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.
Oct 27, 2013
A government of secrecy and fear -- why Edward Snowden deserves the thanks of every freedom-loving American
Every American who values the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, every American who enjoys the right to be different and the right to be left alone, and every American who believes that the government works for us and we don't work for the government should thank Edward Snowden for his courageous and heroic revelations of the National Security Agency's gargantuan spying operations.
Without Snowden's revelations, we would be ignorant children to a paternalistic government and completely in the dark about what the government sees of us and knows about us. And we would not know that it has stolen our freedoms.
When I saw Snowden's initial revelation -- a two-page order signed by a federal judge on the FISA court -- I knew immediately that Snowden had a copy of a genuine top-secret document that even the judge who signed it did not have.
The NSA reluctantly acknowledged that the document was genuine and claimed that all its snooping on the 113,000,000 Verizon customers covered by that order was lawful because it had been authorized by that federal judge. The NSA also claims that as a result of its spying, it has kept us safe.
I reject the argument that the government is empowered to take our liberties -- here, the right to privacy -- by majority vote or by secret fiat as part of an involuntary collective bargain that it needs to monitor us in private in order to protect us in public.
Federal Prosecutors, in a Policy Shift, Cite Warrantless Wiretaps as Evidence
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department for the first time has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional.
Prosecutors filed such a notice late Friday in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who was charged in Colorado in January 2012 with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan.
Mr. Muhtorov is accused of planning to travel abroad to join the militants and has pleaded not guilty. A criminal complaint against him showed that much of the government's case was based on e-mails and phone calls intercepted under a 2008 surveillance law.
The government's notice allows Mr. Muhtorov's lawyer to ask a court to suppress the evidence by arguing that it derived from unconstitutional surveillance, setting in motion judicial review of the eavesdropping.
Oct 26, 2013
Serial rapist Christopher Hubbart to be released near Palmdale
A judge in San Jose ruled Friday that serial rapist Christopher Hubbart would be released possibly as soon as December to an Antelope Valley community about 20 miles east of Palmdale.
Hubbart, 62, will be released to rural Lake Los Angeles, and not Claremont, which officials there had feared.
Hubbart, who was born and raised in Los Angeles County, hasn't lived in the county since 1972, except when he was paroled to Southern California for two months in 1993 and lived in Claremont.
At a news conference after Friday's court ruling, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich was outraged Judge Gilbert Brown allowed the notorious serial rapist to live in the 17000 block of Laredo Vista Ave. in Lake Los Angeles.
“Hubbart's monstrous crimes against women should not have granted him conditional release anywhere,” Antonovich said.
Oct 25, 2013
EU leaders say spying scandal threatens terror fight
BERLIN — European leaders meeting in Brussels Friday said that the recent allegations over U.S. spying may threaten the global fight against terrorism.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering," a statement from Europe's heads of state said.
It was released as a conference on the European Union's economic and migration policy threatened to be overshadowed by the fallout from claims that U.S. intelligence had monitored the cell phone communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other leaders.
On Thursday, Merkel said, "I've made it clear to the U.S. president that spying on friends is not acceptable."
While the meeting of the European Council was supposed to focus on issues like innovation and competitiveness, most attention focused on the spy scandal, which originated in documents leaked to journalists by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The scandal also threatened to encroach on the summit's official business. The BBC reported that French President Francois Hollande, dealing with his own domestic fallout over allegations released earlier this week that U.S. intelligence collected millions of phone calls from French citizens, briefly met with Merkel at the summit to discuss the scandal, and that he pushed for the spying to be added to the conference's agenda.
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference
Thank you, Chief [Craig] Steckler, for those kind words; for your leadership as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and for your four decades of service to law enforcement agencies across the state of California. It's a privilege to share the stage with you today, and a pleasure to join Executive Director [Bart] Johnson, the IACP's Board of Directors – and so many of your distinguished members – as we celebrate the achievements, and honor the sacrifices, of law enforcement professionals throughout the country and around the world.
