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Van kills 10 and injures 15 in Toronto; driver in custody

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 23:01

By Charmaine Noronha Associated Press

TORONTO — A rented van plowed down a crowded Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities said.

Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police officials would not comment on the cause or any possible motive.

Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalized.

Saunders identified the man detained after the incident as Alek Minassian, 25, a resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. He said the suspect had not been known to police previously.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, “Based on what we have there’s nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time.”

But a senior national government official said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

“I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said earlier.

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a “horrific attack” and said the G7 foreign ministers extended their condolences.

The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

“If it was an accident he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.”

Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

Witness Phil Zullo told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting the suspect and people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.

“I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”

The van involved in multiple pedestrians stuck in the Yonge and Finch area of Toronto has been located and the driver arrested. ^sm

— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) April 23, 2018

UPDATE: Driver of van that struck 8 to 10 people in Toronto has been found and is in custody, Canadian authorities say https://t.co/hjkpLTw5iS pic.twitter.com/jaXBKVHE30

— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 23, 2018

Witness describes what he saw in #Toronto. A "white van speeding probably 60-70mph, swerving to deliberately hit pedestrians and avoid traffic before careering off into a side street and out of view."pic.twitter.com/6hydkTPk1i

— Nick Short ???? (@PoliticalShort) April 23, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Video of the driver of the van that hit multiple people in Toronto, Canada. pic.twitter.com/AsDzXEN1lD

— BNL NEWS (@BreakingNLive) April 23, 2018

UPDATE: The driver of the rented comercial van which struck and killed at least 2 people and injured 8 others in Toronto, Canada is in custody, police have not yet given any personal details of the susspect or a possible motive. pic.twitter.com/gYiIS3qZmE

— News_Executive (@News_Executive) April 23, 2018

Former NYC Police commissioner Bill Bratton states on @MSNBC his sources in Canada say van driver in #Toronto was known to Police & now consider incident a terrorist attack. Motivation and affiliation unknown. @MalcolmNance pic.twitter.com/v2RmrsCTUi

— Psychonaut (@WakingLifeDream) April 23, 2018

Another deceased victim of Toronto terror attack pic.twitter.com/7fe6rR12fq

— ? Faith J Goldy ? ???? (@FaithGoldy) April 23, 2018

Categories: Latest News

Police: Waffle House shooting suspect arrested

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 14:58

By Sheila Burke Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The mentally unstable gunman suspected of killing four people in a late-night shooting at a Waffle House restaurant was arrested near his apartment Monday after hiding from police for more than a day, authorities said.

Police and federal agents had mounted a massive manhunt for 29-year-old Travis Reinking after the Sunday morning attacks, in which a gunman clad only in a jacket used a rifle to attack a diverse crowd of patrons at the restaurant before being disarmed by a patron.

Construction workers told officers Monday that a person matching Reinking's description walked into the woods near a construction site, Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters. A detective spotted Reinking, who lay down on the ground to be handcuffed when confronted, Lara said

Reinking carried a black backpack with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition, Lara said. Detectives cut the backpack off him.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said Reinking requested a lawyer and was taken to a hospital before he would be booked on four counts of criminal homicide.

It's not clear why Reinking attacked shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, though he may have "mental issues," Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier.

Police said Reinking opened fire in the restaurant parking lot before storming the restaurant, which had about 20 people inside. Four people — three of them black and one Hispanic — were killed and four others injured before a customer wrestled the weapon away and Reinking, who is white, ran out, police said.

Police said Reinking stole a BMW days before the attack. The car was quickly recovered, but authorities did not immediately link the theft to Reinking.

Meanwhile, authorities in Illinois shared past reports suggesting multiple red flags about a disturbed young man with paranoid delusions.

In May 2016, Reinking told deputies from Tazewell County, Illinois, that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved.

BREAKING: Travis Reinking apprehended moments ago in a wooded area near Old Hickory Blvd & Hobson Pk. pic.twitter.com/00ukga37s6

— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 23, 2018

Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the sheriff's report said.

Another sheriff's report said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June, and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman's coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.

Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he entered a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump. Reinking was not armed, but at the FBI's request, Illinois police revoked his state firearms card and seized four guns from him, authorities said.

The AR-15 used in the shootings was among those seized.

In August, Reinking told police he wanted to file a report about 20 to 30 people tapping into his computer and phone and people "barking like dogs" outside his residence, according to a report.

"There's certainly evidence that there's some sort of mental health issues involved," Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said. But he said deputies returned the guns to Reinking's father on the promise he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis."

Reinking's father "has now acknowledged giving them back" to his son, Aaron said.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special Agent Marcus Watson said Monday that action is "potentially a violation of federal law."

Phone calls to a number listed for the father, Jeffrey Reinking, went unanswered.

It is not clear why Reinking moved recently from Morton, Illinois, and if it had anything to do with being near Swift, who has a home in Nashville. Police say he worked in construction for a while.

Police say Reinking drove into the Waffle House parking lot in his gold Chevy Silverado pickup early Sunday and sat there for about four minutes before opening fire.

The victims fatally shot in the parking lot have been identified as Taurean Sanderlin, 29, of Goodlettsville, and Joe Perez, 20, of Nashville. Sanderlin was an employee at the restaurant.

One of the fatally wounded inside was DeEbony Groves, a 21-year-old student at Nashville's Belmont University. She was remembered as an exceptional student who made the Dean's list, and a tenacious basketball player.

Akilah Dasilva was also killed inside the restaurant. The 23-year-old from Antioch was a rap artist and music video producer.

He was at the restaurant with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Tia Waggoner, the paper reported. Waggoner was wounded and underwent surgery to try to save her leg, Dasilva's family said. Police say Sharita Henderson, 24, of Antioch, was wounded and being treated as well.

Also wounded was James Shaw Jr., a 29-year-old restaurant patron who burned his hand grabbing the hot muzzle of the weapon as he wrestled the gun away. A Nashville native who works as a wireless technician for AT&T, Shaw said he was no hero — despite being hailed as one by Nashville Mayor David Briley.

Categories: Latest News

Officer saves boy choking on popcorn at Police Academy graduation

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 12:47

By Graham Rayman New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Quick action by a medically trained NYPD detective saved the life of baby boy who got popcorn stuck in his throat Wednesday at the Police Academy graduation ceremony.

Detective Mark Rubins, 42, was sitting in the upper rear section of the Theater at Madison Square Garden at about 11:30 a.m. when he heard a woman yell, “Help! Please!”

“The baby was limp in her arms and his lips were blue,” Rubins said.

Rubins, a paramedic for 20 years, ran down an aisle to the mom’s side.

The boy’s father, newly minted Officer Leonardo Escorcia, was on the theater’s main level with the rest of his graduating class when he heard from his wife that their 1-year-old son Daniel was choking.

“I started running toward her. By the time I got there, I saw Detective Rubins — he had my son on his shoulder,” Escorcia said.

“My son seemed like he was not himself. He was pale. He kept passing out by the time I got there.

“The look he was giving was not his usual look. He's usually a happy baby. When I saw him like that, I was really scared.”

Rubins said he performed CPR and quickly got the little boy to cough up the popcorn. Daniel was soon breathing normally.

“He started to spit up a bit, which I still have on my shoulder,” Rubins said. “He was still lethargic, but he wasn’t blue anymore and his pulse was strong.”

