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Updated: 5 hours 9 min ago

Dallas chief: Millennials partly to blame for officer shortage

5 hours 59 min ago

By PoliceOne Staff

DALLAS — The police chief of the nation’s ninth-largest city blames the millennial generation as part of the reason why the agency is struggling to fill open positions.

KDFW reports that Dallas Chief Renee Hall met with city council members on Monday and told them some of the agency’s plans to fill open positions. She also mentioned that millennials are partly to blame for the city’s staff shortages.

"We have nights, weekends and holidays — not attractive to millennials who want all days off and to be the chief in six months,” Hall said. “We recognize that is a challenge."

Hall is looking at every possible solution to the shortages, including rewarding officers who recruit candidates and eliminating minor disqualifiers like minor drug use from someone’s past. The other challenge the department faces, according to Hall, is starting pay that’s lower than neighboring cities.

Hall needs to hire 250 officers in the fiscal year, a number she is struggling to hit. In January, Hall will roll out a program that will give officers four to six days off if they recruit someone who’s hired and graduates from the academy. She also plans to recruit students at the Dallas Independent School District and hire them as public service officers until they reach 19-and-a-half years old.

In order to try and retain officers, Hall will launch a pilot program that allows officers who live in Dallas to take their patrol cars home.


Categories: Latest News

Man faces criminal charges for harassing officer over minor traffic ticket

6 hours 14 min ago

By PoliceOne Staff MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — A man pulled over for a minor traffic violation now faces possible jail time after sending vulgar and insulting text messages to the officer who stopped him. WJLA reports that Eugene Matusevitch went to court after an officer cited him for an illegal right turn. Matusevitch received a $75 fine, no conviction and a clean driving record after pleading guilty. But things didn’t stop there. Matusevitch reportedly went to great lengths to find phone number and personal information of the cop who pulled him over, Officer Dominick Stanley, the Washington Post reports. It was not clear how he was able to get the officer’s information. In the following days, Matusevitch sent harassing texts to Stanley. He reportedly texted Stanley 17 times in an hour after the court trial. Some of the texts included insults such as “You there fatboy? On a donut break?” and, after finding out the officer drove a Honda Civic, “No wonder you hate people like me with nice cars.” Matusevitch, who is reportedly unemployed, sent a message over Facebook to the cop’s father, making fun of the officer’s salary and calling him a “glorified mall cop.” He was also able to get the officer’s social security number and photos. Stanley started receiving calls from people who were following up on inquiries about addiction treatment, which the officer never requested. Matusevitch has been charged with three counts of obscene misuse of a phone and one count of harassing electronic communications. He could face up to 10 years in jail.
Categories: Latest News

Fla. man urinates, falls asleep in front of Steak 'n Shake customers

7 hours 17 min ago

By Samantha Putterman The Brandenton Herald

TAMPA, Fla. — Deputies arrested a man they say urinated in front of dozens of customers in the middle of a Tampa Steak ‘n Shake on Saturday night.

According to broadcast reports, around 11:40 p.m. James Steadman, 45, was sitting in a booth at the Steak ‘n Shake on East Fowler Avenue.

Deputies say he then decided to stand up, unzip his pants, expose his genitals and urinate on the floor. When he finished, he went back to sleep in the booth.

Deputies said that about 30 people witnessed the incident, ABC Action News reported.

Steadman, deputies told ABC Action News, caused a health hazard and was endangering the safety of other customers

He was arrested and faces one count of indecent exposure, according to jail records. He was booked into Hillsborough County Jail early Sunday morning and is being held on $1,000 bond.

©2017 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)


Categories: Latest News

Dallas officer revives runner who suffered heart attack during marathon

9 hours ago

By Claire Z. Cardona The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — A Dallas police officer helped save the life of a runner who had a heart attack during the BMW Dallas Marathon on Sunday.

Lt. Alex Eastman was providing security for the marathon when an officer called for an ambulance over the radio. Eastman drove a few blocks over to where people were giving the man CPR, police said.

Eastman, a doctor and reserve officer with the department for almost 14 years, said he knew the runner was dead when he went up to him. The doctor used an AED and revived the man, police said.

"In my 16 years as a doctor, I have never seen anyone come back like that," Eastman told police.

When the man began to talk again, Eastman said the runner was "incredibly grateful and thankful to have a second chance at life."

The man was hospitalized, and Eastman has gone multiple times to visit, police said.

"I was going out to work that day on the SWAT team, and I ended up helping save someone," he told police. "I guess I was just at the right place at the right time."

As a trauma surgeon and member of the Police Department's SWAT team, it's Eastman's job to jump into action in situations like Sunday's.

Eastman began working with the tactical team in 2004 and was one of the first doctors in the nation to become a trained member of a SWAT team.

In February 2006, Eastman was on scene when four Dallas SWAT officers were shot while helping the DEA serve federal drug warrants. He began pulling officers to safety and tending to their wounds with other team members while the bullets kept flying.

All of the officers recovered.

Thank you @PMHTrauma_ALE for responding to a participant who was having a heart attack while working the @DallasMarathon with @DPDReserves. CPR was being administered and he used an AED to save this person! #CPRSavesLives#ServingOurCommunity@DallasPD@ChiefHallDPD @DPDChiefPughes pic.twitter.com/S3hC73o8FI

— Dallas Reserves (@DPDReserves) December 10, 2017

In October 2007, Eastman, along with Dr. Jeff Metzger, helped save Lt. Carlton Marshall after he was shot in the neck during a raid.

When an "officer down" call went out over police radios, Eastman and Metzger, also a member of the SWAT team, headed toward the side of the house and met a group of officers who were dragging the critically injured lieutenant.

Metzger held Marshall's head while Eastman cut a hole in his neck, allowing him to breath. He survived but was temporarily paralyzed and retired a few years later.

Eastman was also in downtown Dallas during the deadly July 7, 2016, ambush and went to comfort his friends and fellow officers at Parkland Memorial Hospital after the shooting. He did not elaborate on his actions that night, but stressed the importance of getting help after a traumatic experience.

Eastman is the medical director and chief at Parkland's Rees-Jones Trauma Center and an assistant professor specializing in surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, according to the hospital's directory.

©2017 The Dallas Morning News


Categories: Latest News

Slain Texas officer remembered as source of comfort

9 hours 7 min ago

By Mark Wilson Austin American-Statesman

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Aly Laifer worked at the Chipotle in downtown San Marcos from 2011 until 2014. As in many other cities, the restaurant, nestled just off the Texas State University campus on North LBJ Drive, was a favorite spot for local cops.

She first met San Marcos police officer Kenneth Copeland there about six years ago. She said he would come in two to three times a week, and if her break lined up with his visit, she would sit with him to talk.

“He was such a good guy,” she said. “He always talked about his family — he has four boys. I remember when he brought them in one day they were so cute and so excited to meet dad for lunch. He talked to me about school (and) always asked about how life was.”

