NEWS of the Week
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
June 9, 2013
Police: Gunman planned to kill hundreds in Santa Monica shooting spree
SANTA MONICA -The gunman who launched a shooting spree that left four people dead and injured five others had planned his attack, toting enough ammunition to possibly kill hundreds of people, Santa Monica police said Saturday.
Police declined to identify the former Santa Monica College student, other than to say he left four victims dead and another gravely wounded during a one-mile rampage that ended with the shooter being gunned down by police in the campus library.
Though police would not name the suspect until his family could be notified, he was widely believed to be 23-year-old John Zawahri, a native of Lebanon, who would have turned 24 on Saturday. Police declined to discuss a motive.
Two media outlets reported Saturday that law enforcement officials told them that Zawahri, 23, of Santa Monica was the shooter. It is believed that Zawahri also killed his father and brother, set their house on fire and then began his shooting spree, ending up at San Monica College where he killed a woman outside the library before being shot and killed by police. The Coroner's Office has released only the name of one victim, a college grounds keeper.
Active-shooter drills on the rise at K-12 schools in the wake of Sandy Hook massacre
One morning in early April, on the grounds of Richard Gahr High School in Cerritos, the crack of at least 100 gunshots pierced the calm. A few explosions shook the ground.
A few weeks later, at a K-12 charter school in rural Oregon, two masked gunmen burst into a gathering of teachers during a staff-development day. They took aim at the unsuspecting faculty members and opened fire. Bam! Bam! Bam! The shots went off like firecrackers.
In both situations, the bullets were blanks, and the gunmen were law enforcement officers or volunteers conducting a drill.
Had they occurred on the prior side of Dec. 14, 2012, these events might have seemed excessive. It's easy to imagine how the drill in Cerritos might have raised some eyebrows -- the media spectacle involved, the use of not only simulated rounds and flash grenades, but also hundreds of people, including clergy members, local business leaders, community safety volunteers and even students drenched in fake blood. And it's difficult to imagine that the Oregon drill -- a complete surprise attack that left teachers terrified -- would have happened at all.
Six months since Sandy Hook: Newtown residents find their voice
NEWTOWN, Connecticut (CNN) — The door to the shuttered mental hospital swings open onto a scene of decay: Chunks of fallen plaster and mold-infested insulation rest on the floor of a once magnificent room.
Chandeliers have given way to crumbling ceilings. Walls are stained from rain running down the sides after two decades of neglect.
Standing amid the ruins, it's hard not to think about Adam Lanza, our mental health system — and whether it failed him and the people of Newtown.
The hilltop campus of Fairfield Hills, a former Connecticut state mental institution that closed in 1995 after more than 60 years, overlooks the community.
To the left, about a half mile down Church Hill Road, stands the National Sports Shooting Foundation, a lobbying arm for the gun industry. To the right and around a few bends sits Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the horrific massacre of 26 people, including 20 children.
It seems like the crossroads of tragic irony — a closed mental hospital, headquarters of a powerful gun group and the Sandy Hook school, all within about three miles and at the center of national debate.
Justice Department Announces Plan for Advancing Crime Victims' Rights and Services in the Twenty-first Century
June 8, 2013
Developed by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report, is the first collective examination in 15 years of current U.S. practices, funding and outreach in the crime victims' field.
“Today's announcement marks the latest step forward in the Department's ongoing work to protect and empower those who have been victimized,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Through Vision 21, we've gained an unprecedented understanding of the current state of victim services from coast to coast. And we've developed groundbreaking strategies for responding to urgent needs, combating violence and abuse, and providing critical support to crime victims.”
Vision 21 documents the need to better understand who is affected by crime, how they are affected, how they seek help, who reports victimization and the reasons why some victims do not. The report calls for continuous, rather than episodic, strategic planning in the victim assistance field and for statutory, policy and programmatic flexibility to address enduring and emerging crime victim issues. It also calls for the development of evidence-based knowledge founded on data collection and analysis of victimization and emerging victimization trends, services, behaviors and enforcement efforts.