Outstanding job by Lt. Greg Besson and Det. Mark Rubins, of the Financial Crimes Task Force. While attending graduation, they rendered aid to the 1-year old son of #NYPDGrad Escorcia, who was choking. They cleared his airway and he quickly regained consciousness. #NYPDProtecting pic.twitter.com/60qGI1WAcs

— NYPD Manhattan South (@NYPDPBMS) April 18, 2018

Escorcia — who is assigned to the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn — was grateful for his new colleague’s quick action.

“When they told us we should take him to the hospital, I knew I had to miss graduation,” Escorcia said. “But family comes first.”

Rubins joined the NYPD in 2006 and is now assigned to the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force. He also works two days a month as a paramedic in Westchester County.

Rubins ended up near the back of the theater when he traded his tickets closer to the stage so his his FBI colleagues had a better view of the ceremony.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” he said of having saved the baby boy.

Copyright 2018 New York Daily News

Categories: Latest News

Photo: Officer takes elderly man to hospital to visit sick wife

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:10

By PoliceOne Staff

MONTOURSVILLE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania officer is being praised for his kindness after helping an elderly man visit his sick wife at a hospital.

WNEP reports that Montoursville Deputy Chief Jason Bentley received a call Thursday about a man, 84-year-old Roger Baker, who needed a ride to the hospital. Baker’s wife of more than 60 years suffered a medical emergency, and Baker had no friends or family to take him to her.

Bentley drove the elderly man to the hospital and noticed Baker struggling to walk.

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We were sent a picture of Deputy Chief Bentley helping an elderly man into UPMC Susquehanna. The man's wife went to the...

Posted by Montoursville Police Department on Thursday, April 19, 2018

"When he got out of my patrol car at the hospital, he held onto the side of the car for about a minute. I didn't realize it was that bad, so I grabbed his hands and started to walk him in," Bentley said.

The Montoursville PD snapped a photo of the officer assisting Baker, which went viral. The department said they shared the photo to make their community feel comfortable calling for help no matter what the situation is.

"With this gentleman here, he mentioned on his way to the hospital that there have been a couple of times where his wife has fallen down and instead of calling 911, he went out to the road and flagged someone down and paid them $10 to help pick her up. I said, 'just call 911; it's what we do,’” Bentley said.

Categories: Latest News

NYPD commissioner rips impending release of cop killer

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:01

By Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The city’s top cop fired off a scathing letter to Gov. Cuomo on the state’s Parole Board’s decision to free cop killer Herman Bell, claiming the board “failed grievously” by allowing the 70-year-old to go free.

“The message to law enforcement officers in New York, San Francisco, and throughout our country is painfully clear: Your sacrifices can and will be forgotten,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill wrote on Friday. “Herman Bell should remain in prison for the rest of his life. His mind has not changed, his heart has not opened, and his debt has not nearly been repaid.”

O’Neill’s letter came the same day that a judge tossed a lawsuit demanding a new hearing for Bell, claiming that the Parole Board didn’t follow mandated protocols when rendering their decision to free him after nearly four decades.

Bell is scheduled to be set free this week.

He, along with Anthony Bottom and Albert Washington, were convicted of executing Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones after luring them to the Colonial Park Houses — now the Rangel Houses — on W. 159th St. with a bogus 911 call on May 21, 1971.

Jones was shot in the head and died instantly, but the three suspects took their time with Piagentini — shooting him 22 times.

Bell only recently began showing remorse for his actions, something O’Neill believes was just a ruse to snow the board.

“He was sufficiently versed in what the Parole Board wanted to hear, and curtailed his speechmaking and professed remorse with less equivocation,” O’Neill wrote. “But what has been characterized as a change of heart is merely a change of strategy.”

O’Neill urged Cuomo to demand the parole board reconsider their “unconscionable determination.”

Cuomo said that he, too, disagreed with the parole board’s decision — but his hands are tied since the board is an independent body and not under his control.

“The Parole Board is an independent board but I would not have made that decision,” he told reporters Thursday.

Bell’s release was held back a week as Albany Judge Richard Koweek could could rule on the suit filed by Diane Piagentini, the widow of the slain officer, with the help of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, claiming the parole board did not review the sentencing minutes of the 1979 conviction and demanded a new parole hearing.

State officials admitted the parole board reviewed the minutes after making its decision, but filed an amended decision, claiming that the minutes didn’t change their finding.

The PBA also dumped more than 367,000 online letters on the state Board of Parole opposing Bell’s release.

On Friday, Koweek determined that Officer Piagentini’s widow “didn’t have standing” to challenge the parole board’s decision.

The PBA plans to appeal the ruling before Bell is set free.

“If (this) decision is allowed to stand, it will blow a gaping hole in our justice system, through which monsters like Herman Bell will continue to escape onto our streets,” Lynch said.

©2018 New York Daily News

Categories: Latest News

Woman invites officer who arrested her to college graduation

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 08:24

By PoliceOne Staff

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A woman invited the police officer who arrested her on drug charges to her college graduation after she said he turned her life around.

Five years ago, Tiffany Hall was arrested by Long Beach Police Department Lt. Jim Foster, ABC News reported. Hall said the officer urged her to find a better path in life and encouraged her to go to school.

"He would encourage me all the time," Hall said. “'Tiffany, you can do better than this. Tiffany, why don't you try to go to school? Tiffany, why don't you stop?'"

Years later, Hall and Lt. Foster crossed paths again at the Long Beach police headquarters, where she surprised the lieutenant with an invitation to her college graduation.

“I want to thank Lt. Jim Foster for his respect and his compassion and the empathy that he showed to me and anyone he came in contact with," Hall said.

Lt. Foster was grateful for the invitation and assured her that he would be at her graduation. He said success stories like Hall’s are one of the highlights of being a police officer.

"The biggest joy of my professional career is from time to time having contact with people who have found their way out of horrible circumstances and into life's success, things that a lot of us just take for granted for people who have a much rougher life story," Lt. Foster said.

Hall said she hopes to become a social worker in the future.

Categories: Latest News

NJ officer crashes into parked car, dies

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 08:21

By PoliceOne Staff

PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey police officer was killed after he crashed his patrol car into a parked vehicle Sunday.

Paterson Officer Tamby Yagan was on-duty when he crashed into a parked vehicle, NBC New York reported. Yagan was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Officials said it’s unclear whether the officer died as a result of the crash or if he suffered a medical emergency, according to NorthJersey.com. There was no indication that the officer was involved in a pursuit.

We have lost one of our own in the line of duty today.. #Paterson Officer Tamby Yagan was committed to protecting and serving. His tragic death leaves a loss for all of us. Keep Officer Yagan's family and friends as well as Paterson PD in your prayers- President Patrick Colligan pic.twitter.com/FoZsEoOkdp

— New Jersey State PBA (@NJSPBA) April 22, 2018

Councilman Luis Velez remembered Yagan, 41, as a “kind man” and said losing the officer is a “loss for the city.”

"In uniform he was the type of officer that would always orient people how to conduct themselves out there," Velez said. "Without uniform he was a kind man."

Police said no one else was injured in the crash. Yagan leaves behind a young son.

State police and prosecutors are investigating the crash.

Categories: Latest News

Policing in the face of resistance: Do you know when to back down?