Her memories of Copeland will have special meaning this week as the city honors the slain officer with a procession and funeral Wednesday. Copeland was fatally shot Dec. 4 while serving an arrest warrant. The shooting suspect, Stewart Thomas Mettz, sits in the Hays County Jail charged with capital murder.

But in 2013, the Chipotle where Laifer and Copeland became friends was at the center of another horrible crime that shocked the city.

On Oct. 17 of that year, San Marcos police found two of Laifer’s co-workers, 22-year-old Hailey Nicholls and 27-year-old Jesse Robledo, dead inside an apartment in the 300 block of Craddock Avenue.

Both had been shot in the head.

Howard Williams, the city’s police chief at the time, said investigators believed that 23-year-old Daniel Brewster Stillwell, Nicholls’ ex-boyfriend and a former employee at the restaurant, broke into her apartment and gunned the pair down.

The bustling college town hadn’t seen a homicide in two years before that day, Williams told the American-Statesman at the time, adding that he couldn’t remember a multiple homicide like it in his 10 years with the department.

Copeland “was actually the first person who I saw when I came to Chipotle the day Hailey and Jesse died,” Laifer said. “He wanted to make sure he was the one who told me because he knew it would be hardest for me since we were best friends. He promised me he would find Daniel and that everything would be OK. He was just genuinely one of the kindest humans ever.”

Later that afternoon, police found Stillwell’s body inside a vehicle that appeared to have gone over a cliff on RM 32 near the Devil’s Backbone, a twisting road lined with steep drop-offs northeast of Canyon Lake.

The details of the incident were laid out in an arrest warrant that would never be served.

The document said Stillwell, who lived in the same apartment complex as Nicholls, told his roommate he came home and saw Robledo’s vehicle outside her apartment around midnight. He took a gun from his roommate’s closet and used it to smash through a glass door and shoot the pair, the affidavit said.

“The last thing Stillwell said to (his roommate) was that he did not want to live in a cage and was going to kill himself by driving off a cliff,” the document said.

Copeland, again, was the man who brought the news to Laifer, who said she still appreciates how he went out of his way to tell her what had happened to her friends.

“He did cry when he told me. He knew them well from Chipotle also,” Laifer said.

Laifer said that Copeland really cared and that he came by the restaurant every day for a week to check in on her and the rest of the staff.

When Laifer stopped working at Chipotle, she didn’t see him as much, she said. But every time she did, he would always stop to ask how her life was and catch up.

During a vigil honoring Copeland last week, Robin Stelle, the pastor of PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, said Copeland always went beyond the call of duty, connecting with kids and families, much as he did with Laifer.

“He was someone who brought peace and protection. That’s why there’s hundreds of people who came out here today in the snow,” Stelle said.

Danny Arredondo, a patrol officer and a former president of San Marcos’ police union said Copeland built bridges and made sure whoever he was dealing with felt acknowledged. He, too, said the compassion Copeland showed Laifer wasn’t out of the ordinary.

“He was every bit of that kind of guy,” Arredondo said. “That wasn’t extraordinary for him. That was just who he was.”

©2017 Austin American-Statesman, Texas


Categories: Latest News

Police: Man poses as cop in an attempt to get discounted coffee

9 hours 13 min ago

Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Police in western New York have charged a man who they say impersonated a police officer in an attempt to get discounted coffee.

WIVB-TV reports the man flashed a fake badge and gun at a Starbucks in Buffalo around 11 p.m. Friday. Police say the man claimed he was a detective and asked for a discount.

Authorities say the man then left Starbucks and tried to get into Spot Coffee after closing time by claiming he was a police officer. He was later arrested.

Police say the man was carrying a BB gun.

Police have charged the 48-year-old Buffalo man with criminal trespassing, criminal impersonation of a police officer and menacing.


Categories: Latest News

Ohio moves to stop bans on 'Thin Blue Line' flags

10 hours 32 min ago

By Megan Henry The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a way to pay tribute to his fellow officers, retired Columbus Police Sgt. Daniel Guthrie flew the Thin Blue Line flag at his New Albany condominium.

The flag, however, violated the rules of his condo association, Rocky Ridge Condominium Complex, so he was forced to take it down.

In an effort to ensure that won't happen again, Reps. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, and Tim Ginter, R-Salem, came up with a bill that would prevent landlords, mobile-home parks, condo associations and the like from restricting the display of Thin Blue Line flags.

The flag, known to some as a Blue Lives Matter flag, is a black and white version of the stars and stripes with a blue line through the center. The Thin Blue Line represents police maintaining order during times of chaos.

"With individuals being able to display the flag, they will be able to display respect for officers who bravely put their lives in danger," Ginter said.

House Bill 230 was introduced in May and passed overwhelmingly in the House on Nov. 29. It is now with the Senate. The bill would not protect other flags such as those in support of gay rights or Black Lives Matter, or even flags backing sports teams such as Ohio State.

Gonzales said she thinks the bill will raise awareness for law enforcement.

"It gives recognition to police officers, for those who are alive and those who are deceased," she said.

In September, a Thin Blue Line flag was carried on the field by Northridge High School football players during a military appreciation night, which sparked a local controversy that ignited a meeting with administrators. During this summer's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, photos circulated of white supremacists holding the Thin Blue Line Flag.

The Fraternal Order Police of Ohio supports the bill, said Michael Weinman, FOP governmental affairs director.

"There are folks who live in these complexes who would like to show their respect," Weinman said.

This is not the first flag-related bill sponsored by Gonzales.

Last year, a bill that would prohibit landlords, and condo and neighborhood associations, from restricting the display of the American flag or military service flags, such as blue-star banners or the POW/MIA flag, was signed into law.

The U.S. flag bill was inspired by Julia Lease, who flew her U.S. flag on her Whitehall town house front porch for more than 30 years, but was told by her, landlord, Minnesota-based New Life Multi-Family Management, that she was in violation of her lease and had to remove the flag.

These flag bills "could act as a catalyst" for other flag-related legislation, Ginter said, adding that he has heard discussion among other lawmakers about the possibility.

©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)


Categories: Latest News

Missing Fla. K-9 found dead

11 hours 14 min ago

By Jessica De Leon The Bradenton Herald

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — A Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office K9 found dead after being missing since Saturday appears to have died after being hit by a car, preliminary necropsy results show.

K9 Edo had been discovered missing around 8 p.m. Saturday from his kennel in his handler’s garage near the area of Cranberry Boulevard and Tamiami Trail, the sheriff’s office announced on social media.

At about 11:20 a.m. Monday, the sheriff’s office announced that K9 Edo had been found less than half a mile from where he went missing.

“We are overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community while searching for K9 Edo, both in North Port and Charlotte County,” Sheriff Bill Prummell said in a statement. “This was not the outcome we had hoped for, and our thoughts and prayers are with the handler and his family at this time.”

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We appreciate the messages and calls expressing sympathy for K9 Edo and his handler, Deputy First Class Sean Davoli. DFC...

