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Updated: 11 hours 30 min ago

PD neighbor accused of stealing guns, vests, officer’s vehicle

11 hours 39 min ago

PoliceOne Staff

A man who lives a short walk from the Hillsdale Police Department faces multiple felony charges after being arrested for stealing weapons, police equipment and an officer’s personal vehicle from the PD parking lot.

Police say Peter Bud Ray, 23, confessed to the thefts after police found the stolen goods in his house, which is a short three-minute walk from the department, reported the Riverfront Times.

Ray apparently stole two ballistic vests and a police radio before driving away in a 2014 Jeep Patriot belonging to a police officer. The officer had left three of his personal firearms in his vehicle after going to the gun range for certification prior to his shift.

Police found the abandoned Jeep near Ray’s house and obtained a search warrant. They found the stolen items and Ray eventually confessed.

Categories: Latest News

Police: Deputy who shot ex and killed himself was on duty, used service weapon

12 hours 48 min ago

Eliot Kleinberg and Olivia Hitchcock and Jorge Milian The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

The Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who shot his ex-girlfriend, then fatally shot himself Thursday, was on duty and used his service weapon, Boynton Beach police confirmed Monday.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the victim, Yuly Solano, said Monday night he’s planning lawsuits against the condominium association where the shooting took place and possibly the sheriff’s office.

A five-minute 911 call released Monday by Boynton Beach police captured Solano’s cries for help in the moments after longtime Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Anthony DeMarco stepped out of his marked cruiser in uniform at about 8 a.m. at the Inlet Harbor Club condominiums off Federal Highway north of Gateway Boulevard.

“Can you help me? Please help me,” Solano cries about four minutes into the five-minute call. Seconds later sirens can be heard as rescue crews arrive.

Boynton Beach police said Monday that Solano, 41, remains stable, in critical condition, at Delray Medical Center.

“I just seen a sheriff that works here walk up to this girl, they used to date, and just shot her and then I heard gun shots and he shot himself and his car door’s open,” a caller to the 911 line initially says.

The dispatcher asked for clarification: “A sheriff?”

The caller explains the man worked for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

“He shot her and then he shot himself?” the dispatcher asks.

“Yes, they’re both laying on the ground,” the man says. The gun was next to DeMarco, the man said.

Police replaced with dead air the part of the call that describes where on her body Solano was shot.

Police had said DeMarco and Solano broke up about three weeks ago. A neighbor who asked not to be named said the two had been a couple for about seven months.

As of Monday, police refused to name Solano, saying she signed a form calling on police not to reveal her name.

But attorney Gary Iscoe of the firm Steinger, Iscoe & Greene released a statement Monday identifying Solano and saying he’s planning a lawsuit against the condo association for negligence.

“Thursday’s unfortunate shooting of Ms. Solano may have been preventable as multiple claims and evidence illustrate the harassment the unarmed mother reported both to her condominium association and management office prior to the shooting,” the statement read.

Legal action against PBSO “is also being considered,” the statement said.

“It is my belief that one or more individuals must have knowledge of what drove Mr. DeMarco to act the way he did,” Iscoe is quoted on the statement. “I question, were there actions there that were missed by the authorities?”

Solano, her daughter and DeMarco had stayed with one of DeMarco’s relatives in the western communities when the Inlet Harbor complex lost power during Hurricane Irma, but when they returned home, Solano surprised DeMarco by ending the relationship “out of the blue,” the neighbor said.

He said DeMarco then seemed to sink into depression and, on the Sunday before the shooting, told the neighbor he was on medication.

DeMarco, divorced since 2002, was a volunteer football coach at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington in 2013 and 2014, according to school district records. Before that, he was active in youth football leagues in the Boynton Beach and Wellington areas, a man who coached with him said this past week.

DeMarco never faced criminal charges of any kind in Florida, state records show. But court records indicate he filed an action in late September requesting Solano return a mattress, box spring and mirror worth nearly $2,500. He claimed Solano refused to return a large mirror from El Dorado Furniture and a Serta plush mattress from City Mattress. The two were to appear in court Nov. 1 for a pretrial conference about the dispute, records show.

Court records show that in 1988, DeMarco and several relatives legally changed their family name from Dunkow. The records do not provide a rationale for the change.

Lake Worth city records show DeMarco applied to that city’s police department on Nov. 23, 1986, still as Michael Dunkow Jr., and was hired on March 30, 1987.

He said on his application he’d come to South Florida from Long Island, where he’d attended public school, as well as community college and real-estate school. He then was a salesman in a Long Island jewelry store before moving in 1986 to Palm Beach County and becoming a partner in West Palm Imports, a jewelry retail store. He said he’d applied to the police departments in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and Greenacres, as well as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

In November 1989, then-City Manager John A. Kelly commended Dunkow — now named DeMarco — for his efforts during a power outage. DeMarco, a tactical officer, received an “outstanding” review in 1989 and “above average” in 1988 and 1990. The 1990 evaluation said DeMarco missed a court date for which he received a written reprimand and was required to write a letter of explanation to prosecutors.

Records show DeMarco earned various merit-based and union-contract-mandated raises, in the 2 percent to 4 percent range, bringing him from $8.85 an hour as a rookie to $15.29 about the time he resigned on Sept. 11, 1995, to work at the sheriff’s office. Thirteen years later, in 2008, the city contracted with the sheriff and disbanded its police department.

At the sheriff’s office, documents show, DeMarco most recently worked as a detective in PBSO’s civil-process department. Documents provided late Monday by the sheriff’s office were limited to the hiring of DeMarco and comprised either documents from Lake Worth or medical and other personal documents that mostly were blanked out.


©2017 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Categories: Latest News

SC deputy kills suspect holding hostage

13 hours 6 min ago

Associated Press

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. — A man authorities say was holding a woman hostage at a home in South Carolina has been shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.

Greenville County Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Flood said in a news release that officers were called to a home near Simpsonville around 4:45 p.m. Monday.