5 dead -- including gunman -- in Santa Monica shootings
A wave of violence ripped through Santa Monica on Friday, with a series of shootings and a house fire that claimed five lives and injured several others, according to police and witnesses.
A man armed with an assault rifle went on a shooting rampage at multiple sites in Santa Monica on Friday, killing four people and wounding others before dying in a gunfight with police officers.
A police spokesman says five people, including the gunman, are dead. Police said earlier that seven people were killed, including the gunman.
The suspect, described as a white male about 25 to 30 years old, clad in all black with a bulletproof vest, shot at people seemingly at random, police said.
Two officials briefed on the investigation say the killings Friday began as a domestic violence incident.
Night Stalker Richard Ramirez dies of natural causes in Marin hospital
Richard Ramirez, a Satan-worshiping serial killer dubbed "The Night Stalker" who terrorized Southland residents during the long, hot summer of 1985, died of natural causes Friday morning at a hospital in Marin County. He was 53.
A drifter who came to Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus after growing up in El Paso, Ramirez raped, tortured and butchered his prey in a crime spree that claimed victims from Orange County to San Francisco. The majority of those touched by Ramirez's brutality lived in sleepy suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley, but no one in California felt safe while Ramirez was on the loose.
The convicted serial killer, who apparently fell ill early Friday, was taken to Marin General Hospital from San Quentin's Death Row, where he had lived since the early 1990s.
"This is the end of a episode that was a terrible and horrible moment in the history of L.A. County," said Deputy District Attorney Alan Yochelson, who was a member of the prosecution team. "His crimes affected not just the victims, but for their survivors and their next of kin, it changed their lives forever."
FBI: Wife Tried to Frame Husband for Ricin Letters
by NOMAAN MERCHANT and DANNY ROBBINS Associated Press
Shannon Richardson had been married to her husband less than two years when she went to authorities and told them her suspicions: He was the one who had mailed ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatening violence against gun-control advocates.
When investigators looked closer, they reached a different conclusion: It was the 35-year-old pregnant actress who had sent the letters, and she tried to frame her estranged husband in a bizarre case of marital conflict crossing with bioterrorism.
Those allegations are detailed in court documents filed Friday as Richardson was arrested and charged with mailing a threatening communication to the president. The federal charge carries up to 10 years in prison, U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Davilyn Walston said.
Richardson, a mother of five who has played bit roles on television and in movies, is accused of mailing the ricin-laced letters to the White House, to Bloomberg and to the mayor's Washington gun-control group last month.
Chicago Hacks its Way to Mobile-Friendly Public Safety Apps
Smartphones and mobile devices are changing how we interact with government bodies that keep us safe. While community policing in Chicago is nothing new, the ability for citizens to remotely interact with the people who help keep their communities safe certainly is. This means that city residents can engage in local public safety measures with arguably more ease than ever before.
This May, Chicago's community policing program, Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), partnered with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) to provide an opportunity for civic-minded programmers to enhance such efforts in Chicago. The “Safer Communities Hackathon,” hosted by Google at the company's Chicago offices, was convened to expand the technological arm of CAPS.
By bringing CAPS services to mobile devices, Chicago looks to start a new era for its long-running community policing initiative.
CAPS began in 1993 as a way for the city's police force to build partnerships with residents. At neighborhood CAPS meetings, officers and local residents identify community concerns, quality of life concerns and overall public safety concerns and collaboratively discuss ways to address them. The program initially started as a pilot in five Chicago police districts, then expanded citywide in 1994 due to its success. CAPS quickly became a national model for enhancing community interaction with police departments.
June 7, 2013
LAPD flexes counterterrorism muscle during drill
Fake explosions and gunfire rocked downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, as police mounted an impressive counterterrorism drill that featured helicopters swooping between buildings and a remote-controlled forklift that carried away a pickup truck loaded with bombs.