Posted by Charlotte County Sheriff's Office on Monday, December 11, 2017

The preliminary results of a necropsy performed Monday afternoon showed that Edo’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a car, North Port police said.

Edo was found at about 10 a.m. Monday by a neighbor who was out walking her dog.

A crime scene in the area of Velvet Lane and Lemay Lane, according to North Port Police, had traffic detoured from the area as investigators worked. The sheriff’s office is assisting police with the investigation of their K9’s death.

Edo was in his latched kennel inside his handler’s garage when he was discovered missing on Saturday evening. The garage door was open since the weather had cooled off, according to the sheriff’s office, but it was unknown how he got out or was removed from his kennel.

His handler, Deputy Sean Davoli, last saw Edo at about 7:16 p.m., he told police and his own chain of command, when he went to grab a bag of chicken wings from a freezer in his garage, according to an incident report. Davoli, who was cooking dinner inside with his family, came back out at about 8 p.m. to discover the cage still securely closed but Edo gone.

Davoli searched for Edo and then called to report the incident to his chain of command at the sheriff’s office and North Port police. Officers who responded to the call found brothers who live in the neighborhood and claimed they had seen a German shepherd running from their front yard and into the backyard of another nearby home between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Even though the brothers knew Edo, they told police they didn’t think anything of seeing the dog running away.

“Deputy Davoli was confident that K9 Edo was not able to open the door by himself. He stated he felt someone had to have opened the door for him,” the incident report states. “Deputy Davoli stated that K9 Edo was a very well-behaved dog and he was not ‘a barker.’ He stated that K9 Edo likely would not have barked if anyone came up to his cage.”

Police don’t know how Edo got out of his cage and were unable to find evidence that someone entered Davoli’s garage, had let Edo go or had taken the K9. Police believe that Edo away, however, after getting out of the cage.

A search of the area Saturday night aided by the sheriff’s office helicopter revealed no signs of Edo, according to police.

Davoli and K9 Edo had been part of the sheriff’s office K9 unit since December 2015.

Anyone who has any information about the case can contact Detective Sgt. Pam Jernigan at 941-429-7321 or pjernigan@northportpd.com.

©2017 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)


Categories: Latest News

Accused NYC subway bomber expected to face federal charges

11 hours 26 min ago

By Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz Associated Press

NEW YORK — A would-be suicide bomber was held Tuesday on state terrorism charges while federal prosecutors prepared their own case in the rush hour blast in the heart of the New York City subway system that failed to cause the bloodshed he intended, officials said.

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged Tuesday with supporting an act of terrorism, making a terroristic threat and weapon possession, according to the New York Police Department. An announcement on federal charges was expected later.

It was unclear if the Bangladeshi immigrant, who was hospitalized with burns to his hands and stomach, was well enough to make a court appearance.

Overseas, Bangladesh counterterrorism officers were questioning the wife and other relatives of Ullah, officials there said Tuesday. Relatives and police said Ullah last visited Bangladesh in September to see his wife and newborn son before leaving them behind to return the United States.

Hours after Monday's explosion in an underground passageway connecting two of Manhattan's busiest stations, President Donald Trump cited the background of the bomber in renewing his call for closer scrutiny of foreigners who come to the country and less immigration based on family ties.

Ullah — who told investigators he wanted to retaliate for American action against Islamic State extremists — came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a visa available to certain relatives of U.S. citizens.

"Today's terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security," Trump said in a statement that called for various changes to the immigration system. Earlier, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's proposed policies "could have prevented this."

On his last visit to Bangladesh, the suspect mostly remained inside a small apartment in Dhaka's Hazribagh area, said his uncle, Abdul Ahad. His nephew arrived in Bangladesh on Sept. 8 and returned to New York on Oct. 22, he said.

"He went out of his residence to offer prayers at a nearby mosque," Ahad told The Associated Press.

In a scenario New York had dreaded for years, Ullah strapped on a crude pipe bomb with Velcro and plastic ties, slipped unnoticed into the nation's busiest subway system and set off the device, authorities said.

The device didn't work as intended; authorities said Ullah was the only person seriously wounded. But the attack sent frightened commuters fleeing through a smoky passageway, and three people suffered headaches and ringing ears from the first bomb blast in the subway in more than two decades.

Despite his injuries, Ullah spoke to investigators from his hospital bed, law enforcement officials said. He was "all over the place" about his motive but indicated he wanted to avenge what he portrayed as U.S. aggression against the Islamic State group, a law enforcement official said.

The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the blast.

Ullah's low-tech bomb used explosive powder, a nine-volt battery, a Christmas light and matches, the officials said. Investigators said the suspect was seen on surveillance footage igniting the bomb. In the end, it wasn't powerful enough to turn the pipe into deadly shrapnel, the officials said.

Law enforcement officials said Ullah looked at IS propaganda online but is not known to have any direct contact with the militants and probably acted alone.

The attack came less than two months after eight people died near the World Trade Center in a truck attack that, authorities said, was carried out by an Uzbek immigrant who admired the Islamic State group.

Since 1965, America's immigration policy has centered on giving preference to people with advanced education or skills, or people with family ties to U.S. citizens and, in some cases, legal permanent residents. Citizens have been able to apply for spouses, parents, children, siblings and the siblings' spouses and minor children; the would-be immigrants are then screened by U.S. officials to determine whether they can come.

Trump's administration has called for a "merit-based" immigration system that would limit family-based green cards to spouses and minor children.

Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Bangladeshi community, residents said. He was licensed to drive a livery cab between 2012 and 2015, but the license was allowed to lapse, according to law enforcement officials and New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission.

John Miller, NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism, said Tuesday on CBS "This Morning" that Ullah didn't seem to have any obvious problems.

He "was living here, went through number of jobs, was not particularly struggling financially or had any known pressures," Miller said, adding Ullah "was not on our radar at NYPD, not on the FBI radar."

Security cameras captured the attacker walking casually through a crowded passageway when the bomb went off around 7:20 a.m. A plume of white smoke cleared to show the man sprawled on the ground and commuters scattering.

Port Authority police said officers found the man injured on the ground, with wires protruding from his jacket and the device strapped to his torso. They said he was reaching for a cellphone and they grabbed his hands.


Categories: Latest News

Ore. deputy accidentally shoots trooper with TASER, apologizes with cake

15 hours 14 min ago

By Everton Bailey Jr. The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. — An Oregon state trooper received a cake as an apology after a Umatilla County deputy accidentally shot him with a Taser while they both responded to a domestic violence call.

A state police Facebook post Monday shows Trooper Mitchell Goldman smiling while holding the white frosting cake brought to him by the unidentified deputy who shocked the trooper and a suspect at the same time last week.

On the top: "Sorry you got tased" written in blue icing.

Goldman arrived at the scene first and encountered a man who "became belligerent" after the trooper tried to pat him down to check if he had any weapons, according to state police. The two got into a scuffle, which was still going on when the deputy arrived.

