for firefighters and police officers is funded at about 70 percent of the long-term costs of providing benefits. Its unfunded long-term liability is more than $1 billion.

City officials say the mayor’s legislation — which was passed by the City Council — ultimately cut about $400 million in long-term pension costs by reducing benefits, raising the retirement age and requiring higher contributions from workers.

The unions, in response, launched a campaign against Rawlings-Blake and her City Council supporters, picketing City Hall, posting billboards accusing elected leaders of turning their backs on public safety workers, and filing suit.

Since the law’s enactment, the city and public safety unions have traded court victories in the case.

In 2014, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned a lower court's ruling in 2012 that a key provision of the 2010 law limiting cost-of-living increases for younger retirees was unconstitutional and not reasonable. But the appeals court concluded the police officers and firefighters could continue to contest the law in state court for "breach of contract."

Judge Barbara Milano Keenan of the 4th Circuit wrote at the time that the unions could try again to challenge the law using a different argument, specifically that the city has taken "private property for public use, without just compensation."

Under the mayor's overhaul, firefighters and police have been required to increase contributions to the pension fund — now 10 percent of their salaries. Officers were told that they would no longer be able to retire after 20 years, but would have to stay on the force for 25 years to receive their pensions.

Retired workers also lost what was called the "variable benefit," an annual increase tied to the stock market. Instead, the youngest retirees receive no annual increase through the variable benefit, and older retirees receive a 1 percent or 2 percent annual increase.

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis took issue with that aspect of the law, ruling that the cost-of-living adjustments were unconstitutional in that they harmed younger retirees too severely.

The plan "had the pernicious effect of eliminating and/or reducing annual increases from retirees under 65 at the time of enactment and, consequently, significantly reducing their pensions when they became 65," he wrote.

The law was "not reasonable," Garbis wrote at the time.

City Solicitor Andre Davis said Wednesday he looked forward resolving the matter in court. Several aspects of the union’s suit still must go to trial according to Rubin’s ruling.

“Under the judge’s decision there’s going to be a trial,” he said. “We look forward to meeting with the judge.”

Lester Davis, a spokesman for City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said his office is studying the matter.

“We have to sit down with the solicitor and get a clear understanding of the city’s plan going forward,” he said. “When folks dedicate themselves to public service, they deserve to be compensated in retirement. We also have to make sure we’re not bankrupting the city so we can continue to take care of folks who put their lives on the line for the city.”

©2018 The Baltimore Sun

Categories: Latest News

Lessons in Leadership: Why cops shouldn’t judge a crisis by its cover

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:46
Author: Rich Emberlin

Policing has historically been a job; today it is recognized as a genuine profession. Today’s police force is comprised of highly trained, exceptionally smart individuals who possess specialized knowledge and skills. Whether it’s a police chief overseeing a department or a patrol officer responding to 9-1-1 calls, law enforcement leaders exist in all ranks of our profession.

Lessons in Leadership is a 10-part series covering the most important principles I learned during my nearly 30-year career with the Dallas Police Department. From explosive confrontations to quiet defining moments, there’s no shortage of wisdom to be earned in one of the world’s most dangerous professions.

At first glance, the fresh-faced, twentysomething blonde looked right at home in the Hilton Anatole. Dressed in a crisp white shirt and black suit, she appeared ready for a business meeting or job interview. But the thick chains wrapped around her neck and binding her to a tree in the atrium of one of Dallas’s most upscale hotels told a different story.

It was the summer of 2014, and a group of protestors had gathered to disrupt an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convention. As a detective in the Dallas Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit, I had been on site for a few hours monitoring the situation. The woman and a man had chained themselves to separate trees, thrown away the keys and were hurling insults at convention-goers as they walked by.

Her anger was palpable as I approached with several patrol officers and a pair of bolt cutters.

“F—k you police!” she screamed. “Pigs! F—king murderers!”

What defines a crisis?

A crisis can be defined as many things – an unstable state of affairs, emotionally significant event, or situation that has reached a critical phase.

