Latest News

Network of payment card fraudsters dismantled: 3 000 victims lost at least EUR 500 000

EUROPOL - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 02:44
A successful operation that took down an international criminal network of payment card fraudsters was carried out by Central Investigating Judge number 5, the Public Prosecution Office at the Audiencia Nacional and National Police of Spain, and the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime in Bulgaria, with the support of Eurojust and Eu
Categories: Latest News

Due to budget cuts, Milwaukee could lose 84 police officers

PoliceOne - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 02:00

By Mary Spicuzza Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee could be forced to cut 84 police officer positions in next year's budget, Mayor Tom Barrett said.

"I do not want to have fewer police officers in this city," Barrett said Friday in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. "I'm trying to do everything I can to find a way to avoid this."

Barrett also warned that Milwaukee may be forced to eliminate 75 firefighter positions, six public health nurses and 10 code inspector jobs — and close two libraries — in the 2018 budget.

"I view all of this in the context of public safety and, actually, crime prevention in many respects," Barrett said.

Barrett said the budget cuts would have an immediate effect on the number and sizes of recruit classes next year.

The 2018 budget request was $26.9 million higher than the 2017 budget, he said. One of the areas that will see a significant increase is pension payments, especially to police and firefighters.

That's partly due to a wave of retirements linked to a surge in officer hirings in the early and mid-1990s. That wave has been larger than expected this year, and by the end of May, 90 sworn police officers had already retired in 2017.

"We are facing a more daunting horizon than we have in the past," Barrett said.

Bracing for a budget cut to his department totaling as much as $7.3 million, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn proposed "eliminating recruit classes for 2018."

"This proposed budget would reduce sworn strength of the Milwaukee Police Department to 1,748, the fewest officers in this century," Flynn wrote in a Friday letter to Mark Nicolini, the city's budget and management director.

The current average sworn strength is 1,888. Flynn's letter was referring to the projected 2018 year end number for sworn strength.

On Friday, Barrett again raised concerns that the Police Department budget is now greater than the tax levy for the entire city, and has been since 2016.

The mayor also has been urging Gov. Scott Walker and state lawmakers to increase shared revenue payments to the city. That has not happened.

"We have been working to try to have people understand that this is just a fiscally unsustainable arrangement," Barrett said.

Tom Evenson, a Walker spokesman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Barrett again pointed to the money Milwaukee sends to the state, insisting it's a "powerful economic engine" that helps drive the state's economy. But he warned Milwaukee's growth could be hampered by steep public safety cuts.

"I don't know that anybody thinks it's good to have a significant reduction in the size of the Milwaukee Police Department," Barrett said. "I certainly don't, and will do everything I can to make sure that we don't."

Barrett said he was open to having the Legislative Fiscal Bureau review his numbers to confirm that they're accurate.

Some of Barrett's comments Friday echoed those in his annual "State of the City" address in March, when he pushed back against the idea that Milwaukee is draining resources from the rest of Wisconsin.

The amount of revenue generated in Milwaukee exceeded the amount of state aid paid to the city, county and Milwaukee Public Schools by more than $460 million in 2015, he has said. He has called it the "Milwaukee Dividend," noting that the city gets back only about 66% of what it sends to Madison.

———

©2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Categories: Latest News

Photos: Police, community mourn on 1st anniversary of Pulse nightclub shooting

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 14:34

By PoliceOne Staff

Police officers and the community came together Monday to mourn the 49 people shot and killed in last year’s devastating attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Below is a collection of photos capturing a city still shaken by the mass casualty incident.

As we remember and honor the victims of that horrific attack, now is a good time to review key tactics for responding to this type of active shooter incident, as well as how to maintain officers' physical and mental health in the aftermath of a mass casualty incident.

[View the story "Police, community mourn on 1st anniversary of Pulse nightclub shooting" on Storify]
Categories: Latest News

4 NJ officers suspended after video shows police kicking burning bystander

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 13:09

By David Porter Associated Press

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Four Jersey City police officers, including a lieutenant with 24 years experience, have been suspended indefinitely in the wake of an auto chase and fiery crash in which a video showed police kicking and dragging a bystander, the city's mayor announced Monday.