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 06:46

Author: American Military University

By Andrew Bell, faculty member, Criminal Justice with American Military University

As an officer, have you ever been challenged and backed down from an incident even when you knew you were in the right? Have you ever un-arrested someone? Have you ever not served a warrant, even though you believed you had the wanted person? I have done these things, and while it took time to get over the initial embarrassment, they were ultimately the right decisions because they helped de-escalate volatile situations.

What has Changed in Society?

It seems the divide between society and police is greater today than ever before. Mainstream media would have us think that use-of-force, racial unrest, riots and injustice is an everyday occurrence. This fuels resistance toward officers and encourages people to challenge the authority of law enforcement. But is this sentiment worse than in the past? There have been unrest and riots throughout history. The difference now is technology!

The prevalence of social media and camera phones means that a single incident can quickly escalate into a movement against police for the world to weigh in on. How have police responded? By getting their own body-worn cameras, joining social media, training on ethics and working to better understand diversity. Obviously, this is not enough. More needs to be done to train officers in unconventional tactics to ensure justice is done while vindicating police action in the eyes of the general public.

Training Police to Pursue and Control

My fellow police veteran and frequent co-author Bruce Razey and I regularly write about how cops are people, too. But they’re not ordinary people. There are major differences between trained officers and the average citizen. Bruce and I have more than 50 years of combined service, and we can recall academy and in-service trainings that taught us that citizens have a duty to retreat, whereas police have a duty to pursue, preserve the peace and arrest.

As a result of this training comes the mindset that officers must always act and control every situation. In some scenarios, police have wide discretion about what action they can take, but in others they have a legal obligation to act. For example, warrants don’t give cops the option to arrest. A warrant commands that police “shall arrest” and bring that person or their body before the court.

Are there situations where police are issued a warrant, but should not make an arrest? I would argue that for the sake of public safety, there are times when officers should not take immediate action. For example, when officers encounter a volatile situation that is beyond their control or on the verge of becoming so, there are ways for officers to withdraw gracefully and still complete their mission to “protect and serve.”

Applying De-Escalation Tactics

Over the course of my police career, I have encountered several situations where, rather than forcefully implementing my authority, the best course of action was to apply de-escalation tactics.

Perfecting the Tactical Pause Working in uniform patrol, I had more than a dozen warrants for a woman who, according to other cops, could not be caught. I also failed to catch her the first few times because she saw me and would not answer the door. So, I parked down the street and walked to the address unseen. I placed my finger over the peephole and rang the doorbell. Likely due to curiosity, she opened the door and, with a surprised look, immediately tried to close the door on my foot. Too late. I stepped in as she yelled for me to get out.

The address was correct on the warrant and she met the description, however, that description was vague. She would not identify herself and since she was in her own house, she legally did not have to. This was definitely a “contempt of cop” situation, which is when a cop’s authority is challenged. In many of these cases, officers lose control and take action that they may not have taken under normal circumstances. I was ready to drag her out. Before I could act, a big man came down the stairs and demanded to know what was going on. The dynamics of the situation changed dramatically. I still wanted to drag her out, but my conscience told me to hold on in the remote chance I was wrong about her identity. If I arrested the wrong person, she could sue me and the department. There was a long moment of awkward silence.

During that “pause” I decided to do something I had never done before: back down. But I didn’t back down without a plan. I advised the man I had warrants for the woman standing in front of us and they now “had a choice.” I said: “You can either get your things in order and turn her in, or I can come back with the SWAT team and drag you and her out.” I returned to my car and sat there wondering if I had made a major mistake. About an hour later, the dispatcher called to tell me the woman had requested to meet me at the magistrate’s office to serve the warrants.

This was the first of my many humbling experiences as an officer, but it taught me about the power of the “pause.” I learned to incorporate the pause in both tactical and administrative situations to provide a brief moment for everyone involved to think. For the most part, it worked. Short of being engaged in hand-to-hand combat or a use-of-deadly-force situation, I learned to use a “tactical pause” in strange and even stressful situations.

The Just-Be-Nice Tactic Later in my career, I received a Letter of Commendation for finding more stolen vehicles and arresting more auto thieves than anyone else in patrol. My supervisors asked me how I had done it. I simply responded, “I look for them,” but there was more to it than that. I would drive to the worst neighborhoods with the “hot sheet” and look for vehicles.

During one such apprehension, the driver insisted it was his car. I didn’t buy it because the dispatcher verified the vehicle was stolen through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), so I conducted a felony stop. It was a hot summer day and I had the man spread eagle on the asphalt road. As I approached him from behind and placed him in cuffs, I realized just how hot the pavement was. I lifted him up and brushed off the dust from the road at I patted him down. All the while, I apologized for having him lay down on the hot pavement and told him I would get to the bottom of the issue.

Our department had just had some training on “Verbal Judo,” which I decided to use during interactions with citizens, even when using force. The theme of verbal judo is basically just to be nice. No matter what the citizen acts like, police discussion and commands should be friendly in tone.

While in the police car, I checked the registration for the car and his license. As it turned out, it was his car. The vehicle had mistakenly not been taken out of NCIC after it was recovered weeks ago. I immediately removed the handcuffs and “un-arrested” the man. I explained the error to him and asked if he would like to sit up front with me while I made sure the car was removed from NCIC. We chatted about the heat wave and other things until the dispatcher confirmed that the vehicle was no longer in NCIC and then we parted ways. It was a good lesson that as an officer, you never know when your probable cause to arrest someone may disappear, so “just be nice” works in more cases than one may think.

Be Aware, Understand, then React During a riot, I was at a corner redirecting traffic away from the event that had been deemed an “unlawful assembly.” A few blocks away, the riotous crowd turned its attention toward us officers. Several hundred people squared off against three cops, including myself. The rioters stared at us, and we stared back for several moments. Then someone in the crowd started throwing cans of soda. Most of the cans missed, but one connected and glanced off the riot helmet of the cop next to me, exploding as it hit the ground in a spray of carbonated mist. One of the cops yelled, “Let’s get them!” and we made a mad dash toward the crowd.

They ran like a herd of deer frightened by a predator. I was the fastest of the cops and caught up to the back of the crowd with my riot stick in the batting position. I was within arms-reach of the rioters. One glanced back at me and yelled, “Please don’t hit me!” At that moment I came to my senses. First, I could not tell who threw the can so I decided not to hit or arrest anyone. Second, and more importantly, I realized the other officers had stopped running several blocks back and I was now the only one chasing several hundred people. I walked back to my station as the other cops laughed and I rolled my eyes at them. I said, “Better safe than sorry.” As a cop, you must be aware of what is going on, understand what that means to you and the life, liberty and property of others, and react in a way that you hope will not be on the six o’clock news.

The Ends Do Not Always Justify the Means

These situations are just a few examples of how police can apply different tactics to de-escalate volatile situations, but de-escalation is not always possible and many times officers have to take direct action. In order to gain citizen support and legitimacy, police must work hard to ensure their actions are seen as reasonable. Officers need to constantly think about the nuances of the situation, the impacts of their actions and think outside the box to use force as little as possible.

In order to “protect and serve” in these changing times, police must maintain awareness and understanding. They must quickly adapt to changing situations in a manner that is acceptable within the law, as well as acceptable to the general public, who ultimately gives police the legitimacy and authority to exist.

