Monday, June 17th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Confines of the 103 Precinct: Off-duty 101 Precinct P.O. Joseph Koch Shot In Struggle for His Firearm
2 Are Wounded, Including an Off-Duty Officer, in a Shooting in Queens
By J. DAVID GOODMAN and NATE SCHWEBER — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Times'
An off-duty city police officer responding to a woman's screams during a violent assault in a Queens home was shot in the left hand as he struggled with the man assaulting her, the police said. The man was also hit once as the two men grappled for the officer's gun, the police said.
The officer and the woman, who suffered lacerations to the head and required at least nine stitches, were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in stable condition, the police said. The man, identified by the police as Jose Bernazard, 40, was also taken to Jamaica hospital where he was listed in critical condition.
The violent episode erupted around 10 p.m. on a residential block of Jamaica. The officer, Joseph Koch, 29, had been attending a barbecue at the home of his fiancée's father when he heard what sounded to be a woman screaming "Don't kill me" from a nearby home, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman.
As Officer Koch rushed in the direction of the two-story white house at 144-22 South Road, he saw a young boy roughly 10-years-old yelling, "He's trying to kill my mother," Mr. Browne said.
The officer entered the home with his gun drawn and identified himself as a police officer. At that point, "he is rushed by a male," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, standing in front of the hospital early Monday morning.
In the ensuing close-quarter struggle with the man, the gun went off three times, striking Officer Koch and Mr. Bernazard. A third shot did not hit anyone. It was not clear exactly how the gun went off or if others were in the house at the time. Mr. Bernazard had a prior arrest for attempting to strangle the woman, 33, and she had an order of protection against him, Mr. Browne said.
Moments before the shooting, he had been outside the home, banging on the front door and demanding to be let in; he eventually climbed through a window and began beating the woman, Mr. Browne said. Witnesses in the area described a chaotic scene as a balmy Father's Day evening drew many people outside.
Mr. Kelly said that Officer Koch works as a domestic violence officer at the 101st Precinct. He described the injury as a "through-and-through" bullet piercing that shattered bones in the officer's hand; he was waiting to be operated on early Monday morning, Mr. Kelly said.
"He's in a lot of pain, but he's in relatively good spirits," he added.
Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.
Off-duty NYPD cop shot after responding to Father's Day fight
Off-duty officer Joseph Koch, 29, responded to a little boy's screams for help in Jamaica, Queens and was shot after he tried to stop Jose Bernazard, 40, from beating the boy's mother, Chrissy Rodriguez.
By Irving Dejohn, Rocco Parascandola AND Shane Dixon Kavanaugh — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
An off-duty NYPD cop was shot in the hand and a man was critically wounded when the officer tried to break up a violent domestic dispute in Queens Sunday night, official sources and witnesses said.
The Father's Day bedlam began just before 10 p.m. when an 11-year-old boy burst out of his mother's South Road home near Inwood St. in Jamaica and started screaming for help, witnesses said.
"He's trying to kill my mother," the boy cried, according to witnesses and NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.
The child's cries were quickly answered by Officer Joseph Koch, 29, who was visiting his in-laws on the quiet block, sources and witnesses said.
"The cop was having a barbecue with his family," said neighbor Wilson Asitimbay, 32. "He ran over to the house to see what was going on."
Inside the two-family house, the boy's mother, Chrissy Rodriguez, 34, was being beaten by an ex-boyfriend, Jose Bernazard, 40, sources said.
It was not the first time Bernazard had attacked the helpless woman: He had been previously charged with trying to strangle Rodriguez, and she had an order of protection against him, police sources said.
Koch identified himself as a cop and had his weapon drawn when he entered the home, said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly during a press conference at Jamaica Hospital Sunday night.
"As he walks into the house, he is rushed by a male and a struggle ensues for the officer's weapon," Kelly said.
During the wild scuffle, the seven-year veteran's gun discharged.
"We heard three pops go off," said Taz Tony, 16, who was outside the home. "There was a minute between each shot."
One bullet ripped through Koch's left hand, authorities said. A second tore through the ex-boyfriend's abdomen. No other gun was recovered at the scene, police sources said.
Koch, Rodriguez and Bernazard were taken to Jamaica Hospital. Koch was in stable condition Sunday night. Rodriguez suffered bruising on her face and required nine stitches. Bernazard was in critical condition.
Bernazard had not been arrested or charged as of late Sunday night.
Off-Duty NYPD Officer Shot Responding to Fight
By Tamer El-Ghobashy and Danny Gold — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The Wall Street Journal' / New York, NY
An off-duty New York Police Department officer responding to a plea for help from an 11-year-old boy during an apparent domestic violence incident in Queens late Sunday was shot in the hand with his gun as he struggled with a man over the weapon, police said.
The man was also shot as he and officer Joseph Koch allegedly wrestled over the gun during the episode, which unfolded at about 10 p.m. as Mr. Koch left a party in Jamaica, police said.
According to NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly, Mr. Koch saw the boy run out of a home on South Road "shouting that 'he's killing my mother' or words to that effect."
The off-duty officer entered the house with his weapon drawn and was allegedly "rushed by a male and a struggle ensues for the officer's weapon," Mr. Kelly said.
Three shots were fired, and Mr. Koch was hit with a bullet in his left hand. The man, identified as Jose Bernazard, was shot in the abdomen, police said.
Both men were taken to Jamaica Hospital and were listed in stable condition. The female victim of the alleged domestic violence was also taken to the hospital, where she was treated for a large gash to her head, Mr. Kelly said.
The boy was also allegedly struck by Mr. Bernazard when he tried to intervene to protect his mother but was not seriously hurt, Mr. Kelly said.
According to police, the victim and her alleged attacker had a previous relationship, and police had been called for domestic disputes between them dating back three years.
On Sunday, Mr. Bernazard allegedly went to the home, forced his way in and began kicking and punching the victim and hitting her head against the floor, Mr. Kelly said.
Police said charges against him were expected to be brought on Monday.
Mr. Kelly said Mr. Koch, 29 years old, has been with the NYPD for seven years and is assigned to the 101st precinct in Far Rockaway, Queens.
"The officer is in a lot of pain, but he's in relatively good spirits," Mr. Kelly said at the hospital following a visit with Mr. Koch.
City Councilman Ruben Wills, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, briefly visited the scene late Sunday, said the young boy acted bravely and that Mr. Koch was right to intervene.
"The little boy was brave; he tried to come to his mother's aid," he said.
"Thank God the officer was there – he saved her life," Mr. Wills added.
Joe Jackson contributed to this report.
Off-duty cop shot in hand with own gun in Queens
By Unnamed Author(s) (WABC Eyewitness News - New York) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 5:58 a.m. EDT
QUEENS (WABC) -- An off-duty NYPD officer was shot in the hand with his own gun while trying to break up a domestic dispute in Queens Sunday night.
The incident happened on South Road and Wood Street in Jamaica around 10 p.m.
It began when an 11-year-old boy ran out of the house, screaming that his mother was being beaten up by an ex-boyfriend.
Officer Joseph Koch, who specializes in domestic violence cases and had just left a Father's Day barbecue, heard the boy and rushed into the house with his firearm drawn.
He struggled with the suspect, 40-year-old Jose Bernazard, and three shots were fired.
Koch was shot one time in the left hand, while Bernazard was hit in the lower abdomen.
Both were taken to Jamaica Hospital, where they is listed in stable condition.
The initial victim of the domestic violence assault, Chrissy Rodriguez, was also taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition, where she was treated for a 7-inch laceration to her head.
Charges against the suspect are pending. Rodriguez reportedly had an order of protection against Bernazard.
The investigation is ongoing.
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Target: Former President of Shomrim Society: 103rd Pct. Lt. Jason Margolis
'Terribly abused' female police officer files sexual harassment lawsuit against lieutenant
Officer Jazmia Inserillo says Lt. Jason Margolis made comments about her body and 'grabbed her in an awkwardly extended hug.' A police psychiatrist concluded the stress drove her to drinking.
By John Marzulli — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A female cop was sexually harassed by her lieutenant, who retaliated against her after she reported his creepy conduct to superiors, according to a lawsuit.