The June 4 video showed Miguel Feliz exiting his car before being kicked by the officers. The officers had been chasing a different man whose car resembled one used in a shooting several days earlier.

Feliz, of West New York, several miles from Jersey City, underwent surgery for burns last week and remains hospitalized.

All four officers are suspended indefinitely without pay, Mayor Steven Fulop said Monday. He deferred questions about a criminal probe into the incident to the Hudson County prosecutor's office, which is conducting the investigation.

"We have a strong track record here of supporting our police officers and acting swiftly with discipline when appropriate," Fulop said. "We're taking swift actions within our ability to do so, and residents should know we want to have a balance between resident concerns and policing concerns, and we feel have that balance here."

JUST IN: 3 Jersey City police officers suspended without pay amid outrage over a video showing them kicking a burning bystander pic.twitter.com/LsRUfQ9qoF

— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) June 12, 2017

Suspended were: Lieutenant Keith Ludwig and Officers M.D. Khan, Erik Kosinski and Francisco Rodriguez.

Public Safety Director James Shea said Ludwig, a 24-year veteran of the force, has an "excellent" record, and that the four officers, one of whom has been on the force for a year, "are average police officers." He didn't say if any had had previous disciplinary violations.

Shea wouldn't say if any of the suspended officers were the ones seen on video kicking Feliz.

"We repeat our call for a full and impartial investigation into this incident," Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, said in an email. "Unfortunately Mayor Fulop continues to indicate that he has no intention of allowing this to be the case."

Feliz wasn't the only person injured in the chase. Suspect Leo Pinkston suffered a leg injury after officers fired shots at his moving vehicle. They had initially stopped the car because it matched the description of a car that had been used in a shooting several nights earlier, Shea said.

Shea said at least 20 officers were involved in some aspect of the response to the high-speed chase, which lasted for several miles. Several protocols were violated, he said, including the length of the chase, the firing of shots at a moving vehicle and the placing of a car as a roadblock without approval from a supervisor.

Ludwig "was the supervisor of the officers who started the chase, he was involved from the beginning and he allowed it to go on long after the point where, under the attorney general's guidelines, he should have called it off," Shea said.


Categories: Latest News

DUI suspect injured after jumping off bridge to evade police

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:21

By PoliceOne Staff

HOOVER, Ala. — Police said a 27-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries after he jumped over a bridge to evade police.

An officer responded to a stopped car in the center lane of an interstate Sunday when they discovered the driver, who appeared intoxicated, passed out behind the wheel, WIAT reported.

The driver became aggravated while the responding officer waited for backup and refused commands. He then fled on foot, jumped over the bridge railing and fell nearly 25 feet.

Officers performed first aid until paramedics arrived. The suspect was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

"This is certainly a tragic situation and, first and foremost, we hope this individual is able to make a full recovery. Our officer who was the first on the scene, found herself in an extremely dangerous situation,'' Capt. Gregg Rector told AL.com. "It's not uncommon for us to respond to calls where DUI suspects are passed out at the wheel, but when it involves a stopped vehicle in the middle of the interstate, it really increases the chances for a terrible outcome."


Categories: Latest News

Videos: 2 suspects shot, wounded during Milwaukee pursuit

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:59

By PoliceOne Staff

MILWAUKEE — A sheriff’s deputy wounded two suspects during a police pursuit Sunday night.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it’s unclear why the pursuit was initiated, but Facebook video shows the vehicle driving on a grass median where a deputy was standing. The officer opened fire into the car.

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Watch: Video shared with FOX6 News by a viewer shows the moments when law enforcement officers opened fire along Milwaukee's lakefront Sunday. Warning: This video may be disturbing, and is not appropriate for all audiences. via.fox6now.com/tfASH

Posted by FOX6 News Milwaukee on Sunday, June 11, 2017

The suspect’s car struck another car before it came to a stop. Deputies surrounded the vehicle and ordered the occupants out. The driver and a woman passenger were removed and treated by medical. The publication reported the driver appeared to be seriously injured.

A man in the backseat was removed from the vehicle as well and handcuffed. He did not appear to be injured.