About the Author: Andrew Bell has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and 25 years in the U.S. military and civilian service. He served as a patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, community-policing supervisor, school resource supervisor and detective supervisor. He was called to active duty with U.S. Army Reserve after 9/11 and completed a tour in Afghanistan. Andrew also worked for the U.S. federal government in Army intelligence, Army capabilities unit and emergency operations. He holds a master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in criminal justice. Andrew has been a faculty member with American Military University since 2004. He has recently written a book, Cops of Acadia, which is available on Amazon. To reach him, email IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.

Categories: Latest News

How one Florida PD uses license plate readers to catch criminals

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 06:00

Author: American Military University

Sponsored by Vigilant Solutions

By Tim Dees for PoliceOne BrandFocus

Installing fixed cameras to record license plates and alert authorities of vehicles of interest is proving a worthwhile investment for one Florida city.

Doral is a relatively new city, incorporated in 2003, and it didn’t have its own police department until 2008. If you have ever flown in or out of Miami International Airport, you’ve probably been there. The city of about 60,000 people lies just west of the airport property.

The Doral PD began the process of adopting automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology in 2010 to monitor the city’s transient traffic after they discovered that most crimes in the city were committed by suspects who lived elsewhere. The city now has cameras installed at major entry points to capture the license plates of nearly all vehicles entering and leaving the city. The data is fed to the PD’s communications center, which receives alerts on license plates flagged by the system, supplied by Vigilant Solutions, for further attention.

License plates are run against both the national and state (NCIC and FCIC) wanted vehicle files in real time, as well as an internal database maintained by the Doral PD. Dispatchers are notified when the system detects a stolen vehicle, as well as those flagged for investigative interest. The latter category includes vehicles known to be owned or operated by carjackers, burglars, thieves and other criminals who might seek victims in Doral.

When a stolen vehicle triggers the system, dispatchers alert patrol officers of the vehicle description and direction of travel so they can attempt to locate the stolen car and arrest the driver.

Where most ALPR systems are mobile – meaning the cameras are mounted on patrol cars – Doral’s fixed camera system has proven its worth again and again. The department does have one patrol car equipped with a mobile ALPR system, but their immediate plans are to expand the fixed camera installations to cover all points of entry into the city within two years, rather than just the more heavily-traveled intersections they have covered now.

Solving car burglaries, auto thefts

Doral PD’s Captain Carlos Arango described other circumstances when the license plate data has played a key supporting role in an investigation.

“We had a carjacking where the victim’s car was stolen. We were able to enter the car into the Vigilant system, and through the intersection cameras that capture the regular traffic, we were able to find the car that was following the victim, and later the car that was following the victim’s car,” Arango said. “That’s how we were able to make our case against that guy.”

Another case where the Vigilant ALPR system proved its worth was with a series of car burglaries in July 2015. Detectives of the Doral PD’s Crime Suppression Team identified one suspect through review of CCTV footage from a Walmart and were then able to associate a vehicle and its license tag with that suspect.

Entering that tag into the ALPR system allowed detectives to place the vehicle in the areas and times of the crimes. The same group of suspects stole four cars during their campaign. Eventually, the CST detectives arrested four juveniles and recovered one firearm, four stolen cars and $85,000 in stolen property. The investigation also revealed the existence of a juvenile gang (called (the”400 Boys”), and assisted other agencies in solving related cases.

A series of “bank jugging” cases took place when victims were followed from banks after making large cash withdrawals. A security officer obtained a partial license plate and vehicle description, and the ALPR system was able to identify the suspect’s vehicle from this partial data.

The suspect vehicle turned out to be a rental. CST detectives found the suspect had swapped the car for another rental, but again located it with the aid of the ALPR. The CST kept the car on its radar for five hours with the aid of data from the ALPR, which established the most likely time and travel pattern. The case ended with the arrest of four suspects and the recovery of $1,200 in cash.

Acquisition and management of the system

Arango says that after overcoming a few initial hurdles, the Vigilant license plate reader system has proved its worth over the past four years.

Lt. Cathy Jewett, one of the program’s implementation managers, recommends that anyone contemplating a similar effort assign a project manager/stakeholder to oversee the project from beginning to end for a smooth rollout.

Oversight of the system falls to the city’s IT department, so there’s not a large direct load on the police department’s resources. Arango estimated the annual maintenance agreement cost at just under $100,000 annually.

Beyond the obvious benefits to crime suppression and investigation, the Vigilant license plate reader system provides traffic engineering data in almost real time. The system detects about 192,000 cars per day passing through the city limits. Currently, about 2 percent of the plate detections generate hits for stolen vehicles, missing persons, Amber Alerts, vehicles wanted in connection with felonies and sex offenders, among other categories of police interest.

Arango believes the ALPR system has been a worthwhile investment:

“Almost daily we use it to analyze crime trends in an effort to develop leads, solve crimes and save lives.”

About the Author

Tim Dees is a retired police officer and the former editor of two major law enforcement websites who writes and consults on technology applications in criminal justice. He can be reached at tim@timdees.com.

Categories: Latest News

5 things to know about the hero who stopped the Waffle House shooter

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 15:03

By PoliceOne Staff

A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket entered a Waffle House in Nashville early Sunday, killing four and wounding others. The incident could have been even deadlier if not for the brave actions of James Shaw, Jr., who wrestled the gun away from the killer. Here are five things to know about the hero who stopped the violence.

1. Who is James Shaw?

Shaw, 29, is a graduate of Tennessee State University who currently works as a wire technician for AT&T. He has a 4-year-old daughter and was born and raised in Nashville. He entered the Waffle House mere minutes before the shooting began around 3:25 a.m. Interestingly, this wasn’t Shaw’s original choice for his late-night meal; he and his friends had initially gone to a different Waffle House, but left when they found it was too crowded.

This is James Shaw. He's a hero. His hands are burned severely from grabbing the assault rifle used to kill four people inside a Nashville Waffle House. He likely saved dozens of lives pic.twitter.com/WV7KQlzA2R

— Chris Conte (@chrisconte) April 22, 2018

Shaw, who was unarmed, has no combat training – he was simply a man in the right place at the right time who felt compelled to act.

"I knew I had it in me, but I don't have any specific combat training. I fight my daughter every night to get her to bed," he joked at a press conference.

2. Shaw was grazed by a bullet, but persevered.

Shaw headed toward the restaurant’s bathroom at the sound of the initial gunfire, but kept his sight on the gunman while taking cover. The gunman fired toward Shaw and grazed his arm.

“When he came in, I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill,” Shaw said. “I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.”

Shaw believes that at some point, the gunman’s rifle jammed or he needed to reload. As the gunfire paused, Shaw seized the opportunity and rushed the suspect, tackling him and wrestling away the rifle. He then threw it over the bar. Shaw’s hands were severely burned from grabbing the gun away from the killer.

Investigation on going at the Waffle House. Scene being processed by MNPD experts. This is the rifle used by the gunman. pic.twitter.com/lihhRImHQN

— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018

Shaw then pushed the suspect outside of the restaurant and chased him away. He did not pursue him out of fear that he had another weapon. He then flagged down drivers to call 911. He was later transported to a hospital, treated for his injuries, and released. He then changed clothes and attended church with his family.

3. Shaw says he doesn’t feel like a hero.

Truly humble, Shaw told reporters that he was just doing what he needed to do.

“I don’t really know, when everyone said that (of being a hero), it feels selfish,” he told the Tennessean. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

This is James Shaw. He's a hero. His hands are burned from grabbing the barrel of a gun used to kill four people at a Nashville Waffle House. He says he's sorry he couldn't save more people. pic.twitter.com/QXIevQLfM1

— Chris Conte (@chrisconte) April 22, 2018 4. Police credit Shaw for stopping further bloodshed.

