Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 — Good Morning, Stay Safe
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NYPD Inspector General and Racial Profiling Bills Will Be Forced to Vote
By Jill Colvin — Monday, June 10th, 2013; 6:59 p.m. ‘The New York Observer's Politicker’ / New York, NY
COMMENT: Michael Palladino's United Uniformed Workers are now totally committed to supporting William Thompson. Christine Quinn - the front runner and probable lock - currently has nothing to lose by alienating the police unions. She owes them absolutely nothing! NYC politics have always been nasty, and it looks like payback is going to be a real ‘B-I-T-C-H’ - Mike Bosak
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a plan Monday to bypass Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s efforts to halt the passage of two controversial public safety bills by forcing a vote using a rarely-used mechanism that members–including Mr. Vallone—had previously threatened to use against Ms. Quinn.
Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander said they plan to file discharge petitions later this week to force the council to vote on two bills opposed by both the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: one that would create an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD and another that would expand the definition of racial profiling and allow those who believe they’ve been wronged to sue police in state court.
Mr. Vallone Jr., who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, is opposed to both bills–especially the latter, which he argues will shackle the police department and cost the city millions in legal fees. As chair, he has the authority to block the bills from coming to the floor, even though they have more than enough votes to pass.
“It would be irresponsible to bring something to a vote that will lead to more deaths,” Mr. Vallone told Politicker Monday evening, arguing that lawsuits “would blow a hole in the city budget” and force police officers off of the streets and into courtrooms. While he would allow a vote on the IG bill, the two are being packaged together by their sponsors.
Ms. Quinn, who has been touting her support for the IG bill in her mayoral campaign, is also opposed to the profiling bill, but said earlier this year she would nonetheless allow the bill to come to vote–the first time in her tenure that she said she would allow a vote on a bill she did not support.
Mr. Lander and Mr. Williams expect to formally introduce the final versions of both bills together Wednesday and then file the motions to discharge on Thursday, putting the bills on track for full Council votes.
“We’re enthusiastic that the bills have been improved,” said Mr. Lander, who praised Ms. Quinn for supporting the efforts. “She and her team have been working very collaboratively with us.”
The decision is also full of irony. Mr. Vallone Jr., who is running for Queens borough president, has been one of the most vocal critics of Ms. Quinn’s history of holding up bills she doesn’t like–and has recently threatened to file his own discharge petitions to push stalled bills he’d introduced to the floor.
Mr. Vallone acknowledged the contradiction, but argued his efforts were justified.
“I don’t think you can compare blocking hundreds of bills due to some sort of disagreement with blocking one bill in 12 years because I don’t want to see lives lost,” he argued. “We’re not talking about how much someone is paid. We’re not talking about a tax. We’re talking about dead kids … I refuse to have blood on my hands.”
He also argued that he wasn’t really blocking the profiling bill from being voted on, since members always had the option of filing a discharge petition without fear of any type of retribution. After all, unlike Ms. Quinn, he doesn’t have any power over other legislation or members’ budgets. But he did acknowledge the irony of the move.
“What’s a good way to say this?” Mr. Vallone asked, pausing. “I guess fate is a funny thing.”
Speaker Quinn Plans to Get NYPD Bills to Council Floor
Proposal Would Bypass Council Committee to Advance Two Bills
By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Monday outlined what for her would be an unprecedented move: to bypass a council committee to advance two bills that aim to address the Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactic.
One bill would create an inspector general for the NYPD and the other would open state courts to racial profiling claims.
Ms. Quinn, a Manhattan Democrat who is the front-runner in the race for mayor, has promised both bills would come to the floor for full votes even though she opposes the racial-profiling measure. She supports the creation of an inspector general.
According to the speaker's plan, the bill sponsors will introduce amended versions of their legislation at Wednesday's council meeting. On Thursday, the sponsors will submit notice for a so-called motion to discharge, a parliamentary maneuver that will allow the bills to bypass the Public Safety Committee. The full council is expected to vote on the bills in the coming weeks.
Since Ms. Quinn became speaker in 2006, a bill has never reached the floor without her support. Earlier this spring, the council, over her objection, approved a nonbinding resolution calling for religious institutions to be permitted to hold services in public schools. That, too, was a first.
Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he hasn't seen the latest revisions to the racial-profiling bill, but he called the version that is in his committee the "most dangerous bill the council has ever considered."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denounced both bills and promised to veto them.
"It's fitting that it takes a historic first to move the most dangerous bill in the history of the council," Mr. Vallone said Monday.
Ms. Quinn said: "I believe that we can—that we must—have both safe streets and stronger police-community relations. An IG will provide feedback and recommendations to our commissioner and mayor on how to balance these two goals and ensure one doesn't impede on the other."
An earlier version of the inspector general bill had 35 sponsors, and an earlier version of the racial-profiling measure had 33. To override a mayoral veto, a bill must have 34 votes.
NYPD Bills Will Get City Council Vote Through Motion To Discharge
BY Erin Durkin — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
Two controversial bills to reign in the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk will come to the floor of the City Council through a rare procedural maneuver.
Officials outlined plans Monday to allow votes on the two bills, which would create an inspector general to probe the NYPD and allow people to sue if they believe they’ve been racially profiled by police.
The bills had created a sticky spot for Council Speaker Christine Quinn. She favors the IG bill, but opposes the racial profiling bill. Yet she had promised to allow a vote on the profiling measure, breaking with her usual practice of only allowing bills she supports to the floor.
That pledge was complicated because Public Safety committee chair Peter Vallone refused to schedule a vote on the profiling bill. He said he would allow a vote on the IG, even though he personally opposes it, but supporters wanted to move the bills together.
Under plans outlined by Quinn’s office Monday, the bills’ sponsors, Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams, will formally introduce final versions of the bills at Wednesday’s meeting of the full Council. Then, they’ll file a “motion to discharge” to bypass Vallone’s committee, which the Council will vote on at its next meeting. Assuming that passes, the bills can come to the floor for a vote at the meeting after that.
It’s the first time the maneuver has been used to force a vote under Quinn’s tenure. It’s been threatened before, but never actually carried out.
“New Yorkers all want safe communities and a strong partnership with the NYPD, and they overwhelmingly support both an NYPD inspector general and a stronger ban on bias-based profiling. Thanks to Speaker Quinn for working with us to ensure that both bills get a vote on the floor of the City Council. We look forward to passing these common-sense reforms,” said Lander.
Vallone said Quinn “picked a really bad time to finally allow something to the floor she disagreed with.”
“It’s a historical first and it’s fitting because it’s the worst bill in the history of the Council,” she said. “They’ll just bring suit in court after court until they find a judge who wants to take over the NYPD, and there will be blood in the streets.”
Fears Impact on Safety
Vallone Seeking to Block Cop Profiling, IG Bills
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Although City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has promised to bring two bills aimed at reining in the NYPD to a vote, Public Safety Committee Chair Peter F. Vallone Jr. has thrown up a roadblock.
Mr. Vallone said last week that because of his “strong, vehement objections” to one of the bills, he would not schedule a hearing on them before his committee. “I’ve never refused to hold hearings before, but I’m not going to have blood on my hands,” he said in an interview with THE CHIEF-LEADER.
Objects to Profiling Bill
The bill he particularly dislikes would expand the definition of racial profiling to include a number of other social factors, including gender identity and immigration status, and allow people who feel police stopped them for questioning because of such profiling to sue in state court.
The second bill, which Mr. Vallone said he also opposes but not as strongly, would create an independent Inspector General for the Police Department, which now is the only major city agency that does not have one.
Mayor Bloomberg and other NYPD defenders say the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and other agencies, including the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the District Attorney’s Offices, provide more than sufficient oversight. They say an IG would hamstring the Police Commissioner. Supporters of the IG bill say IAB reports to the Police Commissioner and is not independent.
Ms. Quinn’s office said discussions were being held on moving the bills forward.
Mr. Vallone confirmed the discussions but, he said, as long as the bills’ sponsors want the two bills voted on as a package he will not compromise.
“This is not a bill about how much people should get paid,” he said. “With this bill we’re discussing how many people will die.” He said there were ways Ms. Quinn could bring the bills to a Council vote without a hearing.
The two bills were written by lawmakers who say the city is misusing the tactic of stop, question and frisk, targeting people on the basis of race, ethnicity and other demographic factors rather than following U.S. Supreme Court guidelines requiring that an officer have reasonable suspicion that an individual is involved in a crime. The bills were introduced after Mr. Bloomberg refused for more than a year to discuss community problems with stop-and-frisk.
Mr. Vallone said he was particularly bothered by the disparate-impact provision of the profiling bill, which he called a “ridiculous theory” that would allow any member of any group that is disproportionately affected by stop-and-frisk to sue and win, even if there is no intention to discriminate. For instance, he said, because men are disproportionately stopped, any man could sue and win.
The bill’s supporters contend the city can trump any disparate-impact claims by showing that its stop-and-frisk policy has a significant law-enforcement purpose. They note that the proposed law does not allow people to sue for damages, only to seek court orders mitigating the policies that led them to be stopped.
“Even if we’re going to win every case, we still have to defend them, which will blow a hole in the city budget,” Mr. Vallone said.
He and Mr. Bloomberg argue that the bill would allow state judges to issue a blizzard of orders micromanaging the NYPD and discouraging officers from doing their jobs.
“This won’t reform stop-and-frisk; it will end it,” he told the New York Post. “Police officers, for good reason, will not put themselves at the mercy of state judges and will refuse to get out of their cars. As a result, criminals will again be emboldened, and crime will spike.”
Rules He Lacked Grounds to Stop Motorist
Appeals Court Threatens to Curtail Jail Time in Vehicle Assault of Sgt.
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Sgt. John Pagnotta ordered his driver to pull up near a gray car stopped along 122nd St. in Jamaica, Queens in January 2007 so he could question the occupant. The driver actually pulled up to a black SUV parked in front of the gray car, but Mr. Pagnotta decided to talk to that motorist anyway.
After a few questions, he opened the door of the SUV and, standing between the open door and the door jamb, asked the motorist to get out of the car. The man hit the gas. Mr. Pagnotta was dragged 20 feet down the street before he was thrown onto Sutphin Blvd. in the path of oncoming traffic. He broke his pelvis, backbone and several ribs.
An Interrupted Sentence?
In 2009, the motorist, Walter Hurdle of Valley Stream, L.I., who was then 53, was convicted of several counts of assault, including assault on a police officer, and sentenced to 17 to 20 years in prison.
But on May 29, a panel of the State Supreme Court Appellate Division dismissed Mr. Hurdle’s conviction for assaulting a police officer. The judges said that Mr. Pagnotta had no legal grounds for stopping Mr. Hurdle’s SUV.
Leaders of police unions called the decision “nonsensical” and “total lunacy.” But the court was not deterred.
“Sergeant Pagnotta’s testimony was clear that at no time...was the defendant observed to be engaged in any criminal activity, or in any activity that would have aroused reasonable suspicion,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “In fact, not only was the evidence insufficient to establish that the police had an objective, credible reason for approaching the defendant in the first place, but, also, Sgt. Pagnotta’s testimony indicated that the initial approach was a mistake” because he had asked his driver to target another car.
If that ruling and the panel’s overturning of a related conviction stand, Mr. Hurdle’s sentence will be drastically reduced—a prospect that left police union leaders outraged.
To sustain a conviction of assault on a police officer, “the People must establish that the injured police officer was engaged in a lawful duty at the time of the assault,” according to the opinion. The stop was unlawful, and so Mr. Hurdle’s behavior when Mr. Pagnotta asked him to exit the car did not provide justification for the charge, they wrote.
Queens DA to Appeal
The office of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown criticized the decision and said it would take the case to the Court of Appeals. “With due respect to the court, it is one thing to disagree with the officer’s decision to make the stop; it is another to say that the officer was not performing a lawful duty at the time of the stop and, therefore, the assault on him was not an assault on a police officer,” Mr. Brown’s office said in a statement.
Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said he believed the decision was “total lunacy, to be honest with you.
“I get the law and I get the way it’s supposed to work,” he said, “but these judges have a different perception from someone who works in that precinct on a regular basis. The judges are looking at it as a matter of law.” Meanwhile, he said, Sergeant Pagnotta, who has lost mobility in one leg, “became a victim of a job he was supposed to be doing.”
He noted that reasonable suspicion can be the result of several factors that, by themselves, may not be suspicious. He offered this scenario: “I’m watching a guy on the corner but I’m hesitant to do something. Somebody walks past and the guy takes out a gun and shoots him.”
‘Society Should Jump In’
“Somewhere along the line, society needs to jump in on the side of law enforcement,” he said.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said, “This ruling is nonsensical and dangerous and the PBA vigorously supports DA Brown’s challenge of it.”
“To suggest that someone who is clearly aware that he is being questioned by an on-duty police officer and who assaults that officer with his own vehicle is not guilty of assault on a police officer is insane,” Mr. Lynch continued. “It is no different from the individual pulling out a gun and shooting the officer.
“The circumstances surrounding the questioning of that person are irrelevant. There may have been no crime before the questioning, but there certainly was an assault committed against an officer that resulted in very serious injury that ended his career.”