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MILWAUKEE LAKE FRONT SHOOTING! 5 white cops gun down black man and his girlfriend. This is the after math. Please share!! ALL VIDEO UNDER COPY RIGHT! #Milwaukee

Posted by Ricky Saenz-Witt on Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sgt. Timothy Gauerke said police are “determining to what extent, if any, the vehicle or occupants that fled from deputies was involved in any other recent incidents.”

The medical examiner’s office told the Journal Sentinel that the woman and man were seriously injured and are currently in the hospital.

An investigation is ongoing.


Categories: Latest News

Detroit police: Reported robbery was music video shoot

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:55

By Elisha Anderson Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit police responded to a robbery report on the city’s west side Saturday night and fired shots before discovering the people involved were filming a video.

It started when officers received information that people in a black Jeep were robbing people in the area of West McNichols Road and Southfield, Detroit police spokesman Officer Dan Donakowski said today.

Police arrived around 7 p.m. and saw a black Jeep and a man getting out of it approaching an Aston Martin, he said.

“That individual is armed," Donakowski said. "And it appeared as though he is attempting to rob the person in the Aston Martin.”

He said police approached, a suspect pointed a weapon at an officer and the officer fired three shots. None of them hit anybody.

Further investigation revealed that people in both the Jeep and Aston Martin were shooting a video, Donakowski said, adding those individuals didn’t have any proof of permission to shoot the video.

Police arrested three men involved with the video, but didn’t have additional information about those people.

“That’s the only information I have right now,” Donakowski said.

It’s unclear if any charges will be issued in connection with the incident.

———

©2017 the Detroit Free Press


Categories: Latest News

Chicago police asked to design new patrol cars

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:48

By Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department, seeking a fresh look for its patrol vehicles, is asking officers for proposals to redesign the layout of the words, images and colors on the outside of its newer cars.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, in a memo to his 12,000 officers on Friday, said their design ideas will be considered by review panels in each of the 22 patrol districts. Each district will send one idea to a department-wide panel of police officers and residents from the communities.

The panel will select five finalists, and Johnson will pick the winning design.

"The iconic design of marked CPD vehicles has been a staple on the streets of Chicago since the 1970s," Johnson said in the memo. "As we make investments in our Department to be a better agency for officers and residents alike, it is also appropriate to update our vehicles to reflect the next era of CPD's history."

The new design will only be applied to 500 new police cars that are expected to hit the streets in the next few months, police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said. The vehicles now being used will keep the current design.

Giancamilli said redesigns on squad cars are "a fairly common practice" as police departments get newer vehicles. In the late 1990s to early 2000s, for example, the New York City Police Department applied a new design to their squad cars when receiving new vehicles, Giancamilli said.

Johnson's announcement for the redesign is the latest proposed change to a department that has grappled with some of the worst violence the city has seen in years, all while the department is in the midst of reforming some of its policies following an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

"Our core focus is to make Chicago safer, and as we continue to work hard to drive down violence, these new cars will be a welcome addition to your neighborhood beat patrols," Giancamilli said of the 500 new police vehicles.

Johnson wants to change the design layout on Chicago's squad cars to give the vehicles a fresh look at a time when his officers are working to improve its relationship with the communities, the department said.

The new design is required to include certain elements.

The base color of the vehicle must be white, and the dominant color of the design must be the "existing blue" on the current squad cars, Johnson said in the memo.

Also, every design must include the four-digit identification number on both sides of the front quarter panels and on the back of the vehicles, he said in the memo. The words "Chicago police" must be part of the design and applied to both sides of the vehicle, as should the phrase "We Serve and Protect."

Johnson also said the word "police" should be on the back of the vehicle, and the phrases "Emergencies dial 911" and "Non-Emergencies dial 311" should be part of the design. The department's Twitter handle, @Chicago_Police, also must be included.

Giancamilli said the department's new anonymous crime reporting website, cpdtip.com, will also likely be included in the redesign.

While the current design includes the logo of a star with the term "CAPS" emblazoned on it, a nod to the department's community policing program, it's unclear if the logo will be a requirement for the new design.

Officers will have until June 30 to submit their ideas. Giancamilli said the officer whose design is selected as the winning entry will earn "bragging rights," but no award.

The department hopes to start applying the winning design to new vehicles in late summer, Johnson said.