Officer Jazmia Inserillo was a rookie cop when Lt. Jason Margolis, then head of the NYPD's Shomrim Society of Jewish officers, arrived at the 103rd Precinct, the cop charges in a discrimination suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
The sexual harassment started quickly, Inserillo claims. Margolis invited her to his home when his wife wasn't there, made comments about her body and "grabbed her in an awkwardly extended hug" when she returned from sick leave in 2011, the suit states.
And once, she says, he suggestively massaged her shoulders, prompting her to recoil.
"What's the matter, you like white guys, don't you?' " Margolis said. Inserillo is African-American and is married to an Italian-American.
All the while, Margolis "bragged openly that he wielded influence at headquarters and repeatedly referred to the chief of department (Joseph Esposito) . . . as 'my boy,' " the suit alleges.
Inserillo made an official departmental complaint after Margolis allegedly "suggestively ran his hands across her back," claiming that he wanted to check if she was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Inserillo was sent for a psychological evaluation for anxiety, and a police shrink concluded she was drinking to deal with the stress and needed treatment. She refused to go to rehab and was suspended for 30 days. She faces a departmental hearing Monday for disobeying that order.
"She's a great cop who has been terribly abused," her lawyer, Rae Downes Koshetz, said. "First, she was harassed at her precinct. When she complained, they called her an alcoholic and disciplined her."
Inserillo claims in the suit that she was told by seven other female officers at the precinct, including a sergeant, that they had experienced similar behavior by Margolis.
Margolis was docked 10 vacation days and ordered to attend a "professionalism in the workplace" seminar, Koshetz said.
Margolis' lawyer, Philip Karasyk, said the lieutenant steadfastly maintains he did not harass Inserillo.
NYPD Ordered to Pay $49,000 in Fees for Withholding FOIL Information
By John Caher — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Law Journal' / / New York, NY
The New York City Police Department has been ordered to pay more than $49,000 in legal fees for withholding information available under the Freedom of Information Law from a not-for-profit organization attempting to investigate a wrongful conviction claim.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton in Manhattan in In the Matter of the Application of the Exoneration Initiative, 102688/12, has rejected the NYPD's claim that its delay in supplying the information was a matter of deploying its resources to more important matters. Additionally, Moulton turned down the city's argument that one of the lawyers who worked on the case for the Exoneration Initiative, a former judge, shouldn't be compensated at a full rate because she had not practiced law in 23 years.
The Exoneration Initiative is attempting to investigate assertions by an inmate, Richard Rosario, who claims he is innocent of the Bronx murder he was convicted of committing in 1996.
As part of its investigation, the group submitted a FOIL request seeking various documents. But the NYPD initially denied the request entirely, claiming disclosure would endanger witnesses and informants. Then, it ignored the organization's administrative appeal until hit with an Article 78 action, after which it turned over a portion of the records.
Moulton in March held that the NYPD wrongly withheld reports and ordered it to produce the documents. On Tuesday, the judge awarded the Exoneration Initiative $49,277 in attorney fees.
The court found no merit in the NYPD's argument that its delays in responding to the Exoneration Initiative request were at least partially caused by the sheer volume of FOILs-about 8,000 a year-that it processes.
Moulton said the NYPD has "enormous resources" and while there is a "public policy argument to be made" that dealing with FOILs is not the best use of those resources, the argument should be directed to the Legislature.
"The court is concerned only with the facts of this case and the obligations that FOIL imposes," Moulton wrote. "The facts of this case demonstrate repeated, extensive delays by the NYPD in meeting the deadlines imposed by FOIL."
Moulton also rejected the argument that the attorneys who worked on the FOIL are either Exoneration Initiative employees or volunteers who are not entitled to legal fees, and that one of those attorneys, former Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Anne Feldman, is a "pro bono case worker" who has not practiced law in more than two decades.
"At best these characterizations are inaccurate and uncollegial," Moulton wrote. "The lawyer in question served as a judge in civil, criminal and Supreme Court from 1978 to 2006.... Judges are not advocates, they do not have 'clients' except for the public at large, but they obviously use their legal training to do their jobs."
Moulton did agree with the NYPD that it was not necessary for the Exoneration Initiative to send three lawyers for some court appearances. He said two would have been sufficient, and trimmed the fee request by $780.
Rebecca Freedman, who along with Glenn Garber, represented the Exoneration Initiative, said the initial and subsequent ruling strongly affirm the open government objective of the Freedom of Information Law.
"Any member of the public should have access to public records, and that is what the statute is all about," Freedman said.
The NYPD was represented by department attorney Krista Ashbery. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the department will appeal both the initial holding and the award of attorney fees, "which we believe is not only unjustified but excessive."
"In essence the court found that the petitioner was entitled to see statements of witnesses who did not testify against him at the trial," Browne said. "This goes against established precedent. If our appeal of the underlying decision is successful then the award of attorney fees should be reversed as well."
NYPD Counterterrorism in New Jersey
NJ Senate panel to consider surveillance measure
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 10:26 a.m. EDT
TRENTON, N.J. -- A New Jersey Senate committee is taking up a bill that would require out-of-state law enforcement agencies to notify state officials if they want to conduct counterterrorism surveillance operations here.
The impetus for the bill came from a series of articles by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD operated secretly in New Jersey neighborhoods where Muslims lived and worked. They spied on Muslim organizations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and videotaped mosque-goers.
The NYPD has said its operations were lawful and necessary to keep the city safe. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the NYPD can gather intelligence anywhere in the country it wants and is not required to tell local authorities.
The bill has already been passed by the state Assembly.
'One Police Plaza'
Kelly and Holder: A Mid-Summer's Tale
By: Leonard Levitt – Monday, June 17th, 2013 'NYPD Confidential.Com'
(Parable / Apologue)
Here is a transcript of what could have been last week's telephone exchange between Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who informed Kelly of the White House's intercession in the Stop and Frisk lawsuit. Reader, be cautioned. It is not pretty.
We begin with Kelly.
Kelly: Let me be frank, Mr. Attorney General. You have a lot of nerve interceding like this at the last minute. You have called for an outside monitor of my police department without even listening to our arguments as to why Stop and Frisk is essential for the safety of New York City.
Holder: Commissioner, you had an opportunity to present your arguments at the Stop and Frisk trial. The trial lasted months but you refused to testify. Instead, you presented your arguments to the Post and the Daily News,
Kelly: Mr. Attorney General, New York's murder rate is the lowest in this city in modern times.
Holder: What "modern times?" Commissioner, you have a certain flair for hyperbole. I think what you mean is the lowest murder rate since the late 1960s.
Kelly: Mr. Holder, since my return as commissioner in 2002, Stop and Frisk has entailed five million police stops, primarily of young black males. This has made New York "The Safest Big City in America."
Holder: Let me stop you right there, Commissioner. That "Safest Big City in America" even tops your "modern times" nonsense. Your arch-enemy, Rudy Giuliani, invented that phrase, The Safest Big City in America. Even though the Post and the Daily News repeat it every time you or Mayor Bloomberg opens his mouth, everyone in law enforcement knows the numbers are based on outdated FBI statistics. Even the Bureau acknowledged this in its 2004 Uniformed Crime Report To use their own words, "It has not been a true indicator of the degree of criminality."
Kelly: Where did you see that?"
Holder: I read it in NYPD Confidential. [Nov 18, 2005.]
Kelly: I never read it. But let me say something else, Mr. Attorney General. Bill Bratton, one of the greatest police commissioners in the history of this country, supports Stop and Frisk. He recently called it "basic policing" and said "It's incredibly naive to suggest otherwise." Bratton added, "If police don't have that tool, you'll have anarchy."
Holder: But he added something else, Commissioner. He said the problem wasn't the policy but the tactic — the way you employ Stop and Frisk. He said a political decision was made to reduce the size of the police force to save money. Then you, Commissioner, put another 1,000 cops on counter-terrorism duty and flooded high crime areas with rookies without proper supervision. So if they make a mistake in how they do a stop-and-frisk, if they're disrespectful, if they don't have the appropriate cause, there's nobody to correct them.