"We want the people of Los Angeles to know that we are as ready as we can humanly be," Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said.
"Does this eliminate all threat? No, but it does get us a long way towards dealing with one if it comes through," he added.
"It was well-planned, and the coordination was absolutely flawless," added Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. "That's what we needed to show the public in Los Angeles: that we're prepared."
The demonstration of LAPD's Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) was the culmination of a counterterrorism conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites.
How the government can get your digital data without a warrant
The U.S. government isn't allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI to the Internal Revenue Service, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena. Usually you won't even be notified.
A court order recently obtained by the Guardian newspaper also shows the FBI has successfully requested call "metadata" — including the time, duration and location of phone calls — under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act . The court order, signed by senior federal Judge Roger Vinson on April 25, directs Verizon Business Network Service to turn over metadata for all calls to the National Security Agency through July 19.
Two senators introduced legislation in March to update privacy protection for emails, but Congress hasn't taken action on the bill. Meanwhile, here's how law enforcement can track you without a warrant now.
White House defends Verizon phone record collection after secret court order is published
The Obama administration on Thursday acknowledged that it is collecting a massive amount of telephone records from at least one carrier, defending the practice as "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States."
The admission comes after the Guardian newspaper published a secret court order related to the records of millions of Verizon Communications customers on its website on Wednesday.
A senior administration official said the court order pertains only to data such as a telephone number or the length of a call, and not the subscribers' identities or the content of people's telephone calls.
The order marked "Top Secret" and issued by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court directs Verizon's Business Network Services Inc and Verizon Business Services units to hand over electronic data including all calling records on an "ongoing, daily basis" until the order expires on July 19, 2013.
NSA's PRISM Sounds Like A Darn Good Idea To Me: This Is What Governments Are For
There's been a joint investigation by the Washington Post and The Guardian into an NSA program called PRISM. The allegation is that the National Security Agency (NSA) has backdoor access to the systems and data of the major internet firms, Microsoft MSFT +0.5% , Google GOOG +0.49% , Apple AAPL -1.54% , Facebook FB +0.31% and so on, and they routinely use this to monitor what people are saying and doing. With one caveat this is in fact what governments are supposed to do so I'm at something of a loss in understanding why people seem to be getting so outraged about it.
The WaPo piece is here , a couple from The Guardian here and here .
It's worth pointing out that the companies themselves are vehemently denying that the NSA has such backdoor access to the data.
However, senior executives from the internet companies expressed surprise and shock and insisted that no direct access to servers had been offered to any government agency.
June 6, 2013
TSA makes it official: No knives on airplanes
Bowing in part to political pressure, the Transportation Security Administration will not allow knives on airplanes, reversing a decision once favored by the government agency's top administrator.
The TSA announced proposed changes to the prohibited items list in March, with plans to allow knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches, as well as some sports equipment, such child-size baseball bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs.
Many flight attendants, pilots and even airline executives opposed the switch, saying it would make cabins unsafe. The change also outraged scores of elected officials, including Los Angeles-area Democratic Reps. Janice Hahn and Maxine Waters.
In response, the TSA postponed implementation, which had been set to begin in late April. But, as recently as last week, TSA Administrator John Pistole indicated the agency was still considering relaxed restrictions, saying screeners should be more concerned about explosives than small-bladed knives.
Report: Gov't scooping up Verizon phone records
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
The order was granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and is good until July 19, the newspaper reported Wednesday. The order requires Verizon, one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies, on an ‘‘ongoing, daily basis'' to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.
The newspaper said the document, a copy of which it had obtained, shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens were being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.
The Associated Press could not authenticate the order because documents from the court are classified.
Parole denial for Leslie Van Houten suggests stigma too great for release of Manson followers
CHINO, Calif. – The news that Leslie Van Houten was denied her 20th bid for parole sounded a warning for other prisoners marked with the stigma of the Manson Family crimes.