Flood said a man with a gun came out of the home holding a woman hostage and at least one deputy fired.

The Greenville County Coroner's Office said 32-year-old James Michael Chappell of Greenville died at the scene. Flood said neither the woman nor any officer was hurt. An autopsy was planned Tuesday.

Chappell was white. The race of the deputy wasn't available Tuesday morning.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shooting.

Categories: Latest News

Warrant: Atlanta woman put toddlers in oven, turned it on

16 hours 26 min ago

Associated Press

ATLANTA — A warrant says an Atlanta woman put her two young sons in an oven and turned it on.

Local media reported Monday that the warrant charging Lamora Williams with murder in the deaths of 1-year-old son Ja'Karter Penn and 2-year-old Ke-Yaunte Penn says she put them in the oven sometime between midnight Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday.

A third boy, 3-year-old Jameel Penn Jr., was found unharmed.

Williams waived a court appearance Monday and was denied bail.

The father of all three children, Jameel Penn, says Williams called him by video chat Friday night to tell him his children were dead. Penn says he called police after seeing his sons on the floor.

Williams' sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, says Williams should be put on suicide watch in the Fulton County jail.

Categories: Latest News

Authorities make final arrest in border agent's killing

16 hours 27 min ago

By Astrid Galvan Associated Press

PHOENIX — Authorities in Mexico have arrested the final of seven defendants accused in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death exposed a bungled federal gun operation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga was arrested Saturday without incident and faces first-degree murder and other charges in the December 2010 killing of 40-year-old Brian Terry in Arizona. The 37-year-old is the last of the defendants in the case, including five men who have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty in federal court in Tucson. Another suspect, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, was arrested in Mexico in April, but a judge has yet to approve his extradition to the U.S.

Favela-Astorga was a member of a crew that planned on robbing marijuana smugglers when it encountered Terry and other agents who were on a stakeout in the southern Arizona desert, authorities said.

The killing unveiled the Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents allowed criminals to buy guns with the intention of tracking them to criminal organizations. But the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost most of the guns, including two that were found at scene of Terry's death.

The operation set off political backlash against the Obama administration and led the agent's family to sue.

Terry was in an elite Border Patrol unit staking out the southern Arizona desert for "rip-off" crew members who rob drug smugglers. The four-man team encountered a group and identified themselves as police in trying to arrest them.

But authorities say the men refused to stop, prompting an agent to fire non-lethal bean bags at them. They responded by firing from AK-47-type assault rifles. Terry was struck in the back and died shortly afterward.

Among those already serving time are Manual Osorio-Arellanes, who pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014, and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza and Ivan Soto-Barraza, who were found guilty of murder and other charges in 2015.

A man who was not present during the shooting but is charged with assembling the rip-off crew, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, also pleaded guilty to murder.

Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was not at the shooting, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.

Categories: Latest News

Integrating de-escalation techniques into policing

16 hours 31 min ago

By Christopher L. McFarlin, J.D., Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

When many police officers hear the term “de-escalation techniques” they often initially react with skepticism or even aversion. In recent years, policing has been inundated with public criticism, political posturing, and “expert” dissection of police tactics. While some of the commentary has been less than useful, there have been certain aspects of the systemic critiquing that has positively benefited policing. De-escalation is one such area.

In an article I wrote on body-worn cameras (BWCs), I emphasized the positive points about BWCs and the many benefits they provide. De-escalation should be looked at much the same way. Officers should consider the many benefits and uses for de-escalation techniques.

What is De-escalation?

De-escalation is defined as a “reduction of the level or intensity.” During every single citizen encounter, officers are working to de-escalate adverse or demanding circumstances. Whether they are issuing a traffic citation or calming down a frantic parent who has lost their child, officers are constantly engaging in de-escalation.

Some examples of de-escalation techniques include:

Slowing down an encounter by “backing off” from immediate intervention or action. Not every situation requires immediate action. This has historically been a significant lesson in the field training of new officers. Be compassionate but firm, in communicating and “defusing” a tense situation before escalation by either an officer or citizen occurs. Use discretion to the officer’s advantage. Believe it or not, there is no shame in coming back later or decreasing the enforcement action taken to enforce the law.

While de-escalation techniques are often effective, just like all tools at an officer’s disposal, de-escalation techniques are not always applicable. Active shooter training, for example, teaches law enforcement to actively seek and neutralize the threat. Should an officer encounter a suspect shooting individuals, the officer is required and expected to immediately eliminate the threat. The bottom line is that it is generally preferential for officers to attempt to de-escalate most situations when and where warranted, but sometimes a suspect’s actions do not allow for the deployment of such tactics.

How De-escalation Reduces Stress

De-escalation techniques can not only help diffuse an encounter, they can also help an officer reduce his or her stress level.

The one thing that all citizen encounters involve is some type of discourse. The Police Executive Research Forum’s recommendations for officers on de-escalation recommends many tactics, but all of them have one thing in common: They all involve discourse and communication. Whether it be spoken, unspoken, or through body language, communication is central to the policing function. Discourse is the mechanism through which de-escalation is ultimately achieved.

Engaging in effective discourse naturally de-escalates a situation, which reduces the level or intensity of the encounter. This is beneficial for both the citizen and the officer because it results in the natural physiological reduction of stress.

De-escalation Improves Community Relationships, Job Performance

Studies have shown that citizens base their perceptions of police officers off their last encounter with an officer. Communication is at the heart of all positive and negative encounters. Police officers who develop proper de-escalation techniques, use them when appropriate, and mitigate the need for force will see improved job performance. Supervisors will likely see their officers face a decrease in complaints, engage in more professional relationships, and execute higher quality investigations.

Most importantly, individual officers will reduce their chances of being assaulted, mitigate their risk of being sued, and become more effective at their job. By embracing de-escalation techniques, over time, officers are likely to see a huge return on investment in the form of increased health, life longevity, and maybe even a promotion!