Despite his humbleness, Shaw undoubtedly is a hero and stopped a bad situation from becoming far worse.

"Thrown into crisis, he acted with courage. He saved lives – that is certain and we are all thankful to him for his bravery," Nashville Mayor David Briley said.

In a statement to WCPO, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron agreed:

"He is the hero here, and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and then tossing it over the counter, and prompting the man to leave," Aaron said.

"Had that guy reloaded, there were plenty more people who probably could have not made it home this morning," one witness said.

5. The Suspect still on the loose.

Police are still searching for the man believed to be responsible for Sunday’s bloodshed, 29-year-old Travis Reinking. Police say Reinking could still be armed with two guns.

BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately. pic.twitter.com/duoWCo5fC0

— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018

Categories: Latest News

4 dead in Tenn. Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 14:36

By Sheila Burke Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A nearly naked gunman wearing only a green jacket and brandishing a rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday, shooting four people to death before a customer rushed him and wrestled the weapon away.

Authorities were searching for the 29-year-old suspect, Travis Reinking, who they said drove to the busy restaurant and killed two people in the parking lot before entering and continuing to fire. When his AR-15 rifle either jammed or the clip was empty, the customer disarmed him in a scuffle.

Four people were also wounded before the gunman fled, shedding his jacket.

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said there was no clear motive, though Reinking may have "mental issues." He may still be armed, Anderson told a mid-afternoon news conference, because he was known to have owned a handgun that authorities have not recovered.

The AR-15 used in the shooting and the handgun were among four firearms that authorities took from Reinking after U.S. Secret Service agents arrested him last July for being in a restricted area near the White House, officials said. Special Agent Todd Hudson said Reinking was detained after refusing to leave the restricted area, later explaining he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.

State police in Illinois, where Reinking lived until last fall, revoked his state firearms card at the request of the FBI and the four guns were taken from him, authorities said. Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said the guns were returned to his father, who told authorities Sunday he had given the weapons to his son.

Authorities hailed the customer who intervened to stop a further bloodbath, 29-year-old James Shaw, Jr., as a hero — though the father of a 4-year-old girl demurred and said he was just trying to survive.

Shaw told reporters he first thought the gunshots fired around 3:25 a.m were plates falling from a dishwashing station.

He said when he realized what was happening, he took cover behind a door as shots shattered windows. The gun either jammed or needed a new clip, and that is when Shaw said he pounced after making up his mind that "he was going to have to work to kill me."

They cursed at each other as they scuffled, Shaw said, and he was able to grab the gun and toss it over a counter. The gunman then ran away into the dark of the working- and middle-class Antioch neighborhood of southeast Nashville.

Authorities said he shed his jacket nearby and police found two AR-15 magazines loaded with bullets in the pockets. He was seen walking, naked, on a road, officials said, but later was seen in pants after apparently returning to his apartment.

Another witness, Chuck Cordero, told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the Waffle House when the chaos unfolded.

"He did not say anything," Cordero said of the gunman, who he described as "all business."

Cordero said Shaw saved lives. "There was plenty more people in that restaurant," he said.

The dead were identified as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C. Sanderlin, and 20-year-old restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 23-year-old Akilah Dasilva and 21-year-old Deebony Groves. A police statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant, Groves was fatally shot inside, and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Aaron, the police spokesman, said two of the wounded were being treated for gunshot wounds at the medical center, where spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel said one was in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition.

TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Radel in Nashville said two people were treated for minor injuries and released.

Aaron said Reinking lived near the restaurant, and police used yellow crime scene tape to block public access to an apartment complex about a half-mile from the Waffle House. Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois.

"This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family," the company said in a statement on Twitter. "We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers."

Nashville Mayor David Briley described the shooting as "a tragic day" for the city.

"My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded," Briley said in an emailed statement. "I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime."

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, whose district includes Nashville, said in an emailed statement that the shooting shows the need for tighter restrictions on "widespread civilian access to military-grade assault weapons."

Waffle House: 6 persons shot, 4 fatally (3 died at the scene, 1 at the hospital). The 2 others are being treated at Vanderbilt. Search continuing for Travis Reinking. pic.twitter.com/ioR7cVq899

— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018

Investigation on going at the Waffle House. Scene being processed by MNPD experts. This is the rifle used by the gunman. pic.twitter.com/lihhRImHQN

— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018

12:04 update: highway patrol now assisting in the search for suspected Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking @WSMV pic.twitter.com/P77Kd6ak2r

— Kevin Trager (@KevinWSMV) April 22, 2018

Categories: Latest News

Bill aims to restore arrest, investigative powers to Pa. sheriffs, deputies

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 09:13

By Natasha Lindstrom The Tribune-Review

GREENSBURG, Pa. — The pair of Bradford County sheriff's deputies thought they had closed the case.

While visiting a mobile home in Troy to question a woman about a methamphetamine ring, deputies Christopher Burgert and David Hart smelled ammonia and ether coming from a barn on the property, court records show . The woman wasn't home, but one of them recognized Cory Dobbins as he ran off into the woods.

The deputies learned from a state trooper that the property had a history of drug-related busts. They returned with a search warrant. Inside the barn, they found equipment consistent with a meth lab — propane tanks, plastic tubing, rubber gloves, salt and milk jugs filled with white sludge.

A jury convicted Dobbins of conspiracy to manufacture and sell methamphetamine in 2004. He was sentenced to four to 23 years in prison.

In 2007, a split Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out Dobbins' conviction and suppressed the evidence collected by the deputies that had been used to prosecute him.

On a 3-2 vote, the state's highest court determined the investigation was illegal — not because of how it was done, but because of who did it.

Sheriff's deputies lack the independent investigative authority of local municipal police and had no right to investigate the case, the court found. The case marked at least the 15th time the issue had come before the high court.

Sheriff's powers debated

More than a decade later, ambiguity continues to cloud lower courts and law enforcement investigations statewide over the authority of sheriffs and their deputies, with judges, attorneys and local police harboring mixed opinions over the limitations of what sheriffs can do.

The state House is set to take up a bill next month that seeks to clarify and expand the powers of sheriff's deputies.

House Bill 466 , sponsored by Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver County, would give explicit authority for sheriffs and sheriff's deputies who complete the same type of training as municipal police officers to investigate and make arrests without warrants for crimes including but not limited to vehicle and drug offenses they encounter while performing their regular duties.

“The courts are asking for clarity; they're asking for definitions,” Marshall, of Big Beaver, told the Tribune-Review. “We're not trying to replace any state troopers or municipal police. We're just trying to assist (them) with other law enforcement that has similar training.”

Butler County Sheriff Michael T. Slupe has argued that many sheriff's departments already have equal and sometimes better resources , weapons and physical training than local police.

Marshall pointed out that many sheriff's deputies are retired police or split their time between shifts as a sheriff's deputy and a police officer.

“There may not be additional costs to counties to have this enacted,” Marshall said, “and there's potential it even could reduce costs if detectives aren't called out every time a sheriff's department sees laws being broken or illegal activity.”

Another layer of safety

In Western Pennsylvania, only the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department has full Act 120 policing powers, and it would continue to have more authority to patrol and investigate than sheriffs under Marshall's bill.

Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said he's “absolutely” supportive of the bill as a means to improve public safety.