The appeals panel also agreed that the first-degree-assault conviction should be overturned. The judges said the evidence did not show that Mr. Hurdle’s conduct rose to the level of depraved indifference to human life, as the law requires.
In vacating the convictions for assault on an officer and first-degree assault, the appellate judges dismissed the sentences levied for them. Terms given for lesser assault counts remain intact. It was not clear last week how Mr. Hurdle’s sentence would be adjusted.
For its ruling that the stop was unjustified, the court relied heavily on a 1976 Court of Appeals decision in the case of People v. DeBour. The appeal was brought in state court, not Federal court, so the U.S. Supreme Court decision relied on by plaintiffs bringing Federal lawsuits against the department’s stop-and-frisk program does not apply.
In that case, Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that police may briefly detain and question someone if they have a reasonable suspicion, which they can articulate, that he or she has just, is about to or is in the process of committing a crime. If officers have a reasonable suspicion that the subject is carrying a weapon, they may do a pat-down search of the outer garments.
A Four-Phase Process
People v. DeBour sets four levels of street encounters involving police and passersby and the permissible police response to each:
• Level 1: Objective Credible Reason. A police officer can articulate a reason that demonstrates he is approaching an individual in good faith. The officer can ask non-threatening questions about the person’s name, address, destination and what he or she might be carrying. At this level, officers are not allowed to accuse people of crimes or imply they are guilty of anything.
• Level 2: Common-Law Right of Inquiry. The officer has reason—beyond a mere hunch or suspicion—to believe the person is involved in criminal activity. In this case, the officer can ask specific, extended and accusatory questions. The officer can’t chase the person if he or she flees, or use force to detain him.
• Level 3: Stop and (if there is a reason) Frisk. The officer has reasonable suspicion that someone is involved in a crime based on something he or she has observed or based on a tip. In this case, the officer can detain the person, with handcuffs if necessary, and can pursue the person if he attempts to leave.
• Level 4: Probable Cause. The officer has probable cause to believe the person has committed a crime. In this case, the officer can make an arrest. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion.
The vagueness of the first three levels leaves plenty of room for argument. For instance, the Court of Appeals ruled last December that nervousness on the part of the occupants of a car was not enough to justify a search of the car, or even an inquiry about whether anyone in the car has a weapon.
Last July, the Appellate Division ruled that officers in The Bronx were justified in stopping a 14-year-old but not in frisking him, although they found a gun in his backpack. The judges said the fact that the backpack drooped was not enough to justify the search.
In another ruling a few weeks earlier, the majority of the judges on another appellate panel found that an officer’s search of a young man’s coat, which also found a weapon, was unjustified. The officer said he had seen the young man place a black object in his jacket pocket. When the officer questioned him, the youth said he had just placed his wallet in the back pocket of his pants.
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APPELLATE JUDGE OVERTURNS CONVICTION OF MAN WHO PERMANENTLY INJURED NYPD SERGEANT
Court Ruled Walter Hurdle Should Not Be Convicted of Assault on an Officer
New York, NY - June 4, 2013 - The Appellate Division, Second Department, of the Supreme Court of New York State recently
overturned the most serious charges against Walter Hurdle, who was found guilty by a Queens jury of Assault in the First Degree
and Assault on a Police Officer in 2009. As a result of the original conviction, Mr. Hurdle was sentenced to 17-20 years in prison.
The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on January 18, 2007, when Sgt. John Pagnotta and a team of officers noticed
Mr. Hurdle sitting in a parked SUV in a high-crime, drug-prone location. When Sgt. Pagnotta instructed Mr. Hurdle to exit the vehicle,
Mr. Hurdle put the car in drive and drove forward, propelling his SUV into an unmarked police car. The force of the collision pinned
Sgt. Pagnotta between the door to the police car and the SUV, leaving his sacrum bone, which holds the spine to the pelvis, was
snapped and he has no mobility in his left leg.
Regarding the conviction for Assault in the First Degree, the Queens jury determined that Mr. Hurdle had acted with “depraved
Indifference to human life.” With the charge of Assault on a Police Officer, the jury determined that the conviction was warranted
because Sgt. Pagnotta was injured while performing his lawful duties.
Incredulously, the Appellate Court ruled that Mr. Hurdle’s actions did not rise to the level of depravity. The court determined that
Sgt. Pagnotta and his team were not acting within their lawful capacity because they lacked “reasonable suspicion” to question Mr.
Hurdle in the first place. This resulted in his original sentence being drastically reduced, making him immediately eligible for parole.
“This is a reprehensible, despicable and totally erroneous interpretation of the law,” said Ed Mullins, President of the NYC Sergeants
Benevolent Association, whose 12,000 members make it the fifth largest police union in the country. “It defies logic and common sense.
We cannot and will not let this decision go unchallenged. We thank District Attorney Brown, and encourage all members of the law
enforcement community, to join us in challenging this travesty of a legal decision. We are confident that this egregious decision will be
overturned by the Court of Appeals.”
Editorial: Appeals Ruling Appalling
By RICHARD STEIER — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Usually when police union officials use terms like “nonsensical” and “lunacy” in response to a court ruling, there’s a certain amount of hyperbole involved. In a case in which an Appellate Division panel late last month set aside a conviction for assaulting a police officer because the incident resulted from an unwarranted stop, however, those words accurately reflect the lack of common sense displayed by the judges.
The incident occurred in 2007 when Sgt. John Pagnotta told the Police Officer who was driving him to pull up near a parked gray car in Jamaica, Queens so he could question its driver. The cop instead pulled up alongside a black SUV just past the gray car, but the Sergeant decided to question that motorist anyway.
Midway into their conversation, he opened the door and asked the driver to get out of the car. The man, Walter Hurdle, instead stepped on the accelerator, dragging Mr. Pagnotta up the street before he tumbled to the ground on Sutphin Blvd., breaking his pelvis, backbone and several ribs.
Mr. Hurdle was eventually collared, and in 2009 he was convicted of crimes including assault on a police officer and sentenced to 17 to 20 years in prison. The Appellate Division panel, however, created the possibility of significantly reducing that term when it nullified that particular conviction on the grounds that Sergeant Pagnotta had no legal basis for stopping and questioning Mr. Hurdle. It concluded that because the stop was improper, Mr. Hurdle could not be convicted of a charge that requires that the police officer be “engaged in a lawful duty at the time of the assault.” The judges also reversed a conviction for first-degree assault, finding that Mr. Hurdle’s speeding off in a manner that caused Sergeant Pagnotta’s injuries did not satisfy the legal requirement of showing a depraved indifference to human life.
Well, if dragging someone along while accelerating to a high speed doesn’t meet that criterion, we don’t know what does. We are also mystified as to why the legality of the stop should play any role in mitigating what Mr. Hurdle did. It would be one thing if the judges were tossing charges for drug possession or gun possession which resulted only because of a stop that no grounds existed to make. That falls under the heading of “the fruit of the poisonous tree,” the legal phrase regarding products of illegal searches.
But Sergeant Pagnotta had not reached that stage—if he was going to—when Mr. Hurdle disobeyed his instruction and instead floored his vehicle while taking the cop unwillingly along for the ride. There was no ambiguity about whether Mr. Pagnotta was a police officer, and that the driver was not asserting his constitutional rights but rather fleeing without regard to whether doing so endangered the Sergeant or anyone else in the SUV’s path. This was extreme recklessness while driving what had turned into a deadly weapon. Whether Mr. Hurdle acted on impulse or had decided the moment the Sergeant approached him that he would take this course if the questioning seemed to be going badly is irrelevant.
If a football coach upset by a referee’s call responded by slugging the ref, he would face severe punishment even if it turned out that the call had been egregiously wrong. Sports leagues understand the importance of protecting from physical harm those they entrust to enforce the rules of the game, and of severely punishing the offenders, even in cases where the confrontation was prompted by an error.
It is even more important for the courts to respond strongly when physical harm is done to law-enforcement officers exercising their authority, particularly when they have not used force themselves that might justify a self-defense claim by an assailant. The Appellate Division judges—as happened last year in two separate cases involving what seemed to have been justifiable gun searches by cops—have substituted overly technical readings of the law for the common sense that ought to be exercised in cases where there is no ambiguity about the wrongdoing that was actually committed.
As Mr. Pagnotta’s union representative, Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins, told this newspaper’s Mark Toor, “Somewhere along the line, society needs to jump in on the side of law enforcement.”
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, whose office prosecuted the case that led to Mr. Hurdle’s convictions, said he would take it to the state’s highest judicial body, the Court of Appeals. We would hope that those judges see the folly of the mid-level panel’s ruling.
Cred Issues: Counterterrorism Justification / Kelly's Political Ploy Exposed by NSA's Prism
Using a Would-Be Subway Bomber to Justify Sweeping Surveillance
By MICHAEL POWELL — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Najibullah Zazi, coffee vendor, is such a useful captured terrorist.
Question why the New York Police Department sends undercover “crawlers” to monitor mosques and Muslim students, and the department’s partisans point to Mr. Zazi. How do you think, they ask, we caught that Queens kid who was ready to blow up subway cars in 2009?
Last week, the Obama administration laid its own claim to Mr. Zazi’s scalp. Under fire for covertly harvesting phone calls and e-mails of millions and for peering under our electronic covers, they pointed by way of self-defense to the imprisoned terrorist.
Without Prism, the Internet surveillance program, they say, we never would have brought him and his co-conspirators to earth. “That’s how a program like this is supposed to work,” a senior intelligence official told my colleagues at The New York Times.
The Police Department’s claim is more easily disposed of. A former civilian police official has argued that the department was a key player in this investigation and implied that its Man at Scotland Yard played a role.
This is fanciful. That officer in Britain played no known role. And the decision of police officers to question an imam in Queens without the knowledge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation nearly capsized the case, as that imam tipped off Mr. Zazi’s father that his son was under investigation.
The Obama administration’s claim is more complicated, and comes accompanied by question marks. The case had its origins in Britain, where intelligence officials captured a terrorism suspect, examined his laptop and found the e-mail address of a Qaeda operative.
They alerted American intelligence officials, and analysts began monitoring that e-mail address. Months later, Mr. Zazi, unsure of his bomb-making recipe, sent an electronic message to that member of Al Qaeda, and the federal government began to chase Mr. Zazi in earnest. (Much of this is documented by the Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo in their forthcoming book, “Enemies Within.”)
The Obama administration and its partisans assert that this victory results from their greatly enhanced electronic ears and eyes. (They do not agree on some facts: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, claimed that harvesting telephone records rather than e-mails did the trick; this appears to be inaccurate. The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., asserted that investigators “found backpacks with bombs”; the bombs were partly made and there were no backpacks.)
It’s not clear, however, why the administration needed to run its scythe across millions and millions of e-mails to find Mr. Zazi. The government has long possessed the ability to go to secret intelligence courts and receive warrants to monitor particular e-mail and phone accounts. These courts are sympathetic to government lawyers, rejecting petitions with about the same frequency that Mets hitters knock in a run; from 1978 to 2012, the courts turned down 11 of 34,000 requests.
The capture of Mr. Zazi and his friends — on its face — registers as traditional spy craft and police work.
That said, I should cut quickly to the weak underbelly of my argument. Government has an ever-growing ability to peer into what we once thought of as our intimate lives. Harvest enough phone records, study enough e-mail patterns, eavesdrop on enough conversations, and eventually its net will dredge up nasty fellows who wish us only ill.
But what becomes of the society that allows its fishermen to cast such nets?
“There’s no question, at least in the criminal context, that we’d solve a lot of crime if we allowed government to search everyone’s house,” noted Mark Rumold, a staff lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has opposed such intrusions.
Honesty is required here. In this city not so long ago, two towers fell and thousands of loved ones perished. In the weeks after those attacks, I shared the anger that swept us toward war in Afghanistan. The yearning to ensure our families’ safety was powerful.
I placed a call to Faiza Patel, a top official at the Brennan Center for Justice, which has fought police spying and stop-and-frisk tactics. Pakistani-born and Harvard educated, she is a passionate human rights lawyer and, like most New Yorkers, rarely stays her tongue.
And yet she worries. If she is researching jihadi Web sites, she is careful to do so at her office rather than at home, where the work might trip an electronic intelligence wire. “If people are afraid, if you chill dissent, you chill basic rights,” she says. “We talk of individual rights, but really it’s about the freedom of a democracy.”
Deadline Passes / Kelly Out of Mayoral Race
Ray Kelly Will Not Be Your Mayor
By John Surico — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Villiage Voice’ / Manhattan
Ten years in command of one of the world's largest city law enforcement agencies. A solid Bloomberg ally, managing the mayor's budget cutbacks after 9/11 changed the way the NYPD does business. A fantasy for New York Republicans, the New York Post editorial page, and even fellow Voice scribe Graham Rayman. But, as yesterday's mayoral certification deadline came and went, the message is clear: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly will not be running for City Hall anytime soon.
June 10 was the last day for candidates to post their intention to run in the New York City mayoral race and any campaign finance filings hitherto that announcement. But no peep was heard from the Kelly tent, even after shady mayoral polls were conducted last month to get a feel for the electorate's opinion of its police chief (result: "Simply put, it's Ray's if he wants it"). And the insider sources who told the Voice otherwise proved to come up short, too.