Promoting De-escalation Techniques

Fortunately, more agencies are formally including de-escalation techniques in their policies. This encourages officers to use de-escalation techniques because it keeps them policy-compliant, while also helping them to mitigate stressful situations and maintain a high level of job performance.

As a trainer and educator of police officers, my daily goal is to improve the profession by improving the officers. We must first remember something we all learned when first coming onto the job: If we don’t take care of ourselves and get there safely, we can’t help someone else in need.

While de-escalation may seem like a buzzword or another temporary fad, it’s not. Officers should realize that these techniques are now a permanent part of policing. Rather than focusing on the mandatory aspects of de-escalation, officers should instead embrace the positive effects on their health and career that come from using de-escalation techniques.

About the Author: Christopher L. McFarlin, J.D. has served as a detention and law enforcement officer, a state prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, as well as a judge. Currently, he is a faculty member with American Military University’s School of Security and Global Studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Administration of Justice, and Civil Law. Currently, he is a commissioned reserve law enforcement officer in South Carolina, serving with his local police department in the patrol division. Lastly, he serves as a subject matter expert and guest speaker on a variety of topics pertaining to the criminal justice system. To contact the author, please send an email to IPSauthor@apus.edu.

Categories: Latest News

Why police officers need to fess up when they mess up

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 14:53

Author: Richard Fairburn

This month I want to tell a story about myself that fits with the overall “firearms” theme of my column, while dovetailing with my other teaching passion of police leadership.

I always try to live the example of leadership I taught for 20 years as an academy instructor, so this story is both humbling and challenging.

Two months ago I retired from the Illinois State Police Academy and signed on as the public safety director in my hometown in Illinois. My lifelong friend, who had served as the community’s police chief prior to his own retirement, had been elected mayor and convinced me to help him work the city’s police and fire departments out of a budget crisis. Time will tell if I made a wise choice.

How honesty makes a leader

This story has nothing to do with budget problems, but everything to do with me being accepted as the leader of 18 police officers, 15 career firefighters and 7 telecommunicators in the 911 center (as well as other support staff), who aren’t sure I should hold a position of authority over their agencies.

Being a firearms instructor for almost 40 years, I was bothered to find out a previous chief had switched the police department to Glock pistols without providing any transition training from the Sig pistols most officers had carried their entire career.

With the threats police officers face on the streets today, I immediately ordered ammunition and changed the department’s policy of a single 50-round qualification course per year (which met the state-mandated minimum) to quarterly shoots: one qualification to meet state law and three unscored training sessions to build the officer's survival skill set. Most police departments do conduct more firearms training/qualification sessions than required by state mandates.

In two sessions totaling 4 hours and 250 rounds of training, the officers quickly mastered the mechanics of running Glock pistols and increased their marksmanship skills, including malfunction clearing and shooting/loading on the move. They did well and universally appreciated the new focus on life-saving skills. My goal was practical firearms training, but I think I also earned some respect as their new leader. And I have always believed respect as a leader must be earned.

After finishing the first phase of the pistol training, I was hot and sweaty, but due at a city council meeting that evening. I cleaned up, changed clothes and got ready for the meeting.

My everyday carry sidearm is a Colt Lightweight Commander Model 1911 pistol custom built by Richard Heinie, one of the all-time great 1911 pistol smiths. Colt built the frame of the pistol in 1956, making it one year younger than the old fart carrying it.

I was standing on the ground in the open driver's door of my personal truck as I loaded the Commander, seating a magazine of carry ammo and chambering a round. I dropped the magazine to top it off and did my standard press-check to verify the loaded chamber. I let the slide snap forward from the press check and promptly punched a hole through the passenger door (the bullet safely dug into the dirt beside the driveway). A .45 is damn loud inside a vehicle!

The immediate follow-up sequence goes: WTF!? I can't believe I just did that. How did I do that? Go see where the bullet went.

After that, I loaded carefully, pointing at dirt. Everything seemed OK, so I figured it was a "stupid is as stupid does" moment and went to the meeting.

I remembered during the night that the hammer was at half-cock after the loud bang, which could point to a cracked/chipped sear, which would explain the negligent discharge. I've seen a couple of 1911s do that on the range and, when they do, they uncontrollably empty the magazine on full-auto. But I had the magazine out so could only get one round fired.

I’m an armorer for 1911s, so after the meeting I disassembled far enough to see the sear, which looked fine. I went to the range and fully function checked with dummy rounds first, then with live ammo. No bangs. I finally ran the sequence with my trigger finger pulling the trigger as the press check was released, the most likely cause of my screw-up. No bangs. So, what caused the BANG? Damned if I know!

I try to learn a lesson from every mistake and there are two to share from ventilating the door of my Ram 4x4:

1. Firearm safety lesson

Never, ever violate safety rule #2 (do not let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy). My old truck needs a little body work anyway, so plugging the new "mini-window" in the front passenger door shouldn't add much to the cost. Had the muzzle been pointing at one of my body parts or the neighbor’s house, the damage could have been non-repairable.

2. Police leadership lesson

Anyone can make a mistake and everyone should own up to their mistakes. After my safety check that morning on the range, my next order of business was to draft an email to everyone under my command and my boss, the mayor, with the above information. I did this for two reasons. The first is that no such event could ever remain secret for long. Second, I wanted to emphasize an object lesson that mistakes can happen to anyone who works with dangerous tools, even highly experienced operators. Following the safety rules will limit the damage to repairable items. Ownership of screw ups, I believe, is the first measure of a leader.

Lastly, the boss should not be exempt from the brutal hazing he deserves from such an event. Within an hour of the email being sent, a large band aid appeared over the hole in the door and the day shift lieutenant said he considered getting a shield out of the SWAT van before walking by my office door, just in case.

Several of my police officers and firefighters have subsequently told me in person or via email that they appreciated my honesty and ownership on this issue. I still have a long way to go in earning their trust and respect, but sometimes admitting a mistake might be the first step down that road.

In other words, if you F-up, Fess-up. Nobody’s perfect.