I learned early in my career that a crisis is a crisis, even if it’s not yours. In policing, it doesn’t matter if we perceive situations as trivial, irrational, incomprehensible or downright absurd. There’s always a catalyst that prompts the human behavior we’re witnessing. Figure out what it is, and you’ve got a head start in crisis management and resolution.

We cut the chains, handcuffed the woman and escorted her outside to the waiting patrol cars. I instructed one of the officers to remove the cuffs.

“You don’t look like someone who would be protesting,” I said. “How old are you?”

“F—k you.” She hated the very idea of me, and she didn’t even know me. I was just another cop to her.

“Listen, I’m respecting you, and while I wish you would do the same for me, I don’t necessarily care if you do or not,” I said. “But you better listen up because you’re arguing from a great disadvantage. Now, we are going to get through this or you can simply go to jail … which is what I’m supposed to do with you.”

In law enforcement, we have one-way conversations more often than we wish. I glanced over at the patrol officers, who were growing impatient. “I think you planned on getting arrested today, but I don’t want to put you in jail. I want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

She started crying. “I hate police officers.”

Crisis is complex. There’s always more to the story than meets the eye. “Why?”

“They murdered my dad when I was 14,” she sobbed.

“What were the circumstances?” I asked, realizing I had just stumbled upon the catalyst.

She said cops in a nearby city had killed her father, covered up for each other and basically got away with murder. I knew a SWAT operator in the police department she was accusing and stepped aside to call him. He vividly remembered the incident; the suspect had been in the Trinity River bottoms that border Dallas, waving his gun around, trying repeatedly to provoke a lethal response (suicide by cop). But they never fired a single shot at him.

This young lady’s family hadn’t been truthful with her about the circumstances of her father’s death. It was clear now why her hatred of police was so deeply entrenched; it was motivated by a daughter’s pain over the loss of her father.

I chose my words carefully. “I spoke to one of the SWAT operators who was there that night. The story you got wasn’t exactly accurate. I’ll tell you this – the police didn’t murder your dad. You need to re-address it with your mother or go to the police department and file an open records request on the circumstances of your dad’s death.”

She started crying again. “Are you saying he killed himself? Why would they lie to me?”

“I’m not saying that.” I knew her world must be turning upside down. “I don’t know what your dad was going through. I’m just saying that it didn’t happen the way you’ve been told.”

She probably thought I was lying, but judging by the look on her face, I think she considered there might be some truth in my words.

“You know what? I’m not going to put you in jail.”

“You’re not?” Shock registered on her face.

“Nope. You’re going to go home.” I took some cash out of my wallet and gave it to her. “Take this and get a cab. You don’t owe me any money, but you do owe me this – ask your mom what really happened. Keep an open mind. What happened to your dad is tragic, but the police didn’t do anything to him. Promise me you’ll ask your mom.”

She looked bewildered, but nodded and thanked me.

How compassion can defuse a crisis

People who behave abnormally are usually in crisis. Not surprisingly, that’s when and why the police show up.

Something happened in their lives – whether 20 minutes ago or 20 years ago – that is a causal factor of the behavior they’re exhibiting in the present. It is completely irrelevant whether responding officers think the situation is a crisis, only whether the person in question thinks it is.

A willingness to accept this fact made me an infinitely better police officer. It put me in a different mental space that day – conciliatory and compassionate instead of confrontational and combative.

Certain situations will require officers to take the aggressive approach; hard-core criminals typically only respond to speed, surprise and violence of action. In other cases, compassion is often one of the best tools for defusing a crisis.

When we are conscious of others’ distress, and have a willingness to understand their thoughts and motivations, that opens the door for reducing tension and conflict. Simple acts of compassion paid huge dividends throughout my career; I was able to reason with 98 percent of people and ultimately gain their cooperation.

In many ways, effective crisis management and resolution rely on a different aspect of the situational awareness that keeps us alive. When officers conduct a routine traffic stop or chase a suspect down a dark alley, they are constantly processing the environmental elements and assessing the threat.