The deputy fired his Taser. One prong hit the suspect. The other hit Goldman.

"Since they were in contact with each other, they both took the tase," police said in the post.

It's not clear what happened to the man or Goldman after that. State police and Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan didn't immediately respond to requests for further details.

The deputy brought the cake for Goldman out of guilt, the post said.

On Dec. 4, Goldman shared the photo of himself and the cake on his Facebook page.

"'Getting tased is a cake walk' thanks to Umatilla County Sheriff's Office for the cake. #everyonewasmoving #ithappens"

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Accidents happen??…but he did get his own ??! Trooper Goldman responded to a domestic call with Umatilla County Sheriff'...

Posted by Oregon State Police on Monday, December 11, 2017

©2017 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)


Categories: Latest News

What we learned about terrorism in 2017

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:37

Author: Mike Wood

As we consider the major terror attacks in western nations in 2017, one notable trend highlights the ever-changing nature of modern terrorism, and the difficulty of protecting the public from its ravages.

This year, there was a marked increase in the use of vehicles and knives as primary weapons in attacks on soft targets in western nations. Some of the years’ notable vehicular and/or knife attacks included:

February 3: Paris, France (Louvre Museum)—1 injured; March 22: London, UK (Westminster Bridge)—49 injured, 5 killed; April 7: Stockholm, Sweden—14 injured, 5 killed; June 3: London, UK (London Bridge)—48 injured, 8 killed; August 17: Barcelona, Spain—Over 130 injured, 13 killed; August 17: Cambrils, Spain—6 injured, 1 killed; October 31: New York City—11 injured, 8 killed;

In actuality, these attacks represented the maturation of trends that began years prior.

The “Palestinian Knife Intifada” that rocked Israel beginning in (roughly) September 2015 was marked by approximately 106 stabbing attacks, another 89 attempted stabbings, and 47 vehicle attacks in just a 12-month period (with many more on either side of this time slice), and focused attention on these methods of attack.

Similarly, the July 14, 2016 truck attack in Nice, France (458 injured, 86 killed), the November 28, 2016 Ohio State University car attack (13 injured), and the Dec 19, 2016 truck attack in Berlin, Germany (56 injured, 12 dead) highlighted the deadly efficiency of vehicle attacks.

Considering this strengthening trend, we’re confronted with some uncomfortable truths about the nature of terrorism in 2017. It’s a natural human reaction to avoid that which makes us uncomfortable, and to selectively ignore it, but those of us in the business of protecting the public don’t have the luxury to engage in that kind of fiction. It’s our responsibility to confront the reality of our situation, no matter how difficult, and figure out the best response.

With that in mind, let’s review some of the lessons and implications of this developing terror trend:

1. It’s exceptionally difficult to detect these attacks in the intelligence-gathering stage.

There is very little effort required to plan simple attacks like these. A suitable target must be surveilled and selected, but this is an easy task when the target is a soft target. By definition, a soft target doesn’t have natural obstacles or robust countermeasures to protect it, so the attacker doesn’t have to linger around the target area, spending a lot of time gathering intelligence about defenses. If early reconnaissance indicates that a target may be difficult to attack, there are plenty of other soft targets that the attacker can easily switch to. This reduces our ability to detect him during this early stage of the attack cycle.

2. It is exceptionally difficult to detect these attacks during the planning, training and weapons acquisition stage.

Because these attacks are frequently carried out by a single attacker (or, less frequently, a small group of them) acting on a plan of their own creation, there is no coordination required (planning, training and financing) with a large group of conspirators, which reduces operational security risks. The process of acquiring a complex weapon (such as a bomb), storing it, and learning how to use it effectively increases the risk of detection in comparison to a simple weapon as well. To illustrate, it’s notable that the terrorists in the August Spanish attacks had planned to use explosives in their attack, but switched to trucks as the weapon of choice after an accidental explosion killed the leader of their cell the day prior.

An attacker who chooses a knife or vehicle as his weapon can easily procure them without attracting attention, and without significant financial resources. Rental trucks and knives are cheap, and easily hidden in plain view. For example, renting a moving truck is such a normal, everyday activity that it would be very difficult to identify sinister motives at this stage, and a knife is such an everyday item that it doesn’t even need to be concealed to escape notice. Since these simple weapons don’t require any special training to use them effectively, there is no need for the attacker to practice with them before the operation, or attempt a “dry run,” eliminating another opportunity for detection.

3. It is exceptionally difficult to detect these attacks during the deployment stage.

Attacking a soft target with a simple or unconventional weapon reduces the chance of detection in the deployment stage. It is easy to approach the target without attracting undue attention when the weapon:

Is easily concealable (i.e., a knife or gun); Not readily identifiable as a weapon (i.e., a gas can or improvised impact/edged weapon); Or a normal part of the environment (i.e., a vehicle on a road adjacent to a sidewalk).

Because the soft target lacks suitable defenses, it is easy to approach the target without interference, or triggering an alarm. The hapless victims are typically unaware of the threat until the attack is launched in close proximity – the operational stage of the terror cycle.

There are several ramifications to these truths about terror attacks of this type:

Terror attacks will continue.

This is the most difficult of the truths to accept, but we must face and acknowledge this reality. The terrorist attacker retains the initiative and has many advantages that make it impossible for us to thwart him with any degree of reliability. There are too many attackers, too many targets, too many opportunities. Despite our best efforts, some attacks will be successful.

Accepting this truth doesn’t mean that we give up. Instead, it means that we can no longer deceive ourselves by seeking quick fixes and magic formulas to solve our problem and make it go away, so we can get back to “normal life.” This is going to be a generational fight, and terrorism is going to be a daily concern for the rest of our lives. It will require sustained commitment, and a change in our normal habits. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we will be able to take meaningful action.

We must increase our emphasis on public awareness.

Despite their best efforts, law enforcement and intelligence agencies cannot possibly identify all of the potential terrorists that live among us. Even if we expanded the size and authority of public safety agencies to aid in the detection of terrorist plans (an exercise that is fraught with peril, and which threatens essential liberties), it’s still impossible for a small group of people to monitor the activities of such a massive public, and effectively identify threats. The best solution is to get the public engaged, and encourage them to enhance their situational awareness. If the public is more aware of their surroundings and the activities of the people around them, the possibility of detecting threats before they strike is magnified;

We have to stop focusing on the weapon.

It would be ridiculous for us to focus on the weapons used in these attacks and make public policy changes on that basis. Trucks, knives, guns, cars, gasoline, screwdrivers, baseball bats and an endless number of other potential weapons are an everyday part of life and commerce. Even if we chose to, we couldn’t prevent terrorist access to them. “Truck control” is not the answer to our problems. Enhanced driver background checks, registration of truck renters, one-rental truck-a-month schemes, rental truck speed restrictions, “no rental truck zones,” or rental truck bans are pure folly and the work of simpletons and fools. It’s patently clear that none of these efforts will improve public safety, and will only infringe upon the livelihoods, rights and quality of life of good people. This is because evil people don’t follow the law, and will never exhaust the list of everyday items that can be repurposed into a suitable weapon for attacking the innocent. A reasonable and intelligent strategy for defeating terror attacks cannot focus on the tool used by the attacker, but must focus on the attacker himself and public preparations to resist his efforts.