Categories: Latest News

Why firearms standardization puts police officers at risk

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 14:43

Author: Mike Wood

I recently spoke with a police officer from an agency transitioning from a liberal weapons policy that allowed a high degree of individual officer choice to a standard issue policy, in which all officers would be required to carry the same department-issued firearm on duty. This agency polices some particularly violent areas and has a higher than average number of officer-involved shootings each year. As a result, the officers in this agency share a greater interest in firearms and firearms training than what we may see elsewhere.

The officer in question is a dedicated "1911 man," and he's in good company. Many of the officers in this department carry 1911s as they feel the dimensions, ergonomics, power and "shootability" of the design are a good match for their needs. Few of them are excited about switching to the mandated polymer pistol, which is not only chambered for a smaller cartridge, but comes with an entirely different manual of arms and very different handling qualities.

Unfortunately this is a familiar battle in law enforcement. The paramilitary nature of the profession lends to an emphasis on standardization in equipment, uniforms and training. At times this creates significant problems for police officers, particularly in regard to firearms.

In the early days, some agencies required left-handed officers to carry their sidearms on their right side to ensure uniformity. In the not-too-distant past, agencies prohibited the carry of extra ammunition on the Sam Browne for the sake of appearance, including at least one state police agency in the era of semiauto pistols.

Even today, many agencies prohibit the carriage of more than two magazines on the Sam Browne in order to promote uniformity, leaving officers who want to carry more ammo stuck with less efficient workarounds.

Pros and cons of standardization

There are advantages to standardization. Uniformity of appearance is an essential part of maintaining an organization's professional image, and it aids in promoting discipline and esprit de corps. It helps the public identify the police and it makes sense from a logistical and training standpoint to issue the same gear to everybody.

However, there are downsides. The most significant is that standardized equipment choices prevent officers from selecting the gear that works best for them. The era of gender, height and weight standards that helped make a one-size-fits-all policy more viable is over, and there's a wide range of sizes, shapes and strength in uniform these days. Such diversity means that at least some of the population face difficulty making standard-issue gear work for them.

New wave and wondernines

This conflict was quite noticeable in the mid-to-late 1980s when two trends in law enforcement clashed with each other: the rapid increase in the number of female officers and the wholesale transition away from revolvers toward semiautomatic pistols.

The most popular of the auto-loading designs adopted by police in that era incorporated double column magazines that resulted in fat grips, and heavy double-action triggers with a long reach between the backstrap and the trigger face. This combination of characteristics made it difficult for officers with small hands, short fingers and more limited grip strength (including, but not limited to, many female officers) to fire the weapons accurately, or sometimes at all.

During the 1988 U.S. military XM10 pistol trials, the U.S. Army discovered that 7 of 12 female soldiers in a test group could not fire the candidate pistols in the double-action mode due to the combination of trigger reach and weight of pull.

In a 1992 study conducted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, 50 percent of the female test subjects could not reach the trigger on 4 of the 17 test weapons, and the lower 25th percentile (in terms of hand dimensions and strength) of the test group couldn't reach the trigger on 9 of the 17 test weapons.

The data confirmed what law enforcement firearms trainers had already been witnessing firsthand – the new guns simply didn't fit many officers' hands.

While trigger reach and trigger pull weight could be an issue for some officers armed with revolvers, the fit could be more readily corrected with a variety of easily replaceable grip designs. Additionally, the art of smoothing the actions on these guns to obtain a better quality, and often lighter, trigger without sacrificing reliability had been perfected.

The new semiauto pistols of the era typically had heavier and less refined double-action triggers, and no capability to accept smaller grips to reduce the girth and trigger reach of the pistol. As such, any agency that mandated one of these pistols for duty was bound to have some officers who struggled with the equipment, and lower shooting scores often told the story.

Although semiauto pistol design has improved by leaps and bounds, and many now incorporate a limited degree of grip customization, the double column magazines favored by law enforcement can still make for a fat grip, and the trigger reach on many popular designs remains rather long.

Even if we set aside concerns about grip size and trigger reach, other equipment issues can create problems.

The location and size of controls (external safeties, magazine releases and slide locks) on the selected pistol may not work for some officers. A specific holster design may be awkward to use or painful to carry based on body shape or previous injuries. Recoil on a particular caliber may be too hard for an officer to control and make hits accurately and fast.

Any agency that tries to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach will soon discover they have a number of officers for whom the gear just doesn't work.

The need to adapt training

A similar issue exists with standardization in training. When the auto-pistol revolution hit in the 1980s, agencies scrambled to develop training standards to teach the new designs. Anyone who has conducted curriculum development understands the amount of work it takes to get a lesson plan designed, vetted and approved, and we all know our training sections are almost always short on time, money and personnel.

As such, there was a natural pull to find the "one true way" of shooting the new pistols and then force everybody to use it, rather than developing a system with flexible options to accommodate student needs.

The result was that some officers discovered they not only had to shoot a pistol that didn't fit their hand well, but they also had to do it using techniques that didn't work well for them. For example, the popular Weaver firing stance was introduced to many officers alongside the auto-pistol in the 1980s, and while it works well for many people, the isometric nature of the stance makes it highly susceptible to variations in upper body strength. Many smaller-statured officers found the stance broke down under recoil for them, and their ability to control the guns suffered in comparison to other techniques. Despite this, some agencies continued to insist on its use under the guise of standardization.

Trends like this continue in training today. At my own agency, for example, the curriculum calls for all shooters to be taught a thumbs-forward firing grip. Shooters who deviate from that script during training receive lots of "attention" from staff. The thumbs-forward grip has many advantages, but it causes a high number of premature slide locks and shooter-induced malfunctions for our officers, because the thumbs readily hit the oversized slide lock lever on the agency-mandated duty pistol during recoil.

I've been able to solve this persistent problem for many police officers by teaching them an alternative thumbs-down firing grip that keeps their digits away from the controls, and which also seems to increase the strength of the firing grip for many of our smaller-statured shooters. They sometimes catch a little flack from agency instructors who stubbornly cling to the approved script, but they're shooting better and their guns are now running reliably. In police work, that's called a "clue."