I'd particularly like to thank Chief [Michael] Kehoe for taking the time to be with us here in Philadelphia. He and his colleagues in Newtown, Connecticut have displayed remarkable leadership in a time of unspeakable tragedy, working to heal a community that has witnessed the very worst of humanity. Our nation will be forever grateful for your service.
I'd also like to congratulate Pennsylvania State Trooper [Timothy] Strohmeyer on being named International Police Officer of the Year. His courageous actions in the line of fire last December – when he placed his own life at great risk in order to save the lives of those around him – exemplified the very best of what it means to be a public servant. He is a hero in the truest sense of the word. And it's an honor to join the IACP in celebrating such a prestigious, and well-deserved, recognition.
Finally, I'd like to thank all of the federal law enforcement officials who are with us today – including my good friend, FBI Director Jim Comey, and representatives of the FBI, ATF, and DEA – for their dedication, and excellent work, during the recent federal government shutdown. Although a substantial portion of the Justice Department's workforce had to be furloughed – and many employees and their families faced hardships – you and your colleagues responded to this unnecessary and avoidable crisis with resolve. You worked tirelessly to ensure that the Justice Department's vital life and safety functions were not interrupted. And alongside each of the local departments represented here this morning – and thousands of others, led by IACP members, across this country – you kept fighting to keep the American people safe.
From the FBI
Serial Killers -- The Birth of Behavioral Analysis in the FBI
In the final days of 1977, a man now known as one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history—Theodore “Ted” Bundy—cleverly escaped from a Colorado prison while most of the staff was away for the holidays.
FBI agents quickly joined the search. In early February 1978, the Bureau placed Bundy on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Among the information shared by the FBI with law enforcement during this time were details on his “M.O.” (modus operandi or method of operation). Bundy typically looked for victims at places where young people gathered, such as colleges, beaches, ski resorts, and discos, the FBI explained. And he preferred young, attractive women with long hair parted in the middle.
The synopsis was pulled from a psychological assessment of Ted Bundy prepared by two FBI agents—Howard Teten and Robert Ressler—at the Bureau's Training Academy. The two men were part of a groundbreaking behavioral analysis unit set up five years earlier for precisely this purpose: to study the behavior, experiences, and psychological make-up of criminals and suspects for patterns and insights that could help solve cases and prevent future crimes, especial serial murders and other forms of violence.
Criminal behavioral analysis wasn't a new concept. In the 1940s and 1950s, for example, George Metsky—the so-called “Mad Bomber”—planted explosive devices around New York City until a behavioral profile developed for the police by a local criminologist and psychiatrist helped lead to his capture in 1957. But in the coming years, the FBI would take this innovation to a whole new level.
Oct 24, 2013
Soft-spoken teen accused of killing Massachusetts high school math teacher
by Jay Lindsay
DANVERS, Mass. (AP) — A well-liked teacher was found slain in woods behind this quiet Massachusetts town's high school, and a 14-year-old boy who was found walking along a state highway overnight was charged with killing her.
Blood found in a second-floor school bathroom helped lead investigators to the body of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School who was reported missing when she didn't come home from work on Tuesday, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.
“She was a very, very respected, loved teacher,” Blodgett said.
The suspect, Philip Chism, was arraigned on a murder charge Wednesday and ordered held without bail. The teenager, described by classmates as soft-spoken and pleasant, also did not come home from school the day before and was spotted walking along Route 1 in the neighboring town of Topsfield at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials didn't release a cause of death and haven't discussed a motive in the killing.
Police: Boy killed by deputy had turned toward him with fake rifle
A 13-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun that resembled an assault rifle was fatally shot by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy when the youth turned the barrel in his direction, police said Wednesday.
A single deputy fired at Andy Lopez, killing him on the sidewalk at the edge of an empty lot in Santa Rosa, Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department said during a news conference, according to the Press-Democrat.
“The deputy's mind-set was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot,” Henry said.
Lopez, a Santa Rosa eighth-grader, was walking through a southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood carrying a pellet gun that resembled an AK-47 assault rifle when he was spotted about 3 p.m. Tuesday by two deputies on routine patrol, Henry said.