For the Republicans, Kelly's candidacy could have been their savior in an election all by guaranteed to end in Democratic victory. As mentioned before, his experience as NYPD commissioner provided him with a background that blows Joe Lhota's time as MTA chief out of the water. He's been lauded by both Democrats (including Christine Quinn) and Republicans for the 35 percent drop in crime under his watch, and his handling of anti-terrorism measures has gained him nationwide recognition.
Kelly's candidacy would have totally changed the race. Then again, stop-and-frisk. Oh, and Muslim surveillance. And vocal demands for reaching quotas to his officers by any means possible.
Yeah, what a race that would've been.
NYPD Communications Division New 911 System
How safe are New Yorkers? Shocking details emerge about the new 911 computer system
City officials say “human error,” not glitches in the new 911 dispatch system, slowed the ambulance response after Ariel Russo, 4, was fatally struck by an SUV on June 4. But EMS sources and internal logs obtained by the Daily News tell a different story. “Unless they fix this system soon, public safety is being risked,” said Israel Miranda, president of the EMS dispatchers union.
By Juan Gonzalez — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
An Emergency Medical Service worker whom city officials blame for missing a 911 call that led to a four-minute delay in getting an ambulance to a child hit by an SUV insists no such call ever came over her computer screen.
City officials say “human error” by that lone dispatcher, and not glitches in the new 911 dispatch system, slowed the ambulance response after Ariel Russo, 4, was fatally struck June 4 on the upper West Side by an unlicensed teen fleeing police.
But EMS sources and internal logs obtained by the Daily News tell a different story, raising more questions about the reliability of the two-week-old system. Some say New Yorkers could be in danger.
“Unless they fix this system soon, public safety is being risked,” said Israel Miranda, president of the union for city EMTs and paramedics.
The worker at the center of the controversy, a 23-year EMS veteran, reported to work at 6:59 a.m. that day and was assigned to handle so-called relay calls. Those are direct computer transmissions from NYPD 911 operators, one of the most important jobs in the dispatch center. According to an EMS log obtained by The News, the call about the girl being struck at W. 97th St. and Amsterdam Ave. was transmitted by a 911 operator to EMS shortly after 8:15 a.m.
Ariel, who was walking to school with her grandmother, was semiconscious at the scene, according to cops who responded and were anxiously awaiting an ambulance. She died minutes later.
At 8:19 a.m., records show, the EMS veteran logged off her computer for her scheduled break and immediately handed her computer to a replacement dispatcher. The woman being faulted is adamant that she never left her computer unattended and handed her replacement a monitor with no jobs waiting, according to people who have talked with her directly.
Sources said she was given an “admonishment” a day after the fatal accident. In a written response to supervisors, she said there was never a call on her screen about a girl getting struck. She has no previous disciplinary history on the job and has been relied upon to train others in the emergency call center, sources said.
The FDNY, headed by Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, disputes her account.
“We have confirmed the call was on her screen and she did not act upon it,” FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon said.
But The News has learned that at least 40 EMS dispatchers and officers on duty that morning should have been able to spot the same overdue request for an ambulance. All such relay calls are posted and tracked on a giant, wall-mounted screen. They also appear on the individual computer terminals of all EMS dispatchers on duty, a veteran dispatcher said.
Once a call has gone unanswered for three minutes, the computer automatically highlights it in a bright, white light meant to be a warning.
“No way that everyone missed that job when it came over the system,” the dispatcher said.
Gribbon acknowledged a relay call “is on other dispatch screens,” but, he added, “The relay operator who failed to handle the call was assigned specifically to handle that — and all other — calls received via relay.”
That dispatcher has been “relieved of handling calls received via relay,” Gribbon said.
Miranda and other EMS dispatchers say they are being blamed for a computer system that has been nothing but trouble since it was launched. Computer messages between police, the EMS and the FDNY keep getting lost or delayed for minutes and even hours.
One dispatcher provided a cellphone photo from an EMS computer monitor over the weekend that showed two “relay” ambulance calls waiting to be answered — one for an hour and the other for 33 minutes.
“Do you think any of us would allow a call to remain on our screens for an hour without handling them?” the dispatcher asked. “These calls suddenly pop up from wherever they’ve been lost and they’re already showing a long wait time.”
The News has obtained police and EMS 911 logs for more than a dozen such calls that occurred Saturday and Sunday. All show unusual gaps in the time from when an NYPD operator registered the call to when EMS received it.
On Sunday afternoon, for example, a driver ran a stop sign at 89th St. and 103rd Ave. in Queens and struck another vehicle that was carrying three people. A 911 operator recorded the first call about the accident at 4:52 p.m. The occupants reported no one was seriously injured. EMS was not notified until 7:20 p.m., 2 1/2 hours later.
“We waited nearly three hours for the ambulance,” said one of the passengers, Johnny Agromonte.
Agromonte said his neck “was hurting a little,” but he declined to go to a hospital. Even worse, he said, “no cops showed up until 11 p.m.” to take a report. “More than four police cars just passed us during that time but they wouldn’t stop.”
All that Gribbon, the FDNY spokesman, would say about the incident was that it was listed as an “RMA,” meaning a patient refused medical attention.
As this column reported last week, Alabama-based Intergraph Corp., the company that developed the new $88 million computer dispatch system, has had similar problems with computer glitches and crashes in dispatch systems it designed for emergency responders in Nassau County and in San Jose, Calif.
Since the NYPD system, known as ICAD, was launched two weeks ago, there have been four incidents where all or part of the system crashed, requiring police operators to resort to writing down caller information on slips of paper and ferrying them by runners to dispatchers.
After spending more than $2 billion on upgrading the city’s 911 system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg should start listening to the workers who operate it. The failure to listen could cost lives.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’ Editorial:
The failure to rush to Ariel Russo's rescue is looking more like a system failure and less like simple human error
The evidence mounts that the city’s 911 emergency response system is plagued by potentially life-threatening miscommunications — with Mayor Bloomberg’s public safety credentials hanging in the balance.
The Daily News’ Juan Gonzalez reported last week on the case of Ariel Russo, the four-year-old Manhattan girl who was fatally struck by a careening SUV. He revealed that 4 minutes, 18 seconds has elapsed between the time police called for an ambulance and the time the Emergency Medical Services dispatched one.
Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, whose department oversees EMS, responded vehemently, attributing the delay to human error rather than to any fault in a new $88 million computerized dispatching system that was supposed to speed and coordinate responses by police, fire and EMS.
Cassano stated that a dispatcher had missed the ambulance call on her computer screen:
“It wasn’t picked up by the person that should have been reading that screen. There were no technology glitches,” Cassano said. “(The worker) just failed to read the screen. We’ll deal with that. . . . Their screen should never be left unread, because these are lifesaving calls.”
Now, Gonzalez reports that, had the 911 system been operating properly, the police call for an ambulance — this was classified as a high-priority “relay” call — should have shown up on the computer screens in front of a couple dozen dispatchers, as well as on a large video monitor where supervisors track calls.
Further, all the computer screens highlight a relay call after three minutes if EMS fails to dispatch an ambulance. The highlighting is meant to place everyone in the call center on notice that an overdue relay call demands action.
There are two possibilities: The call failed to appear on any computer screen for those four-plus minutes, as the dispatcher has told associates; or everyone on duty failed to act on the police department’s repeated requests for an ambulance.
Cassano’s spokesman goes with the second explanation, which amounts to admitting massive personnel failures, although the spokesman insists that the delay falls squarely on the single dispatcher primarily responsible for the call.
None of this hangs convincingly together, with all the doubts compounded by Gonzalez’ previous reports on outages in the $88 million upgrade. They lead fairly to critical questions: Are technical failures preventing some 911 calls from moving seamlessly from the NYPD to EMS? And why would a roomful of dispatchers and supervisors let urgent calls to aid a semi-conscious child go unanswered for so long?
Follow them out and the ultimate question becomes: How safe are we?
NYPD $$ Lawyer Lotto $$ Jackpot Giveaways
Liu Sees Link to Alienation
NYPD Was Sued More, Paid Out Less in 2012
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
While lawsuits against other large city agencies declined or stayed flat, court actions against the NYPD rose 22 percent in the 2012 fiscal year, City Comptroller John Liu said in a report released June 5.
“The growing number of new claims against the NYPD will cost taxpayers more money, and is a measure of public frustration with the agency,” Mr. Liu said in a statement accompanying the report. “It’s hard to ignore the link between rising claims and a growing chasm between communities and the police. This disturbing and persistent trend at the NYPD must be addressed by the Bloomberg administration in order to keep New York truly the safest big city.”
$152M in NYPD Payouts
The number of suits filed against the NYPD hit a historic high of 9,570 in fiscal 2012 (the fiscal year begins July 1), compared with 8,941 in 2011, according to the report. The city paid out $152 million in NYPD claims in fiscal 2012, 18 percent less than it spent the previous year. But, the report said, “this year’s lower settlement costs may not accurately reflect a new trend.”
Claims against the NYPD result from alleged improper police action, such as false arrest or imprisonment, shooting of a suspect, excessive force or assault, or failure to provide police protection.
“The NYPD has seen the number of claims rise 52 percent over the last five years,” the report said. It made a number of recommendations, some of which were presented in reports for previous years. “Although there are no easy ways to reverse the trend, clearly more must be done,” the report said. Recommendations included:
• Creating a task force with members from the NYPD, the District Attorneys’ Offices, the Corporation Counsel, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Comptroller’s Office to identify areas that are high-risk in terms of claims activity and work out a plan for controlling them.
• Establishing a Compstat-type system for tracking claims filed by precinct in hope of determining whether certain management practices can limit liability while still meeting police goals.
• Providing on-going training regarding chases by police vehicles “that balances both law-enforcement goals and liability concerns” and speed the handling of claims that deserve to be settled in order to reduce costs.
• Following the lead of the Health and Hospitals Corporation in developing systems that lowered claim costs by more than a third. “One likely reason that HHC has succeeded so well in containing claim costs is that, unlike other city entities, HHC is responsible for its own claim cost,” the report said. “So HHC has invested in risk-management and other initiatives that have led to a significant reduction in claim costs.”
• Implement a citywide program to reduce claims involving motor vehicles, including seatbelt-use initiatives and reviewing areas where accidents occur to see if the road design and condition are contributing factors.
All told, the city paid out $737 million in claims in fiscal 2012, $486 million of which came in lawsuits. Of the five agencies with the highest payouts, the NYPD had by far the most new claims—twice as many as the Department of Transportation, which had 4,716.
‘Tense Spots Lead to Suits’
A spokeswoman for the city Department of Law discussed the problems of controlling claims. “Police officers are frequently called to handle high-tension situations, which can generate litigation,” she said in an e-mail.
“While the Law Department does not control whether plaintiff attorneys file new claims, we litigate our cases assertively and have taken an increased number of non-meritorious civil-rights lawsuits to trial with successful results. We also communicate extensively with city agencies on a wide range of practices to monitor and reduce litigation risk.”
The Violent Psycho’s Taking of 25th Precinct P.O. John Chiodi Firearm to Shoot P.O. Fausto Gomez
EMT Disarms Gunman at Harlem Hospital
'Outstanding Job' by 25-Year-Old With Aspirations of Becoming a Police Officer
By PERVAIZ SHALLWANI and JOSHUA DAWSEY — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ / New York, NY
Brendon Hernandez had just dropped off a handcuffed, emotionally disturbed man at Harlem Hospital when he heard two gunshots.
The 25-year-old emergency medical technician, who has come up short on attempts to become a police officer, acted quickly: He made his way to the scene, wrestled away a handgun that the suspect allegedly took from a New York Police Department officer, and disabled the weapon.
"I ran over, froze for a second, then just grabbed the gun," Mr. Hernandez said. "I just wanted to get the gun out of here and just don't make nothing worse."
"That bullet could have gone anywhere," he added.
When it was over, one of the shots had grazed Officer Fausto Gomez, 40 years old, in the foot, but police said Mr. Hernandez's instincts prevented the suspect, Guyteau Idore, from unloading more bullets on the doorstep of the hospital's emergency room.
"Brendon Hernandez quickly pulled the gun from Idore's hand," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference outside the hospital. "He did an outstanding job. We understand that EMT Hernandez has aspirations of becoming a New York City police officer, and he certainly demonstrated that he has what it takes to do the job."
Officer Gomez, a seven-year veteran of the NYPD, was treated and released a few hours later for a gunshot wound to the instep of his left foot and is expected to make a full recovery, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Idore, 42, was subdued and transported to Metropolitan Hospital Center in East Harlem for a psychiatric evaluation before police determine what charges to file against him, Mr. Kelly said. The commissioner said a handcuffed suspect taking a gun from a police officer's holster was "a very unusual situation, and officers handled it appropriately in my opinion."
Police said Mr. Idore, who emigrated from Haiti in 1990 and has lived sporadically with his father in Queens, is known to the department as a man with emotional problems. He has a long arrest history that includes assault, drug possession, weapons charges and domestic violence incidents.
His father, Otilo Idore, 66, said he hadn't seen his son in the six months since he moved to a shelter in Manhattan, but spoke to him briefly Sunday morning. "He called me yesterday. He said he had no money and he was hungry," Otilo Idore said, adding, "This is bad. It's really, really, really bad."