We need to harden soft targets.

It’s impossible, of course, to harden all of the potential soft targets in our society. However, there are certain places and institutions that, by their nature, are more prone to being selected as targets. Places like schools, churches, cultural icons and densely populated public areas are likely targets of terrorism, and we need to make real, meaningful improvements in the architecture, access and layered defenses of these vulnerable candidates. This calls not only for physical improvements such as barriers and defensive architecture, but for changes in public behavior and situational awareness when we are in these places.

We need to empower our citizens.

We cannot harden all of the possible targets, we cannot detect all of the possible attackers, we cannot prohibit access to all of the possible weapons and we cannot protect all of the citizens. The best we can do is to empower the public with the skills and tools necessary to aid in their own defense and recovery.

One of the most critical things we can do to help educate and prepare the public is to get them trained in the basics of hemorrhage control, and provide ready access to the necessary supplies and equipment to treat mass casualties. Experience has proven that survivability is dramatically enhanced if blood loss is controlled and the patient is transported to a hospital in a timely manner. Terror attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing and the recent Las Vegas sniper attack have demonstrated that while many members of the public are willing to take action to assist those in need, they generally lack the knowledge, training and equipment to do a good job of controlling blood loss. A public campaign that provides basic hemorrhage control training in schools and the workplace would pay vast dividends, as would stationing publicly-accessible bleeding control/first aid kits in likely target areas.

Additionally, we need to get out of the business of creating new soft targets for terrorists and criminals. Public disarmament policies fail to create safety. Instead, they risk the safety of law abiding citizens who are now defenseless against criminals and terrorists. “Gun Free Zones” and the like are nothing but dangerous fiction, because guns and other weapons are most certainly present in these zones – they are just in the hands of evil. Creating a disarmed and vulnerable population for terrorists and criminals to strike with impunity is sheer madness, and these policies must be eliminated in the name of public safety. There is a reason that terrorists attack schools, churches, businesses with “no guns” policies and sidewalks of pedestrians in major cities around the world that are famous for disarming their citizens – they expect to encounter no armed resistance. In a world where the threat of terrorism is ever present, and the police cannot protect the public from it, it’s inexcusable to deny the means of self-preservation to responsible, law abiding citizens. We should use our special experience and training as law enforcement officers to help promote the instruction of responsible citizens in the lawful and ethical use of force, and should also use our special position as community leaders to oppose reckless public policies that would disarm them in the face of evil.

Summary

The truth can be uncomfortable, but it remains the truth. Terrorism isn’t going away anytime soon, and the best we can do is confront the reality of these attacks and take meaningful steps to defend against them, instead of wishing them away and pursuing “feel good” public policy options that fail to adequately address the real issues.

Terror attacks like these can be demoralizing, which is by intent. It’s easy to become distressed and disheartened when we suffer a loss like this, but we cannot relent in our efforts to oppose this evil, and we must not consider sacrificing our liberty for the false promise of additional security.

We salute the public safety professionals that responded to the attacks of 2017 and those who stand ready to defend their communities from more of the same. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected by these attacks, but our vision remains focused on a better future where America’s strength will defeat this threat.


Categories: Latest News

The Knights of Christmas: Celebrating police heroism in 2017

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:11
Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

Christmas is the season for the giving of gifts. Once again PoliceOne brings you a few of the many stories where modern knights – because of their quick response and decisive action – gave the greatest gift of all for Christmas to people they did not even know: the gift of life.

January 20, 2017 – Spokane, Washington

After Kim Novak’s car hit a bump in the road, the vehicle suffered a total mechanical meltdown and began to burn. As the fire crept mercilessly toward her, she was unable to open any doors or windows. She crawled into the back seat to avoid the flames, but just as it seemed all hope was lost, Officer Tim Schwering of the Spokane Police Department in Washington appeared, baton in hand.

Kim said later in an interview with the media, “He was swinging on that thing like Ken Griffey Jr. in the home run derby and beating with all his might. God bless him. He didn’t give up.”

Officer Schwering smashed the window and pulled the woman out of the inferno at the last possible moment.

April 26, 2017 – County Derry, Ireland

In April, Officers Matt Gilhooley and Matt Thomas of the New York Port Authority Police were on vacation enjoying a pint in a pub in County Kerry, Ireland, when a man had a sudden cardiac arrest and fell to the floor. The officers immediately started CPR and were able to locate the pub’s defibrillator, and shock the man back to life.

There is a man in County Kerry, Ireland, this Christmas who has a tall tale of two cops from New York traveling 3000 miles just to share a pint with him and save his life. But that’s no blarney.

May 1, 2017 – Topeka, Kansas

In Topeka, Kansas, Officer Aaron Bulmer spotted a small child alone in a park, next to a pond. He was on his way to a robbery alarm, but felt compelled to circle the park and check the welfare of this child.

When Bulmer reached the location, the little boy was in the water, drowning. Bulmer dived into the pond in full gear and reached the small child as he was going under and pulled him out. The child was Elijah Hamby, a three-year-old autistic boy who had been watching his favorite television show sipping on chocolate milk when his father had to use the bathroom. It was during these few minutes Elijah up and left the house on a walk-about. Thanks to Officer Bulmer’s timing and triage, Elijah will experience the wonders of Christmas this year.

June 14, 2017 – Alexandria, VA

A gunman opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team as they practiced on a baseball diamond in Alexandria. Capitol Police Officers David Bailey and Chrystal Griner instantly engaged the shooter and, although they were both wounded, they prevented unimaginable carnage with their well-placed rounds.

August 29, 2017 – Enumclaw, Washington

In Enumclaw, Washington, a battered wife fled her home with her children. As responding King County deputies began giving aid to the female, one officer heard a noise in the darkness and put on his night vision. He spotted the suspect, who was using the cloak of night to take aim at the female and the officers with a rifle. The officer with night vision ordered the man to drop his rifle, but when he failed to do so, the officers fired, preventing a tragedy.

August 13, 2017 – La Crosse, Wisconsin

A father was shore fishing while a mother was enjoying the view from the front seat of her car parked along the Mississippi with their three year old and one year old. Suddenly a career miscreant shoved a gun in the mother’s face and stole her car, kidnapping her one year old. La Crosse police officers spotted the suspect almost immediately and gave chase.

The fleeing felon smashed through some road construction barriers, went airborne and crashed. Officer Stephen Hughes and Officer Andrew Adey repeatedly shouted for the driver to surrender and drop his pistol. The kidnapper refused, and both officers fired.