“The sheriffs are out in the streets, and I think it creates another layer of public safety for the communities,” Mullen said. “They still won't have the full powers we have; the difference is that they would have the ability to investigate.”

Existing law allows for sheriff's deputies to make arrests regarding certain illegal activity they come across in “open view.” They're unable to investigate reports of crimes they do not encounter or witness, and instead must call in municipal or state police to investigate.

“If there's a burglary or something, they can't go after it. They have to call in help,” Mullen said. “The state police may have to come in, and in the more rural areas they may have to come 25 to 30 miles.”

Armstrong County Sheriff Bill Rupert said that if it becomes law, H.B. 466 wouldn't significantly change the daily schedules of him and his eight full-time deputies. Like most sheriff's offices, they have limited budgets and spend the bulk of their time serving court documents and transporting inmates.

“Myself and my deputies are out on the street every day anyhow. It's a positive for the community,” Rupert said. “It just puts that many more people out there on the streets that can combat the drug problems and the different problems that we have.

“Once the House Bill 466 powers pass, we could continue on with the prosecution of whatever we find or whatever we see when we go into a place to, say, serve a search warrant.”

The bill could help expedite investigations and save resources for other public safety efforts in cash-strapped municipalities, as well as improve the credibility and usefulness of information collected by sheriff's deputies, Mullen said.

“When people give you information, even from another police officer, you're kind of leery,” he said. “You're going to put it on the back burner because it's not your information.”

Police unions, Democrats opposed

The proposed legislation narrowly made it out of the House State Government Committee on Tuesday, on a 15-11, party-line vote. All 11 minority Democratic committee members voted against it.

Marshall, however, expects to pick up at least half a dozen or more Democratic votes on the House floor. He's pitched at least four similar bills over the past 10 years. Previous bills have died in attempts to make it to the House floor through the House Judiciary Committee.

“We're closer than we have been to passing this in a dozen years,” Marshall said. “I don't think it's a significant, landmark bill. I think it's just the beginning of just restoring some of the abilities of the sheriff's departments that they had before.”

While the Pennsylvania Sheriffs Association is among the bill's biggest proponents, H.B. 466 has drawn oppositio n from the state chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, state troopers union and state District Attorneys Association.

The County Commissioners Association seemed pleased with the amended version that cleared the committee, according to Marshall.

“I wish I had the troopers and FOP supporting it,” Marshall said. “I've talked to several deputies that are really unhappy that this doesn't have support from the FOP ... because many deputies are municipal police on one shift and then sheriff's deputies on another shift, and the FOP supports them when they're municipal but not when they're wearing another badge.

The 2007 case overturning Dobbins' conviction prompted former Gov. Tom Corbett to remove sheriff's deputies from countywide drug task forces.

Citing a lack of legislative clarity on the definition of a sheriff, the 3-2 opinion had reaffirmed prior rulings saying that sheriffs can make arrests only for breaches of the peace and felonies committed in their presence — an authority “no different than a private citizen.”

Even under H.B. 466, Marshall said he'd still like to see sheriff's deputies involving Act 120 law enforcement agencies in major investigations.

“In the cases of meth labs and other significant drug activity, I would hope that the sheriff's deputies would contact state police to assist,” Marshall said.

©2018 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

Categories: Latest News

Pittsburgh chief joins opposition to concealed carry gun law expansion

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 08:41

By Wes Venteicher The Tribune-Review

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert joined 472 police officials from around the country in urging Congress not to pass legislation the group says would undermine states' concealed-carry laws.

The proposal would allow any person who is legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry the weapon in any other state. Under current law, states maintain reciprocity agreements with one another that govern where people can travel with concealed weapons.

“This legislation is a dangerous encroachment on individual state efforts to protect public safety, and it would effectively nullify duly enacted state laws and hamper law enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence,” the International Association of Chiefs of Police wrote in a Thursday letter to congressional leaders.

Concealed carry laws vary widely from state to state. In Pennsylvania, residents must be at least 21 and undergo a sheriff's investigation and state and federal background checks to obtain a license. Some states don't require a permit.

The bill's supporters say current laws create a confusing patchwork of laws that are difficult for legal carriers to navigate. The House has passed the proposal, H.R. 38, and a Senate version has been referred to a committee. The NRA supports the bill.

The law enforcement officers said that with the change, they “could not confirm whether an individual is carrying a weapon legally or creating a risk to public safety.”

Seventeen active and retired officers in Pennsylvania signed the letter, along with officials from departments large and small from around the country. Schubert was one of only two signers from Southwestern Pennsylvania, along with Sgt. Kenneth Ranalli, a Pennsylvania State Police officer from Pittsburgh.

©2018 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

Categories: Latest News

Mo. deputy killed in crash while responding to 911 call

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 08:23

By Kaitlyn Schwers The Kansas City Star

MILLER COUNTY, Mo. — A deputy in central Missouri who died in a crash while responding to a 911 call Friday night has been identified as Casey L. Shoemate.

Shoemate, 26, worked for the Miller County Sheriff's Office.

A Missouri State Highway crash report said Shoemate, driving a 2014 Dodge Charger, struck another vehicle head-on while going south on Missouri Y. Shoemate had his emergency lights and sirens on and was attempting to pass a fire truck on the highway when he hit a northbound 2017 Toyota 4Runner.

A highway patrol spokesman said Friday that Shoemate was trying to go around the fire truck in a no-passing area. The fire truck was responding to an unrelated call, and did not have its emergency lights or siren on.

The deputy was pronounced dead at the scene by the Miller County coroner.

The driver of the 4Runner, Robert M. Levin, 65, of Florissant, Mo., was taken by helicopter to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia with serious injuries.

Shoemate, who lived in Eldon, Mo., had been with the sheriff's office for about a year, the highway patrol said.

By early Saturday, the sheriff's office changed its profile and cover photos on Facebook in memory of the deputy.

"A hero remembered ... never dies," one of images said, with a photo of Shoemate smiling.

©2018 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Categories: Latest News

5 things to know about the Backpage.com seizure

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 08:11

By PoliceOne Staff

Popular classifieds website Backpage.com was seized by federal authorities in early April. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the site “the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike.” Coming on the heels of the seizure, FOSTA-SESTA, a new law aimed at battling online sex trafficking, was signed by President Trump. Here are five things to know about the Backpage.com seizure, and why the recent moves by the feds are likely to monumentally change sex trafficking in America.

1. What is Backpage?

Backpage.com was the second largest classified ad website after Craigslist. It grew enormously in traffic and notoriety in 2010, after Craigslist put an end to its adult services section. Seizing the opportunity, Backpage became – according to law enforcement – the leading resource for sex trafficking ads on the internet. Overall, the site generated over $100 million in revenue per year in 2013 and 2014 alone.

2. How big was the problem?

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), had this to say about the classifieds website:

“Backpage has operated in a fashion akin to the East India Trading Company in the days of the African slave trade—as a willing and knowledgeable promoter and facilitator of egregious sexual exploitation. Reports show that Backpage posted as many as 1 million prostitution ads a day, and in 2012-2013, generated 82.3% (at least $39 million) of its revenue from online advertising of prostitution. According to 51 state Attorneys General (including Guam and American Samoa) many cases of sexual trafficking are directly related to the posting of these ads. There can be no doubt that Backpage’s entire business model is built on sexual exploitation, and that as such, Backpage’s CEO and founders represent America’s top pimps.”