———

©2017 the Chicago Tribune


Categories: Latest News

2 Ky. deputies shot while serving warrant; suspect dead

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:35

By PoliceOne Staff

KNOX COUNTY, Ky. — Two sheriff’s deputies were shot Monday while serving a warrant.

According to WYMT, Deputy Claude Hudson and Deputy Keith Liford were serving an indictment warrant when John Wesley Bays began shooting at them from his home.

Liford was shot multiple times and underwent surgery. He is expected to recover. Police officials said Hudson was shot in his badge and ballistic vest. He was treated and released.

Bays was shot and killed on the scene, the news station reported. Bays had an extensive criminal history dating back to 1999. All charges involved drugs, theft and burglary.

An investigation is ongoing.


Categories: Latest News

Texas police buy struggling vet new AC unit

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:13

By PoliceOne Staff

FORT WORTH, Texas — Julius Hatley woke up to a broken AC unit in the middle of the summer heat in Texas. The 95-year-old World War II veteran was unsure of what to do, so he called 911.

Officer William Margolis and Christopher Weir responded to his call June 8 and decided to take matters into their own hands.

“I talked to my partner and I talked to the gentleman and said, ‘Look, we’re going to help you out. I'll be back in just a little bit. I promise you,’” Margolis told Fox 29.

Margolis and Weir went and purchased an AC unit for Hatley and installed it with the help of another officer. When the manager of Home Depot found out about the officers’ gesture, he covered $150 of the purchase price.

The officers told the news station they’re working on getting Hatley’s AC system fixed, but they’re happy they could provide a temporary solution.

“This is what we do the job for. We don’t do it to issue citations and arrests, we do it to help people,” Weir said. “We got to see some humanity today and makes all of us feel good.”

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Ft. Worth Police Department Officer's William Margolis and Christopher Weir used their own money to buy a window air...

Posted by Lauren Przybyl on Friday, June 9, 2017


Categories: Latest News

Woman claims cop profiled her during traffic stop, video shows otherwise

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:10

By PoliceOne Staff

GREENDALE, Wis. — A woman who said an officer profiled her during a traffic stop has dropped her complaint after police released footage of the encounter.

Katherine Torres said she was pulled over on May 31 while driving back to work from her lunch break, Fox 6 Now reported.

Torres said the officer asked if she was a U.S. citizen, for her Social Security number, license and registration. The department said they began investigating the claims after Torres filed a complaint on June 2.

A statement said per state law, police officers are allowed to collect social security numbers to assist in the collection of unpaid forfeitures. The officer pulled Torres over for a missing front license plate and issued a citation for failure to fasten seat belt, Fox 6 Now reported. The department said four officers were participating in the “Click it or Ticket” program and 35 citations were issued to drivers with a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.

Authorities said the officer “asked Ms. Torres for her contact information, insurance information and verified address, consistent with proper procedure. He never questioned her citizenship or immigration status, as alleged by Ms. Torres.”

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Posted by Village of Greendale Police Department on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Torres has since dropped her complaint.

Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant advocacy organization, released a statement saying Torres was threatened with criminal charges if she didn’t drop her complaint. The statement also says that due to video hiccups and audio cutting out, the footage “in no way disproves Ms. Torres’ allegations.”


Categories: Latest News

Coroner to first responders: Throw away your latex gloves when responding to ODs

PoliceOne - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:06

By PoliceOne Staff

MARTINS FERRY, Ohio — A local coroner’s office is warning first responders that their latex gloves could be putting them at risk for an overdose.

The coroner’s office told WTOV that the latex gloves don’t provide enough protection from deadly substances like fentanyl and may allow absorption into the responder’s tissue, putting them at risk for an overdose.

Fire and EMS Assistant Chief Jack Regis said his department is switching from latex to nitrile, which is thicker than latex and provides more protection.

"We need to take all the protections necessary to protect ourselves, because at the end of the day, we want to go home to our families and not become a victim ourselves," Regis said.

According to the news station, Ohio has the most Carfentanil seizures in the United States.

Officials are suggesting first responders wear masks in addition to the gloves to provide extra protection.