After what must have been a harrowing few moments for these young officers, Adey and Hughes had the profound satisfaction of placing the uninjured one-year-old child back into the loving arms of the parents.

September 17, 2017 – Trenton, New Jersey

In September, Officer Franky Jimenez of the Trenton Police Department in New Jersey was checking an apartment on the eighth floor of an apartment complex for a distraught man and found him outside dangling by one hand from a window sill. He rushed to the assistance of a man who told Franky, “I don’t want to die!”

Franky, clearly endangering himself, was able to pull the man up and back into the room. In doing so he saved this man, who was having second thoughts on the eighth floor.

October 9, 2017 – Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County deputies rescued numerous civilians as a raging wild fire consumed thousands of homes, requiring mandatory evacuations. Sergeant Brandon Cutting’s body camera showed the hazardous conditions those deputies were working under, as he rescued a disabled woman and her husband on that terrible night when so many were saved by so few.

October 31, 2017 – New York City

An immigrant who swore allegiance to ISIS drove a rental truck 22 blocks down a bike path intentionally running down innocent people. He paused only after he T-boned a school bus. The man fled on foot, intent on killing more people, but he was stopped by a bullet fired by Officer Ryan Nash, who proved to be one of New York’s finest.

November 15, 2017 – Tehama County, California

In November, a man killed his wife and neighbor then went on a killing spree in Ranch Tehama Reserve, shooting randomly at people and attacking a school.

Police officers located the suspect, engaged him in a pursuit, rammed his vehicle and stopped him permanently in a gun fight. This determined and courageous response by these officers (as of yet unnamed) clearly saved lives.

These are but a few of the many officers who gave the gift of life in 2017. Whether you patrol the streets or the highways this Christmas, know that God blesses you all for what you do. For you are all guardian angels, our modern knights of Christmas.


Categories: Latest News

Mayor: All Chicago officers now have body cameras

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:17

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department says all patrol officers are now equipped with body cameras.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Sunday the city reached its goal to provide the cameras to more than 7,000 officers one year earlier than originally planned. They say it's the largest deployment of the technology in the U.S.

Emanuel says the cameras are "an essential tool" in the city's efforts to rebuild trust between police and the community. He says they improve transparency and help in investigations and resolving disputes.

The U.S. Justice Department in January issued a scathing report on civil rights abuses by Chicago's police over the years. An investigation began in 2015 after the release of dashcam video showing an officer shoot a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times.


Categories: Latest News

Trial set for former Va. cop accused of supporting Islamic State

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:10

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The first law enforcement officer in the U.S. ever to be charged with a terrorism offense is again scheduled for trial.

Jury selection begins Monday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in the case against Nicholas Young, who was a police officer in the region's Metro system when he was arrested last year in a government sting.

Prosecutors say Young bought nearly $250 in gift cards he intended for the Islamic State group, giving the cards to an individual who turned out to be an FBI source.

Young's lawyers say the sting amounts to entrapment after their client was under surveillance for six years.

Documents show Young had been under surveillance since 2010.

The trial had been expected to begin last week but was delayed when new evidence emerged.


Categories: Latest News

How the art of conversational interrogation will improve your DWI investigations

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:44

Author: Val Van Brocklin

Policing has evolved immensely since Sgt. Joe Friday went around in his white shirt, narrow tie, gray suit and fedora hat investigating crimes with his iconic, “Just the facts, ma’am.” But to look at DWI investigations, you wouldn’t know it.

Understanding the why of DWI investigations

What’s the purpose of stopping someone suspected of DWI?

1. To determine if they are, in fact, driving impaired.

And, if they are…

2. To gather as much legally admissible evidence of that as possible.

Accomplish this, and often the case won’t go to trial. If it does go to trial, there’s a third element of an unbeatable DWI investigation.

3. A testifying officer the jurors trust and believe.

You can have all the evidence in the world, but if jurors don’t find the investigating officer credible, they will doubt the credibility of the evidence the police officer gathered.

Understanding the how of DWI investigations

How can you best accomplish the three steps above? Conversational interrogation. That may sound like an oxymoron – but it needn’t be.

Yes, your questioning of a DWI suspect is, in the legal sense, an interrogation – a series of questions reasonably calculated to produce an incriminating response. But there’s no requirement that it not be conversational. Moreover, conversational interrogation is much more likely to produce an iron-clad DWI case.

In Let ’Em Talk! A Field Study of Police Questioning Practices of Suspects and Accused Persons, the authors summarize some core components that are fundamental to thorough and professional information-gathering interviews:

Ask as many open-ended questions as possible. Such questions can’t be answered with “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions encourage free recall and allow for a wide range of responses. They typically start with “tell,” “explain,” or “describe.” For example, “Tell me what you’ve been doing today?” or “Other than being stopped by me, how’s your day been going?” Open questions get people to expand on information and can get a reserved person talking. Listen actively and don’t interrupt. A rule that encourages active listening is the 80-20 talking rule where the interviewer talks 20% of the interview time and listens 80%. When you’re talking, the DWI suspect isn’t providing information. Field studies show this rule is pervasively broken, with interviewers typically consuming most of the interview time. Avoid closed yes–no questions. Questions like, “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “Have you been drinking?” have the potential to extract incomplete or inaccurate answers, or intimidate the interviewee. In social settings and investigations, closed questions can kill a conversation.

Despite experts agreeing on what constitutes best practices, field studies of police interviews – especially where officers have not been appropriately trained – show that most real-life police interviews contain many undesirable practices such as asking many more closed than open-ended questions.

In one of the first field studies exploring witness interviewing practices, researchers analyzed 11 video-recorded witness interviews and found that questions consisted mostly of closed yes-no questions – described as being delivered in a staccato style – and only three open-ended questions were asked per interview. On average, only 10% of questions composing an interview consisted of open-ended questions.

Similarly, later research found that 73% of the questions asked by untrained investigators were closed yes-no questions, and only 2% were open-ended. This inappropriate style of questioning has been documented routinely since.

The advantages of conversational interrogation

Clay Abbott, a nationally recognized expert and DWI Resource Prosecutor for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA), contends that conversational interrogation produces:

More cooperative suspects who will give you more information freely. The more people talk, the more they like you. The more they like you, the more they’ll talk. More credibility for the police officer in court. An officer who is friendly and conversational in tone will be seen as open-minded, fair and without an agenda. Jurors will trust such an officer.

Abbott also acknowledges that officers universally perform this aspect of a DUI investigation poorly. That’s why, in conjunction with the TDCAA, he helped produced a 20-minute training video titled Effective Roadside Investigation Through Conversation that includes examples of non-conversational and conversational interrogations.

Tips for a DWI roadside conversation

Rather than ask the suspect, “Do you know why I stopped you?” (close-ended), Abbott recommends – after you politely introduce yourself – to tell the person why you stopped them. This gets your probable cause on video and, by explaining your actions, you appear respectful and fair.