Kelly: Bratton is a has-been. He has always been jealous of me. He wants my job. He's been lobbying all the mayoral candidates except for Christine Quinn to reappoint him Police Commissioner. When he was Police Commissioner in Los Angeles and visited New York, I refused to take his call.
Kelly [Con't]: And let me say something else, Mr. Attorney General, I think you've been influenced by professional police haters.
Holder: What, me influenced by police haters?
Kelly: I happen to know that you were lobbied by Al Sharpton, who still hasn't acknowledged he made up those Tawana Brawley lies and still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. And who, by the way, who I've known since I patrolled a beat in Harlem as a young cop 50 years ago.
Holder: Look, Ray, nobody lobbied ...
Kelly: Don't call me Ray. I'm the Police Commissioner of New York City.
Holder: Look, Commissioner, nobody lobbied me.
Kelly: Well, Mr. Attorney General. Let me read you a statement from Sharpton's press officer, Rachel Noerdlinger, that she gave to NYPD Confidential, which, as I said, I never read.
Kelly [reading]: "It would be accurate to say Rev. Sharpton & NAN [the National Action League] met with the DOJ [Dept of Justice] and their position has been made clear at NAN's convention the past two years where AG Holder has spoken.
Holder: O.K., so I did speak to Sharpton. You speak to Lupica.
Kelly: Did you read his latest column? He called me the best police commissioner in the country. He's a great sports writer.
Holder: Used to be a great sports writer. You know the best article he ever wrote? It was about the straw that stirs the drink. Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson. But that was in what, 1977? Almost 40 years ago.
Kelly: That's a little personal, Mr. Attorney General. And speaking of personal, I think what you guys are doing now to Stop and Frisk is payback because the mayor and I objected when you wanted to try the terrorist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, here in New York City.
Holder: You were just sore that President Obama didn't consult you in advance. You made up the figure of $400 million to provide security and another $206 million in annual costs.
Holder [Con't]: And the President was gracious enough that he still complimented you on capturing Najibullah Zazi after you and your friend David Cohen nearly blew the FBI's investigation by secretly contacting your own informant, who tipped off Zazi's father.
Kelly: Let's not go there. I could bring up a few things about the FBI. Like how they didn't follow through on the Russians' tip on the Boston marathon bombers. Or how an FBI agent killed their Chechen pal in Florida as they were interviewing him. The agent had two guys with him and he shot him to death because his life was in danger? Even the Russians are laughing at that one.
Holder: You have problems of your own Ray, er, Commissioner. You want to know your biggest problem? You've stayed in the job too long. You've lost credibility. You've lost your 9/11 aura. People aren't afraid of you anymore.
Holder [Con't]: I sure wouldn't want to be in your shoes when all the spying you've done on the Muslims comes out in the new book by those two AP reporters, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, who won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the spying. And what was the result of all of it? Three mopes, egged on by your undercovers. The FBI thought two of them were so pathetic they wanted nothing to do with your cases.
Holder [Con't]: And what about your detectives stationed in ten countries overseas. I read what you said at the 92nd Street Y in January. When the moderator asked whether there had been any actual tips about potential attacks in New York that you picked up overseas in any of these offices, you answered, "No."
Kelly: Where did you read that?
Holder: NYPD Confidential. [January 14, 2013]
Holder [Con't]: And you know what's worse? It's how you've lied to the public all these years. All those terrorist plots you say that the NYPD prevented? Like the Brooklyn Bridge when you knew that your so-called police presence at the bridge had nothing to do with stopping that terrorist trucker from Ohio from cutting the bridge's cables. And then saying you have officers guarding the bridge day and night because the bridge is an iconic landmark. Well, just explain to me, Commissioner, with all that round-the-clock security, how did that graffiti artist Lewy BTM manage to scribble his name on the bridge in three places last June?
Holder [Con't]: And I have a message you can give to Mayor Mike. Remind him that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I'm referring to his attacking those three or four Democratic Senators who voted against the gun control bill. Mayor Mike has obviously never spent any time west of the Hudson River. If he did he would know that anti-Semitism still exists out there. His attacks are going to backfire. Those Senators are going to run on a platform of fighting the Jewish billionaire from New York.
Kelly: Well, as long as we're sending messages about good intentions, I have a message you can give to President Obama. You can tell him that being a leader involves more than good intentions. When you say something, you have to mean it. Otherwise, no one will trust you and your enemies will no longer fear you.
Kelly: [Con't]: And not just your enemies. I know he means well and wants to keep America out of war after the disaster in Iraq. But he said to the Israelis, "We've got your back." If he does not honor those words, he will be seen as a false friend and consigned to oblivion.
Edited by Donald Forst
NYPD is naming boats after 2 fallen detectives
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 7:34 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK - (AP) -- The New York Police Department is naming two boats after detectives who died in the line of duty.
Detectives Robert Parker and Patrick Rafferty were slain while responding to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn in September 2004.
The naming ceremony is being held Monday at the Brooklyn Harbor Unit Base.
911/ Communications Div.
NYC'S New 911 Call System To Be Reviewed
By Claudia Morell — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'WFUV News Fordham University' Bronx, NY
New York City's new 911 call system will be the subject of a City Council oversight hearing this week.
Was it human error or a computer glitch that caused a four-minute delay in processing a request for emergency assistance in the case of Ariel Russo, a 4-year old who died after a car hit her and her grandmother?
That is the question three city council committees hope to address in a joint oversight hearing of the city's new 911 call system, known as ICAD. The Council's Committees on Public Safety, Technology, and Fire and Criminal Justice Services added the oversight hearing to their stated agenda after hearing conflicting reports from Administration officials and union leaders.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly admitted there had been glitches to the computer system during the initial launch on May 29th. Computers at the call center's headquarters in Brooklyn crashed on several occasions, causing delays. At one point, operators had to use pen and paper to write down emergency requests.
But last Thursday, the Mayor defended city's new call system and said the glitches during the initial launch had since been fixed. Bloomberg said it was human error that caused the delayed request for Russo's ambulance "They [the call takers] didn't do what they were supposed to do, and we are looking at the procedures," Bloomberg said. "It's very tragic; but it was not a software thing, that's just ginned up by unions who don't like the fact that we have combined all of the call takers together."
One of the union members refuting the Administration is Israel Miranda, President of Local 2507, which represents the emergency call takers. "You've got the same people working there; the same professional people who have been working there for years," said Miranda, "Obviously, there is something wrong with the system, because these issues never happened before." Miranda is expected to testify on the new ICAD system, as are reps from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
Following Russo's death, the FDNY said a dispatcher didn't see the request, and then took a scheduled break. It was the replacement operator who finally addressed the call. But Miranda refutes that claim, "Nobody saw this call, and obviously it was not there. But it's a shame that they want to blame the user when there are problems, instead of admitting there are glitches with the system they don't understand."
Councilman Peter Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, said there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
"Was it yet another system error from a system that was seven years overdue and one billion dollars over budget?" Vallone asked. "Or was it human error? And why did that human error occur? Is it because they are under- staffed?" Valone said he believes they are, "They have people doing three shifts of over-time in one week."
But glitches to the ICAD system are only part of the agenda.
The meeting was originally scheduled two months prior, to discuss legislation that would change how emergency response times are calculated.
Under the current system, the clock starts after the 911 operator transfers the call to the necessary department, whether it be fire, police or EMS. But three bills, sponsored by Councilman Lewis Fidler, would start the count from when someone calls 911.
Councilman Vallone said it could provide a more accurate representation of emergency response times. "People want to know, from the time I call 911, how long is it going to take, not from the time there is some internal transfer between two different departments."
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, is also concerned with how emergency response times are calculated. She notes how, during recent budget negotiations, the administration has justified closing fire companies because response times are at 'record lows'.
"That's not true," said Crowley, "response times may even be longer because [Bloomberg] changed the way you calculate it, and nobody knows what the true response time is." Crowley adds that she is also concerned with problems with the new 911 call system, "The mayor has spent upwards of $2 billion plus on this system that is no more reliable today than when he became mayor."
Councilman Filder first introduced the bills in April 2010, and have since been sitting in committee.