Similarly, a person in crisis presents a psychological environment that is full of inputs, outputs and variables to consider. An officer’s perception and comprehension of this dynamic psychological environment, along with real-time adjustments to his or her actions, can go a long way toward producing a peaceful outcome in any situation.

Author’s note: The Lessons in Leadership series contains stories about real people and actual events that are portrayed to the best of my memory. Dialogue has been reconstructed from my recollections, which means it may not be a word-for-word transcript, but the essence of what was said is accurate.

Categories: Latest News

Attorney: Kan. family of 'swatting' victim wants officer charged

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:43

Author: Rich Emberlin

By Roxana Hegeman Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. — The family of a Kansas man fatally shot at the door of his home after a hoax emergency call wants the police officer who killed him criminally charged for his death, their attorney said Tuesday.

Police have said 28-year-old Andrew Finch was shot after a prankster called 911 last Thursday with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at Finch's Wichita home. They said the hoax call was a case of "swatting," in which a person makes up a false report to get a SWAT team to descend on an address.

Finch's mother, Lisa Finch, wrote a letter Tuesday to Mayor Jeff Longwell, police Chief Gordon Ramsay and other city officials saying an unannounced visit from the police chief three days after the shooting did not ease her heart and left questions unanswered.

"It goes without saying that our family is devastated by what has happened," she wrote. "What cannot go without saying is why Wichita City leadership is compounding our grief and sorrow, by keeping my son from us? Please let me see my son's lifeless body. I want to hold him and say goodbye. Please immediately return his body to us."

Her letter also posed numerous questions, including asking when officials will return the front door, a computer, two cellphones, a video game and other items that were seized from the family's home. The family also wants information on the protocol and training for officers as it relates to "swatting" calls.

Chicago civil rights attorney Andrew M. Stroth, who is representing the family, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that what the "swatters" did was inappropriate and tragic. However, he said, the family wants Wichita and its police to be held accountable.

"Justice for the Finch family constitutes criminal charges against the shooting officer and any other liable officers as well as damages against the city of Wichita for the policies and practices of its Police Department," Stroth said.

But criminologist B. Remy Cross at Webster University in Missouri said criminal charges are highly unlikely.

"It is sort of a fact of the world we live in now that it is very difficult to bring charges against police officers unless there is glaring negligence and misconduct," Cross said. "While I certainly sympathize with the family — and I think there was probably not the necessary due caution exercised in this incident — I don't know that they are going to necessarily be very successful in pushing for charges to be brought against the officer."

Police spokesman Charley Davidson said the department has not received Lisa Finch's letter and cannot comment on it. He said police have provided all the information they can at this point, and that the investigation remains active.

Police played the 911 call at a news conference last week. The man making the call said his father had been shot in the head. He said he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. Several officers arrived and surrounded the home, braced for a hostage situation.

Andrew Finch went to the door and SWAT officers told him to put his hands up and move slowly. Deputy Chief Troy Livingston told reporters last week that Finch moved a hand toward the area of his waistband. Livingston said an officer who feared Finch was reaching for a gun fired a single shot.

Finch was unarmed.

Dexerto, an online news service focused on gaming, reported that the series of events began with an online argument over a $1 or $2 wager in a "Call of Duty" game on UMG Gaming, which operates online tournaments including one involving "Call of Duty."

Police have confirmed that 25-year-old Tyler Barriss is suspected of making the call. He was arrested last week in Los Angeles, where he lives. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday that prosecutors anticipated filing a fugitive from justice warrant against Barriss on Wednesday.

He also was expected to have a hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to prosecutors.

Kansas is pursuing extradition of Barriss, a process that can take up to 90 days, according to Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett in a statement emailed Tuesday. Under Kansas law, defendants are provided notice of charges they face at their first court appearance, and the nature of any charge is not public until then.

"A determination of additional charges will be made by prosecutors with this office after a review of the information gathered," Bennett said.

Categories: Latest News

How citizen surveys improve community engagement with police

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:26

Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

Five years ago, potential traffic and crowd problems dominated headlines during intense public debate over Colorado State University’s proposed new stadium for its Fort Collins urban campus.