Why choice matters

There's a historical and understandable pressure on police agencies to simplify things like logistics and training, but the bane of standardization is that we're all different, and to obtain the best results, we often need to use different tools and techniques.

In regard to firearms, having a liberal policy that gives officers latitude to select a firearm that meets their needs – perhaps from an approved list of varied options – is the best way to strike a balance between agency and individual concerns. It places a greater burden on training assets to do this, but the result is a higher level of individual officer comfort and proficiency with their lifesaving equipment.

The additional monetary costs of a policy like this are easily dwarfed by improvements in officer and public safety, but there could be less obvious financial benefits as well. Consider the case where an officer whose lack of comfort or proficiency with the mandatory gun results in a negligent discharge or an intentional, but errant, shot that hits an innocent bystander. The resulting settlement could be so costly that the city or agency would have been able to outfit every officer with a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted firearm for the same amount.

A carefully crafted but liberal firearms policy is a good thing for the officer, the agency and the public. More agencies would be wise to consider it.

Categories: Latest News

Slain NOPD cop used ECD on suspect, warrant says

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 13:41

Author: Mike Wood

By Ramon Antonio Vargas The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

NEW ORLEANS — The man accused of fatally shooting a New Orleans policeman early Friday managed to recover from being shocked with a stun gun to kill the officer moments later, according to documents released Saturday.

An arrest warrant for Darren Bridges, 30, on counts of first-degree murder and other offenses gives the most complete account yet made public about how authorities believe he gunned down 29-year-old Officer Marcus McNeil in the vicinity of the 6800 block of Cindy Place, in New Orleans East.

Bridges was later shot by one of McNeil's colleagues, and he surrendered to authorities rather than bleed to death in his nearby apartment, the warrant says.

The warrant cites video showing McNeil was in a blue tactical uniform identifying him as a police officer when he encountered Bridges, who was carrying a backpack investigators said they later learned contained illegal drugs.

According to the warrant, the video shows a tussle broke out between McNeil and Bridges, who brandished what is described as "a unique firearm."

McNeil and Bridges were "the only people present at the time," according to the warrant, which seemingly conflicts with earlier accounts that gave the impression McNeil was accompanied by three colleagues when police attempted to stop Bridges.

Bridges dropped his backpack during the struggle. At some point, the warrant says, McNeil fired his stun gun at Bridges and struck him, but the weapon "appeared ineffective," and the fight continued.

Several gunshots then were fired, and McNeil could be heard screaming, the warrant says. There was a pause, and then one more gunshot rang out, leaving McNeil unresponsive, with his service pistol still in his holster. He was later taken to University Medical Center, where the medical staff pronounced him dead.

Bridges then fled and crossed paths with another officer, whose name was not released. That officer shot Bridges multiple times before Bridges entered a second-floor apartment in the 6800 block of Cindy Place, using a key.

He later surrendered to police, having bled profusely on his clothes and inside the apartment. First responders took him to the hospital for treatment.

Police later searched the apartment and found the clothes Bridges was seen wearing in the video, the warrant says. The probes from McNeil's stun gun were still attached to the clothes.

Officers also found the backpack, which contained what appeared to be powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and several pills of the drug commonly sold as Xanax.

Bridges remained hospitalized Saturday, but he was booked remotely on counts of murder and possession of illegal weapons and drugs.

He faces mandatory life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of murdering McNeil, who was assigned to the 7th Police District, which covers New Orleans East.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman on Saturday ordered Bridges held without bail on the murder count. Bail for the rest of the counts added up to $375,000.

Bridges' attorney, Capital Defense Project director Kerry Cuccia, said it was too early for him to be able to comment on his client's case.

Bridges has an extensive criminal history dating back to at least 2004, including more than a dozen arrests and at least three guilty pleas.

Most recently in Orleans Parish, he pleaded guilty in 2012 to attempted possession of a firearm by a felon and received a prison sentence of 6½ years.

McNeil joined the city's police force as a recruit in 2014 and spent his entire career in the 7th District, authorities said. His survivors include his wife and two daughters, ages 2 and 5.

All Whitney Bank branches are accepting donations for a benefit fund supporting McNeil's family, police said. The account is titled the "Marcus McNeil Benefit Fund."

©2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Categories: Latest News

Okla. cop shares sandwich with homeless man

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 13:39
Author: Mike Wood

By PoliceOne Staff

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma officer is getting high praise for his act of kindness towards a homeless man.

According to KOCO, the friend of a resident who caught the moment on camera reached out to the OKCPD singing the officer’s praises.

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Shared by FB follower Hallie: Hey OKCPD, thought you might want to know what one of your officers has been up to. Give...

Posted by Oklahoma City Police Department on Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Give this officer our kudos and our (heart emoji) if you know who he is," the resident wrote.

The OKCPD posted photos of the moment to its Facebook page. The post has garnered over 1,000 likes.

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Unintended consequences of technology in policing

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:05

By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

Technological advancements have caused major changes in policing in the past several decades. Compared to past generations, officers today are surrounded by technology that is intended to increase productivity, officer safety, and agency efficiency.

Communication, for example, has been dramatically improved. The days of communicating with dispatch only through the traditional police radio or tracking down a pay phone to call the station are long gone. Today, officers have cell phones and are responsible for monitoring communications through advanced police radios that can scan many channels or districts at one time. Police vehicles are also equipped with advanced computer-aided dispatch systems. These dispatch systems improve how quickly officers respond to calls for service, assist in the collection of investigative data, and clear calls without radio communication.

There have been many other advancements as well. For example, conducted energy devices such as Tasers have been deployed in more than 7,000 police agencies. Research shows that these devices have contributed to a reduction in officer injuries by 25 to 62 percent (MacDonald, Kaminski, & Smith, Michael 2009). Other technologies have also helped officers be more efficient and effective. For example, traffic-light cameras have enabled patrol officers to focus on problematic areas and assisted them with traffic enforcement.