According to Councilman Filder's legislative aid, Brad Ried, the bills are based on older legislation now expired. "The bills themselves obviously pre-date a lot of these issues," said Ried, "But they sort of express a general concern that response times be measured in a proper manner so that we have the right information, and can prepare our system and put our resources where they need to be."
The hearing, originally scheduled for Monday, was rescheduled for Friday morning.
Consequence of August - 2010 84 Precinct P.O. Alfonso Mendez Refusal and/or Inability to Render CPR
'Briana's Law' will save lives by mandating cops' CPR retraining, kin says
When Briana Ojeda's panicked mother drove the wrong way on a one-way street to get her daughter, who was suffering an asthma attack, to a hospital, a policeman tried to write her a ticket and refused the mom's pleas to administer first aid or to call an ambulance. The girl died shortly afterward.
By Barry Paddock — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A bill named for the Brooklyn, N.Y., girl who died of an asthma attack after a cop refused to help her frantic mom has passed the state Assembly — giving her family renewed hope it will become law.
"Briana's Law" would require cops to get CPR retraining every two years.
"This is a no-brainer," said Michael Ojeda, 45, who spent Father's Day the same way he spends every Sunday — visiting his daughter Briana's grave.
"I will feel better when it does become a law — and helps somebody."
Briana Ojeda, 11, suffered an asthma attack on Aug. 27, 2010. When her panicked mother, Carmen Ojeda, drove the wrong way down Henry St. in Cobble Hill to get to Long Island University Hospital, Officer Alfonso Mendez pulled her over and tried to write her a ticket.
The cop refused the mother's pleas to administer first aid or to call an ambulance.
"Mendez refused, stating that he 'didn't do CPR,' " claims a lawsuit filed by the family.
Briana died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Mendez remains on modified duty and faces departmental charges.
With a lawsuit against Mendez and the city still pending, the family has focused its efforts on passing Briana's Law.
After languishing for the past two years, the bill came up for a vote in the Assembly for the first time last week — and passed. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) praised the little girl's parents after the vote.
"Today's victory is in the name of Briana's family, who have fought, lobbied and advocated every day," Oritz said in a statement.
But the bill still needs to pass the state Senate to become law. With the legislative session scheduled to end this week, its chances remain uncertain.
"It's been three years," Michael Ojeda said. "I just hope it does become a law."
The still-grieving dad spent Father's Day at Cemetery of the Evergreens in Bushwick, Brooklyn, joined by his wife and 17-year-old son.
"Every Sunday, that's where my days are," he said. The holiday felt no different than any other day, he said.
"I feel the same way every day," he said. "Every day is a hard day."
A tow truck driver and owner of an automobile body shop, Michael Ojeda has multiple portraits of his only daughter inked up and down his arms.
"I tattooed my daughter's whole life on my body," he said proudly. "She would have graduated from school this Friday."
The school, St. Francis Xavier in Park Slope, presented the family with a plaque and slide show of their daughter.
"She had such a big impact," the grieving father said.
Brooklyn North Homi
Claims of fabricated confessions prompt Brooklyn DA's plan to review 50 murder convictions
Charles Hynes' office has asked top judges, attorneys and investigators to review problematic cases linked to retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella.
By Oren Yaniv — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
The Brooklyn district attorney is putting together a high-powered commission to review 50 murder convictions tied to the same tainted detective, the Daily News has learned.
Charles Hynes' office has recently reached out to top judges, attorneys and investigators to see if they would review problematic cases linked to retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella, sources said.
Scarcella, who retired in 1999 after a 26-year career, has come under scrutiny for allegedly forcing or fabricating confessions, threatening witnesses and offering favors to drug addicts in exchange for their testimony.
Hynes announced last month an unprecedented review of about 40 cases involving 50 defendants who were all brought down by Scarcella.
The massive task, he said, will be handled by Hynes' Conviction Integrity Unit — which opened the Scarcella Pandora's box when it cleared David Ranta, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit.
In that case, Scarcella allegedly coached an eyewitness, gave favors to inmates for their testimony and obtained a disputed confession.
The DA's top homicide prosecutors have started assisting the conviction review unit — but assembling the panel suggests a much more aggressive effort.
"It's a good idea," said lawyer Ron Kuby, who represents six clients whose convictions are under review. "It's inherently good because it provides an independent perspective.
"The work of excavating 50 old murder cases is daunting," Kuby added. "It's unimaginably difficult. I've been digging into six of them and I'm utterly overwhelmed."
A DA spokesman declined to confirm or deny the initiative, but The News discovered some highly respected legal minds who have been approached, including:
* Former Manhattan Federal Judge Barbara Jones, who last year found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in a landmark gay rights decision. She retired in January.
* Retired Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Walsh, who was appointed to the bench in 1989 after 26 years in the police department and stepped down at the end of last year.
* Judge Joseph Bellacosa, who served 14 years in the state's highest court, retiring in 2000 and accepting a term as the dean of St. John's Law School.
* Former federal prosecutor Steve Cohen, who was a senior adviser for Gov. Cuomo and, before that, held the chief of staff position during Cuomo's entire tenure as state attorney general.
It's unclear who will actually end up on the panel or what would be its mandate. To reexamine prosecutions from more than a decade ago, investigators will have to go through thousands of documents and interview countless people, overcoming faded memories and dead or missing witnesses.
The mission is even more sensitive, coming ahead of a contentious primary Sept. 10. Hynes' two Democratic challengers have seized on the questionable convictions as evidence of the incumbent's poor performance as the borough's top law enforcement official.
One of the rivals, Kenneth Thompson, has asked Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the review.
One crack-addicted hooker was used by Scarcella as an eyewitness in six separate cases. And confessions from five different defendants started with similar wording, the New York Times has reported.
The retired detective maintained in interviews that he never framed anyone. He claims he's being railroaded.
A source said the panel's probe might stretch beyond Scarcella and drag down other cops — or prosecutors who allowed Scarcella's investigations to stand.
Kuby suggested they should go even further.
"They should look into the conduct of judges who sat there for case after case and allowed these lies to go on," he said. "Judges are supposed to be neutral."
Brooklyn Drivers Kill The Most People In NYC
By Christopher Robbins — Sunday, June 16th, 2013; 4:20 p.m. 'The Gothamist' / New York, NY
Speeding drivers kill more people in Brooklyn than any other borough, and 88% of Brooklyn drivers break the 30 mph speed limit, according to an analysis of 2011 traffic data by Transportation Alternatives. The data, which was obtained by the Post, builds an even stronger case for speed cameras: only 2,028 speeding citations were handed out in Brooklyn in 2011, but TA clocked 2,232 speeding Brooklyn drivers in just 12 hours.
In 2011, 79 people were killed in Kings County by automobiles, and more than 23,000 were injured. Queens saw 67 fatalities; the Bronx, 65; Manhattan, 45; Staten Island, 12, for a total of 268 citywide. In 2012, that number jumped to 274.
While it's not news that the NYPD makes speeding a low priority (as police commissioner Ray Kelly has stated previously, speeding tickets require "experts" and radar guns; tinted window tickets do not) the analysis of data seems aimed at pressuring the state Senators from Brooklyn who killed speed camera legislation in March: Republicrat Simcha Felder, and Martin Golden, a former NYPD officer who has been accused of siding with the PBA to suffocate the cameras' chances in Albany.
"Our state government must allow New York City to deploy this life-saving technology, and our Brooklyn representatives, in particular, should be on board," Transportation Alternatives' executive director Paul Steely White said.
Indeed, speed cameras save lives. Washington D.C. has seen a 73% decrease in traffic fatalities since the cameras were installed around 12 years ago.
NYPD Warrant Squad
New York cops see us as human prey
The New York Police Department's Warrant Squad is wearing T-shirts comparing what they do to hunting animals.
By Lichi D'Amelio — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The Socialist Worker Online'
THE NEW York City Police Department has long been accused of treating many city residents as subhuman. Now some of its officers seem determined to prove their critics right.
Last week, members of the city's Warrant Squad, assigned to find people with outstanding warrants and bring them to court, were spotted wearing T-shirts that compared their job to hunting animals. The photo at right was sent to SocialistWorker.org by someone who works in the court system. As the photo shows, on the back of the officer's shirt is a quote from Ernest Hemingway:
There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.