During a conversational roadside investigation, police officers should consider doing the following:

While the driver is producing registration and proof of insurance, the officer asks, “Where are you coming from?” (open-ended). This divides the suspect’s attention, which may well reveal impairment. The officer tells the suspect he smells alcohol (thereby putting it on video and getting the jury to smell it) and then asks, “What have you had to drink?” (open-ended). When the suspect says, “Two margaritas?” the officer asks, “What size?” (open-ended). When the suspect replies, “Normal size,” the officer follows-up with, “Anything else?” Additional questions relevant to a DWI conversation might include: Where are you headed? How long have you been driving? How familiar are you with this vehicle? Does the vehicle have any problems? Tell me about any medical or other conditions that could affect your driving? Could you please step out of the car? I just need to have you perform some tests so I can make sure you’re safe to drive.

As important to whether the questioning is mostly open or closed-ended, is the officer’s tone. It should be conversational, interested, non-judgmental and concerned.

Remember the purpose of a DWI investigation. Conversational interrogation is the best way to accomplish it – roadside and in the courtroom.

Author's Note: Thanks to Corporal Joe Miller, of the Alaska State Troopers, for bringing this topic to my attention.


Categories: Latest News

SC Highway Patrol seeking to equip troopers with patrol rifles

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:13

Author: Val Van Brocklin

By Nefeteria Brewster The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.

BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — A South Carolina law enforcement agency is seeking to purchase and arm personnel with semi-automatic weapons in the upcoming year.

Recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, said Col. Chris Williamson of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The need for an upgrade in weaponry has been overlooked in past years, he said. But as state legislators are expected to review its annual budget in January, Williamson said, he hopes they consider approving more than a half-million dollars to buy more than 600 semi-automatic rifles.

“From the highway patrol standpoint, we’ve already decided that this is a necessity,” he said. “We’re just hoping that the budget request is honored.”

Currently, 600 of 800 troopers are armed with shotguns. Williamson said the budget approval will allow remaining personnel to upgrade to semi-automatic rifles, which provide longer range as well as coverage of a larger area, should an active shooting situation arise.

“With recent active shooting situations, all suspects were armed with long rifles that took out people from a larger area and distance, so in the modern age now, we’re looking to equip all of our law enforcement with these patrol rifles as we transition from a shotgun,” Williamson said.

The budget request has been submitted for the upcoming legislative session. Williamson said troopers are already trained to use semi-automatic rifles, but if the request is approved, the agency will enhance the training.

“We’ve been training all of our individuals with the rifle and the rifles will do a whole lot better than the shotguns,” he said. “This is a requirement to protect our citizens. It won’t do us any good to have faster response and when we get there we don’t have the possible tools to react to a threat.”

©2017 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)


Categories: Latest News

Court: Ill. cop struck by car while at stop light can be awarded disability benefits

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:52
Author: Val Van Brocklin

By Kara Berg Belleville News-Democrat

SHILOH, Ill. — Ever since a Shiloh police officer was injured when another car hit him while sitting in his squad car, the village of Shiloh and the officer have been battling on whether he was injured in the line of duty.

Officer David Martin suffered cervical spine injuries in his back and neck in May 2012 while on duty when a car rear-ended the unmarked squad car he was a passenger in at a stop light, according to the appellate court decision that came down Nov. 29. Martin ended up with permanent disabilities that prevented him from returning to the field, which neither party disputes.

However, the Board of Trustees of the police pension fund of Shiloh maintained that Martin did not have a line-of-duty injury, which under the Illinois pension code is considered to be an injury suffered while on an assignment approved by the chief of police. At the time of the injury, Martin was returning from the St. Clair County courthouse where he got copies of subpoenas for an investigation and filed traffic tickets and other citations, according to the appellate court decision.

The only issue in the appeal was whether that counted as a line-of-duty activity.

Shiloh argued that because the squad car was stopped at a stop light, something most citizens do multiple times a day as they drive, Martin’s injuries were not to be considered line-of-duty. The Illinois code also describes an act of duty as one “inherently involving special risk, not ordinarily assumed by a citizen in the ordinary walks of life.”

But after reviewing previous case decisions, the appeals court said an officer can be awarded line-of-duty disability benefits when an officer is disabled “as the result of the injury incurred in the performance of an act of duty.” The appellate court came to the same decision as the St. Clair County Circuit Court. Because Martin was injured while performing his duties as a detective and had to direct his attention toward “being prepared to deal with any eventuality” from his squad car, he was injured in the line of duty, according to the appellate court.

On-duty pension is equivalent to 65 percent of an officer’s salary, as opposed to the 50 percent of salary that comes with a non-line-of-duty pension, according to appellate court documents.

©2017 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.)


Categories: Latest News

Five years after Sandy Hook, more elementary schools are adding security

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:26

Author: Val Van Brocklin

By Michael Melia Associated Press

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — The setting could not be more different, but David Wannagot says he applies some of the same skills from his 30-year police career to his new role as a school sentry.

As he greeted children getting off the bus at West Elementary School one recent morning, he scanned their faces, ready to guide any who seem upset directly to the vice principal. And from his station at the entrance he sizes up all visitors asking to enter the building.

"We would do anything we can to protect a child or a teacher," said Wannagot, a former detective in Norwalk. "We're not armed, but we do have experience dealing with violent people in the past, reading people's mannerisms, that kind of thing."

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago, districts have moved to bolster security, especially at elementary schools, which traditionally have not had police assigned to them like many high schools and middle schools. Many have hired retired officers, firefighters and other responsible adults — an approach that's less expensive and potentially less intrusive than assigning sworn police, but one that also has raised questions about the consistency of training and standards.

Nationally, there is a patchwork of state laws addressing requirements for school safety officers, and many leave it entirely up to local school boards. Some states, including Connecticut, have weighed legislation to impose standards for non-police security inside schools.

In Danbury, Connecticut, which began posting security guards inside elementary schools after the Sandy Hook shooting, Mayor Mark Boughton pushed for state legislation that would have established standards and training for non-police security personnel. The bill ultimately did not pass. In the event of a crisis involving a response by multiple agencies, he said, it would be helpful to have common agreement on the role of private guards.

"I still think it's a good idea," Boughton said.

Even before the shooting, security officers who were once almost exclusively at high schools before becoming common at middle schools also had been turning up increasingly at elementary schools, according to Ronald Stephens, director of the National School Safety Center.

The "responsible adult" model has been in use for years, he said, but anecdotal evidence suggests it has been growing in popularity. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of primary U.S. public schools with one or more security staffer present at least once a week rose slightly from 26.2 percent in the 2005-2006 school year to 28.6 percent in 2013-2014.

In New Canaan, the school district contracted with a private company to set up the campus monitors soon after the Newtown school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.

"Our lenses changed a bit on that day," Superintendent Bryan Luizzi said.