Categories: Latest News

Experts in tackling migrant smuggling meet to enhance cooperation and information exchange

EUROPOL - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 06:10
On 9 June 2017, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, as part of the tasks emerging from the Malta Declaration and associated Implementation Plan, organised an expert meeting focusing on cooperation and information exchange in tackling migrant smuggling networks operating from source and transit countries, with a specific focus on North Africa and the Central Mediterranean rou
Categories: Latest News

Mich. House panel passes legislation prohibiting sanctuary cities

PoliceOne - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 10:50

By Chris Ehrmann Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation passed in a Michigan House committee aims to prohibit cities from becoming "sanctuary cities" that don't cooperate with immigration authorities and punish those that do.

The House Local Government Committee sent bills to the full House that would prohibit cities and counties from becoming sanctuary cities and force them to cooperate with federal officials on matters concerning immigration. Additionally, it would render any law or ordinance that violates the act unenforceable.

Tense testimony was given during a committee meeting last week about why the legislation was wrong and could lead to racial profiling, litigation against police officers and departments, and higher costs. No one testified in favor of the bills.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said the legislation seeks to address a problem that doesn't exist and is anti-American.

"We have an outstanding police department in Ann Arbor, and for years AAPD has worked to promote relationships of trust among our immigrant neighbors and by gutting these relationships these bills will hamstring our ability to protect and serve, violent crime will go unreported, violent criminals they will go free," Taylor said. "The short of it is this, I oppose these measures because they are at odds with core American values and they threaten public safety."

Taylor said the bills would make Michigan a "show me your papers" state.

Republican State Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake rejected that claim.

"No law enforcement is permitted to walk up to an individual and say show me you papers. It's preposterous, something out of a movie from the '40s," Runestad said. "The reality is you have to be stopped for something else, and then if you've committed a crime, and you've served your time in jail or prison, then they have the option to respond to the ICE detainer or not."

Chris Hackbarth, director of state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, which represents over 522 cities, villages and urban townships, also testified in opposition.

"From a public perspective, we have had three communities, roughly three communities in Michigan that have seen this label applied to them," he said.

Hackbarth said for more than 10 years the communities have had rules or policies on the books dealing with immigration — for example, a police officer would not ask for legal status at a traffic stop — and they have not had any problems. He also said the legislation is a poorly-crafted solution in search of a problem.

Cedar Lake Republican state Rep. James Lower, committee chairman, said the testimony was emotionally charged, but he believes it is common sense legislation. He said lawyers who have looked at the bills do not see problems of racial profiling or litigation.

"We frankly disagree with those," Lower said. "We've had many, many attorneys, you know how the legislative process works, review the legislation to make sure that wasn't an issue. It simply wasn't an issue."

The bills were voted 7-4 along party lines out of committee, with all amendments proposed by Democratic members failing. It now goes to the full House but it is still to be determined on whether it will come up for a vote next week. It may not be taken up until after lawmakers come back from summer break.


Categories: Latest News

Paris prosecutors charge Notre Dame attacker

PoliceOne - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 10:45

By Sylvie Corbet Associated Press

PARIS — The hammer-wielding man who attacked police officers patrolling in front of Notre Dame Cathedral appears to have radicalized himself through the internet and was unknown to French police and intelligence services, the chief prosecutor in Paris said Saturday.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the 40-year-old Algerian doctoral student was given preliminary charges Saturday of attempted murder of a police officer in connection with a terrorist enterprise and crime of terrorist conspiracy.

One police officer was slightly injured in Tuesday's attack.

The assailant - crying out "This is for Syria!"- was shot by police. He received hospital treatment for a shotgun injury to the torso.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference Saturday that the man had the "profile of a neophyte" that counterterrorism services fear as much as extremists who are trained to carry out attacks.

"Today, the terrorist threat today is shape-shifting. And this time we have been confronted by an internal threat ... individuals who want to carry out projects here when they have difficulties joining the war zones," Molins said.

The assailant was identified as Farid Ikken this week by a nephew in Algeria, lawyer Sofiane Ikken, and a friend, Algerian journalist Kamal Ouhnia.

Molins, who hasn't identified the suspect by his full name, confirmed that he was an ex-journalist born in Akbou, a town in northern Algeria, who was legally living in France as a student working on his doctoral thesis.

Investigators who searched a student residence where he lived in the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise found a declaration of allegiance to the Islamic State group he filmed on the morning of the attack. He presented himself as a "soldier of the caliphate," prosecutors said.