What you can't see is that the front of the T-shirt has the words "Fugitive Enforcement NYPD," and what appears to be an official department insignia.
New York City just finished defending itself in a trial over its "stop-and-frisk" policy, under which hundreds of thousands of young people are detained, interrogated and often searched each year, for no reason other than the color of their skin in most cases.
Many observers expect the courts to rule against city, and the U.S. Justice Department recently announced its interest in assigning a federal monitor to oversee the department. At a time when his department is under so much scrutiny, it's incredible that police commissioner Ray Kelly would allow officers to wear such offensive T-shirts on the job.
The Warrant Squad operates without much publicity, but the few stories in the media have been fawning portraits of these cops as action heroes. "They are an elite team of parole officers whose job every day is to track down fugitive felons on the run," began one recent story from WABC's Eyewitness News. "They operate in a world of urgent whispers and silent signals, because every sound and every movement could be the difference between life and death."
Judging by these T-shirts, Warrant Squad officers view themselves in the same way. In reality, they spend most of their time dealing with poor people accused of non-violent violations, misdemeanors and felonies--who comprise the vast majority of New Yorkers who get caught up in the criminal justice system.
In fact, the officer in this photo was taking a woman into Queens misdemeanor court when the picture was taken. So much for the glory of "the hunt."
But the dehumanizing attitude displayed by these T-shirts is no laughing matter. A few years ago, the city settled a lawsuit in which the Warrant Squad was accused of breaking down a Queens grandmother's door, falsely accusing her grandson of murder and then beating him up. The officers let their dog bite him and threatened to run him "against a fence in a maneuver known as the 'cheese grater.'"
One of those officers, Hassan Hamdy, went on last year to shoot and kill unarmed Noel Polanco on a Queens highway after Polanco allegedly cut off the Hamdy's police van.
"The [Hemingway] quote for me signifies a mentality that has been reserved for hunting animals," said Lawrence Hayes, a former Black Panther and longtime community activist. "It has no place in a police force with the duty of protecting citizens. The Warrant Squad should be disbanded and Ray Kelly dismissed for allowing this mentality to infest New York City's police force."
Nassau cop discipline remains testy issue
(NYPD Ret. Chief of Personnel Thomas Dale Meets His Match: 'The Nassau County PBA')
By ANN GIVENS — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
A battle is simmering over whether the Nassau police commissioner should have the authority to discipline department employees.
Police Commissioner Thomas Dale maintains that he has the authority to preside over internal hearings to determine what happens to cops who break the rules.
That assertion has not been tested, as no officers have gone to trial since the county legislature gave Dale increased power in May 2012 to discipline officers.
"They want a kangaroo court where the commissioner is prosecutor, judge and jury," Carver said in an interview last week. "That is not a fair way of discipline."James Carver, who heads the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, says the minute Dale tries to put an officer on "trial" within the department, the union would file a temporary restraining order to stop the proceeding. For several years, such trials have been decided by independent mediators, and Carver says that's how things should stay.
Nassau Police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack declined to comment on the case because it involves active litigation.
Question of authority
But Frederick Brewington, a lawyer who successfully sued the county for more than $7 million on grounds that the police failed to protect Jo'Anna Bird from her ex-boyfriend, said it is vital that the commissioner be able to discipline his ranks.
"If your underlings don't think you can do anything to discipline them, it strips you of your authority," Brewington said.
Ten cops were disciplined after the department was found to have failed to properly investigate domestic violence calls in the days before Bird's 2009 murder by her estranged boyfriend.
In September, the union filed a case alleging that the legislature's action to broaden Dale's authority is a violation of its contract, which requires disciplinary disputes to be settled by an independent arbitrator.
So far, three judges in a row have recused themselves from the case, court records show.
It is not clear whether the three judges who have withdrawn from the controversial litigation have given their reasons for doing so on the record; however, they are not required to do so.
It has recently been assigned to a fourth judge, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Parga.
An administrative source within the police department said just the threat of having Dale decide disciplinary cases has sped up justice within the department -- a process that one law enforcement source said typically moves "at a snail's pace."
When Dale took his position in January 2012, there were 33 outstanding disciplinary cases in the department. Since then, that caseload has been reduced to two, the administrative source said.
The reason: Many officers facing discipline used to take their chances with an independent arbitrator, the source said. Now that Dale could have the power to make a decision, officers are afraid to take a chance on trials and are instead agreeing to negotiated settlements with the administration, the source said.
The negotiated settlements have resulted in officers losing about 1,000 accumulated work hours (earned sick and vacation days that they could otherwise have used or cashed out) and two terminations, the source said.
But Carver said that reasoning is flawed. He said there were many causes for the case backlog when Dale took office, none of them involving the mediation system. Cases stalled during the change in leadership, there were several line-of-duty deaths that distracted police commanders from cases, a controversy was under way over a wage freeze imposed by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, among other reasons, he said.
Judges recuse themselves
He said ironically, only one member of his union was terminated in that time, and that person was dismissed after arbitration.
This is at least the second time in recent years that a string of judges have recused themselves from a case involving Nassau police. About a year ago, two Nassau criminal court judges in a row recused themselves from overseeing the trial of three former police commanders accused of giving favorable treatment to the son of a police benefactor when the teen was suspected of robbery. In that case, a Suffolk judge was eventually appointed to handle the cases.
According to the law, judges are allowed to recuse themselves any time there is a conflict of interest, or a perceived conflict of interest in a case. There are a range of possible conflicts, from old friendships, to affiliations with the county or police or relatives who work for either, to significant campaign contributions from someone involved in the case.
"We have to give the judges the benefit of the doubt," said William Petrillo, a Rockville Centre lawyer who represented one of the police commanders charged in last year's misconduct case. "But it can be frustrating for litigants."
Dan Bagnuola, a spokesman for the Nassau courts, said Nassau Administrative Judge Thomas Adams has not been asked to intervene in the police discipline case yet.
"If there's a pattern of recusals on a particular case and it's brought to the attention of the administrative judge, an assessment may be made as to whether the case should be assigned to a judge outside the county," Bagnuola said.
Slurpees Shortage Predicted for Long Island
U.S. Seizes 14 7-Eleven Stores in Immigration Raids
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and MOSI SECRET — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Times'
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
Federal authorities seized 14 7-Eleven stores on Long Island and in Virginia early Monday, arresting nine owners and managers and charging them with harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using sham Social Security numbers, people briefed on the case said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were also investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere, the person said, and the prosecutors were seeking $30 million in forfeiture from the stores and their corporate parent. The franchises split their profits with the corporation, which handles the store payrolls, the people said.
The owners and managers — eight men and a woman — were charged in an indictment to be unsealed Monday morning, the people said. It included accusations of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft stemming from payment of employees who were illegal immigrants using the Social Security numbers of children and the dead, the people said. One of the people said the owners and managers had abused and taken advantage of the illegal immigrant workers.
The United States attorney in Brooklyn, Loretta E. Lynch, and James T. Hayes, who is in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's office of investigations in New York City, were expected to announce the charges later Monday morning, along with officials from the New York State Police and the Suffolk County Police Department.
State photo-ID databases become troves for police
By Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The Washington Post' / Washington, DC
The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver's-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations.
The facial databases have grown rapidly in recent years and generally operate with few legal safeguards beyond the requirement that searches are conducted for "law enforcement purposes." Amid rising concern about the National Security Agency's high-tech surveillance aimed at foreigners, it is these state-level facial-recognition programs that more typically involve American citizens.
The most widely used systems were honed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as soldiers sought to identify insurgents. The increasingly widespread deployment of the technology in the United States has helped police find murderers, bank robbers and drug dealers, many of whom leave behind images on surveillance videos or social-media sites that can be compared against official photo databases.
But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities.
Such open access has caused a backlash in some of the few states where there has been a public debate. As the databases grow larger and increasingly connected across jurisdictional boundaries, critics warn that authorities are developing what amounts to a national identification system — based on the distinct geography of each human face.
"Where is government going to go with that years from now?" said Louisiana state Rep. Brett Geymann, a conservative Republican who has fought the creation of such systems there. "Here your driver's license essentially becomes a national ID card."