On Monday at 4:55 a.m., police were called to the corner of Lexington Avenue and 117th Street, where Mr. Idore had allegedly been throwing bottles at people and had assaulted someone in the street, Mr. Kelly said.
Officer Gomez and his partner, Officer John Chiodi, both on duty in the 25th Precinct, responded in their squad car. Mr. Idore was handcuffed and placed in the back of an ambulance by Officer Gomez, who rode with the suspect to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, Mr. Kelly said. Officer Chiodi followed the ambulance to the hospital in the patrol car.
After arriving at the hospital, Mr. Idore tried to flee, but the officers subdued him and escorted him up the ramp to the emergency room, the police commissioner said.
As they reached the top, there was a struggle, at which point Mr. Idore forcibly ripped the gun from the officer's holster, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
Mr. Hernandez had just parked the ambulance he has driven for three years as an FDNY EMT. He heard the gunshots and saw a scuffle from the rearview mirror of the ambulance.
He quickly approached the group, grabbing the 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun, unloading the magazine and removing a bullet from the chamber.
With help from Officer Chiodi, he then helped Officer Gomez onto a stretcher and wheeled him into the emergency room.
Late Monday night, police charged Mr. Idore with attempted murder, robbery and assault. He was waiting to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court. It was unknown if he had an attorney Monday night.
Mr. Hernandez, who lives in upstate Beacon, has served as a volunteer firefighter in the city since he was 16 and received the state Senate 2008 Volunteer of Valor award when he stopped on his way home from work to help rescue a man from the second floor of a burning home.
Mr. Hernandez said he took the exam to become an NYPD officer when he was 18.
"Everyone tells me I should be a cop," Mr. Hernandez said. "'You should be an NYPD cop,' my dad always tells me, 'cause I think like one, and I act like one."
Mr. Kelly said the NYPD would take a look at where Mr. Hernandez sits on the recruit list and re-evaluate his standing.
Colleagues at Mr. Hernandez's station house in Harlem and firehouse in Beacon described him as a dedicated first responder.
"Pretty much the only thing he wanted to do his whole life is help people in EMS and fire," said Brian Davis, a volunteer firefighter who has worked alongside Mr. Hernandez for six years.
Volunteer firefighter Matt Smith, 24, said he wasn't surprised.
"He's serious about it, he works hard at it," Mr. Smith said. "In a city of millions of people, he comes through."
Fellow EMT Joey Gorski, 29, said he and colleagues are often on the front lines of dangerous situations.
"We deal with a lot of psych patients, they're unpredictable," Mr. Gorski added. "He did the right thing. Above and beyond—he did what you hope everyone would do."
Police officers respond to thousands of calls every year for an "emotionally disturbed person" acting erratically. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the calls "involve plenty of risk and unpredictable behavior," and every once in a while they escalate.
"Fortunately in this case it was not a serious wound, but a tiny degree of difference in the direction of the gun and it could have been," Mr. Bloomberg said.
In April 2012, an emotionally disturbed person stabbed Officer Eder Loor in the head during an encounter in East Harlem. The wound penetrated through the officer's skull and caused bleeding on the brain, but narrowly averted an artery, leading a neurosurgeon to call him the "luckiest unlucky man you could ever have."
—Alison Fox contributed to this article.
Heroic EMT disarms crazed man after cop shot by NYPD gun at Harlem Hospital
By MATT McNULTY AND DANIEL PRENDERGAST — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Post’
A hero EMT disarmed a deranged man who wrestled a gun away from an NYPD cop and used it to shoot another officer in the foot outside Harlem Hospital, officials said.
Officers Fausto Gomez and John Chiodi were bringing Guyteau Idore, 41, into the hospital at about 5:30 a.m. when Idore somehow got control of Chiodi’s .9mm weapon — even though he was handcuffed with his arms behind his back, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Idore squeezed off two shots, grazing Gomez, 40, once in the left foot, before FDNY EMT Brandon Hernandez, 24, yanked the gun away, Kelly said.
“All I know is he had a gun in his hand, and I removed it,” Hernandez said outside the hospital.
The EMT had once applied to join the NYPD, but the list he was on expired in 2011, sources said.
Kelly said the EMT “did an outstanding job” and promised to check the status of his application with the department.
Idore, who has numerous priors, was charged with attempted murder, assault and robbery.
Gomez and Chiodi, 42, an 18-year vet, had responded to a call of an assault in progress at 4:55 a.m. at 117th St. and Lenox Avenue, where Idore was allegedly throwing bottles and had assaulted someone.
They cuffed Idore and put him in an ambulance to go to the hospital for a psychiatric exam.
Hernandez and his partner, Jean Altidor, were in the ambulance with Chiodi guarding the prisoner while Gomez followed in his patrol car.
Once at the hospital, the homeless perp — who has a lengthy rap sheet including busts for assault, menacing and domestic violence — tried to flee, but the two cops quickly grabbed him.
But Idore got his hands on Chiodi’s service weapon and fired before Hernandez grabbed the gun and unloaded it.
“The individual began to struggle and managed
That’s when the quick-thinking Hernandez grabbed the gun from Idore’s hand.
“He racked it, to make it safe, and he did an outstanding job,” kelly added.
Bloomberg said the incident shows how dangerous emotionally disturbed individuals can be.
“Thankfully Officer Gomez’s injuries are non-life threatening. He is alert, treated and has already been released. The commissioner and I spoke with his family, and because his injury wasn’t that serious it was a lot easier to have that kind of conversation than sometimes when the officer is injured much more seriously or worse than that,” Bloomberg said.
Otilo Idore of Queens Village blamed his son’s woes on the devil.
“Ever since the kids came here [from Haiti], they hated me and they hated the house. It’s like there’s a devil in the house, it’s haunted,” he said.
Guyteau has been living in a Manhattan shelter since December, his father said, and has had little contact with his family since then.
The mayor said the incident highlights the dangers cops face when dealing with emotionally disturbed individuals.
“The Police Department ... gets thousands of calls a year for emotionally disturbed people, and these interactions involve plenty of risk and unpredictable behavior. This morning’s incident is another example I think of the dangers of our officers face every day and the incredible restraint that they demonstrate,” Bloomberg said.
Kelly added he would review the EMT’s eligibility
His son was taken to Metropolitan Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Charges against him were pending.
EMT Hernandez, who disarmed a crazed gunman, is no stranger to heroics
Brendon Hernandez disarmed a crazed patient Monday after the man stole a cop's gun and shot the officer in the foot. But in 2008, the FDNY EMT pulled a man out of a burning building in upstate New York, without any tools or fire protection.
By Rocco Parascandola , Edgar Sandoval AND Ginger Adams Otis — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
A HERO EMT wrestled a cop’s gun away from a crazed man who shot and wounded an officer early Monday — and he may have scored a new job opportunity in the process.
Brendon Hernandez, 25, quickly disarmed the suspect after the man shot Officer Fausto Gomez, 40, in the foot.
The suspect, who was handcuffed behind his back, had somehow managed to grab the gun of Gomez’s partner, Officer John Chiodi, as the cops were leading him into Harlem Hospital.
Gomez was expected to make a full recovery.
“I’m not a hero, not at all. A cop got shot, and it could have been worse — thank God it wasn’t,” Hernandez said hours after his quick thinking prevented a more serious incident.
Hernandez, who aspires to be a police officer, now has a shot at fulfilling his dream.
“He’s demonstrated that he has what it takes to do the job,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Hernandez said he passed an NYPD test in 2007 but lacks the military background or college credits to qualify for the force. But Kelly revived his hopes of one day wearing NYPD blue. “We’re going to look into his situation, where he is on the eligible list,” Kelly said.
If Kelly needs references for Hernandez, he need look no further than the volunteer firefighters in Beacon, N.Y. In 2008 Hernandez was awarded a medal of valor from the city, which is in Dutchess County, after he and a local cop came upon a raging house fire in nearby Fishkill. Hernandez, without any protective gear, saved a man who was screaming for help out of a second-story window. Hernandez climbed atop the shoulders of the Fishkill cop, who was standing on a picnic table, to pull off the rescue. The state also issued him a commendation.
Hernandez had also hoped to become a New York City firefighter, but his effort to join the ranks stalled when a physical exam revealed he had asthma. Hernandez still volunteers at the fire department in Beacon.
On Monday police were called to Lenox Ave. and E. 117th St. just before 5 a.m. to investigate a report of a man tossing bottles at people. Officers Gomez and Chiodi encountered Guiteau Idore, 43. Chiodi was placed in an ambulance and taken to Harlem Hospital. Gomez was following in a marked squad car. Hernandez was driving the ambulance.
As the cops were hauling Idore up the ramp toward the hospital, there was a scuffle. The suspect fired twice after taking control of Chiodi’s gun fired twice, with one round hitting Gomez in the left foot. Hernandez then snatched the gun away from the suspect, who was quickly subdued and taken to Metropolitan Hospital for a psychiatric observation.
Idore, who is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, has an extensive arrest history for domestic violence. He was charged with attempted murder, robbery and assault Monday night.
Gomez, who joined the NYPD in 2006, and his partner, an 18-year veteran, are assigned to the 25th Precinct. Kelly said it appears they followed proper procedure for transporting a prisoner.
With Vera Chinese, Thomas M. Baker and Stephen Rex Brown
EMT Grabs Gun From Man Who Shot Officer Outside Harlem Hospital
By: Kristen Shaughnessy — Monday, June 10th, 2013; 10:48 p.m. ‘NY 1 News’ / New York
A city fire department EMT is being hailed as a hero after rushing to the aide of an NYPD officer early Monday morning.
Police say it started at 4:55 a.m. when police received a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed man throwing bottles and attacking people around 117th Street and Lexington Avenue.
Officers Fausto Gomez and John Chiodi arrested Guiteau Idore, 41, who police say has a record of assault and domestic violence, and took him in an ambulance for a psychological evaluation.
Police say Idore, who was handcuffed, started struggling on the ramp at the hospital and got hold of Chiodi's gun.
He fired twice, hitting Gomez once in the foot.
That evening, Idore was charged with attempted murder, robbery and assault.
"We have well over a hundred thousand emotionally disturbed person calls a year so stranger things can happen. But it appears the officers handled it appropriately," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
"Fortunately in this case it was not a serious wound, but a tiny fraction of a degree difference in the direction of the gun and it could have been," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
An EMT on the scene, Brandon Hernandez, removed the gun, and the suspected shooter was taken to another hospital for evaluation.
"I just wanted to get the gun out of here - just don't make nothing worse. I was scared. I was scared for my safety, my partner's safety, especially the cops' and the people walking by," Hernandez said.
Gomez was treated for his injury and has been released.
Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, Hernandez said he wants to join the NYPD.
The police commissioner promised to look into where he is on the eligible list.
Kelly also said Gomez and Chiodi acted appropriately, and the incident is another reminder of the possible danger officers face every time they answer a call.
Question and Frisk Search / Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrest
Blacks Disproportionately Arrested
NYCLU: Pot Busts Not Odorless or Colorless
By MARK TOOR — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘The Chief / Civil Service Leader’
Police sanction blacks disproportionately more than whites for low-level marijuana offenses not just in New York City, but statewide, the New York Civil Liberties Union said in a report released June 6.
In Brooklyn and Manhattan, blacks are nine times more likely than whites to be arrested or given summonses, NYCLU data shows. But the disparities also extend to Cortland County near Ithaca (blacks 8.4 times more likely to be arrested than whites); Onandaga County near Syracuse (7.75 times more likely); two counties near Rochester: Monroe (6.5 times more likely) and Wayne (6.3 times more likely); Otsego County near Utica (5.9 times more likely); Niagara County north of Buffalo (7.6 times more likely); and Delaware County near Oneonta (6.9 times more likely).
‘Targeting People of Color’
“In all corners of New York State, police are targeting people of color for marijuana arrests,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said in a telephone press conference. Statewide, blacks are 4.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Nationwide, the figure is 3.7 times more likely.
The press conference followed a report released June 4 by the NYCLU’s parent organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, that found New York State leads the nation in marijuana arrests.
According to the ACLU report, around the country “the war on marijuana has largely been a war on people of color. Despite the fact that marijuana is used at comparable rates by whites and blacks, state and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities.”
In 2010, the report said, New York State led the country in marijuana-possession arrests with 103,698, 40 percent more than the No. 2 state, Texas. In that year, Ms. Lieberman said, such arrests cost New York State taxpayers $678.5 million in police and court costs alone. “At a time when county governments across New York are cutting services to close huge budget deficits, police should not be wasting scarce resources arresting people for small amounts of marijuana,” she said.
Possession Arrests Soar
Possession arrests rose more than 6,400 percent from 1991, when it was 714, to 2010, when it was 50,210, Ms. Lieberman said. She said the 2010 number is particularly amazing because possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is a violation, not a crime if it is not in public view.
Ms. Lieberman noted a tactic used by some NYPD officers during stop-question-and-frisk encounters in which the officers empty the subject’s pockets and then charge him with possession of marijuana in public view, which is a misdemeanor. This practice has continued although Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly issued an order prohibiting it in the fall of 2011.
NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne took issue with the NYCLU. “Marijuana arrests are down 32 percent this year on top of a 22-percent decline last year,” he said in an e-mail. “They’re often incidental to other charges. Leave it to Donna to worry about minority pot-smokers and not the blacks and Hispanics shot and killed in grossly disproportionate numbers each year...Police enforce the law everywhere, but in greater numbers in poor neighborhoods experiencing violent crime the most.”
Governor Cuomo has declared support of a bill that would close the public-display loophole, making possession of less than two ounces of marijuana in public view a violation rather than a misdemeanor. The law has been passed by the State Assembly but is stuck in the State Senate.
Hope in Senate
Gabriel Sayegh, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said at the press conference that he believed the Senate will pass the bill by the end of the session. It is bogged down now, he said, but that may be because of confusion about how to bring the bill to the floor. Control of the Senate is shared between Republican leader Dean Skelos, who by some accounts opposes the bill, and Democrat Jeffrey D. Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, which is committed to a progressive social agenda.
NYPD School Safety Div.
Thompson, now, talks of striking 'a balance' on school security
By Azi Paybarah — Monday, June 10th, 2013 ‘Capital New York’ / New York, NY
At a mayoral forum in Astoria yesterday, Bill Thompson joined most of his Democratic mayoral rivals in criticizing the existing process by which unruly students in public schools are suspended or arrested.
Thompson said, "The first thing that needs to happen is we need to make sure the final word on arrests and suspensions in schools are the administrators'. That's the big thing to begin with, not school agents and school safety agents, not the police department."
But (as was quickly noted on Twitter), Thompson played a role in instituting the NYPD's direct involvement in school security, some 15 years ago.
52nd Precinct P.O. Kelly Hughes
Officer Kelly Hughes, who smashed her car in an alleged drunk driving incident, is arrested in the Bronx
Hughes was off-duty at the time of the accident in April. Then she and her passenger fled.
By Barry Paddock — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Daily News’
AN OFF-DUTY NYPD cop who smashed her car in April and tried to hide out in a nearby house to avoid police was hit with multiple charges Monday.
Officer Kelly Hughes, 24, flipped her Nissan after smashing into a parked 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor SUV on Revere Ave. in Schuylerville around 4:10 a.m. on April 4.
“My car was banged up pretty good,” the Mitsubishi’s owner, Michael Londonio, 64, told the News in April.
Hughes and her female passenger tried to hole up in a stranger’s nearby house but were refused, the News reported in April.
Investigators found Hughes at her home in Edgewater Park about a mile from the crash scene.
She and her passenger were too drunk to remember what happened, sources told the News.
Hughes, who joined the force in January 2010 and was assigned to the 52nd Precinct, was suspended and agreed to enter rehab after the crash.
She was not initially criminally charged, but an investigation into the accident lead to her arrest Monday morning, officials said.
She was arraigned later on charges of driving drunk, leaving the scene of an accident and criminal mischief.
She was released without bail, officials said, and is due back in court July 29.
Little-Known Guide Helps Police Navigate a Diverse City
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
Arab immigrants often speak loudly, even by New York standards, so what sounds like an argument could be just a family discussion. Chinese immigrants are uncomfortable asking strangers for help. And immigrants from rural Mexico generally avoid making eye contact with authority figures.
These are among dozens of “communication tips” mentioned in a Police Academy training manual that describes the various immigrant and ethnic groups that New York City police officers will encounter. Titled “Policing a Multicultural Society,” the manual seeks to help recruits overcome cultural barriers that threaten to escalate tense situations and can stymie efforts to elicit information.
Many of the pages offer the breezy read of a travel guide, offering advice to help police officers navigate a patchwork of foreign cultures across the five boroughs. Police officers are reminded that everyday gestures, like using a finger to point at someone, for instance, can cause unintended offense.
“Beckoning people to come to you by holding your palms up, for example, may be seen as obscene among Latin Americans,” the guide states. “Probably it is best for police officers to avoid using hand gestures until they have acquainted themselves with what they mean to the community members whom they serve.”
Taken together, the tips illustrate the challenges of policing a city as diverse as New York. They show that law enforcement in the five boroughs involves far more than just making arrests, and is endlessly fascinating in its portrait of New Yorkers. The manual received passing attention during a federal trial that ended last month over the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, as city lawyers cited the manual as evidence that the department is conscientious in training officers for interactions with minority New Yorkers.
But critics are sure to question whether the department’s training efforts are sufficient, given the intense debate of the Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk as well as its scrutiny of Muslim communities as part of its counterterrorism efforts.
Some of the advice — like a description of how African immigrants prefer to shake hands — “through a light touch of the palms,” rather than a firm grip — could belong in a guide on business etiquette. But plenty of other tips deal with situations that are unique to policing, like responding to 911 calls or conducting car stops.
Officers on emergency calls are cautioned about the pitfalls of using children as interpreters, even though they often speak English better than their immigrant parents: to avoid upending the family hierarchy common within Latin American and Asian immigrant groups, officers are reminded to direct their inquiries “to the male of the household, even if children are serving as interpreters.”
The guide also warns officers that they may be alarmed by how immigrants respond during car stops: “Be aware that newly arrived Arab-Americans may get out of their car when stopped by a police officer as a gesture of courtesy,” the guide states.
Indeed, much of the advice has this subtext: behavior that strikes a police officer as suspicious may have a cultural explanation. For instance, police recruits are told that when entering a Puerto Rican household they are likely to encounter a lot of “eye-checking.” Rather than interpreting these glances among family members as an effort to prevent one another from speaking candidly, officers should understand that the mannerism “relates to the closeness of the family unit.”
The guide reminds officers to consider that immigrants may be especially fearful of the police because in their native countries the police were involved in rampant human rights violations.
“In such places, people learn early that there is little to gain and much to lose by trusting the police or by telling them the truth,” the manual states. “No matter how friendly, trustworthy, and helpful we may try to be, habits and traditions learned during a lifetime of oppression do not die easily.”
“Your interactions with immigrants from countries like Haiti, Cambodia, El Salvador and Guatemala will go more smoothly if you take the time to assure them that you will not hurt them,” the guide also states.
The origins of these communication tips are not entirely clear. The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said only, “The multicultural material was introduced decades ago but is updated periodically to reflect the changing face of the city.” He added that the tips come from a variety of sources, “including community leaders, academics and experienced law enforcement personnel.”
The lessons, Mr. Browne said, are “consistent with the literature and texts utilized by universities.”
Mr. Browne declined to make police instructors available for interviews about the training.
During the stop-and-frisk trial, a police witness, Chief James Shea, testified that the department’s training emphasized to recruits that “there is no cookie-cutter approach to policing in New York City.” The underlying lesson of the manual, said Chief Shea, who once commanded the Police Academy, is to ensure that officers “don’t assume that the person you’re dealing with comes from the same life experience as you and is reacting the same way to what is happening.”
He added, “Certain cultures treat eye contact differently, treat touching differently, treat witnesses and children talking to other adults differently.”
Of course, many recruits already know this by the time they enter the academy. In recent years, police recruits have come from 88 countries, a fact that the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, often cites. The manual does not point out that the policing profession in New York has for more than 150 years drawn heavily from foreign-born immigrants, particularly the Irish. (In a brief section on the Irish, the manual notes that they “are part of American mainstream culture.”)
The guide encourages officers to think positively about immigrants, noting that they “pay $90 billion a year in taxes and receive only $5 billion in welfare.”
While the guide focuses on immigrant groups, it also contains sections on policing African-American communities. It notes that African-Americans have “much reason to be suspicious of the police,” making reference to the beating of Rodney King by officers in Los Angeles and the brutalization of Abner Louima in a Brooklyn station house. The section tells officers to “not take personally unfounded accusations or suspicions that their actions may be discriminatory.”
A newer section addresses interactions with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, reminding officers to be aware that antigay bias is still “pervasive in our police departments,” court systems and social services. Officers are asked to consider “the butch lesbian survivor in a shelter who is watched more closely by staff than her more feminine heterosexual fellow residents.” Several pages are devoted to terminology, and officers are instructed to use the term “gay” rather than “homosexual” because of that word’s clinical connotations.
Elsewhere, the guide cautions against stereotyping and profiling, noting that “to assume the worst about a whole group of people, based on the actions of a few, is insulting and degrading.”
It offers a novel hypothetical: consider how police officers feel when a corruption scandal casts a pall over an entire department, leading citizens to assume the worst about all police officers. The guide asks officers to “think of what you would feel if, when you tell people where you work, they respond by asking, ‘How’s business?’ or saying, ‘So that’s how you can afford to live in this neighborhood,’ as if you too are involved in criminal activity.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
Ret. NYPD Sgt. Edward Adams Pleas Guilty a Second Time
NY lawyer pleads guilty in real estate scheme; former police officer also awaits sentencing
By Unnamed Author(s) (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013; 7:38 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK — Federal authorities say a New York lawyer has pleaded guilty in a real estate scheme.
A former NYPD sergeant pleaded guilty last month in the case.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan says attorney Edward Adams pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Authorities say the two men misappropriated millions of dollars in escrow funds. The real estate project in the Dominican Republic never developed and investors lost all their money.
Adams could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he's sentenced on Oct. 18.
The former policeman, James Monahan, pleaded guilty on May 29.
Monahan was owner of a company called Panam Management Group, Inc.
NYPD officers caught on video assaulting gay man in latest stunt
By Unnamed Author(s) — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘RT News’ / Moscow, Russia
Community activists are furious over a new video that appears to show Brooklyn police roughly detaining a gay man and pepper-spraying him while hurling homophobic slurs at his friends.
The incident took place at approximately 4:00 am on Sunday, June 2 when an NYPD officer reportedly accused Josh Williams, a 26-year-old waiter who lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, of public urination outside Brooklyn’s 79th Police Precinct. Williams and his roommates, Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, claimed he was innocent of the claim, at which point the officer “snapped.”
“He rolled his eyes and sort of snapped, twisting an arm behind my back and slamming me against a car,” Williams said. “I was able to ask him what was going on, and he slammed me against the car and pepper-sprayed me. I was blinded and disoriented.”
The video recorded by Maenza and Collins and posted online shows more officers rushing to the scene, crowding the two away from Williams with vulgar threats. Williams is shown being held against a fence before being thrown to the ground. His friends were also detained after demanding the officers’ badge numbers and telling them the entire assault had been caught on film.
“I believe they arrested us because when the last officer who called us faggots, Tony told him that we had the incident on video, and I’m sure he relayed that information inside and they then decided to follow us outside and arrested us,” Collins told the Village Voice.
“It felt as if we were an exhibit at a zoo,” he continued. “It felt demeaning and dehumanizing to be treated this way. Our safety concerns ignored by the officers.”
The NYPD informed the Voice that the incident would be subject to an internal investigation, but the excessive force and homophobic taunts have already caught the attention of LGBT groups in the city.
“This case is so extreme in how the encounter escalated so fast over something so silly and turned so violent,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, Williams’ attorney. “Based on how the incident started, there’s very little to justify such extreme action other than homophobia.”
Anti-gay hate crimes have increased by 70 per cent so far in 2013, with city officials offering special self-defense classes for anyone who feels they may be at risk. A gay couple was recently assaulted outside Madison Square Garden, raising the number of bias-related crimes up to 24, according to NBC News, ten more than the 14 reported during the same time period in 2012.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project announced it will hold a press conference on June 11 at 2:00 pm EST to address both the incident in question and the broader unease.
Surveillance society puts cameras in more locations
The demand for public safety — from terrorism, street crime or fraud — means more cameras in more locations where people work, shop, study, travel and play.
By Robert Marchant — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Journal News’ / White Plains, NY
Walk down a busy sidewalk, step into an office building or shoot basketball in a city playground, and chances are getting better that someone is watching you.
It won't be a passing pedestrian, or a co-worker, a neighbor or any other familiar face, and it will probably be through a powerful lens hooked up to a digital recorder. Whether it's a police sergeant or a landlord or a suspicious boss who is doing the looking, the world of surveillance is becoming enmeshed in the everyday world in ways that are growing every day.
The demand for public safety — from terrorism, street crime or fraud — means more cameras in more locations where people work, shop, study, travel and play. And while the technology used to observe, monitor and detect has never been more powerful and widespread — as well as attractive to government and private-sector leaders — the lines on public surveillance are still blurry or yet to be drawn.
"It's not great to put up cameras to watch people," said Mount Vernon, N.Y., City Council President Yuhanna Edwards after watching a demonstration of cameras now in use above a Mount Vernon playground. "But it will make our community a better place."
Concerns about terrorism — especially in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings where camera footage was used to identify suspects — are driving the push for more surveillance in large metropolitan areas that could become targets. The use of police drones, facial-recognition technology and cameras equipped with artificial intelligence capacity that can detect "suspicious" behavior are all being explored around the country.
A series of disclosures about classified National Security Agency surveillance programs focusing on phone and Internet use has heightened an already vigorous debate about the limits of such government actions. Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who currently works as an NSA contractor, has claimed responsibility for the leaks. He reportedly was in hiding in Hong Kong while seeking asylum.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show, "We're going to have more visibility and less privacy — I don't see how you stop that." In discussing the use of surveillance drones operated by police, he said, "It's just we're going into a different world, uncharted."