"I X-ed myself out of society and I ask you to allow me to re-enter society," Van Houten said, referring to a time when she and other Charles Manson followers emulated the cult leader in carving the letter X on their foreheads.
But her plea, supported by evidence of her rehabilitation and her good works in prison, carried little weight with the two parole commissioners, who said her crimes were so "heinous and atrocious" that they overwhelmed everything else.
"The crimes will always be a factor," said Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner Jeffrey Ferguson. "The question is whether the good will ever outweigh the bad. It certainly didn't today."
Community policing already at work in Hopewell
HOPEWELL - The partnership between the Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority and the local police department has already brought down crime in public housing communities and improved the relationship between residents and law enforcement, according to city officials.
Financed by two grants, Hopewell police have created six new positions for officers assigned to the HRHA communities.
"This is our first real step of community policing," said Hopewell Police Chief Steven Martin. "This partnership will bring a new philosophy to the police department."
HRHA owns and manages 490 apartments in seven public housing communities spread throughout the city. In the past, residents had to live with high crime rates and drug traffic in their communities - a status quo police are hoping to change with this new partnership.
New police chief brings old policing concept to Modesto
MODESTO -- With a new police chief comes an old idea.
Last month, Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll unveiled his restructuring of the force, dividing the city into four quadrants and assigning a lieutenant to each.
"I know it's nothing new," Carroll said. "There's nothing new in policing."
In fact, he worked within the same concept in Long Beach before coming to Modesto. And it is a downsized version of what Modesto unveiled in November 1993, when the city opened its northwest substation along Prescott Road. By mid-1994, there were three more: the southeast substation on Yosemite Boulevard, the northeast substation in a trailer along Oakdale Road within 100 yards of Naraghi Lake and the southwest substation on Paradise Road.
Each substation had a lieutenant, two patrol officers, two property crimes detectives and as many as five tactical patrol officers, one of whom was a sergeant. Granted, these substations were open only during normal daytime hours, but they enabled residents to report crimes and other problems without having to drive downtown.
June 5, 2013
U.S. military challenged on sexual assaults in hearing
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers admonished America's top military officers over sexual assault in the armed forces on Tuesday, but top brass warned against a plan in Congress to take the cases out of the hands of commanders.
The Senate hearing comes after a wave of sexual assault scandals and new Pentagon data showing a steep rise in unwanted sexual contact, from groping to rape, that have deeply embarrassed the military and prompted lawmakers to try to impose change with new legislation.
"You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you that you will actually bring justice in these cases," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York.
Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said he could not "overstate my disgust and disappointment" over the continued reports of sexual misconduct.
Boston Bomb Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Getting Financial Donations
Alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told his mother that people are sending him money and that someone opened an account for him, according to a new recording of their first phone call from prison.
When his mother asked if he is in pain, Tsarnaev replied in Russian: "No, of course not. I'm already eating and have been for a long time," according to a translation by Channel 4 News in the UK, which first aired the audio. The call took place last week.
"They are giving me chicken and rice now, everything is fine," he said.
Dzhokhar also told his mother that he has received at least a "thousand" dollars in a bank account that someone opened for him since his arrest. The mother says the family has also received $8,000 from individuals pledging their support, according to Channel 4 News.
Tsarnaev's parents say they have been offered one phone call a month with their son, who is in prison awaiting trial.
Oakland Begins Implementing Community Policing Plan To Fight Crime
OAKLAND (KCBS / KPIX 5) – Starting Saturday, Oakland will take a big step towards fully implementing its neighborhood policing plan by assigning officers to one of five newly identified districts in the city.
The goal is to keep officers within these narrowly defined areas to improve response times and allow captains in charge of each district to have greater say over distribution and use of resources.
“So we're (re-organizing) the department to allow the captains to more quickly respond to crime patterns in their area,” explained interim police chief Sean Whent.