Challenges of Adopting Technology

While technology has undoubtedly been beneficial for policing, many of these advancements have also had adverse—and often overlooked—impacts on policing. There is an inherent amount of stress involved with learning and applying many of these advanced technologies. Officers are expected to embrace technology and, unfortunately, do not always receive the proper training needed to use it at a mastery level. Many officers feel that different technologies are pushed on them, creating an unmanageable number of things to learn and remember. It is important for agency leaders to realize that adapting new technology often causes stress for officers so they need to take steps to help alleviate some of that stress.

Dangers Caused by Technology

Technology can have unintended consequences when officers must pay attention to so many different devices. For example, even though computer-aided dispatch systems, cell phones, and other communication devices each have their benefits, they can be extremely distracting for officers and even dangerous when their full attention is needed on a single situation.

For example, while an officer is driving a patrol unit, calls for service are typically pushed to the officer’s in-vehicle laptop through the computer-aided dispatch system. Referring to this technology while driving puts officers at an increased risk for vehicle accidents. Having to constantly divide their attention between different devices can result in a potentially dangerous situation and cause officers ongoing stress.

Another source of stress for officers is that some of these technological advancements won’t work when they need it. Officers are now equipped with less-than-lethal advanced weapons like Tasers and ammunition that includes bean bags, pepper rounds, and rubber projectiles. If these devices don’t work as expected, officers may be hurt.

How Agencies Can Reduce Stress from Technology

At a time where stress management in policing is critical to promote resiliency and good health in officers, steps can be taken to reduce the stress that is associated with technology. Examples include:

Enacting administrative policies or personal goals designed to reduce distractions. This can include ignoring alerts through social media and non-work-related cell phone calls while on duty. Set a standard for communication with dispatch and supervisors while on duty. For example, supervisors can require patrol officers to respond only to the dispatch radio rather than through computer-aided dispatch communication tools or cell phones. Minimizing the number of devices that must be monitored can help reduce an officer’s stress. Permit officers to use the technology they’re comfortable with, when possible. Some officers, often younger ones, may find technologically advanced tools extremely helpful. However, other officers may find trying to learn new technology difficult and stressful. When possible, allow officers to use the technology they’re comfortable with. Forcing an officer who is uneasy about using advanced technology, like camera systems mounted in police units that monitor passing vehicles for stolen plates in real-time, should not be a requirement. Provide proper time for training officers on new technologies. When officers have thorough training they will feel confident using new devices. Training can help reduce stress by improving the officer’s proficiency in using the equipment.

In conclusion, technology has resulted in many advantages for law enforcement. Advanced technological equipment can reduce manpower shortages, increase officer safety, and help officers do their job more easily. However, technology can also become a stressor for officers. It is important that agencies recognize this stress and take steps to help officers become proficient and comfortable using technology.

About the Author: Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an adjunct professor with American Military University. He has spent more than two years studying police stress and its influence on the lives of police officers. In particular, Sadulski has conducted a review of approximately 300 peer-reviewed scholarly articles that focused on topics associated with police stress and officer wellness. In addition, he conducted a two-year qualitative study on how successful police officers effectively manage stress throughout their law enforcement career. With a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, he continues to research effective stress management strategies for police officers to promote resiliency. In addition, Sadulski has 20 years of policing experience between both federal and local law enforcement. To contact the author, please send an email to IPSauthor@apus.edu.

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Teen charged in fatal shooting of 2-year-old Illinois boy

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 04:00

Associated Press

DECATUR, Ill. — A 17-year-old has been charged in the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old Illinois boy.

The Herald & Review reports police found an injured child Saturday morning at a home in Decatur, 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of Chicago. The boy was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.

Macon County Coroner Michel Day said Sunday that Justin Lee Murphy Jr. died from a gunshot wound to the torso.

Police questioned the 17-year-old Saturday. Sgt. Steven Carroll later said he had been arrested "for his role in the death of the 2-year-old."

Police haven't said how the shooting occurred or released the teen's name.

He is being held in the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of homicide, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

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Maine cop discovers elderly man going hungry, cooks him dinner

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 11:14

By Seth Koenig Bangor Daily News, Maine

CUMBERLAND, Maine — A Cumberland police officer discovered a local elderly resident was running low on food and hadn’t eaten all day, so he decided to do something about it, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

Sgt. Thomas Burgess found the elderly man hungry during a check-in on Tuesday, according to the post.

“Sgt. Burgess took it upon himself to deliver the man some food from our local food pantry and cook him a nice dinner,” the department post explained, in part.

The post, which featured a photograph of Burgess preparing food in the kitchen, was shared nearly 700 times by Thursday afternoon, with many community members commenting that they would like to help out.

The department posted that Burgess reached out to local organizations and the man’s family members to ensure he would have enough food in the future. He also cleaned the man’s refrigerator and some dishes, washed some laundry and took out the trash while he was there, local police said.

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Sgt. Burgess checked on a very nice elderly community member in town and discovered that he was running low on food and...

Posted by Cumberland, Maine Police Department on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

©2017 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

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Texas Whataburger employee fired for refusing to serve officers

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 11:10

Associated Press

DENISON, Texas — A worker at a popular Texas-based fast food chain has been fired after refusing to serve two police officers.

Denison Police Chief Jay Burch says in a Facebook post that his officers were trying to get something to eat at the Whataburger early Saturday when an unidentified female employee declined to serve them. Burch says the employee cursed at the North Texas officers and alleged "cops beat up my boyfriend and are racists."

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**MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF** The Denison Police Department enjoys great support from most of our community and our...

Posted by Denison Texas Police Department on Saturday, October 14, 2017

Burch didn't identify the restaurant. But in a statement, Whataburger corporate communications said Saturday it discovered "an individual employee acted out of line with Whataburger's values to treat all customers with respect."

Whataburger says the employee was fired and the company plans to speak with the officers "to apologize in person and make this right."