They have also found a laptop and four USB sticks that included Islamic extremist propaganda, photos and videos referring to attacks in London, Paris, Brussels and at a church in the French region of Normandy, and images of the war in Syria.

The man described himself as a Sunni Muslim who started a "quite radical" religious observance about 10 months ago, Molins said.

The suspect bought the hammer and two kitchen knives, which were found on him after the attack, in a supermarket on March 27.

Molins said his family and friends didn't notice signs of radicalization. He described the man as socially and psychologically "isolated."

Investigators haven't established the existence of any contact between the man and people living in Syria and Iraq.

The youngest of a family of 12 children, the assailant moved to Sweden in 2001, where he studied journalism. He returned to Algeria in 2011, establishing an online newsletter and working as a journalist, before moving to France for doctoral studies in 2013, Molins said

His brother and a cousin, both living in France, have described a "solitary, serious, discreet" man from a not very religious family. His thesis supervisor, who last saw him in June 2016, described him as a "strong advocate of Western democracy," the prosecutor said.


Categories: Latest News

Off-duty NM border agent found assaulted near road

PoliceOne - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 10:06

Associated Press

DEMING, N.M. — A Border Patrol agent assigned to the Deming, New Mexico, border patrol station is recovering after authorities say he was assaulted while he was off-duty and was found alongside a road.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that a motorist found the agent on the side of a road late Friday.

The release said the agent suffered "multiple, serious injuries" to his head, chest and hands. Emergency responders transported him to a hospital where he's listed in stable condition.

Customs and Border Protection says it's working with the FBI, the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, and the El Paso, Texas, Police Department in the ongoing investigation.


Categories: Latest News

Lowest pay in the nation leads to Fla. trooper manpower shortage

PoliceOne - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 09:30

By Linda Robertson Miami Herald

MIAMI — Drunks weaving in and out of lanes on highways. Drivers texting and paying little attention to the road. Cars drag racing at high speed.

And white-knuckled, frustrated motorists who ask: Why don’t we see Florida Highway Patrol troopers stopping these people?

Answer: Because there are not as many as there should be on our state roadways.

FHP is struggling with chronic manpower shortages and high turnover because Florida troopers’ pay ranks dead last in the nation. The ripple effect is being felt by drivers who rarely observe troopers on patrol and must wait longer for a response if they are involved in a crash.

The FHP is currently operating with 201 vacancies in a workforce that is supposed to be 1,946 at full capacity.

Starting salary for a Florida rookie trooper is $33,977 — the lowest among the 49 states that have a state patrol. (Hawaii does not.)

California’s starting troopers earn the highest starting wage, at $74,700. In Texas, it’s $73,000. In Alabama, at No. 48, it’s $35,590.

“They are in a dire situation and it’s a disgrace,” said Charles Miller, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who worked as an auxiliary FHP trooper for the final three years of his 37-year career. “Where are the troopers? You can drive a considerable distance and never see one. There’s extreme speeding and more and more horrific crashes. It’s a demanding job and they often have no backup. It’s a shame for the men and women who put their lives on the line for Floridians.”

Of the 226 law enforcement agencies in Florida, the highway patrol ranks 174th in starting salary, according to an Office of the Inspector General report. That puts FHP ahead of such small towns as Chipley and Chattahoochee, but far behind Miami-Dade County ($54,090), Broward County ($47,482), Palm Beach County ($51,312) and such local cities as Pinecrest, which ranked No. 1 at $64,708 and Lighthouse Point ($60,000), Boca Raton and Sunrise ($57,000), Miami Shores ($54,038), Miami Gardens ($47,800) and Miami ($45,929).

FHP is battling an 8.83 percent turnover rate. Plus, the academy that would typically have 80 recruits per class currently has only 25. Sixty-three recent graduates are in field training.

“Due to attrition and retirements, the FHP has experienced a steady shortage of sworn members over the past few years,” said FHP Capt. Jeffrey Bissainthe. “FHP uses a proven staffing model to determine minimum staffing requirements for each of the FHP troops, but when there are fewer troopers on the road, it may mean a slower response time for drivers involved in a crash or disabled motorists who are stranded on the side of the road.”