“It's kind of the first major step of implementing the crime prevention plan that the city paid the contractors for,” he added. “So, we're starting.”
Former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton is among those paid consultants who recommended changes in the wake of skyrocketing crime throughout Oakland.
Sanford Police Department reforms should include closer ties to community, panel says
Citizens panel's draft report calls for officers to be more visible
Sanford police officers must build a closer relationship with residents — particularly in the historically black Goldsboro community — to reduce crime, a citizens panel recommends in the draft of a report to City Hall.
The report suggests that officers become more visible in the community and build trust with residents when they're not responding to calls. That can pay off for police, the report notes, because residents will then be more willing to report crime and come forward as witnesses.
The panel, which was formed to examine Police Department policies and procedures after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in February 2012, also recommends that the city hire more officers because the department is understaffed compared to similar agencies. Pay should be increased as well, the panel found, because officers are paid less than those at other agencies even though they "face challenges that officers of higher-paying agencies do not face."
Community invited to help solve crimes with tip line
The Issaquah Police Department is making a push for people to use its anonymous tip line.
In operation since 2008, the anonymous recording line has assisted in a number of investigations and arrests, according to Detective Diego Zanella. However, he said he believes the department can do a better job of engaging the public.
“The tips we get are really good, but they're not enough,” he said. “It's because people don't know.”
Zanella expressed understanding about people who might have concerns or knowledge of crime in their area, but live in sensitive situations. Living next to suspicious neighbors would cause a single parent to hesitate about giving information to the police. Zanella said that he was aware of the fears people have, especially in areas with heightened crime rates.
“We know that there are some people that are not comfortable with talking to law enforcement, but they are good people,” he said. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can the people in our city be more involved with our police work and still be safe?'”
June 4, 2013
Supreme Court rules DNA collection legal for arrestees
In a sharply divided ruling pitting privacy rights against law enforcement's ability to solve crimes, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that police can continue to take DNA samples from people they arrest without getting a warrant.
The high court's 5-4 decision in Maryland v. King likened DNA collection to taking fingerprints. Twenty-eight states allow for DNA testing, but a Maryland court was the first to rule that it was illegal for police to take Alonzo King's DNA without a judge's approval, saying King had a right to privacy against a warrantless search.
In California, ACLU attorneys were scrambling to determine how the ruling will affect its challenges to DNA collection here. Many Southern California police departments have been collecting DNA from anyone arrested for a felony since 2009 under provisions of Proposition 69, a statewide ballot measure approved in 2004 that initially applied only to those convicted of felonies and arrested for certain violent crimes.
"When they are booked, we take DNA samples," said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "It is a valuable crime-fighting tool."
Judge in Colorado shooting case expected to rule on insanity plea
DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado judge is expected to rule on Tuesday on whether to accept a not guilty by reason of insanity plea from accused theater gunman James Holmes, who faces execution if convicted of killing 12 moviegoers last summer.
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. had delayed ruling on the matter until legal issues surrounding the plea were resolved.
Among those issues was a challenge to the state's insanity-defense law by public defenders. They argued that a provision of the statute that requires a defendant mounting an insanity defense to submit to an examination by court-appointed psychiatrists is unconstitutional.
Compelling a defendant to divulge information that could be used against him at trial and at sentencing violates his right against self-incrimination, they argued. But Samour upheld the law last week, setting the stage for Tuesday's hearing.
Holmes could still decide against entering an insanity plea after the judge advises him of its ramifications.
Soldiers wounded in Fort Hood shooting upset suspect can question them
FORT HOOD, Texas – A judge was to decide today whether to delay the Fort Hood shooting suspect's trial three months so he can have more time to prepare.
Maj. Nidal Hasan requested the delay after the judge ruled that he can represent himself. But Col. Tara Osborn, the judge, scolded him Monday, reminding him that he previously said he wouldn't need extra time. Jury selection is still set for Wednesday.
Hasan faces the death penalty or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post.