Facial-recognition technology is part of a new generation of biometric tools that once were the stuff of science fiction but are increasingly used by authorities around the nation and the world. Though not yet as reliable as fingerprints, these technologies can help determine identity through individual variations in irises, skin textures, vein patterns, palm prints and a person's gait while walking.
The Supreme Court's approval this month of DNA collection during arrests coincides with rising use of that technology as well, with suspects in some cases submitting to tests that put their genetic details in official databases, even if they are never convicted of a crime.
Facial-recognition systems are more pervasive and can be deployed remotely, without subjects knowing that their faces have been captured. Today's driver's-license databases, which also include millions of images of people who get non-driver ID cards to open bank accounts or board airplanes, typically were made available for police searches with little public notice.
Thirty-seven states now use facial-recognition technology in their driver's-license registries, a Washington Post review found. At least 26 of those allow state, local or federal law enforcement agencies to search — or request searches — of photo databases in an attempt to learn the identities of people considered relevant to investigations.
"This is a tool to benefit law enforcement, not to violate your privacy rights," said Scott McCallum, head of the facial-recognition unit in Pinellas County, Fla., which has built one of the nation's most advanced systems.
The technology produces investigative leads, not definitive identifications. But research efforts are focused on pushing the software to the point where it can reliably produce the names of people in the time it takes them to walk by a video camera. This already works in controlled, well-lit settings when the database of potential matches is relatively small. Most experts expect those limitations to be surmounted over the next few years.
That prospect has sparked fears that the databases authorities are building could someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas. Whatever the security benefits — especially at a time when terrorism remains a serious threat — the mass accumulation of location data on individuals could chill free speech or the right to assemble, civil libertarians say.
"As a society, do we want to have total surveillance? Do we want to give the government the ability to identify individuals wherever they are . . . without any immediate probable cause?" asked Laura Donohue, a Georgetown University law professor who has studied government facial databases. "A police state is exactly what this turns into if everybody who drives has to lodge their information with the police."
A facial 'template'
Facial-recognition systems analyze a person's features — such as the shape of eyes, the curl of earlobes, the width of noses — to produce a digital "template" that can be quickly compared with other faces in a database.
The images must be reasonably clear, though newer software allows technicians to sharpen blurry images, bolster faint lighting or make a three-dimensional model of a face that can be rotated to ease comparisons against pictures taken from odd angles.
For the state officials issuing driver's licenses, the technology has been effective at detecting fraud. As millions of images are compared, the software typically reveals the identities of hundreds or thousands of people who may have more than one driver's license.
When searches are made for criminal investigations, typically a photo called a "probe" is compared against existing images in a database. The analytical software returns a selection of potential matches, though their accuracy can vary dramatically. A probe image of a middle-aged white man, for example, could produce a possible match with a 20-something African American woman with similarly shaped eyes and lips. Many systems include filters that allow searchers to specify race, sex and a range of possible ages for a suspect.
"It's a fine line where you need to protect the rights of the citizens, but you also are protecting the right of citizens when you ferret out crime," said Anthony J. Silva, administrator of Rhode Island's Division of Motor Vehicles and a former town police chief.
Establishing identity, Silva said, is essential to effective police work: "I can't tell you how many times I was handed fraudulent documents. And when you are on the street at 3 a.m., who do you call?"
Pennsylvania's Justice Network, which has allowed police anywhere in the state to compare a facial image with mug-shot databases, has become a key investigative tool, officials said, and last month it added access to 34 million driver's-license photos. (Some residents have several images, taken over years.)
A detective in Carlisle, Pa., attempting to learn the real name of a suspect known on the street as "Buddha the Shoota" compared a Facebook page picturing the man with the mug-shot database and got a promising lead.
"Facebook is a great source for us," said Detective Daniel Freedman, who can do facial searches from his department-issued smartphone. "He was surprised when we walked in and said, 'How you doin', Buddha?' "
He said the suspect responded, "How you know that?" — to which Freedman replied simply, "We're the police."
Safeguards and trends
There typically is little concern when facial-recognition systems relying on criminal databases help identify suspects in narrowly targeted investigations. But searches against images of citizens from driver's licenses or passports, as opposed to mug shots of prisoners, raise more complex legal questions.
Police typically need only to assert a law enforcement purpose for facial searches, whether they be of suspects or potential witnesses to crimes. Civil libertarians worry that this can lead to broadly defined identity sweeps. Already many common but technically illegal activities — blocking a sidewalk, cycling at night without a light or walking a dog without a leash — can trigger police stops and requests for identification, they say.
"The potential for abuse of this technology is such that we have to make sure we put in place the right safeguards to prevent misuse," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said in a statement. "We also need to make sure the government is as transparent as possible in order to give the American people confidence it's using this technology appropriately."
A few states, including Washington, Oregon and Minnesota, have legal barriers to police accessing facial-recognition technology in driver's-license registries. New Hampshire's legislature passed a law prohibiting motor vehicle officials from collecting any biometric data.
But the broader trend is toward more sophisticated databases with more expansive access. The current version of the Senate's immigration bill would dramatically expand an electronic photo-verification system, probably relying on access to driver's-license registries.
Montana has a facial-recognition system to help prevent fraud in its driver's-license registry, but officials are still debating whether to allow police any kind of access.
"I can see it's an amazingly powerful tool. It has a lot of possibilities," said Brenda Nordlund, the administrator of the Motor Vehicle Division there. "I don't know if that's what citizens expect when they come in and get their driver's-license pictures taken."
There are substantial variations in how states allow police searches of their driver's-license databases. Some allow only licensing-agency officials to conduct the actual searches. Others let police do searches themselves, but only from a headquarters office. And still others have made the technology available to almost any officer willing to get trained.
The District of Columbia has facial-recognition technology for its driver's-license registry but does not permit law enforcement searches, spokeswoman Vanessa Newton said. Virginia motor vehicle officials have run a pilot program experimenting with facial-recognition technology but have not made a decision on whether police will have access to such a system if it is eventually installed, spokeswoman Sunni Brown said. Maryland does not use such technology in its driver's-license registry.
Police long have had access to some driver's-license information — including photographs — when they are investigating criminal suspects whose names they know. But facial-recognition technology has allowed police working from a photo of an unknown person to search for a name.
Las Vegas police, for example, called on authorities two states away in Nebraska for help solving a homicide. Based on a tip, investigators had a page from a social-media site featuring the image of an unknown suspect; the tipster said the woman in the photo had lived in Nebraska. The facial-recognition software produced a hit on a driver's license there, cracking open the case.
"That picture hung on our wall for a long time," said Betty Johnson, vehicle services administrator in Nebraska. "We are pretty darn proud of that one."
Who has the databases?
A single private contractor, MorphoTrust USA, which is based in a suburban Boston office park but is owned by French industrial conglomerate Safran, dominates the field of government facial-
recognition technology systems. Its software operates in systems for the State Department, the FBI and the Defense Department. Most facial-recognition systems installed in driver's-license registries use the company's technology, it says.
The largest facial database belongs to the State Department and includes about 230 million searchable images, split almost equally between foreigners who apply for visas and U.S. citizens who hold passports. Access for police investigations, though, is more limited than with state driver's-license databases.
The FBI's own facial-recognition database has about 15 million criminal mug shots. Bureau officials are pushing to expand that by tens of millions more by encouraging states to upload their criminal justice photos into the national system. The FBI does not collect driver's-license images, but the bureau has developed access to state systems that do.
That effort began with "Project Facemask," which compared images of federal suspects and fugitives against photos in North Carolina's driver's-license registry, helping identify a double-homicide suspect who had changed his name and moved to that state from California. The FBI now has agreements giving access to driver's-license databases in 10 states for investigative purposes. Many motor vehicle officials say they also run searches for federal agents who request them, typically through "fusion centers" that ease the sharing of information among state, local and federal authorities.
Depending on the importance of the case, federal agents can potentially tap facial databases held by driver's-license registries, state criminal justice systems, the FBI, the State Department and the Defense Department, which has several million searchable faces, mostly Afghans and Iraqi men. Together these amount to an estimated 400 million facial images in government hands, though the rules on access to each database vary. (Often an individual is pictured in more than one database, or even more than once in a single one.)