According to a report by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about Backpage, led by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the website was involved in 73 percent of all child trafficking reports that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received from the general public, not including reports made by Backpage itself.

In fact, one of the cases that helped shut down the website was out of Texas, revolving around the trafficking of a 15-year-old girl using Backpage listings.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who’s made headlines over the years for his long legal battle with the website, said in 2017 that his agency had made over 1,000 arrests tied to Backpage ads.

3. Multiple Backpage officials are facing charges.

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to facilitate prostitution, and is cooperating with authorities. Seven other Backpage officials were arrested in a 93-count indictment for similar offenses. Ferrer admitted the site knowingly looked for ways to “facilitate the state-law prostitution crimes being committed by Backpage's customers."

4. FOSTA-SESTA and the ripple effects of the seizure

As sex work moved from the streets to the internet, web services were protected under the Communications Decency Act, which shielded companies from liability for user-generated content on their sites.

The Backpage problem was a major driver of legislation that targeted CDA’s protection of websites that are gathering places for sex workers. Signed into law last week by President Trump, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), are designed to crack down on online sex trafficking by making it “a federal crime to own, manage, or operate a website with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution."

Prior to Trump signing the bill, companies like Craigslist and Reddit preemptively took down “personals” and sex-related sections of their websites. And many more web companies are likely to follow suit in the coming weeks.

5. Unintended consequences?

The seizure of Backpage and the passing of FOSTA-SESTA have been viewed by officials as a major win in the fight against sex trafficking. But some critics have warned about unintended consequences.

Some open internet advocates believe the bill is overly broad, undermines internet freedoms and puts web companies at unfair risk of litigation.

Sex workers and sex work advocates argue that it takes the power away from sex workers – forcing them back on the streets and leading to more exploitation and risk.

Learn more

While it’s too early to know the full impact of these new enforcement efforts, there’s no question that sex trafficking is a huge problem in the U.S. – nearly 5,600 cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016. To learn more, take a look at the following collection of articles and videos by our experts. And if you’d like to expand your knowledge even further, check out the PoliceOne Academy, which features multiple online courses on human trafficking. You can schedule a free P1A demo here.

How police can identify, respond to victims of human trafficking

How police can fight human trafficking on its own cyber-turf

The role of technology in human trafficking and sexual exploitation

Video: Human trafficking terms and resources

History and forms of human trafficking

Categories: Latest News

Civil rights prosecutors urge charges against LEO in Eric Garner case

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 04:00

By Sadie Gurman Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Federal civil rights prosecutors have recommended charging a New York police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, but it's unclear if top Justice Department officials will be willing to move forward with a case, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

Prosecutors recently made the recommendation to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to the person, who wasn't authorized to discuss the pending case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times first reported the development, which marks the latest legal turn in a case that became in a flashpoint in a national conversation about police use of force. Video shot by a bystander shows 43-year-old Garner, after being stopped by officers for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed. Officer Daniel Pantaleo responds by putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, and Garner, who had asthma, is heard gasping, "I can't breathe."

The case has been in legal limbo for years. Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the Justice Department to "show some level of decency to the Garner family and make its decision."

"Our city has waited long enough," he said.

Civil rights prosecutors under former Deputy Attorney General Loretta Lynch felt confident forging ahead with charges against Pantaleo but faced resistance from federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, who were not sure there was enough evidence to bring a case they could win. A state grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo in 2014.

Civil rights activists and other observers have been closely watching how Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a vocal supporter of local law enforcement, will handle the racially charged case. Because of its high-profile nature, Rosenstein must recommend whether to allow prosecutors to move forward with an indictment, the person familiar with the case said. Sessions can also weigh in but has given no indication publicly about where he stands.

The Justice Department did not immediately comment.

Sessions has long said that he won't pursue the kinds of wide-ranging federal investigations of entire police departments that were hallmarks of the Obama administration's approach to reforming troubled local agencies. He maintains the approach diminishes officer morale and can lead to spikes in crime.

But he has also said he will hold individual officers accountable for breaking the law.

Bringing civil rights charges against police officers is rare and challenging in any administration because prosecutors must reach a difficult standard of proof. It requires them to establish that an officer not only acted with excessive force but also willfully violated someone's constitutional rights. Even some career prosecutors familiar with the details of the Garner case acknowledge it would be challenging to secure a conviction, a federal law enforcement official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a pending case.

Jonathan Moore, an attorney for the Garner family, said he had not been informed that charges were recommended but was cautiously optimistic.

"We welcome this if it's true, obviously, but it's long overdue," he said.

But Pantaleo's attorney, Stuart London, said he has not been contacted by Justice Department officials in the last few months. He reiterated that his client maintains he did not violate Garner's rights.

"It has always and continues to be a simple street encounter," London said.

Categories: Latest News

Pa. detective dies during physical training exercise

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 04:00

By Brian C. Rittmeyer The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — A New Castle police detective died during a physical training exercise Thursday, the police department announced.

Detective Sgt. Brian S. Cuscino, 44, had been with the New Castle department since 2001. The physical training was required for officers serving on its special response team.

He suffered an apparent heart attack, according to the New Castle News.

Cuscino had worked as a patrol officer for about 10 years before being promoted to a detective in the criminal investigative division. He was the department's lead homicide investigator and "did establish himself as an expert in that field," the department said.

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It is with deep sadness and regret that the New Castle City Police Department is announcing the sudden passing of New...

Posted by New Castle Police Department on Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Detective Cuscino had an amazing 100 percent clearance rate on homicide cases in which he was the lead detective," the department said.

The law enforcement community was extending its sympathies and condolences to the New Castle Police and honors to Cuscino.

Cuscino and his wife, Heather, have two sons, Brandon and Dustin.

The William F. & Roger M. DeCarbo Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Visitation will be from 2-7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, 926 Cunningham Ave.

Services will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Vitus Church . Burial will be at St. Vitus Cemetery.

©2018 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)

Categories: Latest News

Police: MS-13 threatens to 'take out a cop' in NY

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 04:00

By Craig Schneider, Stefanie Dazio and Mark Morales Newsday

NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. — Nassau and Hempstead Village police officers are on high alert and stepping up enforcement after MS-13 twice threatened cops, pledging in one case to “take the streets back” in retaliation for arrests of gang members.

“If MS-13 wants to threaten a cop in this county, MS-13 is gonna get an answer,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Thursday night at a news conference with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “We will answer that threat and answer it strongly.”

In the second threat, which Ryder said came after neighborhood sweeps Wednesday led to several arrests, an MS-13 gang member vowed to “execute” an officer the commissioner did not name.

“There was a threat that an individual that was planning to execute a cop and did have weapons in his vehicle and a mask but . . . by the grace of God that didn’t happen that night,” Ryder said.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers also is offering a $25,000 reward “for information that leads to an arrest in connection with threats to harm police officers,” the department said Friday morning in a news release.

The department said it “has taken necessary precautions to protect our officers.”

“While the Suffolk County Police Department takes this threat seriously, we will not be deterred in our mission by threats by gang members,” police said in a statement. “Our commitment in bringing gang members and their associates who commit crimes to justice continues to be a top priority.”

Suffolk police acting Commissioner Geraldine Hart encouraged citizens with information about MS-13 threats come forward.

“It is the department’s hope that anyone with information about these threats will do what is right and provide details to thwart acts of violence,” Hart said in a statement.