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Man left jail days before arrest for alleged NC airport attack

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 11:06

Associated Press

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The man charged with stashing a jar filled with explosive chemicals and nails at a western North Carolina airport was freed just eight days earlier after a short prison stint for an earlier crime.

Michael Christopher Estes, 46, is charged with leaving a homemade bomb near a terminal at Asheville's airport on Oct. 6 and later telling investigators he sought to "fight a war on U.S. soil," according to court documents released last week. Bomb technicians defused the explosive that was timed to explode around dawn as travel activity started picking up.

The state prison system's online database shows Estes spent seven days behind bars in September. The Citizen-Times of Asheville reports that records show he attacked a Swain County man with a hatchet and knife earlier this year.

It's unclear why Estes would have been released so soon after being sentenced to between 10 and 21 months. The newspaper reports state prison officials did not respond to messages requesting clarification.

Cherokee Indian Police Department officers said in incident reports that Estes chased the man into his house trailer on July 31, 2015, with a 16-inch knife and hatchet, the newspaper reported. The victim reportedly suffered cuts to his right temple, one his left check from his mouth to his ear lobe, and his left tricep. He also suffered a puncture wound to his chest, according to the reports.

The attack came 17 days after Estes was arrested and charged with breaking and entering and larceny, Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran said.

Estes' father said he hasn't spoken to his son in several years. Jimmie Estes of Tazewell, Tennessee, told the newspaper he did not know whether his son was married, where he was living or whether he had a job.

"I don't really know him anymore," Jimmie Estes said.

According to court documents, a man security cameras show dressed in black left the improvised explosive device at Asheville Regional Airport. The bomb contained ammonium nitrate, Sterno fuel, nails and a .410 gauge Winchester shotgun cartridge, authorities said. Estes waived his Miranda rights, answering questions and admitting to building and planting the device, the criminal complaint said.

"Estes described how he created the device ... and then rigged the alarm clock to strike the matches and cause the flame necessary to trigger the device," the complaint states. "More specifically, the alarm clock would go off, the matches would strike, the Sterno would heat up, and then the Ammonium Nitrate would explode."

However, Estes also claimed that he hadn't actually set the device to go off, the complaint said.

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Search continues for missing police diver

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 10:59

By Mark Sommer The Buffalo News, N.Y.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - With a rain and wind storm headed their way, search teams moved north Sunday as they continued to look for Craig Lehner, the police diver who went missing early Friday afternoon during a training exercise.

The decision to relocate the massive, multi-agency effort came as Buffalo Police acknowledged the search for Lehner is no longer a rescue effort and the emotional difficulty in making that decision.

"We are going north with our search toward the International Railway Bridge, and even north of that," Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said Sunday morning. "The good thing for us is that the further north we get from this point the calmer the water gets, the current slows down and the debris field pulls away."

Lehner's fellow divers had been looking in the swift, 25-foot-deep waters off Bird Island Pier, in Broderick Park. The new search area should help speed up the search and help the sonar instruments be more effective, he said.

When the search resumed Sunday morning, conditions on the Niagara River were accommodating but that was expected to change as the day unfolded.

Missing #Buffalo Police diver identified as Craig Lehner, 34. He is a K9 officer. Pic is him with K9 partner Shield from early August @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/fYj8xGDbFY

— Heather Ly (@HeatherLyWGRZ) October 14, 2017

In its latest forecast, the National Weather Service predicted a storm carrying showers and winds of up to 28 miles an hour would arrive on Buffalo's West Side by about 4 p.m. The forecast also calls for wind gusts of up to 41 miles an hour.

Rinaldo acknowledged the storm could hamper or curtail the search, and that high winds would affect conditions for both divers and search-and-rescue boats equipped with sonar.

"The safety for everyone involved in this is our utmost concern, and we won't jeopardize that, so we'll be evaluating that," he said of the storm.

Now in its third day, the search effort continues to add manpower and equipment. The New York Police Department arrived Saturday with a stronger sonar device that can reach 60 feet deep, Rinaldo said.

The search for Lehner, 34, a diver and full-time K-9 Unit officer, began at 12:50 p.m. Friday after he failed to surface with the Buffalo Police Department's Underwater Recovery Team during a training exercise. The U.S. Coast Guard, which provided a 45-foot response boat to the search effort, found Lehner's tender cable had parted.

A diver's secondary dive tanks were discovered on the surface of the water Saturday, but they didn't belong to the missing Buffalo police diver.

As he often has over the past three days, Rinaldo spoke of his fellow police officers and the constant presence of off-duty officers at the scene.

He also acknowledged for the first time that the search for Lehner is no longer a rescue effort, and admitted it was an obvious, but emotionally difficult, decision to make.

"Reality is reality," Rinaldo said. "Unfortunately, we know no one can survive underwater for this long."

Despite that realization, everyone involved in the search effort remains motivated, fueled in large part by a collective need to find their comrade, he said.

"Everybody has heavy hearts and minds, but we have a job to do and we are just hoping to locate our brother," Rinaldo said. "That's the focus, that's what's getting people through the day and to continue doing what they're doing. There'll be a time later for emotions, but we're doing the best we can to keep moving, keep pushing, keep progressing."

©2017 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

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Charges dropped against ex-cop accused of faking his death

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 12:06

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — A judge has dismissed a misdemeanor charge against a former Texas police officer accused of faking his own death and fleeing to Mexico.

The false-alarm charge against 29-year-old Coleman Martin was dismissed Friday at the request of the Travis County District Attorney's Office. The charge was dropped after Martin agreed not to own a gun, to attend counseling and not break any laws within the next two years.

Martin resigned from the Austin Police Department last month after returning to the United States.

Court documents allege Martin told his wife of plans to drown himself. She reported him missing on April 25, and investigators found his truck abandoned near a lake the next day. A woman later reported receiving an email from Martin that said he had fled to Mexico.