Some wounded soldiers say they're angry that Hasan will be allowed to approach and question them.
Retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning says testifying will be more difficult but he's prepared.
June 3, 2013
Homeless, poor have new health care, but often don't know
Denise Scott shouts angrily over the way America has forgotten her.
"We don't need no more illegals comin' over here!" she screams from a Skid Row sidewalk littered with chicken bones, paper plates and discarded clothes.
"Fix the problems in this country! I need a place to live!"
Christopher Mack, a lead community outreach worker for a health clinic in the heart of Los Angeles' Skid Row, squats next to her. He softly tells her to calm down, to breathe, to remember to see her case worker in the morning about housing.
He also wants to know if she has health insurance.
Indy police team with community to fight crime
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police battling a shortage of officers and a spike in violence are enlisting the help of churches, women's shelters and other community groups to take a holistic approach to reducing crime in the city.
The strategy is designed to keep officers free to respond to emergencies and arrest people and provide those trained to deal with the mentally ill, the poor and teens to help handle other cases.
"Police cannot do by themselves all that needs to be done to address the causes for crime in our community," Public Safety Director Troy Riggs told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/19juZf2). "We cannot arrest our way out of the problem. We need true community partners. The factors are more nuanced and complex than any one police department is capable of handling."
The approach is an expansion of community policing, which traditionally has involved foot patrols, neighborhood watch groups and youth activities at local churches.
Pennsylvania State Prison's Use of Solitary Confinement Violates Rights of Prisoners Under the Constitution and Americans with Disabilities Act
Today, the Justice Department issued a findings letter detailing the results of its investigation into the use of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illness at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Cresson in Cambria County, Pa. The department found that Cresson's use of long-term and extreme forms of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illness, many of whom also have intellectual disabilities, violates their rights under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Though the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections now intends to close Cresson, many of the prison's problematic policies and practices relating to the use of solitary confinement appear indicative of what is occurring statewide. For this reason, in its findings letter, the department also notified the governor that the department is expanding the investigation to include all prisons in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to determine whether these other prisons also engage in the unlawful use of prolonged and extreme isolation of prisoners with serious mental illness and intellectual disabilities. Secretary John Wetzel and his staff at the Department of Corrections have fully cooperated during the course of this investigation and the department looks forward to working collaboratively with them in the coming months.
In addition to finding that Cresson routinely resorts to locking prisoners with serious mental illness in their cells for 22 to 23 hours a day, for months or even years at a time, the department also found that Cresson often denies these prisoners basic necessities and subjects them to harsh and punitive conditions, including excessive uses of force. The department concluded that Cresson's misuse of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illness leads to serious harms, including mental decompensation, clinical depression, psychosis, self-mutilation, and suicide.
Act of Terror Averted
Would-Be Bomber Sentenced in Chicago
A federal judge has sentenced an Illinois man to 23 years in prison for an attempted bombing in 2010 near Chicago's Wrigley Field that was intended to cause mass casualties and paralyze the community.
On that Saturday evening in September, while a concert was taking place at the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium, Sami Samir Hassoun placed a backpack that he thought contained a powerful bomb into a trash can on a nearby crowded street. The device was a fake—supplied by an FBI undercover agent—but had it been real, the effects would have been “horrific,” according to the judge who sentenced Hassoun yesterday.
A Lebanese citizen legally living in Chicago, Hassoun never posed a danger to the public, thanks to an investigation led by our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Chicago. But the 25-year-old would-be terrorist had earlier told an accomplice—who was really an FBI undercover agent—that any casualties from the attack would be the inevitable result of what he termed “revolution.”
Noting that the JTTF consists of Chicago police officers and other federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel in addition to FBI agents, Special Agent Sam Hartman—who served as co-case agent with Chicago Police Detective Angel Lorenzo—explained that “a case like this doesn't have a successful outcome unless everybody pulls together. The JTTF played a key role in this investigation.”