Neighbors who live near the Ben Gordon Playground in Mount Vernon say they don't mind the extra attention. "When I'm in public, I accept that someone is looking," said Katrina Foster, of Mount Vernon.
Attitudes like that are common in the public at large. According to a poll taken by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute last month, New York City respondents support the use of surveillance in public spaces by a margin of 82 percent to 14 percent, with support among blacks and Hispanics even higher.
But Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said personal freedom is at risk.
"The reality is that we live in a surveillance society — the horse has left the barn — and the question for government is how will they protect us from abuse," she said. "It's important that there should be strict guidelines of how footage is used, how long it's stored."
Equipped to eavesdrop
Cameras in public places might be coming to a suburban neighborhood near you, as police agencies around the suburbs ramp up their technological skills and equipment.
"We've gotten good at moving with the times — and they're moving fast," said Detective Sgt. John Lynch of the Ramapo (N.Y.) Police Department.
Cost-effective and useful, cameras are becoming standard tools. A recent investigation of a high-end burglary ring active in Ramapo yielded a quarter-million photographic images.
"It wouldn't have been feasible to have officers out there 24 hours a day for three months to monitor the street. It's a tremendous cost savings," Lynch said. "The more potential sources for collecting information the better."
The $3.2 billion video surveillance industry is growing rapidly, according to consulting group, IMS Research. The private sector is a major customer — according to a survey by the American Management Association, more than half of U.S. companies use visual surveillance in some capacity.
Private investigator Adam Frasca recalls the kind of equipment his mother once used two decades ago to document medical fraud and personal-injury scams.
"My mother used to carry around 20 pounds of equipment. The one I use is the size of a candy bar," said Frasca, whose mother Dorothy, founded Davis Investigations in Mamaroneck, N.Y. "The downside is there's a lot more competition — everyone with a key-hole camera thinks they can be a private investigator. In the 20 years we've been in business, the competition has grown exponentially."
The rise of the surveillance society, coupled with concerns about the collection of private data by people who use the Internet, has made some observers uneasy about the future, and whether liberty and its cloak of anonymity can co-exist with a thousand camera lenses. There are few limitations on surveillance, and laws and policymakers are generally well behind the technology.
"The general principal under which American law operates is that surveillance is legal unless forbidden," notes legal scholar Neil Richards in a recent article in the Harvard Law Review, calling for new measures to limit the scope of a surveillance state.
Lieberman, of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the tendency was to look to technology as a quick fix.
"But technology is a double edged sword," she said. "The challenge is to get the most out of it and acknowledge the risks and minimize them. That means not over-using it and using clear protections and oversight."
Those issues might not be so easy to resolve as technology creates new ways of watching. As Frasca, the private investigator notes, "Surveillance has been going on as long as mankind. It's not going away."
Threats made that more Bardstown, Kentucky officers will be killed
A month after fatal ambush, police chief says claims made by letter and telephone.
By Unnamed Author(s) — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Courier-Journal’ / Louisville, KY
BARDSTOWN, Ky. -- The Bardstown Police Department, still reeling from the ambush shooting death of Officer Jason Ellis last month, has received threats that more officers will be killed.
Police Chief Rick McCubbin said Monday that he received a letter last Thursday addressed to him that said that "there were more officers that would go down like the first one."
McCubbin said he's been asked by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI not to reveal the exact wording of the letter. The chief said at least one other threat was made by telephone.
"There's nothing that we can really sink our teeth into or know who's making them," he said.
Police say Ellis was shot to death around 2 a.m. on May 25 after he stopped his cruiser on a ramp on the Bluegrass Parkway on his way home and got out to remove tree limbs that were in the roadway.
Investigators say they believe the tree limbs were placed in the road intentionally as a way to ambush Ellis.
Ellis had been the Bardstown police department's only K-9 officer, partnering with drug dog Figo and often searching for drug dealers and users, McCubbin has said. He made many arrests, putting a significant dent in the drug situation in the town of less than 12,000 residents about 40 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky.
Chicago, Illinois / Former NYPD ‘Deputy Commish of Operations’ Garry McCarthy Making Progress
Chicago Tactics Put Major Dent in Killing Trend
By MONICA DAVEY — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
CHICAGO — A year after this city drew new attention for soaring gun violence and gang bloodshed, creating a political test for Mayor Rahm Emanuel in President Obama’s hometown, Chicago has witnessed a drop in shootings and crime. Killings this year have dipped to a level not seen since the early 1960s.
So far in 2013, Chicago homicides, which outnumbered slayings in the larger cities of New York and Los Angeles last year, are down 34 percent from the same period in 2012. As of Sunday night, 146 people had been killed in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city — 76 fewer than in the same stretch in 2012 and 16 fewer than in 2011, a year that was among the lowest for homicides during the same period in 50 years.
In recent months, as many as 400 officers a day, working overtime, have been dispatched to just 20 small zones deemed the city’s most dangerous. The police say they are tamping down retaliatory shootings between gang factions by using a comprehensive analysis of the city’s tens of thousands of suspected gang members, the turf they claim and their rivalries. The police also are focusing on more than 400 people they have identified as having associations that make them the most likely to be involved in a murder, as a victim or an offender.
As Mr. Emanuel, who has said he intends to run for re-election, begins the second half of his first term, it is unclear whether the months of lessened violence will generate a lasting trend, particularly given a spring of rainy, chilly weather here that some experts say may have kept people off the streets and contributed to the relative calm.
Homicides have also decreased in New York, by more than 22 percent as of early this month, and in Los Angeles, by more than 17 percent.
“It’s good, but not good enough,” Mr. Emanuel said in an interview of the city’s improving homicide statistics. He added that a parent had approached him in one of the neighborhoods now saturated with police officers, saying she had started to feel comfortable allowing her child to walk to school. “That to me is the biggest, most important, most significant measure — that a mother feels comfortable and confident enough where she didn’t in past years to have her child walk to school.”
Critics question whether the city can continue to pay for the added police presence. By the end of April, $31.9 million of the $38 million set aside in the city budget for police overtime for the year had been spent, city records show.
Leaders of the police union, who describe some of the current efforts as “smoke and mirrors,” caution that the dismal statistics of 2012 are being used to paint a falsely upbeat picture of 2013, and say they doubt such intense policing efforts are financially sustainable in any major city without expanding the force.
“It seems a little soon to know whether this is a long-term trend,” said Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. “I think everyone in Chicago hopes it is very much a trend. I wouldn’t pop the Champagne yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
In some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods — even those where statistics suggest clear improvement — some residents say they feel as unsafe as ever, and worry that the closing this fall of the largest number of elementary schools in recent memory may force schoolchildren to venture down blocks controlled by gangs to get to new schools.
Shootings of children 16 and younger have dropped by 46 percent compared with last year, but the details of some — a 9-year-old shot on Wednesday as he rode in his mother’s car; a 15-year-old who the police say had gang ties killed about four blocks from Mr. Obama’s Chicago home in April; a 6-month-old, Jonylah Watkins, fatally shot in her father’s arms in March — remain jarring.
“If you ask me, nothing has changed,” said Magnolia Howard, who lives not far from a police station in Englewood, an impoverished neighborhood where, the authorities say, overall crime has dropped 19 percent this year. “I’m still scared to let the kids play in front of the house.”
More than 500 people were killed in Chicago last year, many of them young men shot to death amid the hundreds of gangs that flourish in the neighborhoods mainly south and west of downtown. As in many of the nation’s biggest cities, killings in Chicago have decreased significantly since the 1990s, when the annual death toll sometimes exceeded 900. But the violence of 2012 — a 16 percent increase in killings over the year before, even as overall crime in the city decreased — drew national attention to Chicago.
In February, even Mr. Obama spoke of the violence here during a trip home, and his wife, Michelle, attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago high school student who was fatally shot in January, only days after attending inauguration festivities for the president.
Of the violence, Mr. Emanuel frenetically ticked off solutions — he frequently says there is no single answer — including more money for after-school activities, summer jobs, tougher enforcement of truancy laws and curfews, efforts to raise money from private sources to work with youths ($41 million has been pledged since February) and, yes, police work.
Rookies are being assigned to regular foot patrols in the hot spots — the locations account for just 3 percent of the city’s geographical base but 20 percent of the worst crimes — and officers are being paid overtime. Eventually, the city says half the officers in the hot spots will be there working regular hours, not overtime. But if the price tag is high for the changing police tactics, Mr. Emanuel says this is no “either-or” issue, and the city will find a way to pay for it.
“It’s sustainable,” Mr. Emanuel said, “because it’s actually bringing the results I want to see.”
In May, a poll conducted by The Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV suggested that Mr. Emanuel’s approval rating related to crime was about the same as a year before, at 45 percent of voters polled, though the numbers who said they disapproved of his handling of crime had grown to 47 percent from 34 percent.
Last week, at the end of a weekly meeting of top officials and district commanders inside Police Headquarters, Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy took the floor, urging those assembled to keep the improvements going. Some of the tactics are not unlike those adopted in New York, officials say, where murders in 2012 dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years.
“Two years ago, I honestly had the feeling that people didn’t think that we could really do what we’re doing right now as far as reducing crime,” the superintendent said. “Crime’s down 22 percent from two years ago.”
“That’s really significant, folks,” he said, adding: “That’s like 6,000 less victims of crime. Think about it. Get it.”
The numbers offer little comfort to those like Jonathan Watkins, who remembers changing the diaper of his baby, Jonylah, in the passenger seat of a minivan parked on the South Side just before gunshots tore through his van window in March. The authorities say the bullets were likely meant for Mr. Watkins, who acknowledged old ties to a gang and three previous gunshot wounds before the bullets that hit him and Jonylah that night.
“She’s upstairs looking down on me, and I can’t just do the same thing I was doing,” Mr. Watkins, 29, said quietly the other day, recalling how Jonylah had cried, then seemed to look right at him as the shots came.
Looking ahead, many here worry about challenges like the arrival of summer, followed by a school year that will have students from nearly 50 elementary schools attending different ones as part of a consolidation plan. In preparation for the school closings, officials are drawing up safe routes where workers will stand watch near the remaining schools, an expansion of Chicago’s already elaborate “safe passage” plan for schoolchildren that is expected to cost more than $15 million next year.
On a recent morning on the far South Side, “safe passage” workers, wearing neon vests and clutching cellphones (ready to dial 911 if need be), lined street corners as students filtered in.
“Everything has calmed down a lot — with all of us out here, with the police out here, with the school staff out here,” said Dorothy Washington, one of the workers, who called out “good morning” to all who passed.
Not far away, Cynthia Massie, the development coordinator at a community center, sounded less sure. At her home the other night, she said, she heard some 15 gunshots ring out, then no sirens, nothing. “It means no one got hit,” she said. “We hear gunshots all the time.”
Police: City has 13 percent crime dip, fewer weapons on streets
BY NAUSHEEN HUSAIN — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Chicago Sun-Times’ / Chicago, IL
There was a 13 percent dip in overall crime and 3,000 fewer illegal weapons on the streets of Chicago this year, announced Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on Monday.
“We’re having a good year in comparison to where we’ve been in the past in this city,” said McCarthy at the Harrison district headquarters, behind two tables of handguns, assault rifles and other recently confiscated weapons. “We have a historical gun violence problem here, and right now we’re making real progress.”
ShotSpotter gets Milwaukee cops to crime scenes quickly
Officers say gunshots pinpointed in time to smell gunpowder
By Don Walker — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ / Milwaukee, WI
In the cool of a late evening, Officer Angela Juarez stood in a driveway and stared intently at her smartphone.
Minutes before, blocks away, she and her partner were riding in a Milwaukee police SUV, a laptop between them. Suddenly, the laptop emitted a jarring burst of sound, an electronic bleat from the ShotSpotter system.
A gunshot had been detected. Using strategically placed sensors in high-crime areas, the system documents the sound of gunfire and provides an address for the source. Juarez and her partner, Officer Michael Martin, rushed to the 4200 block of N. 26th St.
As Martin drove to the scene, Juarez checked a map of the neighborhood, trying to get some sense of the homes and the streets nearby.
The two pulled up and got out. Nothing looked out of place. More police arrived, spotlights sweeping the fronts of homes, flashlights looking into dark corners.
As the search got under way, two young men were spotted walking nonchalantly into an adjacent home. What are you doing? They live there, they said. Both walked inside the house without incident.
Juarez punched the latitude and longitude coordinates supplied by ShotSpotter into her phone. She wanted to find the exact spot so officers could narrow the search for a shell casing.
As the search continued, an officer found two small bags that they suspected contained cocaine between two cars in the driveway of the home of the two young men.
As police continued to search around the perimeter of the home, an officer knocked loudly on the door. The lights were on, but nobody was answering.
There were drugs, a ShotSpotter report of a single gunshot and the stillness of the street.
A bag, then a gun
In the back of the small bungalow, two officers were waiting for the all-clear. One of them, Officer Trevor DeBoer, said he saw somebody trying to jimmy an upstairs window and the storm window.