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Driver tells troopers that police pursuit was on his bucket list

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 12:03

Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa State Patrol says a man pulled over in Des Moines after a car pursuit told state troopers that he wanted to be chased because it was on his bucket list.

Des Moines television station KCCI reports that the man refused to halt a little before 7:30 a.m. Thursday when a trooper tried to stop him over a violation on Interstate 80. The 10- to 15-minute chase ended soon after he left the interstate. He was taken into custody.

That's when the 46-year-old Des Moines resident shared his bucket list story with troopers. Court records don't yet show that he's been charged.

State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright told The Associated Press that he'd never heard such an excuse in his 28 years of policing.

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Ford offers repairs to address Explorer exhaust gas concerns

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:59

By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin AP Auto Writers

DETROIT — Responding to consumer concerns about exhaust fumes, Ford is offering to inspect and repair Explorer SUVs at no cost to owners.

Ford maintains the vehicles are safe, but said it's making the repairs available in response to customer concerns about exhaust odors and carbon monoxide.

"Our investigation has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day," Ford spokesman Mike Levine said.

Ford has sold more than 1.35 million Explorers since 2011, when the vehicle was redesigned and the exhaust problems began. The move announced Friday comes as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to investigate complaints of fumes and carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger cabins of police and consumer versions of the SUVs.

Ford previously focused repair efforts on police versions of the Explorer, but civilians continue to complain to the agency about exhaust fumes and symptoms such as nausea, headaches and drowsiness.

The company said it will send letters to owners of 2011 through 2017 Explorers starting the week of Nov. 13 telling them to take their SUVs to dealers for the work. Mechanics will check for leaks in the rear lift gate gaskets and drain valves. If any leaks are found, they'll be sealed or gaskets will be replaced, to prevent fumes from entering, Levine said. They'll also reprogram the air conditioning to let in more fresh air.

Ford will pay for the work regardless of mileage, age of the vehicles or whether they're under warranty. It also will reimburse owners who previously paid for repair work, Levine said. The service will be available starting Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018, Ford said.

The customer service campaign is not a recall, although safety regulators could still push for one. NHTSA began its investigation of Explorers in July of 2016.

"NHTSA will take appropriate action as warranted, and any future decisions will be based on the findings of the investigation," the agency said in a statement.

Ford started repairing police versions earlier this summer after departments reported that carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes was making officers sick. The company said at the time there was no reason for owners of non-police Explorers to be concerned.

But over the past six years, more than 1,100 civilians have complained to the government about exhaust fumes seeping into Explorers, causing headaches, burning eyes, nausea, sleepiness and an odor like burning hair, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. In addition, Ford has received more than 2,000 complaints, warranty claims, reports from dealers and legal claims related to exhaust odors.

Even for such a big seller, 1,100 complaints about a single problem is unusual, especially because exhaust fumes almost never find their way into passenger areas, said Allan Kam, a former attorney with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who now is a consultant to consumers and manufacturers.

By comparison, the government has only two complaints about exhaust in the cabin of the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the 2011 through 2017 model years. The Grand Cherokee is an Explorer competitor with comparable sales for those years. In addition, the government had only one exhaust gas complaint for the 2010 Explorer, the year before the new model came out, The AP found.

In complaints to the government posted on the NHTSA website, several owners have said attempts by Ford dealers to fix the problem have failed. Many expressed concerns about small children and pets riding in the rear seat, where the smell seemed to be concentrated.

"Ford, you should be ashamed of what you are doing to hard-working people that are having to pay and drive these rolling gas chambers," one person wrote. People who complain are not identified in the NHTSA database.

In 2014, a Florida woman sued Ford, claiming she and her daughter were suffering from chronic headaches due to carbon monoxide in their Explorer. Under a settlement reached in August, Ford had agreed to send out a nationwide notice to Explorer owners offering partial reimbursement for exhaust odor repairs performed on 2011-2015 Explorers. But that settlement is on hold because an owner filed an objection.

The fix announced Friday would go further than the settlement, because it would offer full reimbursements to owners of 2011-2017 Explorers.

Levine said Ford is confident the repairs will handle the problems. "This will reduce the potential for exhaust to enter the vehicle," he said.

Several police agencies have pulled Explorer Police Interceptors off the road due to complaints from officers about fumes and carbon monoxide. Ford has said the gas is leaking from the tailpipe into the police cabins due to non-factory outfitters that drill holes into police SUVs to install extra equipment such as lights and radios. Ford has offered to pay to seal the holes.

Police in Austin, Texas, pulled nearly 400 Explorers off patrol in July because of carbon monoxide concerns and reports of officers getting sick. Some of those vehicles have been repaired.

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Salt Lake Police detective appeals firing after nurse arrest

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:55

By Lindsay Whitehurst Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah police detective has formally appealed the decision to fire him after he was caught on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow him to draw blood from an unconscious patient, his lawyer said Friday.

Detective Jeff Payne asked to appear before a Salt Lake City employment board to make the case that his termination went too far and happened because the body-camera footage drew widespread attention and criticism online, lawyer Greg Skordas said.

The video shows Payne arresting nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26 after she explained that hospital policy wouldn't allow him to take the blood for a car-crash investigation without a warrant or patient consent. Payne had neither, but he insisted. The dispute ended with him dragging her outside while she screamed that she'd done nothing wrong.

Chief Mike Brown said he was "deeply troubled" by Payne's actions that brought disrepute to the department and called into question his ability to do his job, according to a letter released when the detective was terminated Tuesday.

Payne has worked for Salt Lake City Police for 27 years. He was twice disciplined, once for sexually harassing a co-worker in 2013. But he also earned commendations for solving burglary cases and being shot in the shoulder during a traffic stop in 1998.

The dustup also brought a demotion for Payne's supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who told the detective over the phone to arrest Wubbels if she didn't cooperate. He's also shown on video continuing to push for the blood draw as she sat cuffed in a police car. She was later released without charge.

Tracy also plans to appeal his demotion to officer and will file within the required five-day window, his attorney Ed Brass said.

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