The teen had his back to the two deputies, said Henry, whose department is investigating the shooting.
List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States, 2013
Skakel Gets New Trial in '75 Killing of Teenager in Connecticut
A Connecticut judge on Wednesday ordered a new trial for Michael C. Skakel , a nephew of Ethel Kennedy who was convicted in 2002 of bludgeoning a neighbor with a golf club in 1975, saying his original lawyer had not represented him effectively.
The decision was another turn in a high-profile case that drew television crews and celebrity crime writers like Dominick Dunne. Judge Thomas A. Bishop set aside the murder conviction of Mr. Skakel, 53, who was sentenced to 20 years to life for killing the neighbor, Martha Moxley, when they were both teenagers in Greenwich.
The 136-page decision amounted to a review of the trial and an attack on the way Michael Sherman, the lawyer who represented Mr. Skakel before he was convicted, had handled his defense.
Judge Bishop said Mr. Sherman had been “in a myriad of ways ineffective” as Mr. Skakel's lawyer.
“The defense of a serious felony prosecution requires attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense” that is capably executed, the judge wrote. “Trial counsel's failures in each of these areas of representation were significant and, ultimately, fatal to a constitutionally adequate defense. As a consequence of trial counsel's failures as stated, the state procured a judgment of conviction that lacks reliability.”
Police say 11-year-old brought 400 rounds of ammo to school
Police in Vancouver, Wash., arrested an 11-year-old boy on suspicion of attempted murder after finding a handgun, 400 rounds of ammunition and knives at his school, reports said.
The Columbian and CNN reported that the boy, who has not been named but is a student at Frontier Middle School, forced the school to be put into lockdown on Wednesday for about two hours.
There were no reports of injuries and it was not clear who the alleged targets were.
Parents weren't notified of the incident until students brought a note home, The Columbian reported.
The arrest follows a Nevada middle school shooting earlier this week in which the adolescent gunman killed himself and a teacher. A 14-year-old in Boston was also arrested this week after police found a teacher dead near the young teen's school.
Oct 23, 2013
Dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect tied to 2011 killings
BOSTON (AP) — Slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was named as a participant in an earlier triple homicide by a man who was subsequently shot to death while being questioned by authorities, according to a filing made by federal prosecutors in the case against his brother, surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
According to the filing made Monday, Ibragim Todashev told investigators Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in a triple slaying in Waltham on Sept. 11, 2011.
In that case, three men were found in an apartment with their necks slit and their bodies reportedly covered with marijuana. One of the victims was a boxer and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, was fatally shot at his Orlando home during a meeting with an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers in May, authorities said. He had turned violent while being question, according to authorities.
The filing is prosecutors' attempt to block Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from getting certain information from authorities, including investigative documents associated with the Waltham slayings.
SPD chief announces new neighborhood policing plans
Continuing efforts to develop stronger police ties to Spokane neighborhoods, Police Chief Frank Straub announced Monday a new decentralized community policing structure that moves captains and detectives out into three specific geographic "police service areas."
Straub has previously discussed shifting the SPD to a precinct-based enforcement model that embeds supervisors and investigators in localized patrol districts. With the opening of a downtown substation earlier this year, Straub made his first steps in that direction. He recently assigned Capt. Judith Carl to oversee that station full-time.
In a news conference Monday, Straub announced his plans to assign two other captains to northern and southern policing areas. Detectives and Neighborhood Conditions Officers will also receive assignments to those regularly work those areas.
"This gives us the ability to be there and to really address crime issues, to address community issues and to really insert ourselves and become engaged," Straub says. "We need to be engaged at the grassroots level."
Neighborhood-level captains, detectives and officers will, for now, work out of local COPS shops, partnering with existing Neighborhood Conditions Officers and volunteers to monitor community concerns. Captains will be accountable to the neighborhoods and residents they serve.
"That police captain, in essence, will become a mini-police chief for the north, for the downtown and the south," Straub says. "So as you have issues, you don't have to go find Frank Straub, you can go and find your police captain, who has authority to coordinate resources from the whole department."