Federal investigators searched several facial databases in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But the images were not clear enough to produce hits, even though both of the alleged bombers had driver's licenses in Massachusetts, a state that uses facial-recognition technology.
Yet as facial databases grow and video cameras become more prevalent and powerful, such searches will become more effective, experts say.
"More and more, what you're going to see is criminals and other people whose images were taken over the years are digitized, [and] put into these databases, and incidents like Boston will be easier to solve," said James Albers, senior vice president for government operations for MorphoTrust USA.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says its facial-recognition unit conducts 5,000 searches a month and has assisted in nearly 1,000 arrests since 2004. A bulletin board in the office is lined with success stories: A teenage boy who was sending lewd messages to young girls through multiple Facebook accounts was identified, as was a suicide victim and an alleged bank robber — whose scowling image was captured by the branch's surveillance camera.
In another case, a man reported a stolen computer but then noticed that an online photo album he long had maintained was automatically uploading new snapshots of a couple he did not recognize. When the sheriff's office ran a search, the pictures matched faces in both the mug-shot and driver's-license databases. The couple soon fingered an acquaintance who was arrested for stealing the computer and then selling it to them.
The sheriff's office, whose jurisdiction includes St. Petersburg and its suburbs, built its facial-recognition system over more than a decade, relying for most of that time on mug shots collected at prisons and police booking centers across the state.
The system now has partnerships with the sheriff's offices in more than half of Florida's counties and many other government agencies. This year the unit added the ability to search more than 20 million driver's-license records, bringing the number of facial images in the database to 30 million, officials say.
The Pinellas County system also has access to 250,000 mug shots — though not driver's-license images — from the Northern Virginia Regional Identification System, a joint project of Washington area jurisdictions, including some Maryland counties.
Pinellas Deputy Jeremy Dressback, a community policing officer, uses access from the laptop in his patrol car to keep track of the people he encounters on a dingy country stretch notorious for prostitution, drugs and seedy motels.
On a recent patrol, when a scruffy-looking man he did not recognize walked up to one of the motels, Dressback stopped him on suspicion of trespassing and asked for identification. The man did not have a driver's license but gave his name — James A. Shepherd, age 33, from Kentucky — and said he was staying at the motel with his girlfriend.
Dressback pulled out a digital camera, asked permission to take a picture and then snapped a shot. When the image did not match anyone in the facial-recognition system, Dressback downloaded the picture to his laptop computer and attached it to a field report on Shepherd as a "suspicious person."
Shepherd, who said he was a roofer returning from work, grumbled at the intrusion, even though he had agreed to have his picture taken. "I'm not a criminal, so there's really no reason for me to be in a criminal database," Shepherd said before adding, "But I have been arrested quite a few times."
When his girlfriend walked by moments later — they were indeed staying at the motel — Shepherd directed her toward their room.
"Get out of here," he said. "You'll be in his database in 10 seconds."
Brook Silva-Braga contributed to this report.
Court says pre-Miranda silence can be used
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 10:28 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court says prosecutor can use a person's silence against them in court if it comes before he's told of his right to remain silent.
The 5-4 ruling comes in the case of Genovevo Salinas, who was convicted of a 1992 murder. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon.
Prosecutors in Texas used his silence on that question to convict him of murder, saying it helped demonstrate his guilt. Salinas appealed, saying his Fifth Amendment rights to stay silent should have kept lawyers from using his silence against him. Texas courts disagreed, saying pre-Miranda silence is not protected from use by prosecutors.
Court won't hear Seattle officer appeal
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Monday, June 17th, 2013; 10:28 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't reconsider a jury's decision that an off-duty Seattle police officer who was cut off in traffic violated a man's rights by detaining him at gunpoint.
The high court Monday refused to hear an appeal from officer Jonathan Chin, who was in plainclothes as he held at gunpoint three men who allegedly cut him off in traffic and ran a red light. One of the men eventually was tackled, subdued and restrained by several officers, sustaining a head abrasion that cost him $3,500 in medical bills.
A jury cleared Chin of allegations that police used excessive force, but found the detention went on too long, violating civil rights. Chin argued that he had immunity but courts have ruled against him.
Justices refused to hear his appeal
Immigration Enforcement / Illegal Aliens
As U.S. Plugs Border in Arizona, Crossings Shift to South Texas
By ERIC LIPTON and JULIA PRESTON — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Times'
WASHINGTON — A surge in migrant traffic across the Southwest border into Texas has resulted in a milestone: the front line of the battle against illegal crossings from Mexico has shifted for the first time in over a decade away from Arizona to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
This shift has intensified a bitter debate under way in the Senate over whether the border is secure enough now, or ever will be, to move ahead with legislation that could give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already here.
On Monday, the Senate was scheduled to resume a long series of votes on an immigration bill that is promising to end a cycle — playing out since the early 1990s — in which each time the Border Patrol cracks down in one enforcement zone along the border, migrants move to another.
Now the Rio Grande Valley has displaced the Tucson enforcement zone as the hot spot, with makeshift rafts crossing the river in increasing numbers, high-speed car chases occurring along rural roads and a growing number of dead bodies turning up on ranchers' land, according to local officials.
"There is just so much happening at the same time — it is overwhelming," said Benny Martinez, the chief deputy in the Sheriff's Department of Brooks County, Tex., 70 miles north of the border, where smugglers have been dropping off carloads of immigrants who have made it past Border Patrol checkpoints.
The increase in Texas is taking place even as the Obama administration says it has achieved unprecedented control over the border with Mexico. The administration, President Obama said last week, has "put border security in place," with illegal crossings "near their lowest level in decades."
Apprehensions at the Mexican border — the single best indicator of illegal traffic — are still far below their peak: there were 356,873 last year, compared with 1.6 million in 2000.
But after nearly a decade of steady declines, the count has started to rise again over the past year, driven by the rise in the southern tip of Texas, where the numbers so far this fiscal year are up 55 percent. Since October, 94,305 individuals have been apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley alone, topping the count in Tucson for the first time since 1993.
Critics of the Senate legislation, including Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, point to the influx in the Rio Grande Valley enforcement zone as proof that the bill must explicitly mandate "full operational control" of the border within a decade before any immigrants who were once here illegally could be allowed to proceed toward citizenship.
"If we don't guarantee to the American people that we actually are going to get serious about stopping the flow of people illegally crossing our Southwestern border," Mr. Cornyn said last week on the Senate floor, "I think we guarantee the failure of bipartisan immigration reform."
Supporters of the bill say the surge in Texas is small compared with the steep overall decline in recent years, and the Senate legislation, while not formally mandating control all along the Mexican border, would provide at least $4.5 billion over five years for enforcement tools to help finish the job — a significant improvement that would come after two years of budget cutting.
"I have been on the border in Arizona for the last 30 years," Senator John McCain, a Republican from that state who is one of the eight authors of the overhaul bill, said during the debate last week. "To somehow say there have not been significant advancements in border security defies the facts."
The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, acknowledged to a Senate committee this spring that in South Texas, "we have a problem there right now which we are fixing."
The chief of the Border Patrol, Michael J. Fisher, said in an interview that he had begun last year to shift agents and surveillance equipment to the region, anticipating that an enforcement campaign in Tucson would push the illegal flow toward Texas. He said the patrol had sought to build up in Texas without diminishing its effort in Arizona.
"We did it smartly," Mr. Fisher said. "We wanted to maintain some discipline and not move our resources from our primary focus in Arizona."
Even though more planes and helicopters have been sent to the Rio Grande area, the effort has been slowed considerably by recent federal budget cuts, which have created severe fuel shortages and other complications that have at times grounded border aircraft. Agents have also had to double up in patrol vehicles, or have been ordered to sit in their vehicles without driving. Several parts of the border, like one 25-mile stretch west of McAllen, are at times not being watched, so the number of migrants who cross from Mexico without getting caught is surging, too, three agents said in interviews last week.
"It's really demoralizing because there's so much traffic passing through here and we can't do anything about it," one agent said Friday while on patrol, asking that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "And when you try to do something and they won't let you do it," he added, having been ordered during recent shifts not to drive his truck, "it's just really demoralizing."