After the first game this year, the reviews were good. City leaders, including interim Chief of Police Terry Jones, were not surprised. The public had been heard, and their concerns were given weight during the planning process.

This example of successful citizen interaction illustrates why the City of Fort Collins earned the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Malcolm Baldrige was a businessman who served as the Secretary of Commerce in the 1980s. The award is earned by applicants who demonstrate outstanding quality as defined by the exacting standards of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

Integrated approach to service delivery

Fort Collins Police Services Interim Chief Terry Jones credits getting citizen feedback from a variety of sources as a way for the city’s leadership team to focus on an agenda of specific issues within a context of long-term goals that align with the city’s values.

With this and other data, the city’s executive leadership team knows what everybody else is doing, reflecting an integrated approach to service delivery.

Fort Collins conducts a survey every two years and has a history of nine surveys since 2008 to compare longitudinal data. The survey is designed, conducted and analyzed by an outside vendor. The survey reaches out to all demographic groups, and is available in Spanish.

The surveys are just one part of gathering community information. “Data-driven analysis is more than chasing red dots on the map. You get a tremendous amount of information by just walking around,” said Jones.

Law enforcement is a part of city services

Many police departments find that they are alienated from other city departments or even feel that city leadership is adversarial to the law enforcement function. The inclusion of police services in the overall survey may feel different than a survey developed internally just to look at a police department.

The overlap of citizen concerns whose solutions lie in more than one city bureaucracy is more easily addressed with a comprehensive survey covering all city services. For example, a crime reduction solution may reside as much in the parks or public works department as with the police. Leaving crime and quality of life issue solely in the hands of law enforcement can result in biased and skewed perceptions guiding decision-making.

Why police leaders may be surprised by community comments

But even if the survey is developed internally and conducted by a police department, rather than professionals using the tool to assess city-wide service, the results can be valuable.

The department will get some community relations value from the mere fact that they are asking questions and listening to the citizens.

In 2014, Fort Collins Police Services implemented a citizen survey process about their experiences when interacting with police officers. Acting on this feedback, the agency increased its emphasis on Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) as the preferred means of addressing community needs. Community policing officers build trust by developing one-on-one relationships with citizens through programs such as “Shop with a Cop” and “ride-alongs.” The COPS program has contributed to resident survey scores on crime prevention that outperform both regional and national comparisons.

Jones says that asking the public for input generates more positive comments than you might expect. He also noted that the top concerns voiced by citizens were not about the police department, but other quality of life issues like bus service. It was nice, Jones remarked, to know his department was not at the top of the complaint list!

Jones says he is fortunate to work in a vibrant city and community, which includes the university with its annual influx of young people. Various city and campus leaders, including Jones and his university police counterparts, walk around during orientation events and have spontaneous, casual conversations with the campus community. The city even has a civic engagement liaison to give special attention to bringing diverse interests into decision-making.

The Baldrige award provides a roadmap to improvement processes similar to what a police department would go through in applying for CALEA accreditation. The application and competition provide an incentive for innovation and excellence.

“I can’t imagine a law enforcement agency not doing a survey. If you’re not taking the temperature of your community, you’re missing the boat,” said Chief Jones.

Categories: Latest News

New Year's baby born on hood of car after high-speed police pursuit

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 08:44
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Noah Feit The State (Columbia, S.C.)

CHARLESTON, SC — It’s tradition for the media to report on the first baby born at an area hospital on New Year’s Day.

Anastasia Alewine wasn’t the first baby born in South Carolina in 2018, but it’s doubtful anybody made a more spectacular entrance into the world in the very early morning hours on Monday. In South Carolina, or anywhere in the world.

Anastasia was delivered on the side of I-26, on the hood of a car, after a high-speed chase and with her father in handcuffs.

It was all a misunderstanding, but it was a memorable one.