On Wednesday afternoon, an informant told Hempstead Village police of the first threat: An MS-13 gang member had urged other members to “take out a cop” in the Hempstead area. That information prompted a flood of law enforcement officers to make the arrests where they also learned of the second threat.

Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan couldn’t be reached for comment.

Ryder also announced a $25,000 Crime Stoppers reward Thursday night for information leading to an arrest of anyone who threatens the life of a police officer.

Nassau police had initially circulated an internal memo Wednesday, which goes to officers departmentwide, detailing the first threat made by a gang member to a “credible” informant.

The memo prompted the NYPD to alert its 36,500 officers of the threat and cautioned them to be vigilant.

A gang member told the informant “it’s time to take the streets back and take out a cop like we do in El Salvador,” according to the memo. The informant told police the gang member, whom he described as thin with tattoos of three dots next to an eye, said MS-13 “needs to make a statement.”

Any gang member, according to the memo, has permission to carry out the attack.

Officers should take the threat seriously, the memo said, advising them not to wear their uniforms off duty, to carry their firearms at all times, and to consider different routes from those they normally travel.

The threats came as MS-13’s alleged East Coast kingpin came to court in Nassau to face charges that his four-state network plotted killings and trafficked in drugs in the region.

In the past two years, authorities have increased their enforcement of MS-13, which officials say is responsible for more than two dozen killings on Long Island.

Nassau County and Hempstead Village departments are also requiring that officers double up on their response to calls, officials said.

Michael McGowan, chief of police for Hempstead Village, said the department is speaking to all officers about the threat. “We believe it to be a credible threat...were are investigating it vigorously.”

Because of the initial threat, the Hempstead department is now requiring two officers respond to every call, according to Hempstead Village Officer Christopher Giardino, who leads the department’s Police Benevolent Association. Usually, only one officer responds to calls, such as a request for an ambulance, because of manpower and budget costs, he said.

“Any kind of call — it could be a dog loose — two men to each call, no matter what,” he said. “It could be a setup, we don’t know.”

Both officers must stay at the scene until the call is completed, Giardino said.

Hempstead Village officers are nervous and have reached out to him, he said.

“They’re worried about their safety,” he said.

Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott said on Friday morning he wants more security measures, including more patrols in addition to having two cars.

“Do whatever we need to do,” McDermott said at a news conference. “Pull out all the stops.”

Local officials expressed their support for area law enforcement.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that our police officers and first responders are protected,” Curran said at the news conference.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement, “We stand in solidarity with the entire law enforcement community against these heinous and disturbing threats.”

MS-13 gang members have killed at least 25 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties since 2016, authorities have said. Hempstead Village has the largest population of MS-13 members in the county, according to Giardino. Federal officials count some 2,000 members of the brutal street gang on Long Island.

President Donald Trump, who has blamed gang violence and other crime on illegal immigration, came to Brentwood in July and described some Long Island towns as “bloodstained killing fields” that are “under siege” and need to be liberated from MS-13.

With Anthony M. DeStefano and Nicole Fuller

By Craig Schneider, Stefanie Dazio and Mark Morales craig.schneider@newsday.com @Scraigo

Craig Schneider is a Long Island native and Stony Brook University alumnus. He joined Newsday as a general assignment reporter in January 2018 after 20 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

©2018 Newsday

Categories: Latest News

Lawyer: Man accused of nearly killing Pa. trooper unlikely to argue mental health

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 04:00

By Riley Yates The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Monroe County man accused of opening fire on two Pennsylvania State Police troopers, critically injuring one of them, is unlikely to offer a mental-health defense at trial, his defense lawyer said Friday.

Daniel K. Clary, 22, faces two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and other charges in the roadside shooting on Route 33 in Plainfield Township that nearly killed Cpl. Seth Kelly.

In February, Clary lawyer Janet Jackson raised the possibility of an insanity or diminished-capacity defense, saying experts needed to evaluate whether her client has mental conditions, and also whether he is competent to face trial.

Those evaluations have been conducted and the defense does not plan to contest Clary’s competency, Jackson said Friday after a pretrial hearing before Northampton County President Judge Stephen Baratta.

Jackson said she also does not anticipate offering a mental-heath defense at trial.

“At this point, I don’t intend raising those issues,” Jackson said.


Scene of emergency personal responding to the shooting of Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Seth Kelly at Routes 191 with 33 in Northampton County.

Scene of emergency personal responding to the shooting of Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Seth Kelly at Routes 191 with 33 in Northampton County. (APRIL GAMIZ / THE MORNING CALL)

The Nov. 7 shooting left Kelly critically wounded, injuries for which he was hospitalized for nearly a month. Authorities say Kelly suffered gunshot wounds to his neck, shoulder and thigh, and may have saved his own life by applying a tourniquet on his wounded leg before paramedics arrived.

First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck has said he will be seeking a conviction and sentence under which Clary remains in prison for the rest of his life. Houck has said he believes Clary’s mental health was immaterial to his alleged actions.

Police said the encounter on the side of the highway started with a routine traffic stop and a driver who acted strangely. But when Trooper Ryan Seiple and Kelly tried to arrest Clary on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, police said matters quickly took a violent turn.

Clary was also wounded in the melee, when Kelly and Seiple returned fire after the shooting erupted, authorities said.

After fleeing, Clary drove himself to Easton Hospital, authorities said, and was hospitalized for five days. But the Chestnuthill Township man is now jailed under $1 million bail.

A trial date has yet to be scheduled, according to the attorneys.

©2018 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Categories: Latest News

Police: NYPD officer dies by suicide

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 15:20

By Thomas Tracy New York Daily News

NEW YORK — An on-duty NYPD cop fatally shot himself Friday while parked outside a department facility in the Bronx, authorities said.

He’s the fourth NYPD officer to take his own life in as many months, police said.

First responders rushed to an NYPD Auto Crime and Narcotics Division facility in Wakefield about 10:50 a.m., where the mortally wounded officer was found sitting in his personal vehicle in the parking lot.

Officers rushed him to Jacobi Medical Center, but he could not be saved. His name was not immediately disclosed.

Police sources said the cop worked in the Bronx, but it was not immediately clear if he was assigned to the Auto Crime and Narcotics Division.

Cops were first alerted to the incident by Mount Vernon police who had received a 911 call from a panicked relative, who said the cop was planning to harm himself, police sources said.

On Feb. 26, Police Officer Rachel Bocatija, 26, killed herself in her Bushwick home. Her younger sister found her body in a locked room of the family home, a neighbor said.

On Jan. 13, Sgt. Joseph Pizzarro, 35, fatally shot himself in a room at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island. Then, on Jan. 28, Detective Nicholas Budney killed himself at a restaurant overlooking the Hudson River in Orange County.

Following Bocatija’s death, Police Commissioner James O’Neill recorded a YouTube video describing the services available to cops in distress.

“Your job requires that you spend your day helping others. But before you can take care of anyone else, you must first take care of yourself, so please, remember, if you need it, help is here, and help is available,” O’Neill said.

The NYPD offers a variety of programs, and in 2014 launched an “Are You OK?” campaign aimed at promoting mental health awareness.

The department also works with POPPA, or Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, a volunteer support network for officers and retirees that offers help for post traumatic stress disorder, marital problems, substance abuse and suicide.


(Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed to this story.)


©2018 New York Daily News

Categories: Latest News