Corruption has also been a problem: two Homeland Security auditors, until recently based in McAllen, were indicted in April on charges that they falsified documents when they were supposed to be investigating a string of cases in which Border Patrol agents had been helping smuggle illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States.
Mike Salinas, an alderman in La Joya, Tex., a tiny city on the Rio Grande, said border agents there were frequently outnumbered. Last week, a single agent tried to round up a group of 20, most of whom he watched scatter and get away.
"People are just crossing without fear," Mr. Salinas said, recalling crowds right in his backyard in recent weeks.
The holding cells at the McAllen Border Patrol station are often filled beyond capacity, and dozens of migrants are temporarily held in a truck garage. As many as 50 adults are detained for up to a week in a single holding area, with no shower, agents said.
A Homeland Security spokesman in Washington acknowledged that fuel shortages and overcrowding had been a problem, and he said the agency was working to distribute migrants it apprehended among different area stations.
The surge in South Texas is driven mostly by immigrants originating not from Mexico but from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, officials said. The Mexican border city of Reynosa is the end of a railway that begins in southern Mexico, and many migrants ride the roofs of freight trains to reach the United States.
Scholars who study migration say surveys show that it is most unlikely the migrants have been spurred by news that Congress is considering legalization for illegal immigrants already here. Tom K. Wong, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, said other factors appeared to be driving them.
"You see this uptick at the same time when the U.S. economy as a whole is also improving," Mr. Wong said. Researchers said criminal violence in Central America was also a factor in the surge, which began more than a year ago, before the debate in Washington started.
The hundreds of miles of border defined by the Rio Grande are difficult to patrol, with citrus groves, dense fields of rippling sugar cane and thickets of mesquite trees that make it impenetrable to the long-range surveillance cameras affixed to tall towers, which have been effective in parts of Arizona. The river's winding course and soggy terrain — as well as the potential for flooding — make building fences impractical in certain places.
Late last year, the Rio Grande Valley had 2,546 Border Patrol agents, up from 1,484 a decade earlier. Most new graduates of the Border Patrol Academy are being sent to the Rio Grande Valley, said Mr. Fisher, the Border Patrol chief. Agents have received surplus equipment from the Department of Defense, like night vision goggles, while they wait for money to buy their own gear.
Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents part of the region, said the Homeland Security Department should have acted sooner. "They haven't been nimble enough," he said. "They would have been in a much better situation if they were playing offense instead of defense."
The Senate bill would authorize spending on sophisticated mobile surveillance trucks, additional fencing and more border agents, advocates of the measure noted. They said other enforcement tools in the bill, like a mandate that all employers verify the work authorization of new hires, were needed to help eliminate magnets for migrants.
Mr. Fisher said he expected more fluctuations in illegal border crossings as enforcement expanded. "Across the Southwest border you always are going to have one location — right now it is Rio Grande Valley — where the traffic is rising," he said.
Mr. Martinez, the chief deputy sheriff in Brooks County, said that cycle was worrisome to local residents. "This is a humanitarian issue," he said. "People are dying right out on the land here."
Laura Tillman contributed reporting from McAllen, Tex.
Apple Opens Up About Data Requests, Reveals 5K Inquiries in 6 Months
By Matt Egan — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'Fox Business News'
Responding to recent bombshell surveillance disclosures, Apple revealed on Monday it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement officials for customer data over the past six months.
Apple reiterated that it does not provide any government agency with "direct access" to its servers, denying reports that the iPhone maker and eight other Internet companies allow the National Security Agency to mine its data through a controversial program called PRISM.
"Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers' personal data, and we don't collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place," the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said in a statement.
Apple and other Internet companies have to balance their legal obligations to help the government on national-security matters with the risk of drawing the ire of their users for failing to safely protect the sanctity of customer data.
Like Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT), Apple said "in the interest of transparency" it has pushed the U.S. for permission to report how many national security request it receives and how it handles them.
With approval from the U.S., Apple disclosed it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. The requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included criminal and "national-security matters", specified between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices.
Apple said the most common type of request comes from police investigating robbers and "other crimes," searching for missing children, attempting to prevent a suicide and trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer's disease.
"Regardless of the circumstances, our legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities," Apple said. "From time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it."
Apple said it does not provide certain types of information to law enforcement because it does not retain it, including conversations that take place over iMessage and FaceTime, customer location, map searches or Siri requests.
"We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers' privacy as they expect and deserve," Apple said.
Shares of the Mac and iPad maker ticked up 0.39% to $431.74 in premarket trading on Monday.
Late last week, Facebook said it received between 9,000 and 10,000 government data request during the second half of 2012 on between 18,000 and 19,000 individual accounts on the social network.
Microsoft said over the last six months it received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants and orders impacting between 31,000 and 32,000 customer accounts.
Apple Joins Facebook, Microsoft in Outlining Data Requests
By Tim Culpan & Adam Satariano — Monday, June 17th, 2013 'Bloomberg News' / New York, NY
Apple Inc., the world's most-valuable technology company, received as many as 5,000 requests for customer information from U.S. law enforcement authorities amid widening revelations of government data collection.
Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in the requests between Dec. 1 and May 31, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement. Facebook Inc. (FB) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said they received thousands of warrants for data from government entities during the second half of 2012.
The role of technology companies has come under scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency, disclosed this month that the NSA is collecting data under a U.S. government program code-named PRISM. The project traces its roots to warrantless domestic-surveillance efforts under former President George W. Bush.
"Like several other companies, we have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them," Apple said in the statement. "We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it here in the interest of transparency."
Apple said it hadn't heard of PRISM until June 6 when news organizations asked it questions. Requests came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal and national security matters, it said. Police investigations into crimes such as robbery were the most-common form of request, it said.
Apple sold 125 million iPhones and 58 million iPad tablet computers last financial year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
No government agency has direct access to Apple servers and it doesn't store data related to customers' location, map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form, the company said.
Conversations over the iMessage and FaceTime functions are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means only the sender and receiver can see or read them, and Apple can't decrypt the data, the company said.
PRISM gathers e-mails, videos and other private data of foreign surveillance targets through arrangements that vary by company, overseen by a secret panel of judges, according to slides provided by Snowden to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.
Facebook got 9,000 to 10,000 requests, while Microsoft got 6,000 to 7,000, their legal executives said in blog posts.
Google Inc. (GOOG), Facebook and Microsoft asked the U.S. government for more leeway to report aggregate numbers of data requests, following reports that the NSA is collecting millions of residents' telephone records and the Web communications of foreigners under court order.
Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, said it complied with 79 percent of the requests. Inquiries sent to Facebook covered between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts and included everything from local governments to NSA requests, according to the company.
Microsoft said the data-security warrants affected 31,000 to 32,000 consumer accounts.
Google, in response to Facebook and Microsoft's disclosures, said it's pushing authorities to let it differentiate between varying types of government requests.
"Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately," the Mountain View, California-based company said in an e-mailed statement, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The three-decade-old FISA law lets intelligence agencies monitor the communications of non-U.S. citizens reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. and involved in terrorist activities or other crimes.
TSA's 'SPOT' Program
Monday, June 17th, 2013 'The New York Times' Editorial:
That Extra Hurdle at the Airport
Beyond wending through airport security minus shoes and belt, tens of thousands of American travelers have been singled out in line during the last six years to be chatted up by "behavior detection officers" working for the Transportation Security Administration.
These 2,800 specialists in a program called SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) are supposed to take the search for terror suspects to a deeper level. But a new report from the Homeland Security inspector general's office seriously questions whether the program is objective or worth the $878 million spent so far.
"T.S.A. cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective or reasonably justify the program's expansion," the inspector general's report concluded. Critics, including air travelers, civil rights groups and Representative Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, have complained that vague standards and inadequate training invite racial profiling and other abuses.
The report faulted training standards and the lack of refresher courses for officers. Officials at the T.S.A. defended the value of the program and said that since the inspection was made last September, it has carried out needed improvements, like using clearer performance measurements.
Travelers can only hope so. Extra scrutiny can have security value, provided it is professional and thorough. But erratic and subjective screening wastes time and money — and worse, can be a pretext for illegal profiling.