Higher pay in other states and municipalities is luring Florida troopers away, said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

“We think salaries should be in the mid-40s in order to be competitive,” he said.

Drivers have reason to worry. Compare data from 2011 to 2016. The number of licensed drivers in Florida has increased by 1 million during that time and the number of annual crashes has increased from 229,000 to 395,000. Yet the number of traffic citations issued by the FHP has decreased, from 947,000 to 742,000. Speeding tickets are down 18 percent. Response time should be 30 minutes or less, but has increased. As a consequence of lower trooper numbers, local police and sheriff’s officers are working more crashes on state roads — almost 50 percent of accidents statewide.

“It used to be if I needed help from a trooper late at night, I could count on a quick response,” said Miller, the ex-Miami-Dade captain who often found that during the three years he patrolled for the FHP he would be the only trooper on duty in the entire north end of Miami-Dade County. “They used to be our pursuit cars on a robbery. They don’t do that anymore. There can be a major rollover wreck on I-95 and no trooper available.”

DUI arrests can take two hours or more to process, which further exacerbates troopers’ lack of presence on the road.

Some relief is on the way. Included in the state budget passed by the Florida Legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature is a pay increase, to $36,223 for starting salaries, and a 5 percent raise for all state law enforcement officers. The PBA had lobbied for a $10,000 across the board raise and incentives or a step pay plan that would reward troopers for longevity.

“If you hit certain benchmarks, you should earn increases in pay,” Puckett said. “We will have to revive bills on career development. People are happy with the 5 percent raise but we need to deal with the retention problem.”

———

©2017 Miami Herald


Categories: Latest News

Severed head found at Miss. home; body missing

PoliceOne - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 08:30

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — The severed head of a young black man was found on the front steps of a Mississippi home and police are working to identify him.

Jackson Police Cmdr. Tyree Jones says the rest of the man's body has not been located.

The head was found Saturday about 9 a.m. Jones says authorities do not yet have a motive for the killing. Asked whether it might be gang-related, he refused to speculate. He did say that finding just the head was not a typical homicide scene.

Officials say the cause of death, at this time, appears to be severance.


Categories: Latest News

Texas's tough pension laws may not apply in other states

PoliceOne - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 08:00

By Claudia Lauer Associated Press

DALLAS — One by one, Pete Bailey, Clint Conway, Julian Bernal and a half dozen other retired police officers and firefighters stood up in December and told the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board that they had been counting on their deferred retirement accounts to supplement their pensions. They had medical bills. They had mortgages. They had college tuition to pay. And they had played by the rules of the fund.

Now they faced severe restrictions on fund payments after a number of officers retired and fears spread that a generous provision allowing retiring workers to take a large lump sum payment would be stopped. In about four months last year, more than $500 million — or about 20 percent of the fund — was withdrawn, pushing it within a decade of insolvency. Dallas police staffing fell below 3,000 officers even though there is funding for 3,600 positions.

A run on a bank, when account holders rush to withdraw funds, occasionally happens during economic distress. But a run on public pension fund is "very unusual," said Caroline Crawford, assistant director of state and local research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. This is because pension funds rarely allow so much of assets eligible for withdrawal in deferred retirement accounts — 56 percent for Dallas.

The Dallas pension fund is a worst case example. But experts say the crisis was no surprise amid a national malaise of public pension funds. The unfunded liability — amount that pension fund assets fall short of commitments to workers — surpasses $1 trillion, according to several recent studies.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, 74 percent of state pension plans and 57 percent of the largest local plans had cut some type of benefits or raised employee contributions, according to a January study by the Center for Retirement Research.

That's exactly what the state of Texas did with the Dallas plan, passing bills through the Legislative session that just ended to stabilize the fund and another in Houston. The bills decrease benefits to future retirees and reduce access to deferred retirement funds accumulated for retirees such as those who stood up at the December meeting. The bills boost the contributions employees must make to the plan and increase the retirement age.

"We had to be sure that we saved those pensions. No one should work for 10, 30, 35 years believing they had a pension and then have it not be there," said Republican state Rep. Dan Flynn, chairman of the House Committee on Pensions.