Tiffani Von Glahn, Anastasia’s mother, was having contractions and going into labor three weeks before the due date. She called the baby’s father, Carl Alewine, who was at work and said they needed to get from their St. George home to MUSC in Charleston, where they planned to deliver the baby.

So much for the best-laid plans.

During the more than 50-mile journey, with Alewine dutifully speeding his fianceé to the hospital, a police officer attempted to pull them over for going too fast.

“He was going about 90-95 and a police officer came up behind us to pull us over. And he was like, ‘Do you want me to stop?’ And I was like, ‘No don’t you stop’, because I felt her coming,” Von Glahn told, explaining she thought it was high-risk pregnancy that would require a cesarean section. “I was thinking there was no way I could have her naturally.”

Law enforcement was unaware of that, or of the pregnant woman whose water broke on the verge of having a baby in the car. They saw a speeding car on a night known for foolish drivers.

It’s also known for having a lot of officers on duty, and many quickly responded to the high-speed chase unfolding.

“I said I might go to jail tonight. She is screaming, and I knew that meant keep going,” Alewine said to “Next thing we know, there are 20 cops cars behind us.”

“I said, ‘Oh My God babe, we’ve got all the cops in the world after us right now,’ ” Alewine said to

The officers eventually boxed them in, forcing them to pull over – in the middle of I-26. And that’s where they placed Alewine in handcuffs.

“I said, ‘Man, she is having a baby, and you are going to end up delivering this baby if you don’t do something,’ ” Alewine said to

Fortunately for everyone involved, an experienced hand at delivering babies was on the scene with law enforcement.

Neal Arrington, a firefighter with the Goose Creek Fire Department, was riding along with his son, a deputy with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, reported. According to Arrington, he asked Von Glahn how far along in her pregnancy she was and said he needed to take a look at her and was greeted by a “head full of hair and then caught it.”

Von Glahn said she pushed once, and Anastasia was born.

I’ve seen a lot of things in my life you guys... but watching my daughter be born on a New Years midnight in the middle of the interstate through tear soaked eyes, in handcuffs, from the hood of my jeep, in the reverie of 100 blue patrol lights as fireworks burst all around us,” Alewine wrote on Facebook. “And seeing so many of the low country’s finest clap as they took the handcuffs off and said, ‘Man... go see your little girl.’ … I’ve never seen or felt something so human and compassionate in my life.”

Arrington, who said helped a boy on the interstate nearly 20 years ago, met up with the happy family in Von Glahn’s hospital room Tuesday.

“Awww, she’s a little bit cleaner this time,” Arrington said of the 6-pound-2 ounce newborn.

“Now we have an exciting story to tell her when she is older,” Von Glahn said to

©2018 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

Categories: Latest News

Calif. officer cleared in fatal OIS of man who attacked him

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 08:30
Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Hannah Fry Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — A Huntington Beach police officer who shot and killed a 27-year-old man during a scuffle outside a 7-Eleven store in September will not face criminal charges, the Orange County district attorney’s office announced Wednesday.

According to Assistant District Atty. Ebrahim Baytieh, the office determined that Officer Eric Esparza was legally justified when he shot Dillan Tabares, a homeless Navy veteran who had been paroled from state prison eight days earlier. The Sept. 22 shooting was captured on bystanders’ videos that were widely circulated on social media.

“It is clear in this case, based on the totality of all the available evidence, Officer Esparza was justified in believing Tabares posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to Officer Esparza and possibly other civilians in the parking lot,” Baytieh wrote in a letter to Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

“This conclusion is based on all of the circumstances, particularly the conduct of Tabares leading up to the shooting,” Baytieh added.

In October, roughly a month after the shooting, Huntington Beach police named Tabares as the suspect in the fatal beating of Richard Darland, 80, who was found outside his home in the 7800 block of Ellis Avenue on Sept. 19, three days before Tabares was shot.

Esparza was in his patrol car in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven store at 6012 Edinger Ave. at about 9:30 a.m. Sept. 22 when he parked and approached Tabares. Esparza told Tabares to stop, but he walked away, according to the D.A.’s letter.