The plan for the monitors initially ran into skepticism from some, including Steve Karl, a town councilor who questioned the cost and the intrusiveness, but he has come around to support the program. The monitors now report to the Board of Education, which also provides training. The monitors earn an average salary of $30,700, compared with $90,472 for police assigned as school resource officers.

"The first choice would be to have a U.S. Marine at the door. 'This is the guy you're going to have to check through to get access to our kids.' But it's just not realistic,'" Karl said. "Where do you go from there? You want somebody who has a very keen sense of knowing when something doesn't quite feel right."

The rise in the number of districts turning to private security has led to calls elsewhere to impose standards for school guards, particularly in cases where school boards allow for them to be armed.

In New Jersey, a law passed last year establishes a special class of law enforcement officers providing school security. The measure was sought by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police to encourage minimum training standards, according to the association's president, North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti. Chiefs, he said, noticed fewer police officers were being assigned to schools because of budget cuts and districts were replacing them with private security, including armed guards.

"You could get a school superintendent's brother who didn't have a job and give them a permit to carry," he said.

In Arkansas, a law passed in 2015 sets minimum training requirements on topics including active-shooter training and limitations on the authority of school security officers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Michele Gay, whose own daughter was killed at Sandy Hook and who now works with school districts as a security advocate, said the ideal scenario would be to have an officer in every school, playing an all-purpose role similar to a school nurse. Where that's not possible, she said the guards should at least be former police.

"We want everybody to be on the same page and have the same level of experience," she said.

At New Canaan's West Elementary, the guard greets students at the bus before making rounds to make sure doors and windows are locked. He monitors video feeds to watch people approaching the school and checks visitors' identification. On occasion, the principal asks him to keep an eye out for parents who may be upset about something. A New Canaan police officer also comes by the school periodically and talks with student as part of a new program to build relationships with school staff.

"We try to be as friendly as possible for the kids to be comfortable around us," said Hector Garcia, a monitor assigned to West Elementary. The former prison guard, known as "Mr. Hector" to students, keeps a collection of matchbox cars at this station to help put children at ease.

Annie Drapkin, a West Elementary parent, said the guards helped to put everyone at ease after the Newtown shooting and, over time, they have become part of the school community.

"They're lovely people, and underneath it, they are strong," she said.


Categories: Latest News

Suspected Mo. cop killer won't face death penalty

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:39

Author: Val Van Brocklin

By Joel Currier St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County prosecutors said Friday that they would not seek a death sentence for Trenton Forster in the shooting death of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder.

A judge Friday set Forster’s trial date for Feb. 4, 2019.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said in a statement that his decision came after “a complete examination and reexamination of all evidence in this case.” He said he “cannot elaborate on the decision,” citing ethical rules for prosecutors. He said he had met with and discussed his decision with Snyder’s family.

Snyder’s widow, Elizabeth Snyder, said Friday that she was outraged by McCulloch’s decision.

“What message is being sent to society, to law enforcement and criminals by not seeking the death penalty? It’s saying police officers’ lives are cheap and unimportant and don’t matter,” Elizabeth Snyder said.

She wouldn’t discuss the reasons McCulloch gave when he met with her. She said her brother, a St. Louis County police officer, shared her sentiments on McCulloch’s decision.

Forster, 19, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the fatal shooting of Blake Snyder, 33, of Edwardsville. Police said Forster killed Snyder after the officer responded to a disturbance call in the 10700 block of Arno Drive in Green Park on Oct. 6, 2016. Blake’s partner then shot Forster multiple times.

Forster is also charged with first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and another count of armed criminal action.

Elizabeth Snyder said that Forster “went on social media talking about how he wanted to kill cops, and that’s exactly what he did. And if his gun didn’t jam, he would have killed (Snyder’s) partner, too.”

She said she doesn’t know how she’ll explain this to her young son, Malachi.

“That‘s gonna be fun to have to tell Malachi his daddy’s killer is in jail because Bob McCulloch didn’t give a jury the chance to decide,” she said. “I understand death penalty cases are hard to prosecute. They take a long time but it doesn’t mean you don’t do it.”

Matt Crecelius, business manager of the St. Louis County Police Association, said in an email that its members were “deeply disappointed” by McCulloch’s decision and shared Elizabeth Snyder’s sentiments but “trust his decision” and would continue to support the Snyder family.

“We remain confident Mr. McCulloch will ensure the case against this murderous coward is vigorously prosecuted and the maximum prison sentence allowed by law is sought,” Crecelius said.

Forster was 18 at the time of the killing. He remains jailed in St. Louis County in lieu of a $1 million bail. With the death penalty off the table, the mandatory sentence for someone convicted of first-degree murder is life in prison without parole.

Forster’s public defender Stephen Reynolds said in an email that his office thanked McCulloch and his assistant prosecutor Alan Key, who is handling the case, for “their careful review and consideration of this case and agree that they made the right decision not to seek the death penalty.”

McCulloch was 12 when his father, St. Louis police Officer Paul McCulloch, was shot and killed July 2, 1964, in a gun battle with a kidnapper in the 2100 block of Dickson Street at the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. Eddie Glenn was convicted and sentenced to death, but the Missouri Supreme Court in 1972 reduced his sentence to life in prison.

McCulloch, a Democrat who lives in Kirkwood, is seeking his eighth term as the county’s top prosecutor in next November’s election. He was first elected in 1991.

©2017 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Categories: Latest News

Pa. police found justified in fatal shooting of trooper's suspected killer

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:28

Author: Val Van Brocklin

By Mark Scolforo Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A district attorney ruled Monday that state police acted properly a year ago when they shot and killed a man they suspected of murdering a state trooper in a rural area of central Pennsylvania.

Huntingdon County District Attorney David Smith issued his decision in the Dec. 31 death in Hesston of 32-year-old Jason Robison.

The two-page report said troopers searching for Robison found him inside a camper not far from where Trooper Landon Weaver had been killed.

Smith said the investigators retreated and secured the area, and a short time later, Robison appeared at the camper door, holding a pistol.

"Troopers at the scene ordered Robison numerous times to drop his gun, which he refused to do," Smith wrote. "Robison moved as if to advance from the camper while still holding the pistol in his hand. After Robison began to move, members of the state police fired shots at Robison, who was struck in the head, torso, arms and legs."

A .32-caliber Beretta pistol was recovered beside Robison's body. It contained eight live rounds, and there were two other bullets in the pocket of his jacket.

The prosecutor deemed the killing as justified and said authorities will not the release the names of troopers involved.

Investigators said earlier this year they recovered 22 spent rounds from the scene, none that matched Robison's gun.

Weaver had gone to Robison's home to investigate an alleged violation of a protective order for texting his ex-girlfriend.

Robison's mother, Sherry Lou Robison, told investigators her son pulled a handgun out of his pants and walked toward the trooper. She then heard a popping sound and saw Weaver fall to the floor, bleeding.

Weaver, 23, had been with the state police for about a year. He had been married about six months before his murder.


Categories: Latest News

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