He said later he thought somebody was planning to jump out. Instead, a plastic Walmart shopping bag was tossed out and landed on the lawn.
And then another object came flying through the window, landing on a neighbor's concrete slab with a sharp, metallic sound.
"There's a gun out the window!" an officer yelled.
Martin banged louder on the front door, then kicked it in. Officers entered the home. Inside were the two men and an older woman.
Behind the home, the shopping bag had approximately one ounce of marijuana. And the metallic sound turned out to be a .45-caliber Hi-Point handgun with a full magazine of hollow-point bullets.
The two men are cousins. One, a felon; the other, out on bail for carrying a concealed weapon.
"This is a perfect example of what ShotSpotter can do," Juarez said.
There would be more investigative work ahead. Day shift officers would come back and look for the casing to tie it to the confiscated gun. And perhaps more evidence would show up in brush in the backyard of the home.
The arrests would not have merited a breaking news alert online, or even a brief story in the morning paper. But it illustrated how ShotSpotter has been able to help police in the past few years in the endless pursuit of safety in high-crime areas.
Lt. Christopher Blaszak, a 20-year veteran who is assigned to the Central Investigations Division, is one of the lead evangelists for ShotSpotter. Two years ago, he said, ShotSpotter was just "dots on a laptop."
He has trained nearly 200 officers and several dozen prosecutors about how ShotSpotter works and what it can do to prevent crime and solve crime. He says ShotSpotter has figured in about 14 homicide cases in Milwaukee.
"It's good intelligence mixed with investigative analysis and technology," Blaszak said.
With the intensity of a programmer writing code for an app, Blaszak is skilled at looking at ShotSpotter data to help officers. He calls it predictive analysis.
Is there a pattern to shots fired in a certain neighborhood? What time of the day do they occur? Are they single shots or multiple gunshots? Do known criminals live in the area? Can I predict where crime might occur based on the ShotSpotter data?
"What are the commonalities?" Blaszak says often.
Getting to scenes fast
The ShotSpotter technology is, like Jimmy John's, freaky fast. When a shot is fired, the sensor sends the information to Newark, Calif., where ShotSpotter has its headquarters. Analysts working around the clock listen and make a determination in seconds. The information is forwarded to police communications and squad cars equipped with ShotSpotter software.
Police can get to the scene within minutes. And the technology is accurate to a radius of 85 feet.
Officer Matt Staedler, who works days, recalled one time ShotSpotter alerted him to an address where gunfire was detected.
"I showed up and the guy was still shooting," Staedler said.
Other officers swear they can get to the scene and still smell the gunpowder in the air.
"When you get the address, you are almost certain to encounter an armed gunman," Officer Michael Driscoll said.
In one incident he was involved in, a drunken man was shooting out of his home. Children were in the same room where he was shooting.
"The technology took us right to him," he said. "He was just shooting out the window. It was intense to say the least."
The department this year budgeted $140,000 for the ShotSpotter program; it covers a 3-square-mile area. Police do not disclose where the sensors are.
Police Chief Edward Flynn, a data-driven administrator, hopes to expand it.
The system gained attention last month when members of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee removed from Gov. Scott Walker's budget a community policing grant of $445,400. That money was targeted for ShotSpotter.
While that was frustrating for Flynn, who lashed out at legislators, officers are focusing on what they already have.
Getting in the right place
Earlier the same evening as the N. 26th St. bust, commanders decided to show up in force at a neighborhood near N. 24th Place and W. Auer Ave.
A few hours before, there had been an armed robbery on the street. Two men, one armed with a long-barreled revolver, robbed two men of cash and an old cellphone.
Nearby, there had been reports of gunfire in recent days.
As a group of about 20 police officers gathered in a semicircle, Blaszak and Capt. Chad Wagner, a 26-year veteran who heads the North Investigations Division, spoke about what was going on and what to look out for on this night.
Wagner said the show of force and briefing for officers had another purpose as well.
"We're here to tell the neighborhood that we're trying to make your neighborhood safer," he said.
Blaszak told officers that a ShotSpotter analysis of a nearby neighborhood had found somebody was firing his gun at 4:30 a.m.
"There is an individual who fits a certain criminal profile of behavior based on prior weapons offenses," Blaszak said. "He's a juvenile."
Blaszak had more to share. On June 5 at 4:30 a.m., ShotSpotter reported three incidents of multiple gunshots near N. 22nd St. and W. Keefe Ave.
"They got there so fast that the suspect dumped his gun there," Blaszak told the officers. "We recovered casings and a .45-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol. The fact that we recovered casings tells me the cops missed this dude by milliseconds."
As Blaszak talked about gunfire data, he made it clear what he was trying to accomplish.
"We want to put you in the right place," he told the officers.
In 2012, ShotSpotter detected 77 shooting incidents, including single shots, multiple gunshots and possible gunfire, between May 24 and May 28. This year, between May 23 and May 27, the system detected 54 incidents, a 30% reduction in detected gunfire.
As Blaszak looked at a laptop inside the SUV and contemplated what had happened in the 4200 block of N. 26th St., he spoke enthusiastically of the possibilities.
"We were in the right spot tonight," he said.
Colorado State Lab Accused of Mishandling Evidence
By JACK HEALY — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
DENVER — Every day, vials of human blood arrive at the state toxicology lab here to be tested for alcohol and drugs. The results can offer a crucial piece of evidence in criminal cases like charges involving drunken driving and vehicular homicide.
Defense lawyers said Monday that many of those cases were now in doubt after investigators hired by the state found problems including bias against defendants, inadequate training and flaws in the way evidence is stored at the lab.
“Thousands of cases are now affected,” said Jay Tiftickjian, a defense lawyer who handles drunken-driving cases. He said he had received phone calls from clients asking whether the revelations could mean a new trial or help overturn their convictions.
State officials say that the crime lab is one of the best in the nation and that the problems are isolated to a supervisor in one division that is responsible for processing blood-alcohol samples. Last spring, Colorado was forced to retest hundreds of samples after discovering that a lab employee had strayed from standard procedures.
The reliability of the state’s toxicology lab is being questioned as Colorado is setting up a new system to test and prosecute motorists for driving while under the influence of marijuana. After Colorado voted in the fall to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, lawmakers here passed limits on the amount of THC — marijuana’s psychoactive component — in a driver’s bloodstream.
Critics of the new limits said blood tests could be an unreliable measure of whether drivers were truly impaired, and are worried that the system may lead to wrongful convictions.
The accusations about Colorado’s toxicology lab were included in a March 18 report that was made public on Monday.
The investigators who examined the lab laid out a list of problems: The lab was understaffed; although blood and urine samples were stored behind a locked door, they were kept in an unlocked refrigerator and vulnerable to tampering; and lab employees who appeared in court said they felt that they had not been adequately trained, and that they were being pressured to present themselves as experts.
Lab technicians also called their supervisor a bully who had them help her with her graduate thesis during working hours.
Officials said most of the problems could be traced back to one supervisor, who has retired. They said they would do everything possible to deal with the faults.
“It is critical that the scientific work of the toxicology lab meets the highest standards,” said Chris Urbina, the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which oversees the lab.
Immigration Enforcement / Illegal Aliens
Shootings by Agents Increase Border Tensions
By FERNANDA SANTOS — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
NOGALES, Ariz. — As rocks hurled from Mexico rained down on United States Border Patrol agents one night last October, at least one of the agents drew his gun and fired across the border, striking a teenager 11 times, 7 times in the back. The boy, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, collapsed and died on a cracked sidewalk blocks from his home, under a sign that read “emergencias médicas.” The police in Nogales, Mexico, reported that he had been carrying only a cellphone.
The shooting was not an isolated case. He was one of at least 15 people killed by border agents in the Southwest since January 2010, their deaths a jolt to the careful balance of sovereignty and security that underlies a binational debate over immigration reform.
Those shootings — sometimes during confrontations that began with assaults on agents, other times under less clear circumstances — have bolstered criticism of agents and customs officers who operate along the United States-Mexico border. Lawmakers, civil rights advocates and victims’ families in both countries, concerned about what they view as a lack of oversight and accountability, have made angry demands for answers. Of the 15 victims, José Antonio was one of 10 who were Mexican citizens, 6 of whom died in Mexico, felled by bullets fired by agents in the United States. Since January 2010, not a single agent has been criminally charged in cases of lethal use of force, and the agency would not say whether disciplinary action had been taken.
Scrutiny heightened last year when the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, Charles K. Edwards, began a review of policies governing the use of force by the Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection. He acted after 16 members of Congress signed a letter criticizing the “appalling behavior” of agents in San Diego, where a man in their custody died in 2010 after being stunned by a Taser several times, his hands restrained behind his back. The signers questioned whether the episode was “part of a larger cultural problem.” The review is still under way.
Customs and Border Protection has also commissioned an analysis, looking at episodes in which its agents fired weapons or otherwise used force. A spokesman for the agency said it was reviewing the findings, which have not yet been made public.
On a single page, the lengthy immigration bill under debate in the Senate provides the most decisive response to concerns so far. Its Section 1111 would require the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department’s civil rights division to develop new policies on how and when to report use-of-force actions, investigate complaints and discipline agents, an effort to clarify and tighten regulations. Often, the task of investigating agents in such cases falls to the local police department.
“There have been some unfortunate incidents in the past, and we want to make sure that we do everything we can as we enforce security to keep them from happening again,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who proposed Section 1111, said in an interview.
The latest version of the border protection agency’s use-of-force manual, from 2010, says, “Only that force which is both reasonable and necessary may be used in any given situation.” The meaning of “reasonable,” though, has been a point of contention for shooting victims’ families and their advocates, as well as the subject of sharp discussions in Mexican diplomatic circles.
Many of the cases that resulted in a fatal shooting started when rocks were thrown at agents. In the year ending last September, the Border Patrol recorded 249 rock attacks along the United States-Mexican border. Agents working here, where only a fence divides bustling city centers on either side, said police officers in Mexico often did little to stop the rock-throwing or to catch the assailants. (Mexico does not have a border-patrol force.)
Shawn Moran, vice president at large of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 17,000 Border Patrol agents, said force was sometimes necessary. “When their lives are threatened, when their well-being is threatened, and when they’re in danger to suffer great bodily harm, the use-of-force policies allow them to defend themselves,” he said in an interview. “When you look at the number of apprehensions we have every year, the number of use-of-force incidents is minuscule.”
There were nearly 357,000 captures of migrants at or near the border in 2012.
In a statement, the Mexican Embassy in Washington criticized the shootings as “disproportionate deadly force,” saying, “In recent years, the results of investigations have unfortunately not even resulted in the prosecution of the agents” who have engaged in fatal shootings “or even fired into Mexican territory.”
A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection said agents were permitted to use deadly force to counter threats from either side of the border. The agency has a process for investigating complaints when deadly force is used against the United States citizens, legal residents and visa holders at ports of entry. “We do not tolerate misconduct or abuse within our ranks,” the spokesman said.
Victims’ families seldom learn the names of the agents involved in the deadly shootings, or the type of discipline they faced as a result of deadly encounters.
Relatives of Carlos La Madrid, 19, an American citizen killed on March 21, 2011, as he climbed a ladder propped against the border fence in Douglas while trying to cross into Mexico, had to get a court order to learn the name of the agent who shot him so they could serve the agent with legal papers, The Arizona Daily Star of Tucson reported. The authorities said that Mr. La Madrid was unarmed and that he had 48 pounds of marijuana in his pickup truck. The inquiry is continuing.
On Sept. 3, Guillermo Arévalo Pedroza, 36, was shot to death by an agent while attending a family barbecue along the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The agent, chasing by boat a man who was trying to swim to the United States, said he had fired at people tossing rocks at him. The investigation is continuing.
From her tidy mobile home here, Taide Elena, 63, waits for answers on the killing of her grandson, José Antonio. No investigator has come to talk to her, she said, so she has tried to piece together what happened through police and autopsy reports. Ms. Elena, a legal United States resident who cleans homes for a living, said she did not even know if one or more agents fired the bullets that killed her grandson.
Agents and Nogales police officers said they had been chasing people they suspected of being drug dealers near the border fence when rocks were lobbed at them from Nogales, Mexico. There is no indication from the reports or witness accounts that José Antonio, who, his grandmother said, aspired to be a soldier, was involved.
“He was carrying nothing beyond the cellphone I had bought for him,” Ms. Elena said. “I still can’t believe they took his life just because he was walking.”
Debate on Secret Data Looks Unlikely, Partly Due to Secrecy
By SCOTT SHANE and JONATHAN WEISMAN — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’
COMMENT: Snowden can make the hypothesis of this article moot, depending on how much more he leaks and how the programs actually work. - Mike
WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden said he had leaked secret documents about National Security Agency surveillance to spark a public debate about civil liberties. President Obama, while deploring the leak, endorsed the same goal of a vigorous public discussion of the “trade-offs” between national security and personal privacy. “I think it’s healthy for our democracy, “ he said on Friday of the prospect of re-examining surveillance policy.
But the legal and political obstacles to such a debate, whether in Congress or more broadly, are formidable. They only begin with the facts that the programs at issue are highly classified and that Mr. Snowden is now a hunted man, potentially facing a prison sentence for disclosing the very secrets that started the discussion that Mr. Obama welcomed.