It’s not clear what prompted Esparza to stop Tabares. The officer, who has been with the Huntington Beach Police Department for three years, declined to provide a statement to the Sheriff’s Department, which investigated the case, or to the district attorney’s office. His current assignment in the department is not clear.

However, Esparza told another officer at the scene that Tabares was trying to grab his gun from his utility belt during the ensuing scuffle, according to footage from Esparza’s body camera that was made public Wednesday.

A registered nurse who witnessed the altercation told investigators that Tabares “looked out of it” and she thought he might be under the influence of a drug, according to the D.A.’s letter. She told investigators that she heard Tabares shouting at the officer and then saw him walk directly at Esparza and swing at him, according to the letter.

As Tabares approached Esparza, the officer used his Taser, but it was not effective, authorities said.

A video taken just before the shooting and later posted on social media shows Tabares and the officer struggling on the ground next to a parked car. Tabares appears to pull an item off the officer’s utility belt.

Baytieh said the item was the officer’s flashlight. Tabares’ DNA was found on the officer’s flashlight holder, magazine holder and the grip of his Glock pistol, according to an analysis by the Orange County Crime Lab.

Body camera footage and another video show Esparza firing six shots, causing Tabares to convulse and stumble. After a seventh shot, Tabares collapsed on his side against the store.

Tabares was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was pronounced dead at 10:13 a.m.

Tabares’ family said he had drug and mental health issues. The D.A.’s letter states that an analysis of his blood showed the presence of ethanol and methamphetamine.

The confrontation with Esparza wasn’t Tabares’ first run-in with Huntington Beach police. Officers had arrested him 12 times since 2014, Police Chief Robert Handy has said.

From 2014 to 2016, Tabares was in and out of Orange County jails for misdemeanor convictions including disturbing the peace, carrying a dirk or dagger, possession of an opium pipe and resisting arrest, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

In May 2016, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of battery with serious bodily injury. He was initially sentenced to jail time and three years’ probation, court records show.

Twice in 2016 he was found to have violated his probation and was sentenced to additional jail time, records show.

In March 2017, Tabares was arrested for violating probation a third time, and a Superior Court judge sentenced him to two years in state prison. However, with time served and other credits, he served about six months in Wasco and Centinela state prisons, according to court and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records.

On Sept. 20, Tabares was considered to be eluding supervision, according to Department of Corrections records.

Police connected Tabares to Darland’s slaying after they found his name in Darland’s phone and saw him in surveillance footage. They said they had not connected him to the homicide by the time Tabares was shot.

Detectives asked the county crime lab to analyze Tabares’ clothing that was kept as evidence in the investigation of the officer-involved shooting.

A crime lab examiner found blood on Tabares’ pants that matched Darland’s DNA, according to the D.A.’s office.

Handy said Tabares first met Darland in 2013 when Darland began helping him. He provided Tabares with food and transportation and allowed him to use his computer and to shower in his house. He also let Tabares sleep outside the house.

Tabares’ shooting was the seventh and last involving a police officer in Huntington Beach in 2017 — a total that exceeded any other year this decade, according to department archives. It was the year’s second such shooting in which a person was killed.

©2018 the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

Categories: Latest News

Man posing as cop pulls over motorist who turns out to be a real officer

PoliceOne - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 08:22

Author: Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D.

By Chueyee Yang The Fresno Bee

VISALIA, Calif. — A man pretending to be a police officer was arrested Monday after he tried to make a traffic stop on an off-duty sergeant in Tulare, Visalia police said.

An off-duty sergeant was driving near Mooney and Cartmill avenues at 11:45 p.m. when Brandon Freeman, 29, driving a 2008 white Buick sedan, turned on flashing red lights and signaled the sergeant to pull over for a traffic stop.

The sergeant continued to drive, however, and communicated with on-duty officers to arrange for a traffic stop on Freeman’s car.

Freeman was interviewed and arrested for impersonating an officer and for additional charges. A passenger in Freeman’s car was arrested for outstanding felony warrants.

©2018 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

Categories: Latest News