Oct 22, 2013
LAPD, US Customs battle counterfeit goods market, multi-billion dollar industry more lucrative than drugs
(video on site)
In an era when terrorism and illegal narcotics pose a clear and present danger in urban America, why should U.S. law enforcement spend precious resources policing luxury handbags?
Because, authorities say, those fake handbags -- and other counterfeit goods -- are practically an ATM machine for organized crime.
"More than likely it's going to finance some other illicit activity, whether it be terrorism, human trafficking, drugs or some such," said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervisor Bryan Nahodil as he surveyed some 16,000 fake Hermes bags seized in Los Angeles.
Counterfeit goods are more lucrative than drugs, according to officers with the Los Angeles Police Department's Vice Division and the CBP, who allowed "Nightline" to embed with them to see firsthand the efforts to combat the problem.
Counterfeit goods account for nearly 10 percent of worldwide trade, an estimated $500 billion annually, according to the World Customs Organization.
U.S. Customs officers said the black market for fake handbags, shoes, purses and other luxury goods helps fund other crime rings, including drugs and human trafficking.
How FBI brought down cyber-underworld site Silk Road
A behind-the-scenes look at the federal agents' digital detective work
Criminals who prowl the cyber-underworld's "darknet" thought law enforcement couldn't crack their anonymous trade in illegal drugs, guns and porn. But a series of arrests this month, including the bust of the black market site Silk Road, shows the G-men have infiltrated the Internet's back alley.
Computer experts suspect the government simply beat the cyber-pirates at their own game: hacking.
The Silk Road website, which has a customer-friendly electronic storefront that displayed bricks of cocaine as deftly as Amazon displays books, was the cyber-underworld's largest black market, with $1.2 billion in sales and nearly a million customers. Beyond illegal drugs, the site served as a bazaar for fake passports, driver's licenses and other documents, as well as illegal service providers, such as hit men, forgers and computer hackers.
FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell of the FBI's cyber-crime unit in New York called Silk Road "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today."
Silk Road used an underground computer network known as "The Onion Router" or "Tor" that relays computer messages through at least three separate computer servers to disguise its users. Customers conducted business using a virtual currency called bitcoin. The site repeatedly assured its users that their illegal transactions were wrapped in layers of privacy.
Federal judges extend Gov. Brown's prison crowding deadline - again
SACRAMENTO -- A panel of federal judges has given Gov. Jerry Brown an additional 28 days to come up with long-term solutions to the state's prison crowding problems.
In an order issued Monday, the judges moved the deadline for California to remove about 9,600 inmates from state lockups to Feb. 24, adding almost a month to their last deadline of Jan. 27. It previously was Dec. 31.
They also ordered the state to continue negotiating for solutions with lawyers representing California's 134,000 prisoners.
Monday was the deadline for a state appeals judge, Peter Siggins, who was assigned to mediate those confidential talks, to report on the two sides' progress. Based on Siggins' confidential update and recommendations, the federal panel ordered the negotiations to continue, with another update due Nov. 18, the jurists said in their signed order.
The judges extended their first deadline and ordered the discussions after Brown asked them last month for three more years in which to reduce inmate numbers.
Oct 21, 2013
Children, Safety, and Sex Offenders
Child safety is paramount and legislation is important to protect our children from sex offenders. Most parents believe that legislation will protect their children. In the United States, convicted sex offenders are required to register their residence with law enforcement. In some states their email addresses, work information, vehicle registration data, and school enrollment are also required. In addition, many jurisdictions have added residential restrictions to keep sex offenders from living or hanging out near parks, day cares, schools, and other areas where children congregate.
Studies that suggest that many sex offenders did not make contact with their victims in these protected areas, but more often through a family acquaintance or as family members. Research has shown that child molestation is perpetrated by family members and/or acquaintances more so than by strangers.
So, we may monitor a stranger who is a registered sex offender within our states and we do this very well, but do we do monitor those who are invited into our homes?
The police are monitoring sex offenders online and regularly checking residences where sex offenders live. When laws that are meant to protect our children seem to fail in society's view, citizens cry for more legislation or imply police do not do enough.