The tough cure applied by Texas may not be possible in many other states. Only Texas and Indiana can adjust past and future benefits for current employees, according to the Boston research group. The state constitutions of Alaska, Illinois and New York specifically prohibit past or future changes to current employee benefits. Sixteen other states prevent such changes through contract, property or other laws. All other states bar reductions in past benefits, and some have ambiguous language about reducing future benefits in their laws.

"The most common and easiest change to accomplish from a legal perspective is to lower the benefit for future or newer employees," said Tom Aaron, vice president and senior analyst at Moody's Investor Services. "For some states that is effectively the only option. Texas has more flexibility legally."

Illinois has the worst-funded public pension system of any state, with an unfunded liability approaching $127 billion. Like Texas, legislators tried to create a plan that sought to reduce benefits, put a cap on pensions for the state's highest paid employees and limit future cost of living increases. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the changes violated a state constitution provision that benefits cannot be diminished. So the state's pension system limps on while lawmakers there try to figure a way out of the dilemma.

States and cities may be able to learn from some major errors Dallas made in designing and managing its pension fund. The pension invested in risky real estate ventures that didn't pan out — this week its board voted to sell several properties in Idaho and Napa Valley. The Dallas pension also approved unsustainable benefits including a guaranteed 8 percent return on deferred retirement funds. Deferred Retirement Option Plans, commonly called DROPs, allow employees eligible to retire to continue working but accumulate benefits as if they are retired. When they decide to retire they get the money plus interest on top of the benefits they would otherwise get. During the rush to withdraw money from the Dallas fund, some beneficiaries were able to take out millions of dollars each in DROPs earned over time, with interest.

"I think most of the younger officers see it as the old plan was a Ferrari that was unaffordable," said Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, the city's largest police union.

Mata said that because of the benefit cuts, some members who retired early have told him they are going back to work in the private sector and some current officers are planning to work more years. Others are considering quitting the force.

"It's the steps we had to take to fix this," he said.


Categories: Latest News

Ala. officer saved by ballistic vest

PoliceOne - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 03:30

By Marty Roney Montgomery Advertiser

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — A Prattville police officer’s bullet-resistant vest is being credited with saving his life after he was shot Thursday afternoon answering a fight call.

“His vest saved him,” Police Chief Mark Thompson said.

Two officers responded to a domestic violence call in the 100 block of Patrick Street just before 2 p.m., the chief said. As they approached a group of people in the driveway, a man fired at least three rounds from a handgun, with one round striking the officer in the upper chest, Thompson said. The officer’s vest stopped the bullet.

“He’s a little bruised a little sore, but it’s a minor wound considering,” Thompson said. “He gets to go home tonight.”

The officers did not return fire, he said.

Thompson declined to identify the officer, other than saying he’s a “senior” officer on first shift, holding the rank of sergeant. The suspect fled into the home after the shooting, and the two officers heard a “pop” coming from the home.

“The U.S. Marshals were among those who responded and they have a robot,” Thompson said. “We sent the robot into the house and found the suspect, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Thompson would not identify the suspect, pending notification of next of kin. There was a woman in the home when the suspect went into the house but she wasn’t injured, Thompson said.

Dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officers from throughout the River Region raced to Prattville when the call of “Officer down” went over the radio. Portions of the neighborhood were cordoned off, as an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter clattered overhead.

“We had the response begin in seconds,” Thompson said. “When the call goes out an officer has been shot; it’s a brotherhood, you always have help coming.”

Before sending in the robot to check out the situation in the home, SWAT teams put up a perimeter around the house. The situation was deemed “secure” about 2:50 p.m.

Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr drove to the scene early on in his personal pickup truck. He was driven to the home by a Prattville officer.

“It’s a good day and a sad day in Prattville,” he said, about two hours after the incident. “It’s good that our officer was wearing his vest, and that he will be okay. It’s sad that we lost a life. This man obviously was wrestling with problems.

“But we are very thankful our officer wasn’t hurt any more seriously than he was. And we are very appreciative for the response from all the law enforcement agencies in our area.”

All officers on the force are issued bullet-resistant vests and are required to wear them while on duty, Thompson said.

"This shows the importance of being aware on every call," Thompson said. "It shows the importance of wearing your vest and making sure you know where peoples’ hands are all the time"

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©2017 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)


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