On Monday, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, was pressed about just how the surveillance dialogue the president invited might take place.
Asked whether Mr. Obama would himself lead the debate or push for new legislation, Mr. Carney demurred. “I don’t have anything to preview,” he said, adding that the president’s major national security speech May 23, before the N.S.A. disclosures, showed “his interest in having the debate and the legitimacy of asking probing questions about these matters.”
Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said: “If President Obama really welcomed a debate, there are all kinds of things he could do in terms of declassification and disclosure to foster it. But he’s not doing any of them.”
Nor is it clear that political pressure from either Congress or the public will be sufficient to prompt the administration to open the door wider on government surveillance.
Congressional leaders of both parties have so far expressed support for the newly disclosed initiatives, and the legislation governing such surveillance was renewed for five years at the end of 2012.
Representative Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that among those in Congress who are most informed, the consensus was strong and bipartisan. “Those who have been fully briefed are comfortable with the capabilities used, the way they have been used and the due diligence exercised in making sure the agency responsible for carrying out and using the tools has been doing so within confines of the law,” he said. “There is nothing nefarious going on here.”
Lawmakers also have political incentives to endorse the programs many have voted for previously.
“The Democrats want to support Obama, and the Republicans supported FISA expansion,” said Peter Swire, an expert on privacy at Ohio State University, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Both parties face internal tensions on this issue.”
So far, there is no groundswell of public anger to shift Congressional views. In a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll conducted after the N.S.A. revelations, 56 percent of those polled said it was acceptable for the agency to get secret court orders to track the phone calls of millions of Americans; 41 percent said it was unacceptable.
The paradox produced by the N.S.A. disclosures — the administration beginning a criminal investigation of the man who prompted the discussion Mr. Obama called useful — is only the latest of his presidency, as he has struggled to manage a sprawling security bureaucracy that encompasses drone strikes, cyberattacks, sweeping surveillance and a ballooning amount of classified information.
Despite a stated devotion to government transparency, he waited for years to speak publicly about drones and has yet to say a single word in public about the United States’ offensive use of cyberweapons. His administration, meanwhile, has set a record in prosecuting leakers.
“The U.S. is pushing to make sure that cyberprograms comply with international law and international standards,” said James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But it won’t say what ours are.”
Mr. Lewis said the discussion of cyberweapons was “overclassified” in part because of the central role of the N.S.A., which old agency jokes say means No Such Agency or Never Say Anything. “The N.S.A. classifies its lunch menu,” he said.
If there were to be a major rethinking of surveillance rules, it would almost certainly have to start with Congress. But complaints about the N.S.A. programs have been largely limited to lawmakers from the Democrats’ liberal wing and the Republicans’ libertarian wing, some of whom have joined Congress since the focus on antiterrorism has decreased. Representatives Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, are completing legislation that would make it tougher for the government to scoop up phone records and make public many of the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress and the leaders of the intelligence committees, however, remain strongly supportive of the N.S.A. programs, marshaling national security arguments to trump privacy concerns.
“I flew over the World Trade Center going to Senator Lautenberg’s funeral,” Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey. “And I thought of those bodies jumping out of that building hitting the canopy. Part of our obligation is keeping America safe.”
Conceivably some views about the scope and propriety of the programs could change after closed briefings on the N.S.A. programs planned for House members on Tuesday and senators on Thursday. But even when a member of Congress does not like a secret program, classification rules make it tough to protest. Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois and a critic of government surveillance, received a private briefing on the N.S.A.’s Internet program last year but is constrained in talking about it, said a spokeswoman, Sabrina Singh.
“She welcomes the public debate, but it’s a tough line for her to talk about because she knows more than the public,” Ms. Singh said. “It’s something she is wrestling with.”
The public, so far, continues to show a high tolerance for what the government claims is necessary to prevent terrorism. Polls also reflect a certain resignation about the erosion of privacy at a time of targeted online advertising, location-tracking cellphones and intrusive government programs.
In an Allstate/National Journal poll a week before the N.S.A. revelations, for instance, 85 percent of those polled said they thought it somewhat or very likely that businesses and the government could access citizens’ phone calls, e-mails and Internet use without their consent.
David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, Somini Sengupta from San Francisco, and Megan Thee-Brenan from New York.
US: No plans to end broad surveillance program
By LARA JAKES (The Associated Press) — Tuesday, June 11th, 2013; 7:55 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is weighing whether to charge a government contractor with leaking classified government secrets while it defends a much-criticized National Security Agency surveillance program as an indispensable tool for protecting Americans from terrorists.
Facing a global uproar over the programs that track phone and Internet messages around the world, the Justice Department continued to investigate whether the disclosures of Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, were criminal.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament planned to debate the spy programs Tuesday and whether they have violated local privacy protections. EU officials in Brussels pledged to seek answers from U.S. diplomats at a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting in Dublin later this week.
The global scrutiny comes after revelations from Snowden, who has chosen to reveal his identity. Snowden has fled to Hong Kong in hopes of escaping criminal charges as lawmakers including Senate intelligence chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California accuse him of committing an "act of treason" that should be prosecuted.
Officials in Germany and the European Union issued calm but firm complaints Monday over two National Security Agency programs that target suspicious foreign messages - potentially including phone numbers, email, images, video and other online communications transmitted through U.S. providers. The chief British diplomat felt it necessary to try to assure Parliament that the spy programs do not encroach on U.K. privacy laws.
And in Washington, members of Congress said they would take a new look at potential ways to keep the U.S. safe from terror attacks without giving up privacy protections that critics charge are at risk with the government's current authority to broadly sweep up personal communications.
"There's very little trust in the government, and that's for good reason," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. "We're our own worst enemy."
House Speaker John Boehner, however, said he believes President Barack Obama has fully explained why the program is needed. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday that "the disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are and it's a giant violation of the law." He called Snowden a "traitor."
A senior U.S. intelligence official on Monday said there were no plans to scrap the programs that, despite the backlash, continue to receive widespread if cautious support within Congress. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive security issue.
The programs were revealed last week by The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has taken the unusual step of declassifying some of the previously top-secret details to help the administration mount a public defense of the surveillance as a necessary step to protect Americans.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was considering how Congress could limit the amount of data spy agencies seize from telephone and Internet companies - including restricting the information to be released only on an as-needed basis.
"It's a little unsettling to have this massive data in the government's possession," King said.
One of the NSA programs gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records to search for possible links to known terrorist targets abroad. The other allows the government to tap into nine U.S. Internet companies and gather all communications to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.
Snowden is a former CIA employee who later worked as a contractor for the NSA on behalf of Booz Allen, where he gained access to the surveillance. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine said, it was "absolutely shocking" that a 29-year-old with limited experience would have access to this material.
FBI agents on Monday visited the home of Snowden's father, Lonnie Snowden, in Upper Macungie Township, Pa. The FBI in Philadelphia declined to comment.
The first explosive document Snowden revealed was a top secret court order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that granted a three-month renewal for a massive collection of American phone records. That order was signed April 25. The Guardian's first story on the court order was published June 5.
In a statement issued Sunday, Booz Allen said Snowden had been an employee for fewer than three months, so it's possible he was working as an NSA contractor when the order was issued.
Snowden also gave the Post and the Guardian a PowerPoint presentation on another secret program that collects online usage by the nine Internet providers. The U.S. government says it uses that information only to track foreigners' use overseas.
Believing his role would soon be exposed, Snowden fled last month to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that enjoys relative autonomy from Beijing. His exact whereabouts were unknown Monday.
"All of the options, as he put it, are bad options," Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first reported the phone-tracking program and interviewed Snowden extensively, told The Associated Press on Monday. He said Snowden decided to release details of the programs out of shock and anger over the sheer scope of the government's privacy invasions.
"It was his choice to publicly unveil himself," Greenwald told the AP in Hong Kong. "He recognized that even if he hadn't publicly unveiled himself, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. government discovered that it was he who had been responsible for these disclosures, and he made peace with that. ... He's very steadfast and resolute about the fact that he did the right thing."
Greenwald told the AP that he had more documents from Snowden and expected "more significant revelations" about NSA.
Although Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political. Any negotiations about his possible handover will involve Beijing, but some analysts believe China is unlikely to want to jeopardize its relationship with Washington over someone it would consider of little political interest.
Snowden also told The Guardian that he may seek asylum in Iceland, which has strong free-speech protections and a tradition of providing a haven for the outspoken and the outcast.
The Justice Department is investigating whether his disclosures were a criminal offense - a matter that's not always clear-cut under U.S. federal law.
A second senior intelligence official said Snowden would have had to have signed a non-disclosure agreement to gain access to the top secret data. That suggests he could be prosecuted for violating that agreement. Penalties could range from a few years to life in prison. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the process of accessing classified materials more frankly.
The leak came to light as Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was being tried in military court under federal espionage and computer fraud laws for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. The most serious charge against him was aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. But the military operates under a different legal system.
If Snowden is forced to return to the United States to face charges, whistle-blower advocates said Monday that they would raise money for his legal defense.
Clapper has ordered an internal review to assess how much damage the disclosures created. Intelligence experts say terrorist suspects and others seeking to attack the U.S. all but certainly will find alternate ways to communicate instead of relying on systems that now are widely known to be under surveillance.
The Obama administration also now must deal with the political and diplomatic fallout of the disclosures. Privacy laws across much of Western Europe are stricter than they are in the United States.
"It would be unacceptable and would need swift action from the EU if indeed the U.S. National Security Agency were processing European data without permission," said Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian member of the European parliament and a leader in the Alde group of liberal parties.
Additionally, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel would question President Barack Obama about the NSA program when he's in Berlin on June 18 for his first visit to the German capital as president. In Germany, privacy regulations are especially strict, and the NSA programs could tarnish a visit that both sides had hoped would reaffirm strong German-American ties.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to deny allegations that the U.K. government had used information provided by the Americans to circumvent British laws. "We want the British people to have confidence in the work of our intelligence agencies and in their adherence to the law and democratic values," Hague told Parliament.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was open for a discussion about the spy programs, both with allies and in Congress. His administration has aggressively defended the two programs and credited them with helping stop at least two terrorist attacks, including one in New York City.
Privacy rights advocates say Obama has gone too far. The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School filed legal action Monday to force a secret U.S. court to make public its opinions justifying the scope of some of the surveillance, calling the programs "shockingly broad." And conservative lawyer Larry Klayman filed a separate lawsuit against the Obama administration, claiming he and others have been harmed by the government's collection of as many as 3 billion phone numbers each day.
Army records indicate Snowden enlisted in the Army around May 2004 and was discharged that September.
"He attempted to qualify to become a Special Forces soldier but did not complete the requisite training and was administratively discharged from the Army," Col. David H. Patterson Jr., an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said in a statement late Monday.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Frederic Frommer and Matt Apuzzo in Washington, Robert H. Reid in Berlin and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 ‘The New York Times’ Editorial:
A Real Debate on Surveillance
For years, as the federal surveillance state grew into every corner of American society, the highest officials worked to pretend that it didn’t exist. Now that Americans are learning what really takes place behind locked doors, many officials claim they are eager to talk about it. “That’s a conversation that I welcome having,” President Obama said on Saturday. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that she was open to holding a public hearing on the subject now, a hearing next month, a hearing every month.
This newfound interest in openness is a little hard to take seriously, not only because of the hypocrisy involved but because neither official seems to want to do more than talk about being open. If the president wants to have a meaningful discussion, he can order his intelligence directors to explain to the public precisely how the National Security Agency’s widespread collection of domestic telephone data works. Since there’s not much point in camouflaging the program anymore, it’s time for the public to get answers to some basic questions.
Are the calls and texts of ordinary Americans mined for patterns that might put innocent people under suspicion? Why is data from every phone call collected, and not just those made by people whom the government suspects of terrorist activity? How long is the data kept, and can it be used for routine police investigations? Why was a private contractor like Edward Snowden allowed to have access to it? So far, no one at the White House seems interested in a substantive public debate.
Ms. Feinstein said on ABC News’s “This Week” program on Sunday that a secret court order on the phone-data program (leaked by Mr. Snowden) didn’t tell the full story. Another court document explained the strictures on the program, but that wasn’t leaked, she said, sounding almost regretful that it remains under seal. Ms. Feinstein doesn’t have the authority to release it herself, but she could at least demand that the administration make it public.
While they’re at it, some of the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that made these data-collection programs possible could be released. Ms. Feinstein was rebuffed when she asked the court for redacted summaries of its opinions; as chairwoman, she should use her power to demand that the administration find ways to make the court even slightly more transparent.
For years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican of Wisconsin, wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. last week, saying that, as the author of the Patriot Act, he didn’t believe that the collection of phone records was consistent with his interpretation of the law. But, over the years, Mr. Sensenbrenner has been repeatedly warned by critics that the law was so broad that it was subject to precisely this kind of abuse.
Senator Feinstein has held several closed-door briefings for lawmakers. If she wants to hold hearings that are useful to the public, she should focus on the laws that fostered the growth of domestic spying, and the testimony should not consist of blithe assurances that the government can be trusted. The public needs explanations of how an overreaching intelligence community pushed that trust to the brink.